Questions over Senator Nick Xenophon’s British citizenship

17th August 2017 8:23 PM
UPDATED 18th August 10:59 AM
Senator Xenophon confirmed he was making inquiries with the British Home Office over his citizenship status. Senator Xenophon confirmed he was making inquiries with the British Home Office over his citizenship status.

KEY crossbencher Nick Xenophon has become the latest senator with serious questions about his eligibility to sit in Parliament after revealing his father travelled from Cyprus to Australia on a British passport.

Senator Xenophon confirmed this morning he was making inquiries with the British Home Office over his citizenship status, only hours after deputy Nationals leader Fiona Nash's shock announcement she may also be a dual British citizen.

Cyprus was a British colony at the time Theo Xenophou immigrated to Australia in 1951, which could mean Senator Xenophon is a British citizen by descent.

Senator Xenophon confirmed he was making inquiries with the British Home Office over his citizenship status.

Passenger logs for the Hellenic Mediterranean Lines obtained by The Daily Telegraph shows a Theodoros Xenophou, a factory worker, travelled from Cyrpus to Melbourne in 1951 on a British passport.

It would make Mr Xenophon the seventh parliamentarian caught up in a growing dual citizenship crisis after Senator Nash and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, both who are not resigning their position after receiving advice from the Solicitor General.

The passenger log showing the name Theodoros Xenophou.
The passenger log showing the name Theodoros Xenophou.

If Australian politics hadn't already jumped the shark, it well and truly did last night with National Party deputy leader Fiona Nash admitting to being a citizen of another country.

Ms Nash's revelation she is a Scot has plunged the Turnbull government into disarray as her eligibility for Parliament - like that of her Kiwi leader Barnaby Joyce and her Italian colleague­ Matt Canavan - will now be determined by the High Court.

Ms Nash is the sixth MP whose eligibility has been referred­ to the High Court.

Neither Senator Nash nor Mr Joyce resigned their cabinet or party positions, with the Turnbull government referring both to the High Court. Mr Canavan quit his cabinet position last month when he fell victim to the scandal.

While the High Court will begin considering the status of Mr Joyce and Senator Canavan next Thursday, the government will not be able to refer Senator Nash to the court until September when Parliament next sits, leaving her ­eligibility in doubt.

Senator Nash, who is deputy Nationals leader, said the government had received legal advice from Britain and the Solicitor General about her citizenship, and she had met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday afternoon.

"On the basis of the Solicitor General's advice, the Prime Minister has indicated to me he sees no reason for me to stand aside from my (port­folios)," she said.

Senator Nash is the sixth parliamentarian to be a dual citizen. She joins her Nationals colleagues after two Greens senators - Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam - resigned and One Nation's Malcolm Roberts was referred to the High Court over his status.

Dual citizens are not eligible to sit in Parliament, but the government is expected to argue both Senator Nash and Mr Joyce had no knowledge of their dual citizenships and therefore could not have an ­allegiance to another country.

Mr Joyce was a dual citizen of New Zealand where his ­father was born, while Senator Nash yesterday evening said she was a British citizen through descent.

Her father was born in Scotland in 1927 and Senator Nash was born in Australia.

"My parents divorced when I was eight and my mother raised me," she said.

Senator Fiona Nash. Picture: Kym Smith
Senator Fiona Nash. Picture: Kym Smith

EARLIER: NATIONALS deputy leader Fiona Nash is the latest MP to be embroiled in the dual citizenship drama after revealing to the Senate she may be a dual UK-Australian citizen.

Senator Nash has told federal parliament she had received advice from the UK Home Office that she may be a British citizen.

Senator Nash said she made her own inquiries with the UK Home Office on Monday, following Mr Joyce's statement regarding his citizenship.

"By Monday evening I was advised that a caseworker at the UK Home Office was of the view that on the basis of the limited facts that I had provided, I was a British citizen by descent through my Scottish-born father," she said.

"My parents divorced when I was eight and my mother raised me. I had very little contact with my father throughout his life and he died nine years ago. My mother died five years ago.

"Growing up, my parents always told me that I was not a dual citizen."

She sought further advice which was received later in the week, while advice from the solicitor-general was only received this evening.

"I have just met with the Prime Minister and am taking this opportunity to make the Senate aware at the earliest possible opportunity of the position," Senator Nash said.

"I can advise honourable Senators that on the basis of the solicitor-general's advice the PM has indicated to me that he sees no reason for me to stand aside from my portfolio responsibilities.

"I will also continue as deputy leader of the National party."

Like the dual nationality case of Barnaby Joyce, Senator Nash's case will be referred to the High Court.

The Senate would be asked to refer her case to the High Court when parliament returns on September 4.

Politician's Citizenship: Who's next?: Is Barnaby Joyce the tip of the iceberg?