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Canavan's dual citizenship case heard in the High Court

DUAL CITIZEN: Senator Matt Canavan's fate will soon be decided by the Australian High Court.
DUAL CITIZEN: Senator Matt Canavan's fate will soon be decided by the Australian High Court. Leighton Smith

IT IS unlikely Rockhampton based Senator Matt Canavan's will learn of his fate tomorrow on the final day of the High Court's hearing into his dual citizenship saga.

A constitutional law professor George Williams told southern media that given the court was examining seven cases simultaneously, it could be well after October before the matter was put to bed.

"We need a judgment from them, and their reasoning ... it's unlikely we will get a result on the day,” Mr Williams said.

"It could take some weeks after the [October] hearing to get a result.”

Mr Canavan resigned as resources minister in June, after learning of his Italian citizenship and has stayed in the senate awaiting the result of the high court case which commenced on Tuesday.

After initially blaming a 2006 application by his mother, Senator Canavan changed his submission to the High Court as new information came to hand conceding he had been an Italian citizen since he was two-years-old.

Mr Canavan spoke last week at CQUniversity regarding his changed submission to the High Court and his thoughts regarding the dual citizen furore.

"I've been always upfront with the Queensland people with the information I had, when I made my initial statement on the 25th of July, we were still seeking advice on the Italian legal situation and I mentioned that explicitly in my statement.

"It took us some time to get clarity on that, and indeed there's still conjecture on that about the exact applicability of Italian law in this environment.”

Mr Canavan said submissions from himself and others went in last week (two weeks ago now).

"I continue to think we have a strong case on the basis of those submissions but obviously now it's a matter for the High Court and I'm not going to engage in a running commentary on something before the court.

"Hopefully this will be resolved as soon as possible and I will respect the decision the High Court makes.”

DUAL CITIZEN: Senator Matt Canavan could have some time to wait for the final verdict from the High Court.
DUAL CITIZEN: Senator Matt Canavan could have some time to wait for the final verdict from the High Court. Leighton Smith

Over the past two days, the High Court has explored the complex details of Italian citizenship law that allows citizenship to flow through the generations indefinitely unless someone breaks the chain by renouncing their citizenship.

Speaking at the High Court, Mr Canavan's barrister David Bennett explained that initially, Italian citizenship only flowed through the male blood line.

When Mr Canavan's mother Maria was born, her mother was an Italian and her father had become an Australian citizen but when the Italian law changed in 1983 (when he was two), Italian citizenship could then be passed down by either parent and the change worked "retroactively”.

Mr Bennett argued that this "unlimited Italian citizenship chain” could pose big problems making it very hard for someone several generations down the chain to know they had a problem.

He said there was an ongoing argument between Italian constitutional lawyers whether this was "actual citizenship” or "potential citizenship” and argued that citizenship by descent rather than birth should be ignored for the purposes of section 44(i) of the constitution.

If the rule was upheld against Senator Canavan, his lawyer argued that it was bad news for Australians wanting to enter parliament and could lead to a "genealogical witch hunt”.

Senator Canavan told Nine News previously that he may quit politics if the high court rules him ineligible to sit in the Senate, saying it will be up to his wife to decide if he continues.

DUAL CITIZEN: Senator Matt Canavan believes they have a strong case but will accept the ruling of the High Court.
DUAL CITIZEN: Senator Matt Canavan believes they have a strong case but will accept the ruling of the High Court. Leighton Smith

"I've told the boss, my wife, if the worst outcome happens she is the boss and we'll work out what we do when and if that happened,” Mr Canavan said.

"I'd love to continue doing it but I've always said that my job as a father is much more important than my job as a senator, I've got five kids, so we'll just see what happens next for me, if that happened.”



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