Out of Tune and Out of Time: The Relationship between Australia’s International Obligations and Australian Constitutionalism and Why It Matters to our Identity in the Asian Century
Date of this Version
The constitutionalism of a nation says much about its national identity. Sections 25 and 51(xxvi) of the Australian Constitution are at odds with Australia’s international obligations under the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Further, Australia’s current asylum seeker policy is a perversion of our obligations under the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. These failures to comply with our international obligations are at best, relics of a racist colonial history, and at worst, manifestations of our contemporary national identity. Whilst some may argue that there are other states in the ranks of the ‘Asian Century’ all-stars whose compliance with international obligations is poorer than ours, Australia must nonetheless take steps to address these issues. This is because of sensitivity to colonialism and racism in the Asian region, the perils of hypocrisy, and because it is in our national interest for our relationships in Asia to become familial and not merely transactional.