CANAVAN'S CRISIS: Rockhampton-based Senator Matt Canavan has resigned from his Ministerial roles following shocking revelations he holds dual-Italian citizenship.
CANAVAN'S CRISIS: Rockhampton-based Senator Matt Canavan has resigned from his Ministerial roles following shocking revelations he holds dual-Italian citizenship. LUKAS COCH

Canavan resigns: CQ crusader rocked by dual-citizen crisis

UPDATE: SENATOR Matt Canavan is confident he can stay in Cabinet following sensational revelations he is a dual citizen of Italy.

The Rockhampton-based politician addressed media this evening alongside Attorney-General George Brandis in Brisbane.

Sen Canavan announced he had resigned from his roles as Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, and would "step aside" from Cabinet until the matter is resolved in the High Court.

Attorney-General George Brandis addressed media following shock revelations Senator Matt Canavan is a dual Italian citizen.
Attorney-General George Brandis addressed media following shock revelations Senator Matt Canavan is a dual Italian citizen. MICK TSIKAS

Mr Brandis said Sen Canavan had informed the Prime Minister that he had only recently been made aware his mother, Maria, had become an Italian citizen in 2006, effectively granting him the same status.

He told media he did not believe Sen Canavan was in breach of Section 44 of the constitution, which holds that people who are citizens of other countries can not be elected to parliament in Australia.

Mr Brandis said the government had taken advice from the Solicitor General and was in the process of taking advice from experts in Italian Law.

"Because it (citizenship) was gained without Senator Canavan's knowledge or consent he is not in breach of section 44 of the constitution," Mr Brandis said.

Sen Canavan moved to Rockhampton as he commenced his political career with the LNP, and is considered a rising star in the Coalition since he was elected in 2013.

During his term, the 36 year old has been a passionate advocate for Central Queensland issues,and has been the Australian Government's spokesman spruiking the benefits of Adani's Carmichael mine project.

"In 2006, my mother lodged documents with the Italian consulate in Brisbane to become an Italian citizen," he said.

"In doing so, it would appear that she made an application for me to become an Italian citizen as well,"
"I was 25 years old at the time.  

Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan
Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan Luke Mortimer

"While I knew that my mother had become an Italian citizen I had no knowledge that I myself had become an Italian citizen.  

"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.  

Sen Canavan said after two Greens senators last week stood down due to their dual citizen status, his mother raised the possibility that he could also hold Italian citizenship.

"The Italian authorities have confirmed that the application for Italian citizenship was not signed by me," he said.

"To my knowledge I have not received any correspondence from Italian authorities about my citizenship status, and they have not been able to provide any such records. 

"In the short time available I have not been able to obtain definitive legal advice as to whether my registration as an Italian citizen, without my knowledge or consent, was valid under Italian law.    

"I am seeking to obtain that advice presently.   

"On the basis of the advice the Government has obtained it is not my intention to resign from the Senate.   

"However, given the uncertainty raised by this matter, I will stand aside until the matter is finally resolved, and resign as the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia."

Sen Canavan claimed he had not signed any documents to gain Italian citizenship, and had not, to his knowledge, had any correspondence regarding the matter.

He said he had informed the Prime Minister of his decision.

He did not take questions following his brief media address.  

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has taken on Senator Canavan's portfolio.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will take on Senator Matt Canavan's portfolio.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will take on Senator Matt Canavan's portfolio. Adam Hourigan

 

INITIAL REPORT: Queensland senator Matt Canavan is understood to be involved in the dual citizenship crisis due to his mother's Italian ancestry.

His office and Senator Canavan himself were not responding to The Morning Bulletin calls but it is expected a statement will be made soon.

The dual citizenship issue has already claimed Greens co-deputy leaders Larissa Waters (also a Queensland senator) and Scott Ludlam.

Section 44 of the Constitution makes dual citizens ineligible to hold elected office, and the current political crisis has triggered calls for a change to the rules. 

 

There are media reports he has quit the Cabinet. Mr Canavan currently holds the positions of Minister for Northern Australia and Resources.

He is expected to hold a media conference in Brisbane shortly.

More to come.



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