what is citizenship worth?

TukaiTukai Shipmate
This thread is prompted by the announcement by the Australian government that it is banning anyone from travelling to Australia from India, with substantial penalties for those who manage to do so anyway. This has been done under quarantine laws, supposedly to protect Australia from an influx of cases from that COVID-plagued country.

The catch is that the ban includes 9000 Australian citizens, who are currently stuck in India, of which there at least 9000. Although there is a UN convention, which Australia has signed, that explicitly gives citizens of a country the untrammeled right to freely enter or leave the country of their citizenship. Most citizens of any country, including Australians, have blithely assumed this to be the case, but unfortunately this Convention has not been carried across into Australian domestic law, and thus has effectively no legal standing in Australia.

So the question: is what is your citizenship worth, especially if you are a migrant from another country, who has been duly naturalised?

To a cost-accountant, a partial answer may lie in the practice of many countries to admit rich "businessmen" from overseas on a special [high-priced] visa that gives them a guaranteed path to permanent resident status (and beyond that to citizenship) provided they bring enough money with them and have the intention of establishing a local business which employs a certain number of people. These have often been bought by rich people anxious to have an escape route from Hong Kong or those with riches of dubious provenance from places such as Russia.



Comments

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I don't know that in present circumstances, it is unfortunate. Strict quarantine measures have meant that covid has not taken off here as it has in so many other countries.

    What is not clear is when those seeking to return from India went on their journey. Perhaps someone went there to attend a particular university and did so well before the crisis started. I have sympathy for them, now barred from return. Probably wrongly, I do not feel the same about those who left more recently for a short visit. OK, some went for the funeral of a parent, or some similar occasion. I'd not say that that was sufficient.

    Geoffrey Robertson says that the action by the government is contrary to international law. He may well be right in one sense, but the absence of Parliamentary adoption of the treaty Robertson relies on gives me doubts. The SMH's front page seems to be pressing for open borders without asking why the limits are in place.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    Taking the Government at face value, this is a temporary restriction on returning to Australia in order to better prepare our hotel quarantine system to deal with what is expected to be a higher proportion of people with Covid returning to the country. Talk of human rights is misplaced.

    Comparisons between our response when the US was going off and our response to the situation in India now are worth making though. From what I've gleaned the decision to criminalise people returning from India before 15 May is stinking like an insurrectionist turd in the Capitol. Politicians and bureaucrats are looking for someone to blame, anyone other than them.
  • TukaiTukai Shipmate
    I agree with Gee D and Simon Toad that Australia is well known for having strict quarantine measures in general . (e.g. don't try bringing some of Nonna's homemade salami or your pet dog back from Italy!). For almost the entire period of the pandemic, all travellers entering Australia (including returning citizens) have been subject to a 2-week quarantine before being allowed into the community. This has been widely accepted by the Australian community as a vital and well-warranted anti-COVID measure. Since the few covid outbreaks that have occurred have all been traceable to breaches of the quarantine, including some due to facilities used being not fit for that purpose, a short pause to allow upgrade of quarantine facilities would probably be accepted likewise.

    But what stinks about this new regulation are:
    > The severe criminal penalties that have been attached to it;
    > That it has been applied to India, which is undoubtedly a covid hotspot, but that no similar regulations were made for travellers from USA or UK when they were hotspots. Many see this as racist.
    > Although quarantine is clearly a federal reponsibility under the Constitution, the federal government has in practice delegated most of its responsibilities for covid quarantine to the States, and has done almost nothing to bring into use the various federal facilities (e.g. unused army bases) that could be used. Instead it seeks to blame the States for all the failures.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    I agree with your three points above. In particular, over a year into this pandemic, we should already have purpose built quarantine facilities.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    In general, I'd go along with what you say. Not so sure about using service facilities for quarantine though and still think there's a real difference between those who went anywhere OS in the last 18 months or so and those who went 2 years ago.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    OK, some went for the funeral of a parent, or some similar occasion. I'd not say that that was sufficient.

    YOU'D not say? Well it's good to know that we can trust you not to go to the funeral of an immediate family member.

    But more importantly, you do realise that they had to ask permission to go? And were granted it? Whatever YOU'D say, someone with authority to make the decision said yes.

  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    The ultimate responsibility of a representative government is for the greater good of its citizens. It is not about denying a citizen the right to reenter his country as it is about denying the new variants of the virus enter the country.

    Besides, there have been other examples of citizens being denied entry into their country--consider the young women who ended up getting married to ISIS followers.

    If someone is deemed a threat to the country for whatever reason, the country has a right to protect itself.
  • Tukai wrote: »
    > That it has been applied to India, which is undoubtedly a covid hotspot, but that no similar regulations were made for travellers from USA or UK when they were hotspots. Many see this as racist.

