Section 44 of the Australian Constitution has become a hot political issue within the federal government over the past few weeks with senators and representatives resigning their position within the federal government, but why? Usually when a politician resigns it is because they wish to retire or because a scandal has erupted, but that hasn’t been the case for the six politicians that have had to resign as a result of the grey area in Section 44.
So, what is Section 44 exactly? Section 44 is a part of the constitution that states ?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 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.
Basically, it means that Australians with dual citizenships are unable to run for election or gain a seat as a senator or as a member of the House of Representatives. This section would have been a non-issue in 1900 when the Constitution was first written, however, Australia has grown to become a diverse and multicultural nation, with many individuals being born overseas or having overseas born parents.
It seems like a simple situation, wouldn’t people know if they had a dual citizenship? Not necessarily, dual citizenships can be granted automatically through birth and may not necessarily take form as a passport, the constitution also includes individuals that are entitled to the rights of a foreign power, making things even trickier. While the best solution may be to change the Constitution?s wording to cater to the modern Australia it will take time if it will occur at all.
During that process, future and current politicians would greatly benefit from verifying their own citizenship if they have a multicultural background to ensure their eligibility for senate and the House of Representatives. This can be conducted through genealogy research conducted by Worthington Clark. Through the process of tracking down and examining legal documents, a trained genealogist is able to verify whether an individual is a subject of a foreign power or is entitled to the rights of a foreign power.