Malcolm Turnbull

Xenophon senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore resigns after confirming dual citizenship

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The Nick Xenophon Team senator has become the ninth Australian politician to leave office under Section 44 of the Constitution after discovering she holds a dual-citizenship

Key points: 

  • NXT senator resigns after discovering UK citizenship 
  • Kakoschke-Moore says she plans to return to federal politics 
  • Doubts over next NXT candidate, who quit the party 

Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore has resigned from the Senate after receiving confirmation she is a dual British-Australian citizen through her mother, but has already flagged a likely return to federal politics. 

She announced her resignation in Adelaide on Wednesday afternoon. 

"Today I have received confirmation that I am a dual citizen as I have inherited British citizenship from my mother. I am heartbroken by this news. My mother was born in Singapore in 1957 to British parents," the South Australian senator told reporters on Wednesday.

Senator Kakoschke-Moore said the UK Home Office advised her she was a British citizen last Friday. 

"Usually where a parent is born outside of the UK they are unable to pass their citizenship on to their children where those children are also born outside of the UK," she said.

"It was my understanding for my entire life that I was not eligible for British citizenship due to that rule."

The senator's mother was given UK citizenship because Singapore was still a colony of Britain at the time of her birth. 

Senator Kakoschke-Moore said she had no reason to suspect a British dual citizenship and had, as a child, been specifically advised she was not. 

"As a 12-year-old while I was living in Oman, my father made inquiries with the British Embassy there to determine whether I was eligible for a British passport. We were advised that I was not eligible for a passport because I was not eligible for British citizenship," she said. 

The announcement comes just weeks before all parliamentarians will be forced to provide their citizenship paperwork under a disclosure scheme announced by the Turnbull government earlier this month.  

Senator Kakoschke-Moore said the announcement of the disclosure scheme prompted her to contact the Home Office to double-check her status. The Office then advised her she was in fact a British citizen by descent. 

Dual citizens are not allowed to serve in the federal parliament under Section 44 of the Constitution. 

Eight politicians, not including Senator Kakoschke-Moore, have already been kicked out - six from the Senate and two from the House of Representatives. 

The two Lower House MPs are both members of the government - John Alexander and the former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce. They are both currently campaigning in by-elections to regain the seats they were forced to surrender. 

Skye flags likely return to the Senate 

Skye Kakoschke-Moore said she had "unfinished business" in politics and said she was planning to run again as an NXT federal senator, rather than following party leader Nick Xenophon into state South Australian politics. 

"I have always loved the Senate, that's where my passion is. At this stage that is where my ambitions lie," she said. 

A recount will likely be held to determine Senator Kakoschke-Moore's replacement. Most of the senators ruled invalid under Section 44 have been replaced by the next cadidate on that pary's election ticket. 

In South Australia, the NXT's next candidate was Tim Storer, who attracted 189 primary votes. 

But Tim Storer is no longer a member of the NXT, after a falling out with the party. 

Nick Xenophon said the party was seeking "appropriate legal advice". 

"At this stage it is unclear what the position is, but our initial advice is that there are some important legal issues," Mr Xenophon said. 

He said he was confident the Section 44 issue would be a "relatively short interruption in Skye's service to the nation". 

NXT colleague faces questions of her own 

Senator Kakoschke-Moore's fellow NXT member Rebekha Sharkie is also facing citizenship questions.

She claims she sent the UK Home Office the paperwork to renounce her British citizenship before the 2016 federal election, but did not receive the official confirmation until after. 

Ms Sharkie said she had spoken to Malcolm Turnbull about the matter and in that conversation he had told her she may have to refer herself to the High Court.

"I have been open throughout about my citizenship status and have supported a full audit of all members of parliament on this issue," Ms Sharkie said in a statement earlier in the month. 

"I believe that I took all steps that were required by the UK to renounce any entitlement to UK citizenship, that were within my power to do so."

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