The Nick Xenophon Team senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore will resign from the Senate because she has dual British citizenship by descent through her mother.
At a press conference in Adelaide on Wednesday, Kakoschke-Moore announced she had received advice from the UK Home Office on Friday, confirmed by a specialist barrister, that she had received British citizenship from her mother, who was born in Singapore in 1957.
Kakoschke-Moore had always believed she was not British because her father had received advice from the British embassy in Oman she was not eligible for citizenship when she was 12.
She said she was “heartbroken” to discover she was British, which she described as “extremely surprising” because she “had no reason to believe I was a British citizen until that point”.
Kakoschke-Moore explained that her mother was born in Singapore, a former British colony, which gave her “citizenship of the United Kingdom and colonies” and became a British citizen in 1983 when the British Nationality Act came into effect.
Kakoschke-Moore, born in Darwin in 1985, then gained that citizenship by descent.
Kakoschke-Moore said she would request the matter be referred to the high court to determine how the vacancy would be filled, adding she would “continue to run” for the NXT and “at this stage” her ambition was to come back to the Senate.
A recount of the 2016 Senate election would likely elect the NXT candidate Tim Storrer, who unsuccessfully attempted to replace Xenophon in the Senate by challenging the party’s chosen successor.
Xenophon said he and his colleagues were “devastated” by the loss of Kakoschke-Moore from the Senate, but predicted it was “not the end of her political career”.
Xenophon said the party had preliminary legal advice the position may not be filled by a recount, claiming the situation was “uncharted legal territory” because of the high court’s recent decision involving Hollie Hughes.
Xenophon clarified that he was not suggesting that Storrer had an office of profit under the crown, as in the case of Hughes, but rather there was “an issue about him not being a member of the party” for some of the time since the 2016 election.
Section 44(1) of the constitution prohibits citizens or subjects of a foreign power from sitting in parliament.
Kakoschke-Moore is the third Nick Xenophon Team member to be caught up in the citizenship crisis. Xenophon was referred to the high court but cleared of having a section 44(1) disqualification and MP Rebekha Sharkie may be referred to the court because the renunciation of her British citizenship was not effective until after the nomination date for the 2016 election.
Kakoschke-Moore joins Barnaby Joyce, Fiona Nash, Malcolm Roberts, Larissa Waters, Scott Ludlam, Stephen Parry, John Alexander and Jacqui Lambie as the ninth parliamentarian to be disqualified for foreign citizenship.
Asked what the citizenship issues demonstrated about NXT’s processes, Xenophon said voters would see that section 44 had “a much broader scope than anyone could have anticipated” and many parties including cabinet ministers had been caught out.
Xenophon acknowledged Sharkie may be referred to the high court but said she was in a “very strong position” because she had taken reasonable steps to renounce her British citizenship on 19 April, 2016.
The revelation comes ahead of a new requirement for MPs and senators to disclose their foreign citizenship and steps taken to renounce it, agreed between the Coalition and Labor.
Senators will have to make disclosures by 1 December while MPs will have until 5 December, because the Turnbull government cancelled a week of lower house sittings.