80 per cent increase in Australian citizenship applications approved

Catching up on their backlog:

The number of migrants becoming Australian citizens is continuing to rise.

In 2018-19, there was an 80 per cent increase in citizenship applications approved compared to the previous financial year.

More than 145,000 migrants had their citizenship by conferral applications approved, up from 81,000 in 2017-18.

Meanwhile the Government has also halved the waiting time between an applicant attending a citizenship interview and the finalisation of their application.

According to Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman the increase has been attributed to encouraging online lodgements and increasing the efficiency of citizenship processing.

“We have invested $9 million into our systems and staff, established a task force to focus on complex cases, and increased the number of citizenship appointments available for
applicants to attend interviews and sit the citizenship test,” said Mr Coleman.

“This investment is having a significant impact and I am confident we will see further improvements over the next 12 months.”

Source: 80 per cent increase in Australian citizenship applications approved

Yes, you can hold an Australian passport but not be a citizen. Here’s how – Analysis & Opinion

For citizenship policy nerds and people falling between the cracks:

Being born in Australia does not make you an Australian citizen.

The Tamil family with two Australian-born daughters on Christmas Island awaiting a decision on their future knows this only too well.

In some countries, such as the United States, children born there automatically become citizens of that country.

But in Australia, this isn’t the case.

In Australia, the automatic birthright to citizenship ended on August 19, 1986, under section 12 of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.

Children born in Australia from August 20, 1986 are only Australian citizens by birth if, at the time of their birth, at least one of their parents was an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

If they meet this criterion, they can obtain a passport.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which issues Australian passports, says: “Only Australian citizens can be issued with Australian passports”, but the Department of Home Affairs sometimes has other ideas.

This has had a negative impact on children who might fall into the gap between the passport and citizenship requirements of these two government departments.

Most of the time, acquiring an Australian passport at birth, based on providing standard evidence of identity, like birth certificates, means citizenship for life.

In some instances, though, Home Affairs has the power to request, arbitrarily and with no explanation, that further evidence be provided to justify a child’s citizenship, even DNA testing.

DNA testing to prove citizenship

In one recent case our firm dealt with, the foreign mother of an Australian child who had an Australian passport was told she needed to produce evidence of citizenship for her son, even though he was born in Australia and his father had always held Australian citizenship.

The family birth certificates and passports she had provided when successfully obtaining her child’s passport were “not deemed sufficient evidence” of citizenship.

She was required to obtain a “certificate of citizenship” from Home Affairs. And to get this, DNA testing was requested to prove the Australian citizen was indeed the biological father of the child in question.

But the mother’s relationship with the child’s father had broken down irreparably at the time of the child’s birth, and the father refused the DNA test.

DNA testing was not compulsory, Home Affairs advised. Other methods could be used to prove the relationship between the father and son was biological.

But the alternative social evidence recommended by Home Affairs, and supplied by the mother, included exhaustive personal, hospital, social work and government records.

They detailed the mother and child’s contact with the father and grandparents before and after the birth. This was still deemed “not sufficient”.

In effect, this shows DNA has become the only acceptable evidence, despite Home Affairs’ claims.

The outcome, Home Affairs advised, is that the child’s passport will be cancelled and the child will lose his status as an Australian citizen.

In another example, the father of a child in care, an Australian passport holder, was asked to do a DNA test as part of the process of obtaining a certificate of citizenship for the child.

He was estranged from the child and the mother, and so he refused. Home Affairs made its assessment of paternity based on that refusal, and the child’s passport and citizenship were cancelled.

Losing citizenship from ‘insufficient’ evidence

Citizenship can be revoked and a passport consequently cancelled in limited circumstances — mostly relating to criminal or security issues.

There is no provision in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 for the cancellation of citizenship held by a child under 16 who became a citizen at birth.

Yet it is happening.

Our firm has recently seen an increase in cases where the citizenship status of a child passport holder has been challenged if the child’s mother is a temporary resident.

While investigating a mother’s circumstances, Home Affairs delegates have required children — Australian passport holders with citizenship acquired through their father — to verify their citizenship by obtaining “certificates of citizenship”.

In these recent cases, the evidence usually required to obtain such a certificate — relevant birth certificates linking the child to the father, and evidence of citizenship or permanent residence of the father at the time of birth — has been rejected as insufficient.

The common thread is the absence of the father, where family relationships have broken down.

