Constitutional Referendum Unnecessary

Constitutional Referendum Unnecessary

It is disappointing that the chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has seen fit to voice her private opinion on Section 44 of the Australian Constitution prior to the release of the already delayed report of the committee.

Senator Reynolds is calling for a referendum to remove the requirement that members and senators of the Federal parliament should no longer be: “under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or (be) a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights & privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power.” Whilst the underlying purpose may be to open the doorway for dual nationals to sit in the Parliament, what will occur, if Section 44 (i) is amended, will be the dilution of allegiance to Australia by future parliamentarians.

Citizenship is a creation of the Australian Parliament and it is the Acts of the Parliament which have been referred to by the High Court when determining what is a ‘foreign power’.

We would have preferred Senator Reynolds to have instead called upon the government to obey the Constitution and immediately refer all those considered to be ineligible to sit in the Parliament to the High Court for a determination instead of dilly-dallying around the issue because it does not want a series of by-elections which may show it in a bad light. This has resulted in people sitting and voting in the Parliament whilst ineligible under section 44 (i) of the Constitution.

There is also the matter of members of the House of Representatives causing unnecessary by-elections due either to their wrongful completion of the nomination forms or because they may decide to leave the Parliament. The taxpayer should not have to fund these by-elections and they should instead be paid for either by the subject member or by his or her party.

It is a downside of our democracy that there is clearly one rule for the politicians and another rule for the rest of us.

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