Pol­lies who want dual loy­al­ties are crack­ers

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - WORLD -

WHO­EVER thought of chang­ing a law just be­cause it keeps get­ting bro­ken? Well, that’s what a Lib­er­alchaired par­lia­men­tary re­port rec­om­mended this week when it said the Con­sti­tu­tion should be changed to al­low dual cit­i­zens to sit in our par­lia­ment. The PM, who or­dered the re­port, didn’t rule it out, say­ing only there wasn’t time to hold a ref­er­en­dum be­fore the next gen­eral elec­tion. Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten said he would con­sider the re­port care­fully.

Well, if ei­ther of these two po­lit­i­cal lead­ers wants to run a YES cam­paign to change the con­sti­tu­tion and al­low di­vided loy­al­ties in our par­lia­ment, I’ll put my hand up to run the NO cam­paign for free.

The con­sti­tu­tional rules re­gard­ing sec­tion 44 are com­mon­sense and clear. They’ve been in place now for well over 100 years and just be­cause a slew of MPs can’t abide by the rules or get their act to­gether be­fore they run for par­lia­ment, is not a rea­son to up­end a sys­tem that’s served us well.

It’s funny but I don’t see the par­lia­ment rec­om­mend­ing other laws are changed just be­cause they keep get­ting bro­ken or seem hard to keep. We all have to abide by the laws our par­lia­ment sets yet here is the par­lia­ment want­ing the Aus­tralian peo­ple to change the Con­sti­tu­tion be­cause they can’t seem to stick by its rules. How stupid do these MPs think we are?

Get­ting your house in or­der nom­i­nat­ing for par­lia­ment is about as ba­sic as it gets. Any­one who fan­cies them­selves a chance ti­dies up their CV and usu­ally gets more in­volved lo­cally to pad out their ex­pe­ri­ence. They get es­tab­lished with a po­lit­i­cal party and start to tell friends and fam­ily. They get along to party events to work over pre­s­e­lec­tors, get the best ref­er­ences they can and get to work on their pre­s­e­lec­tion speech.

Any­one who tries to tell you a can­di­date wakes up one day and says “I’m go­ing to run for par­lia­ment to­mor­row” is telling you fibs. Stand­ing for po­lit­i­cal of­fice is a life’s am­bi­tion and any idea that can­di­dates can’t get their act to­gether to meet the rules of the Con­sti­tu­tion while they’re do­ing all the other party-po­lit­i­cal things I’ve out­lined is just rub­bish.

There’s a lot in the re­port by the elec­toral mat­ters com­mit­tee that ac­knowl­edges the fact that Aus­tralia is an im­mi­gra­tion na­tion, but it prof­fers a false­hood that un­less we change sec­tion 44, we might some­how lock mi­grant Aus­tralians out of their chance to stand for of­fice. It’s true, about 40 per cent of our pop­u­la­tion were ei­ther born over­seas or have a par­ent born over­seas, so that’s 40 per cent of Aus­tralians who have (or who might be en­ti­tled to) dual cit­i­zen­ship. But all that means is that we’re ex­pect­ing any­one who has for­eign cit­i­zen­ship, or an en­ti­tle­ment by way of a par­ent or grand­par­ent, to get in touch with the rel­e­vant em­bassy in Can­berra and en­sure that, be­fore run­ning, that en­ti­tle­ment is re­nounced.

It’s not that hard. This is af­ter all, the age of the in­ter­net; we’re not ask­ing peo­ple to send their forms via a slow boat to Eng­land. By now, every­one should know the rules: if you want to run for the Aus­tralian par­lia­ment you’ve got to get rid of any dual cit­i­zen­ship and, frankly, if you’re not pre­pared to ditch your dual cit­i­zen­ship, I think I speak for a lot of peo­ple when I say I don’t want you in the par­lia­ment mak­ing laws.

But there’s a big­ger is­sue here than just el­i­gi­bil­ity to sit in the par­lia­ment. The big­ger is­sue is, of course, what we ex­pect of mi­grants.

It is a fact that peo­ple from all over the world have come here to build a bet­ter life and have be­come first-class Aus­tralians. It’s a won­der­ful part of our na­tional story, but the point is they came here, or should have come here, to be­come fully com­mit­ted to this country and our peo­ple. Cit­i­zen­ship is a two-way street. Our country sup­ports and nur­tures us be­cause all of us, equally, are ex­pected to do what we can to sup­port and nur­ture our country.

Mi­grants from dif­fer­ent parts of the world are en­ti­tled to re­mem­ber their birth­places with af­fec­tion. But for every mi­grant, Aus­tralia is now their home. And for those elected by us all, to make laws on our be­half, we ex­pect a higher stan­dard of be­hav­iour, com­mit­ment and loy­alty. We shouldn’t be em­bar­rassed about that, we shouldn’t feel we need to apol­o­gise and we should never water it down. I don’t mind a Chi­nese-Aus­tralian sit­ting in Na­tional Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee de­cid­ing se­ri­ous is­sues, but I don’t want some­one in there with a Chi­nese pass­port, or Amer­i­can pass­port, or Iraqi, or Saudi Ara­bian one ei­ther. An af­fec­tion for a past home is one thing — I don’t be­grudge any mi­grant that — but loy­alty, a con­tin­ued loy­alty? That’s a very dif­fer­ent thing.

Al­low­ing dual cit­i­zens to sit in our par­lia­ment when the con­sti­tu­tion as in­ter­preted by the High Court clearly says they can’t, would be a mas­sive watering-down of what is ex­pected of our politi­cians and a di­lut­ing of the com­mit­ment to our country that every sin­gle Aus­tralian should have. Rather than the PM’s “there’s not enough time for a ref­er­en­dum”, this re­port must be re­jected out­right.

Labor mem­ber for Brad­don Jus­tine Keay, Labor Se­na­tor Katy Gal­lagher and Cen­tre Al­liance MP Re­bekha Sharkie had to re­sign from par­lia­ment.

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