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Australia’s dual citizen “threat”

It is mid 2015. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is under fire for not only wanting to strip Australian citizenship from dual citizens, but sole nationals too. He declares it is about national security, combating terrorism and the protection of Australian values. The new laws are necessary for the safety of the community.

“It is now appropriate to modernise provisions concerning loss of citizenship to respond to current terrorist threats,” Mr Dutton tells media. “The world has changed so our laws should change accordingly.”

And so the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill was introduced to Parliament.

As usual, the proposed amendments didn’t just apply to the relevant politically expedient bogeymen; it wasn’t just convicted terrorists and foreign fighters who would bear the brunt of Dutton’s power-fueled desire to punish those who did not swear sole allegiance to Australia.

The provisions were so vague and broadly encompassing that any number of dual citizens might find themselves suddenly “UnAustralian”; by inadvertently renouncing their citizenship for protesting against Adani, donating to environmental groups, joining the Sea Shepherd, or for doodling with a pen on a chair in a Centrelink office.

Criticisms came from every quarter (apart from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the ALP who backed the Bill in principle), with the Commonwealth Ombudsman pointing out the absurdity of dual citizens just “losing” their Australian citizenship without any authority determining that the criteria for revocation had been met.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) reviewed the initial Bill in detail, with 43 submissions made and several days of hearings. The committee report had no less than 27 recommendations for change.

A watered down Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill finally passed through Parliament in December 2015.

It ruled that any person over 14 who was a citizen or national of another country could lose their Australian citizenship if they did the following things:

  • fight for a foreign country at war with Australia.
  • fight for a declared terrorist organisation outside Australia.
  • are convicted of certain crimes and sentenced to at least six years in prison (eg, committing a terrorist act, including recruiting, training, funding; treason or espionage against Australia; overthrowing the government or sabotaging military equipment; or being a “foreign fighter”).
  • Intentionally engage in certain types of terrorism-related conduct, with no criminal charge or conviction required (automatic revocation).

Through it all, media repeatedly pointed out that over six million Australian citizens were born overseas, and a further five million people were born in Australia but held dual citizenship by descent.

While debate raged, and Dutton dug his heels in, ASIO had sights on Khaled Sharrouf, a notorious Islamic State terrorist, famous for having his then seven year old son pose with the severed head of a Syrian government official.

Sharrouf was an Australian citizen by birth. He had Lebanese citizenship through his parents who emigrated to Australia before he was born. Sharrouf was a dual citizen by descent.

Not two years later and the High Court has declared that five parliamentarians were invalidly elected because they held dual citizenship. Scott Ludlam (Greens), Larissa Waters (Greens), Malcolm Roberts (One Nation), Barnaby Joyce (Nationals) and Fiona Nash (Nationals) were ineligible to stand at the 2016 election.

Seven politicians were initially under the spotlight (Nick Xenophon (NXT) and Matthew Canavan (Nationals) were cleared) and now an eighth, Senate President Stephen Parry has revealed that he too, may be a British citizen by descent.

It is inconceivable that through all the public debate, discussion, reporting, Parliamentary Committee review and media frenzy, that the elected representatives did not consider and contemplate what makes a person a dual citizen.

It is equally unbelievable that each politician, when nominating for election did not understand the requirements for compliance with section 44 of the Constitution which prohibits foreign citizens or nationals or those entitled to the rights and privileges of a foreign citizen or national from sitting in Parliament.

How can it be possible, with all the chest-beating and strong messages and commitment to “national security”, that not one of these politicians thought to investigate their own parentage and ancestry, and none of their parliamentary colleagues suggested that they do?

When former Senator Scott Ludlam resigned after revelations he was still a New Zealander, the ridicule was swift and the condemnations harsh.

“Obviously Senator Ludlam’s oversight is a pretty remarkable one when you think about it — he’s been in the Senate for so long,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told media. “It is pretty amazing, isn’t it, that you have had two out of nine Greens Senators didn’t realise they were citizens of another country. It shows incredible sloppiness on their part. You know, when you nominate for Parliament, there is actually a question — you have got to address that Section 44 question and you’ve got to tick the box and confirm that you are not a citizen of another country. It is extraordinary negligence on their part.”

Yet as two then three, then five, and now eight step forward, it is more than sloppiness and negligence.