The child is consequently caught in a bureaucratic tangle: their birth certificate identifying their father remains valid, but Home Affairs refuses to accept this.

Evidence of paternity can’t always be provided when families break down

For Home Affairs, sometimes the standard evidence of identity isn’t enough to justify a child’s citizenship.

And where a relationship has broken down, or if a father has moved on physically or emotionally from the child, there may be no way of providing biological proof of that paternity.

The onus of proof in this case is on the child or its mother, with Home Affairs providing no explanation why such evidence may be necessary or relevant.

A child’s birth certificate signed at the time of birth by an Australian citizen father, or social evidence of a paternal relationship, can count for nothing here.

What’s disconcerting is the apparently unfettered right of Home Affairs to request additional evidence of citizenship from children who already hold Australian passports, granted following the normal protocols, without any need for Home Affairs to explain on what basis such information is sought.

This is at odds with the practice under the Migration Act 1958, which acknowledges principles of “natural justice”.

Cancelling children’s passports and withholding citizenship — effectively a consequence of their absent father and their parents’ inability to maintain a harmonious relationship — seems clearly unjust.

Refusing to accept certificates issued by state Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and overturning the capacity of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to issue passports based on its own sets of rules, is yet another indicator of the enormous and — despite its denials — unchecked power of Home Affairs.

If birth certificates no longer suffice as evidence of paternity, perhaps we’ll all be looking at DNA testing in the future.

Source: Yes, you can hold an Australian passport but not be a citizen. Here’s how – Analysis & Opinion

Australian citizenship law change affecting New Zealanders, high commissioner says

Tens of thousands of long-term residents could fail the new test, triggering the deportation process, a parliamentary inquiry heard on Monday.

The new migration rules will give the minister or his or her delegate a new discretionary power to cancel a visa if a person is convicted of certain offences, punishable by a maximum of two years in jail.

Offences include assault, using or possessing weapons, sex crimes or breaching an apprehended violence order.

A person will fail the character test if convicted of one of these offences, regardless of the actual length of the sentence imposed.

The test will also apply retrospectively, meaning the offence to trigger the reconsideration could have occurred decades ago.

New Zealand high commissioner Dame Annette King told the Senate’s legal affairs committee 2014 changes to visa rules which lowered the threshold for cancellations on character grounds had incurred a “disproportionate” impact on Kiwis living in Australia.

New Zealanders made up 10 per cent of the foreign born population but 50 per cent of deportations.

By comparison, only 1 per cent of New Zealand’s deportations were Australians.

“We don’t believe our community is less safe than Australia’s,” Dame Annette said.

She said Australia’s tightening migration rules had “become a rub and corrosive to our relationship”.

She urged the government to revert to the pre-2014 rules.

“If that is not possible we would like special consideration of New Zealanders living in Australia, because of the relationship, it is not like any other relationship,” Dame Annette said.

The Law Council of Australia also raised concerns that previous expansions of the power had not only led to more deportations, but greater ministerial intervention.

The number of via cancellations on character grounds rose by 1400 per cent between 2013 and 2017, the council said,

“The character test expansions have led not only to more cancellations but also a greater use of the minister’s personal powers, not only through section 501 but also through section 195A, which enables the minister to grant visas to detainees even where a section 501 cancellation has taken place,” its submission said.

“This is an inefficient use of ministerial time. Detainees must remain in prolonged detention while the department and the minister consider such matters.”

But Department of Home Affairs officials said the new rules were required to set an “objective, transparent” threshold for visas to be cancelled.

“I’d like to be clear that the consequences of not meeting this subjective threshold is that there would be further consideration of a discretionary power to refuse or cancel a visa where a non-citizen is convicted of a designated offence,” acting first assistant secretary of the immigration policy division, Michael Willard said.

“It’s important to note the conviction itself does not result in the automatic cancellation of the visa or a refusal of the visa and there’s a separate process for consideration of using this discretion that delegates or the minister would undertake.”

Head of the community protection division, Sachi Wimmer, said while it was impossible to say how many of Australia’s 1.9 million permanent visaholders would be captured by the changes, the department was bracing for an increase in referrals.

Source: Australian citizenship law change affecting New Zealanders, high commissioner says

Australia’s new suicide prevention advisor says culturally specific support ‘critical’

Of note (as is the case of mental health and other areas):

Christine Morgan has what some might think is an impossible task ahead of her.

