Australia Needs to Sustain Immigration to Sustain Economic Growth – Bloomberg

The main fallacy in Daniel Moss’s arguments lies in not making any distinction between growth in GDP and GDP per capita. It is the latter that is a better measure of individual prosperity.

Both the Barton Commission and the Century Initiative make the same mistake in their arguments for large increases in immigration to Canada:

Australia just wrapped up its 26th consecutive year of economic growth. It’s always happy to trumpet that, but one major cause doesn’t get enough respect.

I’m not talking about the ascent of China, the country’s biggest trading partner, which certainly played a part. Nor do I mean Australia’s mineral wealth or the fiscal stimulus unleashed in 2008-2009 to fight the global slump.

The quiet force behind this growth streak is immigration. Or as squeamish politicians sometimes call it, “demographics” and “population growth.” Policy makers should be full-throated about the role immigration has had in sustaining Australia’s near-record run. There is a good story to tell, and the world ought to be listening. Who doesn’t want economic expansion?

Some, it would seem. Australia has its own right-wing nativist rabble. The urban-rural divide familiar to Northern Hemisphere readers is changing the contours of discourse Down Under — though less starkly, in part because compulsory voting maintains the sway of dense population centers and mainstream parties. There’s a risk that immigration becomes more of a whipping boy and the two major political parties, seeking to stem an erosion of support, go cold on population renewal as well.

The irony is that just as Australia cools to its points-based immigration system, that approach is getting buzz outside the country. Potential migrants are ranked according to the nation’s need for their skills. They also must pass health and character tests. There’s an English-language test on the country’s constitution, history and values.

Philip Lowe, governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, reminded an audience last year not to be drunk on international praise for the economic expansion. It hasn’t been 26 years of gangbusters growth for all: There were three periods of rising unemployment during that run, even if gross domestic product didn’t contract. He also worries that average growth in per-capita incomes over the next quarter century will be lower than in the previous quarter century.

Population growth, much of it through immigration, has swelled the national headcount by 50 percent over the past three decades, as noted by my Bloomberg News colleagues Jason Scott and Michael Heath. Lowe told the Crawford Australian Leadership Forum that “strong” population growth “flattered our headline growth figures.” GDP growth per capita certainly looks less awesome; it was almost zero at the end of last year. Other developed economies, take heed!

So what’s the problem? Let’s divide it into two buckets. The first is legitimate concern about strains on the environment. Australia is huge, but large tracts are barely populated. Most people live in a corner hugging the Eastern and Southern shores. So that sliver of the country is increasingly strained in terms of infrastructure. Housing prices are seen as out of reach for many, though that’s not a uniquely Australian phenomenon. You can make this argument and still be broadly supportive of a diverse and globally integrated national fabric.

The second bucket is thorny: a motley few radio shock jocks and single-issue politicians who gamble that trashing immigration will win them votes in outer suburbs or rural areas. Compulsory voting ensures that because everyone has to show up, the most extreme candidates tend to be offset or buried by the more traditional parties. They can still siphon votes, win the odd seat, rattle around and make trouble.

It’s the latter point that is the danger today, both fueled and compounded by the fact that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative coalition has a mere one-seat majority in the parliament’s lower house. The opposition Labor Party smells blood, but its leadership is preoccupied with tactics rather than strategy.

Immigration is an easy, but risky, issue on which to make hay. Without immigration, Australia’s economic story would not have been such a happy one. For the sake of extending that 26-year run, politicians should resist the nativist temptation.

via Australia Needs to Sustain Immigration to Sustain Economic Growth – Bloomberg


2,891 Murdoch Media Stories Trashing Islam In A Single Year, Study Reveals – New Matilda

Would be nice to have a comparable Canadian study, contrasting Postmedia (both their high brow and low brow brands), the Globe and the Star:

Loyal readers of New Matilda should remember One Path Network, a Muslim video production studio and media company in Sydney. They produced the first devastating report exposing Channel Seven’s favourite purported Muslim leader and sheikh, Mohammed Tawhidi.

Their calm and factual retort to Tawhidi’s lurid claims about Muslim conspiracies in Australia left his credibility in shreds.

