|Pic courtesy AAP|
I’ve called this a “saga”, gentle reader, because no other description fits this series of events so neatly.
A “saga” can be defined as “a dramatic history of a group, place, industry”, and if “dramatic” infers to a series of unexpected and unusual events, it is indeed a very good match.
It all began with a barrister called John Cameron, who had a specific interest in, and knowledge of constitutional law. As it happens, he also has dual New Zealand/Australian citizenship. Cameron became aware that Scott Ludlum was a dual citizen, as Cameron himself was, and contacted a Green acquaintance with his evidence, who passed the information on to the Party.
Ludlum resigned 48 hours later.
Once the cat was out of the bag, and the media got the hang of the implications, the rot started.
Now, as this is written, the whole thing has descended into farce.
The situation has been picked up by the various parties as a means to attack each other’s legitimacy, and all common sense and logic has gone out of the proverbial window.
Now I understand section 44 holds, and we don’t need individuals sitting in either house of parliament for whom loyalty to the country they serve is questioned, but seriously, does anyone really believe that this is an issue for the people who have resigned?
Without wishing to sound cynical, self-interest has always trumped national loyalty in our parliaments, so national loyalty is actually irrelevant.
So, what’s the solution?
I know this opinion flies in the face of the High Court, but why not simply leave everything alone until the next election, and allow those fingered to sort out their affairs in the meantime?
After all, the people who voted for these members believed they were good Aussies entitled to represent them in parliament. How can that belief and trust be thrown in the proverbial waste basket?
The intent of the democratic process should be valued, and not steamrolled by black letter law. It’s not as if these people who were also citizens of New Zealand and the UK (or Canada, or Italy) were going to be compromised in their decision-making in our parliament.
I doubt the Kiwis, the Italians or the Canadians are all that concerned about decisions made in Canberra.
But I’m only a voter. It seems that my views (and those, I suggest, of the majority of Oz voters), are irrelevant. But, wait a minute, isn’t democracy a process which is founded on the views of the voter?
We’ve recently had a very expensive postal survey on same sex marriage. Why not put this question before the people –
“Do you wish to allow those democratically elected by the Australian people to remain in parliament until they can renounce dual citizenship?"
On second thoughts, given the record of referenda in this country, we might get a "no" and succeed only in prolonging the saga. There'd always be somebody bloody-minded enough to advance the "no" case.