Brandis Has Truly Lost the Plot

In case there wasn’t already enough of a disconnect between the political class and regular people, George Brandis put forward this ludicrous proposition the other day:

Dual citizen politicians who “honestly swear” they didn’t know they held foreign citizenship should not be ruled ineligible to sit in Parliament, Attorney-General George Brandis has told the High Court.

In a submission concerning the fate of MPs currently under a citizenship cloud, Senator Brandis said his construction of the law suggested politicians should be taken at their word [TMR: (!!!)] unless there was evidence to the contrary.

He argued it was not necessary to probe the citizenship status of MPs under respective foreign laws “in cases where a parliamentarian can honestly swear to being unaware” they were a foreign citizen or that there was a serious prospect that they were a foreign citizen.

“If there is material that contradicts such a claim, then the matter can be tested, as occurred in relation to Senator [Malcolm] Roberts,” Senator Brandis wrote in a submission filed by Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue.

“Otherwise, the oath of the parliamentarian should be accepted, and no question of disqualification would arise provided that reasonable steps were taken to renounce foreign citizenship within a reasonable time of the parliamentarian becoming aware of his or her status.”

“Without any knowledge of present or past citizenship there can be no risk of split allegiance,” [TMR: see section 44 below. How is this relevant?] he argued. “In the context of that actual knowledge, the choice not to take all reasonable steps to renounce that citizenship marks its retention as voluntary.”

In other words, Brandis would like us all to move along as there’s nothing whatsoever to see here because, ummm… different laws apply to politicians?

How about we have a look at what section 44 of the Constitution actually says:

44. 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: or

(iii.) Is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent: or

(iv.) Holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth: or

(v.) Has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons:

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

If I could triple underline the word ‘is’ up there or shove it up Brandis’ nostrils (in the hope that it reaches his brain), then I would.

Dear George, awareness is not the issue here. It’s a matter of fact. If you have foreign citizenship, you are incapable of being an Federal Parliamentarian. Full stop. The status of a purported Federal parliamentarian who has foreign citizenship isn’t ‘voidable’, it’s void. Full stop. Or ‘void ab initio’ (void from the outset) if you want to get Latin about it.

There is no ambiguity here. As Yoda said: ‘Do or do not. There is no try’.

How is it that this nonsense wasn’t challenged by anybody in the media? As for Brandis (a ‘QC’ and the nation’s Attorney-General no less), which outer planet is he orbiting?

Why is it that the political class always expects to be given an unlimited number of chances to stuff things up (including their own personal details on a form), yet expects the rest of society to conduct itself subject to an increasingly invasive and hairline set of standards?

This entry was posted in Federal Politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Brandis Has Truly Lost the Plot

  1. zyconoclast

    His argument is to excuse the inexcusable.

  2. Infidel Tiger

    I look forward to using the Brandis defence at tax time or when caught speeding.

    The stupid xunt wants to overturn a Millenia of jurisprudence.

  3. C.L.

    Arguably the biggest dickhead in Australian politics for 50 years.

  4. C.L.

    “Honestly swear” is a very revealing tautology.
    There is no other way to swear; is there, George?

  5. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    I look forward to using the Brandis defence at tax time or when caught speeding.

    I’ve never failed a random breath test in over sixty years on this planet, but, if I ever fail one, I’m using the Brandis defence.

    “I can honestly swear as to being unaware that I didn’t know that two bottles of wine over the dinner table, a half bottle of port, and four double Scotches would cause me to fail a breathalyzer test.”

    Stupid. Fvcking. Liberals.

  6. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Arguably the biggest dickhead in Australian politics for 50 years.

    Arguably. Gough Whitlam has that doubtful distinction, followed at a long distance by Andrew Wilkie, Sarah Hanson Young and Bob Brown, surely?

  7. Snoopy

    Once you move away from ‘black letter’ law no one can be safe from prosecution.

  8. Dr Faustus

    Sounds like Brandis is running the ‘people have the right to be a bigot’ strategy.

  9. Brandis, as someone noted in another thread, not only bears a remarkable resemblance to George Constanza, but he does also, intellectually and morally.

