Sanjeev Sabhlok: Stop worshipping the Constitution. Please start thinking.

Citizenship is meaningless if it does not include the right to represent the community in parliament. Australia citizenship is arguably worthless since our constitution imposes restrictions on citizens who can contest elections.

But every policy must address a real problem. What is the evidence to date to back up this policy? How many Australian parliamentarians have been caught spying for communists? Indeed, such people are known to keep their intentions secret. A parliamentarian spying for North Korea is not going to take out N.Korean dual citizenship.

But there’s the other thing we seem to forget: that Australians are required to fight for our foreigner Queen. We can have a British Queen but an Australian who has British citizenship by decent is unfit to govern Australia?

And why is it that migrants like me become instantly fit to govern Australia but someone born and brought up here is not? When I came here as a permanent resident in December 2000, citizenship was on offer to me within two years. I decided to take it in 2005 after handing my Indian passport back to the Indian embassy. Therefore, within a few years of my landing up here, I became eligible to represent Australians.

But many of those who recently evicted from the parliament were born and brought up here. They paid taxes for the upkeep of Australia the whole of their life. They know all about this wonderful land and its people (I don’t even know the Australian national anthem). Many of these wonderful people have put a huge effort throughout their life to take this great country forward.

But they are not fit to represent Australians. I am.

Petty bureaucratic mania has overtaken Australia. When a law is divorced from its purpose it becomes whimsy. In Urdu we say of a person incapable of original thinking, a person with the mind of a petty clerk, that he is a lakir ka fakir, a worshipper of the written word.

Otherwise sensible people in Australia have lost their head. What else would explain a desire to audit everyone’s citizenship status? Why stop there? Were all previous parliaments kosher? We should audit all previous parliaments and annul all laws passed during the previous century that may have been contaminated by these enemies of Australia.

We elect our representatives to think on our behalf, not to worship the Constitution. The Constitution has been very badly drafted in this case. The law is a farce. Instead of fixing it, our representatives are wasting precious parliamentary time in political point making. Stop it, please.

Except where a citizen has been convicted of serious crimes, including of treason and spying for the North Koreans, he should be eligible to represent Australians. That’s the only approach consistent with the history of democratic development.

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89 Responses to Sanjeev Sabhlok: Stop worshipping the Constitution. Please start thinking.

  1. stackja

    The law is a farce.

    And lawyers are not helping.

  2. I am Spartacus

    Nonsense. Sorry mate. Nonsense.

    Australian citizens can and do represent Australians in the Australian parliament. It is dual nationals that have the problem. And to identify and renounce, or make reasonable efforts to renounce is not that big a deal. Many jobs have pre-qualification requirements – working with children checks, qualification checks, reference checks.

    The constitution is well over 100 years old. It’s not like these rules are new.

    Also, they are not written in stone. If citizens, whom are to be represented, have a problem with the constitution, they can change the constitution.

  3. Tel

    If you don’t feel like following the law, I can’t see any reason why anyone else should bother.

    Fixing the Constitution requires a referendum, and if people want the law changed they can change it. Personally I would vote to keep it the way it is, because there’s a perfectly good process for anyone to get their paperwork in order should they want to make the effort, and anyone who can’t be bothered probably isn’t going to be very effective in government.

  4. I am Spartacus

    And to say “We elect our representatives to think on our behalf, not to worship the Constitution”. Please.

    If you engage someone to “think” on your behalf, that is your problem. The rest of us engage our elected representatives to REPRESENT us, and not think for us.

    Are there any other laws you think our political elite should should have the discretion to ignore?

  5. Sinclair Davidson

    But they are not fit to represent Australians. I am.

    I wouldn’t say you are fit at all – reads like you are a republican. Eligible perhaps but never ‘fit’.

    More importantly, I’m not sure that you are eligible either. I’m not familiar with Indian law but not having a passport is not normally a sign of having renounced or lost your citizenship. You must have been stripped of citizenship or renounced it.

  6. struth

    Sanjeev.
    You have no clue at all on this subject.
    Do some research.
    Australians are not forced to fight for the queen at all.

    There is so much wrong and lack of information that you are basing your opinions on I must say you coming to your opinion is no surprise.

    As somebody that has immigrated here recently, obviously you believe it’s for your betterment.
    Ask yourself why the west?
    Why come here.
    Then understand by studying, what we mean by rule of law.
    it really is why you left india and came here.

    Stop embarrassing yourself with half arsed theories.

  7. I am Spartacus

    But they are not fit to represent Austrians. I am.

    And if you are fit to represent Austria – good on you. This is a discussion of whether and who is fit to represent Australia. And speaking for Spartacus only, I am quite satisfied with the current constitution.

    If someone wants to represent their constituents, and to be paid very well for the privilege, they could at least make the slightest bit of effort to prove their bona-fides.

    [An obvious typo – I’ve fixed that. Sinc]

  8. whyisitso

    It’s a stupid law, passed when there was no such thing as Australian citizenship, only “British subjects”. Now someone who has British parents cannot sit in our Parliament. The case of Josh Freudenberg is the stupidest one yet. He needs an expert in Hungarian law to determine his Hungarian status. We are dependent on a country that was trying to murder his mother and his family. Talk about a cringe.

    My wife’s father was born in NZ, so she’s a NZ citizen. I looked up the internet on how to renounce NZ citizenship. It’s very complex and the fee is $398.

  9. lotocoti

    But there’s the other thing we seem to forget: that Australians are required to fight for our foreigner Queen.

    I must have been Off Duty or Under Punishment when that requirement was promulgated.

  10. Shine a Light

    I am always suspicious of those who want to add limitations to the process of democracy as it seems to end up as cash in the benevolent fund for destitute lawyers.

  11. Senile Old Guy

    This is possibly the worst piece published on the Cat.

    Sanjeev Sabhlok: Stop worshipping the Constitution. Please start thinking.
    Posted on 8:34 am, November 7, 2017 by Guest Author
    Citizenship is meaningless if it does not include the right to represent the community in parliament. Australia citizenship is arguably worthless since our constitution imposes restrictions on citizens who can contest elections.

    Obey the f*cking law. Of course the constitution “imposes restrictions on citizens who can contest elections”. You can argue about those restrictions but there is a clear avenue for change: a referendum. If you really object to the restrictions in the constitution, argue your case, get people to agree with you and win a referendum.

    But, when it comes to changing the constitution, the history in Australia is very clear: we do not like to change the constitution. That means most of us are happy with it as it is.

    People who get caught out by the rules always want to change the rules.

    Far from being “worthless”, as you insultingly claim, Australian citizenship is valuable because there are restrictions on who can become a citizen.

    But every policy must address a real problem. What is the evidence to date to back up this policy?

    It is not a policy. The author has a comprehension problem. The constitution is the founding document defining the rules governing the country. It is the basis for the rule of law in Australia.

    How many Australian parliamentarians have been caught spying for communists?

    Irrelevant.

    But there’s the other thing we seem to forget: that Australians are required to fight for our foreigner Queen. We can have a British Queen but an Australian who has British citizenship by decent is unfit to govern Australia?

    That would be descent. It is history. The British Queen has no real role in any part of Australia’s government. On the other hand, someone who is dual citizenship may have divided loyalties. (As a result of this event, it turns out I may have dual citizenship, which I would have to check in the unlikely event I went insane and nominated for parliament.)

    And why is it that migrants like me become instantly fit to govern Australia but someone born and brought up here is not? When I came here as a permanent resident in December 2000, citizenship was on offer to me within two years.

    But you did not “instantly” become fit. It took two years, you had to take certain actions and be accepted.

    Many of these wonderful people have put a huge effort throughout their life to take this great country forward.

    Who cares? Apparently they put in a “huge effort” but this did not include finding out whether they were eligible to nominate for parliament.

    Petty bureaucratic mania has overtaken Australia. When a law is divorced from its purpose it becomes whimsy. In Urdu we say of a person incapable of original thinking, a person with the mind of a petty clerk, that he is a lakir ka fakir, a worshipper of the written word.

    What is the point of having rules (i.e. laws) if we are allowed to ignore them at will?

    Otherwise sensible people in Australia have lost their head. What else would explain a desire to audit everyone’s citizenship status?

    No-one is proposing to “audit everyone’s citizenship status”. The proposal is to check the citizenship status of people who are required to be citizens to nominate for parliament.

  12. Derp

    Cool! What other laws can we or those we elect to “think” for us decide we won’t follow?

    If you want a job, you do your due diligence and check off the requirements.
    It’s not difficult.
    Our better got lazy and complacent. It’s that simple.

  13. Diogenes

    More importantly, I’m not sure that you are eligible either. I’m not familiar with Indian law but not having a passport is not normally a sign of having renounced or lost your citizenship. You must have been stripped of citizenship or renounced it.

    And herein lies the rub.

    Procedures & processes differ & circumstances change. Had I been sitting in parliament in March 1991, I would have been a true blue dinky di aussie basking in the admiration of my peers and the public. Then on 6 Mar 1991 Romania changes its citizenship laws restoring Dads citizenship , & therefore makes me eligible for Romanian citizenship and all of a sudden I am a stinking foreigner & need to be terminated with extreme prejudice from parliament.

    Sinc,
    If I were in Parliament today, how often would I need to check to see if my eligibilty for citizenship from Germany, Estonia & Russia (through grandparents) have been restored ? How would I go about preemptively renouncing something I am not legally entitled to? If I did preemptively renounce , would say a law change in Germany, even take into account the fact that I had renounced ?

  14. John Constantine

    The whole point of this debacle is simply an upscaling of the way two corrupt lawyers skin a vulnerable client of all their funds by stretching out a court case.

    Here we have learned colleagues preening and indulging themselves over hithertofore obscure points of law, and drawing out these procedural matters until the capital of the Australian people has bled out onto the floor.

    Simply the elites postponing and granting themselves an extension to that unpleasant day they have to deal with the Ponzi property scheme imploding.

    Comrades.

  15. jupes

    Petty bureaucratic mania has overtaken Australia. When a law is divorced from its purpose it becomes whimsy. In Urdu we say of a person incapable of original thinking, a person with the mind of a petty clerk, that he is a lakir ka fakir, a worshipper of the written word.

    Liberty quote.

    From strata mangers to federal politicians, we are a land of petty bureaucratic fuckwits where a million laws and rules is never enough.

  16. Joe

    Sinc,
    If I were in Parliament today, how often would I need to check to see if my eligibilty for citizenship from Germany, Estonia & Russia (through grandparents) have been restored ? How would I go about preemptively renouncing something I am not legally entitled to? If I did preemptively renounce , would say a law change in Germany, even take into account the fact that I had renounced ?

    Don’t see anywhere in the constitution where it would allow you to renounce an eligibility for citizenship.

  17. Sinclair Davidson

    If I were in Parliament today, how often would I need to check to see if my eligibilty for citizenship from Germany, Estonia & Russia (through grandparents) have been restored ?

    You would need to have checked this before you were nominated and renounced then. So, once, as far as I can work out.

  18. Just Interested

    Great idea.

    Just ignore the laws you don’t like.

    Great way for a society to operate.

  19. Viva

    The constitution is well over 100 years old. It’s not like these rules are new

    That’s the problem right there. This rule belongs in the horse and buggy era. Get rid of it.

  20. Senile Old Guy

    The constitution is well over 100 years old. It’s not like these rules are new

    That’s the problem right there. This rule belongs in the horse and buggy era. Get rid of it.

    Fine. Run a referendum. It will fail.

    I am interested in the number of people who apparently think it is okay to ignore laws you don’t like.

  21. Nathan

    I kind of like the idea of a retrospective audit and then wiping out all laws passed by governments found to have been ineligible. A legislative colonic so to speak.

  22. john malpas

    who is going to tell my children they can’t be prime minister as I was born in Britain? They think the are all Australians – should I disillusion them?

  23. Infidel Tiger

    This is a garbage column.

    Section 44 is a brilliant piece of law and the Australian people overwhelmingly support it. It will never ever be repealed.

  24. struth

    The case of Josh Freudenberg is the stupidest one yet. He needs an expert in Hungarian law to determine his Hungarian status. We are dependent on a country that was trying to murder his mother and his family. Talk about a cringe.

    My wife’s father was born in NZ, so she’s a NZ citizen. I looked up the internet on how to renounce NZ citizenship. It’s very complex and the fee is $398.

    Then ask yourself what has changed and how has it changed?

    The original constitution as it stands UNALTERED BY REFERENDUM means being from any commonwealth country is fine, and you swear an oath of Allegiance to Australia.
    No cost to a KIWI.

    The Australia act was enacted without referendum.
    The idiocy of this is due to the unconstitutional Australia act, that can have no effect on the original constitution without referendum.

    As it stands now, for Josh or any of the others with catchy old countries that may be difficult to renounce, that can easily be solved through the high court as has already occurred.

    If you want to stand for election in Australia and get your snout on a gravy train, stop grizzling about the few hundred fee that you will have to pay NZ (nothing to do with us) as it will be less than a morning’s pay once elected.

    I pay that much every year for just one of my industry accreditations and it definitely isn’t worth a politician’s income.

    The Australia act is the problem.
    However, no one now is going to bring up that can of worms.

    To you Sanjeev, this is precisely a mess caused by our elites not abiding by the rule of law in the first place.

    Hopefully you are off somewhere studying this sort of thing now.

    Two wrongs do not make a right.

  25. Infidel Tiger

    The same people who spend every waking moment creating reams of legislation and bureaucracy, making every day australians lives a living hell are too stupid to check the entry criteria to sit in Parliament.

    They should all eat a dick and die of shame.

  26. rickw

    Sanjeev, you’re a fucking idiot, Australian politics is wall to wall internationalists and you don’t think there’s a fucking problem? Australia has been fucked beyond all recognition by these arseholes in the last 30 years.

  27. struth

    This is a garbage column.

    Section 44 is a brilliant piece of law and the Australian people overwhelmingly support it. It will never ever be repealed.

    But it will be ignored.
    It only applies to politicians.

    If it applied to voters, they’d spend billions in tracking the history of every member of ON or the AC that intended to vote.

  28. Nighthawk the Elder

    The problem is not with the constitution. Its aim was always clear that members and senators only represent the interests of Australia and its constituents. The problem is with ongoing eligibility for duel citizenship, especially by decent. Some of which is only a fairly recent situation, as highlighted in Diogenes’ example above.

    What was needed is clarity and the recent HCA ruling has gone someway to provide that. A few outstanding things do need to happen however.

    First an administrative clean out of foreign citizenship eligibility of both houses. Do it under some form of amnesty if that works rather than rushing off to by-elections. Labor might think itself clever with the politics but there remains doubts over some on their side of the fence. The minor parties in some cases have already been caught out. Bottom line, restore a degree of faith in the parliament (for what it is currently worth).

    Second, establish a process for candidates (not just when they are elected) to demonstrate their eligibility, as part of the nomination process. And I don’t just mean signing a stat dec. Have all the paper work ready for scrutiny.

    And finally put in place safeguards to protect sitting members and senators from retrospective eligibility for duel citizenship, when imposed in the future at the whim of a foreign power. Otherwise we’ll be doing this dance all over again.

  29. Chris M

    In Urdu we say of a person incapable of original thinking, a person with the mind of a petty clerk, that he is a lakir ka fakir, a worshipper of the written word

    Yes, that works well in India doesn’t it; utter disregard for laws and rampant , nation crushing levels of corruption. Yet worshiping wood and stone idols is considered normal.

    How many Australian parliamentarians have been caught spying for communists?

    Some have but these days Communist infiltration is more subtle and done by under the counter payments – the Joel Fitzgibbon affairs for one example. This is apparently acceptable to you coming from a country that such payments are the norm and to this day has strong communist influences, with the visible evidence all around of the evil this ideology spawns.

    Sanjeev these constitutional laws are more vital than ever and the rule or application of laws equally to all people is a crucial feature of western democracy. Your thinking appears to run about opposite to western liberal democracy.

  30. Infidel Tiger

    We are either a nation of laws or we are nothing. Your choice Canberra.

  31. lotocoti

    who is going to tell my children they can’t be prime minister as I was born in Britain?

    Nobody.
    They just have to be able to read the 60pt fine print.

  32. Roger

    It’s called rule of law, Sanjeev.

    In regard to foreign allegiances, Sect 44 is more relevant now than it ever was previously.

  33. alexnoaholdmate

    Now someone who has British parents cannot sit in our Parliament.

    Absolute nonsense. Someone with British parents is perfectly eligible to sit in our Parliament – including the last three Prime Ministers and the upcoming one.

    It is someone with British citizenship that is not eligible – and this is quite easily remedied. So, what excuse is there for not having done so?

  34. Barry 1963

    Sanjeev’s sentiments at one level are sound. Some dual citizens recently chucked out of parliament were committed Australians. But as others say here, the law is the law, and there is no higher law in Australia than the Constitution.

  35. struth

    How many Australian parliamentarians have been caught spying for communists?

    How many have been caught wanking?

    How many do?

    Such a stupid comment.

  36. Viva

    Barnaby Joyce can’t sit in parliament because in some purely theoretical realm he is apparently a Kiwi. Any rule that tbrows up such an absurdity is self evidently an ass.

  37. Alex Davidson

    The problem is the double standard. If you or I act outside the letter of the law, no matter how nonsensical or unreasonable the law is, they come down on us like a ton of bricks, no exceptions, zero tolerance, no leeway.

    Before they start setting aside constitutional requirements, they need to start repealing some of the tens of thousands of rules and regulations that achieve no useful purpose and make our lives a misery. Otherwise keep s44 as it is and enforce it to the letter.

  38. Marcus

    Great idea.

    Just ignore the laws you don’t like.

    Great way for a society to operate.

    Actually, when there are so many laws that no one can reasonably be expected to know them all, they achieve no practical good and breaking them achieves no harm, that’s the only way for society to operate. The law says I can’t jaywalk, that our household can only water the garden on certain days, and that we must get our remarkably indolent cat micropchipped, even though he’s never caught anything and almost never leaves our block. Do we obey the law in those circumstances? Hell, no.

    As far as S.44 goes, that’s as clear a case of the letter of the law running rampant over the spirit of the law as there’s ever been. Not one – a single one – of the so-called dual national MPs stands accused of acting against Australia’s interests because of their dual citizenship. Apart from Matt Canavan, every MP who’s come under scrutiny holds the dual citizenship of an Australian ally, and as Mark Steyn made the case so well, it’s ridiculous to think that when the Constitution was drafted that people from Britain, New Zealand or Canada would have been considered “foreign” to Australia anyway.

    If John Alexander, whose father emigrated here over a century ago, renounced his citizenship and cut his ties to the Mother Country before his son was born, is regarded as being ineligible to serve in Parliament by the Constitution, then the Constitution is wrong, plain and simple, and I would welcome a chance to vote to have this embarrasing and anachronistic clause wiped out in a referendum.

  39. Queen Elizabeth 2 is the Queen of Australia. She was declared as such by the Whitlam government.
    She is also NOT British. In fact the Queen is not a citizen of any country. She holds no passport either.

  40. H B Bear

    I am following WW2 Tweets from 1939 (@RealTimeWW11), that provides a useful reminder that the early 20th century when the Constitution was framed was a very different time from today. The nation state is still the most important democratic building block, despite over a century of Marxist and now neo-Marxist attacks upon it through ideological or supra-national collectives.

    The Constitution was and is clearly intended to provide that elected representatives can have no other formal allegiance to Australia. Arguably the greatest strategic threat to Australia will come from China who have shown that they are willing to exercise (currently) soft power everywhere from Africa to the Central Pacific. The Constitution cannot prevent politicians like the Persian Dwarf from peddling influence because they don’t like paying their own expenses or pay-for-play self-appointed socialist “intellectuals” like Used Carr but they must be exposed through other mechanisms.

