Cit­i­zen­ship mess is un-aus­tralian

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - By Dean Law­son, edi­tor

Please, please! Can some­one make the dual-cit­i­zen­ship scan­dal rock­ing Aus­tralian pol­i­tics just go away?

We have a con­sti­tu­tional is­sue dat­ing back 116 years, which no one seemed to worry about too much in the past, dis­man­tling com­mon­sense demo­cratic process.

If only we had an ‘on’ or ‘off’ but­ton that could fix the prob­lem that in re­al­ity has the po­ten­tial of bring­ing down a gov­ern­ment.

As Aus­tralians, many of us can’t help but feel the fool­ish­ness ooz­ing from de­bate at the high­est level in the land with one of the most com­mon ques­tions com­ing from the av­er­age Aus­tralian be­ing: “Who bloody cares?”

Un­for­tu­nately, this is a con­sti­tu­tional is­sue based on Sec­tion 44.1 that sits there in writ­ing as clear as day. As part of the con­sti­tu­tion you can’t be a fed­eral par­lia­men­tar­ian if you hold dual cit­i­zen­ship and only the Aus­tralian peo­ple can change the rule by na­tional ref­er­en­dum. Groan.

It makes you won­der what else is in our con­sti­tu­tion that for some rea­son many of us Aus­tralians, un­like Amer­i­cans, haven’t re­ally cared too much about when it comes to the finer de­tails.

We ba­si­cally know how our gover­nance works – it’s based on a West­min­ster sys­tem – but hands up if you have never both­ered to have a look or were taught any­thing too deeply about the con­sti­tu­tion, per­haps be­yond the op­er­a­tions of par­lia­ment, at school.

This is a doc­u­ment that dates back to 1901 when royal fam­i­lies claimed own­er­ship over large chunks of the world.

In recog­nis­ing as much, we have since gone about our daily lives es­tab­lish­ing an evolv­ing Aus­tralian way of life. That’s too bad, ap­par­ently. Rules are rules and words are words, even when they work against the spirit of the orig­i­nal con­cept or idea.

Cu­ri­ously, sim­i­lar to politi­cians at the heart of this is­sue, many Aus­tralians prob­a­bly un­know­ingly qual­ify as cit­i­zens of var­i­ous other coun­tries.

In some cases it can be the sim­ple act of a for­eign coun­try chang­ing its laws that can de­ter­mine, au­to­mat­i­cally, that some­one liv­ing in far­away Aus­tralia is one of their own.

That means if you are or want to be­come a fed­eral politi­cian you need to con­stantly check your sta­tus or risk break­ing the law.

Bizarrely, much of the Aus­tralian de­bate de­pends on from whom peo­ple have de­scended, not from which coun­try they were born, which goes against the ideals of free so­ci­ety.

What a mess. Some of us are start­ing to won­der what it might mean if de­scended from con­victs?

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