Rules are things you apply to other – lesser – people

Stalwart of The Pub, Aguirre, today ‘penned’ yet another of his exquisitely insightful comments. It was greeted with much acclaim, as post of the week, and I agree. So – with our guest author’s kind permission, the comment now morphs into our latest threadstarter. Thank you so much, Aguirre!

Photo credit: Alamy Stock Images

Looking around the discussion regarding MPs and citizenship, it seems to me a lot of people out there are still missing the point. It’s not really about how this government can or cannot hang on to power, or about whether the constitutional rules are arcane, or even about the timing of renunciations. It’s about something a lot larger than that, and something that strikes at the heart of everyone’s lived political experience.

It’s about short-cuts, privilege, and the idea within right-wing circles that rules are things you apply to other people. I think we’ve seen enough to know that a lot of MPs were aware all along that they had citizenship issues – they just didn’t care because they thought it would never come up. The key to this is that that is their attitude to everything. You do as little as you need in order to become an MP – that includes not only just ticking boxes on a form whether or not you’ve done your due diligence on them – but also trotting out whatever empty promises get you across the line, only considering what’s strategically effective as a message and not what’s practically effective as a policy, and just generally riding in on a tide of slurs, lies, and slogans. As a party, the Liberals also have that attitude to expense claims. Take, take, take, and justify later on – when and if necessary. It’s what got Bronwyn Bishop kicked out of her job.

Coalition MPs simply aren’t across the details on anything. They think things will work out in the end, but at that level they simply don’t. They spent a lot of time in opposition focusing on minor details, which gave the impression that they were into fine print, But that was just concentrating on gotchas, and even most of those were based on shonky information or misconstruing data – think of any of Hockey’s presentations as Shadow Treasurer: they were all based on distorted information made to look like real research.

What we’re seeing at the moment is a bizarre manifestation of that general laxity of discipline and accountability. It’s the same attitude that brought us the Census, the NBN, all of our policy-on-the-run asylum seeker bastardry, Robodebt, and pretty much everything they’ve touched since gaining power in 2013. Even their Royal Commissions were half-hearted and shoddily researched. Their Productivity Commission reports were constructed around … you couldn’t even call it ideology: mere assumptions, as was more or less admitted in the aftermath. Robodebt is almost the textbook case for their double-standard on accountability. Welfare recipients are held to the strictest standards based on data that’s wildly inaccurate, and designed to be that way. It was a rush job treated as a kind of economic gospel, and of course it ran into problems at once. The recent raid on the AWU is another good example of the Liberals’ holding somebody else to strict standards – an internal procedural issue from a decade ago? – while leaving themselves wide open to attack because their own organisation of the raid was so cack-handed. In fact, this pattern goes all the way back to Utegate.

And that’s what the citizenship mess is telling us. These guys don’t check anything beforehand. They guess at things, expect it all to go swimmingly because they’re Important People, and only energise themselves when it’s time to organise a cover-up to save their arses.


906 thoughts on “Rules are things you apply to other – lesser – people

  1. They will bring up the obeid stuff against Kenneally. But here’s the thing. It represents an opportunity for Labor.

    Last weekend I attended a function at Southern Highlands Branch with guest speaker Chris Bowen. One question from the floor asked whether Labor was considering a Federal ICAC.

    Bowen: Yes, we’re considering it.
    Q: But are you REALLY considering it?
    Bowen: Yes. We are REALLY considering it.

    Now flash forward to presser a week out from Bennelong by-election.

    Shorten: “If elected, we will immediately introduce a bill to have a Federal ICAC.”

    Cut to KK: “And may I remind everyone that i didn’t protect obeid from the State ICAC”

  2. I didn’t follow the NSW icac thingy, but people on my twitter feed are saying seenodonors was more involved with obied thank Kristina was. Hope Labor have worked out a turn-it-back-on-them strategy.

  3. I honestly think enough time has passed since the 2011 state election for Keneally’s prospects as a candidate.

    In the time of 2011-2015, yeah, words like “Obeid”, “Macdonald”, “Costa”, etc were seen almost at the tier of swearwords, but, that time has passed. Keneally didn’t engage in any corrupt behaviour herself, she’s a charismatic individual with strong recognition and political experience, she should be in with a chance to win Bennelong IMO.

