Some of you might remember those childhood games of dominoes and pick-up-sticks?  Jeez, I thought of them this week.

If that constitutional legal nerd, Perth lawyer John Cameron, hadn’t decided a month ago to go after my antecedents, hadn’t gone sniffing around in Wellington to see if I had renounced my Kiwi citizenship, the Turnbull government might not be in the “deep doodoo” it is now. The dominoes might not have fallen. The sticks might not have moved.

Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Barnaby Joyce — aka Crocodile Dunedin — might have avoided being exposed as an All Black by descent. Come on down, Baa-naby! As many newspaper headline writers dubbed him this week.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale told me, with some passion, this week: “It’s all your fault.”

You see, Cameron came after me.  He got Greens Deputy Leader Scott Ludlam as collateral damage and then the rest of the dominoes started to fall.

Cameron told the Weekend Australian: “I checked about three weeks ago with the NZ Department of Internal Affairs and applied to search the register in relation to Mr Ludlam and Senator Hinch. I expected the Human Headline may not have done it and Mr Ludlam would have done it, but it was the other way around.”

“I received the certificate for Mr Ludlam which showed he was still a citizen but for Mr Hinch the certificate shows that he renounced his citizenship before the last election.”

So, queries about my citizenship (where I proved to be one of the few responsible cleanskins) could bring down this shambolic, clumsy, government.

Ludlam fell, then Larissa Waters failed scrutiny, and then Malcolm Roberts and then Barnyard Barnaby. And, in a desperate manoeuvre to muddy the waters the usually astute and level-headed Foreign Minister Julie Bishop bowled underarm to New Zealand.

Then we saw really tawdry behaviour from the “chief law officer in the land” as they call him, Senator George Brandis, as he tried to suspend standing orders to censure the Opposition’s Leader in the Senate, and opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong.

He accused her of “inappropriate conduct” —  pretty mild when words like “treason” were being tossed around the other place — but he then alleged Wong had engaged “in conduct which makes her unfit to ever hold the office of Foreign Minister of Australia”.

I invoked the ire of Senator Doug Cameron by announcing I would support the suspension of standing orders. He claimed that my support gave the defamatory Brandis motion credibility.

I pointed out that I will never gag debate in the chamber. And, as I told the Senate, I supported the government in trying (they failed) to get the issue to the floor, but had told Brandis in advance I would vote against a censure motion, which I considered a smokescreen for Barnaby Joyce and the government’s citizenship quagmire.

***

On the dual citizenship mess there were a gaggle of strange bedfellows on the Aye side voting in favour of a Greens motion to refer the dual citizenship question to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for an independent auditor to examine every senator’s validity on the question of citizenship schizophrenia.

Almost the entire crossbench — Greens, Hinch, Xenophon, One Nation, Lambie — voted for the referral.

The Libs, the Nationals and Labor, abetted by Leyonhjelm and new independent Gichuhi (who was born in Kenya) voted against such senatorial scrutiny.

***

A Twitter comment on the incompetent way this embattled government handled the embarrassing Baa-naby business:

Earlier, as the PM doggedly, and I believe recklessly, held on to Joyce as a cabinet member and Deputy PM, I tweeted:

(And a special mention to the troll who said a Senator whose IQ is so low he uses a word like “duh” is not fit to hold office. Funny thing is, I’ve never watched The Simpsons.)

***

Airport security has been in the news again lately with the announcement of a super-duper homeland security department, with Peter Dutton as el Supremo.

It raises an issue that has bugged me for years. I have a reasonably recognisable face. At the airport check-in counter I diligently pull out ID with my photo on it.

But if I had checked in at a domestic terminal, and just used the bag drop, I would have needed no proof of identification.

I could have checked in online with Fred Smith’s stolen credit card and boarded the plane unchallenged.

It doesn’t make sense.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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