48. Uncle Pete returns!

“Failure is an event, not a person.”


1. What a day! Despite up-and-coming folk-music band Midnight Oil fencing off the Domain for 16 days (for just two concerts!) the speakers still found a Morton Bay Fig and spoke under that. Mr B, Steve Maxwell, and all their grasshoppers, were vocal all day. Across the way, Ray sought souls near the kiosk. It all added up to a fun day in the park.

2. Uncle Pete had just returned from his jaunt in England, and he spoke about his venture to the Mecca of all Speakers’ Corners.

3. A man wrote an article about how he met a woman, took her to dinner, and brought her home to his place. Soon they were kissing and cuddling. Clothes were taken off. They went to bed and had sex. At no time did the woman resist or say “no”. Afterwards, she turned to him and said, “You raped me.”

We took some time to discuss the matter.

4. If a young man loses his virginity to a prostitute, has he really lost his virginity? That was the question seedy Mr B felt compelled to address. In the process he talked about inflatable dolls, intimacy, viagra, promiscuity and masturbation. Having just endured a long talk about rape, this new discussion was the last thing poor grasshopper Jean needed. She finally stood up and told us all off. She said we should only have sex with the person we love. She has been married for 66 years and she figures that qualifies her to make judgments about the sex single people have. Sigh.

5. The ‘Something Nice’ segment, to charm some and irritate others.

6. In the fenced off enclosure for the two open-air Midnight Oil concerts, there was a sign this scribe wanted to photograph. (It said umbrellas are prohibited.) I handed my camera to a security guard who was on the other side of the fence, and he was willing to take the photograph for me. But up stepped another security guard who outranked the helpful fellow, and he wanted to know what was to be photographed.

“That sign,”I  explained, pointing.

The guard looked troubled. This would clearly be a subversive act. He made sure the camera was handed back and explained that they were there to guard the place, not take photographs.

I shrugged, and said I would write about this incident in the blog instead. I began to walk away.

“Blog?!”  Suddenly the guard got uppity, and kept demanding that I come back to the fence. But I had an appointment with something better to do. He then called out he’d report me. (After that, I was too far away for his cries to be intelligible.)

This scribe is now fearful that he will be reported for a serious offence. i.e. For asking a security guard to take a photograph for him.

Where’s Wally?

7. Years ago, television presenter David Frost described a telephone call he had with media mogul Kerry Packer. David was trying to sell Kerry tapes for $175,000, and Kerry continued to reject the price. In exasperation David finally said, “Kerry, I really need the $175,000. I’m sure the tapes are worth it.”

After a long pause Kerry said: “I have an idea. I have a coin with me. Let’s flip for the difference. Call it.”
At the other end of the phone, a very nervous David had to make a decision. Finally he said, “All right. Heads.”
“You win,” said Kerry.

We discussed the dynamics of the call.

8. Other subjects discussed:
– Could refugees on Manus and Nauru islands be housed in nations with refugee camps, and in return, for each refugee, could Australia take five (or ten?) of those nations’ refugees from their refugee camps and settle them in Australia? That would still dissuade ‘the boat people’ to please the government, he argued, and it would compassionately settle 10,000 to 20,000 refugees. (Australia already takes 13,500 refugees a year, so the extras wouldn’t be a problem.)

– When a local, state or Federal government makes a decision, it should outline in detail how it made that decision. That way, when people in the future have to make a similar decision, they can draw upon the ‘wisdom’ of the past and find pros and cons they may not have thought of. And, that transparency would allow us to question the wisdom of current decisions.

– Although Mr B is a ‘yes’ vote for gay marriage, he chose to accuse the ‘yes’ voters of dishonesty. He claimed they weren’t acknowledging the ‘no’ voters’ fear of the ‘thin edge of the wedge’.

9. Last week’s discussion about dual citizenship continued. With more MPs going under, Mr B claimed that we now have a paralysed government because the sheep-like judges in the High Court thought it was more important to follow the letter of the law than use commonsense.

