Thursday, August 24, 2017

Is he an Aussie, is she, is he

I begin this with saying that all Australian politicians should have allegiance to Australia and only allegiance to Australia. They should not have an allegiance to any other other country and never be conflicted in governing in the best manner for Australia, without any taint of interest in another country.

As I understand it the constitution states this clearly and unequivocally and I cannot imagine how any exception could be made. It is surely down to the letter of the law and not open to interpretation. You are either an Australian citizen or a dual citizen. Only the former are allowed to run for Parliament. The constitution can only be changed by a vote by the people.

But having said that, hasn't it become so complicated. If our High Court interprets the constitution literally, many politicians will be wiped out of parliament. While I very much like South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon, I was disappointed to see him cry sour grapes. Nick, it is the law. You should have known better.

I cannot see how many members will not be chucked out of Parliament because of them having dual citizenship.

R, who has lived here since the early 1970s and has a piece of paper to say he is Australian, cannot run for Federal Parliament here because he is a dual national. Had he let his British passport lapse, he would have lost his British citizenship. (For practical purposes I say British. At the moment he has a Euro passport) He renewed it a few years ago, but he tells me he won't bother again. Then his British citizenship will lapse. Interesting that such rules do not apply to State Parliaments or Territories.

Which brings me to an interesting conversation with our former politician friend the other night. His mother was born in South Africa, but of Australian parents. In support of the Boer War effort, his grandparents were sent from Australia to South Africa with a group of postal workers to support the South African postal service. Our friend's mother was born in South Africa. Does that make him a dual citizen with an allegiance to South Africa?

From what I can see, no. Before 1949, all Australians were British citizens. Post 1949, if they had an Australian father and had a permanent right to live in Australia, they became Australian citizens and any other connections to other countries were annulled as dual citizenship was not allowed back then. It was the same in South Africa in the same year, but on a different date.

So, we certainly live in interesting times and the High Court judgement will be very interesting, especially to many of our politicians.

49 comments:

  1. Andrew you are right most Aussiee are British now is diffferent

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    1. Gosia, we just need a bit more separation from Britain.

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  2. It will indeed be interesting. I am currently appalled at those who continue in Parliament despite their dual nationality. Political expediency at its worst.

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    1. EC, that has puzzled me. What is good for the goose seems not to be good for the gander.

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  3. I don't disagree about Australia's parliamentarians having allegiance only to Australia but the relevant requirement in the Constitution derives from another era and should, in my opinion, be updated as well as clarified.

    It is interesting that Sir Henry Parkes, known as the 'Father of Federation' was born in Britain and was never an Australian citizen. As you mentioned there was no such legal status as Australian citizenship until 1949.

    My guess is that a cursory check of the birthplaces of the early Federal Parliamentarians would reveal many to have been born in Britain or Ireland.

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    1. Victor, yes, it would have been much more common then. It is very difficult, as you would know, to change the constitution. We don't like to play with it very much.

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  4. Interesting indeed, Andrew. Keep us posted.

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    1. I will Sandra, Just today it was reported that the High Court won't hear the matter until October.

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    2. October is only six weeks away. Unless they meant next year?

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  5. I also meant to say that even with Australian citizenship from 1949 all Australians continued to have British subject status until 1984. The words 'British subject' were prominent in our Australian passports.

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    1. '84 must have been when our friend was booted out of London, where he had lived for a number of years. I knew something changed then, but not what. Thanks.

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  6. Anonymous8:55 am

    There doesn't seem to be any doubt over the citizenships of T Abbott, C Bernardi, E Abetz and K Andrews which is a shame, as I would love to see these vile people, excuse the vernacular, shitting bricks. They deserve nothing less.- Ian

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    1. Ian, that is such a shame, I agree.

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  7. Andrew

    I disagree with your starting point. I don't see a problem with Australian parliamentarians also being citizens of another country. After all, lots of us are in the same position. The constitution should be changed and that has been a subject of recommendation by various disinterested bodies since about 1960. Other countries, including the UK and the US, can handle their elected representatives (other than the US President, for whom there is a special rule) having other allegiances.

    If dual citizenship/allegiance is really a problem or a potential problem, we could replace the present rule with one requiring disclosure of other allegiances or potential allegiances so that the voters (many of whom, or did I say that already? have dual allegiance themselves) could make up their own minds about the particular person. Actually I wouldn't favour that - I think it would be enough, if a problem with another country arises, that other parliamentarians decide how they will co-operate with such a person. Or we could require disclosure of this sort of thing on the register of parliamentarians' interests.

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    1. Marcellous, I just knew you would comment. I doubt anyone sitting has acted against Australia's interest, but the potential is there. I don't mind your idea of disclosure but again, so difficult to change the constitution. Can you see any way that the High Court could find the members with dual citizenship can continue to sit?

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    2. marcellous

      I couldn't agree with you more. Unless a person's parents are from an indigenous community, almost everyone else comes from overseas. 28% of Australia's population was born overseas, and another 21% had at least one parent born overseas. We are a proud nation of patriotic new comers.

