‘Home’ is frequently invoked to refer to the nation and a unified national identity, often with a spoken or unspoken division between ‘us’ and ‘them’. The concept of home is also a constitutive metaphor in much political debate, and has been instrumental in the shaping of the public–private distinction. This essay considers the idea of ‘home’ in a narrower focus, as a metaphor for, and a structural feature of, the formal construction of the state and government. My purpose is not to argue for or against adoption of the complex normative values of home in the constitution of the state, but rather to point out that these values and associated rhetoric surface in unexpected and disparate ways in state-related discourse. In Australia, because of the colonial dispossession of Aboriginal homelands and the construction of the state as a home for white people, there is a case that the dissonant references of ‘home’ need to be acknowledged as powerful elements of modern constitutional and governmental forms.