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Interview: Tom Iggulden, Political Correspondent -

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EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: I'm joined now by political correspondent Tom Iggulden in Canberra. Welcome back Tom.


EMMA ALBERICI: It seems Barnaby Joyce is convinced that Matt Canavan's mum is responsible for this whole drama but I take it that's not washing with everyone in Canberra?

TOM IGGULDEN: That's right. Some of the usual suspects, the rogues gallery if you like amongst some of the other senators here in Parliament, have been questioning that version of events put forward by Matt Canavan, essentially that his mum did this without his knowledge or consent.

Importantly, Bob Katter, for example, I spoke to him this afternoon and he released a press release as well basically saying that the story insults his intelligence and saying he doesn't believe a word of it essentially and that the Government has to do much better if they want to convince people at home that this is exactly what happened.

And there's been some other criticism as well, Cory Bernardi, the conservative Senator he says that this is the equivalent to "the dog ate my homework" excuse. He himself is of course of Italian extraction as well and says he had to go through all of this himself and there's simply no excuse here.

Now the Opposition of course is treading much more lightly than any of that they are I guess taking Senator Canavan at his word for now. But there is a note I guess of caution in what they've been saying too, we'll have a listen now to what Bill Shorten the Opposition Leader has been saying about that.

BILL SHORTEN: We haven't seen all the facts yet and that's why I'm not going to jump up and down too much. As I said, it's still got to go to the court. But how does an adult become a citizen of another country without signing a form?

EMMA ALBERICI: Now it's going to be up to the High Court to sort all this out and of course that's where it should rest I suppose?

TOM IGGULDEN: Well that's right and this could take as long as six months some are suggesting today there's some quite complicated articles of law that the High Court has to consider here of course Section 44 of the Constitution is what they'll be talking about.

And it's important to note there are some differences here between what happened to the Greens' senators, Scott Ludlam and also to Larissa Waters.

Their cases were pretty clear cut and they've already left the Senate, now Senator Canavan as we said, said that he didn't consent to this application for Italian citizenship and that's something that will be central to the High Court case. They're going to have to decide whether or not that means he can stay in the Senate.

Important to note that the constitution itself is very black and white about this but the High Court itself did introduce sort of a note of flexibility if you like, when they made a ruling some years ago now that if you were the citizen of a country where you couldn't renounce that citizenship because of the laws of that country, essentially you could stay in parliament.

So that might be something that they view as equivalent to Senator Canavan's situation.

EMMA ALBERICI: Presumably they're going to have to test Italian processes and go all the way back to the town where Matt Canavan's parent's mother and her parents come from to see exactly what the process is to attain citizenship?

TOM IGGULDEN: That's right and the laws have changed. Italian laws have changed over the years as we know and as you know you went I think to the consulate today in Sydney and there's been a lot of chopping and changing in this area.

Fundamentally it comes back to this issue of dissent and how far back can you go to actually claim that citizenship and have the rules changed about that over the years. Something for the High Court to unpick there I'm obviously not going to try and do that right here with you now.

EMMA ALBERICI: Tricky territory. So Matt Canavan has joined now a pretty astonishing number and growing, as I take it, senators at this points. No-one in the House that we know so far?

TOM IGGULDEN: No well and thankfully for the Government if it was one of theirs. I mean with just a one seat majority that would obviously change things dramatically in the house.

But, yes, another Senator, Malcolm Roberts of the One Nation Party, he's been facing a little bit more pressure today to explain his citizenship status. He was born in India to a Welsh father.

BuzzFeed the online site today produced some documents it says showed that he actually travelled from India to the UK on a British passport back when he was just a baby. Now that doesn't seem to gel with something that Senator Roberts told the media last year that he's never been a British citizen. He's signed a statutory declaration to the effect that he's not a British citizen, but beyond that statutory declaration. We really don't have any evidence about his citizenship status at this point. There have been some been some, including Bob Katter, who say, "Look we really need to see more out of Senator Roberts just to clear this up."

EMMA ALBERICI: Especially considering he bangs on about wanting evidence about climate change and wanting to see the empirical evidence, well presumably it's not a stretch for us to want to see the evidence of his citizenship?

TOM IGGULDEN: Well that's right and look, One Nation seems pretty convinced that everything is hunky dory there and he has asked for a review from the Steven Parry the Senate President into this whole issue. So there will be more information coming out about this in due course Emma.

EMMA ALBERICI: Tom Iggulden, thanks very much.