Senator Matt Canavan press conference in Rockhampton on his Italian citizenship.
Senator Matt Canavan press conference in Rockhampton on his Italian citizenship. Chris Ison

Rocky Senator in political crisis vows to put CQ first

UPDATE: SENATOR Matt Canavan earlier managed to find humour amidst the biggest political crisis of his career.

Upon return to his hometown Rockhampton, Senator Canavan addressed local media regarding the dual-Italian citizenship saga which has forced him to step aside from Cabinet and resign his ministry.

"I'm putting Rockhampton on the map," he joked, ahead of a series of quick-fire questions on his citizenship, correspondence with Italian officials and father's fraud conviction.

Senator Canavan continued to categorically deny any knowledge he could be an Italian citizen, and reiterated he will let the matter play out in the High Court rather than give a running commentary.

He advised he is making arrangements for his own legal representation.

Attention turned to Canavan's father, Bryan Michael Canavan, who was jailed with a colleague over a $1.6 million fraud against his former employer Nestle between 2001 and 2004.

Sen Canavan refused to go in depth on whether his conviction and subsequent jail-term had anything to do with his mother's decision in 2006 to register herself and family members as "Italian citizens abroad" - a form of citizenship with the consulate in Brisbane.

"I am not going to go into all the personal details of those things because they are not relevant to my position in the Senate," he said.

"It was a tough time for our family, as I say we stood together really strongly and I am proud that we did and we got through it and I am not going to go into any further details on that matter."

Despite three Italian elections and referendums in the past 11 years, Sen Canavan said he had not received any correspondence, although there are reports ballot papers were sent to his mother's address.

"I have not received any correspondence from Italian authorities, ballot papers, other correspondence or anything until the last week," he said.

"Again these will be matters for the court now and I am sure they will get to the bottom of it."

Sen Canavan said his family were staying strong through the ordeal.

"My mum acted with what she thought was my best interests and had no idea of the constitutional ramifications of any of this until the matters involving the two Greens senators were in the media in the last couple of weeks," he said.

Under Section 44 a person is disqualified from being elected if at the time of their election they are a citizen of "a foreign power" or otherwise have an "allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power".

Sen Canavan said he believes his case raises an important legal question with ramifications for future parliamentarians.

"It's important we let that process run now and let the court make its decision," he said.

"While obviously important for me, it's now a decision which is not just about my circumstance, it's going to establish principles which go to the heart of eligibility for many Australians to stand for the Australian Parliament."


2005: Canavans have a family discussion about becoming Italian citizens. Maria Canavan, mother of Matt, was born in Australia but has Italian-born parents. Matt expresses no interest in becoming an Italian citizen.   2006: Maria registers herself and family members as "Italian residents abroad" - a form of citizenship - with the Italian consulate in Brisbane. Written form signed by Maria includes 25-year-old son Matt. Matt is not immediately told of the form being lodged, but eventually becomes aware of his mother's Italian citizenship.   2007:  *JANUARY - Italy registers Matt as an Italian citizen.   *MAY - Bryan Michael Canavan, Matt's father, jailed with a colleague over a $1.6 million fraud against employer Nestle between 2001 and 2004.   2008: Matt takes up a job with KPMG in Brisbane.   2009: Matt becomes a director of the Productivity Commission.   2010: Matt joins Nationals, becomes chief of staff to then-senator Barnaby Joyce.   2013: Matt elected to the Senate for the Liberal National Party in Queensland. Takes up seat on July 1, 2014.   2015: SEPTEMBER - Matt appointed Nationals whip in the Senate.   2016:   *FEBRURARY - Matt appointed Minister for Northern Australia.   *JULY - Matt re-elected and appointed Minister for Resources and Northern Australia.  


BREAKING 12.30PM: SENATOR Matt Canavan is currently addressing the media in Rockhampton regarding his shock announcement on Tuesday evening that he may be a dual Italian citizen.

Senator Canavan has resigned from his position as minister for Resources and Northern Australia, but said he would stay on as a Senator until the High Court ruled as to whether he was eligible to serve.

READ MORE HERE: Canavan resigns: CQ crusader rocked by dual-citizen crisis

The Rockhampton based senator has remained tight-lipped on the issue since the initial announcement on Tuesday.

More to come.

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