Thursday, October 07, 2004

Aliens and Citizens

How alien does one have to be before they will be deported? Not very, it seems. In Singh v Cth, it was held recently that Tania Singh, 5, is an alien for the purposes of the Citizenship Act (Cth) and is now set for deportation back to her (parents') native India. Fair enough, some would say, as she does not qualify as a citizen under the provisions of the Act. The question we need to ask is, to what extent should Parliament be able to take a term like 'alien' and define its meaning?

For a small girl, born in Australia, attending State schools, to be held an alien is one step too far. The High Court has given Parliament the authority under this decision to determine the limits of its own power under the Constitution. Currently, the Act defines children who have lived in the country for ten years to qualify as citizens. Admittedly, Amanda Vanstone is not about to propose a law which holds all people, say, born outside Australia as aliens. But, under this decision, what is stopping the Parliament defining 'citizen' in an ever more arbitrary fashion, excluding even more defenceless individuals from gaining citizenship in Australia. Nothing. Nothing at all...

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