South Australian senator Nick Xenophon is making inquiries with the British Home Office about his citizenship status.
“This really is turning into a train wreck for the Federal Parliament,” he says
His father Theodoros Xenophou is from Cyprus, which was a British colony until 1960, and records show he travelled to Australia in 1951 as a British citizen.
Senator Xenophon changed his name from Xenophou to Xenophon.
He said he contacted British authorities this week and hopes to have an answer early next week about whether that means he might have dual citizenship by descent.
Senator Xenophon called it a technicality and foreshadowed it may need to be determined by the High Court.
“We will just have to wait for the UK Home Office to provide us with all the information and I am happy to release it all, which I hope I will have by Monday or Tuesday at the latest,” he said.
“The ordinary course of events is that you go to the High Court, I think the High Court is going to be very, very, very busy in the next few months but this just shows you how Section 44 is, in some respects, quite imprecise.
“I have done everything in good faith, I have never had citizenship of another country.”
He said his political opponents have been taunting him in the corridors of Parliament House saying, “that they are going to get me”.
“It is really quite pathetic,” Senator Xenophon said.
Like other parliamentarians facing questions over their citizenship, Senator Xenophon said he was “quite shocked” to learn about the possibility he has dual citizenship.
He said as well as contacting the UK Home Office, he has been in touch with the UK High Commission.
“This really is turning into a train wreck for the Federal Parliament,” he said.
“I am doing all I can to clarify and to sort it out.
“The great irony here is that my father left Cyprus in 1951 in order to get away from British occupation of Cyprus, and the suggestion that I could be a British citizen is something that would absolutely horrify my father given the reasons he left Cyprus in the first place.”
Nationals in strife
Nationals senator Fiona Nash revealed she was a dual British citizen by descent because her father was born in Scotland, and the High Court would consider her eligibility for Parliament.
Senator Xenophon’s mother was born in Greece and he has previously written to both the Greek embassy and Cypriot high commission to renounce any potential citizenship of those countries.
A total of six federal parliamentarians have already been referred to the High Court because of questions over their citizenship — Greens Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, Nationals Matt Canavan, Barnaby Joyce and Senator Nash and One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts.
Questions have also been raised about Labor MPs, including Tony Zappia and Maria Vamvakinou.
The ALP insists they are not dual citizens, but it has not released their papers proving their status.