The citizenship fiasco has continued this week with several new MPs potentially being dual-citizens and thus ineligible to sit in parliament, and yet, they are reluctant to relinquish their positions. They remain, waiting, for the right moment to step down.
The sticking point, for me, is imagining this type of scenario occurring to regular citizens, like you or I, and picturing the government being remotely flexible in response.
Consider an Australian who, for example, thought they were eligible for a certain tax deduction, made claims to that effect, only to discover, weeks, months or years later, that their initial claim was illegitimate.
Can you imagine our elected MPs being sympathetic to anything other than an immediate revocation of the funds in those circumstances?
Can you imagine the ATO being open to that person deciding that actually they will determine when and how the matter is finalised.
“Actually, I might sit on this for a few weeks, and then I will decide, if and when, I want it referred to a court to be determined.”
Can you imagine the official response should the person who erroneously made the claim saying they need a few weeks to get their paperwork in order?
“Yes, certainly, by all means, take your time”, you can just imagine the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, telling Australians who unwittingly made tax deductions they weren’t entitled to.
According to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, government MPs apparently need three additional weeks to finalise a matter that ought to have been finalised before they were even elected, or at the very latest before the High Court considered the situation of seven MPs in early October.
It is hard to imagine an offer of additional time being extended to you or I should we find ourselves on the wrong side of any administrative requirement.
It is laughable and, yet, precisely the position our MPs are entitled to take.
If that flagrant disregard for the constitutional stipulations of their jobs wasn’t hard enough to swallow, consider the flagrant disregard for the job being displayed by a number conservative MPs.
Not content with having wasted $122 million of taxpayer funds on a postal vote on marriage equality, the very same people who insisted that a plebiscite was necessary because the elected representatives couldn’t possibly make a determination for the people they represent on the subject, they are unwilling to accept the result from the 80% of Australian voters on the subject.
Staunch opponents to same sex marriage, like Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz, have made it clear they will attempt to frustrate any efforts to legalise same sex marriage with a suite of amendments should the yes vote succeed.
(It is impossible to imagine they would happily accept this in reverse, should the public vote no and their parliamentary peers tried to push through a yes.)
The postal vote in itself was an expensive, unnecessary and cruel abrogation of the power and purpose of parliament in the first place. The fact there is a single MP, paid to represent Australians, willing to defy the result the plebiscite garnered is an abomination. The fact there is more than one is utterly abysmal.
And, like last week all of this political posturing has taken place while there are refugees on Manus Island in diabolical conditions.
It was Joe Hockey who famously declared the age of entitlement was over. This week it clear that the most entitled Australian citizens are those sitting in parliament. And it has never looked worse.
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