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.