The OPN team has come up with a new report on Islamophobia in Australian media. Disappointingly, I don’t think it has received any media coverage. Thus, New Matilda is proud to bring you a brief summary of its findings, and a few accompanying comments.

A quick summary of the report, complete with flashy graphs and images, and an accompanying short video, can be seen at this link. There’s also a longer PDF version, which can be downloaded at the site, and runs to 44 pages, though about 20 pages are devoted to front pages about Muslims. More on that shortly.

The report investigates how five newspapers covered Islam in 2017. Their primary metrics were a numerical count of certain types of stories, number of front pages, a few case studies, and a brief look at a handful of columnists reporting on Islam.

The newspapers were all Murdoch’s: the Australian, Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, Courier Mail, and Adelaide Advertiser.

Articles were regarded as “negative articles written about Islam”, if they “referred to Islam or Muslims alongside words like violence, extremism, terrorism or radical”. It should be noted – this is a pretty expansive definition. A story that accurately reported a noteworthy incident of Muslim violence, without being inflammatory or misrepresenting material facts, and which had the respectful cooperation of Muslims, would still be caught up under this definition.

Indeed, the definition could go further. A report that noted Muslim women in a non-government organisation helping victims of domestic violence might also be caught up under this definition. It should also be noted – there is an implicit slippage, in the sense that a negative story about Muslims isn’t necessarily a story about Islam. Thus, I would argue that the definition may be overbroad.

With that proviso, it’s not much of a secret that the Murdoch press constantly attacks Islam and Muslims. So, given this definition, how frequent were stories featuring Muslims or Islam in a negative sense?

There were 2,891 of them. That’s almost 3,000 negative stories relating to Islam in one year. Which is an incredible amount. That’s almost eight stories a day, every day, for the whole year, somehow relating Muslims to terrorism or violence or whatever.

It’s a shame that the study didn’t investigate other media more fully. It would be interesting to know how they compare. The website guide to the report features an interesting comparison of Fairfax and Murdoch articles about Islam (in the sense explained above). Interestingly, though Fairfax has considerably less coverage of Muslims than the Murdoch press, it’s still pretty substantial, at over 100 every month. That is, over three negative stories every day at the less Islam-obsessed Fairfax. And even this gives an unfair disproportionate advantage to Fairfax – it is not clear which Fairfax publications were taken into consideration in this count.

The next metric is front pages. Here, the numbers are pretty stark. 152 front pages relating to Islam or Muslims in a negative way. The graph gives an idea of how regular that is, though it seems likely on some days multiple papers had Islam related stories on the front page.

The front pages blur out the non-Islam related stuff, and make the content of interest in focus. This is an idea of what those front pages looked like:

Again, a weakness in this study is the overly broad definition. One interesting case is a Daily Telegraph story headlined “A KICK IN THE ASSAD”, about the Trump administration bombing Syria. To my mind, that story doesn’t relate to Islam in any serious sense. Yet funnily enough, the bottom of the page says: “NSW TERROR: ISIS LINK TO SERVO STABBING MURDER”. The Tele was determined to claim its space in this report.

The report turns to case studies, what is calls “ridiculous highlights” from the year. The first example is the coverage of terrorism. They observe that “a casual observer would not be faulted for thinking that Australia was actively engaged in daily combat on its streets. In fact, it would hardly be surprising if that was the perception in the offices of the Daily Telegraph and The Australian.”

The section on Yassmin Abdel-Magied reaches a staggering count of over 200 articles about her. This obsession is utterly deranged. I fear that this year too, we’ll continue to see Murdoch hacks trolling her social media to find new anodyne liberal tweets to feign outrage over.

Possibly the most revealing part of the study relates to opinion writers at the Murdoch press. We all know their positions. Yet it is striking to see their obsession with Islam quantified. All of them write about Islam a lot. Miranda Devine, one of the least devoted Islam bashers, made 16 per cent of her 185 op eds about Islam. Janet Albrechtsen weighed in at 27 per cent, a bit less than Greg Sheridan at 29 per cent. Andrew Bolt and Rita Panahi came in at 38 per cent and 37 per cent – particularly impressive for Bolt, who produced 473 opinion pieces in the year (I suspect this counts blog items). Jennifer Oriel wrote 48 op eds, and over half were about Islam.