    The situation on the ground in India is undoubtedly much worse than it was at its peak in either the US or the UK. Part of that is caused by the sheer number of Indians: it's a numerically big problem, because there's almost 1.4 billion Indians. Part of that is caused by the general availability of healthcare: the ratio of hospital beds to people is 5 times or so lower in India than in the UK or US, which means that a comparatively smaller pandemic can swamp the healthcare system more easily. And part of that is the near certainty that the headline Indian figures severely undercount the problem.

    And partly, I suspect, India thought it had beaten Covid, had a long period of low rates, and then everything exploded. Which rather suggests that the strain of Covid now prevalent in India is more infectious than the earlier strains.
  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    Tukai wrote: »
    > That it has been applied to India, which is undoubtedly a covid hotspot, but that no similar regulations were made for travellers from USA or UK when they were hotspots. Many see this as racist.

    The situation on the ground in India is undoubtedly much worse than it was at its peak in either the US or the UK. Part of that is caused by the sheer number of Indians: it's a numerically big problem, because there's almost 1.4 billion Indians. Part of that is caused by the general availability of healthcare: the ratio of hospital beds to people is 5 times or so lower in India than in the UK or US, which means that a comparatively smaller pandemic can swamp the healthcare system more easily. And part of that is the near certainty that the headline Indian figures severely undercount the problem.

    And partly, I suspect, India thought it had beaten Covid, had a long period of low rates, and then everything exploded. Which rather suggests that the strain of Covid now prevalent in India is more infectious than the earlier strains.
    The US peaked around 300,000 cases a day in January; India is now at about 350,000 a day in a population four times larger (according to Johns Hopkins data.) Even with undercounting, it’s hard to see why Australians in India should be treated as such a greater threat now than Australians in the US were a few months ago.

    That the healthcare system in India is more precarious hardly seems like a reason to criminalize Australians there who want to return.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    In the first instance you're talking about having a system where some categories of people can enter the country without quarantine, some require quarantine, and some are not admitted at all for the duration of the emergency. With categories based on
    A) citizens (of any race) generally but not in every case having higher priority than non-citizens (of any race),
    B) the perceived likelihood that an apparently-healthy person is carrying the disease, based on where they've been.
    C) some notion of how many people the quarantine system can cope with.

    It's never going to be a perfect system.

    There are ways it could be obviously stupid (like treating as low-risk someone who's just spent several hours in a plane next to someone deemed high-risk).

    But I'm not seeing anything obviously wrong in making the attempt.

    Like all emergency powers, I'd look for a clear statement of when they will lapse.

    What seems questionable is whether someone whose individual circumstances mean that they are low-risk but who the imperfect system classifies as high-risk should be criminalised for seeking to obtain unofficially the treatment accorded to low-risk people.

    Because labels are not reality.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    In the first instance you're talking about having a system where some categories of people can enter the country without quarantine, some require quarantine, and some are not admitted at all for the duration of the emergency.

    There is no-one in your first category. Everyone has to go into quarantine when entering Australia.

    The only technical exception is diplomats, who because of the Vienna Convention can't be forced to quarantine. They are, however, expected to effectively quarantine by heading directly to their embassy or equivalent and isolating there (and every indication is that they have been complying with that expectation).

  • orfeo wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    OK, some went for the funeral of a parent, or some similar occasion. I'd not say that that was sufficient.

    YOU'D not say? Well it's good to know that we can trust you not to go to the funeral of an immediate family member.

    But more importantly, you do realise that they had to ask permission to go? And were granted it? Whatever YOU'D say, someone with authority to make the decision said yes.

    Raises his hand. My father died 9 months ago on a Zoom call with only him and me present. One person allowed to be present in person after passing all the checkpoints in hospital. Had to sit until I could stand, and then leave until the nurse finished. You could have a Zoom or phone call chaplain if one was available.

    Re @OP, I found the court documents about his and his family gaining of Canadian citizenship in 1942; one British passport, the others German. Citizenship was worth life itself; all of his like-aged relatives were war killed. So perhaps gain perspective that not being allowed to return is inconvenient until they sort out how to do it safely, and in addition, be grateful you're not where I live where mediocre people think being decisively wrong is a sign of strength and goodness.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Dave W wrote: »
    That the healthcare system in India is more precarious hardly seems like a reason to criminalize Australians there who want to return.

    It's appalling. And if Australians left the country legally, I don't see how anyone can in good conscience say it should be illegal for them to return.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    Ruth wrote: »
    Dave W wrote: »
    That the healthcare system in India is more precarious hardly seems like a reason to criminalize Australians there who want to return.

