Former Turnbull government minister Matt Canavan, who resigned from Cabinet in July, blaming his mother for his dual Italian-Australian citizenship status, now says she did not register him as an Italian.
With the fate of six senators and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce to be decided by the High Court next month, Canavan’s latest court submission says his mother did not make him an Italian citizen, reports News.com.au.
Section 44 of the Constitution bars people with citizenship in a country other than Australian from standing for election.
Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters resigned when they discovered they were dual citizens, but NXT leader Nick Xenophon, One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts, Canavan, NSW Nationals senator Fiona Nash and Barnaby Joyce remain in parliament.
Last week in a preliminary hearing, the court concluded that Roberts had failed to properly renounce his British citizenship prior to standing for election.
The submission from Canavan’s lawyer tells the court that his mother did not seek to register any of her children as Italian citizens when she registered herself as an Italian citizen living abroad, according to News.
“The document Senator Canavan’s mother completed does not purport (a) to seek that any of the children be registered, or (b) to elect to take citizenship on her own behalf or on behalf on her children,” it says.
She gave him the paperwork, but he left it blank because the Australian-born senator didn’t want to be an Italian.
His lawyers now argue that he may have had citizenship since 1983 under changes to Italian law, and he has since renounced that citizenship.
And while government lawyers are arguing that only Malcolm Roberts and Greens senator Scott Ludlam should be ruled ineligible and the rest excused because they ignorant of their citizenship status, lawyers for the Greens are arguing that all the remaining politicians under a cloud should be ruled ineligible because ignorance is not a defence.
“Ignorance or wilful blindness ought not excuse a person from the constraints of the constitution that would disqualify a more diligent or more perceptive candidate,” the Greens submission says.
The High Court will sit to consider the matters on October 10.
News.com.au has more on the submissions from all the politicians involved here.
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