What is striking about this to me is that this is like a kind of one-sided cultural war. When the Australian decided to promote Keith Windschuttle, progressive academics rallied to defend historical truth. When they trash climate change science, other media covers the actual record of what’s happening to the world. When the Murdoch press run anti-feminist claptrap, there are plenty of feminists at Fairfax and the Guardian to strike back.

But there is no serious mainstream contestation of this constant drumbeat of anti-Muslim and anti-Islam stories and op eds. These are hundreds of op eds demonising Islam, without any real response. There are apparently no Muslims working at (say) ABC or Fairfax to give a different take on these issues, or complain about what the Murdoch press is doing.

The report concludes with some brief analysis and statistics, which are kind of incredible when paired. One is the finding from an Australian National University study that 71 per cent of Australians were concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism. A reasonable finding, one might think, given the nature of media coverage of Muslims (I really wish One Path would do a follow-up study on other media outlets).

(IMAGE: André-Pierre du Plessis, Flickr)

Yet Griffith University researchers found the second statistic: 70 per cent of Australians think they know “little to nothing” about Islam and Muslims. Which raises an obvious question about what public opinion might be like if the media in Australia did its job differently.

My major reservation about the study is the broad definition of negative stories about Islam. If we simply regard these as stories about Islam or Muslims connected to violence, terrorism, and extremism, then the findings remain shocking. This is a constant, endless deluge of stories about Islam and Muslims. The vast majority receive no counter-argument or response, whether in the Murdoch press or elsewhere.

There are no ensconced media platforms for Muslims to write about Islamophobia in Australia with the kind of relentlessness of a Bolt or Oriel. The study shows a vast media empire endlessly picking on a small Australian minority before a huge audience, without offering the victims any way of defending their names and religion before that audience.

And the study that documented this is being ignored.

ICYMI: Australia – Dutton pushes on with citizenship changes

More Australia news:

Peter Dutton will try again to pass a controversial suite of citizenship changes shot down in the Senate last year.

The Home Affairs Minister wants to extend the waiting time for permanent residents to apply for citizenship, create tougher English language tests and give himself additional powers.

“I can assure you that the government remains committed to this reform,” Mr Dutton told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

“We will work with the crossbench on the basis of a new package of measures flagged at the end of last year.”

Mr Dutton has signalled he is willing to cede some ground in negotiations with the crossbench.

However, he would prefer to secure bipartisan support rather than dealing with an unpredictable assortment of independents, urging the Labor Party to shift its position.

“If they don’t, I’m confident that (Citizenship Minister) Alan Tudge can deal with the independent senators and negotiate an outcome to the package.”

The government initially wanted to lift English requirements from “basic” to “competent”, which would require aspiring citizens to understand fairly complex language and have an effective grasp of English.

It has since agreed to accept a “modest” level, meaning would-be Australians must be able to handle basic communication and have a partial command of the language, while making many mistakes.

The government also wanted to impose its crackdown retrospectively, capturing everyone who applied for citizenship since its policy was announced on April 20, 2016.

It is now willing to hold fire on the changes until July 1 this year.

The Nick Xenophon Team, whose bloc of votes was critical last year, were not immediately won over by the watered-down changes, but their power has since been diminished by the fall-out from the dual citizenship saga.

via Dutton pushes on with citizenship changes

Tony Abbott repeats claim immigration cut will improve quality of life | Australia news | The Guardian

One could have a similar debate here without being xenophobic (“stagnant wages, unaffordable housing and clogged infrastructure”):

Tony Abbott has seized on Peter Dutton’s claim that Australia needs to cut its migration intake and signalled he will renew his push to do so by linking migrant numbers to quality of living issues.

On Monday the former prime minister said he would make the case for cutting migration to improve “stagnant wages, unaffordable housing and clogged infrastructure” in a speech in Sydney on Tuesday.

The speech coincides with Malcolm Turnbull’s trip to the US to meet Donald Trump and picks up on themes from Abbott’s “conservative manifesto” launched in 2017, viewed as a critique of Turnbull government policies.

Abbott told 2GB Radio that the “gossip” regarding Barnaby Joyce and politicians’ private lives was a “very serious distraction” to issues including power prices, wages, housing prices and traffic congestion that the government “should be attending to”.

