When the numbers don’t add up you’ve got a story.

As the Abbott family’s war on same-sex marriage escalated on Twitter and 2GB this week (that’s the Abbott, not Addams Family), Peter van Onselen asked Anthony Albanese on Sky News where the Labor politicians were who oppose same-sex marriage. Why weren’t they speaking out?

We had seen Bill Shorten and Victorian Premier Dan Andrews flanked by rainbows in Melbourne over the weekend.

Albo reaffirmed that he was, and always will be, in favour of a conscience vote. But he ducked the real question: where were the Labor No campaigners?

I think I can throw some light on the issue after something that happened in the Senate last week. The Xenophon Team’s Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore solicited my support, and that of the Greens, to cleverly tag a same-sex marriage amendment to another nuts and bolts technical bill that had the words “Marriage Act” in it.

I believed Labor was on board too. Labor, Greens, X and Hinch — we were home.

It didn’t happen. Labor withdrew support. Why? Because, according to Senate corridor rumours, four, five or even six Labor Senators will vote No in the postal survey — if it gets a High Court green light. And presumably they would later in the Senate, as well. You can use that, Peter.

***

As the political dominoes kept falling, and Fiona Nash and Nick XenaPom joined Crocodile Dunedin in the High Court queue, probably the best Twitter line (for me) came from the bloke who tweeted that the way things were going “the humanheadline will be PM in a few weeks”.

I must admit that tickled my fancy, as they used to say. Not because of any desire to take Troubled Turnbull’s precarious job — but because so many major party nabobs had not done their homework.

Let’s be blunt here. If a political greenhorn like me — with the Justice Party only officially registered with the AEC three months before the 2016 election and working with a handful of volunteers — could get my shit together and papers in order, why couldn’t the big boys? Assign one staffer to check on citizenship obligations.

Hey, I’ve been an Australian citizen for more than 35 years, but I read section 44 and knew what had to be done. And I did it. That’s why this is a sympathy-free zone.

After Turnbull, Bishop, Brandis, and Joyce conspired with Nash for her to do a “dump and run” just before the Senate shut down last Thursday night (even though she knew the previous Monday that she was a UK citizen) I was, coincidentally, on an estimates hearing of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee the next morning.

Most pollies had fled the capital, but Senator George Brandis had to be there as head of the Attorney-General’s Department.

I can confess that Labor’s Murray Watt, the Greens Nick McKim and I ambushed committee chairman, the irascible Ian Macdonald (the Father of the Senate), and forced a private committee meeting, literally in one of the Senate “corridors of power,” and got the Nash-Joyce Section 44 issue on to the hearing agenda.

To be fair to the Attorney-General, he signaled he was happy to answer questions on the issue.

***

The least Pauline Hanson could do would be to thank me. If I hadn’t got the rules changed last year to let TV cameras and photographers record everything going on at any time in the Senate, the nation would not have seen her dramatic burlesque burqa entrance. Nor other senators’ reactions.

Under ancient Senate rules, she would only have been recorded on film when she “had the call” and stood to ask a question of Attorney-General George Brandis.

You would have been robbed of seeing the standing ovation for Brandis from Labor, the Greens and the crossbench as President Stephen Parry futilely called for order.

***

Back to the dual citizenship schmozzle. To me, Bill Shorten looked stoopid on Q&A this week when asked by Tony Jones if he’d provide proof that he’d renounced his British descent citizenship. To others he would have looked shady — a tag he’s managed to shed since the royal commission spotlighted his union money-shuffling days.

Four or five times Jones pushed the Opposition Leader, which concluded thus:

TJ: OK, let’s just confirm this. You’re not going to release the documents, is that right?

BS: Well I know what I am, and the point is we have a screening process. I’ve been clear four times.

TJ: No but, just … so that’s a no, you’re not going to release the documents?

BS: What is the case to release it?

TJ: I’m just asking you.

Jeez. Even Barack Obama published his Hawaiian birth certificate to try to shut up the crazy Birther Movement over there. A nutty conspiracy theory cynically pushed along for years by the man who now occupies the White House.

Peter Fray

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