Citizenship debacle unnecessary

It would be hard to find a more distracting, unnecessary farce than the citizenship crisis besetting our precariously balanced federal Parliament.

The fact that the Nationals’ two most senior parliamentarians are both caught-up in what has been unfolding recently tells the clearest picture.

And that is of something that should never had been allowed to happen.

It is more unacceptable given it’s at a time when Australia should be showing itself to the world as the mature, cohesive and socially inclusive society it is today.

That is important when the signs elsewhere are not so bright, as the increasing division within the US shown by the racist, Nazi-inspired riots in Charlottesville.

Thankfully, such condemnation was quick to come in Australian politics over the absurd, bigoted nonsense of Pauline Hanson’s burqa grandstanding, especially from Attorney-General George Brandis.

But this was almost relegated to a distraction from what has been unfolding in the Parliament, now virtually on a daily basis. Indi independent MP Cathy McGowan is spot-on in describing it all as “sloppy”.

And that is the question of just how difficult is it really to answer corrections correctly when you undertake the process of seeking to be elected. And yet, somehow they couldn’t manage even that.

The Nationals’ in particular warrant criticism. What else could be the conclusion when their leader, Barnaby Joyce (of possible New Zealand citizenship), and deputy Fiona Nash (also a Brit) land themselves in such a quagmire of uncertainty with their apparent failure to check the detail?

No doubt both, despite their best efforts to appear otherwise for the public’s consumption, are worried at where this whole saga will land them.

They and South Australian independent Nick Xenophon (whose father arrived in Australia from Cyprus on a British passport) now might need to have their dual-citizenship doubts remedied by the High Court.

But this would appear to be an almost impossible battle to win. All they had to do to avoid this happening was to carry out checks before signing a statutory declaration to attest their citizenship of Australia and nowhere else.

It has all meant the intolerable situation of compromising the Parliament’s ability to focus solely on those issues truly important to the nation’s future.

Such a saga should never have occurred.