Malcolm Roberts’ lawyer has defended his failure to renounce his British citizenship by arguing when his Australian citizenship was recognised in 1974 Britain was not a foreign power and both countries had the same sovereign.
In tense questioning in the court of disputed returns on Thursday, Robert Newlinds was accused of attempting to put a gloss on earlier findings by justice Patrick Keane that Roberts knew of the “real and substantial prospect” that he was British when he nominated for the Senate in 2016.
The third and final day of hearings into the eligibility of seven parliamentarians concluded on Thursday afternoon, with chief justice Susan Kiefel noting the need to provide a decision “as soon as possible” but stating it was not always possible to immediately do so.
No indication was given of when the outcome of the case will be decided, with the fate of the deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, senators Matt Canavan, Fiona Nash, Nick Xenophon and Roberts still unclear.
Earlier, Newlinds claimed cross-examination of Roberts had “misfired” by doubting his assertion that he always believed he was Australian.
Newlinds submitted that Roberts, who was born in India to a Welsh father, was a British subject who gained Australian nationality by his decision to move to Australia not by a process in 1974. That process did not naturalise Roberts but rather formally recognised his citizenship, he claimed.
The solicitor general, Stephen Donaghue, rejected that conclusion, noting that British subjects were still “aliens” until they were naturalised.
Newlinds suggested it was “un-Australian” to recognise a difference between “natural-born” and naturalised Australians, who he termed “immigrant Australians”, and said that in 1974 there was no concept of “British citizenship” because “we all had the same sovereign, and none of us were a foreign power”.