For those politicians who did not immediately step aside or resign on discovering their dual allegiance, it smacks of deliberate deceit, blind recklessness and a show of contempt for all Australian voters; people who trusted their elected representatives to truthfully and honestly tick a box confirming their eligibility on an election nomination form.

And being so obliged to declare their eligibility, those politicians should have had the integrity to stand aside and resign when investigations showed they were surely dual citizens.

Malcolm Turnbull was adamant the High Court would declare that the law did not apply to the ruling elite. “The leader of the National Party, the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia is qualified to sit in this house and the High Court will so hold,” Turnbull said.

He was wrong. The law does apply. Seven members of Parliament were referred to the High Court. Senate President Stephen Parry waited until after his colleagues took a fall to admit his own probable dual allegiance.

How many more are there, waiting quietly, hoping no questions will be asked, frantically checking their backgrounds and filling out forms in the hope they will be clear before the next election is called?

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Ignorance of one’s own ancestry is not believable in the context of the politicians in question. Ignorance of the importance of the status of dual citizens is laughable given the laws which have been extensively debated and voted on.

This is a government which has breached the trust of the people and made a mockery of democracy. It is a government in which its members cannot comply with its own governing document, and treats the Constitution as a mere guideline to follow on a whim. It is a government which uses citizenship as a weapon and tool of propaganda, but negligible as an issue when it comes to parliamentarians. This is an illegitimate government, which cannot be trusted.

 


30 comments

  1. Ricardo29

    Spot on. How did Parry think he could get away with this. I agree with Di Natale, we need an independent audit of all Parliamentarians. I am both distressed and angry that Labor have refused to support his bill. And that they supported the government’s citizenship changes, even watered down. One expects the LNP, a government which has Dutton, Porter, Brandis among its numbers, to try to interfere with our privacy, but I expect Labor to be different. Voting Greens next time.

  2. Shutterbug

    Great article, Eva!
    It is becoming obvious that our elected representatives are not capable of doing their job to the basic minimum legal requirements and so must be “let go” as the modern day parlance puts it.

    This is all well and good, but what I would like to know it, how can we as a collective, claw back the illegally gotten gains from these people, and in the process send a very strong message to all who dare to try it again that should they do so they will suffer severe consequences?

  3. Greg

    well here is something else to ponder while Barnaby Joyce was minister of the Water Resources portfolio he clearly breached the Australian constitution section 100 and the commonwealth water act of 2007 as well as showed a blatant conflict of interest . This issue was swept under the carpet and never really followed up as it is clear he kept his position as minister of Water Resources until last week. Several days ago I filled in a report a commonwealth crime form from the Australian Federal Police to see if they would take action or at least investigate these breaches , If nothing is done by the AFP then is more than clear who they are truly working for.

  4. OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES

    SACK THEM ALL! The temptations of the perks associated with a political career are now overriding the sense of duty of representatives. Julie Bishop spent $1.2 mill just rubbing shoulders with the cast and crew of Thor and racked it up as a ‘valid’ expense associated with her duties. World’s most expensive Hollywood groupy and funded by the Aust public! That amount on its own is enough to make an independent low budget feature film in australia…a whole other film that could have created work for australian actors, writers and crew. But Bishop spent it on having fun. Absolutely Fabulous darling! Sick!

    These politicians want the cushy job and perks. One Nations Malcolm Roberts hung on knowing he was ineligible because his pathetic anti climate change consultancy wasn’t paying. He earned nearly $300k in just over a year in Parliament.

    Turnbull’s donation of $1.75 mill to the Libs is about what he would have paid in tax but by donating he pays no tax on his PM wage plus he gets the well paid and fun job of PM wreaking havoc on the Aust people.

    Used to be said “you pay peanuts you get monkeys”. Well the pay and perks aren’t peanuts any more and now we only get crooks who hang on to their opportunity for dear life. I say “bring back the monkeys, they did a far better job than these mugs.” And they cost peanuts in comparison to the incompetent deceivers and liars currently occupying tbe benchs in Parliament. SACK THEM ALL! OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES.

  5. OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES

    Bishop has a deranged moral compass if she has one at all. She has an abnormal perverted and twisted moral sensibility and is unfit to govern others

  6. Kaye Lee

    OTMP,

    According to Ted Mack “Far from paying peanuts and getting monkeys, paying more peanuts seems to attract gorillas.”