She has been appointed as the country’s first national suicide prevention advisor as the government embarks on its ambitious “towards zero” target for suicide rates in Australia.

According to the latest data available, 3,128 people died by suicide in Australia in 2017, a figure Ms Morgan said is “far too high”.

“It is something that is sad beyond belief,” she told SBS News on Wednesday, following Health Minister Greg Hunt’s unveiling of a plan to fix Australia’s mental health system. The plan includes $114 million for eight adult mental health centres.

Ms Morgan, chief executive of the National Mental Health Commission, was appointed by Scott Morrison in July and is currently on a three-month tour of the country, listening to Australians from all walks of life about their experiences with self-harm and suicide.

It’s about what is driving people to a point where they feel they have lost hope,” she said. “And I’ve got to say, it’s not an easy answer.”

Cultural differences

When it comes to multicultural Australia, with more than a quarter of people in the country born overseas, Ms Morgan said the task can be “extraordinarily complex”.

“It’s not just about having a translator, in terms of specific words and language, it’s actually about translating concepts,” she said.

It’s not just about having a translator in terms of words, it’s actually about translating concepts.

“It’s understanding what may be culturally familiar to somebody, and when they are trying to communicate a thought, a feeling, a behaviour, and what that means through their cultural framework.

“The challenges with the current system are that it’s an expectation that they [culturally and linguistically diverse people] connect with the system – we have to turn that on its head.”

Rather, she said, support services need to actively reach out to minority communities, if they are going to be effective.

While no specific funding has yet been allocated for multicultural Australia, Ms Morgan confirmed she does see a need for targeted programs within culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Indigenous Australians 

While the government spends nearly $5 billion a year on mental health services – including more than $500 million towards youth mental health and a suicide prevention plan – support specifically for Indigenous Australians is also a top priority for Ms Morgan in her new role, she said.

Rates of suicide among Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people is more than double the national average, with rates among children even higher.

Indigenous children make up five per cent of Australia’s youth but account for 25 per cent of child suicides.

While travelling around the country, Ms Morgan said she visited a community where a teenager had recently died by suicide.

“It was raw, really raw, and the sense of helplessness that you have, I mean what do you say?” she said.

“The pain, the pain of those who are left behind, the pain of the family … It’s a palpable feeling and realising that when we lose someone to suicide it doesn’t just affect the person who has gone, but so many others.”

Personal drive

After a career in corporate law, Ms Morgan wanted to try something different. She became general manager of Wesley Mission, a charity supporting vulnerable Australians, including those who are homeless and experiencing mental health issues.

It was a turning point in her life.

She went on to spend a decade at eating disorder support organisation The Butterfly Foundation, a time she describes as “incredibly formative”.

“It taught me so much about listening to the voices of those going through it, and capturing that to translate not just the pain, but to inform what was needed to bring that issue to the table and come up with initiatives to address it,” she said.

“That now drives me.”

While she is still in the preliminary stages of her role, Ms Morgan said the way forward is to stop seeing suicide as just a mental health problem.

“This is about a whole of life experience.”

Homelessness, unemployment, chronic pain, and experiences of trauma, all contribute to suicide rates, she said, and those things need to be addressed.

“Let’s really take a good hard look at what are those societal factors, those social determinants –housing, education, experience of veterans, trauma – how can we start to bring those to the table and wrap them into our initiatives?”

“Maybe by doing that we can be more effective with driving towards fewer people dying by suicide.”

Challenge ahead

While she believes Australia has come a long way in the last decade when it comes to mental health, Ms Morgan says the nation has to do better.

“I think we still have very high levels of stigma around reaching out for health [support].”

“A lot is self-stigma, people saying ‘I can understand when it affects someone else, I can be empathetic when it affects someone else, but do I want to admit when it affects me?’”

Ms Morgan says Australia has “incredibly deep and rich” resources when it comes to support services, but “we need to harness that and continue to leverage that”.

She is expected to deliver an interim report by July 2020, with a final report and recommendations due the following December.

With a huge task at hand, she says the keyword in the government’s “towards zero” slogan, for now, is “towards”.

Source: Australia’s new suicide prevention advisor says culturally specific support ‘critical’

When Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin share billing with radical far-right figures, we should be concerned

May be some lessons here as well for CPC and PPC:

The Australian version of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicks off on Friday, continuing the long tradition here of conservative groups importing ideas, rather than generating them.

