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date: 22 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the uneasy relationship between the Australian Constitution and membership of the Australian polity. Unlike some constitutions, the Australian Constitution contains no mention of ‘citizenship’. Instead, formal membership of the Australian community is determined by reference to the constitutional categories of ‘subjects of the Queen’ and ‘people of the Commonwealth’ and through the legislative definition of citizenship under federal law. These peculiar features of the Australian context reflect what is generally assumed to be the modest role of the Constitution in determining national identity and the fact that Australia was not an independent nation at the time of the Constitution's drafting. Developments in legislation, constitutional jurisprudence, and mooted constitutional amendments all point towards a greater role for the Constitution in determining Australian ‘citizenship’ in the future.

Keywords: citizenship, Australian citizenship, Australian community, national identity, British subjects

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