  10. mareeS

    Brandis did the lousiest act against fair-minded Australians and his Prime Minister when he told the Senate ” everyone has the right to be a bigot.”

    I know what bigotry is, first hand, having grown up under it. Brandis used this despicably.

    The worst travesty would be for him to be given an overseas diplomatic posting. Best would be a posting to ignominy.

  11. Fisky

    He’s just a real piece of work, this guy.

  12. J.H.

    If intellect was dynamite, Brandis wouldn’t have enough to blow his own nose.

    And he’s a spiteful little shit to go with it. He reckons they should all walk except Roberts because, fuk Roberts and One Nation. That pretty much sums up his Legal opinion of it.

  13. OneWorldGovernment

    Brandis:

    We are a nation of Lawyers.

    We don’t need no steenking laws.

  14. IainC

    I’m still not clear on this phrase, with its all-encompassing “or” – ““a subject or a citizen OR entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power”. If I have, say, rights to a pension in the UK, how is that eliminated, extinguished and nullified for all time by my simple act of renunciation? I may not opt to take up the right, but surely I am still “entitled to the rights and privileges” regardless, because the preconditions for entitlement have already occurred, and still exist in the legislation of a foreign power that I am unable to alter? And how does renouncing foreign citizenship prevent me from reactivating it at any time in the future? Am I not still entitled to it through birth or marriage, regardless of my (temporary) renunciation? Wouldn’t both parties to the entitlement need to perform the renunciation and document its permanent (not temporary) extinguishment?

  15. I’m still not clear on this phrase, with its all-encompassing “or” – ““a subject or a citizen OR entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power”.

    As somebody quite rightly pointed out NO Australian can sit in parliament because under NZ law we all ahve the rights & privileges of Kiwis

  16. A Lurker

    Brandis is symptomatic of what is wrong with the Liberal party.

  17. rickw

    The Liberal Party needs to be destroyed.

  18. Baldrick

    Stupid.Fucking.Liberals

  19. Yohan

    Vladimir Putin should declare that Turnbull was a actually an honorary Russian citizen at the time of our last election.

    Because the way the constitution is worded gives any foreign government a veto power over who sits in our parliament.

    A foreign government may also decide to not cancel the entitlement, right or privilege to citizenship, even if you beg them to. Again, the power of who sits in our government resides with them.

  20. feelthebern

    So all those punters that were over paid entitlements who were sent letters can “honestly swear” that they didnt know?
    FFS.
    The live in a bubble down there in Canberra don’t they?

  21. John Constantine

    Their brandis has a plot.

    It is a simple plot.

    Genocide and the Great Replacement is the Final Solution to the obsolete, racist colonial settler Australia problem.

    The great transnational looting cartels will pay well to those quislings that hand Australia over to the crony looting class.

    Their brandis plots to back the strong horse and ride away from the smoking ruins of a once great country smirking in revenge.

  22. JohnA

    Sen Brandis needs to be banished and sent as far away as possible from the “levers of power” – preferably to orbit around Magrathea (refer Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy).

  23. Texas Jack

    In seventeen years a senator all Brandis will be remembered for is calling the second longest serving prime minister “a lying rodent”. Beyond that he’s a poster-boy for all that’s gone wrong with the post-Howard Liberal Party.

  24. notaluvvie

    Just another example of the politico-legal (with business) elite looking after itself. The rest of us are expected to cop the punishment even when actions are accidental and can easily be rectified; not so our political ruling class. “1984” is alive and well in parliaments and courts all over the land. Try Brandis’ defence with the totalitarian authoritarian Tax Office and see how far you get. Isn’t odd how the ATO never tells you when you have over-stated your income?

    I often wonder what the effect would be if one were to discover a former MP had been a dual citizen, eg Australia and the UK, and had been involved in passing legislation by one vote. I wonder if there are any recent cases of that?

    Bravo to the many comments above.

  25. Amadeus

    The ineffectiveness of Brandis, QC, is probably best tested by his handling of the despicable Triggs. He allowed that lying, left-wing incompetent to remain as head of the useless HRC in the face of her opening and brazenly lying to all and sundry. Brandis, like Turnbull, is there solely for the perks of office. His contribution to the betterment of Australia? Zero.

