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Day to Day Politics: It didn’t matter that Abbott wouldn’t show his.

Wednesday 6 September 2017

For years Tony Abbott had refused to show any proof that he had renounced his British citizenship. But when the boot was on the other foot there he was at the doors of our democracy demanding that the Leader of the Opposition, whose legitimacy, until now, had never been questioned, demanding in his usual bully boy way, that Shorten show proof.

After having played ducks and drakes for weeks, Shorten knew it couldn’t last and he wanted the reveal to be on his terms. And that he did. Once again he had outwitted the Government, the Prime Minister, and of course Abbott. The teasing had ended.

The Murdoch press wrote it up as a capitulation by Shorten, but that wasn’t so. He knew that Turnbull had to defend Barnaby Joyce’s position and that he would do so by insisting Shorten produce his evidence. Joyce should have stood aside but this Government had, under Abbott, thrown all sense of probity out the window years ago. In any case he was a bigger fish to fry.

When Abbott – the Government’s superior gutter politician – greeted journalists brandishing his own document it was obvious what the game plan was. As a defence against Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s legitimacy to remain in the Ministry they would set on Shorten.Then he played his trump card (pardon the pun).

And that he did. After question time where he had asked legitimately asked questions relating to the governance of the country.

For example, he raised what constitutional experts warn that if the High Court ruled against the ministers, the decisions they made in this period could be legally problematic.

He turned the whole thing into an accusation of “smear” against him. The Parliament listened in stunned silence as he tabled a document proving that he had renounced his British citizenship in 2006:

“I will not allow the Prime Minister to use a smear about me as cover for the crisis which engulfs his government,” Mr Shorten said.

“This silly distraction has to end. The circus has to stop. The country does not have time for it.”

“I accept that if I want to be elected Prime Minister, there cannot be any doubt about my Constitutional eligibility – pushed by the conspiracy theorists like the Prime Minister and the Member for Warringah.”

“I offer this proof to the parliament today to put an end to baseless allegations, not reward them.”

Mr Shorten continued  that:

” … other Labor MPs should not be forced to show their documents proving they were eligible to sit in parliament, despite questions raised about the eligibility of several MPs.

“I strongly believe that MPs and Senators should not be forced to produce evidence to counter claims that are made completely without evidence … This is our chance to draw a line in the sand.”

“This must end. In an age of Twitter trolls, baseless online conspiracies, this is a chance for our parliament to declare we are bigger and better than this.”

“To accept otherwise, to turn our back on the notion that a person making an allegation must have some evidence, sets a dangerous precedent.”

Then he addressed the principle of Joyce remaining in the Cabinet:

“The Deputy Prime Minister should not be allowed to serve as Acting Prime Minister. If he does the entire legitimacy of this government and this parliament is at risk.”

“I say to the Prime Minister, do the right thing, do the honest thing, be the strong leader you claim you are.”

He told Malcolm Turnbull the government would lack legitimacy unless Barnaby Joyce was dumped to the backbench while his eligibility was being assessed by the High Court:

“I strongly believe that MPs and Senators should not be forced to produce evidence to counter claims that are made completely without evidence,”

“To accept otherwise, to turn our back on the notion that a person making an allegation must have some evidence, sets a dangerous precedent.”

It remains a mystery as to why Abbott had the support of the Murdoch media in not having to produce any evidence to clear his position yet they demanded it of Shorten.

Yet all of this questions the standards of our politicians and the institution that supports them. It empathises their lack of prudence and the flippancy with which they treat our parliamentary regulations and conventions. Indeed, even the constitution that overrides it.

To think they would not even take the most rudimentary checks to see they were not flouting the rules of citizenship is deplorable. In the case of Stuart Robert knowing that he was acting contrary to the rules is even more so.

That politicians would receive superannuation payments far in advance of other workers is equally scandalous as is their capacity to claim expenses far in excess of reality.

And it seems taking payment for work outside the parliament whilst working for one’s electorate is fine so long as you don’t get caught.

Wedded to all of these is a Minister’s right to take work, on leaving Parliament within the policy range he worked.

All in all our Parliament has become a cafeteria for self serving individuals who walk the isle with tray in hand selecting from a smorgasbord of rorts to select from.

My thought for the day

“Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear, what you read and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Thoughtlessness is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact.”


  1. Jaquix

    Good read John Lord. You’ve repeated one quote, I think.

  2. Regional Elder

    ‘ Abbott, the Government’s superior gutter politician ‘ : an accurate summation indeed John.

    Additionally, what we also know from the chasm between Abbott’s one-time promises and his actual behaviour, is that for Abbott, the truth of any matter in which he has some stake, is always, a politically discretionary quality.

    And this is why this article is relevant to considerations about Abbott’s citizenship.,10547

  3. Kaye Lee

    This post is from Tony Magrathea who was the person who raised the issue of Abbott’s (and others’) citizenship and was harassed for doing so……

    “I asked Abbott about his citizenship, for that I was ridiculed, called a birther, had death threats and the AFP parked up the street for 3 months watching my comings and goings from my own house. I didn’t just ask Aussie Tone, I asked every foreign born MP and so few bothered replying.

    I asked about Abbott and was told that we voters should trust MPs to tell the truth when they nominate. I asked for an audit of citizenship for MPs and Senator Cormann couldn’t be bothered answering the petition.

