Labor Apologises For Reigniting Dual Citizenship Crisis

Thousands of Aussies will go to the polls following a string of resignations from Federal Parliament.

What you need to know
  • Labor's Tanya Plibersek apologises for pain of by-elections
  • There will be five by-elections in four states on "Super Saturday"
  • Four of the by-elections have been sparked by dual citizenship

Labor has apologised to thousands of Australians who will be forced back to the polls this year after a wave of resignations from federal parliament sparked by dual citizenship.

Four federal MPs on Wednesday announced they were quitting Parliament after the High Court ruled Labor senator Katy Gallagher ineligible to sit in the upper house because she did not renounce her British citizenship in time.

The High Court's decision sparked the resignations from parliament of three Labor MPs  -- Susan Lamb, Justine Keay and Josh Wilson -- as well as South Australian crossbencher Rebekha Sharkie.

The ALP says they were following the legal advice they were given. Image: Getty Images.

Meanwhile, the resignation of Labor's MP for the blue-ribbon seat of Perth, Tim Hammond, has sparked a by-election. He resigned to spend more time with his family.

The wave of resignations has created a so-called “Super Saturday” of by-elections expected to be held in June or July where all voters in seats impacted by the ongoing dual citizenship issue will head to the polls.

The big day is already being billed as a test of leadership for both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and will be fought in battleground states including Queensland and Western Australia.

On Thursday, Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said she was sorry for the pain the extra poll day would cause to voters.

“It’s not good, we are very sorry that people have to go through these by-elections. We’re sorry that we had the wrong advice but it was based on what the high court had previously decided," Plibersek told Sky News on Thursday.

“The High Court has found unexpectedly that Katy Gallagher had a problem in our view and based on the legal advice that we always had she had taken all reasonable steps.

“I think the newer interpretation means that people will have to re-examine the judgments that they’ve made."

Not only will the by-elections act as a litmus test for both Turnbull and Shorten, but they are likely also to test how well this week’s budget has landed with voters, especially the government's plans for personal income tax cuts.

Bill Shorten is expected to lay out his own plan for tax cuts on Thursday night when he gives his budget reply speech in Canberra.