POLITICS

Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore Reveals She Is A Dual British Citizen

The Nick Xenophon Team member says she is "heartbroken".

22/11/2017 12:37 PM AEDT | Updated 22/11/2017 1:54 PM AEDT
Andrew Meares
Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore becomes the ninth parliamentarian to be caught up by dual citizenship.

CANBERRA -- There's clearly no end in sight to citizenship debacle devouring Australia's federal parliament.

In a stunning announcement on Wednesday, Nick Xenophon Team senator, Skye Kakoschke-Moore has tearfully announced she is dual British citizen by descent and will be resigning from the senate on Wednesday and will be asking the senate to refer her case to the High Court for official determination.

It makes her the ninth parliamentarian to have lost his or her seat because of dual citizenship, although she insists her political career is not over.

Kakoschke-Moore only discovered the situation through asking the UK Home Office about her status last week and received what she called an "extremely surprising" response.

"Today I have received confirmation that I am a dual citizen as I have inherited British citizenship from my mother," she told reporters in Adelaide.

"I am heartbroken by this news."

Kakoschke-Moore was born in Darwin in 1985, but her mother was born in Singapore in 1957 to British parents when Singapore was a British colony.

She revealed her family asked about British citizenship for her when she was a child but were told she was not eligible. According to Kakoschke-Moore, where a parent is born outside of the UK they are usually unable to pass citizenship onto children where those children are also born outside of the UK.

But, things later changed in the 1980s when the British Nationality Act 1981 came into force in 1983. It covered Singapore when it was a colony.

"The net effect of all of this is that my mother became a British citizen under section 11.1 of the act otherwise than by decent," Kakoschke-Moore said.

"She was therefore able to pass her citizenship on to any children born outside of the UK. I am therefore a British citizen under section 21a of the British Nationality Act 1981."

The South Australian is resigning from the Senate and said she will be requesting her case be referred by the senate to the High Court for official determination.

The list of federal politicians who have had to resign now stands at nine. Kakoschke-Moore joins former Greens Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, former One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts, former National senator Fiona Nash, former Senate president Stephen Parry, former independent senator Jacqui Lambie, former deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and former Liberal backbencher John Alexander. As lower house MP Joyce and Alexander are currently fighting to return to Parliament in by-elections.

With the spotlight on citizenship, in particular the October High Court ruling which ruled Nash, Ludlam, Waters, Roberts and Joyce ineligible to sit in parliament, Kakoschke-Moore was pressed on why she waited until last week to look into her situation.

"Because I had no reason to believe I was a British citizen until that point," she explained. "It had been my understanding - my whole family's understanding that I was ineligible for British citizenship."

She is backed by federal leader Nick Xenophon, who is devastated by the news.

"The situation is when Skye checked online when this became a live issue the answer came she was not a British citizen," he said, standing by her side. "But because there is a more thorough process to go through for the purpose of the declaration she did that. We got the answer on Friday."

"I expect that by December 4, when all the declarations will be made public, I expect that Skye will not be alone, many others will be caught up under section 44 (i) of the constitution."

Kakoschke-Moore said she was not done, but would not confirm a possible run for state politics.

"I will continue to run for the Nick Xenophon Team," she said. "This party is my passion, serving the people of South Australia is my passion. I have unfinished business as far as I'm concerned in terms of advancing our political agenda. This will not be the end of my political career."

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

Last month, Nick Xenophon was cleared by the High Court of breaching dual-citizenship rules in the constitution even though he had British citizenship through his Cypriot father. It ruled he was not entitled to the rights and privileges of a subject or citizen of the United Kingdom.

Kakoschke-Moore's lower house colleague, Rebekha Sharkie, has question marks over her citizenship status even though she completed her renunciation paperwork for dual British citizenship before the last federal election.

The Prime Minister has suggested Sharkie may have to refer herself to the High Court as there are question marks about when exactly the renunciation was registered.

The High Court's ruling in October stressed that any person nominating for federal parliament must be compliant with Section 44 of the Constitution before the closing date for nominations.

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