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Here’s a fine mess

November 3rd, 2017

The great citizenship debacle rolls on, and it’s hard to see anyone coming out of it looking good.

The primary blame goes to the High Court which decided to use an absurdly literal interpretation of the Constitution to knock out a couple of independent candidates back in the 1990s (they’d been naturalised but hadn’t properly revoked their previous citizenship). If the first person to fall afoul of this interpretation had been a senior government minister, I have no doubt the Court would have decided differently. But literalism and precedent are a disastrous combination.

Apart from Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters (and the Greens more generally), the politicians haven’t covered themselves in glory either. Those who think themselves safe have mocked those who’ve been caught, sometimes ending up with egg on their faces. And the actions of senior government figures who concealed the problematic status of Senate President Parry (apparently keeping it from the increasingly pointless PM and A-G) have made matters worse.

Then there’s the great Australian public, who will almost certainly reject any attempt to fix the problem, because they don’t like politicians. I’ve run across heaps of people saying it’s just a matter of “due diligence”, an odd phrase to use of hoop-jumping that can take months and cost tens of thousands of dollars Yet if these restrictions (unique to Australia) had not existed and were proposed today, they’d be laughed out of court.

The logic of all this takes us to a position where the majority of Australians are potentially ineligible to run for Parliament (dual citizens, anyone who has a foreign-born parent, anyone with a government job, potentially anyone receiving a pension, anyone who has business dealings with the government). How anyone can see this as other than a major problem for a democracy is beyond me.

Worse still, these absurd rules do nothing to protect us from actual corruption. Political parties can take money from foreign companies which may be acting on behalf of forigen governments. They can sell assets on the cheap and then get cushy jobs in banks. They can even be paid by lobby groups while in office then go to work for those very same groups.

The one group who can’t really be blamed for this are the framers of the Constitution. In 1901, when virtually all Australians were British subjects, and when an “office of profit under the Crown” was a rarity, they could scarcely have foreseen the mess that would ensue a century later when their words were applied to a totally different world.

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  1. Smith
    November 3rd, 2017 at 12:47 | #1

    The Frydenberg case highlights the absurdity. There are regions of eastern and central Europe that changed countries four or five times during the 20th century, according to who conquered whom and what the settlement was reached after the world wars. And there are countries that retrospectively awarded citizenship from previously excluded present and former residents whose family had been living here for centuries (such as Jews) to right past wrongs.

    I agree with Turnbull that an audit of citizenship is not practical. What are candidates supposed to do, research their genealogy on ancestry.com back to the Roman empire and hire lawyers who are experts on the citizenry laws of every possible country that could be relevant to them?

  2. Smith
    November 3rd, 2017 at 12:54 | #2

    As for the undertaker Parry, he appears to have sat shtum in the hope that the High Court decision would break the way of people like him, an then he wouldn’t have to say anything to anybody. He was not exactly Scott Ludlum-like, or even Barnaby Joyice-like in being forthcoming about his situation. There is a good argument that he should be made to be pay back his salary from the time the High Court was engaged until his resignation.

  3. Svante
    November 3rd, 2017 at 14:01 | #3

    @Smith
    “..research their genealogy on ancestry.com back to the Roman empire and hire lawyers who are experts on the citizenry laws of every possible country”

    That’s a bit over the top. Two or so generations back would do it for the vast majority, and if there are a tiny few who’d need to check out more than one country then they should do so if they are seeking an office of state here. Similar provisions should apply to other categories of office holder too, such as the state pollies, military, judiciary, governors…

  4. Svante
    November 3rd, 2017 at 14:12 | #4

    @JQ

    “The logic of all this takes us to a position where the majority of Australians are potentially ineligible to run for Parliament (dual citizens, anyone who has a foreign-born parent, anyone with a government job, potentially anyone receiving a pension, anyone who has business dealings with the government).”

    No. The logic is that if anyone wishes to run then they sort their situation out first.

