Australian citizenship is qualification enough to serve in parliament

Today in The Australian
If so many parliamentarians risk being disqualified under section 44(1) of the Constitution, it is ­because parliament’s composition broadly reflects that of Australian society. With 49 per cent of Australia’s population either born overseas or having a parent who was, dual nationality, or at least the entitlement to dual nationality, has become widespread.

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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40 Responses to Australian citizenship is qualification enough to serve in parliament

  1. cui bono

    Yep, Aussie citizenship should be enough. If you are qualified to vote, you are qualified to sit.
    But can today’s political class convince enough voters to amend the constitution?

  2. Occupy Centrelink

    cui bono

    #2491509, posted on September 8, 2017 at 3:26 am

    Yep, Aussie citizenship should be enough. If you are qualified to vote, you are qualified to sit.
    But can today’s political class convince enough voters to amend the constitution?


    Another plebiscite, anyone?

  3. rickw

    If so many parliamentarians risk being disqualified under section 44(1) of the Constitution, it is ­because parliament’s composition broadly reflects that of Australian society.

    That’s not Australian society, that’s the means of destroying Australian society you fucking moron.

    49% of the inhabitants of Australia have no real fucking understanding of Australian society or Australia, including our politicians, if that isn’t a means of destroying a society, then I don’t know what the fuck is.

  4. struth

    It is important when being in a position of power in this country that this country is the one where your allegiance lies.
    Considering the huge financial benefit of holding office and the taxpayer paying for it is Australian, it is not a huge ask to renounce all other allegiances and escape plans.
    I would not like our generals , senior police or many other like positions filled by dual citizens either.
    It is not good enough at all to only have one foot in Australia and be part of it’s law making elite.

    Not for the price we pay for them besides the other bleeding obvious reasons our constitution writers thought it necessary to put in sect 44.

  5. max

    Political citizenship followed in three generations for Egyptians and Edomites, and in ten generations for Moabites and Ammonites.

    Confession, circumcision, and Passover were the initial means of assimilation.

    That is, the assimilation process began with religion.

    with the Christian church serving as the priesthood. The church was the primary means of cultural assimilation.

    https://mises.org/library/sanctuary-society-and-its-enemies-0

    Who should have the right to vote?

    “The problems we face today are there because the people who “work” for a living are outnumbered by those who “vote” for a living”.

    What voting rights do shares have?
    Under the law of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the voting rights attached to any particular shares depend on the articles of the company and any terms of issue imposed when the shares were created. The vast majority of shares are ordinary shares which carry a right to one vote per share. There may, however, be different classes of shares which may have no voting rights or restricted rights (e.g. can only vote in certain circumstances) or may have additional voting rights (e.g. 10 votes per share) or enhanced voting rights in particular circumstances.

  6. rickw

    20 years ago I met my first Syrians in Australia, they had fled one of the many upsets in that country.

    They were staunch advocates for a Republic, despite having only just arrived, and despite fleeing a country which in hindsight was on a long descent into hell on earth. I argued with them endlessly against a Republic.

    This approach is by no means unique, immigrants and refugees, despite hailing from failed states, for which they must bear some responsibility, don’t look at the house of Australia with wonder and respect at it having stood for so long. Instead they look at it as an urgent renovation project.

    The political arrogance of immigrants is why they are here, it’s what makes them so useful.

  7. candy

    Interesting that the tests for speaking English to obtain citizenship are being set very high and yet we are asked to believe that the politicians are free to be dual nationals.

  8. Aussieute

    There are rules that prospective politicians know prior to standing The morons can’t read and actually purged themselves as they sign a declaration clearly stating they are NOT dual citizens when nominating as a politician The next set of morons are the AEC who are not auditing the lies that are being told to them
    If you don’t like the rules don’t play the f$&@ing game as the rules are not going to change any time soon regardless of and drivel that gets presented or any lame duck excuses made.
    If declarations are falsely made then take the pricks to court and give them a taste of their own medicine that we cop nothing about being eligible just for being a f&[email protected] liar Can’t complete the first step correctly then pissoff

  9. Entropy

    I think what we really need for parliamentarians is an anti narcissism test.

  10. Up The Workers!

    More important than nationality is honesty.

