Showing posts with label citizenship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label citizenship. Show all posts

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Quotes of the Week


“Not sure if this has been posted but Jesus, this is wrong on levels yet to be described by science.”  [Jeremy Parkinson writing in Facebook on 9 November 2017 with regard to a US newspaper opinion piece describing New Zealand as being in the grip of the far right]


“The number of MPs and senators suspected of failing to obey the Constitution’s requirements on dual citizenship is now 28 to 30 by some counts, and only the High Court can rule on their status.”
 [journalist Malcolm Farr in news.com.au, 10 November 2017]


"What is #absurd is people who under our constitution are illegitimately elected to parliament think that the problem is with the constitution"  [mark‏ @Golfologest on Twitter, 11 November 2017]

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The problem of dual citizenship for Australian federal politicians is not a new one so why has this current batch made such a hash of the solution?


Australian Electoral Commission nomination form advice re Sec 44 of the Australian Constitution

This is former Liberal MP Alex Somlyay - elected 1990 and retired 2013 - as reported in the Sunshine Coast Daily on 19 July 2017:

Alex Somlyay, who represented Fairfax for 23 years from 1990 to 2013, is the son of Hungarian refugees who arrived in Australia after World War Two as stateless persons.
Mr Somlyay says Ms Waters' predicament in an unintended consequence that needed to be fixed…..
Mr Somlyay is particularly attuned to Mr Waters' forced resignation because of events that played out which could have threatened his own parliamentary career.
His parents became Australian citizens and Mr Somlyay was born in Australia.
But the fall of the Iron Curtin saw Hungary again become an independent country which immediately gave citizenship to the diaspora that fled as refugees and their children.
"I was already in Parliament,” he said. "I went to see the Hungarian ambassador and wrote a letter relinquishing any Hungarian rights.”

With the holding of dual citizenship being a specific bar to nominating as a candidate at a federal general election or by-election the answer for such dual citizens has always been straightforward even in complex situations.

Before nominating check your citizenship status and if by virtue of having a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent who was born overseas you find you either hold foreign citizenship by descent or may be entitled to such citizenship then take the appropriate steps to formally renounce this citizenship.

Even in the late 1800s Australia was a multicultural society with people holding foreign citizenship permanently migrating here from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania.

The framers of the Australian Constitution were well aware of this fact and set out one simple rule disqualifying any person who 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 from sitting as a representative of the people in the federal parliament. 

The only exception when the Consitution was enacted was for persons born in the United Kingdom (or in certain cases its colonies) as it was not then considered a foreign power.

The right to nominate as a candidate in an election is now reserved for persons of good character who hold only Australian citizenship - whether by birth, descent or naturalisation - and hold no office of profit under the Crown.

The High Court of Australia so ruled in Sykes v Cleary in 1992, in Free v Kelly & Australian Electoral Commission in 1996 and again in Re Canavan; Re Ludlam; Re Waters; Re Roberts [No 2]; Re Joyce; Re Nash;Re Xenophon in October 2017

Only an overweening sense of self-importance and an unswerving belief in their own entitlement can explain why in 2017 there are so many politicians with questions against their names when it comes to a right to be sitting in the Australian Parliament.

And only a steely determination not to be fully held to account sees the Turnbull Government suggesting that a declaration to the Australian Parliament by already elected politicians somehow trumps any false or misleading written declaration they may have made as part of their nomination as candidates.


RECOMMENDED READING
                
8 November 2017, YaThink? Let’s stop pretending. We want this Government to burn at the stake!

STATE OF PLAY

Growing list of federal parliamentarians found to be ineligle to stand:

1. Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlum – first elected 2007, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 14.7.2017, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17
2. Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Joy Waters – first elected 2010, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 18.7.17, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

3. Liberal MP for New England Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce – first elected 2004, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.27

4. Liberal Senator for NSW Fiona Joy Nash – first elected 2004, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.27

5. One Nation Senator Malcolm Ieuen Roberts – first elected 2016, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

6. Liberal Senator for Tasmania Stephen Shane Parry – first elected 2004, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship on or about 2.11.17

7. Liberal MP for Bennelong John Gilbert Alexander – first elected 2010, resigned from parliament (refused to publicly confirm dual citizenship) on or about 11.11.2017

8. Jacqui Lambie Network Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie – first elected 2013, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 14.11.17