    • It’ll be a challenge for the ALP to regain Bennelong, even for a strong candidate like KK.
      The reaction from the MSM and LNP was totally worth it, though.

  4. The senate has voted to refer communications minister Mitch Fifield to the Legal and Constitutional References Committee. Fifield has been under attack all week over his failure to act on knowledge that former senate president Stephen Parry may have been ineligible for office due to dual citizenship.

    A motion was moved by Greens leader Richard Di Natale to refer Fifield over his “knowledge of former Senator Parry’s dual-citizenship status”. The motion was carried 32 to 27.

    The Legal and Constitutional References Committee will need to inquire and report on the matter by December 4.

  5. I’m also very nervous about what the recount of the Tasmanian Senate will be. If it results in Nick McKim also losing his seat and resulting in another One Nation ratbag being raised, and if Jacqui Lambie’s 2nd – Steve Martin turning out to be a scumbag that votes with the Liberals/Nationals/One Nation in most cases, that scares me with what this horrible government might be capable of in the future.

    • Do I understand you correctly in this matter?

      (1) Situation: Senate vacancy owing to it being found, after the election process is completed, that a senator was not eligible for election.

      (2) A recount of the votes in that State is conducted.

      (3) As a result of that recount a sitting Senator is booted out !!!!!

    • At least, yes, that is what people like Antony Green have been saying might happen in the Tasmanian Senate recount.

      Because the Tasmanian Senate vote has such a higher below-the-line vote than other states, due to its Hare-Clark state voting system, Green has been saying since Parry resigned that a recount might result in McKim losing out in favour of One Nation’s Kate McCulloch.

    • Now, Antony Green knows more about how the system works than I do(and possibly even more than you do) but it seems to me to be very odd that a person who has been sworn in as a Senator could be told during his term that as a result of someone else (from another party at that) making a major error he, the blameless one, is kicked out of the Senate. I doubt if there is any precedent for it.

    • The latest thinking on that seems to be McKim is OK.

      Lambie is now the second Tasmanian senator to force a replacement, after the departure of Liberal Stephen Parry, the former Senate president.

      When it was just Parry’s departure triggering a recount, it was possible that procedure could have displaced the Tasmanian Green Nick McKim, possibly in favour of a One Nation candidate.

      But the ABC’s election expert Antony Green, told Guardian Australia on Tuesday if both Parry and Lambie were knocked out “there is no question over Nick McKim’s position”

  6. Overall, I really regret Jacqui Lambie leaving the Senate.

    Yes, she could be a stupid person sometimes, especially when it came to policies relating to multiculturalism, but, she has this air of proper integrity about her that I admire in politicians. If the Coalition tried to trick her, she told them to fuck off and that she’d never support their legislation again. Yes, she joined the Senate as one of Clive Palmer’s crew, but she quickly told him to get stuffed too.

    I just hope in future she can learn from her experiences how to check things over, and it’s regrettable how horrible she could be in regards to the muslim community, but I’d much rather her be on the crossbench than one of Hanson’s lackeys.

  7. @Brianmcisme

    Yeah, I don’t think Green knows where this might eventually end up. It’s pretty much in the hands of the High Court now and god knows where that ends up. But I would be horrified if One Nation gets another seat of influence in the senate, since that makes all sorts of horrifying Coalition policy change from being hopelessly lost to suddenly becoming on the table and we might be faced with a maelstrom of policies designed to strangle the poor and enrich the rich.

  8. @Leone

    Thanks for that. That’s very reassuring.

    But still, it makes me wonder about cases of recounts in the future. If a Senator in the future ends up screwing up and a recount is had, should the recount be able to knock out other Senators that have done the right thing? I think that is definitely something in the constitution that should be looked over.

  9. here is a ?
    My Moms old passport

    Cover Clearly says Australia — Emblem– British Passport

    And front page of my mothers passport issued in 1965
    says Aus Citizen and a British subject.

    I along with my brothers were just toddlers and were included on mums passport. Does this make me dual citizen even though mum was born in Aust?

    • Are you going to run for Federal Parliament, if you aren’t then it doesn’t matter. You can find out on the internet if you are a dual citizen, apparently.

