Monday 13 November 2017
“What is best for the country?” I ask myself as I wrestle with the vexed question of dual citizenship. It’s somewhat of a quandary for an old purest wanting to improve the standard of governance in our nation.
Bill Shorten of course is milking the situation for all it’s worth. Blatantly so. On the one hand it’s about doing what’s best for the country but on the other I find it’s difficult, as a person of the left, to deny Labor the opportunity to give back some of what it has had to endure from the Coalition since Tony Abbott was appointed Opposition Leader in 2010.
And of course there is the ‘national good’ to consider. Does the end justify the means? The Government – because of its insipid governance – deserves to be evicted by whatever means possible.
What would you do in this game of cat and mouse? The Prime Minister is threatening to break with the convention that only the party of the accused should refer members to the High Court.
Perhaps Turnbull is thinking that Abbott broke so many conventions that another by him would go unnoticed.
The Opposition for its part has threatened to respond with some sort of “nuclear” retaliation if the government goes ahead with its threat. It is not so long ago that the government was arguing all High Court referrals should be made by the party to which they belong.
Even the Attorney-General George Brandis said High Court referrals “should never be done on a party-line vote”, calling it “a very dangerous course”. Labor argues that its members who are under a cloud have immunity because they made more than a reasonable attempt to clear up their dual citizenship issues.
If Turnbull did choose to go down the path of referring Opposition members then all hell would break loose with Labor making counter claims against five Government members. Labor says there are “compelling” doubts over the status of Julia Banks, Nola Marino, Alex Hawke, Tony Pasin and Ann Sudmalis:
“If Turnbull wants to fire this missile we’ve got the ammo to go nuclear,” the source said. “If I were Julia Banks, Nola Marino or Alex Hawke I’d be sweating bullets whenever he talks about referring Labor MPs. He is locking and loading the gun at his own MPs.”
With a wafer-thin excuse for trying to hang on, John Alexander elected to resign. He really had no choice and was probably instructed to. Now the Bennelong by by-election will be held on December 16. Is the electorate so displeased with the Government that it would vote it out. With a usually considered margin of 10% and an average by-election swing of 7% I should think the answer is “yes”, decidedly so.
When the electorate is angry the people can raise their collective voices as one and overcome the advantage of personal popularity and safe seat influences. With a margin of 10% you would, under normal circumstances, consider it a safe seat but these are certainly not normal times. Any swing against the Government would reflect badly on the Government and the performance of Malcolm Turnbull.
The seat by its extremely high multicultural nature is not averse to letting government know its feelings and it just might be that they intently dislike the Turnbull government’s controversial overhaul of the requirements to become an Australian citizen, which is stalled in the Senate.
For his part Bill Shorten has made his intentions clear. He will not be reporting any of his own thus creating an ongoing nightmare for Turnbull. If Turnbull reports Labor members then he will up the anti and report 5 Coalition members at different times creating staggered by-elections that would make governance nigh on impossible and on a daily basis.
Should this develop into a tit for tat prolonged citizenship war, it will be one that makes the Coalition susceptible to losing control of the House at any time. The Government’s reputation is already shattered. Why would you add to it further? It would make them look silly.
And while it has the Government on its knees it will pursue issues such as a royal commission into the banking industry, and the restoration of Sunday penalty rates when Parliament resumes in late November.
So there is still that part of me that say’s “go get ’em Bill,” they deserve everything you can throw at them. But there is also the idealist that wants to see democracy in its purest form.
On top of that is superimposed the greater good. Should I sell out my principles for it? That is the question.
My thought for the day
“Truth is pure yet fragile and requires delicacy in delivery. There are however times when it needs some diplomatic force to make it register.”