9. Liberal senator-elect Hollie Hughes found to be eligibility by the High Court on 15 November 2017 due to the fact that she holda an office of profit under the Crown

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The growing list of federal parliamentarians found to have been ineligible to stand due to breaches of Sec 44 of the Australian Constitution



1. Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlum – first elected 2007, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 14.7.2017, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

2. Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Joy Waters – first elected 2010, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship 18.7.17, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

3. Liberal MP for New England Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce – first elected 2004, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.27

4. Liberal Senator for NSW Fiona Joy Nash – first elected 2004, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.27

5. One Nation Senator Malcolm Ieuen Roberts – first elected 2016, refused to resign from parliament, High Court ruled ineligible due to dual citizenship 27.10.17

6. Liberal Senator for Tasmania Stephen Shane Parry – first elected 2004, resigned from parliament admitting dual citizenship on or about 2.11.17

7. Liberal MP for Bennelong John Gilbert Alexander – first elected 2010, resigned from parliament (refused to publicly confirm dual citizenship) on or about 11.11.2017

* Liberal senator-elect Hollie Hughes – eligibility being assessed by High Court in November 2017 due to question concerning holding an office of profit under the Crown

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Australian Attorney-General, Liberal Senator for Queensland and faux Queen's Counsel fails to convince there is a need to change Sec 44 of the Australian Constitution


Commonwealth of Australia Coat of Arms 1912
Now that the High Court of Australia has removed the Leader and Deputy Leader of Coalition partner, the National Party of Australia, it seems the next move by the Liberal Party is to change the rules governing federal elections.

This was Australian Attorney-General, Liberal Senator for Queensland and faux Queen’s Counsel, George Brandis, on 29 October 2017 according to Sky News:

Mr Brandis said while the government accepted the High Court ruling, Section 44 in its current form on citizenship 'is not suitable for a multicultural democracy'.
'Australia is one of the most successful multicultural society in the world…..It is an unusual situation that there should be a provision of our constitution... where there are doubts about the capacity or eligibility of potential millions of Australians to stand for parliament.'

In 1891 the first published headcount of the Australian population occurred. There were 3.17 million people resident in the country and of these 31.99 per cent were born overseas in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, Polynesia and New Zealand.

In 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution which includes Section 44 (disqualification from nominating as a candidate in a federal election/by-election) was adopted and, and the censuses of Australian states were undertaken that same year.

On 31 March 1901 the total combined population of all Australian states was recorded as 3.77 million people with 22.24 per cent of this population identified as being born overseas in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Other Countries and New Zealand.

So right at the beginning of Federation this nation could rightly be considered a “multicultural democracy”.

However, one of the first pieces of legislation passed by the new federal parliament 1901 was the Immigration Restriction Act which was the basis of what became known as the “White Australia Policy”.

Ten years later in 1911 when another national census occurred 4.45 million people were recorded as resident within Australia. Despite immigration restrictions Australia was still maintaining a strong multicultural presence with 17.68 per cent of the population having been born overseas in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, Polynesia and New Zealand.

In 1958 the "White Australia Policy" was finally dismantled for good and seventeen years after that the Racial Discrimination Act was pased.

At the 2016 national census there were 23.40 million people recorded as resident within Australia and 28.5 per cent of this population were born overseas in - you guessed it – Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, Polynesia (now recorded as Oceania) and New Zealand.

It seems that  with a few hiccups along the way such as restricted immigration, two world wars and the Great Depression – cultural and ethnic diversity by way of immigration has always been a significant part of post-colonial Australian society.

If Senator Brandis wants to convince voters that the Constitution should be changed or additional legislation created, which would allow wannabe politicians free rein to decide to ignore holding dual citizenship and determine for themselves what they can declare or conceal from the electorate on their nomination forms, he will have to think of a better argument than the one he put forward to Sky News.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Quotes of the Week


“I once refused to feed a cockatoo that showed up on my third-floor balcony and tapped the window with a distinct air of entitlement. In retaliation it slowly – and with constant eye contact – picked up my shoes one by one and threw them over the edge. Cockatoos are arseholes – HD.” [Guardian Staff at The Guardian, 24 October 2017]


