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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 22 No 2 (2005) Nationality, Refugee Status and State Protection

The Lottery of Citizenship: The Changing Significance of Birthplace, Territory and Residence to the Australian Membership Prize

Kim Rubenstein, BA LLB (Hons) (Melb), LLM (Harv), is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne where she teaches Constitutional and Administrative law, Migration law and Advanced Administrative law. Her research concentrates on citizenship law. She edited Individual, Community,Nation: 50 years of Australian Citizenship (Australian Scholarly Publishing,2000) and is the author of Australian Citizenship Law in Context (LawbookCompany, 2002).

This article examines the legal foundation to membership of the community, commonly discussed as citizenship. Using two examples (1) people born in the Australian territory of Papua before Papua New Guinea Independence in 1975 with one Australian citizen parent, and (2) British subjects resident in Australia for most of their lives it argues the law, in a lottery-like fashion, currently operates to exclude from membership those who rightly identify as Australians. This diminishes normative conceptions of citizenship as a progressive, egalitarian concept, which in other contexts governments seek to promote.

(2005) Volume 22 No 2 Law in Context 45

   
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