    How do we ensure the honesty of those elected to Parliament?

    Can we hook the truth-phobic sods up to lie detectors while they are recipients of the Parliamentary Dole Scheme, and boot them when they transgress?

    Given the current crop of forked-tongued professional mis-handlers of the truth lurking down that accursed burrow under the Canberra flagpole, mandatory lie-detectors would sure save the long-suffering taxpayers of this country about 90% of our current outlays on Parliamentary salaries, pensions, superannuation and wallet-stuffing, purse-padding, pocket-lining lurks, perks, schemes and scams.

  11. zyconoclast

    If so many parliamentarians risk being disqualified under section 44(1) of the Constitution, it is ­because parliament’s composition broadly reflects that of Australian society.

    I know it has already being said but it has to be said again. They risk being disqualified because they fail to qualify under section 44(1) of the Constitution.
    Henry Ergas wants to give them a free pass because everyone else is doing it. The argument of a 5 year old.

    Put up a a referendum at the next election (minimal extra cost). I suspect it will be rejected.

  12. struth

    How do we ensure the honesty of those elected to Parliament?

    There should be a standard written values statement made by a politician before elections.

    E.G.
    I will always vote against ABC funding.
    Any backdown from these contracts with the people is instant dismissal.
    We don’t have democracy at all if pollies are allowed to change their stance.
    If change to a stance is required, it can be taken to the next election.
    They are not that far apart.

  13. max

    max
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    #2491600, posted on September 8, 2017 at 7:25 am

    The judicial question is this: Who is the true son with a lawful claim on the inheritance?
    The true sons of God are those who obey Him. This raised a major question for ……., one which they never answered correctly: Can a stranger become a son? The answer was covenantally obvious but repulsive to …..: yes. The stranger, if he acts as a son should act, is entitled to become the lawful heir. The son, if he acts as a stranger to the covenant, is to be disinherited. Adopted sons replace biological sons as the lawful heirs. This is the message of the New Covenant. The gentiles could become sons on the same basis that the ….could: obedience to God’s covenant, i.e., adoption.

    Adoption had always been open to gentiles in …., but it took up to ten generations for the heirs of some strangers to achieve this

    This open invitation to immigrate to …. was a means of increasing ….. wealth. Attracting productive people is even better than discovering valuable raw materials. Human creativity is more valuable in the long run than raw materials are,

    Strangers in …. could become legal heirs through adoption by Israelite families. Blood-line inheritance was not the basis of the Mosaic Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant was not a blood-line covenant. It was an ethical-judicial covenant. Men were by oath consigned, not by blood consigned.

    https://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/html/gnde/Chapter25.htm

  14. John Constantine

    To serve in an Australian parliment, a functioning brain and a common sense of duty and decency should be a requirement.

    Not just the ability to, without a pang of self-doubt, trouser a brown paper bag full of Chinese cash and set up a clinton crime family style foundation so the looting classes and dictators of the world can legally bribe you to sell out the country.

  15. Baldrick

    It’s a small price to pay for a base salary of 200k plus a qualifying defined benefit pension for life, as soon as you leave parliament, to expect our politicians not to beholden to a foreign country.

  16. Bear Necessities

    If parliamentarians wish to pass laws and regulations for us to follow and for us not to take short cuts with the law then they need to follow the constitution as written and interpreted so as to set an example.

    The constitution has been in effect for 117 years together with the High Courts rulings on S44. Don’t be easy on them because they may of been born overseas or Mum and Dad were born overseas.

  17. EvilElvis

    That’s not Australian society, that’s the means of destroying Australian society you fucking moron.

    49% of the inhabitants of Australia have no real fucking understanding of Australian society or Australia, including our politicians, if that isn’t a means of destroying a society, then I don’t know what the fuck is.

    Eloquently put rickW, I concur.

  18. Senile Old Guy

    No, Henry Ergas, no.

    These people are in a position of power over the rest of us. They must follow the rules. The fact that so many are in breach of the law implies that they do not really understand their responsibilities and duties.

    Go 5 km over the speed limit and get a hefty fine. Break the rules for getting elected and get a free pass? Give me a break.

  19. stackja

    Why are so many countries interfering in Australia politics with dual citizenships?