Asked about Jim Molan’s first Senate speech in which the conservative Liberal called for a reassessment of migration levels, Abbott said the program must be run “in Australia’s national interest”.

“Just at the moment we’ve got stagnant wages, unaffordable housing, clogged infrastructure and there is no doubt the rate of immigration impacts on all of these things.”

Abbott said that immigration had averaged 110,000 a year for most of the life of the Howard government and since 2006 “it’s been running at double that rate”.

“That means every five years we are adding – by immigration alone – a city the size of Adelaide to our population.”

Abbott said the level of immigration was “very, very high”, “absolutely unprecedented by historical standards” and “on a per capita basis, vastly higher than any other developed country”.

According to the parliamentary library, an average of 107,000 permanent migrants and people on humanitarian visas entered Australia a year between 1996 and 2006 compared with 190,000 a year from 2006 to 2016.

However, the average in the Howard government was weighed down by low results in the early years. By 2006-07, 161,217 people came to Australia on permanent or humanitarian visas, almost as high as during the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments and Abbott and Turnbull Coalition governments, when it ranged up to 200,000.

The net overseas migration figures were 114,000 a year between 1996 and 2006, and 220,000 a year from 2007 to 2015.

However, from 2006 onwards, estimates for net overseas migration included people who stayed in Australia for 12 months or more, who were added to the population. This means the figures after 2006 are boosted by temporary migrants who later become permanent residents or citizens.

In his book Choosing Openness, Labor’s shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh noted that, according to an OECD survey of academic studies, migrants had minimal impact on housing prices.

Of the OECD’s 28 studies on immigration and wages, 13 reported no effect, seven a small positive effect, and eight a small negative effect, he said.

Abbott qualified his remarks by saying he was “all in favour of immigration but it has to be the right immigration, under the right circumstances, that’s right for our country, including the recent migrants”.

“I think the current rate of immigration does need to be looked at again – that’s what Peter Dutton seemed to be suggesting on Ray’s program last week.”

On Thursday Dutton said Australia must reduce its intake of migrants “where we believe it’s in our national interest”.

Dutton said it was a “perfectly legitimate argument” that Australia’s cities were “overcrowded” including “gridlocked traffic in the mornings”.

“We have to reduce the numbers where we believe it’s in our national interest,” he said. “It’s come back considerably and if we have to bring it back further, if that’s what required and that’s what’s in our country’s best interests … that is what we will do.”

After the Turnbull government recorded its 27th consecutive Newspoll loss on Monday, Abbott said it was “very dangerous and counterproductive” to get rid of a leader “on the basis of a poll, or the basis of 29 polls”.

“It was the prime minister who made the polls this kind of a test, and really it’s the prime minister who has elevated polling into the be-all and end-all,” he said.

via Tony Abbott repeats claim immigration cut will improve quality of life | Australia news | The Guardian

How the Australian Constitution, and its custodians, ended up so wrong on dual citizenship

For those interested, a good analysis of how Australia ended up in this mess regarding dual citizenship and political qualifications by Hal Colebatch of University of New South Wales:

The final session of the constitutional convention was held in Melbourne early in 1898. There was no further discussion of what became the now-infamous section 44, and a drafting committee took over to prepare a final draft.

Edmund Barton – soon to become Australia’s first prime minister – was the chair and dominant figure. He insisted on working till 4 or 5am, even though the other two members of the committee had gone to bed and only Robert Garran, the secretary, was left to maintain the illusion of a committee.

After four days of drafting, Barton presented the convention, on its second-last day, with 400 amendments. He proposed a three-hour break for the delegates to study them, after which they could be put to the vote en bloc.

Barton assured the convention that there was only one amendment of substance – to section 44(ii). What he did not say was that section 44(i) had been completely rewritten, changing it from an active voice (“done any act whereby”) to a passive voice (“is a subject or citizen … or is entitled to”).

No attention was drawn to this change, there was no explanation of it, and there was no time for debate on any clause unless someone objected to it. The constitutional text that proved so significant more than a century later was a last-minute change, drafted in private and accepted out of weariness.

In his history of the convention, J.A. La Nauze points out that, by this stage, the delegates “had had enough”, but muses:

it may one day interest a curious lawyer to inquire whether judicial review has lingered with significant consequences on new words approved on trust and intended … merely ‘to put the wishes of the convention in more complete and concise form’.