  26. Amadeus

    oops, “openly”….

  27. Spring is coming

    I can honestly swear I did not know I had to pay tax….your Honour.

  28. Crossie

    How is it that this nonsense wasn’t challenged by anybody in the media? As for Brandis (a ‘QC’ and the nation’s Attorney-General no less), which outer planet is he orbiting?

    Our media betters are ignorant fools. As in The Castle, they and Brandis believe that the “Vibe” is the law.

  29. Tel

    If I can honestly swear to not being sexist, waaaacist, and generally deplorable then I should be taken at my word.

    Politicians must surely have deep trust for the taxpayers who supply their wages, and the voters who get them the job. That’s why they are always so eager to listen.

  30. candy

    I still think George Brandis is very clever and knows that if the dual citizenship country involved was say Syria, Afghanistan or similar, he would not be able to continually verbal the High Court. It would be totally unacceptable to Australians to allow even top Cabinet members have dual citizenship under those circumstances. A definite conflict.

    UK, NZ is okay though. Brandis knows that. They must keep Barnaby Joyce by any means, by hook or by crook. George Brandis kind of operates outside of the legal things, really.

  31. jupes

    If intellect was dynamite, Brandis wouldn’t have enough to blow his own nose.

    Liberals have Brandis, Labor have Dreyfus.

    Both QCs and probably the dumbest two politicians in parliament. Vindictive arseholes too.

  32. Tel

    A foreign government may also decide to not cancel the entitlement, right or privilege to citizenship, even if you beg them to. Again, the power of who sits in our government resides with them.

    I’m pretty sure the High Court has already ruled that anyone who goes through the proper procedure of renouncing citizenship is considered officially renounced from Australia’s point of view. The cases where this was not done are the ones they are interested in, and since it’s a bloody easy thing to do I have little sympathy for any of them. Malcolm Roberts sending to a broken email address and not checking is also extremely disappointing. Is that really the best leadership Australia can find?

  33. Biota

    Brandis is just applying the new ‘identify’ model: I identify as [fill in your own fashionable status] or I identify as being an honest and truthful person and that should be the end of the matter.

  34. Rabz

    Vindictive arseholes too.

    Pompous, vindictive arseholes.

    They always come a cropper.

  35. H B Bear

    This cueball, like a growing number of Lieborals, is less impressive every time they open their mouths. And the Peanut Head crew are worse still.

  36. Alex Davidson

    I can confirm that the Brandis defence does not work in the police state of NSW.

    Some years ago the police stopped me without probable cause, forced me to submit to a random breath test (which I passed) then proudly informed me that my licence had expired – something I was completely unaware of.

    In spite of a perfectly clean driving record (yes, I’m one of those super obedient mushrooms), and in spite of the fact that the registry confirmed the reminders were sent to the wrong address, not the one on my licence, I was nevertheless fined $500 because this was deemed “a serious offence”, and lost the clean driving rebate when I next renewed.

    Anything other than the letter of the law and zero tolerance for us serfs; anything but for our masters.

  37. Brandis is symptomatic of what is wrong with the Liberal party.

    Actually when you compare the thoughts of Brandis with that of Warren and Triggs you come up with what is really wrong in this country. It is lawyers and the law that are the problem who have been led to believe they are gods. Cut the bastards off at the knees.

  38. Chris M

    The worst travesty would be for him to be given an overseas diplomatic posting. Best would be a posting to ignominy.

    Brandis is well suited to being a Commandant for a North Korean concentration camp.

  39. struth

    One of many unconstitutional traitors running riot in our parliament today.

  40. cynical1

    Good God.
    Someone has some real good pics of this cockhead.

  41. Up The Workers!

    I wish some kind soul (an undertaker perhaps?) would find him a plot and put him out of our misery.

    It is bad enough that we get nothing but piles of steaming ordure from members of the A.L.P. and their intellectual, meteorological and policy advisers in the Brown Movement, without the bottom-of-the-sewer-level dregs of what used to be the Liberal Party, now vigorously shovelling the same commodity as well.

  42. Entropy

    The contents really aren’t what is on the label at all. Yet he gets preselected at the top of the lib ticket.
    Last election I enjoyed voting below the line. He didn’t get my vote.