    • No, you are not a British citizen. We didn’t get Australian passports without the ‘British passport’ thing until 1967. They still had the crown on them, though.

  10. Talking with my sister today we reckon my grandfather on Mum’s side was a Pom (born circa 1870). Wonder if I could score an EU passport before Brexit takes effect?

    • The last Pomgolian in my family was my G G’ma from Wallsend. She died when I was about 10 months old,still have the photos of us. Could that be why I love the Geordie accent,’imprinted’ as a bairn ? 🙂

    • My grandfather was born in Cornwall, England, not interested in finding out if I was a dual citizen. Never running to be a Fed MP. Won’t ever be going there, so I don’t give a damn.

  11. Could somebody remind me what the process if for changing an ALP leader these days? I know it’s a much harder process than it used to be, but that’s all I remember.

    • What follows beowis about 4 yearsold but I’mpretty sure it’sstill te state of play

      “Under new caucus rules, formal nominations for leader of the parliamentary Labor Party open today and will remain open for a week.

      A ballot of the parliamentary Labor Party and the broader party membership will be held to determine the outcome.

      Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese have both nominated for the position.

      Had there only been one candidate, that person would have been automatically elected as leader without the need for a ballot.

      Only those Labor Party supporters who are on the membership roll at the close of nominations will be eligible to vote.

      The ballot will be conducted by a postal vote and party members have been told they will receive paperwork after nominations close, which is next Friday September 20.

      They will then have two weeks to return their vote.

      Counting will take place three days after the close of the ballot.

      Party members will vote first, but the outcome will not be known until after MPs and Senators have cast their ballots.

      The final result will be determined by giving equal weight to the parliamentary Labor Party decision and that of the grassroots membership.

      Under the new rules, the only way to then remove the leader would be for 60 per cent of Caucus members to sign a petition requesting a new election.

      During the month-long ballot process, former treasurer Chris Bowen will be acting leader. Other frontbench roles will remain unchanged until the new leadership team is in place.”

    • If I’d done my proofreading the introductory paragraph would have read:
      What follows below is about 4 years old but I’m pretty sure it’s still the state of play.

  12. Thanks Brianmcisme. I was trying to remember what it is about the process that makes a change of leader so much harder these days. Every now and then I cop somebody saying “Oh, they’ll just replace Shorten with Albanese” or (as has just happened tonight), “They’ll install Keneally before the election.” But there’s always some riposte about how that can’t just happen like that any more. Can’t call for a spill or some such. It must be this bit I was thinking of:

    Under the new rules, the only way to then remove the leader would be for 60 per cent of Caucus members to sign a petition requesting a new election.

    So cheers, thanks.

    • Changes thought up by Rudd, keen to protect his leadership ad wanting to make sure no-one could dethrone him again. He forgot about the voters though. I think he thought he was going to be PM for years.

  13. Long time lurker here and very occasional poster.

    For weeks here and the other place I have been reading about dual citizens with various posters quite dismissive of them. I am puzzled about the animus against them. I am a very satisfied dual citizen, with an Australian passport and the British, now EU as well, passport I applied for decades ago after I got married and entitled to as the spouse of a Brit. We always travel with both and when travelling to EU countries enter them with our EU passport. Easy peasy.

    I am cross about Brexit because I think it is a dumb idea generally and personally because I will lose my EU access.

    As it happens I could resume citizenship of the Iron curtain country I was born in but given the strong authoritarianism streak developing there, I will probably forgo the opportunity.

