Policy Consultation Paper – Visa Simplification: Transforming Australia’s Visa System

Now is ex Cabinet Minister and Senator Matthew Canavan Italian?


Now is ex Cabinet Minister and Senator Matthew Canavan Italian?

Now is ex Cabinet Minister and Senator Matthew Canavan Italian?

It is rather extraordinary that Australia has a section that disqualifies dual or plural nationals from office while having a foreign flag in its own flag and a Royal that has little other connection to Australia than historical colonial ties and a title declaring ownership of the Sovereign Crown of Australia.

But so it is, unless someone can prove me incorrect. Section 44 of the constitution is wreaking havoc in a Government that has a single vote majority in the lower house.
No other OECD county has such a high level of sovereign risk based on such an unpredictable system, churning PM’s, MP’s and Senators, that has now little to do with democracy and reflecting the voters will.

This present bout of identity crises started with Greens Senator Ludlam and then ensnared Waters and now Canavan. We all can only ask who is next unmasked as a “fraud”?

Senator Larissa Waters resignation, as she put it herself.

It is with great shock and sadness that I have discovered that I hold dual citizenship of Australia and Canada. As people would know after the recent departure of my dear friend and former colleague Scott Ludlam, section 44 of the Australian constitution means I cannot hold office in the federal Parliament.

I left Canada as a baby, born to Australian parents studying and working briefly in Canada before they returned home. I have lived my life thinking that as a baby I was naturalised to be Australian and only Australian, and my parents told me that I had until age 21 to actively seek Canadian citizenship. At 21, I chose not to seek dual citizenship, and I have never even visited Canada since leaving at 11 months old.

However, after Scott’s shock discovery, I immediately sought legal advice, and was devastated to learn that because of 70-year-old Canadian laws I had been a dual citizen from birth, and that Canadian law changed a week after I was born and required me to have actively renounced Canadian citizenship.  I had not renounced since I was unaware that I was a dual citizen. Obviously, this is something that I should have sought advice on when I first nominated for the Senate in 2007, and I take full responsibility for this grave mistake and oversight. I am deeply sorry for the impact that it will have.

It is with a heavy heart that I am forced to resign as Senator for Queensland and Co-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens, effective today.

I apologise wholeheartedly to all those who have supported me and helped me to become a representative for the wonderful people of Queensland over the last six years.

I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to represent my values and speak for Queenslanders who want a fairer and cleaner world. There is no greater honour than to be entrusted with that responsibility and I have discharged it to the best of my ability, with the support of many.

The Queensland Greens have never been stronger. Despite today’s events, Queensland will still have a Green voice in the federal Parliament and I am confident that we will continue to grow by electing some Greens MPs into our State parliament this coming election.

From being the first woman to breastfeed in federal parliament, to being part of stopping the dumping of dredge spoil on the Great Barrier Reef, overturning cuts to domestic violence services and keeping key environmental decision making powers in federal hands, I have relished every moment to make positive change as a Greens Senator.

But the challenges we face as a nation are still so great, and I will not be stepping away from them. I have spent my working life protecting the environment and helping the community have better say in decision making, and that will not cease. We must stop the Adani mega mine, and we must support women to be free from violence, sexism, and pay discrimination, while my future remains uncertain, I have more to contribute and will be talking with my party about what lies ahead. Whatever the outcome, I will always work for gender equality and to protect the environment.

It has been an honour to work with my Greens colleagues in the parliament and in the Queensland party. They are the best of people and I am devastated to leave them. My focus now is on working with the party to ensure Queenslanders still have a strong Green voice in the Senate, and working with our state candidates, members and supporters to elect Greens into the Queensland State Parliament.

Despite my personal circumstances, I still have unshakeable hope for our common future on this planet. Our movement is so much bigger than any one person, and we will win in the end. Farewell dear friends.

Sympathy for Matt?

So it goes, but that is not the last of it. Matthew Canavan’s case will go for a final decision to the High Court, as his Italian citizenship was applied for by his mother without his knowledge or consent.

The Australian Monarchist view!

The Australian Monarchist League claims, unlike Scott Ludlam (and others in similar circumstances), the Queen Stands above Citizenship

Scott Ludlam, in his resignation speech when being outed for having dual nationality said: “What it is telling us is that I am owning allegiance to a foreign power, which is the sovereign of New Zealand – which is also the same Queen’s crest that flies over this parliament. It is a bit on the silly side. It is also black-letter law. You can’t wriggle away from that.”(The Conversation 14/7/17)

Section 44 of the Australian Constitution states: 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 & 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.

Section 44 was put in place by the drafters of our Constitution to ensure that the allegiance of our elected politicians was solely to Australia and not to any foreign power. In past years countries of which the Queen is sovereign, such as New Zealand and the UK, would never have been considered to be a ‘foreign power’. Indeed, Australian citizenship only came into being in 1948 before which time all in Australia were considered to be British citizens. However, in Sue v Hill, the High Court of Australia decided in 1999 that the United Kingdom was a foreign power to Australia.

Peter FitzSimons has written: “But hang on. What about the criteria to be our head of state? In this case, the constitution demand that he or she be 100 per cent English! (Oh alright, with some German lineage thrown in, and perhaps some Greek.) At least, the constitution demands that we find our heads of state from this one English family. Is there anything wrong with this picture?” (SMH 14/7/17)

What both Ludlam and FitzSimons failed to understand is that the Queen is Queen of Australia by right of the Australian Constitution and by right of the Australian Parliament which, in 1974, declared her to be ‘Queen of Australia’. The Queen has also indirectly been elected Queen of Australia as a result of the referendum of 1999.

The Queen is not a citizen of any country. She is the Queen and as sovereign, stands above citizenship.

Australian passports include the message: “The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, being the representative in Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, requests all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer, an Australian Citizen, to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford him or her every assistance and protection of which he or she may stand in need.”

The Crown, which is the fundamental on which our constitution is based, is a divisible Crown. By that, I mean that the monarch acts in separate capacities in relation to each Realm. She is the executive head of state of the United Kingdom but she is also the sovereign head of state of 15 other independent nations. In Australia, the Queen, as Queen of Australia, is subject only to the Australian Constitution and subject only to the advice of her elected Australian ministers and not any minister or bureaucrat in the United Kingdom or elsewhere. Similarly, in her role as Queen of Canada, Queen of New Zealand etc.

Rather than being an impediment, a constitutional monarchy with the Queen as our sovereign head of state is a distinct plus, not only because our system balances the monarch – through the Governor-General, with the Parliament thus ensuring constitutional stability for over 116 years, but also, we can also stand together as equals with the other constitutional monarchies of Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The Australian Monarchist League does not believe that section 44 should be amended to allow persons’ allegiant to ‘foreign powers’ however our High Court may describe them, to sit in the parliament but, we do believe that all candidates standing for the Federal parliament should sign a declaration that they do not hold dual citizenship. If a person is not born in Australia, then they should be required to annex a certificate or letter from their country of birth specifying that they have revoked that citizenship.

That was the Monarchist view. So, there we have a roundup of opinion and suggestions. I personally hope Australia will decide to amend the constitution and once a person enters public office they can make an oath to renounce any other allegiances and get on with the job to serve Australia, us.

What is your opinion on holding elected office?