  41. struth

    Sanjeev’s sentiments at one level are sound. Some dual citizens recently chucked out of parliament were committed Australians. But as others say here, the law is the law, and there is no higher law in Australia than the Constitution

    Unfortunately, as our schools aren’t teaching the reasons for the west’s success and our immigrants from shitholes don’t get why either, what have we got to look forward too?

    Freedom is prosperity Sanjeev, and property rights, freedom of speech, and the rule of law are paramount to this occurring.

    Tell all your mates.

  42. Roger

    I’m not familiar with Indian law but not having a passport is not normally a sign of having renounced or lost your citizenship. You must have been stripped of citizenship or renounced it.

    “No person shall be a citizen of India by virtue of Article 5, or be deemed to be a citizen of India by virtue of Article 6 or Article 8, if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State.”
    Constitution of India, Article 9.

    Subsequently, Indian law requires that Indians who become citizens of foreign states must relinquish their Indian passport, ID and voting documents.

    It seems India doesn’t want people with foreign allegiances influencing their democracy.

  43. struth

    Barnaby Joyce can’t sit in parliament because in some purely theoretical realm he is apparently a Kiwi. Any rule that tbrows up such an absurdity is self evidently an ass.

    You and I may think the Law is an ass.
    It’s irrelevant.
    It’s up to us to change it democratically by a referendum, not to ignore it, or worse still, let politicians not abide by the law.

    Rule of Law is the issue here.
    Not the actual law.
    They must abide by the rules in existence, or we become India.

  44. Roger

    Consequently, not subsequently, that should be.

  45. Senile Old Guy

    If John Alexander, whose father emigrated here over a century ago, renounced his citizenship and cut his ties to the Mother Country before his son was born, is regarded as being ineligible to serve in Parliament by the Constitution, then the Constitution is wrong, plain and simple, and I would welcome a chance to vote to have this embarrassing and anachronistic clause wiped out in a referendum.

    That’s fine. Let’s have a referendum to change the Constitution. I predict it would fail. I might be wrong but the odds are in my favour.

    Australia is a nation ruled by law, the most fundamental being the Constitution. You think it is wrong. Just because you think it is wrong does not mean that it is wrong.

    Rather than simply ignoring the rules some people don’t like, get the law changed. Until then, everyone who has been found ineligible cannot nominate for Parliament. This has been decided by the High Court of Australia, the ultimate arbiter of law in this country.

  46. A Lurker

    Remove from Parliament those who owe their allegiance to a foreign power or anti-Australian/anti-Western Civilization political ideology.

    #1 Dual-Nationals
    #2 Communists
    #3 Muslims

  47. anonandon

    A message to our parliamentarians. “How does it feel? Suck shit.”

  48. Viva

    So now we have idiots in the press like Chris Merritt in the Oz referring to people such as Barnaby and Josh Frydenberg as “foreigners” who need to be “sent packing”.

    Nice.

  49. Infidel Tiger

    For all intents and purposes they are foreigners.

    If they can not follow the law they have no place in parliament. This is simple stuff.

  50. struth

    As far as S.44 goes, that’s as clear a case of the letter of the law running rampant over the spirit of the law as there’s ever been

    It’s the feel of it ………the vibe……………………..

    FMD.

    There is nothing wrong with the constitution.
    The Australia act caused this., and that is unconstitutional where it is found to not comply , or be at odds with the constitution.
    I would suggest the whole thing is a traitorous document.
    However, this isn’t going to change now, and I could scream about this forever and it would be pointless.

    This is the rule of law these idiots must be held to.

    The problem that you are seeing here is the very great fear they have of waking Australians up to their own constitution.
    As proven by the many comments here, the constitution allows commonwealth citizens to sit in Parliament.
    Quite plainly.
    And they only had to be a naturalized citizen of one of those countries for five years.
    But plainly, many don’t know this.
    The government of Australia, without referendum made commonwealth countries “foreign powers”
    which they cannot do.
    It must be done through a referendum.
    I hate to bang on about this, but it’s a fact.

    If people start looking at that, these gooses have some real problems.

    The rule of law can only work if it is known.

    You won’t find in any of our constitution reference to all other countries are foreign powers.
    The point I am making, is please don’t blame the constitution for this mess.
    Blame the elites of the day going against the rule of law, starting with the Australia act.
    If you came from India as a commonwealth country, you would have been fine.
    Really.

    The constitution allows itself to be changed through the will of the people.
    It therefore is a living , changeable document, and therefore can never be old or irrelevant.
    It, through democracy, can be changed through the years.
    It’s just up to us, not our representatives over- ruling us.

  51. Megan

    Bottom line, restore a degree of faith in the parliament (for what it is currently worth).

    Mission impossible. They have already penetrated so deeply into the negative number zone, that no matter it’s an imaginary number, no expert physicist alive or dead could extract them in one hundred life times.

  52. Viva

    For all intents and purposes they are foreigners.

    “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass — a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.”

  53. Megan

    And, I’m not a politician nor do I have a scintilla of desire to be, I’m a semi-retired, woman in the suburbs and I have known for decades that I have dual citizenship by virtue of my British born parents.

    It’s not rocket science. I’m a rule breaker by nature, especially rules that make no sense. But The Law, as it is currently written does not give me, or any of those useless seat warmers in Canberra, the option to ignore it without consequences. There should be an audit, and the longer they stall the less the general public will like it. Sanjeev, and his supporters, excepted.

  54. Viva

    “How does it feel? Suck shit.”

    For all the high falutin language employed by the newly minted constitutional “experts” inhabiting this thread, I reckon the above sentiment best explains their new found fervour for the black letter of the law.

  55. Sorry, I must missed the bit about him calling for people to ignore the law. Apparently The Cat is infested with closet Sir Humphrey Applebys ready to pounce on an unsuspecting poster. Who knew?

    As we all know, the problem is not the constitution, but the High Court interpretation. Our “betters” in the High Court have drummed up decades of new business for themselves, tying up the country in the process. We are now subject to the whim of foreigners and whatever laws they dream up into the future. The law is an ass. Everyone knows this.

    We are now stuck with this interpretation until such time as something else comes up under section 44 of the constitution. I dunno, say, Sam Dastari’s donation from China? Let us see if the High Court is willing to support the spirit of Section 44, namely, the prevention of parliamentarians from representing foreign interests contrary to our own.

    What say you, High Court?

  56. struth

    For all the high falutin language employed by the newly minted constitutional “experts” inhabiting this thread, I reckon the above sentiment best explains their new found fervour for the black letter of the law.

    Cop out.

    There has been no high falutin language.
    There is none in the constitution.
    It is meant to be that way.
    It’s easy to understand and written in straight forward language so that we understand it.

    A constitutional expert is usually somebody making money from twisting those very simple words so as to bypass it’s very straightforward intent.

