Wednesday 12th of December 2018

from the horse's mouth...


horsing around

Labor has signalled it will drive a hard bargain with Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed citizenship disclosure solution, identifying several core problems ahead of talks between the two leaders.

Just hours before it was revealed that Liberal MP John Alexander’s citizenship status was in doubt – potentially making him the fourth Coalition MP with a section 44 conflict – Turnbull announced a disclosure system, modelled on the declaration registers members already use for their interests.

Officially, Labor is sticking to the “open mind” line with which Bill Shorten greeted Turnbull’s announcement, ahead of a meeting between the two leaders planned for 9am on Wednesday.

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in the days of malcolm, the free spirit...

Defending the indefensible

Our Malcolm was always on the side of the... of... Well I don’t know. His major claim to fame — apart from, as a kid, eating money when there was nothing in the fridge, and being the present Prime Minister of Australia — is to have successfully defended Peter Wright in a trial in which Peter Wright was sued by the Crown of England to prevent him publishing his “Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence officer” of MI5, under the major arresting title of “Spy Catcher”... So our Malcolm WAS on the side of the truth and of reveal all, the lawyer’s way, that is to say the laws of humans is flexible and does not, in any way, reflect the laws of nature. The art of serious oration while pedling nonsense is important if you want to make a bit of cash on the slicks. 

But in the words of a certain Christopher Andrews: ... one of the things that we tend to forget nowadays is that MI5, of which of course Peter Wright had been a rogue member, didn’t even have a clear statutory basis. So in 1989 the Security Service Act is passed and ever since then MI5 has been governed by statute.

Then secondly, I mean even though it’s been a long and winding path I think that there was a gradual realisation that the only alternative to having nonsense history of the kind that Peter Wright was peddling was to allow for the publication of reasonably reliable history.

So in 1997 exactly a decade after the Spycatcher trial MI5 started releasing its earliest records and nowadays it has something like an informal 50-year rule for most of its records.

And then of course five, six years later it decided on the publication of an authorised history getting in an outside historian - that’s me - giving me virtually unrestricted access to its archives.

Not of course giving me the right to publish all of them but I did have access to virtually all of them and celebrating its hundredth birthday with a history of its first hundred years. 

I, even though I have a very, very low opinion of Peter Wright to be honest, he did me a favour. In other words if it hadn’t been for his nonsense history of MI5 I might not have got the opportunity to write what I hope is a reasonably reliable history of MI5

So could we say that Malcolm-the-Debonair did MI5 a favour by default, like the little tailor who killed five (7?) — flies, giants, whatever (actually it was flies but the legend — Das tapfere Schneiderlein — grew to be dead giants) — thus became a hero and the Chief of the Kingdom?

Mark Colvin interviewed Christopher Andrew on Friday, October 30, 2009: There’s been high praise for Malcolm Turnbull today, from a most unlikely quarter. The official historian of the British Security Service, MI5, says Turnbull’s “brilliant” handling of the defence case in the Spycatcher trial was the catalyst for much needed intelligence reforms.

In 1986 Mr Turnbull was the counsel for Peter Wright, a former MI5 officer.

The British Government was trying to prevent the publication of Mr Wright’s book, Spycatcher. The book alleged that the former head of MI5 Sir Roger Hollis had been a KGB agent.

That gave the story an extra Australian dimension because Sir Roger Hollis was one of the people instrumental in setting up the Australian intelligence service ASIO in the ‘50s.

Now the intelligence historian professor Christopher Andrew who was given access to 400,000 MI5 files in the course of several years’ work on his official history of the service [The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5 ] says he’s proved conclusively that Sir Roger was not a double agent and that Peter Wright was misguided at best.

Let’s say here that “new” book by Christopher Andrew has long been forgotten but Spy Catcher still lingers in the mind of some people like a glorious legend. Malcolm would know that in this day and age, there is a bit more to what seems and technology tends to make more people aware of stuff. The double-citizenship puzzle would trouble Trumble, not so much because his troops are being caught like flies but because he knows the limit and price of bullshit as it spreads through the universe. 

