We know it’s hard for people to keep up with the various stories on offer from the motley crew of MPs and senators dragged off to the High Court by their citizenship status. Keeping track of Malcolm Roberts’ various accounts proved tough even for his own lawyer, who appeared to more or less give up on him and told the court it should make up its own mind about how credible he was.

But Matt Canavan, too, has shown a considerable degree of flexibility in his account of his citizenship. Back in July, the senator for the great state of Denial blamed his mum, telling us

“In 2006, my mother lodged documents with the Italian consulate in Brisbane to become an Italian citizen. In doing so, it would appear that she made an application for me to become an Italian citizen as well. I was 25 years old at the time.”

But then, in August, Canavan changed his story. His lawyer told the court that in fact he was Italian by descent from 1983, after an Italian case led to a change in law. 

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“When he was two years old, in 1983, a case was heard in the Italian Constitutional Court which challenged the legislation as being discriminatory and unconstitutional. The court upheld the challenge and as a result the legislation was amended so that citizenship now passed through the male or female lines, again for an unlimited number of generations, and that law was made retrospective to persons born after 1948…”

In making that argument, Canavan’s lawyer then argued that his mother’s actions were now “irrelevant”.

Yesterday, Canavan’s story shifted again. In his latest submission to the High Court, his mother is now entirely off the hook.

“The document Senator Canavan’s mother completed does not purport (a) to seek that any of the children be registered, or (b) to elect to take citizenship on her own behalf or on behalf of her children. The registration, when it took effect, did not have any effect on her or her children’s actual citizenship.”

It’s a bad idea, and a bad look, to blame your mum for anything. But to blame her and then admit she never did anything wrong… we hope Canavan of the Coal Heaps did the right thing and sent some roses and Red Tulip chockies home.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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