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Grattan on Friday: If High Court disqualifies Canavan, Joyce will be scratching for Cabinet replacement

The Senate, bordering on the farcical all year, has finally descended into burlesque, with the tale of the bright young Cabinet minister whose mum made him a son of her parents’ old country.

Before the strange case of the Nationals’ Matthew Canavan burst into public view, the Senate had already lost four of its number, under various parts of the constitution’s Section 44, including the Greens’ two co-deputies within a week.

And then there’s been the media chase after One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts, in pursuit of documents to back his assertion he didn’t hold British citizenship when he nominated for the Senate.

Mr Canavan’s story of how he was signed up for Italian citizenship — unknown to him, he says — by his Australian-born mother of Italian heritage, is as bizarre as they come.

It’s anyone’s guess whether the High Court will find he’s in breach of Section 44, which rules out dual citizens standing for Parliament.

There are differences here with the circumstances of the two Greens, who were born overseas and hadn’t quashed their other citizenship, making their ineligibility clearer cut. Neither chose to dispute the situation.

Legal experts are unsure what the High Court may conclude on Mr Canavan. There are also claims and counter-claims of what one is required, or not required, to do to become Italian.

So, it is not surprising the Government has decided to fight for Mr Canavan, who has resigned as a minister while his parliamentary status is determined.

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