Defining Australian Citizenship: Selected Documents
Melbourne University Press
1 Jan 1999
During our first century as a nation, citizenshipandmdash;for a majority of Australiansandmdash;has meant the enjoyment of progressive political, social, economic and legal rights. Yet many groups in our society have been denied the usual benefits of citizenship, including; the vote; equality before the law; freedom of speech, religion and movement; health care; education and a minimum wage. Unlike that of the United States of America, Australia's constitution provides no definition of the rights and obligations of its citizens. John Chesterman and Brian Galligan have searched Commonwealth and State legislation, parliamentary debates, law reports, official correspondence, United Nations conventions and works of historical scholarship, and provide surprising evidence to show that the concept of citizenship in Australia is an elusive but crucial one. It pervades Australian politics, and has determined the course of individual lives in many different areas, including female suffrage, the White Australia Policy, compulsory voting, Aboriginal rights, equal pay, sex discrimination, wartime internment and Menzies' attempt to ban the Communist Party. In Defining Australian Citizenship they reveal, for the first time, the complexity of Australian legislation as it has tried, over the years, to accommodate changing ideas about exactly what citizenship entails and who is, or is not, eligible for it.