is a Canadian citizen and Matt Canavan is an Italian citizen, claim that they
did not know that had dual citizenship.
Waters was born in Canada and moved to Australia as an infant. After Scott Ludlum,
also another Green Senator discovered that he not actually given up his ability
to carry both and Australian and a New Zealand passport MS Green “…
was devastated to learn that because of 70 year old Canadian laws I had been
a dual citizen from birth, and that Canadian law changed a week after I was
born and required me to have actively renounced Canadian citizenship."
As they say what a difference a week can make in politics.
Now we find out that Malcolm Roberts, the One Nation climate change denying
candidate who wears a tin foil hat under his tin foil hat, was a dual UK and
Australian citizen until at least 5 December 2016. I can only observe, courtesy
of the Constitution Education Fund article on July 28th that either travelling
on a British passport (Mr Roberts) or receiving postal votes for an election
in another country (Mr Canavan) might be seen as a clue – perhaps even
an acknowledgment that there was an warp in the time continuum. Poor Ms Waters’
case seems like just bad luck.
Anyway the recent events are not isolated examples of Section 44 of the Constitution
and there have been a number of strange appeals to the High Court. Two I found
interesting if you ever doubted that Anti-Catholicism was as nasty as the current
Following the 1946 federal election, Ronald Sarina, an unsuccessful candidate
for West Sydney, petitioned the High Court to declare the election of William
O'Connor void claiming that as a Roman Catholic, O'Connor was under an allegiance
to a foreign power. Given that Australia sends an Ambassador to the Vatican
or Papal States its existence as an entity is not under dispute. But Sarina's
solicitor sensibly asked the Court to withdraw the petition before anything
untoward and extravagant happened.
Undeterred by that almost simultaneous outbreak of nonsense and common sense
in 1950 an independent candidate Henry Crittenden petitioned for Gordon Anderson
to also be disqualified also on the basis of his Catholicism. This proceeded
all the way to failure and Crittenden had to pay costs. The decisive factor
was that to exclude Catholics from the parliament would be to impose a "religious
test" for public office, contrary to Constitution.¹ There is no intelligence
test mentioned in the Constitution by the way.
Well how Australian are Australians? Australian nationality came into existence
on 26 January 1949 when the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 came into force
and the words British Passport on the cover of ‘Australian passports’
were replaced by ‘Australian Passport.’
Now we might say that we don’t mind that an Australian has dual Canadian,
New Zealand or Finnish citizenship. Where’s the conflict when there is
no conflict? Is it only a sentimental nicety on the part of immigrants from
another land? A bit of passport risk sharing ?
Is the concept of fealty to a state or country a bit old-fashioned in this global
village? Aren’t we all citizens of the world? A lot of people don’t
think so and given world tensions that move from simmer to boil in different
longitudes and latitudes by the week what is an extension of ethnic, linguistic
and family bonds coupled with xenophobia mean that nobody really trusts anybody.
You can’t be President of the United States unless you were born there
which fortunately rules Arnold Schwarzenegger out.
But do you draw a line at North Korean or perhaps Russian citizenship to name
the enemies du jour? Eligibility for dual citizenship would depend on the crisis
of the month. So perhaps the Section 44 might have the benefit of at least nominal
and apparent allegiance to Australia’s interests.
However in all honesty (a word that one uses only humorously in Australia) it
might seem to matter little when we see what influence can be bought for the
donation of a few dollars to the political party of your choice. A few dollars
overspent on your travel budget Sam? Just ask your mate from China. Of course
this will never influence your vote, neither will a company promising to build
in your electorate. Or build a new highway for apparently nothing.
But in fact the concept of national loyalty is strange in the time of multi-national
corporations. I am sure that there are more than a few out there with Australian
Flags tattooed on their arms, patriots to the core, who are busily arranging
tax havens in the Cayman Islands. When a company is making your life-style possible
surely it is only natural to work to its advantage?
The glue that holds the world loosely together is technology and the companies
that provide it such as Microsoft, Google, or Facebook really have no specific
Apple, a proudly American company has billions of dollars in overseas banks
which it won’t repatriate to its own country because it might have to
pay tax. Which might be used for schools and hospitals. But to be fair as a
company they don’t really pay any tax here in Australia either.
But back to the ramble on dual nationality ……. and an interesting
peculiarity. I, a New Zealand citizen (and only a New Zealand citizen), am on
the Australian Electoral roll and can therefore serve on a jury. This apparent
anomaly is a result of a moment of generosity of the Whitlam Government that
opened a small window of opportunity, for various colonials to vote for Gough.
Well in fact I think the window closed in about 1984, three years after the
Stewart Royal Commission into various drug trafficking and related criminal
I have been asked to do jury service on a couple of occasions but never asked
to find an Australian guilty. Or even innocent however unlikely that would be.
Now this just might mean that, if there was a court case about any of the parliamentarians
and their dual citizenship that required a jury, there is a slight, but entirely
legal chance, that I, a New Zealander, could be asked to decide their fate.
I know, very, very unlikely given that the High Court is the logical venue but
still not entirely science fiction.
We can but dream.
¹ Anyway just
in case you were worried there is a fine of $200 for every day that a Senator
or MP sits in the Parliament after someone sues them in the High Court. The
maximum period that someone can be sued for is now 12 months. This comes from
Section 46. Penalty for sitting when disqualified.