Nick Xenophon Team senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore has resigned from parliament after being advised she is a British citizen via her mother, in another blow to the party.
The NXT has three Senate spots, as well as one member in the House of Representatives, Rebekha Sharkie – whose future is under a cloud in the citizenship crisis.
A tearful Kakoschke-Moore said she was “heartbroken” by the news. She had previously not believed she had British citizenship and had only checked when preparing the declaration to be presented to parliament.
Her mother was born in Singapore to British parents, and migrated to Australia with her family.
“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. It was my understanding for my entire life that I was not eligible for British citizenship due to that rule.”
When she was living in Oman as a child her father had inquired whether she was eligible for a British passport and was told she was not because she wasn’t eligible for citizenship. “We had no reason to doubt that this advice was incorrect.”
But the British Home Office had now advised her that, through a complicated train of circumstances, her mother became a British citizen under British legislation of the early 1980s “and I am therefore a British citizen under … the British Nationality Act 1981”.
She said she would ask that her case be referred to the High Court.
The issue is particularly complicated for the NXT because the next candidate on its ticket, Tim Storer, is no longer in the party after falling out with it.
Storer had wanted to replace Nick Xenophon when he quit the Senate for state politics. But it was a casual vacancy and Xenophon was able to appoint his staffer, Rex Patrick.
Xenophon told a joint news conference with Kakoschke-Moore that preliminary legal advice was “that we’re in uncharted legal territory as to whether it would be a countback or some other mechanism of dealing with this” vacancy.
The NXT will argue that Storer should not get the spot because he is no longer in the party. But Anne Twomey, constitutional expert from Sydney University, said she very much doubted the argument would fly.
Xenophon said he hoped that Kakoschke-Moore would be back in the Senate soon, at least after the next Senate election.
He said Kakoschke-Moore’s circumstance was completely different from that of Sharkie – who didn’t receive her confirmation of renouncing her British citizenship until after her nomination went in.
The British Home Office had pocketed her money before the nomination, Xenophon said. He said the initial legal advice was that she was in very strong position.
“There may be a referral. I think that what we’ll expect to see in coming days is a whole stack of referrals to the High Court from people from the major parties and crossbench as well.”
Kakoschke-Moore is the ninth member of the federal parliament to have either resigned or been knocked out by the High Court over being a dual citizen at the time of nomination.
Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra