FUTURE IN DOUBT: Senator Matt Canavan addresses the media earlier this year while Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd (left) looks on.
FUTURE IN DOUBT: Senator Matt Canavan addresses the media earlier this year while Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd (left) looks on. Mike Richards GLA070417MATT

Canavan's fate in High Court's hands after citizenship row


>> CQ Senator rocked by dual citizen crisis

THE FATE of Rockhampton-based Senator Matt Canavan rests in the hands of the High Court after his shock announcement on Tuesday evening that he may be a dual Italian citizen.

Dual citizens are unable to serve in the Australian parliament under section 44 of Australia's Constitution. Australian Greens Senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters resigned from the Senate earlier this month after discovering they were dual citizens of New Zealand and Canada respectively.

Senator Canavan has resigned from his position as minister for Resources and Northern Australia, but said he would stay on as a Senator until the High Court ruled as to whether he was eligible to serve.

He said his mother appeared to have lodged an Italian citizenship application for him without his knowledge in 2006, when he was 25 years old, and because he did not sign any papers his Italian citizenship may be ruled invalid.

"In the short time available I have not been able to obtain definitive legal advice as to whether my registration as an Italian citizen... was valid under Italian law," he said.

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"The Italian authorities have confirmed that the application for Italian citizenship was not signed by me... I was not born in Italy and have never been to Italy."

Before Senator Canavan's announcement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull marked the Greens Senators' resignations down to "sloppiness" - a view echoed by Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd yesterday when asked about Senator Canavan's predicament.

"It is sloppy. The Prime Minister said it, and whether he said it for the Greens or said it for anyone else... it's gotta be (called) sloppy," he told the ABC.

"I feel sorry for Matt... he had a great future in the National Party."

Matt Burnett, Mayor of the Gladstone region
LOSS: Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett. The Observer

Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett said Senator Canavan's resignation from Cabinet was a loss for central Queensland.

"We have got a great working relationship with Matt Canavan," he said.

"We've been working with him on the Rookwood Weir project, and he's a big supporter of another coal-fired power station for north Queensland which we want here in Gladstone... so now we'll have to have that conversation with another person.

"It's been great to have a Senator just 100 kilometres up the road."

Cr Burnett said Senator Canavan took an active interest in Gladstone affairs and he hoped the High Court ruled in the Senator's favour.

"He was here for our citizenship ceremony in January, and it's the first time in my 17 years on council that I can remember having a Senator at one of those ceremonies," Cr Burnett said.

"I'm very sad for him to be quite honest, and the circumstances in which it's happened are absolutely bizarre.

"I've been trying to work out how on Earth (someone) could be made a citizen of another country without their knowledge or consent - I wouldn't be surprised if the High Court recognises that and rules (him eligible)."

Shadow Minister for Communications Jason Clare targeted Tony Abbott in Question Time.
DISAPPOINTING: Shadow minister for Northern Australia Jason Clare. Stefan Postles

Canavan's citizenship woes "really disappointing": Clare

SHADOW minister for Northern Australia Jason Clare was anything but gleeful in the wake of his parliamentary counterpart's unfortunate revelation.

The Labor MP said the discovery of Senator Canavan's dual citizenship was "really disappointing" for the Rocky-based Senator.

"I'm sure he never expected this to happen," Mr Clare said.

"They've made a decision to get the High Court to have a look at it... we'll wait and see what the court says."

Mr Clare said the legal snag that has claimed three Senators in less than a month was not easy to fix.

"The difficulty here is... changing the Constitution is very, very hard," he said.

"I guess the obligation is on all candidates and all political parties to make sure that we put in place the right processes so that people check before they run for parliament."