  5. Tom the first and best
    November 3rd, 2017 at 14:17 | #5

    Sykes, who was the challenger in the 1992 dispute of the by-election result, was one of the independent candidates but the two candidates thrown out by 44i were the ALP and Liberal candidates, not independents. The ALP candidates was a serious contender in the by-election, it having previously been the safe seat of PM Bob Hawke, and was only defeated by less than 3% in the 1993 general election (no second by election was held because of the proximity of this election).

    Ruling a Greek citizen (the ALP candidate) and a Swiss citizen (the Liberal candidate) as disqualified under 44i is not just following the literal wording of the constitution, it is following the specifically xenophobic intent of 44i and would have been rule so in any case brought before the Court of Disputed Ruturns against any such citizens at any point in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia. The writers of the constitution specifically decided against excepting dual citizens who have naturalised from 44i. The High Court was actually lenient with its “all reasonable steps” test, excepting people who cannot renounce their foreign citizenship according to the laws of the foreign power granting them that citizenship from the ban.

    Since anybody can renounce their foreign citizenship (with the High court`s ruling that people unable to renounce their foreign citizenship being excepted from the ban),it only bans those who do not do due diligence.

    44i only applied to a much smaller fraction of the population for the first 49-86 (probably the latter, although the High Court did not rule out it having applied for longer in Sue v. Hill) years of the Commonwealth because it did not apply to Empire/Commonwealth citizens (at least those sharing the same Crown), who made up the vast majority of pre-WWII immigrants. It is only our changing immigration profile and the reclassification of Commonwealth nations as foreign powers probably by the separation of the crowns (from the UK in 1986 (the Australia Acts 1986), from Canada in 1982 (Pariation), etc.).

    I do think 44i should be removed by referendum, although weather that would pass is another question. However I do not think it should be removed by judicial creative interpretation.

    44vi is worse because it requires a significant proportion of the population to renounce their main or even only income to run for parliament. It should be reformed as well and is more likely to pass at a referendum, if properly worded. There were still quite a lot of people bared by 44iv in 1901 and aged and disability pensions were provided for in New South Wales in 1900 and for Commonwealth provision in section 51, although the eligible proportion of the population was much smaller.

  6. Smith
    November 3rd, 2017 at 14:23 | #6

    @Svante

    “Two or so generations back would do it”

    There is nothing in the High Court judgement to suggest that this pragmatic approach would cut the mustard.

  7. Tom the first and best
    November 3rd, 2017 at 14:27 | #7

    If the Italians even sort out their citizenship law, to the High Court`s satisfaction, in a way that means that anyone qualifying for citizenship by decent is a citizen, then there will likely be Australians who are disqualified because their maternal grandmother`s paternal great-grandfather migrated from Italy as a citizen in the 1860s. Unless the High Court rules a generation limit.

  8. Svante
    November 3rd, 2017 at 14:47 | #8

    @Smith

    “Two or so generations back” in regard to the 20th century period mentioned would be sufficient for the vast majority of cases. The small remainder may have to dig a bit deeper in their due diligence, but if they seek high office here why wouldn’t they?

    I take it “Back to the Roman empire” and experts on the citizenry laws of every country since is hyperbole.

  9. Svante
    November 3rd, 2017 at 15:11 | #9

    I’ve just heard ABC radio news report that Shorten now supports an audit. “It must be bipartisan, and the process must not undermine the High Court.”

    That followed a contrasting item with a soundbite of Turnbull in desperate sounding defence of Frydenberg pleading because… because.

  10. Jandra
    November 3rd, 2017 at 15:12 | #10

    “If the first person to fall afoul of this interpretation had been a senior government minister, I have no doubt the Court would have decided differently.”

    The confidence you avow in this entirely unprovable hypothesis is surprising. As is the evident certainty advanced in the various bush lawyers’ posts.

    Not that it ain’t a yet another depressing, self-inflicted schemozzle. But surely (and with a few limited exceptions) most of us abandoned any expectation of parliamentarian compentence long ago.

    Then again, perhaps you, JQ, are a disappointed optimist whilst I’m merely an unsurprised pessimist.

  11. Svante
    November 3rd, 2017 at 15:35 | #11

    “Worse still, these absurd rules do nothing to protect us from actual corruption.”

