The family of the senator now at the centre of Australia's parliamentary citizenship mess discussed taking out Italian citizenship more than a decade ago – however the senator didn't sign any forms, according to Nationals leader and deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.
Resources minister Matt Canavan, 36, resigned from Cabinet on Tuesday afternoon after it was revealed the rising Liberal National star was the latest Australian senator to unknowingly hold dual citizenship and therefore be ineligible to run for parliament.
Canavan blamed his mother for the stuff up, suggesting she filled out his forms and completed the citizenship process on his behalf in 2006 when he was a 25-year-old.
Unlike Greens senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam, Canavan did not resign from parliament, telling the media that he would contest in the High Court that his Italian citizenship should be held legally invalid, as he did not consent to his mother's actions.
On Wednesday, Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce fronted reporters and said that while Canavan did not consent to getting Italian citizenship, his family had apparently discussed taking out the dual citizenship.
"Senator Canavan has stated to me that he did not complete any forms, so it was a discussion the family had, and he thought that's where it's rested," Joyce said.
"I think they've found the forms and they're unsigned."
Joyce also personally vouched for Canavan, telling the media he was the godfather to the young senator's daughter.
A reporter raised the fact that Canavan's Italian citizenship was supposedly being lodged around the same time that Matt Canavan's father Bryan was being charged, along with a colleague, with embezzling $1.6 million from their employer Nestle.
In 2007 Bryan Canavan was sentenced to seven years in jail.
On Wednesday, Joyce said he didn't think there was any link between Bryan Canavan's legal issues and his son's Italian citizenship.
ABC Lateline presenter and Italian dual citizen Emma Alberici has also posted video from the Italian Consulate in Sydney, claiming officials outlined to her that citizenship could not be taken out without an individual being present.
Citing official channels, Alberici cast doubt on Canavan's story, saying the citizenship process had not changed in the last 20 years.
“Once you become an adult you need to present in person and fill out the forms yourself," Alberici said. "A parent cannot do that on your behalf."
Senior Labor MP Tony Burke appeared on ABC's Lateline on Tuesday night and said he was left confused with Canavan's story.
"I mean, I don't fully understand the explanation that he's given, I've got to say," Burke said. "I've tried to piece together how it is that something like this [happened], or why on earth something like this would be kept secret from him?"
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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