One citizenship for all Australians

There’s emerging agreement that the proposed citizenship laws are probably headed for the High Court, where the Australian government’s ability to strip people of citizenship will likely be curtailed.

One citizenship for all Australians

Visitors of the European Union high level Visitors Programme - EUVP
Visitors of the European Union high level Visitors Programme – EUVP

Civil Liberties Australia Vice-President Tim Vines said Civil Liberties Australia believed the federal government was sorely mistaken if it believed it had the unilateral power to strip dual or solo citizens of their citizenship.

Mr Vines was speaking on 3ZZZ ethnic communities radio station, during a four-person interview session run by George Zangalis in late-June, just before heading to Brussels for an EU-sponsored ‘scholarship’ in early July.

Photo: Tim Vines (European Union 2015)

“Our constitution does not grant the executive (government) power to determine guilt or innocence and does not permit the executive to impose punishment without the finding of a court,” Mr Vines said.

“CLA is also concerned that proposed laws would introduce discrimination into Australian law with one law for sole citizens and another for dual citizens.

“Whether you hold one or more passports should not determine what justice you receive in Australia. All Australian citizens must be treated equally before the law,” Mr Vines said.

The need for one citizenship for all Australians and the primacy of the law was also highlighted by the president of the ACTU Ged Kearney, Shadow Minister for Immigration Richard Marles and the chairperson of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, Joseph Caputo.

Ms Kearney said the ACTU was fiercely opposed to revocation of Australian citizenship, the enactment of any law that created two classes of Australian citizens and the empowering of a minister to be judge and jury. The ACTU, Ms Kearney said, would defend the rights of its members and indeed all Australians to their citizenship and the rule of law, including a High Court challenge.

Shadow Minister for Immigration Richard Marles acknowledged the government’s proposal to revoke citizenship had caused great anxiety among the community and especially the ethnic communities.

He invited people to publicly express their concerns and indeed opposition. He too stated there must be one citizenship and one law for all Australians and most certainly no minister should have the power to withdraw the citizenship of an Australian. A constitutional challenge would most probably be successful.

The ALP, he said, had many concerns about the bill.

Mr Caputo said the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA) believed that provision in the law for revoking the citizenship for dual nationals in Australia created two categories of citizens, also adversely affecting the social cohesion of Australian society.

FECCA is opposed to the Minister for Immigration having the power to revoke citizenship. Individuals should have a fair trial in accordance with the rule of law, Mr Caputo said. FECCA had circulated to its affiliates a position paper on this and other issues, such the language test for citizenship applicants and a new pledge of allegiance.

* The 3ZZZ program hosted by George Zangalis can be heard on Tuesday mornings between 8 and 9am.

This article was first published in ‘New Cosmos’, by Ethnic Publications Pty Ltd.  Original article:

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  1. It might interest people to know the Bill advocating Australian citizenship being ceased without establishing material questions of fact or statutory criteria to show law operates is not the first. S17 of the old Australian Citizenship Act 1984 which still operates for events from 1984 to 2002 required a finding a person’s “dominant purpose” in a similar unbridled matter to cease citizenship, and no power to make the decision. If that law was to operate on a finding of fact, what fact finds a person’s “dominant purpose”; or state of mind? But this is not the most fundamental flaw.
    The Constitution grants no power to Parliament to make law, and establishes no jurisdiction to any Australian court to rule to cease citizenship of the natural-born Australian. The source of constitutional power was intentionally omitted when the Constitution was drafted.
    “I think it would be a mistake to give to the Federal Parliament the power of determining the qualifications of citizenship under the Commonwealth.” “The Commonwealth has abundant power to legislate as regards those who come from outside, and it cannot legislate, even if you put such a power as this in, as regards those who are here already.”
    The meaning of these words by Mr O’Connor when drafting the Constitution is clear, and found in Official Record of the Debates of the Australasian Federal Convention, Third Session, Melbourne, 2 March 1898, vol. II, pp 1750, 1754.
    Are we now to believe Mr O’Connor did not know what he was saying a century ago? At the time, we were citizens of the State where we lived, united as British subjects under Westminster. The people of Australia have never changed the Constitution by referendum to grant Parliament power to control citizenship of the natural-born Australian; conditions for acquiring that status, or losing it.

    Philip Heiner
  2. I’m a dual UK national. The proverbial WASP (white anglo saxon protestant). The proposed citizenship bill is Orwellian nonsense and if passed would make me a second class citizen in a country I have called home for the last 20 years. To suggest this bill is some how constitutional because you are automatically guilty is no more constitutional than ministerial discretion and is complete garbage. No one is automatically guilty. The sooner it gets thrown out by the high court the better. The Labor/LNP coalition seem to be labouring under the misconception that this only affects Muslims. I beg to differ. I am extremely annoyed and dismayed by this proposed bill and I don’t believe I am alone. Given that migrant citizens make up a sizeable percentage of the population I urge them to think again. Citizenship is either sacrosanct or it’s worthless. If it’s worthless then watch out. That’s a lot of annoyed resentful second class citizens out there.


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