This weekend’s event is a branch-office version of the reliably wacky, but troublingly influential annual US conference. Among other things, CPAC is generally credited with launching Donald Trump’s career as a Republican political contender, after he was invited to speak there in 2011.

In the US, the conference offers a forum for hardline rightwing Republicans. Trump headlined again this year, but he was joined by YouTubers Diamond and Silk; former VP candidate Sarah Palin; anti-immigration Fox News host Laura Ingraham; high-profile evangelist Franklin Graham; and Turning Point USA honcho, Charlie Kirk.

But CPAC has sometimes had trouble in deciding which speakers and which ideas cross the line, as conservatives become more open to radical right ideas on race, multiculturalism and immigration. In recent years it has invited, then disinvited, groups like the conspiracist John Birch Society, and individuals like Milo Yiannopoulos.

The Australian version should make us wonder whether conservatives here, too, have trouble drawing a line around mainstream conservatism, and keeping more malevolent political currents at bay.

The problem is not that all of the speakers at CPAC are beyond the pale. Clearly, whatever leftwing people may think of him, former prime minister Tony Abbott could legitimately be expected to be on the platform at a conservative event. Same for former deputy prime minster, and current podcaster, John Anderson. Abbott’s closest adviser, Peta Credlin, now a conservative media star, is someone we would ordinarily expect also.

Australian conservatives are having trouble drawing a line between the mainstream and more malevolent politics?

Source: When Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin share billing with radical far-right figures, we should be concerned

Australian advertising body targets ‘white people’ to highlight ad codes

Good ad:

Australia’s advertising industry watchdog, Ad Standards, has launched a “provocative” campaign to draw attention to sexism, racism and other issues in advertising.

The campaign, which is running across TV, newspapers, radio and outdoor aims to generate awareness of the advertising codes while showcasing how the majority of marketing messages portray sexist gender stereotypes and fail to reflect the multicultural population.

The ‘Kinder Conditions’ ads feature lines such as “This ad is for white people only”, “If you’re a woman don’t bother reading this ad” and “This ad is brainwashing your children”.

Fiona Jolly, CEO of Ad Standards, said the campaign aims to remind Australians that discriminatory and offensive advertising is prohibited while advocating for positive social messaging in advertising.

“The advertising Codes are in place to achieve a greater good for everyone, protecting the nation with standards that reflect society’s values across wide-ranging social issues”.

“Australians may not be aware that certain codes exist which is why we have set about bringing them to the forefront – it’s not because we get a lot of complaints about them. If the public has concerns about these issues, they can raise them and Ad Standards will act on behalf of their concerns.

“The fact is, while the advertising Codes set high standards, we can encourage brands to exceed these to create positive change in the world. The public should be aware of the standards in place and be encouraged to value socially progressive advertising,” said Jolly.

As part of the campaign, Ad Standards is encouraging the public to nominate ads which promote social good by breaking gender stereotypes, increasing diversity and social inclusion, promoting healthy food, safe driving, responsible marketing to children and transparency in advertising.

The campaign was created by Loud Communications.

Source: Australian advertising body targets ‘white people’ to highlight ad codes

Migrants who adapt to Australian culture say they’re happier than those who don’t

Funny article that is sloppy with definitions, particularly around Australian culture (which continues to plague Australian immigration and multiculturalism related debates) and exactly what are the key elements of acculturation.

The authors appear confused on whether or not acculturation is distinct from assimilation, and if so, how.

And not particularly surprising that those with higher education, skills and salaries are happier than those with lower education, skills and salaries:

In a multicultural country like Australia, it’s easy for migrants to keep their heritage culture alive. But our recent research that surveyed more than 300 migrants found those who adapt to Australian society, called “Australian acculturation”, have greater personal well-being than those who don’t.

Personal well-being refers to a person’s quality of life, measured at two levels. The first: how satisfied they are with their life overall. And the second: how satisfied they are with specific life domains, such as achievements, relationships, health, safety, community connectedness and security.

We looked at the relationships between time in the host country, acculturation and personal well-being among non-Western skilled migrants in Australia. We found that migrants who reported having a higher personal well-being also had:

  • acculturated more to the Australian culture than to their heritage culture
  • higher English language competency and
  • an Australian identity

And we found that more time spent in Australia doesn’t necessarily lead to more personal well-being if skilled migrants don’t adapt to Australian culture.

Social connectedness

We measured personal well-being using the Australian Unity Personal Well-being Index (PWI), which measures the level of a person’s satisfaction using a points system from 0 to 100.

