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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 29 July 2017
2 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 29 JULY 2017 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Who is afraid of dual citizens? Photo: AAP/Dan Peled Following the senate resignations of Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, and the forced departure of cabinet minister Matt Canavan, it seems that the political careers of over 40 MPs could be affected, as could the government's majority. While the dual citizenship saga widens, publications looking into the heritage of more than 20 members of NIKOS FOTAKIS Here is an old rule of journalism: whenever something happens once, it is recorded as a 'phenomenon'; if it happens twice, it becomes a 'trend'; by the time of its third occurrence, it is a law of nature. This is where we stand now, regarding Australian politicians oblivious to both the Constitution, and their own citizenship status. the House of Representatives who have spoken of their migrant heritage are fuelling concerns. There are 23 other Australian MPs and senators who were born overseas, all of whom have stated to the press that they comply with the constitution's citizenship requirements and nearly half of them went as far as to make public clari- It is perfectly legitimate to consider this kind of ignorance as a natural law. After Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlum, who resigned from their Senate seats after they found out they are holders of dual citizenship (Canadian and New Zealand, respectively), the third time was the charm, with the case of Minister of Resources and North Australia, Matt Canavan, who resigned from fications regarding having denounced their country of birth. These include Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Trade Minister Steven Ciobo, Liberal MP Julia Banks, deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek, Labor MP Steve Georganas, and most recently Labor MP Maria Vamvakinou. Canberra is now question- NEOS KOSMOS Published since 1957 Published by Ethnic Publications Pty Ltd (ABN: 13005 255 087) of 169 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122. Printed by ACM Printing, 126 Fairbank Rd, Clayton South 3168. No. 5916 Contacts Reception Phone: (03) 9482 4433 Fax: (03) 9482 2962 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Phone: (03) 9482 4433 Email: email@example.com Web: www.neoskosmos.com letters Email: firstname.lastname@example.org NEOS KOSMOS - English Publisher: Editor-in-chief: Editorial director: Journalists: Address: Level 1, 169 Burwood Road, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122 Subscriptions Phone: (03) 9482 4433 Email: email@example.com Fax: (03) 9482 2962 Letters should not be more than 200 words and they must indicate your full name, address and a daytime telephone number for verification. By submitting your letter to us for publication you agree that we may edit the letter for legal, space or other reasons and may, after the publication in the paper, republish it on the internet or in other media. Christopher Gogos Sotiris Hatzimanolis Nelly Skoufatoglou Nikos Fotakis, Anastasia Tsirtsakis Contributors: Koraly Dimitriadis, Dean Kalimniou, Michael Sweet, Jim Claven, Con Stamocostas, George Stogiannou Graphic design: Peter Kelidis, Nicole Denton Proofreader: Allyson Griffith Mail: PO Box 6068 Hawthorn West, Victoria 3122 the cabinet, but not from parliament, when he found out that he is also an Italian citizen. The (now former) minister told reporters on Tuesday night his mother had applied for Italian citizenship on his behalf without his knowledge or consent when he was 25 years old, in January 2007. This incident alone would suffice to showcase the ridiculousness of the whole issue. And by that, we don't only mean the cringe-worthy statement of an adult blaming his mother for something that happened when he was already an adult. What is ridiculous is the fact that a Pandora's box is now open in both houses, where senators and MPs are trying to prove they are not elephants, that they are, indeed Australians, patriots, not prone to giving their love of their country away to other countries. It's still a wonder how is it ever possible for elected officials to have failed so miserably on their basic civics lessons, the constitution section which prevents dual ing even ethnic lineage and steps taken by MPs to renounce even countries of ancestral origin as in some cases, politicians state ignorance of their rights to second citizenship which could have been claimed by their parents. The government is currently directing responsibility to state divisions of both major parties, while citizens from being elected. Section 44 could not be clearer: "Any person who 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 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.” It is also a wonder how it is ever possible for adults - who want to represent their fellow citizens, no less - to be oblivious of their own "adherence to a foreign power." And here lies the true problem. Because this kind of ignorance is exactly possible due to the complexity of the relevant legislation, subject as it is to changes over the years, in both countries it affects. Which, in its turn, showcases the flawed character of Section 44. Declaring one's loyalty to one country, when they want to represent their citizens may seem the fair and sensible thing to do, but in reality we live in a very also quietly encouraging its members to ensure their citizenship rights pertain exclusively to Australia. Labor had already issued reassurances saying it worked "closely with all our candidates to ensure that their nomination is sound and compliant with the constitution," which clearly states that no person can be capable of elec- complex environment. It is not by accident that new Australian citizens are no longer required to renounce foreign allegiances during citizenship ceremonies, but instead to simply declare their 'loyalty' to Australia. Section 44 effectively divides the people of Australia, labeling dual citizens as 'second-class citizens', insinuating that their connection to other countries might undermine their loyalty to Australia. This is a relic of 'White Australia' (itself a creation of a third country, who still provides us with the state leader, but let's not open this can of worms), a section that ignores the multicultural nature of the country, its reality for the past 40 years. It is also a section that effectively undermines democracy itself. What kind of representative democracy does Australia have, when the representatives of people who are in large part dual citizens, are called to renounce their own dual citizenship? If behind of all that lies a fear of the dan- tion to parliament who is a foreign citizen "or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power," according to acting national secretary, Paul Erickson. "This is a critical part of our nomination processes," he said, adding: "We are confident that every member of the Labor caucus has been properly elected." ger of treason and espionnage, the issue once again steers towards the ludicrous; spies and traitors do not need legal documents to make them do the job. But there is also a fine line which separates the ludicrous from the dangerous. Now that the 'dual citizenship politicians' phenomenon is becoming a 'law of nature' there is a very possible danger of other resignations, which will change the country's political personnell, not because the people wished for it, but precisely despite their wishes and choices and votes, due to a stale section of the constitution. Before we start getting out the 'patriot-o-meters' and before this escalates to a modern-day witch hunt, citizens should mobilise. They should ask their representatives to change the constitution to better reflect reality. They should also turn to the various ethnic communities. Now is the time for their leaderships to step up. Before we normalise the existence of second-class Australians.
22 July 2017
5 August 2017