“After losing the prime ministership, Tony Abbott bunkered himself in the prime minister's office for three days and three nights without emerging. To Malcolm Turnbull and his team, increasingly frustrated as they tried to move into the prime ministerial suite and establish an executive government, it was evidence of a mad king who couldn't accept the reality of his downfall.” [Journalist Peter Hartcher writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 October 2017]


“It's not the cost, the annoyance of a byelection, the stupidity of people not knowing their own citizenship status or the uncertainty over who should be in Parliament. In the end, it's the arrogance of our MPs that really gets you. The sheer sense of entitlement that takes your breath away.” [Journalist Judith Ireland writing in The Sydney Morning Herald on the MP dual citizenship issue, 2 November 2017]


Thursday, 2 November 2017

Another Liberal federal politician bites the dust - months after he knew he was in the wrong


By mid-July 2017 Green senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters resigned because they discovered they held dual citizenship and were therefore elected unlawfully to the Australian Parliament. More politicians followed, admitted their standing was in doubt because of dual citizenship.

On 27 October 2017 the High Court of Australia upheld the wording and intent of Sec 44 of the Australian Constitution concerning the ineligibility of dual citizens to nominate for election to the federal parliament.

Former police officer and Liberal Senator for Tasmania Stephen Shane Parry knew he was in trouble from the beginning of this saga in July - after all he was aware his father William Parry migrated from the U.K. in 1951 and lived in Australia for the next sixty-four years until his death.

Yet Parry chose to wait until 31 October 2017 to own up to having sat in parliament unlawfully for the last twelve years and then resign.

ABC News, 1 November 2017:

Liberal senator Stephen Parry has confirmed he is a British citizen and will now resign from the Parliament.
Yesterday, Senator Parry revealed he had doubts about his citizenship status because his father was born in the UK, and emigrated to Australia in the 1950s.
He has now released a statement saying the British Home Office confirmed he is a citizen by virtue of his father's birthplace.
In a letter to his Senate colleagues, he wrote it was "with a heavy heart" he had to inform them he would be submitting his resignation as Senate President and as a Tasmanian senator to the Governor-General tomorrow.

Once again the Liberal Party is not covering itself in glory.

UPDATE

The Age, 2 November 2017:

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield knew for weeks that Stephen Parry could be a dual UK-Australian citizen, but said nothing after the then Senate president confessed to him.

Mr Parry also confided in an unnamed member of the outer ministry about his citizenship concerns. He revealed the concerns after former cabinet minister Fiona Nash referred herself to the High Court.

Fairfax Media has been told Mr Parry was advised not to go public ……

Monday, 23 October 2017

Australian politics, law, justice and eligibility to sit as a federal parliamentarian


Excerpt from Ingrid Matthews’ article in Independent Australia, Hurrah! It's Section Forty-Forganza Week!, 12 October 2017:

REPORTING POLITICS, LAW AND JUSTICE
There are two other general points to make about the media framing of this case. 
The first is the oft-foreshadowed possibility that those MPs who have not done so may be "forced to resign". This is supremely irritating, because no force is involved (unlike, say, how police handled a child here). Any resignation would be a function of the MP failing to comply with our Constitution and of the High Court doing its job.
The absence of force is important, because the biggest claim that common law liberal democracies like Australia make for our system is this: legal and political conflicts are settled in a "civilised" manner. With words, not fists. With elections, not coups. Using evidence and argument, not violence and vigilantism.
The rituals of legal process are imbued with this pretension to courteous resolution. But that is not how the law looks to Black people in prison cells and their families. Or to welfare recipients sent AFP-branded debt notices by Centrelink. We pay Barnaby Joyce over $1 million per three-year term, and thousands more in expenses, while aggressively pursuing the poorest people in society for petty or non-existent offences and debts.
This is not justice.
Similarly, the notion that the "High Court could bring down the Government" is erroneous. If Joyce is disqualified, it would be a product of Joyce’s oversight and not because the High Court exercised some previously unrealised prerogative power in a curial coup. Plus, there are crossbenchers in the Lower House. The member for Indi will support the Government on confidence and supply. Thus a shift from a majority to a minority government does not "bring down a government". Such a narrative is misleading and frankly embarrassing, given we had a minority government a mere four years ago.
In my view, if Joyce could discover and renounce New Zealand citizenship in 2017, he could have done so in 2004 when he nominated for the Senate, or in 2013 for the seat of New England (Wiki history here). This position is based in law and morality. To me it is simply wrong of Joyce to not ensure his eligibility to sit in the Australian Parliament when he receives such enormous largesse from the Australian public to do so. I say largesse because I can not see any value-add to the national interest, any return on our investment, in Joyce and his travels.
So yes, the politics of this case are fascinating, but not necessarily in the ways that are offered up by political reporters. Constitutional law is a serious business, and the law is not a game.
Ingrid Matthews is a sessional academic who teaches law and human rights. You can follow Ingrid on Twitter at @iMusing or via her blog oecomuse.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns ends federal parliamentarians eligibility to stand hearings and considers its judgment