  7. OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES

    GREG. Execellent work. I was going to do the same as well as put a precedent complaint on the net that others could use and do likewise. In allocating Commonwealth funds to irrigators when he had no authority to do so Joyce has serious criminal questions to answer under the Criminal Code eg. defrauding the Cth, conspiracy to defraud the Cth or causing the Cth losses? I will still do this. Well done.

  8. OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES

    Kaye. comparing the crims now in parliament to gorilas is insulting to gorillas. lol.

  9. Greg

    OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES he admitted to taking water from the environment portfolio and giving to irrigators up stream , this is against section 100 of the constitution : Nor abridge right to use water
    The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade or commerce, abridge the right of a State or of the residents therein to the reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation.
    as well as the commonwealth water act 2007 section 6 that reads

    commonwealth water act of 2007 6 Planned environmental water
    (1) For the purposes of this Act, planned environmental water is water that:
    (a) is committed by:
    (i) the Basin Plan or a water resource plan for a water resource plan area; or
    (ii) a plan made under a State water management law; or
    (iii) any other instrument made under a law of a State;
    to either or both of the following purposes:
    (iv) achieving environmental outcomes;
    (v) other environmental purposes that are specified in the plan or the instrument; and
    (b) cannot, to the extent to which it is committed by that instrument to that purpose or those purposes, be taken or used for any other purpose.
    (2) For the purposes of this Act, planned environmental water is water that:
    (a) is preserved, by a law of a State or an instrument made under a law of a State, for the purposes of achieving environmental outcomes by any other means (for example, by means of the setting of water flow or pressure targets or establishing zones within which water may not be taken from a water resource); and
    (b) cannot, to the extent to which it is preserved by that instrument for that purpose or those purposes, be taken or used for any other purpose.
    (3) The water may be committed to, or preserved for, the purpose or purposes referred to in paragraph (1)(a) or (2)(a) either generally or only at specified times or in specified circumstances.
    (4) Without limiting paragraph (1)(b) or (2)(b), the requirements of paragraph (1)(b) or (2)(b) are taken to have been met even if the water is taken or used for another purpose in emergency circumstances in accordance with:
    (a) the instrument referred to in that paragraph; or
    (b) the law under which the instrument is made; or
    (c) another law.

  10. OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES

    GREG. Send a copy of your complaint to various media and the opposition. let it be widely known that your complaint has been made.

  11. OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES

    greg. but does this provide a criminal penalty? If not, then AFP has no jurisdiction so wont investigate. need to link it in with the Criminal Code or a criminal offence to get AFP involvment. try the Cth Department of Public Prosecutions as well…in fact send it to everyone…the ombudsman as well.

  12. Peter F

    Imagine the furious muckraking going on in Coalition HQ trying to unearth an ALP member with dual citizenship: so far, apparently, without success.

  13. OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES

    Greg. lets hope joyce can be held personally liable for cth losses. send the prck bankrupt. that will pry his ugly walrus kiwi ass off a parliamentary bench

  14. Greg

    OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES I have also ready sent it GetUp and other groups without them even posting it or replying to me . and there has been just a little interest on social media but one else joining in

  15. Mark Needham

    “fight for a foreign country at war with Australia.
    fight for a declared terrorist organisation outside Australia.
    are convicted of certain crimes and sentenced to at least six years in prison (eg, committing a terrorist act, including recruiting, training, funding; treason or espionage against Australia; overthrowing the government or sabotaging military equipment; or being a “foreign fighter”).
    Intentionally engage in certain types of terrorism-related conduct, with no criminal charge or conviction required (automatic revocation).”

    These are the sort of people who make “Bloody Good Aussies”
    Let’s fly ’em in.
    Mark Needham

  16. Harquebus

    In the overall scheme of things, this is a very minor threat.

    “I can assure you that the only thing threatening humanity’s existence is the fear, hatred and division constantly perpetuated by those who seek to deny basic human rights.” — Eva Cripps

  17. Mark Needham

    “A person who fights for a foreign country at war with Australia, is not a friend of mine.” Mark Needham

    Mark Needham

  18. Michael Taylor

    In the overall scheme of things, this is a very minor threat.

