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Transcript of statements on Senator Canavan's citizenship, Brisbane



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SENATOR THE HON GEORGE BRANDIS QC ATTORNEY-GENERAL LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE SENATE

SENATOR THE HON MATT CANAVAN

Transcript of Statements on Senator Canavan’s Citizenship, Brisbane

25 July 2017

E&OE…………………………………………………………………………………………

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Yesterday afternoon, Senator Canavan approached the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and me to tell us that he had received advice from the Italian Embassy that, according to their records, he was registered as an Italian citizen.

Senator Canavan will explain circumstances in which he came to be registered as an Italian citizen. In brief, it occurred in 2006 when Senator Canavan’s mother, who is of Italian heritage, registered both herself and members of her family, including Senator Canavan, with the Italian consulate in Brisbane as an “Italian Resident abroad,” which is a form of citizenship. Senator Canavan, who was an adult at the time, did not authorise this to be done on his behalf. The first he became aware that she had done so was when she raised the matter with him on 18 July. He then sought urgent advice from the Italian embassy, which was only confirmed yesterday afternoon.

In the meanwhile, the Government has taken advice from the Solicitor-General and we are in the process of taking advice from experts in Italian citizenship law. It is the Government’s preliminary view that, because the registration was obtained without Senator Canavan’s knowledge or consent, that he is not in breach of s. 44 of the Constitution. Nevertheless, in view of the legal uncertainty concerning the matter, when the Senate convenes on Tuesday week, the Government will move to refer the matter for determination by the High Court.

MINISTER CANAVAN: Well thank you, George. As George has outlined I have become aware that according to the Italian Government, I am a citizen of Italy. I was not born in Italy, I’ve never been to Italy and, to my knowledge, have never stepped foot in an Italian consulate or embassy. Until last week, I had no suspicion that I could possibly be an Italian citizen. In 2006, my mother lodged documents with the Italian consulate in Brisbane to become an Italian citizen. 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. My mother was born in Australia but was able to obtain Italian citizenship through her parents, who were both born in Italy. While

I knew that my mother had become an Italian citizen, I had no knowledge that I myself had become an Italian citizen, nor had I requested to become an Italian citizen.

Following the reporting of Senator Ludlam and Senator Waters last week, my mother raised with me, the possibility that I was in fact an Italian citizen, on Tuesday evening. I have, since then, taken steps to check my citizenship status with the Italian authorities and that has confirmed that I was registered as an Italian citizen in January 2007. The Italian authorities have confirmed that the application for Italian citizenship was not signed by me. To my knowledge, until this week I have not received any correspondence from the 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, and that George outlined, it is not my intention to resign from the Senate. However given the uncertainty around this matter, I will stand aside until the matter is finally resolved and resign as the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia. I have informed the Prime Minister of that course of action. Thank you.

ENDS