The past few weeks in Australia have seen numerous politicians being brought into the political firing line because they discovered they had dual citizenship with other countries. As per Section 44 (i) of the Constitution, this allegedly means they should not have been elected:
“44. Any person who – i) is under any acknowledgement 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 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”
SHOCK, HORROR….wait, what?
Australia (and its politicians) have for many decades celebrated our multiculturalism. We are an immigrant nation – with so much population and economic growth attributed to the fact that we have had people move here from so many other places in the world throughout history.
Sure it has had its challenges, but it has shaped our country into what it is. One of the key topics I was taught all through school was our history and pride in being a multicultural country.
So, there should be no surprise that our politicians also have some immigration in their heritage.
What is a surprise, is why the laws haven’t been upgraded and why the media seems to be aghast at the fact that these politicians could possibly have dual citizenship. It has now become a hot potato/grenade that all parties are happy to toss around to try and see who has the most people who can be booted out of the government.
To me, it is all a bit ridiculous in this age of accelerated globalisation. To think that because someone might “accidentally” have citizenship of another country (because their parents were born there) means they are incapable of serving the Australian public is utter nonsense.
Having studied citizenship issues in the age of globalisation at university, it does pose some dilemmas. The main one in question here seems to be, where does their loyalty lie? It’s probably the reason the law was written as it was. But I would argue times have changed.
From a simple administrative point of view, it can be highly beneficial having multiple passports as it can save you on visa paperwork!
But the biggest advantage, as I see it, is that cultural diversity in our government will actually help them “walk the talk” of celebrating our multiculturalism. So many studies have been released which demonstrate that diversity in teams and leadership improves innovation, improves the bottom line, and leads to better problem solving. Surely those are things we want in our government?
So I say let them keep their dual citizenship – if we’re really worried about their loyalty, make them sign a pledge of allegiance to Australia – one that says, “I promise to wholeheartedly support this amazing multicultural country.”
If you want to read up more on Section 44, check out this website for a useful overview.