As it turned out, it interested more than the curious lawyer, and created a problem which has yet to be adequately managed.

Appealing to the umpire?

The constitution was rather unclear about how these provisions would be enforced. It said both that questions about qualification could be settled by each house, but also that “any person” who believed that an elected representative was disqualified by section 44 could sue them in “any court of competent jurisdiction”.

In any case, there was little call for either until the High Court decided in 1999 that the UK was a foreign power.

Even then it refused to hear a case calling for Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard to produce evidence they had renounced their UK citizenship, on the basis that they had declared that they were qualified, and so the court should presume that they were. To do otherwise would be a vexation and an abuse of the court’s time.

But when the court did deign to interest itself in the matter, it took the traditional High Court view that it was not interested in the problem, or what the writers of the constitution were trying to do, but only with the possible meaning that a black-letter lawyer could squeeze from these words, irrespective of its impact on the governing of Australia.

Where does this leave us?

The situation now is that the qualifications for candidature for the Australian parliament are set by the parliament, but the disqualifications are largely set by foreign governments via the High Court. This diminishes the ability of electorates to choose the representative they want (though, when given the chance, electorates show what they think of the High Court’s action by returning the ousted members in the ensuing byelection).

And the High Court’s escapade in the china shop is not yet over, for it has yet to rule on the disqualification of those who are “entitled to” foreign citizenship, even if they have not applied for it. If the court applied the same logic that it has used in the cases already decided, this would disqualify not only any Jew, but also anyone with a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse, all of whom are entitled to Israeli citizenship under the Israeli Law of Return.

The best course would be to start with recognising the problem, rather than searching for a preferred solution. In contemporary Australia, identities are often complex, and citizenship entitlements may be multiple and overlapping. How these are to be recognised in the qualifications for candidature demands a period of public discussion culminating in political action.

The only way we could get this is to take the matter out of the hands of the High Court and foreign governments and return the task of defining qualifications and disqualifications for candidature to parliament. This could be done by adding to section 44 the phrase “until the parliament otherwise provides”, which is used in section 30 on qualifications, and at a number of other points in the constitution.

This would be a logical and constitutional response to the political problem that has landed on us. If the five main parties in the parliament (all of which have had their parliamentary representation threatened by the High Court’s actions) supported a referendum to achieve this change, it would probably be carried.

The voters, too, as they showed in New England and Bennelong, have had enough. They want the political leaders to lead.

via How the Australian Constitution, and its custodians, ended up so wrong on dual citizenship

Australia: Road to citizenship gets longer for ‘demonised’ applicants

Australia generally has had a better track record than Canada in processing times with short processing times and limited backlogs:

An 18-month investigation by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, released in December, found the number of people subject to heightened identity checks and waiting more than two years on the outcome of a “citizenship by conferral” application – such as former refugees – had skyrocketed 450 per cent.

This increase – a jump from 338 cases requiring enhanced screening in November 2016 to almost 2000 by the middle of last year – was despite an overall drop in the number of complex applications awaiting a decision, the ombudsman found.

As of early January, there were 167,820 outstanding conferral applications, 5680 of which were more than two years old.

The ombudsman’s investigation focused on those subject to “enhanced screening and integrity checks” due to background factors such as country of origin, an “irregular” arrival or due to any changes made to personal information.

The oldest of these case had been “on hand” for more than four years, according to the report. This compared to the department’s “service standard” for processing most cases of just 80 days.

“In early 2016, the Commonwealth Ombudsman started to experience an increase in complaints from people awaiting decisions on their citizenship applications for more than a year, and sometimes over two years,” the December report said.

“In the past year and a half, we have received approximately 300 complaints about delays by the department.”

‘Enhanced’ identity checks

Applicants from Afghanistan topped the list of those facing delays, the ombudsman found, noting those hailing from the war-torn nation had been singled out by the department as a particular caseload with “integrity issues”.

A finding from the ‘Delays in processing of applications for Australian Citizenship by conferral’ 2017 report.
Commonwealth Ombudsman

“Although the department has made progress in reducing the overall backlog of applications, its assessment of more complex cases is still an area for improvement,” the report said.