    Are those rules are meant to. If not, what rules would protect us from such corruption? Should those rules then be set in the federal constitution?

  12. Smith
    November 3rd, 2017 at 15:38 | #12

    @Svante

    It was a bit hyperbolic, but the assumption that you only need to check back to grandparents is not supported by the High Court’s judgment. Some countries cut citizenship after x generations have left the country, where x varies by country, but for some countries there is no cut off.

  13. Svante
    November 3rd, 2017 at 15:38 | #13

    @Svante

    edit:

    Are those rules meant to? …

  14. Peter T
    November 3rd, 2017 at 15:49 | #14

    I read the judgment, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable (it was unanimous). The judges went through the history of the clause, which made clear that it was intended to be strict (various looser wordings were proposed and rejected). They considered and rejected tests that involved subjective considerations, pointing to the difficulty of ascertaining the state of mind of people and the incentive to be economical with the truth (and how would you ascertain Malcolm Roberts state of mind?). They explicitly say that only reasonable steps have to be taken – that a foreign country cannot limit an Australian right to stand by delay or refusal.

    Given people have at most four grandparents, that most countries do not grant citizenship by descent, that consular advice is usually readily available, that standing for parliament is not a spur of the moment decision, it really should not be hard to do this kind of homework. It’s already there on the form.

  15. Paul Foord
    November 3rd, 2017 at 15:55 | #15

    John Quiggin, you appear to be sympathetic to the argument of this article from 2014 triggered by Tony Abbott’s then refusal to provide clear proof he had relinquished citizenship of the UK. Grant Wyeth, (16 September 2014), The ‘birther’ barrier is holding Parliament back, ABC The Drum

  16. Svante
    November 3rd, 2017 at 15:57 | #16

    @Smith

    Yes, but the effective word you’ve used is “some.” And even those few can clear the way to be eligible to run for office.

  17. Ernestine Gross
    November 3rd, 2017 at 16:07 | #17

    From the perspective of Aborigines, the article in question in the constitution and its literal interpretation may be a good thing because there is an implied ray of hope for regaining some power and influence via the parliamentary system.

  18. Smith
    November 3rd, 2017 at 16:19 | #18

    @Svante

    You can clear the way only if you are aware of the possibility. People generally know about their parents, probably know about their grandparents, maybe know about some of their great grand parents. But beyond that, they are unlikely to know much if anything. But until and unless the HC says this is an issue going back say 2 or 3 generations, and beyond that it doesn’t matter, and they haven’t said it yet, then it does matter.

  19. John Quiggin
    November 3rd, 2017 at 16:28 | #19

    And remember, citizenship isn’t the only disqualification. Labor is still trying to throw out an LNP member because he rented space to a post office.

  20. John Quiggin
    November 3rd, 2017 at 16:31 | #20

    @Jandra

    “The confidence you avow in this entirely unprovable hypothesis is surprising.’

    This is a blog, not a scientific paper.

    “Are those rules are meant to. If not, what rules would protect us from such corruption? Should those rules then be set in the federal constitution?”

    Clearly, the “office of profit” provision is meant to catch old-style C19 corruption. A Commonwealth ICAC, statutory rather than constitutional would be a good idea.

  21. Slim
    November 3rd, 2017 at 16:39 | #21

    Those who have fallen foul of the dual citizenship restriction have been of white European heritage. I guess those advocating changing the constitution are equally comfortable with MPs who are brown or black with dual citizenship of say, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, China, Russia, Syria, etc.
    And wasn’t Peter Dutton a little while back advocating that refugees/immigrants should be required to renounce all other citizenship as a matter of national security?

  22. Collin Street
    November 3rd, 2017 at 16:41 | #22

    The high court pointed out, with some justice verging on pique, that if J Random can discover that Bob Diomedes is a citizen of nepal then Bob can too. The unknowable citizenship problem turns out never to arise.