A chart from our study comparing the well-being of our sample of skilled migrants with the general population of Australia.

The average PWI of the Australian general population ranges from 74.2 to 76.8 out of 100, whereas the average PWI of our skilled migrant sample is higher, at 77.27.

Given the present study involved skilled migrants, it’s possible that their higher education, skills and salaries may have contributed to higher levels of personal well-being, compared to the Australian population as a whole.

Skilled migrants recorded the lowest score for the “community connectedness” domain, along with the rest of the Australian population. Community connectedness refers to the number and strength of connections a person has with others in their community.

Community connectedness may be lower because:

  • skilled migrants maintain close contact with ethnic and extended families
  • there are few opportunities for them to be involved in the wider Australian community or
  • they feel excluded from the wider community.

Biculturalism

Rather than acculturation, some skilled migrants will maintain their own culture, and add layers of cultural practices from their host country. For them, “biculturalism” – or being able to switch between host and heritage cultures – is more realistic.

For example, an Indian family who moved to Melbourne will keep their culture alive through food, language and friendship circles, but might also go to the footy and support an AFL team.

Full acculturation, on the other hand, is when migrants abandon their heritage cultural practices and values when they adapt to the host culture.

For a first generation non-Western migrant, adapting to the Australian culture is even harder. Research has shown that acculturation into a Western country is unlikely for these people.

This is for a number of reasons, such as pride in their heritage culture, maintaining strong connections with relatives and friends, and the societies they move to allow them to maintain heritage cultural practices through multicultural policies.

Poor Australian acculturation can lead to social isolation

Most people migrate when they’re young, so they’re able to contribute to the socioeconomic well-being of the host country by bringing in much needed skills, knowledge, technology and investment to Australia.

But in any case, migrants grow old in a culture that’s not heritage to them, so Australian acculturation is important to help combat social isolation in their old age.

In fact, a 2015 study found older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are at a greater risk of depression than Anglo-Australians.

So if our skilled migrant sample, with the average age of 38, are low-scoring in the “community connectedness” domain, they could fall into a social isolation trap as they age.

Australia should make ageing in a new culture a more comfortable experience, and organisations – such as Australian Multicultural Community Services and Australian Multicultural Foundation – and the government should take more responsibility for their Australian acculturation, and encourage social participation.

Source: Migrants who adapt to Australian culture say they’re happier than those who don’t

A fear of others in Australia’s ethnically diverse neighbourhoods is affecting mental health

While not captured in the study, suspect that some of the anti-immigrant rhetoric among some Australian politicians may be a contributing factor to lack of trust:

We’re often told to ‘love thy neighbour’ in order to build a more harmonious society, but when it comes to multicultural communities, it seems concerns about ‘others’ are rife – and it’s impacting peoples’ mental health.

A new report by RMIT University has found higher levels of neighbourhood ethnic diversity are associated with poorer mental health outcomes for people living there.

And it appears it’s because they don’t trust each other.

The study, Neighbourhood Ethnic Diversity and Mental Health in Australia, is the first of its kind to empirically examine the effects of ethnic diversity in an area on mental health. It was published this month in the journal Health Economics.

Based on 16 years of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, up to 2016, it found a lack of trust in ‘others’ is having a negative impact.

Respondents to the HILDA surveys were asked how often they felt “nervous”, “down”, and “so down in the dumps that nothing could cheer them up”.

Dr Sefa Churchill, a senior research fellow at RMIT who led the study, said coping with difference tends to brings a greater mental load, which “not everyone finds easy or wants to make work”.

“In communities that are quite diverse we tend to see people that are a bit different in different ways, because we do not know them,” he told SBS News.

“It raises some sort of natural anxiety and suspicion about what they are doing because they are ‘different’.

“And that level of anxiety and unsettledness that is associated with this lower levels of trust, tends to hinder mental health.”

That lack of trust was the key factor behind poorer mental health outcomes in diverse communities, he said.

Dr Churchill said it is a natural compulsion to be wary of strangers, and the research shows it is not diversity itself that is the problem, but more likely the lack of trust that often accompanies it.

“If you do not know someone, if someone is different from you, you will not go be willing to go all in, in terms of trust, so from a fundamental perspective as part of nature, trust comes the more you get familiar with someone.”

“Trust is the glue that binds social networks, and social networks and feelings of inclusion are important predictors for mental health and wellbeing.”

