Greek-Australian Senator Fights to Clear Citizenship Worries

South Australian crossbench senator Nick Xenophon says letters he sent to the Greek and Cypriot governments to renounce any possible rights to citizenship will “put the matter to rest”, after the government questioned his eligibility to sit in parliament.

Senator Xenophon, who leads a crucial bloc of three upper house MPs, revealed on Monday he had never heard back from the Greek embassy and Cypriot high commission when he wrote to clarify his citizenship status in 2007, before he entered the Senate.

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne threatened to refer to the High Court Labor MPs the government believes could be in breach of section 44 of the Constitution, which deems a dual citizen incapable of being elected, and urged Senator Xenophon to clear up his circumstances.

Senator Xenophon was born in Adelaide in 1959 to a Greek mother and Cypriot father. “He’s admitted that he hadn’t actually ever heard from the Greek or Cypriot government that he’s not a citizen of (that) country, so in fact he needs to answer that question,” Mr Pyne said on ABC radio.

Senator Xenophon’s letters are in storage but he said he would retrieve them this weekend.

“I never have been, never will be (a citizen of those countries) and my letters will put the matter to rest,” he told The Australian.

The Greek embassy in Canberra states a person acquires Greek nationality at the time of birth if they are born to a Greek parent, and a citizen must be duly registered in the records of a municipality of the Hellenic Republic. “The certificate of registration constitutes legal proof of Greek citizenship,” the embassy says.

Citizenship law for Cyprus is less clear and relates to births after August 1960.

Source: The Australian