I came to Australia at age 3 from the UK. Thus when I reached the age of majority, I had UK citizenship. Like so many other people who came here when they were babies, I didn’t think much about citizenship much. But when I was in National Service, I did think about it and applied for Australian citizenship and was sent my papers in the mail. It felt good. I was now an Australian by choice. I feel no allegiance to the country I left at such a young age.
When I came to run for the ACT Legislative Assembly, I found that differently from the federal Parliament, there is no requirement for candidates to only have Australian citizenship. Dual citizenship is no barrier to being elected. It is in the federal Parliament.
This raises an interesting question. Why is it a barrier for people who choose to become Australian citizens after some extensive soul searching, to represent their fellow citizens? Why should they renounce their prior citizenship? Why should it be that it is mandatory to renounce in some instances but not others?
Should we be able to withdraw citizenship from dual citizenship holders if they engage in activities which could be detrimental to Australia’s safety? If so, why can’t we take it off those who are Australian born religious radicals who engage in such activities? There is ample evidence overseas of nationals in the western world, acting against their own fellow citizens.
I have no difficulty in taking this most cherished of privileges from those who abuse it. There are, of course, practical problems in taking it of native born citizens because they become stateless and where do they go, to where do we deport them?
Citizenship is the greatest honour and privilege which can be bestowed upon an ordinary person. It shows the acceptance into a family of people choosing to live together in peace and mutual support. Abuse of that privilege should not be tolerated.
Perhaps we could send them to Manus Island or Nauru?