Citizenship debacle trashes voters’ trust
THE citizenship fiasco has torn the heart out of what little trust Australians had left in their elected members of Parliament.
How did it come to this? The cover-ups, lack of honesty, stupidity in not checking one’s ancestry, blatant partisan games being played and gross negligence when it comes to basic administration are utterly staggering.
All parties, big and small, have fallen foul of Section 44 of the Constitution. While Labor and the Liberals are yet to formally test in the High Court any MPs’ or senators’ right to serve, revelations this week and last have highlighted that cover-ups and gamesmanship are winning ahead of dignity and honour.
What about the now former president of the Senate Stephen Parry?
He knew he had a problem with British ancestry, but chose to stay quite hoping that a High Court ruling on the cases of others would put him in the clear. His actions have far and away been the most unedifying during this whole saga.
And Labor’s member for the Tasmanian seat of Braddon, Justine Keay, only formally renounced her British citizenship after election day and after her seat was declared. When quizzed by journalists months ago she refused to release her evidence of renouncing. No wonder — what a cover-up.
She absolutely deserves to be referred to the High Court.
It all started when WA Greens senator Scott Ludlam realised he held New Zealand citizenship.
He did the right thing and immediately resigned, but how on earth could he have been so sloppy for so many years? It beggars belief.
The major parties enjoyed slamming the Greens for such sloppiness, before the citizenship fiasco rebounded on them. It’s not complicated — if you have a parent or a grandparent born overseas and you want to run for Federal Parliament, first check if you hold, or have a right to hold, foreign citizenship.
Because doing so is constitutionally banned for Federal MPs. It’s a pretty damn obvious thing to check.
What does it say about the calibre of those who represents us federally that so many of them don’t have the core competency to administratively manage something so simple?
Beyond the lack of personal accountability on display with MPs and senators who didn’t adequately check on themselves, party officials should hang their collective heads in shame.
It is their job to vet candidates and ensure they comply with the rules. Labor’s processes appear to be better than the processes in other parties, but there are cracks everywhere.
In the meantime, voters look on in total dismay. With so many serious policy challenges on the go, Canberra is consumed by this citizenship mess — a mess entirely of its own making.