    And yes, there is a bit of what you claim, for sure, and there is nothing wrong with that.
    It’s how it should be.
    The rule of law is for everybody.

  57. struth

    We are now stuck with this interpretation until such time as something else comes up under section 44 of

    the constitution. I dunno, say, Sam Dastari’s donation from China? Let us see if the High Court is willing to support the spirit of Section 44, namely, the prevention of parliamentarians from representing foreign interests contrary to our own.

    What say you, High Court?

    Do you think the “spirit” of the thing was meant to stop politicians from bowing to the U.N. and not Australians?

  58. Senile Old Guy

    For all the high falutin language employed by the newly minted constitutional “experts” inhabiting this thread, I reckon the above sentiment best explains their new found fervour for the black letter of the law.

    As we all know, the problem is not the constitution, but the High Court interpretation. Our “betters” in the High Court have drummed up decades of new business for themselves, tying up the country in the process. We are now subject to the whim of foreigners and whatever laws they dream up into the future. The law is an ass. Everyone knows this.

    What a load of rubbish. The HC read the Constitution as it was intended. Yes, dual citizenship creates problems but those are best remedied by changing the law not ignoring it.

  59. manalive

    A third chamber of Parliament for those who can prove indigenous heritage has been seriously suggested, what about a fourth chamber for those who can prove no foreign allegiance?
    (That was a joke).

  60. Do you think the “spirit” of the thing was meant to stop politicians from bowing to the U.N. and not Australians?

    I’d say yes. The intent is clearly allegiance to Australia. Had they known then what we know now, they would’ve added more to Section 44 to prevent our sovereignty from being transferred to international bodies.

  61. The HC read the Constitution as it was intended.

    Really? You know this?

    How?

  62. Senile Old Guy

    The HC read the Constitution as it was intended.

    Really? You know this? How?

    Pedant. They interpreted it to mean how most would interpret a plain English reading, rather than, say, finding a right to SSM in a Constitution which was clearly not in the document.

  63. struth

    I’d say yes. The intent is clearly allegiance to Australia. Had they known then what we know now, they would’ve added more to Section 44 to prevent our sovereignty from being transferred to international bodies.

    I of course, agree.
    But I believe the constitution already has the wording sufficient to act on this, or at least give these traitors a scare.

    The word “power” is used and not “nation”

    Thinking back to the days when it was written, with kingdoms, religions and tribes and peoples segregated by many ways and unified other than borders, as is still the case today, I would say there is a very good reason why they used the word Power.
    If the United nations is not a power, what is?

    It has a force.
    It punishes nations and rewards others.
    It has a flag.

    We only need to hear the word “obligation” from pollies to get it.

    Firstly, they always use the term “international obligation” when talking about U.N.obligations.

    Adherence to any foreign power is enough to be turfed out of office.
    They only need to make these statements and they are representatives of a foreign power.
    A power nobody in Australia has ever voted to be subservient to, or adhere to, or even recognise.

    As the bureaucrats in the U.N. are not elected by anyone, they are not a group of nations but a foreign power to all nations.
    They represent nobody but themselves.

    ISIS is not a nation, but it is a foreign power (although decreasing, thank you Trump) and Islam itself has many soldiers and bureaucrats.
    None of these can be classified as nations.
    They are foreign powers.
    They have forces deployed in their name.
    As does the unrepresentative U.N.

    “Is under any ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign POWER”.

  64. Cynic of Ayr

    Look, Moron, the Constitution is LAW. Do you know what Law is? Doesn’t seem like it.
    The Constitution, therefor, must be obeyed. (By all, including you, even though you obviously think it doesn’t apply to you, because you’re an immigrant.
    The Constitution can be changed, by the people.
    So, here’s an idea. You go out and try to get the Constitution changed. A change based purely on your idea of what it should be.
    Raving and ranting about what it should be, could be, or would be, is just plain stupid!
    Perhaps you should have stayed in India.

  65. W Hogg

    More importantly, I’m not sure that you are eligible either. I’m not familiar with Indian law but not having a passport is not normally a sign of having renounced or lost your citizenship. You must have been stripped of citizenship or renounced it.

    So he’s equally ignorant of the constitution as half the Parliament, the Attorney-General, the party chiefs etc?

  66. struth

    Sanjeev, after all you have learned this morning, I take it you will soon come here and apologise for making the ignorant and arrogant statement to people who’s understanding of freedom and how it is achieved, is far greater than yours, by telling them to start thinking.

    Shameful.

  67. Derp

    Now someone who has British parents cannot sit in our Parliament.

    Utter Bulldust.

    If you’re a Brit citizen (via your parents in this case) and you want to be eligible to sit in Parliament, you renounce the citizenship. There’s even a handy form online.

    Simples.

    It’s pollies thinking the whole thing was beneath them and the law not worth following that got them into this mess. They still think it shouldn’t apply to them when it very specifically does.

    Change the law or change your attitude.

  68. alexnoaholdmate

    As proven by the many comments here, the constitution allows commonwealth citizens to sit in Parliament.
    Quite plainly
    .

    The Constitution “means” what the High Court says it means, just as “the law” is what the courts rule it is.

    They do not agree with your interpretation. Therefore, it is wrong. By default. Even if I sympathise with it.

    If you think things should be different – fair enough – than the Constitution needs to change.

  69. Another old bloke

    Barnaby Joyce can’t sit in parliament because in some purely theoretical realm he is apparently a Kiwi. Any rule that tbrows up such an absurdity is self evidently an ass.

    There was nothing “theoretical” about Bananaby’s (now renounced) Kiwi citizenship. That’s the problem. D’oh.

    The prohibition on dual citizenship for parliamentarians was developed during the constitutional conventions of the 1890s and made law in the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, which established Australia. Bananaby is the ass for not complying the with requirements of s44, which are plain and unambiguous and brought to the attention of everyone intending to nominate for a parliamentary seat. The others are in the same boat. There was no High Court “interpretation” of the section in their recent decisions, just the application of the meaning of the words.

    Bananaby sought to clarify his situation by asking his mum and dad (twice!) if he might be Kiwi. Pity he didn’t ask a lawyer.

    All of the idiots who claim s44 needs to be changed give no rational explanation as to why. We’ll leave poor Sanjeev out of this because it’s clearly beyond his range.

    Those people are, in effect, arguing that somebody with divided loyalties (think Chinese-Australian, Afghan- Australian, Yemeni-Australian, North Korean-Australian, for example) should be free to work his/her way through the political system all the way to the Cabinet table, where he/she would have access to highly sensitive Australian security documents.

    And you idiots think that’s a good idea?

  70. W Hogg

    So now we have idiots in the press like Chris Merritt in the Oz referring to people such as Barnaby and Josh Frydenberg as “foreigners” who need to be “sent packing”.

    Nice.

