The High Court's eagerly awaited verdict is set down for Friday afternoon.
The seven ‘dual citizenship’ MPs will find out on Friday at 2.15pm whether or not they should be allowed to remain in parliament.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (New Zealand), fellow government minister Fiona Nash (Great Britain), ex-minister Matt Canavan (Italy), former Greens senatorsLarissa Waters (Canada) and Scott Ludlam (New Zealand) , One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts (Great Britain) and crossbencher Nick Xenophon (Great Britain), all claim they did not know about their citizenship statuses until recently.
Both Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam accepted culpability and said their colleagues should also be removed from parliament as per the Section 44 of the constitution. But the future of the remaining five MPs is in the hands of seven justices of the High Court.
They have been deliberating since October 12, the last of a three-day hearing in Canberra.
As SBS reports, it is a pivotal decision for the Turnbull Government.
If Barnaby Joyce’s election is ruled to invalid, it will trigger a by-election in his seat of New England, placing the Coalition’s one-seat majority at risk.
The current interpretation of the constitution’s Section 44 is based on two cases: 1992’s Sykes v Cleary, and 1999’s Sue v Hill.
In those cases, the court said that for a person to be eligible to stand and be elected to Parliament he or she must take “all steps that could reasonably be taken to renounce” any foreign nationality or citizenship.
The Tamworth-born deputy PM’s Kiwi citizenship was officially renounced on August 15, after he was informed by the New Zealand High Commission on August 10 that he “might” be a dual citizen.
At the time PM Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Joyce was “qualified to sit in the house and the High Court will so hold”.
The comment, said in parliament, was widely criticised.
Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus told the ABC, “These were the comments of an arrogant prime minister who came perilously close to directing the High Court.
“I think the High Court justices will probably put it to one side, but they would be struck by how unusual that tone and that kind of comment is from a serving prime minister.”
Leading constitutional lawyer George Williams also slammed the PM. “For an accomplished lawyer normally so careful about such matters, Turnbull was insensitive to the role of the High Court as the independent and final arbiter of these matters.”
On day three of the hearing earlier this month, the Australian Financial Review reported that the final barrister to make the ‘citizenship seven’s’ case, Robert Newlinds, SC, warned the High Court against being “unAustralian”.
“There should be no place in Australian law let alone Constitutional law in 2016 for some line to be drawn between so-called ‘natural-born Australians’ and… what would we call them… immigrant Australians?” he told the court.
“It is a fundamentally unAustralian notion.”