The last few months in Australian federal politics has seen a quite extraordinary succession of politicians being forced to resign due to them possessing ties to a foreign citizenship, something which is expressly prohibited under the Australian constitution. To a man and woman they have all claimed bewilderment at their circumstances, professing either that they had no idea they were entitled to another citizenship or of not being aware of the actual constitutional clause.
This level of inability to understand Australia’s founding document, as well as a severe case of not being able to do basic homework, gives the casual observer some understanding as to why our leadership and governance in Australia over the past two decades has been so lacking. I will make no claims as to the potential dishonesty that could be levelled at these ex-Parliamentarians as well.
But for the gold standard example of the lack of leadership in our democracies we need go no further than the explosive revelations concerning Australian senator Sam Dastyari. For a start, Dastyari somehow managed to weasel his way out of the citizenship crisis – he holds Iranian citizenship which will not be able to be renounced until he completes the compulsory Iranian military service. But Dastyari has always had something of a cloud over him since a scandal erupted in 2016 over him accepting payments for travel expenses from Chinese interests. Somehow he also managed to teflon his way out of that as well.
But now comes news that he has actively colluded with Chinese Communist party officials.
“Dastyari’s career should be finished after fresh revelations of his dealings with Huang Xiangmo who, until last week, headed a lobby group linked to the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee.
“Dastyari met Huang last year at the Chinese-born tycoon’s home and warned him his mobile phone could be tapped by our intelligence agencies. He suggested they leave their phones inside and talk outside. This came after ASIO told Labor that Huang was being investigated.
“Dastyari’s excuses are pathetic.”
Major media commentators as well as other public figures are calling for Dastyari to resign. He shouldn’t be allowed the decency to resign at all; he should be dismissed from his seat. Let us look at the beginning of section s44(1) of the Australian Constitution:
Any person who –
(i.) Is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power: or
(ii.) Is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer:
Allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power? Tick. A citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power? Tick and tick. Is attainted of treason? Sounds pretty treasonous to me.
In earlier and more simpler times Dastyari would be marched up against a wall. But yet he still sits in parliament, although relegated to the back bench. It is simply incredible. If the Australian government had any leadership qualities at all, as well as a single pair of balls to rub together, then this is what would happen:
Dastyari would be expelled from Parliament. Then his citizenship would be stripped. His assets would be seized and finally he and his entire family would be expelled from Australia and its territories. If he likes the Chinese so much then let him go there, although I fear that their interest in him would take a dramatic decline once his present usefulness had expired. Failing that, it seems that he would have a spell of Iranian military service awaiting him.
The example that this would set would be a fearful warning to any other present or future collaborators with foreign powers. But instead Shanghai Sam gets to sit comfortably on the back bench, killing time while he earns his wonderfully generous political pension.
Another example of pathetic leadership in the news today is that of Theresa May and her complete inability to show any evidence of being able to possess a single section of vertebrae. Leaving the leadership of Brexit to someone like May is like appointing a captaincy to the guy who helps out a lot around the cricket club.
“The UK has offered a larger potential ‘divorce bill’ to the EU – which could be worth up to 50bn euros (£44bn), the BBC understands.
“It was ‘broadly welcomed’, political editor Laura Kuenssberg said, although Number 10 has played down reports the final sum could be up to 55bn euros (£49bn).”
I bet it was broadly welcomed. But are the Euro-technocrats satisfied with this?
“And the EU’s negotiator Michel Barnier said ‘we are not there’ yet.”
Britain used up most of her treasure to twice bail out France and Belgium in the past hundred years. Nations are like individuals; they are exceedingly ungrateful if you help them out of their own mess. May is simply a deer in headlights to their demands. Can any of you imagine Trump agreeing to pay this sort of money in this situation?
And there you have it. The one shining example of real leadership in the Western world. Donald Trump. It is to our great fortune that he is a good and benevolent man. Past history has shown that a continued period of weak and vacillating leadership leaves a populace so desperate for strength on these matters that they will take just about anyone who shows some spine. In those circumstances you are likely to get the villainous more often than the good.
Malcolm Turnbull is the weakest Australian prime minister in living history, and that’s a remarkable feat considering the level of competition. Opposition leader Bill Shorten is just as bad but adds a level of cravenness never before seen in Australian politics. Sam Dastyari will remain on the back bench as an example to all of their malevolent failings to the Australian people, whose patience must be very close to being exhausted.