But it’s not all bad news for those living in Australia’s ethnic melting pots.

When comparing diverse and homogeneous neighbourhoods which both had similar levels of trust, people living in diverse communities had better mental health outcomes.

“Our analysis considered potential scenarios where we have diverse communities and homogeneous communities both with high levels of trust, and the results actually did suggest if you are in a diverse community with higher levels of trust you tend to have better mental health than insular, homogeneous communities,” Dr Churchill said.

Australia is often touted as one of the most diverse countries in the world, with more than a quarter of residents born overseas.

Mohammad Al-Khafaji, CEO of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA) told SBS News: “As in all parts of our society, mental health is a major issue in ethnically diverse communities that desperately needs greater attention”.

“What this study also demonstrates is that programs that promote cultural awareness and understanding make our communities happier and safer.

FECCA has partnered with Mental Health Australia and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance to deliver The Embrace Project – a platform raising awareness of mental health and suicide prevention and providing resources and services for those from culturally and linguistic diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan told SBS News the project “recognises social isolation and stigma surrounding mental health in culturally and linguistically diverse communities can negatively impact mental health.

It “aims to engage people in CALD communities in a conversation and provide information about what comprises good mental health and where to seek support if needed,” he said.

Dr Churchill says the results of the study show the need for more policies that foster social inclusion and promote awareness of the benefits of diversity. That should help to build trust and reduce the negative effect of diversity on mental health, he said.

“We need to, at the local level, organise programs and events that bring us together, allow us to communicate, allow us to talk, allow us to know each other and go beyond the differences.”

“The fact that you do not know someone and all that, this will build that level of trust.”

Source: A fear of others in Australia’s ethnically diverse neighbourhoods is affecting mental health

Is Australia headed for another citizenship saga?

Appears not, despite the heade questionr:

Bill Shorten, Jacqui Lambie and Chris Bowen are among a list of more than two dozen politicians who may not be eligible to sit in the Australian parliament.

Legal academics in Western Australia have put the constitution under the microscope and concluded that 26 MPs and senators may fall foul of the nightmarish Section 44(i).

The section disqualifies anyone who holds allegiance to a foreign country from sitting in the federal parliament.

While much of the attention during the 2017-2018 political crisis that claimed 15 scalps centred on the section’s second criteria -which covers the issue of dual citizenship – the third criteria went largely unnoticed.

‘Right of abode’ in UK

This disqualifies anyone from sitting in parliament if they are entitled to the rights and privileges of citizens of a foreign power.

This means that Australians born before January 1, 1983, to a British parent, probably still hold a ‘right of abode’ in the United Kingdom – which confers almost all the rights and privileges of a full British citizen.

‘We seem to have only scratched the surface.’

“While many Australians perhaps hoped that multiple High Court decisions and resulting by-elections would mean that the country could put the parliamentary eligibility crisis behind it, instead we seem to have only scratched the surface,” says legal academic Lorraine Finlay.

Finlay is co-author of the paper But Wait…There’s More: The Ongoing Complexities of Section 44(I), published in the University of Western Australia Law Review.

At the very least, says Finlay, the third criteria is “significantly more ambiguous” than the second.

Allegiance

And she says it would be up to the High Court to determine if the rights conferred on an Australian holding a right of abode in the UK are significant enough to create an “imputed sense of allegiance”.

Any member of a Commonwealth nation, who holds the right of abode in the UK, is free to enter and exit the UK “without hindrance”, as well as to work, study, apply for welfare, vote and stand for public office in the country.

Finlay says it is interesting to note that the rights afforded to European Union citizens in the UK are “distinct” and lesser than those afforded to Commonwealth Citizens with the right of abode in the UK.

After examining the parliamentary citizenship register, Finlay concludes there are at least 26 current parliamentarians who potentially could have the right of abode in the UK, based on the information they have provided on their British family history.

Australian politicians dual citizenship list

LABOR (14)

  • Bill Shorten (Vic), Chris Bowen (NSW), Mark Butler (SA), Nick Champion (SA), Lisa Chesters (Vic), Pat Conroy (NSW), Alexander Gallacher (SA), Katy Gallagher (ACT), Andrew Giles (Vic), Madeleine King (WA), Susan Lines (WA), Brian Mitchell (Tas), Louise Pratt (WA) and Glenn Sterle (WA).