    “I can assure you that the only thing threatening humanity’s existence is the fear, hatred and division constantly perpetuated by those who seek to deny basic human rights.” — Eva Cripps

    Harquebus, that does not mean to say that Eva can’t write about other topics.

    Great post, btw, Eva.

  19. Möbius Ecko

    Yet, someone makes the smallest mistake on a Centrelink form and they are financially punished in the harshest way, with the extent of that harshness increasing election upon election.

    A politician makes a mistake anywhere, even a major one such as not checking their constitutional eligibility to be a politician, they lose not one cent and at worse are stood down with all their privileges intact.

  20. Adrianne Haddow

    Excellent post Eva. Thank you.

    You inspire the closet revolutionary in me.

    Your final paragraphs resonate with my feelings regarding this government. Not only corrupt but illegitimate.

  21. diannaart

    Thanks Eva – excellent work.

    For those politicians who did not immediately step aside or resign on discovering their dual allegiance, it smacks of deliberate deceit, blind recklessness and a show of contempt for all Australian voters; people who trusted their elected representatives to truthfully and honestly tick a box confirming their eligibility on an election nomination form.
    And being so obliged to declare their eligibility, those politicians should have had the integrity to stand aside and resign when investigations showed they were surely dual citizens.

    Where has Dutton been in all these shenanigans? Maybe I missed it, but surely Dutton would be outraged by such displays of contempt for our Australian political system by these (shock/horror) DUAL citizens in our halls of leadership and policy making.

    I’d have thought Herr Dutton would have ordered these miscreant pollies, who did not have the grace nor integrity, to step down, while their citizenship could be determined by our court system.

    … and don’t get me started on that sly Stephen Parry…

  22. babyjewels10

    I read the first few paragraphs with the same disbelief I felt in 2015. When it raised barely a whimper. I was like a crazy woman, posting it all over social media, with very little response. It’s still a shock that this happened. And 2 years later Dutton continues unimpeded, gaining power, in fact. I joined GetUp! and hope to be part of the unseating of Dutton next election.

  23. paul walter

    So fed up with this “oversights” bullshit.

    Scott Ludlum would never have considered himself any thing but an aussie.

    Just watching the ABC interviewing Antony Green, the psephologist and the interviewer put it to him that a simple renunciation of allegiance to any nation but Australia was sufficient, byt Green, like the rest came up witthe objections of an over seasagovernemt.

    Well, what about it? Where is the simple corrective mechanism that saves all the palaver?

    You have been here since you crapped your first nappy, regard yourself only as an aussie and some minor or symbolic esoterica that no one bothers even thinking of disqualifies you?

    So over these pedantic nonsenses when real issues trouble this country from head to toe.

  24. win jeavons

    I’ve always said ” pay gold , get gold diggers” . Seems I was right!

  25. Kyran

    It’s odd, isn’t it. Dutton, the bloke who gets some 40% of his decisions overturned by the AAT, wants more power to restrict the judicial review of his decisions pertaining to citizenship. And he wants that power extended to enable unreviewable decisions on visa’s.

    “”I can confirm that I took a decision based on the advice available to me to cancel the visa of Mr Shane Martin,” he said.”

    Shane Martin was a convicted felon and member of a bikie gang. He was charged, convicted and incarcerated. There was never any dispute. He did the crime. He did the time. The above quote was from 2016. Dutton decided that that wasn’t enough. He wanted him sent back to NZ. He eventually succeeded. It’s quite a story.
    Mr Martin’s son, a Brownlow medallist, a Premiership player for some team and, by any account I have read, a most level headed fellow, has never shied away from his father’s past. He has always stated the bleeding obvious. His father did the crime. His father did the time. Why this extra ministerial (not judicial) punishment?
    Without meaning to trivialise, in any way, the above circumstance, can you imagine giving that thing, Dutton, the same discretion over people who have nowhere near the same ‘celebrity’ as Mr Martin?

    Ok, I’m not a fan of Dutton. So, let’s have a look at this Parry bloke. The one who didn’t know his father was English, nor that Sect 44 had application based on the individuals knowledge, rather than omnipresent oversight. Remember Culleton? The Senate President, Mr Parry, oversaw that (and Day) in the Senate.