    It's appalling. And if Australians left the country legally, I don't see how anyone can in good conscience say it should be illegal for them to return.

    I agree. Safe quarantine should be all that is required.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Talk of human rights is misplaced.
    No, it’s not misplaced at all. It’s front and center. The question is, or should be, the balancing of that right with other rights and legitimate concerns for the population as a whole.

    But I agree with others—if people were allowed to leave the country legally, it’s hard to how they can rightly be prevented from returning.

  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Court case is pending. From someone who (1) has been stuck in India for over a year, and (2) dare I say it, judging by the name might be of an Anglo-Celtic ethnic background.
  • la vie en rougela vie en rouge Circus Host, 8th Day Host
    If you refuse a person the right to enter a country of which they are a citizen, I'm having a hard time seeing how that doesn't amount to arbitrarily removing their citizenship, albeit temporarily.
  • TukaiTukai Shipmate
    And the issue is wider than just Australia and COVID.
    It is : what protections in general can a country offer its citizens, both at home and more trickily abroad? No_Prophet's example is very much to the point. So are cases like the British academic currently detained in Iran.
  • If you refuse a person the right to enter a country of which they are a citizen, I'm having a hard time seeing how that doesn't amount to arbitrarily removing their citizenship, albeit temporarily.

    If there's an active gas leak in my house, the emergency services won't let me enter it. That doesn't mean that I temporarily don't own my house.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    edited May 6
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Talk of human rights is misplaced.
    No, it’s not misplaced at all. It’s front and center. The question is, or should be, the balancing of that right with other rights and legitimate concerns for the population as a whole.

    But I agree with others—if people were allowed to leave the country legally, it’s hard to how they can rightly be prevented from returning.

    I meant that this is not a situation where human rights are being breached, as this is an emergency situation, and we have to be able to regulate the pace at which our citizens return to manage their quarantine. This point will be determined by the Courts shortly. AIUI, the issue is whether the legislation relied upon by the Minister to make the decision overrides the common law right of return. The Parliament can overrule common law rights by legislation, but the argument is around whether the Act evinces an intention to override this specific right.

    However, we are over a year into the pandemic, and the Federal Govt has not done enough to expand our quarantine capacity. While a pause in returns from India is appropriate to give our authorities time to gather information and assess the situation, the fact remains that every Australian in India right now should already have had a chance to return, and they haven't.
  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    A recent poll suggests most Australians think their government has done enough their fellow citizens return home (59%), or even too much (7%).
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited May 6
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Talk of human rights is misplaced.
    No, it’s not misplaced at all. It’s front and center. The question is, or should be, the balancing of that right with other rights and legitimate concerns for the population as a whole.

    But I agree with others—if people were allowed to leave the country legally, it’s hard to how they can rightly be prevented from returning.

    I meant that this is not a situation where human rights are being breached, as this is an emergency situation, and we have to be able to regulate the pace at which our citizens return to manage their quarantine. . . .
    And my point was that human rights may indeed be being breached, and the question is whether the emergency situation justifies that breach.

  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    If you refuse a person the right to enter a country of which they are a citizen, I'm having a hard time seeing how that doesn't amount to arbitrarily removing their citizenship, albeit temporarily.

    If there's an active gas leak in my house, the emergency services won't let me enter it. That doesn't mean that I temporarily don't own my house.

    There are other benefits of citizenship beyond the ability to enter a particular space. They usually include the right to receive protection and certain supports and services from one's own government, as well as the right (usually) to transmit citizenship in various ways (birth, marriage, adoption, etc.).

    I don't know the details of this situation, but are those trapped overseas receiving any support or protection from their home government? I think it would be reasonable for them to get some sort of aid, either in terms of finance (housing, etc.) or regulation (for example, requiring employers to hold open their jobs until they can return).
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Aid is not going to do much for anyone who catches a bad case of covid in India because they couldn't get back home to Australia.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited May 6
    True. I wonder whether a consulate could, say, rent hotels etc. where such marooned people might have an easier time avoiding the plague. A sort of quarantine in reverse. (Note that I'm not personally in favor of locking residents, whether citizens or legal noncitizen residents, out of their home country; I'd much prefer a strict state-run quarantine in country. I was merely pointing out that there are other options besides simply abandoning kept-out people to their fate.)
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited May 6
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Talk of human rights is misplaced.
    No, it’s not misplaced at all. It’s front and center. The question is, or should be, the balancing of that right with other rights and legitimate concerns for the population as a whole.

    But I agree with others—if people were allowed to leave the country legally, it’s hard to how they can rightly be prevented from returning.

