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Bangles and beads

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Philip Ruddock MP 85L

Federal Member for Dundas Shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs

Tel: (02) 858 1011 Fax: (02) 804 6739

Electorate Parliament House

Tel: (06) 277 4343 Fax: (06) 277 2062


Prime Minister Keating has resorted to offering the Australian people bangles and beads in an effort to distract them from the enormity o f the econom ic crisis he has forced upon this country.

In the midst o f the worst recession in sixty years, an impending blow-out o f the budget deficit, failing consumer confidence, depressed sales, record bankruptcies and plummeting profits, the Prime Minister continues to offer trinkets, not real solutions to real and

mounting problems.

The trinket he is trying to pass off now is the issue o f citizenship and the oath of allegiance. In doing so he has clearly shown himself to be ignorant o f the fundamental issues.

If the Prime Minister is serious about the issue o f Australian citizenship, he should not be tinkering with the oath o f allegiance or affirmation, he should be undertaking a fundamental review o f the Citizenship Act.

The Coalition has made it clear that w e have undertaken such a review. W e have been critical o f the present A ct which does not contain any statement about the rights and obligations o f Australian citizenship, it does not define what it is to be an Australian. It is a largely mechanical document which explains how you get citizenship, how you lose it and how you can get it back again.

W e have suggested that a statement such as that contained in the National Agenda for a Multicultural Australia, be inserted in the Citizenship Act in the following terms.

All Australians should have an overriding and unifying commitment to Australia, to its interests and future first and foremost;

All Australians must accept the basic structures and principles of Australian society - the Constitution and the rule o f law, tolerance and equality, parliamentary democracy, freedom o f speech and religion, English as the national language and equality o f the sexes; and

All Australians accept that citizenship imposes obligations as well as conferring rights: the right to express one's own culture and beliefs involves a reciprocal responsibility to accept the right o f others to express their views and values.


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- All Australians, within carefully defined limits, have the right to express and share their individual cultural heritage, including their language and religion;

- All Australians have the right to equality of treatment and opportunity, and the removal o f barriers o f race, ethnicity, culture, religion, language, gender or place o f birth; and

- All Australians should have the opportunity to maintain, develop and utilise effectively the skills and talents o f all Australians regardless of background. ยท

It must be remembered that it was this Labor Government that removed any requirement to renounce all other allegiances, thus eliminating the requirement for a commitment to Australia first and foremost.

This simply begs the question: What weight does the Prime Minister really put on the concept o f being Australian?

The oath o f allegiance or affirmation is taken to the head o f state. Australians are asked to swear allegiance to the Queen, as Q ueen of Australia. While Australia remains a Constitutional Monarchy, it is appropriate that any oath or affirmation should continue in its present form.

In his inchoate and dilatory pronouncements on this issue, the Prime Minister is clearly trying to catch up to the real debate on citizenship initiated by the Coalition som e time ago.

If he really is serious about Australia he will stop offering beads and bangles and get down to the fundamental issues. Whether it be citizenship or the economy.

H e could do no better than look to the Coalition for ideas, inspiration and solutions.

29 June 1992

Contact Philip Ruddock pager (02) 925 3911 #25589