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    3. High Court has previously said that people with dual citizenship can sit if they have taken all reasonable steps to disclaim that citizenship. The grey area at present (or so the Govt wants to say) is what the content of "all reasonable steps" is - they have never really ruled on an actual case of this or at least not on any actual case where someone has tried to take reasonable steps since that case was decided- and there are plenty of MPs in that situation, including Dastyari.

      The question in the present case is about people who took absolutely no steps because they say they didn't know. Govt wants to say no reasonable steps necessary (ie: no steps= all reasonable steps) if you don't know you are a foreign citizen etc, at least if you had no particular reason to believe you might be or even some reason to think you are not (they are saying Larissa W was OK). To me this begs the question - how can you use such ignorance as your starting point unless you have also taken all reasonable steps to find out what citizenship you have? If the High Court were to remain consistent with their earlier judgments, I think they would need to set the bar pretty high. It can't just be what your mum or parents told you. How low they set it will probably depend on how helpful they want to be to the Govt and the extent to which they can be persuaded that uncertainty in the political system going into the future is a bad thing.

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    4. Anonymous5:51 pm

      I like section 44 as it is, EXCEPT for the idea that a foreign power(I'm thinking North Korea)could enact legislation to make any or all of us citizens of their country against our will. Outlandish but apparently possible. I'd ask Marcellous to comment but I don't appreciate the spectacle of Lawyers strutting about defying logic and using big words and enjoying themselves.

      In general, I am against the idea of dual citizenship. Be an Australian or be something else. Make up your mind.

      Section 44 looks pretty straightforward to me but I bet the High Court will nip in and have a good old interfere. I wish the PM would stop harping on about how they are certain the High Court will decide everything is OK. If he is right, and the High Court turns itself inside out to find those MPs were validly elected, I will always wonder if the High Court was influenced by the Federal Liberal Government's wishes.

      Grumpily
      Marie

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    5. Hels, that is fine. Great that we are made up of immigrants, but our parliament needs to be seen beyond the pale, without foreign influence.

      Marcellous, you would know my politics well enough, but I really would like to see Dastyari out, a real self server. I feel inadequate to reply to your comment. As I said, we live in interesting times.

      Marie, given Marcellous is a barrister, I am sure you don't mean him strutting. That is weird about North Korea. I agree with you. I don't want the Murdoch dual nationality law, so he could buy up media in the US. I agree with you. Turnbull's words were poorly chosen, again another case of perception.

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    6. Andrew, I think she did, about me, that is.

      I can just imagine about what Marie would think of David Bennett's spiel on behalf of Cavanan today. He's fighting HARD!

      http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/HCATrans//2017/171.html

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    7. Of course my secret secret desire is to see you strut your stuff on a the floor of courtroom. Do you sound like Rumpole? I tried to read your link, but I am afraid I am tired and my eyes glazed over. I'll give it a crack tomorrow.

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    8. Anonymous10:30 pm

      Hi Well I did mean Marcellous but it was very rude of me. I read his blog (well, the legal bits not the cultured bits) and really enjoy it PLUS it is clear he has lovely manners. I'm mainly peeved about the High Court probably looking for ways to make section 44 mean something it does not say. I'm still grumpy but sorry I was rude.

      Cheers Marie

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  8. Sounds like you could end-up with a 100% Aboriginal parliament.

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    1. Cro, some some three decades ago was a terrific fantasy tv show called Barbecuearea, or something like that. Aborigines were in control and were rounding up Anglo Australians from their comfortable middle class homes, naturally with an inbuilt barbecue.

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  9. I had no idea such a law existed and why should it be different for State parliaments?
    The answer for all politicians is clear. Give up one of your citizenships. If you want to stay in parliament, then it has to be the other country you give up. Or change the law speedily and retroactively.

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    1. River, I have no idea why it is different in State parliaments, but that is what our former politician friend said when I told him as his mother was born in South Africa, he should not have been a Northern Territory politician. The real problem is that this is written in the constitution and only a public vote can change that.

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    2. Sounds like a more worthwhile vote than the same sex marriage one which will be useless as the government can ignore the findings anyway.

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  10. I feel sorry for Nick for he did the right thing and checked for Greek and Crete or Cyprus but who would have thought that he had to check for the Island being a British Protectorate. Labor has nearly a page to fill out for this dual rubbish but the Libs only have a sentence. I think it's time for someone to go through the small stuff in the constitution. My Grandfather was German but I don't know if he was born here or Germany. I'm right on the French side, a couple of Greats go way back.

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    1. C'mon Jah Teh. He is an educated person. He would have known. If you and I know, he would have known. You are Kraut and Frog. That explains everything.

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  11. I'm not sure that British nationality "lapses" if you don't have a passport. I think our sons could claim British nationality at any time they want to.

    When Thatcher was in power there were rule changes made that for a while my parents thought my sister might become Nigerian rather than British. It didn't happen, and now I wonder if it was my father's way of teasing my sister.

    A while back we heard of Americans renouncing citizenship so that they wouldn't have to continue to pay taxes when they lived overseas. My memory is that the cost to renounce citizenship was put up to try and discourage it happening.

