Roman law offers Canavan lifeline
SENATOR Matt Canavan’s political career could be saved by an Italian law that automatically revokes the citizenship of dual nationals serving in a foreign government or foreign army.
If Article 12 of Italy’s citizenship law applies in Mr Canavan’s ongoing drama, it could mean that when he was elected to the Senate in 2013, he was automatically stripped of the Italian citizenship he did not know he had.
Murdoch University constitutional law expert Lorraine Finlay said that if there was a clause blocking Italians from serving in a foreign government it could save Mr Canavan’s career.
“If it says that you automatically lose your citizenship when you become a representative of a foreign parliament, he would have lost his citizenship when he was first elected to the Australian Parliament in 2013,” she said.
“So then, when he went to nominate the second time around ( for the 2016 election), he would not have been a dual citizen. Effectively what you would have is that he would have been ineligible the first time he was nominated for parliament and for that first term in office but the High Court has already said we don’t go looking back through past parliaments and past votes so this would not be an issue moving forwards.”
Ms Finlay said the key time frame for the High Court was whether someone was a dual citizen at the time of their nomination for an election.
The Italian Consulate in Brisbane would not comment yesterday but according to citizenship advice on its website, Italian dual nationals can have their citizenship automatically stripped if they “voluntarily enlist in the armed forces of a foreign government or accept a government post with a foreign state, despite express prohibition by Italian law”.