LIBERAL (5)

  • John Alexander (NSW), Angie Bell (Qld), Ben Morton (WA), Dean Smith (WA) and Alan Tudge (Vic).

NATIONAL (3)

  • George Christensen (Qld), Patrick Conaghan (NSW) and Perin Davey (NSW).

GREENS (2)

  • Adam Bandt (Vic) and Rachel Siewart (WA).

OTHER (2)

  • One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts (Qld) and independent Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie.

Challenge unlikely

For any of the above to be ruled ineligible, they would have to be challenged in the parliament and referred to the High Court.

With 14 under a cloud, it’s safe to assume Labor will let sleeping dogs lie.

And while a challenge could be to the coalition’s advantage, the Liberals and Nationals might feel the brunt of a backlash if it forces voters back to the polls for another slew of by-elections.

Finlay concludes that an examination of eligibility in light of the Commonwealth right of abode is therefore unlikely to go any further.

“(But) it demonstrates that there may still be a significant number of current Australian parliamentarians who are not actually eligible to sit in the parliament,” she says.

“Clarifying the scope and reach of section 44(i) is essential to maintain public confidence in the legitimacy of the current Australia Parliament, and also to avoid uncertainty with regards to future elections.”

Source: Is Australia headed for another citizenship saga?

Trump Is Right That “Much Can Be Learned” From Australia’s Immigration Policies.

Some valid points about the risks of normalizing xenophobic discourse, rather than having more neutral wording to describe issues:

Australia’s asylum policies—which see asylum-seekers languishing for years under inhumane conditions in offshore detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru—are already a source of great shame for many Australians. Widely condemned by human rights groups and the United Nations, the policies contravene various human rights charters, including the 1951 Refugee Convention and even the Convention Against Torture. A U.N. report called on Australia to close the offshore centers, finding “inadequate mental health services, serious safety concerns and instances of assault, sexual abuse, self-harm and suspicious deaths; and about reports that harsh conditions compelled some asylum seekers to return to their country of origin despite the risks that they face there.” Just last week, a former detainee who spent six years on Manus Island begged the U.N. Human Rights Council to hold Australia to account, calling the centers—not just the circumstances they were fleeing—a humanitarian crisis.

But when Donald Trump—the U.S. president whose administration separates children from their families to deter asylum-seekers—says there is much to be learned from Australia’s immigration policies, it’s a fresh reminder of just how bad things have become.

On his way to a working dinner with newly reelected Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the G-20 summit in Japan last week, Trump tweeted out four Australian government flyers, noting that “much can be learned” from them:

It’s not the first time Trump has praised Australia’s hard-line policies: In 2017, then–Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was attempting to convince Trump to uphold a deal negotiated under the Obama administration for the U.S. to resettle detained asylum-seekers who had been attempting to reach Australia. When Turnbull explained Australia’s policy of not accepting those who seek asylum via boat, Trump reportedly told him, “We should do that too. You are worse than I am.”

Trump is reportedly a fan of Turnbull’s successor, Morrison, repeatedly comparing his recent surprise upset to his own (and, of course, declaring that he saw it coming). It’s not clear where Trump saw the Morrison posters, but they seem to represent a friendly little tip from one tough-on-borders leader to another, just as the image of a drowned Salvadoran migrant father and daughter made headlines around the globe.

The lesson Trump presumably wants to draw from these posters is how better to deter people from seeking asylum—something those people have every right to do under international law. As Trump said when he saw the viral image from the U.S. border, “A very very dangerous journey. And by the way many other things happened. Women being raped; women being raped in numbers nobody believed.” The Australian government often justifies its cruelty as a deterrent: to discourage refugees from making the “very very dangerous journey” by sea by making it clear that they will never be settled in Australia, and will suffer greatly if they try to be. It’s for their own good, the government says while simultaneously stoking fears of a flood of boats making their way to Australia if they weaken their system even slightly—punishment in the name of protection.

As Kon Karapanagiotidis—founder and CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and one of the most outspoken refugee advocates in Australia—laid out in a reply to Trump’s tweet, there is a swath of horrors to learn from Australia, if abject cruelty and maximum suffering are what you’re aiming for.

The most obvious thing for the U.S. to learn from Australia is not to go down this path. This should be obvious enough, from the list Karapanagiotidis shared, from the conditions these human beings live under with no end in sight.