  23. Svante
    November 3rd, 2017 at 17:04 | #23

    @Smith

    @Smith

    Apparently they’d know they don’t know, which should be sufficient impetus to check. If they don’t know their origins back wherever what are the odds that anyone else then here or there would know about great grandparents or whatever beyond that? They still ought to do due diligence checks though. What countries bestow citizenship on descendants born elsewhere so many generations far removed? Can’t be too many, nor with adequate records, and initial checks would narrow those few down further.

  24. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    November 3rd, 2017 at 17:22 | #24

    I do not care about the reverse onus of proof. The government has done this to Centrelink recipients!

    I don’t agree with john either that the Court of disputed returns are at fault. Surely would be politicians can read what they have to do

  25. John Quiggin
    November 3rd, 2017 at 17:24 | #25

    @Collin Street

    “The unknowable citizenship problem turns out never to arise.”

    Really? I didn’t know how the HC would rule. I didn’t see anyone who predicted the actual outcome with any confidence at all.

    What you meant to say is, J Random can see that there is a question about eligibility. That’s because, as a first approximation, if you’re not 100 per cent indigenous, your eligilibity is questionable.

  26. rog
    November 3rd, 2017 at 18:06 | #26

    This can be compared with the right to bear arms in the US constitution ie a right that needed regulatory support in one time is inappropriate in another time.

    For whatever reasons the writers of the constitution made it difficult to change the constitution with the consequence that we are controlled by the past.

  27. Joe
    November 3rd, 2017 at 19:19 | #27

    The problem arises because foreign countries grant citizenship to Australian citizens. Surely we can overcome this by legislating that when you nominate for election, you are deemed to renounce foreign citizenship.

  28. Tom the first and best
    November 3rd, 2017 at 20:11 | #28

    The High Court did not accept renunciation in the oath as part of naturalisation as being sufficient, so there is a reasonable chance that it would not accept such a law as being sufficient, due to 44i making the content of foreign citizenship relevant to running for Parliament.

  29. Ronald
    November 3rd, 2017 at 21:58 | #29

    “Given people have at most four grandparents”

    That is not the case. I have more than that and we weren’t even trying to be difficult.

    One of my three Grandfathers had no history or background. The reason was, he was passing for white. All family members have found is records of one ship he served on before he was called up to fight in World War II. On the Australian side, not the Japanese.

  30. paul walter
    November 3rd, 2017 at 22:41 | #30

    Abysmal stuff and must have made this country the laughing stock of the galaxy,

  31. November 4th, 2017 at 00:55 | #31

    Arnold Schwarzenegger holds dual American citizenship (by naturalization) and Austrian, for which he petitioned the Austrian government specifically as it’s not a normal part of Austrian law. You can criticise several of his policy decisions as Governor of California, and aspects of his personal behaviour. But none of these criticisms relate to his dual citizenship. Question to Svante and others here: why should dual citizenship be a bar to elective office in Australia? It isn’t in most democracies. If voters think it matters, they have a remedy in the ballot box.

  32. Ikonoclast
    November 4th, 2017 at 05:49 | #32

    I probably can’t think logically about this. I am enjoying the schadenfreude of it far too much. I am so pleased Barnaby Joyce has been caught out. I am only sorry he is not facing criminal charges and deportation to N.Z.

  33. david
    November 4th, 2017 at 06:45 | #33

    I note the High Court and Justin Gleeson S,C in his submissions for Tony Windsor, refer to New Zealand criminal law as applying extra- territorily to Barnaby during the time of him being a Kiwi.

  34. Lachie A’Vard
    November 4th, 2017 at 09:21 | #34

    @John Quiggin

    “I didn’t see anyone who predicted the actual outcome with any confidence at all.”

    I think that Turnbull himself offered an utterly confident assertion, to he great discredit. This man is a lawyer? Seriously? What state are our schools of law in? The wording of the constitution, and of the previous judgements is plain. Such problems are not unique to Australia; one only has to look to a certain failing States to see that. “Sad”.

    I think their honours behaved extremely well, given the provocation by our prime minister and their obligations to the Game of Mates . If they had folded under that pressure, they would have terminally discredited the judiciary in the eyes of the people.