“The Court reserves its decisions in these matters. It is hardly necessary to say that the Court is aware of the need to give its answers to these references with or without reasons as soon as possible. As counsel and instructing solicitors would appreciate, it is not always possible for the Court to do so immediately. No doubt, they will explain this to their clients.”  [Chief Justice of Australia Susan Mary Kiefel AC, 12 October 2017]

On 10-12 October 2017 the full High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns heard arguments as to why five members and two former members of the Parliament of Australia should or shouldn’t be found to have been ineligible to stand for election prior to the 2016 general election and sit as an elected members thereafter.

While the country waits on the resolution of this matter, here are links to relevant documents and transcripts.

High Court of Australia Justices

KIEFEL CJ
BELL J
GAGELER J
KEANE J
NETTLE J
GORDON J
EDELMAN
J

Notices

High Court of Australia Transcripts






Self-styled “bounty hunter” issues penalty writs


David Barrow at http://andrewboltparty.com:

On 27 September 2017, I sued 6 current and former Senators and Mr Barnaby Joyce MP under the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975 (Cth).

This provides a bounty for citizens ‘hunting down’ any Parliamentarian who has sat when disqualified.

$200 is paid for proving the Parliamentarian is caught out during the 12 months before being served with a lawsuit; and $200 is paid for every subsequent day on which he or she sat.

Any penalties I receive and personal tax benefit, I will donate to the The Fred Hollows Foundation…..

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Tony Abbott finally forced to show proof he renounced his British citizenship


Sacked former Australian prime minister and current Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott has finally offered proof that he renounced his British citizenship on Tuesday 12 October 1993.

Why did it take him so long to offer this proof that he had done so?

Perhaps because the timeline below shows that he appears to have done so solely in order to gain Liberal Party preselection in an upcoming by-election in the federal seat of Warringah.

In this Abbott followed an established pattern of behaviour – only having applied for Australian citizenship some twenty years after arriving in Australia in order to facilitate his application for a Rhodes Scholarship in 1981.

And the reason Abbott has chosen to release renouncement proof at this particular time?

For the real reason look no further than the rumour that he has lost control of the numbers and will inevitably face a preselection challenge ahead of next year’s federal election. Therefore the reigniting of the dual citizenship debate and questions concerning his own eligibility to sit in parliament left him politically vulnerable within his own party branch.

TIMELINE

13 March 1993

Federal general election held. Tony Abbott rumoured to have failed to find Liberal Party support to stand at this election.

19 October 1993


29 January 1994

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
:
IT has been a special week for Tony Abbott. The man trying to sell the monarchy — he is executive director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy has had his product in town. But Abbott has other things on his mind as well. He is planning to run for preselection for the safe Liberal federal seat of Warringah, being vacated by Michael MacKellar.

1 February 1994

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HANSARD

Mr SPEAKER —I inform the House that on 14 January 1994 I received a letter from the Hon. James Joseph Carlton resigning his seat as the member for the electoral division of Mackellar. I am also aware that the Hon. Michael MacKellar, honourable member for Warringah, has indicated his intention to resign from parliament on Friday, 18 February 1994. Consideration is being given to possible dates for the by-elections, and I am consulting with party leaders on this matter. I will inform the House in due course of the dates which I have fixed for the by-elections.

1 February 1994

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HANSARD

Mr SPEAKER —……I have considered all the comments made. I now inform the House that, subject to the receipt of Mr MacKellar's resignation on 18 February, it is my intention to issue writs for the by-elections in Mackellar and Warringah on that day. Dates in connection with the by-elections will be as follows: issue of writs, Friday, 18 February 1994; close of rolls, Friday, 25 February 1994; nominations, Tuesday, 1 March 1994; polling, Saturday, 26 March 1994; and return of writs, on or before Friday, 27 May 1994.