    I meant that this is not a situation where human rights are being breached, as this is an emergency situation, and we have to be able to regulate the pace at which our citizens return to manage their quarantine. This point will be determined by the Courts shortly. AIUI, the issue is whether the legislation relied upon by the Minister to make the decision overrides the common law right of return. The Parliament can overrule common law rights by legislation, but the argument is around whether the Act evinces an intention to override this specific right.

    However, we are over a year into the pandemic, and the Federal Govt has not done enough to expand our quarantine capacity. While a pause in returns from India is appropriate to give our authorities time to gather information and assess the situation, the fact remains that every Australian in India right now should already have had a chance to return, and they haven't.

    It's not only about whether the Biosecurity Act has such an intention, it's whether constitutionally the Parliament is permitted to intend to such a thing. Commonwealth legislative powers are not as broad as the ones of the States (hence the result of the case on Western Australia's closed border doesn't necessarily tell you what will happen at the Commonwealth level).

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Meanwhile, there is also a completely separate court case on the other major plank of the system, generally barring Australians from leaving the country unless one of the exceptions applies or you have permission.

    The lead plaintiff is a woman who was refused permission multiple times to visit her dying father in Germany.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-06/australian-government-ban-on-overseas-travel-challenged/100121648

  • Ruth wrote: »
    Aid is not going to do much for anyone who catches a bad case of covid in India because they couldn't get back home to Australia.

    That's that tail wagging the dog. Being in India does not automatically give you Covid-19.

    There are limits on various rights. Right now, where I live, "freedom" (freedumb) demonstrators are asserting their right to assemble and protest restrictions. It is very clear that there are reasonable limits on their rights to do this in a public health emergency. All rights have limits. In this case of Australia, is the limit on the right of citizen to return their country reasonably curtailed? I suspect it might be, though for how long before they can return. Why the person travelled would be a reasonable factor to consider.. If for holiday versus family emergency for example.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    No-one has recently departed Australia for a holiday unless they’ve gone to New Zealand. You’re not allowed to go anywhere else.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    The Federal Govt has been running defence on the question of criminalising citizens returning from India. Morrison basically said, "yeah, but we're not going to prosecute anyone", which is a weird thing to say if its meant as a deterrence.

    The Foreign Minister has also said that returns from India will start again on 15 May. The govt is copping a caning right now, not so much for the pause on returns from India, but for its failure to repatriate people who want to come home previously. It is my strong suspicion that the Govt will extract its digit as a result of this debacle and get a proper quarantine system up.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    All rights have limits. In this case of Australia, is the limit on the right of citizen to return their country reasonably curtailed?
    I would say
    - As an emergency measure with well-defined criteria for when such curtailment will be removed, possibly (whether yes or no is for the citizenry as a whole to judge, based on the nature of the emergency and the proportionality of the response).
    - As something the government can do at will, no.
    Why the person travelled would be a reasonable factor to consider.. If for holiday versus family emergency for example.
    Disagree. If return is a right, its curtailment does not depend on your or anyone else's approval of motives.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    edited May 7
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    The Federal Govt has been running defence on the question of criminalising citizens returning from India. Morrison basically said, "yeah, but we're not going to prosecute anyone", which is a weird thing to say if its meant as a deterrence.

    The Foreign Minister has also said that returns from India will start again on 15 May. The govt is copping a caning right now, not so much for the pause on returns from India, but for its failure to repatriate people who want to come home previously. It is my strong suspicion that the Govt will extract its digit as a result of this debacle and get a proper quarantine system up.

    There definitely was a big difference in the reaction between saying in practice that flights from India were being paused, and saying that LEGALLY you would be in trouble if you somehow managed to figure out a way to get home from India.

    The latter step really does seem to have backfired in PR terms. And yes, Morrison turning up to say that there was almost no chance of the law being enforced was... interesting.

    The whole situation was at least partly created by Morrison being incorrect earlier when he said that all indirect flights had been stopped by other countries (ie he seemed to believe there was no practical means for someone to travel from India to Australia, without a 14 day layover). He mentioned Qatar/Doha, only it turned out that Qatar wasn't preventing people who had been in India from transiting on to Australia.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    I just read the book Thunderstruck by Eric Larson. It is a real account of how a murder was solved in conjunction with the development of transatlantic telegraphic radio. It was a good read. In it mentions the inspector from Scotland Yard raced across the ocean to pick up the suspect before he docked in Canada (fast boat vs slow boat). He was concerned about having to quarantine if he set foot in Canada. Turns out in the early 1900s transatlantic travelers had to quarantine because of an outbreak of cholera on ships.

    It is not unusual for travelers to do this when they are possibly exposed to contagion.
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