But critics say the delay is part of a deliberate policy shift that “demonised” those from refugee backgrounds and exacerbated problems caused by inadequate staffing.

“It doesn’t make sense that the department is satisfied with someone’s identity to grant them a permanent visa so they can stay in Australia for their whole life, yet when it comes to citizenship they have no idea about their identity,” the Refugee Council of Australia’s Asher Hirsch said.

Refugee community ‘demonised’

Mr Hirsch said beyond denying many refugees a sense of belonging and security, the citizenship delay effectively halted bids by some to see their loved ones. According to a 2014 ministerial directive, boat arrivals are given the lowest processing priority for family reunification visas.

The ombudsman recommended the department work on improvements to its processes to help it meet the “various challenges” of its caseload.

A 2016 Federal Court case brought by two Afghan men that found it should have reasonably taken between six and seven months to process their cases was “important guidance” for the department, the report said.

The department denied there was a backlog or delay in processing citizenship applications, and noted that Australia has “non-discriminatory migration and citizenship programs”.

“Applicants for Australian Citizenship must meet the legislative criteria, regardless of how and when they arrive in Australia,” the department said in a statement.

“The department has a duty to thoroughly assess the genuine nature of all citizenship applications.”

The report acknowledged the department’s concerns:

“In recent years, the increased awareness of identity fraud and the increased focus on ensuring the applicant is who they say they are before they are granted citizenship, has most likely caused decision-makers to take more time with high-risk applications,” it said.

“The department is acutely conscious of the fact that after a person has been approved for citizenship, it is difficult to cancel it later if it is determined the person has lied about their identity.”

via Road to citizenship gets longer for ‘demonised’ applicants

ICYMI: Racist reporting still rife in Australian media

Haven’t seen the equivalent study of Canadian media but may have missed it (readers to advise):

Half of all race-related opinion pieces in the Australian mainstream media are likely to contravene industry codes of conduct on racism.

In research released this week, the Who Watches the Media report found that of 124 race-related opinion pieces published between January and July this year, 62 were potentially in breach of one or more industry codes of conduct, because of racist content.

Despite multiple industry codes of conduct stipulating fair race-related reporting, racist reporting is a weekly phenomenon in Australia’s mainstream media.

We define racism as unjust covert or overt behaviour towards a person or a group on the basis of their racial background. This might be perpetrated by a person, a group, an organisation, or a system.

The research, conducted by not-for-profit group All Together Now and the University of Technology Sydney, focused on opinion-based pieces in the eight Australian newspapers and current affairs programs with the largest audiences, as determined by ratings agencies.

We found that negative race-related reports were most commonly published in News Corp publications. The Daily Telegraph, The Australian and Herald Sun were responsible for the most negative pieces in the press. A Current Affair was the most negative among the broadcast media.

Chart 1: Number of race-related stories by outlet and type of reporting

Muslims were mentioned in more than half of the opinion pieces, and more than twice as many times as any other single group mentioned (see chart 2).

Muslims were portrayed more negatively than the other minority groups (see chart 3), with 63% of reports about Muslims framed negatively. These pieces often conflated Muslims with terrorism. For example, reports used terrorist attacks in the UK to question accepting Muslim refugees and immigrants to Australia.

This was a recurring theme in race-based opinion pieces over the study period. In contrast, there were more positive than negative stories about Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.

Negative commentary about minority groups has lasting impacts in the community. An op-ed in the New York Times recently highlighted the impact that racism in the media has on individuals. It explained:

…racism doesn’t have to be experienced in person to affect our health — taking it in the form of news coverage is likely to have similar effects.
The noted effects include elevated blood pressure, long after television scenes are over. Racism is literally making us sick.

Note also that given the lack of cultural diversity among opinion-makers, particularly on television, social commentators are largely talking about groups to which they do not belong. According to the 2016-20 PwC Media Outlook report, the average media employee is 27, Caucasian and male, which does not reflect the current population diversity of Australia.

