‘clear it up tomorrow’
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I’VE SPENT A LOT of time over the past week following political developments both here and abroad, despite supposedly being on holiday. Couldn’t miss it.
In the United States, we had the ten top hopefuls for the Republican Party presidential nomination appear on TV together in the first debate. Seven other hopefuls fronted up earlier. It was Donald Trump versus the rest. From the top he wouldn’t rule out running as an independent if they don’t pick him.
He followed that up with truly offensive post-debate comments blaming a female Fox panellist’s tough questions on the fact she had her period. That got him banned from a conservative rally overnight.
In politics back home, the issue of politicians ‘entitlements’ won’t go away. Neither should it. The voters are justifiably angry. Both the government and the Opposition are starting to close ranks and back each other as they realise: you dig too deep and others could be facing the same fate as Bronwyn Bishop. Her main attacker, Tony Burke, now out there as a probable main offender. Business Class school holidays with your kids? C’mon.
There’s one issue I want to raise and it goes right back to my first night hosting HINCH Live back in February. I raise it again because it too is an issue no pollie on either side wants to touch. And if you do raise it you run the risk of being called a nut job. Even though there is now a petition out there which more than 30,000 Australians have signed.
It concerns Prime Minister Abbott and his citizenship. Does he have dual Australian and British citizenship? If he has, under Section 44 of our constitution, he cannot be a member of Parliament. Let alone Prime Minister. The constitution says you must not hold allegiance, hold the citizenship, of any ‘foreign power’.
Now this is not far-fetched. Not just a plot dreamed up by Abbott-haters. Although they are out there stirring. Remember: Jackie Kelly had to stand again at a by-election after she was elected holding both Australian and New Zealand passports.
And some of you will remember Robert Wood. He was elected to the Senate for the Nuclear Disarmament Party in 1986. Took his seat in 1987 and was thrown out in 1988 when it was discovered he was born in England and had never held an Australian passport.
Let’s back up. Anthony John Abbott was born in England in 1957. The Abbott family emigrated to Australia in 1960. Ten pound migrants. He became an Australian citizen in 1981 after winning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford as a Briton. He belatedly took Australian citizenship to qualify for the scholarship.
So when did he renounce his British citizenship? We don’t know. Personally, I believe he has. He must have. The official line from the PM’s office is: ‘The Prime Minister is an Australian citizen and does not hold citizenship of any other country’.
Normally you can check these things with the National Archives of Australia which keep all citizenship applications on public file. But 18 months ago, for some reason, the archives made Mr. Abbott’s 1981 application confidential.
clear it up tomorrow
The PM could clear it up tomorrow by just producing a dated copy of his British citizenship revocation. He must have a copy.
That’s what President Obama did after the Birther movement proved a distraction. People like Donald Trump and the Tea Party claimed Obama’s presidency was illegal because, they said, he was really born in Kenya. Not Hawaii. And if you’re not born in the United States you can’t be president.
The White House produced Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate and newspaper birth announcements and now the prez cracks jokes about it.
More than 30,000 people don’t think the Abbott citizenship question is funny. They have written to Abbott, to Bill Shorten, to Tanya Plibersek and Adam Bandt. Most haven’t responded.If the PM has not renounced his British allegiance it gives added meaning to what he wrote in his memoirs about flying into Heathrow Airport on his way to Oxford:
He wrote: ‘It felt more like a homecoming. It belonged to me as much as to any Briton.’
Does it still?
[This is an edited version of my editorial on HINCH Live on SKY News on Foxtel Ch. 601, August 9, 2015.]