As the dual-citizenship crisis claimed its third parliamentary victim, Labor has called on the government to declare if there are any others in it ranks that may be affected.
On Thursday, senior opposition spokesman Jim Chalmers said the government needed to “come clean” and that the country needed “certainty” following LNP senator Matt Canavan’s stepping down from his ministerial role after it was revealed he held dual Australian and Italian citizenship.
“If there are other Coalition MPs in the same boat, we should hear about it.” Senator Chalmers told Sky News.
Senator Canavan maintains he was unaware that he held dual nationality until the controversy erupted earlier this month. It has come to light that his mother acted to gain him the Italian citizenship, by way of her heritage, when was 25 years old but without his knowledge. Exactly why remains unclear.
Upon the revelation, the senator resigned his post as the Resources and Northern Australia Minister. However, Mr Canavan, who insists he had no knowledge of the citizenship nor ever gave consent to it, says he will stay in his seat while he takes the issue to the High Court.
It is against the Constitution of Australia for an individual to assume a seat in the federal parliament if they hold the citizenship of another country. If a person does hold such citizenship, they must formally renounce it to hold only Australian citizenship, before running for a seat in the upper or lower house.
Earlier this month two senior Greens senators, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, were forced to resign from parliament when it was revealed they held dual nationality. Both also claim they thought they only held Australian citizenship, however Mr Ludlam learned he held New Zealand citizenship while Ms Waters learned that by a quirk of Canadian legislating she had maintained her citizenship there automatically from birth (born to Australian parents who were studying there) by a matter of just a few days. She has not been to Canada since when was 11 months old, she says.
The issue has forced overseas born federal parliamentarians to review and even prove their status. When the issue erupted a fortnight ago former prime minister Tony Abbott was quick to release his documentation showing that he had renownced his UK citizenship – he was born in England – before entering parliament.
TOP IMAGE: Senator Matt Canavan. (Via MattCanavan.com.au)