The story of the week must be the growing number of federal politicians with citizenship of another country in breach of the constitution. These are the people elected to represent and govern us, yet many are being shown incapable of managing their own affairs.
Public pressure is building for an audit of both houses of parliament but so far this is being strongly resisted by the government and the opposition, although the latter has sniffed the breeze and is beginning to show signs of changing its position. Are you convinced by the Prime Minister’s and others’ argument that it is solely the responsibility of the individual to comply with the constitution, and no-one else should question them?
Hello?? If that is the case, why then have so many been found to be in breach of a relatively simple rule?
As things stand at present, the constitution forbids a federal politician from being the citizen of another country. This restriction does not apply to state politicians and one could ask whether it might be time to reconsider this century old rule. Some parliamentary committees have already recommended it be rescinded (which requires a referendum). Australia prides itself on being an example to the world on multi-culturalism and having politicians with family connections to another country is, on the face of it, no bad thing.
It is difficult to imagine that an Australian politician would ever vote in favour of another country against the interests of Australia itself, but then I suppose, whilever our current system of political donations is in place, anything is possible. Adani might be the appropriate example of international influence at work. One thing this issue has highlighted is the high proportion of politicians with ethnic backgrounds. Does this mean that people with immediate family from overseas are more politically inclined? Does democracy mean more to them because of a possibly non-democratic overseas environment? It’s an interesting question which would make for a long discussion.
The other major issue for the week was the closure of the Manus Island detention centre for refugees, and their refusal to leave (to date). There are just so many sides to this argument that it could not possibly be covered here in full, but some sort of reflection seems warranted. There is no doubt that the off-shore detention centres have helped stem the flow of refugees by boat, which in turn has reduced the number of drownings.
But there appears to be no workable end plan to deal with the people involved, except for a potentially unstable “agreement” with the USA which its President has roundly derided. Even a generous offer by our more kind-hearted Kiwi cousins to accept a small number was rejected outright, ostensibly because they might use this route to make their way into Australia and the boats might start again.
Is this a reasonable fear? Some of these people, the majority of whom have been found to be genuine refugees, have been in detention for four years. Is that a reasonable practice for a developed country?
Meanwhile the United Nations, representing all the other countries of the world, is castigating Australia for human rights breaches. Our reputation throughout the world as the country of a fair go is being trashed and the government has no acceptable response. Many Australians regard the boat people with hostility, an attitude promoted by politicians and evidenced by some of the vitriolic emails that regularly circulate.
But these are people forced from their homelands by wars, terrorism or ethnic cleansing, who have tried to get a new start in a foreign land. Many more people are reported to enter Australia by plane and illegally stay, yet attract no similar opprobrium. Being fortunate enough to live in Australia, I can’t imagine what it would take to force me to leave everything and go to another country. I would hate to be in their situation.
The news is far better in Grenfell where the new pool has finally opened. Judging by the number of drenched and dripping bodies taking advantage of it over the weekend, it was worth the wait. Orange was less fortunate, with the highly regrettable drowning of a young child. What a dreadful loss for the family.
T Lobb –
Feather Duster No 3