    I am one of that despicable Australian public that hates politicians. Why would I not? If I wanted representation I would get better value from a Norwegian Blue. There is no way in hell I would support a referendum to fix this problem, simply because in my opinion anyone who enters politics should be disqualified with extreme prejudice. Perhaps it could be done by a trade-off. I would fix the Section 44 problem, in return for Federal ICAC; banning all political donations; banning dual office in any form; and a ten year exclusion from work in the private sector after political “service”. Nothing less.

    The political caste have made their beds. I have no sympathy.

  35. Svante
    November 4th, 2017 at 09:41 | #35

    @James Wimberley
    The governator held office in a US state. What’s the position of Australian state and territory constitutions on dual citizenship in elected office? The position on dual citizenship varies across democracies as do numerous related and unrelated concerns. Voters’ effective democratic input elsewhere also significantly varies, including on constitutional change. They are not necessarily limited to irrelevance other than at a periodic ballot box. In that regard most of those democracies aren’t locked-in duopolies either. I think if we sifted through most democracies for some sort of a median or average general position to adopt on most things we quickly would have a very different country. Would you want that? If we are to do that then let’s begin with net migration and population.

  36. Svante
    November 4th, 2017 at 11:47 | #36

    @James Wimberley

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_citizenship

    James, at that wiki link the governator case is mentioned several times, and my related query on the position of Australian states is answered. However,

    Re: “Question to Svante and others here: why should dual citizenship be a bar to elective office in Australia? It isn’t in most democracies.”

    I now believe your situational appraisal of multiple citizenship bars to elected (and other) office in democracies globally is quite wrong. Count the many bars throughout the page at the above link, and count the ways.

    Keeping tabs on the current Australian situation is:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Australian_parliamentary_eligibility_crisis

  37. bjb
    November 4th, 2017 at 12:15 | #37

    IMO, if you’re an Australian citizen, you can be elected, anything else (in terms of parental or dual citizenship) should be irrelevant.

    What I think should be subject to more scrutiny is the likes of Michael Danby who seems to spend most of his time advocating for Israel rather than his local electorate.

  38. David Allen
    November 4th, 2017 at 13:30 | #38

    Simple fix.
    1. Candidate signs a stat dec stating that they denounce any foreign citizenship. Gives it to AEC.
    2. AEC lodges a list of said persons with the UN. (Pinned on a notice board perhaps)
    3. Foreign country X is then deemed to have been told.
    4. Candidate nominates for election.

    Job done.

  39. John Quiggin
    November 4th, 2017 at 14:07 | #39

    @David Allen

    It wouldn’t work at present, as witness Sam Dastyari. He spent $30k to ensure eligilbility.

    But, given the stupidity of the situation and the bloodymindedness that’s on display everywhere, we’ll have to resort to some fix of this kind, supported by legislation, and with a clear direction to the High Court to stop messing things up.

  40. Svante
    November 4th, 2017 at 15:06 | #40

    @David Allen

    Simpler fix. They each do their homework as set, and do it by the deadline long ago set for them.

  41. Tom the first and best
    November 4th, 2017 at 15:30 | #41

    If Frydenberg gets ruled to be disqualified, then that significantly increases the chances of a referendum because of the arbitrary retrospective nature in his case highlights the problems with foreign citizenship laws effecting eligibility for parliament into disrepute.

  42. Tom the first and best
    November 4th, 2017 at 15:49 | #42

    @John Quiggin

    I believe the only way of giving the High court a “clear direction” on a Constitutional matter is via the use of section 128 of the Constitution. Ordinary legislation does not change the constitution and, given the Court ruled in Sykes that the renunciation associated with Australian naturalisation pre-1986 does not qualify as renouncing foreign citizenship, it is likely that an Australian legislative provision deeming candidates to have renounced their foreign citizenship would not suffice unless it was agree to by the foreign powers concerned.

  43. Joe
    November 4th, 2017 at 15:55 | #43

    @Collin Street
    If the lawyers say thay, they are an ass – see Jeremy Gans’ article in Inside Story: http://insidestory.org.au/another-reason-why-i-wont-stand-for-parliament/
    Don’t the justices, or their clerks, know anybody who has an unusual background?

