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Nick's replacement says 'it's time'

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November 14, 2017

Rex Patrick will replace former SA senator Nick Xenophon at a swearing in ceremony on Wednesday.

Straight up, Rex Patrick addresses the elephant in the room.

"Yes, I was born in New Zealand, and Yes, my citizenship has been renounced," he says.

Mr Patrick, about to be Senator Patrick, is expected to be approved on Tuesday to replace the popular Nick Xenophon in federal parliament's upper house in a joint sitting of the South Australian parliament.

He will then head to Canberra to be sworn in to join his Nick Xenophon Team colleagues, Skye Kakoschke-Moore and Stirling Griff, a group he says occupies the "sensible centre of politics".

Before working as a political staffer in then-Senator Xenophon's office, the 50-year-old was a senior company executive, business owner and before that, served on submarines with the Australian Navy.

Ironically, he didn't need to denounce his New Zealand citizenship to serve in the military. He only needed to become a naturalised Australian.

For the past two years, he's worked to advise the man he replaces, describing Mr Xenophon as "the best of the best".

In that sense, Mr Patrick knows he has big shoes to fill, but argues he brings some special strengths to the team.

From his time as a submariner, he has particular expertise in defence and plans to champion the cause to maximise Australian involvement in the construction of the next fleet of submarines.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne previously suggested 90 per cent local content was possible, and Mr Patrick says the NXT plans to hold him to that.

He also expects to focus heavily on issues surrounding the Murray-Darling Basin and the future of manufacturing in Australia, as well as cutting energy prices for businesses and households.

He believes the role of the groups like the NXT is pretty clear and feels he and his colleagues can successfully negotiate with both the coalition and Labor in the months and years ahead.

"We work with governments," he said.

"We nudge them in the right direction."

More personally, Mr Patrick believes the time is right for him to enter the fray, notwithstanding the turmoil that is swirling around federal parliament over the citizenship saga, something he describes as an unwanted distraction.

He was actually asked by Mr Xenophon to stand on the party's ticket at the 2016 election, but declined, preferring to gather more experience in the ways of politics before taking the plunge.

"I think I'm ready for it now," he told AAP.

"I'm pretty keen to influence governments, to get better outcomes, to help constituents who might struggle otherwise to deal with governments.

"I come at this now after 10 years in the Navy; I spent time in international business and then I ran my own company.

"I kind of know the ropes. I feel very comfortable and keen to go off and do this."

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