  14. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Mark Kenny on how the Kristina Keneally announcement is a horror scenario for the government.
    Adam Gartrell writes that Kristina Keneally has hit the ground running and not taking any shit.
    John Howard says he’s expecting a call up as the Coalition campaigns to retain his former Sydney seat of Bennelong, hours after former NSW premier Kristina Keneally was named as Labor’s candidate.
    Jennifer Hewett thinks the fight for Bennelong will get dirty. Google.
    While Quentin Dempster writes that a smear campaign against Keneally would be a dangerous gamble.
    Nicholas Stuart refers to the speech George Megalogenis gave to the NPC this week. George has crunched the numbers and adduced the (inevitable) result. Australia is rapidly becoming two countries. The reason is simple. It’s all about immigration. Quite disturbing really.
    “The government’s public standing has eroded. How will it pass crucial laws?” asks Peter Lewis.
    Nick O’Malley reports on a number of sources that say that the SSM survey was an unnecessary blocking tactic and that the MPs should have done their job.
    Professor of Law Patrick Parkinson says that in the aftermath of a bitterly divisive campaign concerning same-sex marriage, Australia now needs the kind of leadership that delivers on all-too-often empty promises.
    Phil Coorey writes that moves by hardline conservatives to substantially alter a proposed same-sex marriage bill, including removing anti-discrimination protections, look set to fail, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying neither the Parliament, the government nor the people would support weakening anti-discrimination laws.

  15. Section 2 . . .

    Premier Dan Andrews writes “The result of the Australian marriage law postal survey could well be a victory for the “no” camp – probably not by a wide margin, but possibly by a whisker. So what happens then?” An excellent contribution!
    Michael Koziol says Turnbull has slapped down conservative Coalition MPs clamouring for the right to discriminate against gay people, arguing such moves would be neither welcome nor successful. We shall see.
    John Birmingham really disparages the SSM and the NO proponents.
    Turnbull could, if he was willing, cut short the ‘No’ campaign shenanigans by simply calling a vote on Senator Dean Smith’s long-standing motion but this would take plain old-fashioned guts, so it probably won’t happen, writes Mungo MacCallum.,10926
    Four reasons Victorian MPs say ‘no’ to assisted dying, and why they’re misleading.
    The Australian Workers Union has applied to the Federal Court for all correspondence between the Registered Organisations Commission and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash’s office over its concerns about alleged political interference with the independent agency’s investigation.
    Paul Keating has delivered a visionary speech, as well as a challenge, at a CEDA meeting. Along with a few well aimed rebukes, too!
    Karl Quinn says there’s a lot to like in the restructure announced by ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie, but it does little to address the broadcaster’s biggest challenges.
    When the Senate Judiciary Committee asked Brett Talley if he would have any conflicts of interest if confirmed as a federal judge, he failed to disclose one potentially big one. He’s married to a White House lawyer. What an effort!
    A suspended Australian Federal Police officer who was part of a prime ministerial security detail was caught leaking information on a drug investigation after police set up an elaborate sting in 2013.

  16. Section 3 . . .

    Ross Gittins summarises Richard Dennis’s book, “Curing Affluenza”.
    Salim Mehajer has been hit with a fine and a legal bill after pleading guilty to failing to disclose his political donations while he was deputy mayor of the now-defunct Auburn Council. This guy certainly keeps us entertained.
    Foreign spies, lobbyists and donations will be targeted under sweeping new laws that seek to fight interference with Australia’s democratic institutions and influence on politicians. George Brandis might have done some good work here.
    Jacqui Maley farewells Jacqui Lambie, “the real thing”. I must say the speech that the enigmatic George Brandis gave to Lambie was genuine and heart-felt.
    A group of elderly and bedridden residents will lose their homes just before Christmas as the scandal-plagued retirement village Berkeley Living in Patterson Lakes prepares to close. This is a sorry story all round.
    Profits of Adani Enterprises – the company in Adani Group’s complex structure that owns the proposed Carmichael coalmine – have collapsed almost 50% year-on-year, according to a half-yearly report released this week, which does not mention the mine. The results further show the company is in financial distress.
    The NSW department of Finance Services and Innovation has notified United Voice, the union representing the cleaners, that employment guarantees in place since 1994 “will not be extended in the new contracts from 2018”. The 7000 employees will be forced to reapply for their jobs.
    Can growth lift the economy when inflation won’t?
    Stephen Koukoulas says the latest Statement on Monetary Policy has confirmed the failure of the Reserve Bank of Australia to implement monetary policy settings that are consistent with its inflation target and objective of full employment.
    Roy Moore fights for family values. Do those involve assaulting 14-year-olds?
    New data on national streaming habits has revealed Australians will stop at nothing to get their TV fix, even taking their binge-watching habits into public toilets and cutting back on groceries to cover subscription fees.


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