    Senator Ryan as the new Special Minster of State ignored a submission to the inquiry into the 2016 election asking for amongst other things an audit of citizenship compliance and for Senator Roberts to be checked for compliance. Senator Ryan didn’t bother so the chaos kicked in properly when Senator Ludlam & Waters who I had asked in 2014 both quit for being dual citizens. And then the Village Idiot Roberts declared he would go to the High Court to determine if he was a dual citizen or not.

    Senator Ryan is off sick, I believe it is stress after a recent medical procedure and may be compounded by incompetence and the chaos in parliament, but surely it sits with Senator Cormann who refused to answer a petition. Just ignored it. Who was he protecting? How many others will go?”

    He currently has another petition before the parliament calling for an audit of all MPs which the Attorney-General must answer.

    PS Regional Elder,

    Magrathea received confirmation from the Home Office on 2/8 that the information in Abbott’s letter is correct even though they previously said they did not have a copy of the RN certificate or receipt for payment. It’s in the second last post on Magrathea’s blog that I linked to.

  4. Terry2

    Meanwhile, The Satchel Man otherwise known as Peter Dutton made a secret FIFO trip to Port Moresby PNG last Friday.

    The evolving debacle is that the detention centre on Manus Island is being dismantled in accordance with findings of the PNG Supreme Court that it was illegal and that the detention of people there was unconstitutional. The facility will be closed by 31 October and the PNG government has insisted that Australia accept responsibility for the resettlement of the 900 men still detained on the island.

    Dutton has already cost us a small fortune in his bungling which extends to bribing the corrupt Cambodian regime with some $50million to take refugees from Manus and Nauru which was a spectacular failure : then we had the out of court settlement of a class action by Manus detainees that will cost us $70 million in damages plus some $20 million in costs and the fate of the Manus detainees has still not been settled.

    Then we have the satchel man lobbing into Port Moresby to try and bribe the PNG government to resettle these unfortunate men and drop their insistence that Australia take responsibility for the future settlement and welfare of these people, most of whom are recognised as genuine refugees. How much do you think that this will cost us ? On past form it won’t be less than $100 million

    The question is, will Dutton use Cormann’s urgent and unforeseen bucket to bail himself out and perhaps the bigger question is : can we, as a nation, afford Peter Dutton ?

  5. Kronomex

    Turnbull knows that he can’t tell Joyce to step down because if he does he himself will be knifed and banished to the seat next to Tony. The LNP is a giant fustercluck and will remain that way until they are removed.

  6. wam

    the rabbott and shorten renounced allegiance to pommieland before their respective elections in 94 and 2008. Two overseas born didn’t check. Careless Cavanan is an old fashion dolt Slimy X is in the same bag as shorten and is lucky the joyce paternal citizenship arose which will allow the judges to say Aust birth rules, unless you do a cavanan ok.

  7. Regional Elder

    Thanks Kaye Lee, for that further information, which suggests to me just further evidence that Abbott is a master of the dark political arts : deception, denial, lying, vacuous sloganeering, bullying and subterfuge, to name but a few.

  8. Zathras

    Abbott was just being deliberately bloody-minded and typically arrogant about responding to the original request and only did it when it became of personal political advantage.

    Should the government now consider paying his salary via a welfare card, given his propensity for being drunk at work?

  9. Ricardo29

    The onus of proof in allegations doesn’t seem to apply to parliament where there is privilege enabling the most outrageous claims or allegations to be made about those opposite or even people outside without right of reply. It truly is a coward’s castle. At the same time I am in two minds about Bill’s revelation. On one hand it does set a nasty precedent, on the other it left Abbott with egg on his face, not that he would notice. Perhaps some of the nure was starting to stick, see PPM figures, so it was a good and timely tactical move.

  10. Anon E Mouse

    I think it is time that all aspiring politicians submit all their paperwork regarding renunciation of foreign citizenships, or possibilities of citizenship, to the electoral office when they begin their run for election.
    I am sick of the clowns saying that it is a dumb rule because that does not change the constitution. If the pollies want to be in a position to make rules and run the country then they should harden up and obey the rules set out in the constitution.

  11. wam

    Anon do you really accept rules in the constitution passed by the poms before women had the vote and written by old men from ‘meetings’ in the 1890s?These men had just moved from a penny farthing to a bike with a car years away?

    The pieces of paper should be shredded and a new one written.

  12. Graham Barnes

    “A smorgasbord of rorts” – love it!

  13. kerri

    There are headlines saying “Shorten caves in!” Really?? Abbott will make a claim that this is all his doing. “See LNP, I can do what Malcolm can’t”. Whatever reason Bill had for tabling the relevant document. it is a clever move. Bill looks more mature than Abbott, who dodged tabling his photocopied letter for how many years was it??? Also by making it look like it was at Abbott’s bidding, he further widens the rift between those of the monkeypod room and the more moderates. The only plus for Turnbull will be the threat of North Korea and his assertion that only HE can protect us while the opposition dabble in petty (citizenship) arguments. Be cynical in the next few weeks. There will be much ado to present an image or two. Meanwhile come Friday we will be under the control of a New Zealander.

  14. Anon E Mouse

    Wam, a new constitution developed with full and respectful collaboration of Indigenous Australians might just work.
    The point I make is that at the moment the rules are the rules. People who want to be politicians should abide by the laws.
    If the law needs changing, there is a hell of a lot of work and consultation for any hope of a change to that part of the constitution.
    So – because the law is not going to change – politicians should just do the honourable thing and follow the law.
    This latest hoo-haa about dual citizenship is not a new thing – it has been there since the constitution was written.

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