  20. Diogenes

    The morons can’t read and actually purged themselves as they sign a declaration clearly stating they are NOT dual citizens when nominating as a politician

    AussieUte,

    It is not always that simple. Lets take my son for example, should he decide stand for parliament. He has the misfortune to have a great grandfather who was Persian, Iranian citizenship does not extinguish unless specifically renounced, and as he is male , he has to perform national service – is it reasonable to ask to actually go to Iran for two years , swear to serve the Islamic Republic as part of his soldiers oath and do his military service ?

    If one has ancestry that is in areas that have changed hands all sorts of of interesting things can happen. In 1983 I signed a piece of paper when obtaining security clearances when being commissioned into the army , saying I held no other nationality – which was absolutely true at the time. Had I signed that very same piece of paper in 2003 or later, I would have unknowingly perjured myself – What changed ? Romania retroactively bestowed citizenship on all those who left after 1945. I was not even aware that dad was legally Romanian , as every bit of paper we have says Hungarian, and he always prefaced the word Romania/Romanian with the Hungarian word for f.cking, until this whole hoohaa started. Iran also changed its nationality laws in the 90s.

    As I posted on another thread, my brother is looking at registering as either Hungarian or Romanian (he would like an EU passport). As part of this he turned up the fact that our grandmother was actually born in Riga, not Koenigsberg as family lore had it, and we believe a 2010 law change entitles us to Latvian citizenship. Because she was born in Riga in the 1890s , I believe we are also Russian. Literally had no idea until 2 weeks ago !

    Going back ANOTHER generation, my GGF was born in Lothringen – yes I use the German name deliberately, as it was part of Germany when he was born in 1890, according to Oma he regarded himself as German, volunteered to fight for the Kaiser KIA 1918, still fighting for the Kaiser in that little border spat . From a very cursory search, it looks like he was retroactively “Frenchified” in the 1920s. Thankfully the French somewhere during the 80s formalised their nationality laws jus soli , snuffing out any citizenship we have/might claim, as did the Germans. So we are clear there.

    Try these 2 thought experiments
    ONE
    1. Tomorrow I formally renounce all dual citizenships (Romanian, Hungarian, Latvian, possibly Russian and Iranian but that 2 years military service is going to be tough to do as a 60 yo – that I know of.
    2. I try to renounce the French, but they refuse to accept it because you cannot renounce something you don’t have.
    3 Fast forward to 2020 I successfully stand for Parliament at the next election.
    4. Fast forward a bit to 2021. The French government decides to fix its naturalisation laws by switching from jus soli to jus sanguinis, and backdates to 1848, and decides it doesn’t extinguish (like Iran) –

    Am I all of a sudden am I no longer fit to sit, because I have the misfortune to have had a “French” great grandfather ?

    TWO
    My grandson was born 4 months ago. Iranian nationality does not extinguish unless formally renounced
    1. Tomorrow I somehow manage to renounce the Iranian nationality without doing military
    2. My son does the same (somehow without doing military service)
    3, My grandson does the same the day he turns 18, but lets say he has already fathered a child
    4. As a parental renouncement has no effect on minor children, according to Iranian law
    Would it really be reasonable to bar MY great grandson from Parliament, because MY grandfather was Iranian ?

    Just how many generations back do we need to go to prove we we are ‘pure’ ?

  21. The Fifth Bike Rider of the Apocalypse

    rickw
    #2491536, posted on September 8, 2017 at 5:12 am
    If so many parliamentarians risk being disqualified under section 44(1) of the Constitution, it is ­because parliament’s composition broadly reflects that of Australian society.

    That’s not Australian society, that’s the means of destroying Australian society you fucking moron.

    49% of the inhabitants of Australia have no real fucking understanding of Australian society or Australia, including our politicians, if that isn’t a means of destroying a society, then I don’t know what the fuck is.
    Well fuckity fuckity fuck fuck fuck!

  22. sfw

    I’m with rickw, he could have been less sweary but he’s right.

    Henry you’re wrong on mineral rights in Australia and you’re wrong on this.

  23. struth

    Diogenes,

    These arseholes have not been retrospectively re adopted by their old countries.
    They have never renounced them at all.