20 February 1994

Tony Abbott wins preselection for the federal seat of Warringah. At this point he has been eligible to stand for election to the federal parliament for just under nineteen weeks.

1 March 1994

Date of nominations for Warringah by-election.

26 March 1994

Warringah by-election held. Tony Abbott elected.


Friday, 23 June 2017

About those rules for joining the Liberal-Nationals' cosy little citizenship club.......



This bill raises the bar on applications for citizenship and increases the power of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, over the citizenship process - including granting him the power to override Administrative Appeals Tribunal decisions on citizenship applications.

One of the components of this bill is the introduction of an English language test, which means that with few exceptions applicants between 16 and 60 years of age will need to demonstrate competent English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills before being able to sit the citizenship test.

Applicants will be required to undertake a separate upfront English language test with an accredited provider and achieve a minimum level of ‘competent’.

According to the Immigration Minister the minimum level of competency is the IELTS General Training language test at  “Level 6 of the General stream focuses on "basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts".

This particular test has three components – listening, reading and writing - and takes the better part of three hours to complete.

An example of the type of questions contained in the General Training reading test can be found here.

There is a strong likelihood that between est. 7-16 million Australians (including those born in Australia of Australian parents) would fail this test if they were required to take it today.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recorded the results of direct measurement of three critical information-processing skills: literacy; numeracy; and problem solving in technology-rich environments and the 16.3 million people whose skills were measured included those not in the workforce, those in employment and those without a job.

In 2016 ABS recorded:


By 2011-12 ABS was stating:


In the 2011-12 round of testing 43% of participants born in Australia and 51% of participants born outside of Australia had English literacy levels below Level 3.

The chances of the majority of these people, regardless of whether they are citizens or residents with visas, being able to pass Peter Dutton’s new English language test is slim to say the least.

According to Catherine Elder, a world-leading expert at Melbourne University and president of the International Language Testing Association; "A level six on both tests requires you to be highly literate and to be able to do things like write an essay. It would take a great deal of time and be beyond the reach of many people who come to Australia."

The fact of the matter is that in 2011-12 it was people who had attained a higher education qualification (Bachelor degree and above) who were more likely than others to have achieved a score at Level 3 or above in literacy and numeracy, and Level 2 or above in problem solving in technology-rich environments.

So according to the new citizenship rules being supported by millionaire parliamentarians Malcolm Bligh Turnbull and Peter Craig Dutton, it would appear that only those that managed to acquire a decent education need apply to join the Liberal-Nationals’ cosy little citizenship club.1
  
Footnote:

1. In 1788 when the forbears of many individuals and families - which are both grand and humble members of  Australian society of today - first stumbled off those early British convict ships onto shore the vast majority of them would have been illiterate. On the basis of poor literacy levels and criminal records Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's many convict forbears wouldn't be allowed to become permanent residents much less citizens today under the new rules.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Lawyers, including the country's peak law body, have condemned Immigration Minister Peter Dutton


Australia would do well to remember that besides being a wealthy property developer, the far-right Australian Immigration Minister and Liberal MP for Dickson, Peter Craig Dutton (left), is a former Queensland police officer.

Neither occupation has a history of probity in that state* nor its members a reputation for an ability to look beyond their own narrow self-interests.



Lawyers, including the country's peak law body, have condemned Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's latest citizenship crackdown as a power grab that threatens the independence of the judiciary.

Under changes to be put to Parliament this week, the minister will be empowered to overrule citizenship decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, in a bid to put a stop to its "silly" rulings……

Law Council of Australia president Fiona McLeod said she would await the full details, but reports of the tribunal being hamstrung were worrying.

"That's a very grave concern," she said. "Any attempt to wind back review powers should be treated with concern."……

Australian National University law professor Kim Rubenstein, who consulted on the 2008 citizenship revamp, warned against granting individual government ministers more and more power.

"That becomes a slippery slope to very draconian environments," she said. "We as Australians take these things too much for granted."

Western Sydney University law lecturer Jason Donnelly said it "completely undermines the object and independence of the AAT" and "shows a growing imbalance" in the separation of powers.

"It opens the can of worms to the abrogation of other fundamental rights," he said. "The courts have a fundamental role in protecting rights - because the government certainly isn't doing it."