An Australian Conundrum

When Australian politics makes international headlines, you know it will be farcical. Apparently our cherished Antipodean mates are having issues keeping senators and MPs in parliament. The reason? Quite a few apparently hold multiple citizenships which Australia bans. This is rare, if not unique. What’s even rarer is the stringency with which this rule is enforced. Barnaby Joyce and Jacqui Lambie, for example, weren’t even aware that they ever held a citizenship other than Australia’s.

This has raised serious questions. Over a fourth of Australians are either immigrants or the children of immigrants. Most countries — including Australia — permit citizens to hold multiple nationalities. Most countries also have provisions that their citizenships are inheritable — including Australia. Barnaby Joyce’s father was born in New Zealand. Jacqui Lambie’s father was born in a distinctly Tartan portion of the United Kingdom. As such, they held New Zealand and British citizenships respectively without actually having requested or even taken advantage of either.

The current Australian government, already exceedingly fragile, is in an even weaker position. After all, the fragrant Malcolm Turdbull managed to nearly lose an election against Australia’s answer to Jezza. This simply strikes me as being a tad absurd.

On a more positive note I can confirm that Don the One does not hold British citizenship despite his mother, like Lambie’s father, being of the Jockish persuasion.

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

10 thoughts on “An Australian Conundrum”

  1. A week or so ago, I started to write a post on this very subject. I gave up after a few hours because I found that so many strange and wonderful things would have to be explained if any non-Australian was to even begin to understand what is going on. The whole thing is a dog’s breakfast, and many Australians – including our Pollies – don’t actually understand the half of it.

    One teensy example –
    Australia began life in 1901 with a written Constitution, at which time there were no Australian Citizens, only British Citizens. It was not until 1948 that such a thing as an Australian citizen came into being. Doh? That means that all (OK, most of) our members of the House of Reps and the Senate were until then, by the “High Court’s” contemporary reckoning, ineligible for office.

    One small correction –
    Sorry Christopher, but 25% of our citizens were born overseas, and 40% of us were either born overseas or have a parent who was!!! 🙂

    I suggest that nobody (except perhaps Christopher) tries to get deeper into this current morass of irrelevance. 🙂

  2. There is nothing wrong with holding dual citizenship – all of Boadicea’s tribe here in Oz were born in the UK, and have since taken out Australian citizenship.

    The problem arises if one wants to sit in Parliament – then one must ‘formally renounce’ a former citizenship.

    As far as I’m concerned the problem starts way before this present so-called crisis. I don’t know about too many other countries, but as far as I’m aware one cannot fully renounce UK or Greek citizenship. One may indeed appear to formally renounce citizenship – but can then re-apply and get another passport…

    The whole thing is a farce – and not made any better by what I consider the rigidity of the High Court who made the ruling that, even if you did not know you could apply for another citizenship and / or have never applied for citizenship of another country, you are, despite having an Ozzie Birth Certificate, a ‘dual citizen’.

    So we have a case of a Senator, proud of his Greek heritage, finding that since his father was born in Cyprus when it was a British whatever was actually deemed to be British – which might make that particular Senator ineligible… the High Court did have the sense to throw that one out.

    Then there is Pat Dodson, described as an Aboriginal Advocate and only identifying as Aboriginal, who is under scrutiny and having to answer questions about his Irish ancestry…

    Dog’s breakfast doesn’t even begin to describe the mess. Why the High Court couldn’t just say that one is an Ozzie if one has an Ozzie Birth Certificate and hasn’t applied for another citizenship is beyond me. But that’s what I hate about getting lawyers involved – they have an amazing ability to complicate the most simple things.

  3. Bearsy: Thank you for the correction. Naturally, in 1901 one was either a British subject solely or not at all. It wasn’t until 1948 that multiple nationalities were permitted. Apparently until 1972 those with, say, Canadian citizenship were also British subjects.

    Boadicea: The Xenophon case was strange. He would have held one of those strange legacy categories of British nationality that wasn’t actually British citizenship. He wouldn’t, for example, have right of abode in the United Kingdom and would have to queue up in the non-UK/EEA queue at airport.