His grasshoppers objected again, and their focus was on the negligent politicians who should have known better. Uncle Pete had looked at Section 44 of the Constitution, and he explained that it makes very clear that dual citizenship is prohibited, and it often repeats the fact. He said the politicians had no excuse for not making sure they complied. He’s right: each person nominating to be a candidate in a Federal election is given a ‘Candidates’ Handbook’ to help them through the process, and it clearly says:

Step 1: Determine your eligibility to nominate for either the Senate or the House of Representatives, you must be:
– at least 18 years old;
– an Australian citizen; and
– either enrolled or eligible to be enrolled on the Commonwealth electoral roll.

You cannot nominate for the Senate or the House of Representatives if you are:
– currently a member of a state parliament or territory legislative assembly and have not resigned before the hour of nomination;
– disqualifed by section 44 of the Constitution.

It’s that last bit in red which is relevant. The person would then know to go to Section 44, which is on the website of the Australian Electoral Commission and check further.

Section 44 of the Constitution – disqualification

16. Any person who:

  1. is under any acknowledgment 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 a citizen of a foreign power; or
  2. is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or
  3. is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or
  4. holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or
  5. has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth, otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons;

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

But subsection (iv) does not apply to the office of any of the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen’s Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen’s navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth.

Section 44(i) of the Constitution

17. Section 44(i) of the Constitution applies to three categories of persons:

  • a person who is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power;
  • a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; and
  • a person who is entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power.

18. The first category of disqualification under s. 44(i) appears to have a wide application, disqualifying persons who, although they may not have a formal nationality or citizenship link with another country, may have some other form of allegiance with that country. In the 1987 case of Nile v Wood [1987] HCA 62; (1987) 76 ALR 91; (1987) 62 ALJR 52 , Mrs Elaine Nile unsuccessfully sought the constitutional disqualification of Mr Robert Wood, recently elected to the Senate for the State of New South Wales on the grounds that Mr Wood’s previous protest activity in obstructing shipping, the vessels of a friendly nation, indicated allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power. In this case the High Court held:

…that s 44(i) relates only to a person who has formally or informally acknowledged allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power and who has not withdrawn or revoked that acknowledgment.

19. That is, it might be concluded that a “formally or informally” acknowledged allegiance to a particular foreign power, whatever this might constitute in particular circumstances, would disqualify a candidate if that candidate had not withdrawn or revoked that allegiance.

20. The second category of disqualification under s. 44(i) refers to a specific type of foreign allegiance, where a person is a “subject or citizen” of a foreign power. It applies to persons who have certain rights because of a formal citizenship link with a foreign power, and therefore to any person who holds dual or plural citizenship. In the 1992 case of Sykes v Cleary (1992) 176 CLR 77 the High Court found that candidates are disqualified from election to Parliament if they do not take “all reasonable steps” to renounce their other citizenship before nomination.

21. Taking all reasonable steps necessitates the use of renunciation procedures of the other country where such procedures are available. If the other country refuses renunciation then proof of requesting renunciation is sufficient. Because such procedures were available in relation to the two countries of which candidates Mr Kardamitsis and Mr Delacretaz were citizens (Greece and Switzerland respectively), it was concluded that they had not taken “all reasonable steps” to renounce their foreign citizenship, and were therefore disqualified by s. 44(i) of the Constitution.

22. In the 1999 case of Sue v Hill (1999) 199 CLR 462, the High Court found Ms Hill not duly elected because she held dual citizenship of Australia and the United Kingdom. The Court held that the United Kingdom is classified as a foreign power, within the meaning of s. 44(i) of the Constitution.

23. The third category of disqualification under s. 44(i) refers to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen. It is unclear whether this means entitlement to all the rights and privileges of such a citizen or merely one or some of such rights or privileges.

Information for dual or plural citizens

24. The procedures for renouncing citizenship vary from country to country. Accordingly, intending candidates should contact the relevant government, Embassy or High Commission to determine the current law.

Thank you, Uncle Pete!

One would think that with all those promptings, and their familiarity with bureaucracy, our politicians would have taken the trouble to check their citizenship status thoroughly.

Despite all this, this scribe bets that Mr B would still be critical of the High Court for not using their commonsense.

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