Thick and Thin Citizenship as Measures of Australian Democracy

Kim Rubenstein, Niamh Lenagh-Maguire

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The importance of Australian citizenship can be obscured by its relatively sparse legal foundations, and by the omission of an expressly defined concept of citizenship from the Australian Constitution. However, one of the ways in which the legal status of citizenship is elevated beyond an empty label and given substance is the linking of citizenship with the structures of Australian democracy. This connection between a statutory label and Australia’s constitutionally-mandated system of representative government also lends citizenship an important constitutional dimension that otherwise might be lacking. With limited exceptions, it is citizens who vote to elect governments at local, state and federal level, and in that sense these fundamental democratic mechanisms depend on a legal distinction between citizens and non-citizens. In turn, the connection between citizenship and the franchise adds critically important substance to the otherwise fairly bare notion of Australian citizenship as a legal category.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw and Democracy
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Questions
EditorsGlenn Patmore, Kim Rubenstein
Place of PublicationAustrlia
PublisherANU E Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781925022063
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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