Shock Canavan ministry resignation

Shock Canavan ministry resignation amid citizenship questions


Farm Online News
Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan.

Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan.

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NORTHERN Australia and Resources Minister Matt Canavan has stood down from the federal ministry amid revelations he may hold dual citizenship and therefore be ineligible for the Senate.

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NORTHERN Australia and Resources Minister Matt Canavan has stood down from the federal ministry amid revelations he may hold dual citizenship and therefore be ineligible for the Senate.

Senator Canavan held a media conference at 5.45pm today with Attorney General George Brandis, as the news surfaced about his resignation from the ministry.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce would act in the capacity of the two ministerial positions, until Senator Canavan’s status was resolved.

Senator Brandis said Senator Canavan approached the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and him to inform them that he had received advice from the Italian Embassy that, according to their records, he was registered as an Italian citizen.

He said the circumstances Senator Canavan came to be registered as an Italian citizen occurred in 2006, when his mother - who is of Italian heritage - registered both herself and members of her family, including Senator Canavan, with the Italian consulate in Brisbane as an Italian resident abroad, which is a form of citizenship.

“Senator Canavan - who was an adult at the time - did not authorise this to be done on his behalf,” he said.

“The first he became aware that his mother had done so was when she raised the matter with him on July 18.

“He then sought urgent advice from the Italian Embassy, which was only confirmed yesterday afternoon.

“In the meanwhile, the Government has taken advice from the Solicitor-General, and we are in the process of taking advice from experts in Italian citizenship law.

“It is the Government's preliminary view that, because the registration was obtained without Senator Canavan's knowledge or consent, that he is not in breach of Section 44 of the Constitution.

“Nevertheless, in view of the legal uncertainty concerning the matter, when the Senate convenes on Tuesday week, the Government will move to refer the matter for determination by the High Court.”

Senator Canavan’s resignation comes after two Greens Senators – Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam – resigned after discovering they held dual citizenship and therefore breached parliamentary rules of eligibility, as per section 44 of the constitution.

Senator Canavan said “I have become aware that, according to the Italian Government, I am a citizen of Italy”.

But he said “I was not born in Italy - I have never been to Italy”.

“To my knowledge, I've never stepped foot in Italian consulate or embassy,” he said.

“Until last week, I had no suspicion that I could possibly be an Italian citizen.”

Senator Canavan said in lodging documents with the Italian consulate in Brisbane to become an Italian citizen it appeared his mother also made an application for him to become an Italian citizen as well.

“I was 25 years old at the time,” he said.

“My mother was born in Australia but was able to obtain Italian citizenship through her parents, who were both born in Italy.

“While I knew that my mother had become an Italian citizen, I had no knowledge that I, myself, had become an Italian citizen - nor had I requested to become an Italian citizen.

“Following the reporting of senators Ludlam and Waters last week, my mother raised with me the possibility that I was, in fact, an Italian citizen on Tuesday evening.

“I have, since then, taken steps to check my citizenship status with the Italian authorities, and that has confirmed that I was registered as an Italian citizen in January 2007.

“The Italian authorities have confirmed that the application for Italian citizenship was not signed by me.

“To my knowledge, until this week, I have not received any correspondence from the Italian authorities about my citizenship status, and they have not been able to provide any such records.

“In the short time available, I have not been able to obtain definitive legal advice as to whether my registration as an Italian citizen, without my knowledge or consent, was valid under Italian law.

“I am seeking to obtain that advice presently.

“On the basis of the advice the government has obtained, and that (Senator Brandis) outlined, it is not my intention to resign from the Senate.

“However, given the uncertainty around this matter, I will stand aside until the matter is finally resolved, and resign as the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia.

“I have informed the Prime Minister of that course of action.”

On Twitter, Ms Waters said she and Senator Canavan “disagree on almost everything”, especially the Adani mine, “but my heart goes out to him, family and staff”.

On Twitter, Ms Waters said she and Senator Canavan “disagree on almost everything”, especially the Adani mine, “but my heart goes out to him, family and staff”.

The 36 year old Senator Canavan is considered one of the rising starts in federal parliament and is a former chief of staff to Mr Joyce and strong supporter of the Nationals leader.

He was first elected as a Queensland Senator at the 2013 federal election and has been a strong supporter of farmers’ interests and protecting rural communities, showing a sharp economic approach to policy.

However, he has also attracted ongoing criticism from environmental groups due to his support for coal mining and in particular the Adani coal mine in his home state.

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