Webs, Weeds and Wisdom with Kate Walker | Dualling over citizenship

What a pretty state of affairs! Our Parliament is rapidly losing representatives. The black letter interpretation of a section in our constitution enacted in 1901 when everyone in Australia, New Zealand and Canada held British citizenship, is as fundamentalist and absurd as the weird fundamentalist interpretations of the Islamic Koran. It flies in the face of our history and the legal practices of today. The current High Court has made Australia the laughing stock of the world! Oh, for the wisdom of a Mary Gauldron or a William Deane! Instead we are being forced to accept a denial of our history under the lead weight of narrowed down nationalism.

A witch hunt looms! Who of our pollies have a guilty little birth defect? Who, in spite of being born in this country to parents with Australian citizenship whether by birth or by nationalisation, has inherited an unsought, unused, undesired right of citizenship of a second country? How ironic that those kicked out by the High Court's simplistic interpretation, hold a second citizenship entitlement from fellow Commonwealth countries whose Head of State is the same person, Queen Elizabeth II.

Cartoon: Matt Golding.

Cartoon: Matt Golding.

Tell me, is it equitable that while Australians in general are permitted (since 2002) to hold dual citizenship, our Federal Government representatives are denied that privilege. Oh, and don't give me that argument that as our representatives we need to be assured of their loyalty to our country! Naturalised and single citizenship holder Senator Dastyeri had his loyalty seriously questioned when he made public statements in tune with his foreign donor, but in contrast to his party’s and the government's foreign policy.

Did you know that not even our soldiers are barred from holding dual citizenship? Being British, New Zealander or Canadian is no bar; why, members of the Australian Defence Force can even be entitled to US citizenship. One would suspect that, in general, dual citizenship with countries that are allies would be no impediment.

A solution is really simple. Justice Mary Gauldron in the 1992 Phil Cleary case noted the importance of an oath of loyalty. Such an oath demonstrating integrity and allegiance expressed by each representative at commencement of Parliament should overcome any lingering doubt over the capacity of the elected to serve our country loyally. 

 – Kate Walker


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