Matt Canavan quits cabinet as doubts over his citizenship are raised

Resources Minister Matt Canavan has resigned from the cabinet amid citizenship doubts and his eligibility to sit in federal parliament.

Under the Australian constitution members of parliament must relinquish their citizenship of other nations before running for office. In recent weeks two senators from The Greens have been forced to resign after it was revealed that they unknowing held dual citizenship.

Western Australian senator Scott Ludlam resigned from parliament after he discovered he held New Zealand citizenship, and Queensland’s Senator Larissa Waters was also forced to step down after discovering she held Canadian citizenship.

Senator Canavan said he only became aware of his potential Italian citizenship last week when his mother informed him that when she applied for Italian citizenship eleven years ago, she had also registered him.

Canavan, who was the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, held a press conference yesterday where he announced he would step down from his Ministerial responsibilities but would remain in the parliament.

“I had no knowledge that I had become an Italian citizen, nor had I requested to become an Italian citizen,” he said.

Senator Canavan said he was not born in Italy, had never visited country and did not sign the forms that had been submitted by his mother.

“Until last week, I had no ­suspicion that I could be an Italian citizen. I was not born in Italy and have never been to Italy.” he said.

Attorney General George Brandis said the government would refer the matter to The High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, to ascertain if Senator Canavan would still be eligible to remain in parliament.

“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,” Senator Brandis said.

Nationals’ leader Barnaby Joyce will take over Senator Canavan’s ministerial responsibilities until his issue of his citenship is resolved. This morning Joyce defended Senator Canavan describing him as an exemplary person.

Greens’ leader Richard di Natale said Senator Canavan should follow the example of Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters and resign from parliament.

OIP Staff

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