    Friedeggburger is from an ACTUAL refugee families – not the #FakeRefugees that would up in Manus after a failed welfare-seeking exercise, but a real WWII Joooooo-ish life-at-grave-risk stateless situation. I sympathise with his argument that it’s unforseeable that he could inherit dual nationality from someone who had zero nationalities. (Not to mention I believe the entitlement to retrospective Hungarian citizenship was never taken up by his mum so I don’t believe that as a point of law he HAS inherited any and I don’t believe he IS ineligible.)

    But whether he is or not, the meeja to be sneering at him is disgusting.

    I guarantee you go to any journo’s Twitter and they are #Manus-ing all over the place. #Manus is bigger than #marriageequality and #loveislove.

  71. Tel

    Those people are, in effect, arguing that somebody with divided loyalties (think Chinese-Australian, Afghan- Australian, Yemeni-Australian, North Korean-Australian, for example) should be free to work his/her way through the political system all the way to the Cabinet table, where he/she would have access to highly sensitive Australian security documents.

    I don’t honestly believe that Barnaby Joyce has divided loyalty. I think he believes he is 100% Australian.

    The thing is, compliance with the law is a bloody great PITA but those are the guys WRITING the laws, so if they can’t figure it out then the whole deal is off as far as I’m concerned. The most important thing, beyond anything else is that the guys at the top must be just as much in compliance as every other shitkicker that they get to push around. No special exceptions. None.

    If you think these laws are annoying and nonsensical, then just think about the millions of pages of other regulatory crap you dish out every other week and go and do something about that. Think about Paul Hogan who did probably more for Australia than Barnaby Joyce ever has done, but who never wants to set foot in this country again after how he was treated. Not because there’s a problem at the Constitutional level, but because of some up jumped jobsworth who thought he would be clever trapping the guy when he was visiting a sick relative. Now go back to crying me a river over some well paid public servants who can’t do some basic checking of their own situation… and yes I do realize that Joyce got caught by surprise, I don’t think it was deliberate, but ffs just write a few letters to the relevant embassy. How hard is it?

  72. alexnoaholdmate

    Friedeggburger is from an ACTUAL refugee families – not the #FakeRefugees that would up in Manus after a failed welfare-seeking exercise, but a real WWII Joooooo-ish life-at-grave-risk stateless situation.

    I concur. It is hardly edifying to think that Frydenburg may be ineligible because of a formality in the law of a foreign country that drove his grandparents away as part of the Holocaust. The Holocaust, for Christ’s sake.

    Nevertheless, that does not change the fact that the law is clear and simple, and that Frydenburg – who wants to govern the little people like us – did not see fit to bother to confirm his eligibility for office before running for it.

    A quick discussion with a lawyer, a week of background research, and the whole thing could have been avoided. Frydenburg didn’t bother. He is above the rules.

  73. Oh come on

    Sanjeev, you ought to know from experience in your country of birth the consequences of a badly and/or long-winded constitution. When it comes to constitutional law, everyone who feels they have something to gain from a particular interpretation of the constitution is going to test it. And when they’ve locked in that particular interpretation, there is no “stop it, please. This is a waste of political oxygen. Use your common sense.”, is there?

    I agree that s.44 is rather silly – particularly so for people who are Australian citizens only and are ineligible simply because they are entitled to citizenship from a foreign country, but that’s just the way things are. Appealing to people’s sense of what is logical is meaningless in politics. That old Labor adage springs to mind – ‘you can have the logic, brother, just give me the numbers’.

  74. NB

    The solution is not to ignore the Constitution, but to change it by referendum. Period.
    If the author wants arbitrary law then I am sure there are plenty of countries, India included, that would suit him better.
    This is the third really bad article, almost in a row, on Catalaxy. Things are getting dire.

  75. Boambee John

    The most important thing, beyond anything else is that the guys at the top must be just as much in compliance as every other shitkicker that they get to push around. No special exceptions. None.

    Tel at 1503

    Old saying: Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.

    So must our elected representatives (they are not our leaders, they are our representatives; the hint is in the name House of Representatives.)

  76. ISIS is not a nation, but it is a foreign power (although decreasing, thank you Trump) and Islam itself has many soldiers and bureaucrats.
    None of these can be classified as nations.
    They are foreign powers.
    They have forces deployed in their name.
    As does the unrepresentative U.N.

    Agree. It should be noted that while UK is not a foreign power in that sense, the EU is, contradictorily pre-Brexit.

    This was what I was referring to when I questioned the High Court interpretation. Some people seem to be blinded by their justified despising of Australian politicians.

  77. Aynsley Kellow

    There are numerous practical difficulties with the Court’s judgment, not leas the irony that it places the eligibility of citizens in the hands of the very foreign powers the influence of which the Constitution seeks to prevent. And if we insist on taking s44(i) literally, the fact that Sam Dastyari has taken all reasonable steps to renounce his (non-renouncable) Iranian citizenship is neither here nor there, because Iranian law states that he cannot renounce it.
    There are many other issues. What was the impact of Israel conferring honorary citizenship on Bob Hawke?
    When did Britain become a foreign power? With the passage of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act in 1942? With the establishment of Australian citizenship in 1948? With the passage of the Australia Act in 1986? We know it was before 1999, because the High Court decided it was then – but when? Because until we know, every member elected to Parliament before this date was a British subject and therefore ineligible unless they renounced – which most of them would not have thought unnecessary. Every Parliament and most Cabinets would have contained British subjects who were ineligible by the Court’s most recent decision. The Electoral Act 1918 required citizenship, but the Constitution made no definition.
    This is a mess, and literal interpretations (actually, what the justices think) are unhelpful, so commenters should desist from abusing the poster.
    The ultimate irony is perhaps that Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that ‘Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity … to vote and to be elected at periodic elections’. Any restriction on someone who is an Australian citizen is clearly in breach of this provision. Can look forward to someone contesting the decision on these grounds?

  78. Defender of the faith

    Sanjeev misses a rather fundamental point. Those seeking election are required to respond to the constitutional requirement: they must say whether their citizenship is not qualified in any way. They have ample opportunity to check and clearly many such as Abbott have done so and made the required arrangement. While it is clear that some may have been caught out by changes in law in other countries others plainly have not bothered. One – Roberts- actually told the high court that he imagined he was Australian only, even though he had actually used a British passport.
    It seems to me that this is a useful exercise in weeding out the idiots and liars and lazy buffoons who slide into the warm leather benches and hope to hang on for a few good junkets and a nice pension.

  79. candy

    Indeed, Sanjeev completely misses the point.

    Individuals must fill out forms correctly and comply. I’m not sure why politicians should be different.
    For example, an individual who inadvertently stuffs up a form for Centrelink, or misses a deadline, must pay back any benefits paid. Ok, they signed a contract and that’s that. If Centrelink is at fault, and overpays someone, the recipient still must pay back the money. That’s the contract.

