Still Call Australia Home: The Constitution and the Citizen's Right of Abode
Sydney Law Review, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 133-153, 2008
23 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2008
The Australian Constitution contains no express references to Australian citizenship. Despite this, the constitutional validity of Commonwealth citizenship law is not in doubt. Until 2005, citizenship was largely regarded as a statutory matter, and the Commonwealth Parliament was considered free to define citizenship as it wished. Recently, however, a shift has been signalled, with McHugh J's suggestion in Hwang v Commonwealth that citizenship law is shaped and limited by the Constitution itself. The question now arises: what is the constitutional character of Australian citizenship?
In this article, I argue that the constitutional concept of citizenship is defined, specifically, by the right of abode in Australia. This is not a freestanding concept, but is grounded in the constitutional heads of power that the High Court has, from time to time, identified as supporting citizenship laws, namely, the 'aliens' and 'immigration' powers (respectively, ss 51(xix) and (xxvii)). The relationship between citizenship and the right of abode has evolved but, as I seek to demonstrate, it has been recognised in Australian case law since 1908.
Keywords: Citizenship, Citizens¿ rights, Australian Constitution, Alienage
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation