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We are All Equal before the law in Australia, and was that a pig flying by my window?

By Terence Mills

The Commonwealth has been assiduous in pursuing people who had received entitlements from Centrelink to which they were not legally entitled. Ignorance or oversight are not an excuse. You will be hounded initially by letters in the mail and then by debt collectors until you pay up. Even if you claim that Centrelink have made a mistake they will not look into it until you have paid-up.

That’s the law and it applies to all of us: we are all equal before the law in Australia, aren’t we?

But wait a minute, we have five people who have been masquerading as parliamentarians who, according to the High Court of Australia, were not eligible to be chosen to sit in our Parliament: that’s what the Constitution says and that’s what the High Court has determined.

Now, we have a niggling problem that nobody in the Coalition wants to know about and it is summarised by none other than our old mate Eric Arthur Blair in Animal farm: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

In Australia we like to believe that all men (and in recent times, women) are equal at least when it comes to the law. So here’s the problem: the High Court has found that five people who have been sitting in our parliament and drawing handsome salaries plus perks were never eligible to do so; they are not legitimate, they are sham or fake parliamentarians and have been receiving Commonwealth benefits to which they were not entitled.

As we know from the Centrelink experience, ignorance of the law, oversight, and excuses such as the dog ate my homework or me mum done it do not mitigate the offence. The Constitution has been breached, the law has been broken, and those five have been receiving benefits to which they were not entitled, ipso facto a crime has been committed and it must be rectified by restitution and possibly prosecution.

Now, some may say that these folk have been working to earn those benefits from the Commonwealth but, as Laura Tingle from the Australian Financial Review noted this morning [in relation to the Nationals], stamping your feet and holding your breath until you are blue in the face to get your own way is not really what we call work and then there’s Malcolm Roberts (or “Robertson” as Pauline Hanson called him when saying what a cherished comrade he had been) … I rest my case.

So, will they be required to repay the benefits they have received while masquerading as Australians and propping up the bar in Parliament House, or will George Brandis give them a pardon before he hops on a jet to take up his next challenge as our man in London? Big shoes to fill in that one. Size eleven, I believe.


19 comments

  1. pierre wilkinson

    It would be almost worth it if they all came back just to get rid of Brandis

  2. Angelina

    For a start all the Leaders since Whitlam are treasonous scum as they all had a part to play in systematically passing the batton to the next prime minister passing bills that superceded our constitution since the Australia act and the fictitious Queen .. They all pledged allegiance to a foreign power also which is also unconstituional.. THE UN signing of declarations such as the Lima declaration.. many many more.. Plus signing our soverignty away to The privately owned foreign banksters.. Since 1930s and threfore placing our countring in debt the RBA IS A FOREIGN entity not government owned.. We dont need a foreign entity dictating interest rates in our country.. Australia used to have a soverign Bank.. The government sold off all our utilities and ports to foreign Countries… IS THAT NOT TREASON??

  3. stephengb2014

    Angelina – you need to read the RBA Act 1959, and the previous central bank legislation, mentioned in the RBA Act.

    But before you reply must get yourself out of the conspiracy theory websites – they are adling your brain.

    S G B

  4. stephengb2014

    Angelina – the RBA is not a forign entity. The Queen is not fictitious.

    Get your facts straight.

    The rest of your rant is unintelligable.

    S G B

  5. jim

    Watching Hanson speak to me it’s like she barely knows what the next word will be, let alone on what shes actually talking about.

  6. Potoroo

    Articles like this are worthy only of the morass of wilful ignorance that is social media. None of the disqualified Parliamentarians were “masquerading as an Australian citizen.” The were each of them Australian citizens with dual citizenship. It’s the dual citizenship bit that’s the problem, their Australian citizenship was never questioned by anybody with an IQ above room temperature.

    Furthermore, they were not “masquerading as parliamentarians” either. All Parliamentarians are presumed validly elected until proven otherwise, and the votes of the now disqualified members are valid under the “de facto officer” doctrine. This is settled case law. What is open to question is the validity of Ministerial decisions in the cases of Joyce and Nash because once their eligibility was questioned the “de facto officer” doctrine ceased to operate and Section 64 needs to be considered.

    If you’re going to attack the government on the grounds it does not apply the law equally then at the very least have the integrity to educate yourself on what the law actually is before commenting. Hysterical nonsense benefits nobody.

  7. Andrew

    “So, will they be required to repay the benefits they have received while masquerading as an Australian citizen”.

    Not one of the seven were ever accused or found of not being an Australian citizen. That’s stretching the truth a little too far.

  8. wam

    The loonies and roberts are guilty of claiming commonwealth money on false premises and should be made to return the money. They were acting politicians so as they never put their hand into their own pockets, they are likely to still have their first dollar.

    My daughter was paying back centrelink in qld for under estimating the pay for a part time job and it was hard but we helped. When she got a job in vic and went to the vic centrelink she got a ‘good one’ who checked the figues and discovered it was centrelink who had underpaid her by $4000 8 months at $25 per week what a trauma yet these crooks will be let off like the catholic rich boy’s school who got $5m over paid and the bishop said we’ll give it to the poor schools why did they not pay it back???(not checked just memory of gillard’s time?
    ps if we believe we are all equal in the eyes of the law then it is true we are equal and no matter how many times it is shown to be unequal the belief is not shaken.QED.

  9. Tony Wright

    “We are All Equal before the law in Australia”. Surely the writer jests. The bill for the proposed redress scheme for those who were sexually abused as children in institutions, it proposes excluding people with certain criminal convictions from accessing justice through the redress scheme.

  10. john ocallaghan

    We are all equal before the law but not after the law!!