    Now, why are politicians free from any obligation with the organisation that pays them? why can they stuff up their forms and carry on as if nothing happened?

  80. Titch

    Seeing the High Court members turned themselves, and the history of Australian law, inside out, to do as much damage as they could to the parliamentarians who were in question, now we have to deal with their so called “learned wisdom”. The consequences were obvious, but so determined were they to discredit anyone on the government benches, just to prove their unquestionable authority as “Lords of justice”, they have created the greatest hornet nest imaginable. I am fine with people like Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash, et al, being Australian, no matter what their backgrounds have raised. They did not claim dual citizenship. Its the ones who come, ask for Australian citizenship, but hold onto citizenship from their other country. Under no circumstances should such people be allowed to stand for parliament in any capacity. This has to be seen as dual loyalty, end of story, and this is where the constitution should stand firm.

  81. Aynsley Kellow

    Titch,
    Until 1986 the oath taken by citizens by naturalisation included a renunciation of any other allegiance,and that should have been sufficient, especially given the Dastyari situation (where Iran does not permit citizenship to be renounced). But this provision was removed – which was an important contribution to the current mess.
    Deane and Gaudron JJ dissented in Sykes v Cleary (1992) holding that Kardamatsis and Delacretaz had effectively renounced their foreign citizenships when taking an Australian oath of allegiance, which at the times when they were naturalised had included, or required previously making, a renunciation of all foreign allegiances. Additionally, Deane J thought that s 44(i) required a “mental element” not only as to “acknowledgment” but also as to being “a subject or a citizen” of a foreign power: “it applies only to cases where the relevant status, rights or privileges have been sought, accepted, asserted or acquiesced in by the person concerned”. They were naturalised before 1986, when the renunciation requirement was removed. Deane was a wise man.
    Much of this was foreseen after Sykes v Cleary. For anyone interested in reading further, try:
    https://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/senate/pubs/pops/pop36/kalokerinos.pdf
    We have not been served well by the Court, with its ‘brutal literalism’, which has abandoned the clear meaning attached to the words in the constitution at the time it was written – and which a couple of weeks earlier was quite happy to uphold Bob Brown’s appeal, repeating the implied right of free speech in the Constitution and holding that actions impeding the lawful conduct of business constituted speech. (I understand using one’s physical presence to deny people access is violence under domestic violence legislation, but mere expression if one’s cause is noble).

  82. Defender of the faith

    Thank you Aynskey Kellow. Very interesting. But I stick to the basic: when filling in the form, those seeking elections are obliged to answer correctly. Some clearly did not and should have.

  83. Slayer of Memes

    Now someone who has British parents cannot sit in our Parliament.

    You mean someone like say, Tony Abbott… who went through all the correct processes, and has the documentation to prove it… and which the High Court has accepted has being in line with the provisions of the Constitution.

    Unlike say, the 5 parliamentarians who the High Court found were in breach of s44 because they either didn’t know (ignorance of the law is no defence), or didn’t care…

    Mmmyes Sanjeev… your argument holds about as much water as I do the day after I eat a spicy vindaloo…

  84. Aynsley Kellow

    Memes: ‘ignorance of the law is no defence’ – True, but the Court now expects knowledge of the law of other countries (in extremis, all 195 of them). Even our leading expert in the law of citizenship stated that an expert in Hungarian law would be needed to be consulted in Frydenberg’s case. How the hell can a mere mortal be expected to know? Even the High Court wasn’t sure in Canavan’s case, so gave him the benefit.

    In interpreting a provision intended to protect our sovereignty, the Court has ceded part of it to foreign powers. I find that ironic.

  85. Pingback: The Constitution is Just Fine Thank You Very Much | Catallaxy Files

  86. struth

    In interpreting a provision intended to protect our sovereignty, the Court has ceded part of it to foreign powers. I find that ironic.

    Bullshit.

    AT THE TIME or before applying for the job, you check out your history and do all you can to show that you have no claim OR ALLEGIANCE to a foreign power.

    I had to go through vigorous and in depth security checks for years in to my past, and my family and friends histories, having to state my sexual preference and every little detail just to work as a civilian in a secure base.

    Yet pollies who have control as to even the existence of that base on Australian soil, and decisions regarding Australia’s security (and by god, just lately we are seeing the results) have no obligation to sort themselves out before taking office, and can plat dumb, even when asked for the information.

    Once you sit in parliament, a foreign power may change it’s citizenship requirements which you can’t have known was going to happen at the time, then as already proven, the court takes that into consideration.

    However, I would suggest with the billions we give to the HRC or other dud Public service departments, we could find a job for one public servant in Foreign affairs the task of monitoring countries from sitting Pollies’ background for citizenship changes, and then alert the pollies of it.
    Let’s face it, it wouldn’t even be a full time job for one P.S.

  87. Stimpson J. Cat

    And why is it that migrants like me become instantly fit to govern Australia but someone born and brought up here is not?

    Yeah I don’t know if you are.
    Seem a bit shonky.
    I would need to hear your accent first.

    Australia citizenship is arguably worthless since our constitution imposes restrictions on citizens who can contest elections.

    Is it now?
    Back to India you go my good chap.
    Thank you come again!!!!

  88. Finally found time to review the comments. Thanks to everyone who took time to say something.

    Let me repeat my main point which is about the foundational meaning of democracy: citizenship without the right to represent in parliament is **not** citizenship. It can be called permanent residency, but not citizenship.

    Voting rights are the foundation of all citizenship. And all those who have a right to vote must necessarily have the right to represent in parliament. No taxation without representation, as they say. In brief, all those who have been issued an Australian passport must be treated as first class citizens and have the right to represent in the parliament. The current system calls issues Australian passports to people but many of these people are second class citizens.

    There were some readers who thought I am defending breaking the law. Note that I did not call for breaking or ignoring the law. I also have no issues with the High Court’s interpretation of the Constitution and for the large number of parliamentarians being removed for non-compliance with the current law. All I’m doing is saying that this is a bad law and therefore must be reviewed and changed.

    Some readers spelled out the detailed process of change. I agree with them: “You can argue about those restrictions but there is a clear avenue for change: a referendum. If you really object to the restrictions in the constitution, argue your case, get people to agree with you and win a referendum”; “The constitution allows itself to be changed through the will of the people. It therefore is a living , changeable document, and therefore can never be old or irrelevant. It, through democracy, can be changed through the years. It’s just up to us, not our representatives over- ruling us.”

    NOW, WHAT IS THE UNDERLYING POLICY PROBLEM?