This creates a strong argument for increasing the cultural diversity of all media agencies to help minimise the number of individuals or groups being negatively depicted in race-related reports.

via Racist reporting still rife in Australian media

Australia’s citizenship saga resurfaces ‘legacy of pain’ for Indigenous MPs | The Guardian

Interesting wrinkle to Australia’s s 44 dual citizenship prohibition for parliamentarians (some Indigenous Canadians have likely also had citizenship issues given lack of documentation):

Requiring Indigenous politicians to prove their Australian citizenship has been an upsetting and anger-inducing process that resurfaced a colonial “legacy of hurt and pain”, two federal parliamentarians have said.

Some were unable to say when or where their family members were born because the Australian government never registered the births or recognised them as citizens.

Linda Burney, a Wiradjuri woman, was not considered an Australian citizen until she was 10 years old, and in her maiden speech described her experiences of “racism and exclusion”.

Being forced to justify her place in Australia again, as the federal parliament sought clarity on everyone’s citizenship status, was “gut-wrenching”, Burney told Guardian Australia.

In an attempt to end the continuing parliamentary chaos over breaches of section 44 of the constitution, all parliamentarians have been required to lodge declarations and evidence of their citizenship. The forms request the date and place of birth for parliamentarians, their parents and their grandparents, as well as any evidence required to show any citizenships to other nations were renounced.

“I have been made to feel quite angry about what I had to go through to find out about my father and his parents,” said Burney. “The only way that we could find out anything was to go to what was left of the old Aboriginal Protection Board records, and there was a document written by my grandfather to the mission manager on Brungle reserve, requesting permission to build a home.

“To go and have to do that, to go to the old Protection Board records, to realise the best they could do was a letter requesting permission to build a roof over their heads, it really stirred up a lot of deep emotions. Some of that was just disgust and an understanding of the way our people were treated.”

Burney said she understood there had to be a “circuit breaker” in the citizenship crisis and she hoped this process would achieve it. “Somehow or other this issue needs to be dealt with, intelligently and sensitivity, because I suspect there are people – not just Aboriginal people – who are going to find out some very difficult family histories.”

The NT Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy told Guardian Australia there were “moments of outrage” as she sat in her office trying to complete the questionnaire. “Because just a simple act of filling out this document reminded me of how far our country still has to go in recognising First Nations people in our country, and the legacy of previous policies and the impact they still have today,” she said.

“It brings up a lot of hurt, the legacy of hurt and pain, because we reflect on very real circumstances on the past that impact on the present.”

McCarthy was raised on Yanyuwa country, near Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria, to an Indigenous mother and a father of Irish descent. She is a traditional owner of Yanyuwa land and uniquely has declared as much on the parliamentary registry.

“The difficulty for my maternal side of the family is that we don’t know the dates of when my grandparents were born on Yanyuwa country and Garawa country, or even the dates of my mother’s birth, although we’ve always guessed it was around 1950,” she said. “My maternal grandmother we guessed around 1930.

“I don’t know [details for] my maternal grandfather and that’s largely because statistics and birth certificates were just not part of the way of Australia and the policies of the time didn’t include us.”

McCarthy said she had no concerns about an unknown second citizenship in her background, but added the Labor party’s vetting was strict.

Other parties appeared to be more lax. Among those to have been found ineligible is Jacqui Lambie. The former Tasmanian senator is Indigenous, but her father’s Scottish heritage bestowed upon her dual citizenship, overriding her place as a First Nations Australian.

Western Australian senator and Yawuru man Pat Dodson declined to be interviewed but in a speech to farewell Lambie he decried the system which “put to one side” her Indigenous heritage. “It’s an absolute tragedy that our constitution was written by all these white folks that never bothered to consider and incorporate the First Peoples in it,” he told the Senate.

McCarthy said: “This is what the non-Indigenous men of the day, when they wrote this constitution, this is what they determined for this country.

“The question is do we want to change that?”

To change it would require a referendum. Referendums are difficult to win – something Malcolm Turnbull recently cited to justify his total rejection of an Indigenous voice to parliament.

McCarthy said constitutional recognition of First Nations people must come before any changes to section 44. “If there is a genuine approach to [the concerns of First Nations people], and if First Nations people can see and will believe that, then any steps towards changing the constitution would probably follow suit,” she said.

via Australia’s citizenship saga resurfaces ‘legacy of pain’ for Indigenous MPs | Australia news | The Guardian

Australia: Minister tells principals to throw One Nation senator’s anti-Islam letters in the bin – The Guardian

While I generally favour more respectful dialogue, in some cases a more direct response is appropriate:

The New South Wales education minister, Rob Stokes, has urged school principals to throw anti-Islamic letters from One Nation in the nearest recycling bin, saying “perhaps then some good may still come from it”.

