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Rebekha Sharkie

Rebekha Sharkie House.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Mayo
Assumed office
28 July 2018
Preceded by Herself
In office
2 July 2016 – 11 May 2018
Preceded by Jamie Briggs
Succeeded by Herself
Personal details
Born
Rebekha Carina Che

24 August 1972 (1972-08-24) (age 47)
Torbay, England
Nationality
  • Australian (since 19 March 2007)
  • British (until 29 June 2016)
Political party Nick Xenophon Team / Centre Alliance (2013–present)
Other political
affiliations
Democrat (1990–2002)
Liberal (2010–2012)
Spouse(s)
  • Kain Selby-Fullgrabe
    (div. 1998)
  • Nathan Sharkie (m. 1999)
Children 3
Residence Birdwood, South Australia
Alma mater Flinders University
Occupation Legal researcher
(Liberal Party of Australia)
Policy adviser
(Department for Communities and Social Inclusion)
Profession Paralegal

Rebekha Carina Che Sharkie (born 24 August 1972) is an Australian politician. She is a member of the Australian House of Representatives, representing the Division of Mayo in South Australia. At the 2016 federal election she defeated Liberal Jamie Briggs, and was the first Nick Xenophon Team member to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives. On 11 May 2018, Sharkie resigned from the House of Representatives as a part of the 2017–18 Australian parliamentary eligibility crisis. She contested the 2018 Mayo by-election on 28 July, and was returned to parliament.

Early life and education

Sharkie was born in Torbay, England in 1972 to British and American parents. The family moved to Australia when Sharkie was two years old. She studied international relations and public policy at Flinders University. Sharkie became a naturalised Australian on 19 March 2007, and formally renounced her British citizenship in 2016.

Career

Sharkie worked as a paralegal in Darwin and South Australia.

Political life

As a university student, Sharkie had handed out how-to-vote cards for Australian Democrats Janine Haines. In 2006, she worked as a researcher for then-South Australian Liberal opposition leader Isobel Redmond. In 2008, she worked as an electorate officer for Briggs for six months. She has also worked for South Australian state Liberal MP Rachel Sanderson.

Although she had worked for Liberals for some time, Sharkie did not formally join the party until 2010. She left it in 2012 when she was appointed the national Executive Officer Youth Connections. When that program was defunded by the Liberal government at the end of 2014, she became Senior Manager and Head of Donor relations at Helping Young People Achieve (HYPA) a NFP that assists young disadvantaged people in South Australia.

Sharkie considered running for the Liberals in the 2014 state election in the safe seat of Schubert, only to be told that she needed the blessing of federal minister Christopher Pyne and federal senator Cory Bernardi, the highest-ranking federal MPs from the moderate and conservative factions of the SA Liberals, before seeking preselection. Sharkie told The Australian that when she learned she couldn't stand without the "anointing" of Pyne and Bernardi, she was appalled. She asked, "Are you serious? A branch doesn't choose?" Combined with her anger at the "ditch the witch" campaign against Julia Gillard, she was thus very receptive when then-independent Senator Nick Xenophon announced he was forming his own party to stand candidates in the upcoming federal election. Initially serving as a volunteer for the newly-formed Nick Xenophon Team, she ultimately agreed to stand in Mayo. Although Mayo had been a very safe Liberal seat for most of its existence, polling suggested that if Labor directed its preferences to Sharkie, she could take the seat off the Liberals.

In the 2 July 2016 election, Sharkie defeated her former boss, Briggs, 55% to 45% in the two-party-preferred vote. On the first count, she finished only three percent behind Briggs, who lost over 16 percent of his primary vote from 2013. This allowed her to ultimately defeat Briggs on Labor preferences.

She became the first NXT member of the Australian House of Representatives, joining a cross-bench of five members not aligned to either major party. She is the first woman and the first non-Liberal member to represent Mayo.

On 9 May 2018, Sharkie announced her resignation from the House of Representatives following the High Court of Australia ruling that Senator Katy Gallagher was ineligible to contest the 2016 election as a consequence of the 2017–18 Australian parliamentary eligibility crisis. Like Gallagher, Sharkie had failed to complete renunciation of her British citizenship before nomination in the 2016 federal election. She contested the 2018 Mayo by-election on 28 July, and was returned to parliament with a swing in her favour.

Personal

Sharkie is married to Nathan. They live in Birdwood, South Australia. She has three children from her previous marriage to Kain Selby-Fullgrabe which ended around 2008.

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Jamie Briggs
Member for Mayo
2016–2018, 2018–present
Incumbent

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