SENATOR ON LIST OF ITALY VOTERS
SENATOR Matt Canavan has been listed on the Registry of Italians Residing Abroad and Italian voting forms were automatically sent to him at his mother’s address for the past 10 years.
But the rising LNP star, who resigned from Cabinet on Tuesday due to the dual citizenship scandal, yesterday reiterated he has never received or viewed a ballot.
In a dramatic turn for the Government, Senator Canavan this week revealed his mother, who was also born in Australia but of Italian descent, had signed him up for Italian citizenship. Under the Constitution a person who holds dual citizenship is ineligible for Parliament.
Senator Canavan said his mother made the application in 2006 when she herself applied for citizenship, but without his consent or knowledge, while he was aged 25.
Senator Canavan’s parents kept a low profile yesterday. His father appeared at the door of their Brisbane home, but declined to comment.
The validity of the citizenship will be tested in the High Court – and there is potential
precedent to suggest a person must “accept or acquiesce” to foreign citizenship to be ruled ineligible.
People listed on the Registry of Italians Residing Abroad are automatically sent voting forms for elections. It is understood the forms were sent to his mother’s address.
The most recent Italian election was held in February 2013 and prior to that in 2008 and 2006.
A spokesman for Senator Canavan said he had not voted in an Italian election and had never received or viewed any ballot papers.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce yesterday said Senator Canavan had discussed Italian citizenship with his mother in 2005, but had never signed any form.
“Senator Canavan has stated to me that he did not complete any forms so it was a discussion the family had and he thought that’s where it’s rested,” he said.
“From what has been conveyed to me, he had no inter- est in becoming an Italian citizen.”
Mr Joyce said it was “an incredibly difficult time” for Senator Canavan’s mother and that she would be “at her wits’ end”.
Greens leader Richard di Natale has said Senator Canavan should follow Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlum, also caught up in dual citizenship matters, and resign from the Senate.
Mr Joyce said Senator Canavan was not resigning from the Senate. “We don’t even know at this stage whether there was a valid registration in Italy,” he said.
Government sources have continued talking up Senator Canavan’s chances of beating a Constitution challenge to his eligibility.
The matter will have to be referred to the High Court by the Senate, which does not sit again until August 8.
It is understood Senator Canavan is not able to be represented by the Solicitor-General and will have to seek his own representation.