Is it possible for example that Peter Wright himself was the double agent that he was trying to uncover? This would fit in neatly and explain a lot why his book is quite boring. But I don't know and I don't care. It would not be the first time that such possibility happened in the world of “intelligence”. Masterman was a master of this double dealing, though he was very cautiously particular about using double-agents. Double agents are very good at cleaning their tracks, as many of them are psychopaths and devious nut-cases.

Go for a selfie with anyone, Mal...


although he loves the sound of his own voice...


Although he loves the sound of his own voice, he does not listen to himself...


no witches

send the feds...send the feds...

disclosure in laborland...

The Labor MP Justine Keay has admitted her renunciation of British citizenship was not effective until after the 2016 election, but she and another ALP colleague are relying on “reasonable steps” taken to renounce foreign citizenship to stay in parliament.

The admission may leave Keay’s place in parliament vulnerable to challenge, as several constitutional law experts have warned it is arguable that reasonable steps are not enough to escape the constitutional disqualification on a strict reading of the high court’s decision in the citizenship seven case.

The citizenship fracas has blown up on multiple fronts this week, with the Liberal MP John Alexander digging in while attempting to clarify his citizenship status with UK authorities, and the prime minister attempting to create a circuit breaker by proposing a new disclosure regime for parliamentarians.

Malcolm Turnbull will meet the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, on Wednesday morning to see if bipartisan agreement can be reached on the proposal.

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and loving it...

Taking a break between grave matters of national security and remembering the Holocaust in Israel, Malcolm Turnbull said, somewhat incongruously, that he was having more fun than he had ever had in his life.

I don’t know what he was smoking, but I wish he would send me some of it.

Alternatively, he may have just admitted a devotion to masochism — or, of course, he may declining into terminal insouciance. But more likely it was simple bravado, a defiant declaration that everything around him is turning to shit, he is still happily undeterred, or maybe under turd, getting on with the job of delivering good government.

Okay, he has lost two ministers to the High Court and was forced to defend a third over what used to be the capital offence of misleading Parliament, but he still has what he called a majority of 75 in the House of Representatives — well, he does until some of them defect, which is not out of the question. And even if one or two do, the Government will not fall — he can still rely on at least three of the crossbenchers if it comes to a vote of no confidence.

So, what’s the problem? Even when he discovered, belatedly, that the procrastinating former Senator Stephen Parry had joined those leaving the building after admitting dual citizenship by descent (or dissent, as one Government press release whimsically put it) he was said to be furious. But his public demeanour was as bland as ever: he was disappointed, he said, but it was time to go on with business as usual, which sounded to his beleaguered colleagues more of a threat than a promise.

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not joining the dots...

By mobilising the Holocaust defence, Turnbull has ensured the "citizenship debate" now turns entirely on emotional responses — which is a danger to the nation, writes Ingrid Matthews.

As someone who asked the question of whether British-born Tony Abbott is eligible to sit in the Australian Parliament back in 2014, I feel the pain of punters who are tired of the "section 44" story. In those days, we who raised the s44 question were mocked as “birthers” — a nasty distortion, as I explained here.

The issue is not the foreign-born, but renunciation of foreign allegiance. Abbott never disguised a strong sense of allegiance to England. But those who backed Abbott into office studiously ignored eligibility questions. It is fine for Abbott totweet a renunciation screenshot three years after those questions were raised, yet now we see the entry papers, not of an MP but his mother, published online [deliberately not linked]. We see the Prime Minister demanding Shorten prove his renunciation, which Shorten did.

While the press scour parentage records across the parliament, Turnbull announces "new" disclosure rules that replicate the disclosure statement all Federal parliamentarians have already signed, making his decision as redundant as his leadership. As I write, the major parties have failed to resolve the problem of candidates failing to renounce.

.@smh@billshortenmp is withholding support for @TurnbullMalcolm's plan to resolve the citizenship crisis. #headsup

— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) November 8, 2017

All this is routine hypocrisy, a function of the inherent conservatism of our political and media institutions. But the direction reporters and politicians have taken this story since July 2017 is increasingly ugly. There is the law, sure, but there is also the messaging.

The legal question and its answer

Our Constitution disqualifies from the Federal Parliament anyone with

‘... acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or [having or entitled to] the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power.' 