But there is an especially acute lesson to take away from this about not allowing cruelty to become normalized. Just like in the United States, this has been an incremental slide for Australia. Many of the asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia attempt to come by boat via Southeast Asia. Mandatory detention of these migrants for the assessment of “unlawful arrivals,” implemented in the early ’90s by a Labor government with a 273-day limit, soon became offshore detention. The 2000s conservative coalition government implemented the “Pacific Solution,” interning asylum-seekers on nearby island nations instead. Temporary detention soon became seemingly permanent, with a later coalition government declaring that no asylum-seeker who arrives by boat will ever be allowed to live in Australia, regardless of the legitimacy of her claim. (The only options for detainees are to return to their home countries, something they are often pressured to do, or wait for a resettlement deal to be negotiated.) The system has become increasingly secretive, with the media unable to access the camps, and those working within them facing jail time if they leak information.

It’s not too late for the U.S. to avoid this path. As Jason Wilson wrote in the Guardian just a few days before Trump drew the comparison, “Australia’s camps are now baked into its national politics. … The longer that they are in place in the US, Italy and elsewhere, the more likely it is that in those countries, too, they will become permanent features of the political landscape.”

At first, the U.S. left seemed to be doing a good job at this—something Australia could learn from. The left rallied fiercely against the Trump administration family separation policy when it first came out that children were being kept in detention facilities, forcing Trump to sign a June 2018 executive order putting an end to the practice. At the time, the hearteningly effective use of protest made me sad about Australia’s own failure to mobilize effectively or early enough against its now-ingrained inhumane policies.

However, after Trump signed the executive order, returning many traumatized children to their families, that outrage seemed to simmer out—despite hundreds of children remaining in detention. Recent weeks have seen the issue reenter the public consciousness, with the discovery that many more children were separated than first thought, and an inspection of a Clint, Texas, detainment center revealing appalling conditions. There has been a renewed push, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to again label these kinds of camps “concentration camps,” which, accurate or not, has reenergized opposition to them and turned the facilities into a central issue for 2020 Democratic candidates. But outrage fatigue is real, and the second rarely matches the first. Australia may be beyond the capacity to feel outrage at this point, with reports of a mental health crisis—dozens of detainee suicide attempts and acts of self-harm since the unexpected reelection of Australia’s conservative government in May—barely moving the needle.

There are also lessons for the U.S. media to be taken from Australia. It is essential that journalists keep reporting on and scrutinizing the horrific conditions in these detention facilities and keep finding ways to get the message across. But perhaps most importantly, they need to fight any efforts to impose laws or policies banning access to the centers for journalists and advocates, as the Australian government did in 2015, passing the draconian Australian Border Force Act, which made it a criminal offense for whistleblowers to reveal anything that happens in the detention centers to the media. Journalists have little access themselves, with the Pacific nations that house Australia’s detention centers refusing almost all journalist visa requests—something that Australia is believed to have had a hand in. For the most part, all the Australian public now gets from inside these camps are rare leaked recordings and the Twitter feeds of prominent detainees. Australian journalists and advocates fought this law, and I don’t mean to demean or question their efforts here. But it’s important for the U.S. media to take heed. Images and reports have proved incredibly potent in swaying public opinion, and so, from Trump’s perspective, a lesson here might be to implement something similar.

There are lessons, too, for Democrats to learn from Australia’s major left party, the Labor Party, not to bow to public pressure to be “strong” and “tough” on border control. Despite recent efforts to provide some relief, in the form of a bill allowing for the temporary transfer of detainees to Australia for medical or psychiatric treatment passed in Parliament with the support of Labor and a number of independents, Labor has proved spineless on the issue, with mandatory offshore detention now more or less a bipartisan policy.

Many in the party may oppose the practice, but overall, Labor is afraid to differentiate itself from the right, lest it be labeled weak on national security—something the coalition has attempted to do in the wake of Labor showing the smallest ounce of compassion in helping pass the medical transfer bill. Democrats need to decide how they intend to fight this system, rather than just try to alleviate some of the suffering it creates. Some argue that billions in emergency funding for the southern border only props up the system, advancing a fundamentally inhumane set of policies.

Trump’s desire to “learn” from a horrific policy that has been repeatedly slammed by the U.N. Human Rights Council is hardly surprising. But for once, he’s right—in a sense. There are many lessons to be learned from Australia. The most important? Take note of them before a system becomes seemingly too ingrained to do much about it.

Source: Trump Is Right That “Much Can Be Learned” From Australia’s Immigration Policies.