  44. November 4th, 2017 at 18:13 | #44

    @Svante
    “The governator held office in a US state”. One with a population one-and-a-half times that of Australia.

  45. Cameron Pidgeon
    November 4th, 2017 at 21:53 | #45

    @Tom the first and best
    Parliament can’t change the constitution but it can pass legislation clarifying terms set out in the constitution.
    The cynicism, schadenfreude and bloody mindedness being displayed by most commenters here won’t help improve our current stock of politicians, our system of governance, or the state of our democracy in general. It’s like lounging in the saloon bar, complaining bitterly about the competence of the ship’s capitain and crew while we steam towards the icebergs. There seems to be an underlying fatalism and resignation present that could be more fatal to the institutions that support our way of life than any amount of ineptitude from our pollies.

  46. Tom the first and best
    November 4th, 2017 at 22:05 | #46
  47. Tom the first and best
    November 4th, 2017 at 22:33 | #47

    @Cameron Pidgeon

    The High Court can clarify what the Constitution means, when relevant cases come before it, and parliament can only make laws as the constitution allows. 44i is effectively granting foreign powers some say in whether or not people can run for the Australian Parliament and it is likely that that can only be changed by referendum.

  48. Tom the first and best
    November 4th, 2017 at 22:34 | #48

    Sorry for the accidental empty reply.

  49. Ronald
    November 4th, 2017 at 22:57 | #49

    I expect Trump will announce all Australians to be US citizens and members of the 51st state of Greater America. (Or possibly Greater Again America. Their propaganda team hasn’t quite settled upon a name yet.) With Australian Federal Government abolished, the invasion shall proceed mostly unopposed. Before the avenging nation of Pan-Asia abolishes section 44, more than one million “Jobs Guarantee” Australians will be entombed in the foundations of the US Canada wall.

  50. Ikonoclast
    November 5th, 2017 at 06:23 | #50

    “The cynicism, schadenfreude and bloody mindedness being displayed by most commenters here won’t help improve our current stock of politicians, our system of governance, or the state of our democracy in general. ” – Cameron Pidgeon.

    Actually it would if people acted on that and stopped voting for the two major party blocs, ALP and LNP.

  51. Moz of Yarramulla
    November 5th, 2017 at 16:37 | #51

    I think Jacinta Arden summed it up nicely when she offered to make any Australian who stands for election automatically a citizen of NZ. The constitution would presumably catch fire shortly afterwards.

    Forget the political grandstanding, this is a gift to any country who gets annoyed at Australia. As I said before, just wait until Timor-Leste or PNG wake up to the possibilities. it doesn’t have to be an actual grant of citizenship, the threat is enough “Oh Great Australian Foreign Minister, please be nice to us or we might have to make you a citizen of our country”. I can’t imagine Russia or Indonesia being so crass, but then I can’t imagine our current Forn Munster picking up subtle hints either.

  52. November 5th, 2017 at 20:38 | #52

    Assume that we are now a democracy, and not an implied one, should not the Constitution decribe and detail the role of citizenship. It is surely absurd to be an Australian Citizen and not be able to be candidate for Federal Parliament. The principle of equality ought to apply. I think the problem need is the perceived inability to amend the Constitution. I think an absolute majority of electors plus the Parliament should be sufficient together with a process of initative. Inspired by the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the authentic note of democracy, I would propose a process by which citizens meet to propose solutions and learn about matters, such as indigenous culture and history, especially since settlement, and put there case as in the Uluru Statement in a one page statement, which would then be presented to Parliament. These statements might suggest Constitutional amendments. In practice this would be messy, but that is democracy for you.

  53. November 5th, 2017 at 20:42 | #53

    The meetings, for this proposal, would be conducted in Local Government Areas, which would give Local Government constitutional recognition. I know democracy is far-fetched.

  54. ralph
    November 10th, 2017 at 18:16 | #54

    I think a good starting point is, “if you can vote you can stand”. As much as one may disagree with the likes of Joyce, you can’t argue that his loyalties are divided. He is a part of his community and its clear that he represents them, and not some “foreign power”. The shame is that Turnbull is gutless in not contemplating a referendum for s.44. It’s a mess and if our political leadership can’t propose such a sensible change to the constitution why are they there?

  55. Lesley de Voil
    November 11th, 2017 at 07:59 | #55

    Ralph, I thought the major reason for elected parliamentary representatives was that the time and expertise involved in managing and determining the wheels of government precluded involvement by each and every voter in the process. If potential representatives cannot fill out a form correctly why should we trust them to run the country?

  56. Smith
    November 11th, 2017 at 13:09 | #56

    @ralph

    A s44 referendum would be portrayed as asking the Australian people whether they are OK with having foreigners in the federal parliament. Good luck getting a majority of people in a majority of states to approve in the current climate where trust in politicians is at historical lows.

  57. John Quiggin
    November 11th, 2017 at 13:33 | #57

    @Lesley de Voil

    1. First you have to know which form(s) you have to fill out. Can you list every country or former country in your ancestry, and describe their citizenship laws? if not, how do you know you’re not a potential dual citizen? And that’s without worrying about the rest of s44. Have you ever done business with, or worked for, any public sector organization. If so, have you informed yourself about the implications for eligibility?

    2. The latest claims involve people who filled out the forms but didn’t get them back from the foreign country in time for the election. So, it’s not your own diligence you need to worry about but that of people on the other side of the planet.

    On the plus side, your comment and many others here, indicate that the OP is absolutely right about the likelihood of fixing this. We are stuck with this absurdity thanks to our own collective stupidity, as well as that of the countries allegedly finest legal minds.

  58. Lesley de Voil
    November 13th, 2017 at 20:06 | #58

    John, it’s fairly obvious that at least some MP’s had not undertaken any research into the question of their potential for dual citizenship before signing the Stat. Dec. upon nominating for election. Considering that they are well compensated, one would like to assume that their capacity to undertake due diligence is appropriate to the needs of the nation.
    As an aside, my husband was required to obtain evidence of Australian citizenship before his employment by Dept of Defence, so, yes, I am acquainted with the process.
    My argument is the general one that MP’s should not just be rubber stamps on legislation.
    Re 2) The form already stipulates “reasonable efforts”. Reliable evidence of an application and any ensuing correspondence should be sufficient evidence of intent.

  59. Tom the first and best
    November 13th, 2017 at 21:56 | #59

    @John Quiggin

    If there is a requirement to wait for the very foreign power 44i is there to reduce the influence of, that creates a greater potential for change.

    The Constitution is quite clear on foreign citizenship and it would take severe contortions to have more than minimal exceptions to that.

  60. Tom the first and best
    November 13th, 2017 at 22:03 | #60

    @Lesley de Voil

    Proving a citizenship you know about is usually easier than finding a citizenship you do not know about. With citizenship by indefinite descent, citizenship by birth and citizenship by marriage applying in some jurisdictions, often with combined effect, there is a lot to be checked.

  61. Concatenated
    November 15th, 2017 at 18:24 | #61

    I disagree with blaming the High Court for this mess. The court simply provided its interpretation of the law – a law that has been proudly ignored for decades!

    The main problem in this affair is that it involves politicians, and we got to see their values and principles in open display. The result? The two Greens can stand proud; they discovered a problem, investigated it, and did The Right Thing.

    Every other member of our houses of parliament who has been touched by this possibly anachronistic but nevertheless very real law showed us what they think of the Australian Constitution. The major parties showed their contempt for the rule of law, and did their utmost to ignore it while making it somehow ‘the other party’s problem’. This is the lesson of the exercise – that all must obey the laws of the land, but some of us will try damned hard to escape their consequences.

    I think it is unlikely that we will see any attempt to change this part of the Constitution any time soon – and any attempt is doomed to failure. Why? Because we have seen into the hearts of our ‘leaders’, and been shown that there is one law for me and one for thee. We do not, and clearly cannot, trust any person that is nominated to be sent into Parliament by our major parties. That is the real lesson here.

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