Nothing prevents any Australian born in any country, or whose parents or grandparents were born overseas, from nominating. However, a nominee must take all ‘reasonable steps’ to renounce their foreign connection(s). This test is from Sykes v Cleary [1992] and was upheld by the High Court in the "Citizenship Seven" case.

Attorney-General George Brandis led the government response by claiming the Citizenship Seven case is a "strict" reading. This is the Joyce (and Nash) defence. It downplays the cornerstone of common law systems: doctrine of precedent. In reality, the High Court applied the law – including case law – to the facts before them.


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scaring the horses on the field...



FOREIGN Affairs Minister Julie Bishop turned heads — literally, when she arrived with a huge satellite dish-style hat for Derby Day.

Ms Bishop, who went to the event with her partner David Panton, was seen wearing a massive black and white hat that made her look even taller than him.



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in the days of malcolm, the free spirit...

the tennis player bites the dust...


Federal Liberal MP John Alexander has resigned after saying he "cannot be certain" he is not a dual citizen.

Mr Alexander's father was born in Britain and it is unclear if he ever renounced his citizenship, meaning the MP may be a dual-British citizen by descent.

He will become the second Lower House Coalition MP to resign over the citizenship debacle.

"I have always believed that I am Australian and solely Australian," Mr Alexander said at a press conference.

"In view of recent events and the High Court decision, in my position, I have had to thoroughly examine my situation.


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Now we also need to make sure that Tony Abbott gave up his pommy citizenship when first ever elected to parliament. There seems to still be a bit of fudgey bulldust about this one... Mind you all this could become irrelevant as soon Labor might be in a position to form a minority government.


a few black spots on the lampshade from the gadfly...

There is so much delights today (18/8/18) in the Gadfly column of the Saturday Paper, that here is a condensed version of the choice of shitty delights on offer. 

After a few Nasty Party dinners to attend to — including one with "Otto Abetz" at $2200 a plate and another not-a-picnic with "Andreas Blot" for a mere $140 at the Moonee Valley Racecourse, Gus guesses that Dame Gladiola could appear out of nowhere.


Says Gadfly about the Mooney Doo:


"The Knights of the Southern Cross are manning the till, with money going to the education of priests. As former archbishop Denis Hartless would say, “Better late than never”. "

Hartless was famous for many things, including telling a victim of sexual abuse who knocked on his door, “Go to hell, bitch.” It should be a fab night. 

By October 11, your correspondent will have composed himself sufficiently to head up to Whale Beach to sit alongside Liberal MP Jason Falinski for a Spring Dinner at Moby Dicks with special guest speaker swivel-eyed Benito Dutton. 

The catering is by The Boathouse Group, which has connections to the family of Liberal jewel and Chinese ports adviser Andrew Robb. 

Just when citizens of the peninsula thought it safe to go outside after Beehive Bronwyn was trounced, along comes Dutton. It’s only $150 a head and for many it will be tax deductible. The electorate of Dorothea Mackellar has the lowest proportion of Asians and Muslims anywhere in Australia, so Benito will feel quite safe."



Then comes a segment on glorious nation building... "Nation building... The words have been buzzing in Gadfly’s head ever since they were uttered by Fishnets Downer at the recent Ham & Mayo byelection": 


The point made is that "nation building was in Downer's family blood". Of course, it’s a story of the massacre of Aboriginal people on a barely comprehensible scale by his ancestors.


Next comes the self-importance of self-promoting Trumble...

Myth building is "Prime Minister Trumble’s driving motivation [—] an abiding love of himself and the expectation that the entire nation is of the same view."


"Once given an issue he prosecutes it brilliantly ...” we are thus reminded in a praising article of the SMH... But the Gadfly brings Trumble down to planet Zorg's surface:


"He was never regarded as a “superb barrister”; rather, when he left the bar he was viewed by his colleagues as a self-indulgent smart-arse." 


This is where Gus is pleased to see that (read from top, especially in the days of malcolm, the free spirit...) the Gadfly is on agreement in regard to "Spycatcher". 

"...he did do well with the Spycatcher case, in defence of Peter Wright’s miserable book, but by then he was a solicitor, plus he had the assistance of his able wife, with Tom Hughes, QC, handling the appeals." 


For the rest read on:



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