    “Section 44 (iii) of the Constitution provides that a person who:
    … is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent … … shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator …
    Section 45 provides that if a senator becomes subject to such disability, that senator or member’s place shall thereupon become vacant. This does not depend upon any decision of the Senate or of myself as the President. It is a necessary and automatic consequence of the declaration that a serving senator is an undischarged bankrupt, that his or her place as a senator becomes vacant.”

    In his decision, he cites Sect 44, and his reading, in general. Not exclusive to 44(iii), but applicable to all of Sect 44. He not only declared his knowledge of Sect 44, IN FEBRUARY, 2017, but his knowledge of Sect 45. He didn’t reference Sect 46, about compensation to the voters for having been defrauded. The second matter referred to in his dissertation was repayment of money’s earned under fraudulent circumstance. For the rest of us, that is a criminal charge of ‘financial advantage by deception’. Suck’s to be us, heh?

    “On the second matter I am advised that in previous cases opinions were provided by attorneys-general that those whose elections were declared void were not entitled to retain salary payments made to them. Currently the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 provides for the payment of salaries to senators. Under section 16A of that act any such benefit paid without authority becomes a debt due to the Commonwealth. In earlier cases such debts have in effect been waived. However, I am advised that the decision whether to waive such debts is a decision for the government and not the Senate. I have written to the finance minister seeking further advice on this matter.”

    https://australianpolitics.com/2017/02/07/parry-statement-on-culleton-disqualification.html

    Even after all that, we are meant to believe HE didn’t understand that it was incumbent on a Senator to be truthful, rather than wait to be ‘found out? Even after so many of his colleagues had fallen, he was never thoughtful to check his past? He had to wait for the High Court to affirm what he said in February before he went and checked himself?
    If that doesn’t get your attention, have a look at his most vocal supporter.

    “Fellow Tasmanian Eric Abetz said he was shocked by the news.
    “I had no indication [Senator] Parry was in this predicament, and I feel desperately sorry for him as I do for other colleagues who have found themselves in this position,” Senator Abetz told the ABC.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-31/stephen-parry-tells-government-his-father-may-be-british/9104482

    Abetz? Wasn’t he the guy occupying the Senate whilst having dual citizenship?
    We, clearly, have a ship of fools. The worst thing? They expect us, as other commenters have noted, to live by a higher standard than them, when their recompense is far greater.
    In the past few days, they have trashed our First People, they have trashed those in our care. And they have enshrined their indifference.

    Two words.
    Martin Niemoller.
    Thank you Ms Cripps and commenters. The standard we walk past is the standard we accept. It’s not that hard. Take care

  26. paul walter

    Fancy not knowing the old cheese is a too and from. Nonetheless, Parry himself was born in Tasmania. Still, if being born the son of a pom and dual citizen becomes a problem, there is an issue. Is the situation that that he never renounced dual citizenship knowing he had it, or that he didn’t know he had dual citizenship which is much less likely than some of the others dismissed.?

    I can see the problem of course and what has happened. The Tories are choc full of anglophiles who remain in a twentieth century culture bubble at odds with a more realistic and wholehearted sense of Australian identity…there actually could be a sense of conflict of loyalties, as might occur with someone like Danby.

  27. paul walter

    Anyway, this stuff seems to be stuffing up the LNP and other Rightie groupings, so one mustn’t complain, one supposes.

    Unless I closely read the forms and instructions I would be at a disadvantage commenting, but why oh why has it only seemed so horseshit to me so far?

  28. roma guerin

    More rubbish from Simon Bermingham today – an audit will be too expensive. Mr Parry, albeit a little late, made enquiries at his own expense. Every sitting MP and Senator must be ordered to provide evidence, at their own expense, that they are not dual citizens. Which they should have done before standing for election in the first place, as required by Section 44.

  29. OPPOSE THE MAJOUR PARTIES

    ABUSE OF OFFICE. Is a criminal.offence under the federal criminal code. It involves failing to uphold the duties of one’s office. It applies to politicians and high ranking public servants and fed police etc. Politicians are under a duty to uphold the Constitution including s 44. If a politician sits in parliament knowing they are, or reckless in regard to whether they are, in breach of s 44 or of any other section of the Constitution they are committing an abuse of office and a criminal offence and should be prosecuted and removed from office and denied their entitlements as the proceeds of their crime.

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