Contributed by Jim Hayes
One good outcome of the dual citizenship debacle hitting Australia is that the lack of integrity of the political establishment is being hung out for all to see.
But is the issue itself really that important?
There has been a long held popular wisdom that politicians are not people to be trusted. So much so that all too often those who do wrong get away with it and there is limited public outrage, simply because it is expected. Just consider the long tradition of padding travel and accommodation expenses. When someone gets caught, it’s a telling off and at worst a minister having to step down.
If anyone else is caught red handed for a comparable deed, it would be straight to court and perhaps imprisonment.
The level rorting without serious consequences that has gone on for years, is proof enough that the political system is seriously corrupt, and it needs cleaning up. The problem seems to be getting worse. The dual citizenship saga, which is claiming an ever-growing list, is small stuff by comparison.
The citizenship issue may have serious consequences for the Turnbull government’s capacity to maintain the numbers to keep on being the government. There may be something positive in this for those who want to see this government go, but really, it has blown out of proportion to its real importance and it sends out the negative message that all those Australians who have citizenship are less worthy and somehow inferior Australians.
It plays straight into the hands of xenophobia, based on a very narrow definition of what it means to be a real Australian. We should be past this in this day and age.
Yes, some members of parliament have been less than truthful and a few, if we believe them, have not exactly proved to be the sharpest knifes in the draw. They deserve to be lampooned. The down side is that it takes attention away from much more serious wrongdoing that has been committed by some ministers and others.
Bronwyn Bishop’s taste for the expensive lifestyle at the taxpayer’s expense and Michaelia Cash’s extraordinary conduct behaviour in relation to GetUp and the Australian Workers Union are contemporary cases that come to mind. It is matters like this that should be receiving the primary consideration.
That so many members of parliament are shoeing to possess dual citizenship, reflects the nature of Australian society, where a large proportion of citizens who either they or their parents were born in other countries. In the future this proportion will be higher.
Australia’s constitution is an outdated document, and this is a case in point, for it pretends that the multicultural mix of Australia does not exist. It is this discrepancy between a document and living reality that has caused the present hoo-ha. The document is what needs to be examined.
Turnbull and his gang have only themselves to blame for their latest problem. They are the ones who started this fiasco, to get rid of two of the Greens. Now they are trying to hold the line. The trouble with this that is going out of control and it is the same archaic document that has given them grief in the High Court.