July 31, 2017

Horse 2303 - Section 44: Terms & Conditions Apply

A little about a fortnight ago, former Greens Senator Scott Ludlam wasn't a former Greens Senator but just a Greens Senator. Something must have happened because he made the announcement that he was resigning with immediate effect because he had discovered that at the time of his new nomination for the Senate, he was in fact a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand and therefore in breach of Section 44 of the Constitution which states:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/coaca430/s44.html
Disqualification
Any person who:
(i)  is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power;
... shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.
- Section 44, Constitution Act 1900.

As someone who was ineligible to run for the Senate, his resignation made common sense, except that this has triggered a wave of other Senators to check whether or not they were eligible to run for the Senate including Larissa Waters who was taken down by an allegiance she didn't even know she had, and over the in House Of Representatives the government was waiting with baited breath to see if Julia Banks had fallen foul of of Section 44 of the Constitution because if she was found to be accidentally a a Greek citizen, then this would have triggered a by-election and endanger the government's slender majority of one on the floor of the House and if there was a by-election and a Labor member were to win, then Labor could force a vote of no confidence or a vote of supply on the floor of the House and snatch government without any need to go to a general election. All that is now academic though.

Elsewhere in the media, various commentators are asking what the utility of requiring Members of Parliament to renounce all foreign citizenships is, considering that Australia with the exception of only a very small Election of people is a nation of immigrants or people descended from immigrants. The little mongrel nation of Australia is a heady mix of everyone from everywhere and what's really ironic about all of this is that the next item which is up for debate in the House Of Representatives is a bill which looks at making changes to the Citizenship​ Act.

You would have thought that at some point, the 226 members of the august body which make up the legislature of this country, would have at least read the Constitution which defines the rules of said legislature. I don't think that it's unreasonable to expect that people who wish to be part of the process which argues over the laws under which we're all​ governed, would at least try and comply with the most fundamental of those laws. Further to that, I also don't think it unreasonable that the people who want to be part of the process which argues over the laws for the rest of us, be legally bound to this country. The requirements of section 44 which demands that prospective members​ renounce all other citizenships of other countries, or at least promise to once elected, seems perfectly sensible to me because I'd hope that they would make laws for the benefit of this country above all others.

So then, if you happen to want to join the perpetual shouting match that is the Australian parliament, you might want to have. handy checklist to help you in your quest; to see if you comply with section 44 of the Constitution.

1. Have you renounced your citizenship of another country?
2. Are you a citizen of another country?
3. Do you have a passport from another country?
4. Were you born in another country, which might confer citizenship on you automatically?
5. Were your parents born in another country, which might make you a citizen by descent?
6. Are you an angry potato?
7. Are you a tired tomato?
8. Are you a racist lizard person from the planet Zog?

If you answered 'yes' to any or several of these questions, then you might not be a citizen of Australia. If you can answer 'yes' to any of these questions, even though you don't want to and are trying to deny it, then you might be a citizen of Australia. If you can answer 'yes' to any of these questions, then maybe you should rethink your status as a Minister of the Crown. If anyone in your political party can answer 'yes'to any of these questions, then maybe you should rethink your hiring policies which put them forward as candidates.
Even if you do happen to be able to 'yes' to any or several of these questions and you still don't like the result, you could always do what Senator Malcolm Roberts did in 'choosing to believe' he was never British and see how that plays out.

None of this speaks to what Section 44 was designed to do, which was stop nefarious  people with dual citizenship who intended to do bad, nefarious people with criminal convictions, nefarious people who are bankrupt or insolvent and people who derive profit or financial interest with the Crown, from making decisions which have a distinct conflict of interest. Basically it's to stop all kinds of ne'er-do-wells from writing law.
I still don't think it arduous that anyone wanting to apply for a job as a Member of Parliament, should read the terms and conditions which apply. I mean, it's not like they haven't had 117 years to read them, is it?

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