    Helen

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    1. Helen, I must admit my knowledge came from thirty or more years ago, and that was only second hand. That would be rather a shock, to be Nigerian. Interesting about the US tax business. I don't actually know how it works here. I would have thought you pay tax in the country where you earn the money, but of course if you have money in your home country making money, then you would need to pay tax on that at home.

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  12. It is a bit of a fiasco in parliament. I must admit the laws are a bit confusing from what you have said. I was born in England, I married a Swiss so I became Swiss, I took out Australian citizenship and became Australian. I have 3 passports British, Swiss and Australian. I use my Australian Passport all the time. My others are out of date but I'm sure that I could renew them if I wanted.

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    1. Diane, I think my information may be out of date then. R used to travel on his British passport but decided it was pointless as he had to wait for me in the queue of 'others' anyway. He was quizzed as to why he didn't use his British passport by British immigration in Brussels as we were leaving on Eurostar, and had to explain.

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  13. Very interesting comments above Andrew. Growing up in Africa we all had British passports, arriving in Perth and even after becoming an Aussie citizen I held onto and used when traveling in the UK my British passport, it seemed to make things easier, I'm not sure if it actually did.. but eventually we decided what was the point in keeping them, now Aussie all the way!

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    1. Grace, yes, you would get priority at immigration and I assume P has one too, so that would work well for you both, not like us me having an Australian passport and R having a British one.

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  14. Politics aside, should I worry about not having an Australian passport? I don't want to travel anywhere, but if a world war breaks out, could I be deported back to Germany? A country I have never known and have no family left in? I automatically became an Australian citizen when my parents were naturalised. Is that good enough?

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    1. River, I don't know about Germany, so if when your parents became Australian, did they lose the German citizenship? It may well be a case of, sorry babe, you can't stand for parliament and while you would not be deported, you could be interned. I will send you cake and bratwurst. Maybe it is just as well that you can't enter parliament. You would add far too much common sense.

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  15. In the late 1990 we had an exchange student from Melbourne living with us in Germany for several months. My partner is Irish and with the workdwide Irish diaspora background one of his first questions to her was, where are you from. Whereas she resonded that all her family always had been Australian. Upon further inquiry she persisted. We left it at that.
    I wonder whether the aboriginal population if your country was also British?

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    1. Sabine, interesting. I can imagine someone young and not so worldly might say that, but our education system has really let her down if she truly thought that. Maybe a couple of decades plus later, she has discovered her roots. There was a black woman at my work, not Aboriginal and no matter how hard pressed about where she came from, she insisted she was from the state of Queensland in Australia and nowhere else. I liked her and of course I would never be so impolite to press anyone about where they came from. They always end up telling you anyway. I expect she was the granddaughter of a Kanaka. Stick that word into your favourite search engine.

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  16. It will be interesting to see how the High Court interprets the provision, especially given the recent media coverage suggesting that the Constitutional forefathers may have considered and, importantly, rejected, a more liberal wording of that provision that would have favoured many of the politicians caught up in this fiasco: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-17/dual-citizenship-the-moment-we-could-have-avoided-this-mess/8807534

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    1. Ad Rad, that is really interesting. Thanks for the link. There is some other interesting reading there too.

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  17. I think most of it is just a distraction from more important matters.

    My paternal grandparents were born in the village of Armagh, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. They arrived in Australia at the early part of last century, shortly after marrying. They settled in Rockhampton where their six children were born, one of whom was the father of my late older brother and me. My brother and I were both born in Rockhampton.

    On my maternal side, I'm of Scottish and Irish heritage...said forefathers/mothers came from Scotland and Ireland.
    I am Australian...true blue....I think! But I guess if I was a politician there would be someone, somewhere in an opposing party who would like to stir the pot and say otherwise.

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    1. With your father born here, you are well and truly Aussie, Lee. You certainly have Great British roots, unlike me who is very mixed.

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  18. Furthermore...I am sick to death of all the money that is being wasted at present. Governing a country should not be treated as a game. And it's not monopoly money they are playing with!

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    1. Didn't you know Lee, that hundreds of millions of dollars is government confetti? Thrown about with gay abandon as at a wedding.

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  19. As Australia belonged to the UK it's something different. Today you have to ask for Australian citizenship, but that doesn't mean that if you don't use your for example "french" passport anymore that your are not French for France and Australian for Australia ! I travel with my German passport, but became Italian through marriage (today not anymore) for the Italians I am Italian for the Germans I am German and as I have a German passport for the Belgians I am German ! For the son it's the same, he is German travels with a German passport but for the Italians he is Italian because of his Italian father. If he would have been born in an American airplane he also would be American, because that's American soil ! But he isn't Belgian although he was born here. Complicated isn't it ??

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    1. Gattina, yes, very complicated. But wouldn't you all have an EU passport? Perhaps they are different depending which country issues them.

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    2. We have the same color for the passport, but they are all different and for each country. European passports will maybe exist in a 100 years or so !

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