Section 44 (i) of the Australian Constitution adequately reflects modern Australian society even more than it did in 1901. Australia has become a multi-cultural society with individuals representing countries from around the world settling in Australia. Almost half of the current Australian population were either born overseas or have a parent who was born abroad. This leads many individuals to believe that Section 44 (i) should be amended because people (many who would be dual-citizens) would not have the opportunity to become a member of Parliament. However, with a multi-cultural society, it becomes even more critical to have a government and a Constitution which upholds the values of Australia and members of parliament who solely represent Australia.
Furthermore, Section 44 does not prohibit the political contribution of citizens born in another country. Any person even if they were born in another country can run for parliament, be elected and even become prime minister. The only requirement is that they renounce their previous citizenship so that no possible conflict of interest arises. This creates confidence in the public that they know that their politicians have sole loyalty to Australia and the public. In other countries such as the United States, this is not even a possibility. Article 2 of the US Constitution states that “no person except a natural born US citizen shall be eligible to the Office of President”. If the Australian Constitution followed along similar lines, a plausible case could be made for amendment. However, Australia’s Constitution still allows people born in another country to serve in Parliament and therefore should not be updated.
Section 44 of the Australian Constitution adequately reflects Modern Australian society and should not be updated due to the possibility of a conflict of interest occurring. Citizenship comes with rights and responsibilities; one countries responsibilities may conflict with the duties of an Australian parliamentary member and this is a risk to the Australian public. The prime minister and members of the Lower or Upper House of the Australian Parliament must have full focus and full loyalty to Australia. For the people of Australia, they want their members whom they have elected and the prime minister to have full and sole loyalty to Australia. For example, in the Australian statutory system, it is the decision of the members of parliament as to if Australia should declare war on another country. If Australia is debating going to war with South Africa, but an MP has citizenship with South Africa, this will create a severe conflict of interest for the MP, and therefore their decision may not be based entirely on the benefits of Australia. This is a significant problem due to the possible long-lasting effects it can have on the Australian public.
Furthermore, a foreign spy could be elected into parliament if Section 44 is amended and their interests could focus entirely on another country. Although the last example is improbable, the Constitution must be absolute. It cannot provide multiple interpretations or flexibility because this may open opportunities for malevolent behaviours. Moreover, Subsection (v) covers direct and indirect interests that may also give rise to conflict. Politicians must act in the public’s best interest to create a sense of trust and confidence. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest completely undermines this framework and poses a risk to the public. The Australian Constitution must deal with all possible circumstances. Therefore, the point is not whether all dual citizens will have a conflict of interest but rather if some dual citizens may become conflicted. If this section were to be updated, there would have to be full confidence that no conflict of interests would be created. This is not plausible. Therefore, Section 44 of the Australian Constitution should not be updated.