    In your case, or your son’s case.

    It is not always that simple. Lets take my son for example, should he decide stand for parliament. He has the misfortune to have a great grandfather who was Persian, Iranian citizenship does not extinguish unless specifically renounced, and as he is male , he has to perform national service – is it reasonable to ask to actually go to Iran for two years , swear to serve the Islamic Republic as part of his soldiers oath and do his military service ?

    He does not have to perform nation service if he doesn’t go to Iran.
    If he choses to do that, he should not be allowed to stand for parliament, with very good reason.

    Renounce before you sign, or don’t go into parliament.
    How simple is that.
    If a country “retrospectively” makes you a citizen of their country after you have renounced that citizenship, Australia only has to decide on this basis.
    Did you renounce before you decided to stand for election?

    You are therefore, by the constitution, OUR constitution, not under obedience of a foreign power.
    Our constitution is worded well enough for this to be decided.

  24. Tel

    Section 44 is fine the way it is.

    Politicians impose a million dumbarse rules and expect the citizens to obey to the letter… so they can demonstrate competence by following one fairly simple and easy to understand document.

    If we were considering alternative democratic designs, I definitely think we should be voting on the pensions of politicians AFTER they have spent time in Parliament. That way at least we know what we are voting for.

  25. Wrong again ‘enry. Why, why is ‘enry always wrong?

    S44 may yet serve us well, assuming the HC does not corrupt its meaning.

    It is a shame it does not apply to the states.

  26. struth

    I wish Henry was a dual citizen.

    I’d pay the air fare.

  27. Rabz

    #foreignerswhores&quislings

  28. Snoopy

    A dual Chinese Australian PM? No thanks.

  29. 8

    No Australian parliamentarian should have a bolt-hole.

  30. Justin

    Is it that hard or to much to expect that before nominating for parliament you make sure you renounce dual citizenship and demonstrate your unwavering loyalty and commitment to Australia? Surely if you wish to make the laws of the country it is not that unreasonable you abide by them. This kerffule is symbolic of everything that is wrong in politics. It is attracting the wrong type of person. People interested in self aggrandisement who pass judgment on all and sundry and constantly want to regulate away our freedoms and choices but don’t think the laws should apply to them.

  31. H B Bear

    Another miss from Henry.

  32. Diogenes

    Struth you badly misrepresent the meaning of my post.

    In order to comply with section 44, my son would HAVE to do Iranian nasho, even if he never ever WANTS to visit that shithole of a country as it is the ONLY WAY he can renounce, and even then if he did do his nasho, the responsible Iranian minister can say “nup, don’t accept your renunciation” anyway.

    A strict reading of S44 says writing to the Embassy saying “nup I am not one youze” ,as Xylophone did, will not cut it, that is, unless the High Court says that is sufficient – I am not sure any of the referred cases covers his point. Some countries , eg Morroco do not even allow you to renounce.

    The fix is simple and requires no change to the constitution. As Australian law is paramount, and even trumps the laws of nature according to our “beloved” PM, parliament could pass a law laying out a procedure for Australians standing for parliament to formally renounce other citizenships held, that would satisfy the HC & section 44, and if other countries do not accept that – tough shit ! There would have to be stiff penalties to prevent recidivism, so that if say, I renounced my Iranian nationality according to the Australian process (which Iran does not recognise) and later applied for an Iranian passport (which I could do as Iran has not accepted that I am no longer one of them) I would have to repay every cent I cost as parliamentarian ( salary, allowances, travel, office space etc etc) plus say a million dollars

  33. Bad Samaritan

    Some years ago whilst living abroad I was asked by the authorities there if I had considered taking out citizenship instead of constantly renewing my resident’s permit. The guy told me I’d get it easily as my language skills and “work ethic” were what they wanted. Plus it would be good traipsing around Europe as an EU citizen too. So…it was very tempting, until he told me I’d have to give up my Oz Citizenship and that the Oz Embassy would be informed. Hmmm, so I said , very politely, NO! I did not want to burn my bridges.

    Hmmm…and that’s how it is in reverse for the dual citizens or maybe dual citizens, or could-be dual citizens sitting in the Oz parliament. They would only not renounce the other ones because they are thinking that maybe the others will be more attractive one day. Thus they are not true-blue Aussies at all until they ditch the other one.