  43. Motelier

    Our dearly beloved, first law officer has not used his twitter account for years.

    Obviously, the proles can see how useless he is.

  44. pbw

    Everyone has the right to be a bigot: Brandis’ finest hour, without question. That should be obvious to everyone here. What is also obvious is that his finest shines increasingly brightly amidst the rest of his output.

  45. Cynic of Ayr

    I dunno. Seems to me that both the populace and Brandis, miss the exact wording of the Constitution.
    Hello, Brandis, ya jackass, you don’t have to be a citizen, you only have to be entitled to be a citizen.
    I realise this lumps in an awful lot of people, but that’s what it says.
    You cannot “honestly swear” that you are not entitled to have foreign citizenship, if you are.
    F’rinstance, Wong is (apparently) entitled to be a Chinese Citizen for whatever reason.
    If she has Chinese Citizenship, and renounces it, that means she is not a Chinese Citizen. BUT – and it’s a bloody big BUT – does this erase her entitlement? Can she not go back later to the Chinese Guvment, and say, “Can I have my citizenship back? I am entitled to it”
    Ditto Joyce, with country adjustment.

    How does one erase or renounce entitlement?

  46. Justin

    I accept the general thrust of the argument and the somewhat arrogance of our nations law makers to suggest the laws shouldn’t strictly apply to them. However, would a “foreign power” at the time of writing the constitution have applied to Britain? I suspect not but don’t know. It would be interesting to know if any parliamentarian shortly after the constitution was written had British citizenship. I similarly wonder if New Zealand at the time would have been considered a “foreign power”. Anyone have thoughts on this?

  47. Neil

    be interesting to know if any parliamentarian shortly after the constitution was written had British citizenship.

    We all did. Apparently you could not become an Australian citizen until 1947. Before that we were British subjects

  48. Diogenes

    I’m pretty sure the High Court has already ruled that anyone who goes through the proper procedure of renouncing citizenship is considered officially renounced from Australia’s point of view.

    Depends on how you define “proper” – consider Sam Dastardly and Zylophone – who both, in order to “properly” renounce their “other” citizenship according to the “others” rules they need to do military service – does a simple email to Tehran or Athens ‘cut it’ for purposes of S44 ? What about Moroccans who have no legal means of renunciation ?

    For these edge cases I suggest the government can amend the Electoral Act to put a declaration that ‘by nominating you renounce all and any entitlemnt to dual citizenship’ (even if the “other” does not accept it – after all Aussie trumps all others including the laws maths & physics according to our beloved PM)- if you hold a 2nd passport it must be physically surrendered to the AEC who will forward it to the correct embassy with some paperwork indicating why it is being surrendered. If you then reapply for 2nd passport, or if you are like Zylophone and decide to apply for a Greek/Pommie passport you are hit with a fine the size of you parliamentary salary

  49. Kneel

    “Why is it that the political class always expects to be given an unlimited number of chances to stuff things up (including their own personal details on a form), yet expects the rest of society to conduct itself subject to an increasingly invasive and hairline set of standards?”

    Indeed – much like the VW emissions issue. VW produced a vehicle that met the letter of the law – it passed the govt mandated test. Yet they got told that wasn’t enough, that they were in breach of the intent of the law. Oh really? The intent of speed limits on the road is to improve safety, is it not? So can I defend myself by suggesting that I had not degraded the safety of anyone when I exceeded the speed limit by 15km/h and therefore not have to pay the fine or accept the points against my license? Will anyone (who can do something about it, at any rate) accept this excuse? Not bloody likely.

  50. cohenite

    For these edge cases I suggest the government can amend the Electoral Act to put a declaration that ‘by nominating you renounce all and any entitlemnt to dual citizenship’ (even if the “other” does not accept it – after all Aussie trumps all others including the laws maths & physics according to our beloved PM)- if you hold a 2nd passport it must be physically surrendered to the AEC who will forward it to the correct embassy with some paperwork indicating why it is being surrendered. If you then reapply for 2nd passport, or if you are like Zylophone and decide to apply for a Greek/Pommie passport you are hit with a fine the size of you parliamentary salary

    That would slip by S.44.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *