Ro­man law of­fers Cana­van lifeline

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - MICHAEL WRAY

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”.

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