The slow-witted Matthew Canavan, just recently the subject of an essay here for one of his idiotic tweets1, has now been found to have dual citizenship, the other one being Italian. Although born in Australia, he was eligible for Italian citizenship, and he states that his Mum signed him up just over a decade ago2. It is difficult not to laugh.
Unlike Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam who, under the mistaken belief that the Constitution actually meant something, resigned from Parliament upon finding they were dual nationals3, Canavan has only resigned from his ministerial position in Cabinet and still sits in Parliament2. Ludlam, who moved to Australia from New Zealand when he was 3 years old, has said responsibility for the “avoidable oversight” was entirely his3. Waters was a Canadian citizen, having left Canada when she was 11 months old, and has not visited the country subsequently4.
The funny thing is that upon hearing of the Waters-Ludlam resignations, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull bored it up the Greens for being ‘incredibly sloppy’. Even funnier is James Paterson’s tweet (18/7/2017) saying “Amazed at suggestions we should allow foreign nationals to serve in the Australian Parliament because two Green MPs can’t manage basic admin”. Indeed! When pointing a finger at people, it is always wise to remember that three fingers are pointing back at you. Because Waters and Ludlam were ineligible to hold office, it was normal practice for the Department of Finance to request they pay back their base parliamentary salaries of about $199,000 for each year they sat. However, the Federal Government waived that debt, as it had done for Bob Day and Rod Culleton, two other senators who were deemed ineligible to stand for Parliament (the latter hilariously being deemed ineligible to sit as well as stand). It pays to be a member of the club.
Attorney-General George Brandis has referred Canavan’s Mum’s transgression to the High Court in the hope that because he was unaware of it (as seemingly were Waters and Ludlam), the High Court would deem him not to be in breach of the Section 44 of the Constitution. Canavan should have resigned from Parliament as Waters and Ludlam did, but he is hoping that a note from his Mum will be enough to sway the High Court into granting him some sort of reprieve. It remains to be seen if such a rerun of the Shane Warne defence5 will be sufficient.