Stokes is the latest to denounce One Nation senator Brian Burston for letters he sent to NSW schools last week, warning principals their children risked becoming “terror-endorsing Islamists” whose religion required the killing of westerners.

The letters, obtained by Guardian Australia, drew immediate condemnation for their wild inaccuracies, divisiveness and tendency to incite hatred against Muslims.

Stokes condemned Burston’s letter as “hate mail”. He said it ran contrary to two hallmarks of western liberal civilisation Burston purported to protect: tolerance and inclusion.

“I strongly suggest to principals that they place all correspondence from the One Nation senator in the nearest recycling bin when it arrives,” Stokes said. “Perhaps then, some good may still come from it.”

Burston’s letter claims Islam is incompatible with the Australian way of life, and attaches a brochure titled Islam Exposed.

The security and intelligence expert John Blaxland warned the letter would simply serve to fuel the messages of Islamic State and help the terror group’s recruitment efforts.

The letter came to the attention of the NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi last week. She has now written to the Australian Human Rights Commission requesting an investigation.

“The letter is divisive and offensive and has no place in our communities and schools,” Faruqi wrote.

“I am referring this letter to you and would be grateful for your advice as to whether or not the letter breaches any federal human rights laws.”

The letter used the Senate letterhead. No reference to One Nation was made.

Stokes said the letter was a waste of taxpayer funds, and would not help to deradicalise students.

“The best way to suppress the potential for extremism is not to divide us, but to promote the Australian values we all share,” he said.

“By celebrating our history and the culture of our country, we want to focus our young minds on values such as upholding democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, equality and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”

via Minister tells principals to throw One Nation senator’s anti-Islam letters in the bin | Australia news | The Guardian

Australia: Citizenship drama threatens to widen as spotlight falls on MP’s marriages

The silliness of Article 44 becomes more and more apparent. Only medium-term solution is constitutional change:

Parliament’s dual citizenship drama threatens to widen further after the Turnbull government made it clear its disclosure regime will include marriage.

The original version of the disclosure regime – agreed to by the government and opposition earlier this month – focused on citizenship by birth and descent. It would have required MPs to disclose details relating to their birthplace, parents and grandparents, but not necessarily spouses.

The government and Labor Party have reached consensus over the citizenship issue to hopefully put the crisis to rest but both sides are claiming credit for making it happen.
But the government has now confirmed MPs will be required to disclose relevant details relating to marriage.

Dozens of nations grant citizenship by marriage – or have done so in the recent past – and in a number of them the conferral is automatic.

Is the Parliament in chaos? Here’s how the government’s numbers look
Chief government whip Nola Marino may be a dual citizen by marriage
Questions have been raised about at least one Coalition MP, chief government whip Nola Marino, who was considered at risk of disqualification from Parliament due to citizenship by marriage.

She married her Italian-born husband, Carmelo Marino, in Western Australia in 1972. Official Italian government advice clearly states: “Foreign women who married an Italian citizen prior to 27 April 1983 automatically acquired Italian citizenship on the date of marriage.”

But Ms Marino has now moved to clarify her status, saying her husband lost his Italian citizenship when he naturalised before they were married

The government has also sought to raise doubts about Labor senator Kim Carr, with The West Australian reporting at the weekend he may have inadvertently obtained Israeli citizenship with his marriage to Carole Fabian.

Citizenship was automatically granted to spouses under the Law of Return before 1999. But Senator Carr has denied he has dual citizenship.

Senators have until this Friday to submit their details to parliamentary authorities, with the disclosures to be published on Monday. Lower house MPs will have until Tuesday night to submit their papers.

It is widely believed the disclosures will lead to further referrals to the High Court, potentially creating more Senate vacancies and sparking further lower house byelections.

Nine MPs have already been forced from Parliament as a result of the fiasco, with two government MPs – Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander – now defending their seats in byelections. Section 44 of the constitution forbids dual citizens serving in the Australian

via Citizenship drama threatens to widen as spotlight falls on MP’s marriages