Resources minister Matthew Canavan stands down amid citizenship concerns

Matthew Canavan has resigned as federal minister for resources and Northern Australia after being the latest victim of the dual citizenship drama that has engulfed Australian politics this month.

In a statement, Canavan said his mother lodged documents with the Italian consulate in Brisbane to become an Italian citizen in 2006.

“In doing so, it would appear that she made an application for me to become an Italian citizen as well,” he said.

Canavan said he was unaware of his Italian citizenship, as he was neither born nor visited the country.

“While I knew that my mother had become an Italian citizen I had no knowledge that I myself had become an Italian citizen. Until last week I had no suspicion that I could be an Italian citizen. I was not born in Italy and have never been to Italy,” Canavan explained.

This comes shortly after two Greens senators, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, resigned over their dual citizenship; Ludlam over his dual citizenship with New Zealand and Waters over her Canadian citizenship.

Canavan said after news surfaced of Waters’ and Ludlam’s resignations, his mother suggested he possibly held Italian citizenship.

He said Italian authorities confirmed that he did not sign the application for his citizenship, however, he has unable to gain concrete evidence that his citizenship was valid.

“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,” he added. “I am seeking to obtain that advice.”

Canavan said it was not his intention to resign from the Senate, but he had done so in light of the uncertainty of his citizenship.

“Given the uncertainty raised by this matter, I will stand aside until the matter is finally resolved, and resign as the minister for resources and Northern Australia,” he said.

Despite being political opponents, Waters sympathised with Canavan, tweeting:

Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce will assume Canavan’s duties until the High Court determines his fate.

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