Student story: Reflections on the Constitution Convention

13 Dec 2017

Student story: Reflections on the Constitution Convention

By Cameron Strauss, Year 12

 

In November 2017, 119 other students and I, representing their schools from across NSW took part in discussing the relevance of Section 44 of the Australian Constitution (dual citizenship restrictions on parliamentarians). It was, overall, a great experience in which I met many interesting people from across the state.

At first, we had a keynote address by Professor Twomey from The University of Sydney Law School. It was a really fascinating speech which detailed many interesting ways Section 44 has been interpreted in the past. I even managed to ask a question at the end!

After that, we all split into groups of about 15 to discuss our specific thoughts on the section. Within my group, we further split into groups of 3 to summarise and present (very briefly!) our thoughts. All the students then voted on the top five of our group (and top 30 overall) as to who should go to Canberra for the National Constitution Convention. We then had lunch, after which, we came together in the Legislative Assembly. We were given the chance to put forth our arguments as to whether we should or shouldn’t amend the Constitution to allow dual-citizens to be federal parliamentarians.

Afterwards, we had a mock referendum about changing the constitution to allow dual citizens to run for office, this just passing with a ‘yes’ vote. We then had what was called a ‘soap box’ session where anyone could put forth an idea or opinion concerning any policy or issue they wanted to in front of everyone. I discussed foreign aid, although the issue of the monarchy was easily the most passionate issue for most people!

At the end, the students selected to represent NSW in the National Constitution Convention were announced, I, unexpectedly, was one of those selected! This is very exciting for me and I can hardly wait to be part of the convention next year!