Challenging the Status Quo of Privilege

A very powerful contribution in Eureka Street from Kate Galloway asking a question that seems to be ignored the whole citizenship debacle plaguing the Australian parliament: the real intention of the exclusion of ‘foreigners’ envisaged by the framers of Australia’s Constitution was to target who?

Galloway argues, cogently I believe, that the whole drama that has seen the Australian parliament in turmoil was originally directed towards those who weren’t part of the privileged elite, and now that the privileged elite are finding themselves falling foul of the Constitutional ban on ‘foreigners’ there are calls to amend the Constitution. As Galloway argues:

Beyond section 44 though, and beyond other identifiably racist provisions of the Constitution, the political landscape in Australia at the moment reveals a more profound battle over who has a voice in this country. The positioning of dominant groups at the centre of this struggle, to shore up their own power, is simply brought into sharp relief through the section 44 debate.

In the face of the shock realisation that the dominant members of Australian society might be affected by attempts to exclude ‘foreigners’ from the Parliament, there are immediate calls for constitutional reform. The effect of this reform would be, presumably, to guarantee a voice in Parliament of those with dual nationality. But there are other examples of the deployment of power in favour of the powerful.

Perhaps the whole citizenship disaster should be the catalyst for a much larger conversation…rather than a cause for further entrenching the status quo.

Reform constitution to give a voice to all

The common thread in all of these stories is the need to have a mature conversation about the ways in which we can afford a meaningful voice to our communities. If human rights are the benchmark, then rights must be afforded to all. It is not right that those with the least power must continue to compromise.

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Article by Andrew Doohan

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