    You are correct about the UK and Greece. Israel is much the same. There are some countries that make it virtually impossible to cut legal ties with them. The USA is chief among them. It takes 6 months to a year and vast sums of money. Their requirements are so extreme, in fact, that Germany created a special provision in the German naturalisation law to allow US citizens to become naturalised German citizens without renouncing their US citizenship on the ground of cost, difficulty and humiliation. That isn’t my wording, that’s the German government’s!

  4. Christopher, I think someone with Canadian links has had to resign. I’ve lost count of the number of people who are suddenly uncertain about their status.

    Interesting you mention America, One candidate, re-entering politics, was formerly American. Apparently, she waved her renunciation papers in the face of reporters – she had, obviously, gone through the whole process some time back.

    When I read that it is being demanded that people should have to prove their ancestry back to their grand-parents – I gave up on the whole sorry mess.

  5. Boa (and hello, Bearsy), your last point about grand-parents suggests that somebody can’t do arithmetic. People of my generation had grand-parents born in the 1860s – 1890s, probably anywhere except the Antipodes!

  6. Hasn’t there been something far more interesting and relevant happening in the anti-podes today? (smiley winky thing)
    And that isn’t even close to being as interesting as to what is happening next Thursday at the Gabba!

  7. Boadicea: It was a Greens senator. She was born in Canada but had moved to Australia as a young child and never though much of it. She assumed that she no longer had Canadian citizenship as her parents naturalised her as an Australian citizen. It is certainly possible to renounce US citizenship — it’s just exceedingly complicated and growing more so. Much of it is based on the US tax code which requires US citizens to pay taxes to the US tax “service” on all income over roughly US$100,000. Most don’t actually have to, but they seem to assume that everyone who wants to get away from them is a tax dodger. At this rate there’ll soon be no one in Australia left to become an MP… Come to think of it, that might not be such a bad thing!

    Janus: Quite. But even those born in NZ or whose parents were born in NZ aren’t qualified to be MPs simply because NZ opted out of the Federation.

  8. Janus – that’s about right! It’s beginning to seem that only those who can claim descent from the ‘forced immigrants’ of the convict years will be acceptable – says it all.

    And yes Christopher, you’re right – fewer Chiefs and many more Indians might not be such a bad thing. Just about 25m of us and so many layers of government and ‘governors’ – all with their hands in the taxpayers’ cookie jars.

    The coming election in Queensland looks to be interesting. The lack of respect for the two major parties and almost all pollies is quite amazing.

    … especially, Cuprum, since the incumbent Labor government has totally ignored the fact that world-shattering events were going to happen at the Gabba on the very day they chose to hold the election. Just how ‘out of touch’ can any government get?

    As for today’s events – well the result was a foregone conclusion, but at least we got asked – it wasn’t just dumped on us, as it has been in so many other countries.

    The campaign has been pretty vicious – and mainly from the ‘yes’ side. And the arguments are not yet over.

    I await with interest to see how the Government will cobble together some sort of legislation that enshrines the rights of the winners and does not reduce the rights of those who have strong convictions the other way.

    As Sipu said elsewhere – we live with the Chinese curse!

  9. Boadicea: For some time Australia’s economy has been suffering something terrible. There amount of red tape and regulation is so extreme that many industries can barely function, much less thrive. The mining boom has allowed the Australian government to get away with not implementing much-needed reforms as it’s kept the tax receipts glowing in. For more and more, especially pensioners, the young and members of the working class it’s not been so brilliant as inflation goes up well in excess of their income. The Australian government has arguably turned into something reminiscent of Heian Japan. Politics became frivolous because they get ignore challenges for far too long — then they grew too large to handle.

    In a way it’s a good thing that the Coalition are the government when this is going through. I might not like Turdbull, but he’s not a social engineer or societal micro-manager. I dread to imagine what Rapey Bill would have come up with had he been PM. Most importantly, for those who support same-sex marriage for non-ideological reasons, this lends them greater legitimacy than a court ruling or legislative fiat.

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