ALP ‘hit­ting dogs when they’re down’

The Australian - - THE NATION - ROSIE LEWIS

‘I’m free to learn from ev­ery­body … with­out that (re­stric­tion) of a party struc­ture’ LUCY GICHUHI IN­DE­PEN­DENT SEN­A­TOR

Ac­ci­den­tal sen­a­tor Lucy Gichuhi has hit out at La­bor for its treat­ment of politi­cians caught up in the dual cit­i­zen­ship fi­asco, say­ing “You don’t hit a dog when it’s down”.

The Kenyan-born cross­bench MP, whose cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus was un­suc­cess­fully chal­lenged by La­bor this year, said she “didn’t like” the op­po­si­tion’s ques­tion time tac­tics tar­get­ing Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce and Na­tion­als deputy leader Fiona Nash.

Mr Joyce and Sen­a­tor Nash are among seven MPs who could be dis­qual­i­fied from fed­eral par­lia­ment un­der sec­tion 44(i) of the Con­sti­tu­tion, which pro­hibits dual cit­i­zens.

“We need to be gen­tle when we are deal­ing with our col­leagues and at the same time let them face the full in­ter­pre­ta­tion of sec­tion 44,” Sen­a­tor Gichuhi said. “That is why I’ve said to my col­leagues in La­bor: ‘You don’t hit a dog when it’s down.’

“It’s the one time we need to be hu­man. This is some­body’s life that has just come to a halt. We need to un­der­stand and show them cour­tesy. How­ever, the mem­bers should do the right thing and fol­low through with the High Court.”

La­bor has de­manded Mr Joyce and Sen­a­tor Nash stand down from cab­i­net amid con­cerns their min­is­te­rial de­ci­sions may be open to le­gal chal­lenge, pend­ing the High Court’s rul­ing, and set a record for sus­pend­ing stand­ing or­ders in the lower house to cre­ate a sense of chaos and con­fu­sion.

Re­flect­ing on her own High Court ex­pe­ri­ence, Sen­a­tor Gichuhi said she had not only faced ques­tions over Kenyan cit­i­zen­ship but was also told she might be Bri­tish be­cause Kenya was a Bri­tish colony un­til 1963 — a year af­ter she was born.

“That was the first time I heard I could be a po­ten­tial Bri­ton,” she said.

La­bor’s push to chal­lenge Sen­a­tor Gichuhi’s el­i­gi­bil­ity to sit in par­lia­ment was dis­missed and she was de­clared the re­place­ment sen­a­tor in April for Fam­ily First MP Bob Day, who lost his seat for hold­ing an in­di­rect pe­cu­niary in­ter­est with the com­mon­wealth.

As she pre­pares to mark five months as a sen­a­tor to­mor­row, Sen­a­tor Gichuhi said her de­ci­sion to go it alone as an in­de­pen­dent MP af­ter Fam­ily First joined with Cory Bernardi’s Aus­tralian Con­ser­va­tives party was “the best thing that could have hap­pened”.

“When it hap­pened, I was ter­ri­fied, I didn’t know what to do. I kept say­ing ‘Stand still, be still, it will be OK, next step’,” she said.

“It has placed me in this sit­u­a­tion where I’m free to learn from ev­ery­body … with­out that (re­stric­tion) of a party struc­ture.”

The for­mer lawyer and ac­coun­tant, who earns $200,000 a year as a sen­a­tor and says she will run at the next elec­tion, did not rule out form­ing an al­liance with other cross­benchers such as Sen­a­tor Bernardi or Lib­eral Demo­crat David Ley­on­hjelm.

“If it will hap­pen, de­pends, I don’t have a time­frame,” Sen­a­tor Gichuhi said.

“In­vi­ta­tions to al­liances have come from all the par­ties.”

Sen­a­tor Gichuhi con­cedes she has kept un­der the radar while she “sits back and watches” how the par­lia­ment works and gets to know her col­leagues. “That takes a bit of ob­serv­ing, get­ting to have a bit of a re­la­tion­ship with them, be­fore I can re­ally come out blow­ing the horn,” she said.

KYM SMITH

‘We need to be gen­tle when we are deal­ing with our col­leagues,’ says in­de­pen­dent sen­a­tor Lucy Gichuhi

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.