    BTW; Of course, if they make the effort but the other countries don’t accept it, they get dispensation.

  34. Bad Samaritan

    Off Topic….WTF is wrong with Venus Williams? Just took the second set (in the US Open Semi-Final) 6-0, and then broken in the very first game of the final set. FFS!

    Yeah, I know you should never watch the match when you’ve got bets on, but seriously. Get back in the groove girl!

  35. Bruce

    So, while everyone is distracted and/or misdirected by creative interpretations of the Oz Constitution and the Laws of Nature, what is REALLY happening in what little is left of my native country?

  36. Diogenes

    Tel,
    How can it be simple – when it relies on ever changing laws and court decisions of other countries, and a full knowledge of your family tree for n many generations including dates & places and birth ? -Its so ferking easy for you ‘Anglos’.

    Yes there are the very simple cases, ie the 2 Greens(born in a country using jus solis) not making excuses for them. Then you have the citizenship through mother/father, some obvious, some not but easily checkable, again not making excuses for them (if I stood I would renounce the simple ones I know about, eg Romania and Hungary). Then you start getting the edge cases –
    1. descent through grandparent (helloo Ireland to name a common one, or in my case Iran & Latvia, Russia(?)) , and then even more extreme case of descent through great grandparent(again Iran) , or great great grandparent(Iran) , or great great greatgrandparent(Iran) .
    2. retroactive grants (Italy, Romania)
    3. renunciation rules make you do military service
    4. you cannot legally renounce eg Morroco

    re point 2 :
    Consider the imaginary case of Vito Smith born to John Smith(b Melbourne, Aust) and Maria Corleone (b Rome Italy) . Knowing that he might face issues with Section 44 , to be sure to be sure, Vito, before standing for the 2007 election writes to the Italians, saying “I hereby renounce my Italian citizenship”. He receives a nice letter back, you don’t have it to renounce.

    According to Section 44 , on 24/2/2009 Vito Smith, was a fine and proper person to stand for and sit in parliament. On 25/2/09 the Italian equivalent of the High Court decides that because mum was born in Italy , ol’ Vito is really Italian as well , therefore on 26/2/09 Vito is foreign scum and must be cast out with extreme prejudice with the scorn and derision of the populace.

  37. struth

    No, I agree with you Diogenes.

    This is exactly what the high court will propose.

    Writing to a country to cancel your citizenship and them not accepting it or changing the rules after you have official given notice of such cannot be held as to be YOUR alliegiance, obedience to a foreign power.

    As the constitution reads must be how it is found.
    If you have done all that is humanly possible to rid yourself of foreign citizenship and renounced allegiances, what else can be done?
    Being a citizen of this country, you are under the law of our constitution.
    It will be found that doing all that is possible to renounce other citizenship will be enough.
    And written proof should all be that is required.
    Proof of such before taking office.
    But if a country makes you a citizen AFTER you have renounced any known citizenship, you cannot be held responsible.
    It will probably be adjudicated even more vaguely.
    This will be the worst case scenario for politicians because remember, this constitutional law applies only to politicians.
    Do you really believe there will be a stricter outcome?

  38. Bruce

    Snoopy:

    “A dual Chinese Australian PM? No thanks.”

    Didn’t we have one of those once? You know, the bloke who looked like tin Tin.

  39. Sydney Boy

    People like Barnaby Joyce being a dual citizen by descent does not make him a good or a bad politician. His dual citizenship is a non-issue. His allegiance is totally to Australia. On the other hand, Sam Dastyari has gone to great pains to renounce his Iranian citizenship, but I have grave doubts as to his alligence to Australia due to his Chinese connections. Barnaby Joyce may potentially fall foul of S44, and Sam Dastyari is in the clear, but I know which one concerns me more.

  40. Mr Black

    Personally, I do not believe any person not born in Australia should ever be eligible to serve in an elected office, or serve in senior grades of the public service. A persons first loyalty and their base culture should be totally Australian, not Iranian or Chinese with brand new Australian paper work. Citizenship is a farce, it is a piece of paper. I do not trust that piece of paper to determine a persons values and commitment to this country.

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