  11. Terence Mills

    Potoroo

    The reference to masquerading as Australians was intended to be tongue in cheek as indeed was the entire article. But masquerading as parliamentarians stands as even the de facto officer doctrine talks of those who appear to be clothed with official authority, even though they may not validly hold that office.

    The de facto officer doctrine is interesting but a little less certain when it comes to Constitutional matters. High Court Justice Michael Kirby observed in a 2006 :

    It is difficult to reconcile the [de facto officer] doctrine with the fundamental role of the federal Constitution as the ultimate source of other laws. Constitutional rulings can occasionally be unsettling, at least for a period. However, this is inherent in the arrangements of a nation that lives by the rule of law and accords a special status to the federal Constitution as its fundamental law.

    Be that as it may, a central point remains – and on which you have failed to comment – and it is that these people were incapable of being chosen or of sitting so their original nominations were invalid. That being the case should they, as is the case with overpaid Centrelink recipients, as a matter of law and ethics, be obliged to return the benefits they have received from the Commonwealth erroneously ?

  12. Peregrine McCauley

    The moronic populace will line up every three years to give them a mandate , a commission to enslave and punish . The irony is , if the commoners were born into privilege , the same scenrio would ensue . Look at New Zealand . Three terms of P.P.P.P – plunder , pillage , of public purse rule , have left the workforce impoverished , stripped of dignity , sleeping in cars , parks , paying $400.00 a week to live in an landlords garage . A third of it’s children living in abject poverty . Yet , like a recurring nightmare , they trudged on , to the ballet box endorsing their tormentor , only to be plucked from their precipice of doom , by New Zealand ‘s constitution. It’s the same on our shores . It’s the way of life . It will always be this way .

  13. corvusboreus

    wam,
    Laying aside my differences with your oft-demonstrated belief in the relative sanity of climate denier and grand-conspiracy theorist Malcolm Roberts, comparative to say, Larissa Waters, who you habitually call a ‘loony’,

    You chose to omit the leader and deputy leader of the federal National party, who have both also been deemed guilty, under the high court decision, of ‘false premises’ (as you put it), from the rest of the technically ineligible, who you feel should be obliged to repay all parliamentary income and expenses (even those who offered voluntary resignations after ascertaining their possible/probable ineligibility).
    Is there any particular reason why you omit Joyce and Nash from your punitive condemnation?

    I ask since Barnaby Joyce, in particular, has a long and rich history of deeply dipping his sticky fingers into the public purse in order to finance his jetsetting, jaunts and junkets.

  14. king1394

    It’s almost a shame that there weren’t a few ALP MPs caught in the net, as I’m sure that it would have been clear to our Liberal Federal Government that they were frauds who should pay back every penny, and whose contributions to decisions should be invalidated. However, since it is the honourable members from the coalition, it will all be brushed aside as a quirk of the Constitution that needs to be fixed instead.

  15. Potoroo

    Terence Mills

    The default position is that the Department of Finance will request their salaries be repaid. However, ordinarily the Special Minister of State will waive this on the grounds that since, as I said earlier, all Parliamentarians are presumed validly elected until proven otherwise and they have accordingly done the work of Parliamentarians they are entitled to be recompensed for that work. This is not difficult to find out.

    As for the supposed tongue in cheek tone of your article, if there is one thing that frightens me about the future of our democracy even more than this government’s bastardry, it is the number of Australians not just willing but eager to make shit up and wax indignant about things that are flatly wrong. Sites like AIM, which are prone to hysteria, do not help.

  16. Glenn Barry

    king1394 – Brandis already made statements to the effect that Ludlam and Waters may be pursued to recover monies paid, this was before Nationals were embroiled in the fiasco – seems that everything that was said and done by the LNP from the very beginning was hasty, ill considered, ill judged and wrong – and it continually worsened from there

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/16/george-brandis-attacks-scott-ludlam-and-says-he-could-be-forced-to-repay-debt

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/george-brandis-says-he-wont-be-shedding-tears-for-scott-ludlam/news-story/c0c5dcae01e2a393ddc141aa2cc4931b

  17. corvusboreus

    king1394,
    I recall that, after Ludlum resigned then Waters subsequently stepped down (over a lag of 5 days between her birth and the enactment of a prior-passed Canadian parliamentary amendment to their citizenship laws), there was much said on the subject, particularly by members of the coalition.
    Apart from the Brandis comments, Alan Tudge, the minister responsible for ‘the systematic generation of false debt being levied upon impoverished citizenry via an automated mechanism using patently inappropriate algorithms, enforced with a suspension of the legal principle of presumed innocence” (aka ‘Social Services’) said that the Greens demonstration of carelessness in losing 2 parliamentarians was a display of administrative competence that showed their unsuitability for any role in governance.
    The robo-debt minister may well be right on that one, but he has not yet since commented on the ramification of the losses of the leader and deputy-leader of the party that partners his governing coalition for showing similar levels of sloppiness/stupidity.

    Pauline Hanson, also previously twittered about how the resignations of Ludlum and Waters over dual nationality issues showed just how ‘un-astryan’ the Greens were as a party.
    She later publicly mourned the expulsion from the senate of her Pommy-Indian ally Malcolm Roberts, for the exact same issue of ‘indeterminate national allegiances’, abeit, in his case, booted out unwillingly by court decision, despite tendering his own statutary declarations as empirical evidence his own defense.
    Pauline spoke of her sorrow on the fall of her not-Australian-enough ex-senator without showing a hint of awareness in the glaring irony, but then again demonstrating intellectual, logical or ethical consistency has never been her strong suite.

  18. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    An excellent summary, corvusboreus

  19. Brucellosis

    Yes,well said Corvusboreus

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