Citizenship debacle unnecessary

The accusations and counter accusations are rolling on in Canberra while the High Court remains judiciously silent about the outcome of the dual nationality imbroglio. One thing that can be said of an episode that has seen the word “farce” used more times than the theatre is it is another blow to the general confidence of Canberra to deal with the more serious business of running a nation. 

Opposition leader Bill Shorten, confident that at least his party has done the pre-selection diligence, has even this week made an offer for a truce and maintains his party will respect the Government’s mandate so they can get on with parliamentary business. But this seemingly august olive branch comes with the caveat that the government must reciprocate  by ensuring MP’s Joyce and Nash stand down and put a hold on controversial legislation in the house. It gives the appearance of looking like they want to get on with the job while the High Court makes a decision in October but politically, it also presents a government in the light of still more depleted numbers and authority.

Despite Shorten prevaricating about documents renouncing his UK citizenship in 2006, so far the opposition is finding it easy to take the high ground. Past history has taught them to get the paper work right, a situation dismally absent from both the Nationals, the Greens and a number of minor parties.

Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis, who holds the marginal seat of Gilmore in NSW is the lastest under scrutiny because she was listed as a British-Australian citizen on an incoming passenger card in 1966. Ms Sudmalis, who was born in Australia and maintains she has never held British citizenship said in a statement that her father filled out the incoming passenger card on her behalf in 1966.

While there is certainly a case for changing or adapting the law as has been advocated at various junctures, changing the constitution is no easy task. At the same time complying with a century old law through background checks should have prompted more than cursory attention. If some of the omissions may have been innocent, at the very least they have the appearance of being “sloppy”. Not a great epithet for those in whom we have divested the trust of running the country. 

The humour has gone from this comedy and the public, like no-doubt many a politician, is simply thinking October can’t come fast enough for the curtain to come down.