Matthew Reddin

AusPol’s unforgivable crime: Not being from around here

Despite the obvious failings of the current political system in this country, AusPol has completely lost their minds over where people are from. At least Pauline’s above board. Right?

 

“Thank you for coming to your performance review. Please take a seat. Now, it says here you’ve been working with us here at The Greens for eight years?”
“Yes.”
“And what do you do with your time from one day to the next?”
“Oh, you know… General administration, campaign flyers, office tasks, helping out
with phone banks… That kind of thing.”
“Right, can we just focus on administration. What do you do with your time there?”
“I make sure the paperwork is done, and done properly.”
(Pause, somewhat awkward…)
“Erm, have you ever overseen it in the lead up to an election cycle?”
“Oh sure. That’s one of the most important things I do.”
“Right. I think we’ve heard enough. Please be kind enough to leave your swipe card at reception on your way out.”

C’mon, people. Nobody wants to see someone — two someones in a week — go down because they didn’t fill out the paperwork properly. With the less than explosive exodus of Greens Senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlum inside of a week, for the same administrative cock up, we’ve now been exposed to a couple of harsh political truths.

One, there’s no option to check the box marked “Yeah/Nah” under a declaration of Australian citizenship (although there would be nothing more Aussie than that), and two, bless us, but our political scandals are very, very pedestrian. Not like in the UK or USA when conservative pollies get nabbed cruising for rough trade, or the massive corruption they pinned on the South Korean president last year. Look to Italy, France or The Philippines for your big ticket political scandals… Hell, the American ones are getting genuinely interesting of late, with Russians and spies and email hackers and urinating prostitutes. Allegedly.

But in another blow for both fans of progressive politics, as well as political junkies aching for something a trifle juicier in the local scene, two federal senators have been forced to resign their six-year working holidays in the nation’s capital because of their lack of skills, vis-a-vis form filling out.

 

Makes not one lick of difference to me, all I know is that these people are being paid $180,000 of my tax dollars a year, and my sole requirement for them is that they’re competent. Pauline Hanson, not really that up to the task, but as it happens she is truly, wholly, disturbingly, revoltingly Australian to the core.

 

I’m not one to throw my hat in the ring, based on both a lack of real political insight, as well as a healthy disdain for Canberra. Also, I was born here. No doubt about where my allegiance is at. BUT… If say, I was born elsewhere AND wanted a shot at bicameral representative democracy, I don’t think I would have just left the minor details to chance. Both former senators Waters and Ludlum knew that they were born elsewhere. They knew it. They only assumed that they were also subsequently named as Australian citizens.

And there’s the rub, that old chestnut about assumptions being the mother of all fuck ups. Me? Say I was born in Zanzibar or something and grew up in Sydney. Decided to have a tilt at the Canberra windmill. Had to fill out the details on the proper forms. Got to the one about citizenship and figured, yeah, probably, I drive a Holden. Sweet.

But the faint, lingering doubt made me pick up the phone and call DFAT. Just to be sure. Turns out I am to this day a dyed in the wool Zanzibarian, so rather than look a right nob in front of the Canberra press corps, I fill in a different form, pay a fee and get on with democracy.

Jesus Christ, Greens. Even mouth breathing Pauline Hanson stormtrooper (and flat earther) Malcolm Roberts – born in India – did the hard yards regarding the paperwork. And I wouldn’t trust that fascistic jackass to sit the right way on a toilet seat.

Ask nearly anyone and they’ll tell you that it really shouldn’t matter. Did both of the felled Greens care about their states, their constituents and their party? Undoubtedly. Were they qualified? Absolutely. Should they lose their jobs because of an incorrectly checked box on a piece of AEC boilerplate? I absolutely say no. But, then again, I don’t get to make that decision. It’s not up to me, it’s the law. And none of us were Australian citizens before 1948 anyhow, we were British people living in Australia, which is a fun fact. Also, feel free to correct anyone who may bring up some more balloon juice about the Anzacs fighting and dying for the Australian identity. They were doing it for some inbred Germans in London, if anything.

It took us nine governors general to get one who was born here, and two of our last four PMs have been bloody foreigners. It doesn’t make sense that someone like Larissa Waters can’t keep being senatorial (all while lobbing her jugs out when it’s time to feed her little Green kiddie on the Senate floor) just because she was born in Canada. Having said that, fucking hell. Make the phone call. Find out. Measure once, cut twice, as they say in the trades.

It’s a dopey law, really, because you could be born anywhere and if you do your job well, and/or you just got elected (or there was a Double Dissolution called for no logical reason and you and your racist mates get elected based on the Senate quotas being halved for a DD; thanks, Malcolm), and it really doesn’t matter if you hadn’t filled out the paper work to declare that you’re no longer a Kiwi or a Canuck. Makes not one lick of difference to me, all I know is that these people are being paid $180,000 of my tax dollars a year, and my sole requirement for them is that they’re competent. Pauline Hanson, not really that up to the task, but as it happens she is truly, wholly, disturbingly, revoltingly Australian to the core. Debate the merits of the case all you want, she’s got every right to be there.

We could, of course, change the law. Which would require lawyers, and time spent in legislative committees and debates in both houses and the likes of Senator Derryn Hinch (born in New Zealand… get him!) weighing in.

Or, the fucking Greens can learn to fill out forms properly.

Matthew Reddin

Matt Reddin has been writing nonsense about film, TV, books, music and live theatre for a touch over 20 years. He’s gone from the halcyon days of street press in Perth, to regional dailies, national magazines and major metropolitan newspapers. Now, in between bouts of sporadically yelling at clouds, he vents his creative spleen at www.lessercolumn.com.au

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