    There was one reader who took time to articulate the real policy issue underpinning the current law: “Those people are, in effect, arguing that somebody with divided loyalties (think Chinese-Australian, Afghan- Australian, Yemeni-Australian, North Korean-Australian, for example) should be free to work his/her way through the political system all the way to the Cabinet table, where he/she would have access to highly sensitive Australian security documents.”

    That’s a real issue, and indeed, I started my article by acknowledging this issue. But then, I asked for evidence. And there is none. In relation to Barnaby Joyce, one of the commentators noted: “I don’t honestly believe that Barnaby Joyce has divided loyalty. I think he believes he is 100% Australian.”

    Indeed, that’s my point. How is it that Barnabay Joyce is less loyal to Australia than I am?

    Any good policy starts by asking what is the problem, understanding the nature and extent of the problem, working out options to deal with the problem and then legislating a policy. In my view the current policy (yes, the constitution is also a man made policy: it is NOT the word of god) does not deal with the issue sensibly and is therefore bad policy.

    Today, we have a really strange situation underway. The same person who is kicked out of Parliament can relinquish any of the unwanted citizenships that were foisted upon him or her by some quirk of ancestry by signing a piece of paper and is then declared to be “cleansed” and eligible to become a parliamentarian again. How does this make sense? How can a mere piece of paper mean more than the actual behavior or intent of the person?

    And we are talking about citizens here – citizens who have never been proven to have acted against Australia’s interests. What kind of a free society restricts the rights of its citizens without having any evidence of harm caused? This is an anti-freedom policy.

    MANYREADERS HAVE AGREED WITH ME

    My arguments have made sense to many readers:

    “As far as S.44 goes, that’s as clear a case of the letter of the law running rampant over the spirit of the law as there’s ever been. Not one – a single one – of the so-called dual national MPs stands accused of acting against Australia’s interests because of their dual citizenship… If John Alexander, whose father emigrated here over a century ago, renounced his citizenship and cut his ties to the Mother Country before his son was born, is regarded as being ineligible to serve in Parliament by the Constitution, then the Constitution is wrong, plain and simple”

    “the irony that it places the eligibility of citizens in the hands of the very foreign powers the influence of which the Constitution seeks to prevent.”

    “This is a mess, and literal interpretations (actually, what the justices think) are unhelpful, so commenters should desist from abusing the poster.”

    “Until 1986 the oath taken by citizens by naturalisation included a renunciation of any other allegiance,and that should have been sufficient, especially given the Dastyari situation (where Iran does not permit citizenship to be renounced). But this provision was removed – which was an important contribution to the current mess.”

    “It’s a stupid law, passed when there was no such thing as Australian citizenship, only “British subjects”. Now someone who has British parents cannot sit in our Parliament”;

    “I am always suspicious of those who want to add limitations to the process of democracy”; “This rule belongs in the horse and buggy era. Get rid of it.”

    “who is going to tell my children they can’t be prime minister as I was born in Britain? They think the are all Australians – should I disillusion them?” “Barnaby Joyce can’t sit in parliament because in some purely theoretical realm he is apparently a Kiwi. Any rule that tbrows up such an absurdity is self evidently an ass.”

    “So now we have idiots in the press like Chris Merritt in the Oz referring to people such as Barnaby and Josh Frydenberg as “foreigners” who need to be “sent packing”. Nice” “It is hardly edifying to think that Frydenburg may be ineligible because of a formality in the law of a foreign country that drove his grandparents away as part of the Holocaust. The Holocaust, for Christ’s sake.”

    Another agreed to the absurdity that is implicit in the law: “Had I been sitting in parliament in March 1991, I would have been a true blue dinky di aussie basking in the admiration of my peers and the public. Then on 6 Mar 1991 Romania changes its citizenship laws restoring Dads citizenship , & therefore makes me eligible for Romanian citizenship and all of a sudden I am a stinking foreigner & need to be terminated with extreme prejudice from parliament. Sinc, If I were in Parliament today, how often would I need to check to see if my eligibilty for citizenship from Germany, Estonia & Russia (through grandparents) have been restored ? How would I go about preemptively renouncing something I am not legally entitled to? If I did preemptively renounce , would say a law change in Germany, even take into account the fact that I had renounced ?”

    Another pointed out the key problem – the disconnect between voting rights and the right to contest elections: “But [Section 44] only applies to politicians. If it applied to voters, they’d spend billions in tracking the history of every member of ON or the AC that intended to vote.”

    One of the commentators defended the constitution but then added that after everything is cleaned out, “put in place safeguards to protect sitting members and senators from retrospective eligibility for duel citizenship, when imposed in the future at the whim of a foreign power. Otherwise we’ll be doing this dance all over again.” – basically acknowledging that the policy is dysfunctional.

    BUT MANY DUG INTO THEIR HEELS

    However, a majority of the commentators dug into their heels. Most confuse the rule of law and the letter of the law. These are quite different things. The rule of law is the organizational principle of a free society which allows for the creation and ongoing change of laws through representation. The “law”, on the other hand, is specific, like the current words used in the Constitution. The law must, of course, be obeyed. But that is not called following the rule of law. It is called obedience with the law. That’s only one small part of a free society. A free society constantly evaluates and reviews its laws for sense. It continually improves its laws and implementation/ enforcement mechanisms.

    I strongly urge everyone to follow the current law (including auditing **all** Australian parliaments since inception) but I believe a free society is obliged to review its laws for sense every time the outcome of the law doesn’t make sense.

    Arguments offered in favour of not changing the law included:

    “I agree that s.44 is rather silly – particularly so for people who are Australian citizens only and are ineligible simply because they are entitled to citizenship from a foreign country, but that’s just the way things are.”

    “I am quite satisfied with the current constitution”.

    “It’s called rule of law, Sanjeev.” [Sanjeev: no it is not!]

    “The problem is not with the constitution.”

    “The history in Australia is very clear: we do not like to change the constitution. That means most of us are happy with it as it is.”

    “It is not a policy. The constitution is the founding document defining the rules governing the country. It is the basis for the rule of law in Australia”;

    “Section 44 is a brilliant piece of law and the Australian people overwhelmingly support it.”

    “If you want to stand for election in Australia and get your snout on a gravy train, stop grizzling about the few hundred fee that you will have to pay NZ (nothing to do with us) as it will be less than a morning’s pay once elected.”

    As you can see, those who opposed re-thinking this law had no cogent argument to make. Many of them attacked my person. Ad hominem is all they had to offer. But sorry guys, isn’t that a clear sign that you don’t had no real argument to offer. I’d appreciate if you can offer a real rebuttal to my arguments (and many more that have been offered in the comments) that demonstrate that this is a bad law.

    Let’s not have second class citizens in Australia. Every voter must have the right to contest elections. Hope we can agree on this most foundational democratic principle.

  89. Sorry, there were a few typos in my comment. Can’t edit it here, so I’m posting the entire discussion here.

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