IGNORANCE IS BLISS

Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue QC has told the High Court that five of the seven politicians caught up in a legal challenge over their eligibility to sit in Parliament should not be disqualified as they were not aware of their foreign ties.

Donaghue and the substantial team of lawyers representing government senators and MPs yesterday attempted to move the court away from its landmark 1992 ruling in Sykes v Cleary, arguing the precedent could not be applied to members who unknowingly acquired their citizenship by descent. Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash’s barrister Bret Walker SC told the court: “There’s no split allegiance where you’re not aware of one of them. You cannot heed a call you cannot hear.”

The first day’s action opens two paths to victory for the Coalition members before the court, including Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce; in one scenario, Sykes v Cleary is wound back; in the other, the court finds unknowing “citizenship by descent” is a distinct category and shields people in this situation.

No such luck for Scott Ludlam and One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts. As expected, Donaghue argued the pair are caught by the Sykes v Cleary judgment.

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BOLSHIE ON KOREA, QUIET ON EQUALITY

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has defended the Australian government’s “proactive approach” to North Korea’s development of nuclear and missile programs. In an op-ed in Fairfax papers today, Bishop said Australia would be within range of a North Korean nuclear-tipped ballistic missile but that it would not be a “primary target”.

The minister warned that failure to contain North Korea could result in the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world and reaffirmed Australia’s support for the US and its “all options on the table” approach. Earlier in the week, Bishop spoke to her counterpart Rex Tillerson, with the US Secretary of State discussing what he labelled the US’ “peaceful pressure campaign” regarding North Korea.

Bishop is also making news today for refusing to join the Yes campaign for marriage equality. According to The Daily Telegraph, Bishop attended the parliamentary launch of the Liberals and Nats for Yes campaign but has rebuffed requests to join the public push, sparking speculation she is shoring up conservative credentials for future leadership tilts.

According to the ABS’ most recent update, issued yesterday, 62.5% of eligible responders have returned their marriage survey forms. Earlier in the week, BuzzFeed revealed the Anglican Diocese of Sydney had donated $1 million to the No campaign, with the decision ruffling some feathers within the church.

HEADSTRONG TIM CAHILL NETS A WINNER

Australian striker Tim Cahill has dragged the Socceroos into the next round of qualifying for the 2018 football World Cup finals in Russia. Cahill scored two headers in Sydney last night, helping his team overcome a one-goal deficit to claim a 2-1 victory in the final minutes of extra time.

In a dramatic evening, the Socceroos were nearly bundled out by Syria, with the war-torn country drawing thousands of boisterous supporters to ANZ stadium. Their team was only overwhelmed in the final minutes of extra time after having a player sent off, opening space for Cahill to score his second goal of the night.

To qualify for Russia, the Socceroos will have to overcome one further opponent in another two-leg play-off, most likely Panama or Honduras.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Second day of MP dual-citizenship hearings at the High Court.

Canberra: Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer appears before parliamentary banking inquiry.

Canberra: Business Council of Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott will address the National Press Club to discuss education.

Melbourne: Judgment due on a union-backed legal challenge of the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut weekend penalty rates for hospitality and retail workers.

Washington, DC: The International Monetary Fund releases its World Economic Outlook.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Failure to check North Korea’s nuclear ambitions could embolden other nations — Julie Bishop (Sydney Morning Herald): “A failure to enforce the resolutions and check North Korea’s ambitions could embolden other nations to act illegally in pursuit of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”

Tony Abbott dares us to reject evidence on climate, but reveals a coward — Graham Readfearn (Guardian Australia): “Abbott went for the whole canon of tired climate science denial talking points — carbon dioxide is just food for plants, the climate has always changed, it’s the sun — in what constituted a warmed-up meal of misinformation with a side order of supercilious gravy.”

Donaghue’s option provides way out for government on constitutional struggle — Chris Merritt (The Australian $): “Those who oppose the government’s line include Tony Windsor, represented by former solicitor-general Justin Gleeson. Windsor argues the government approach would merely reward ignorance and encourage politicians to be lax about renouncing dual citizenship.”

Beholden bosses dance as Canberra calls tune on banking, energy — Maurice Newman (The Australian $): “It may be melodramatic to draw parallels between 1930s Germany and contemporary Australia. But there is no denying Canberra is warming to a culture of enforcement. And freedom’s champions are few.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Ghost of Abbott haunts Clean Energy Target retreat — Bernard Keane: “The problem is, Turnbull has caved to Abbott on so many other things — it’s hard to believe that he hasn’t done it on this as well. And the impression is hardly helped by Abbott travelling abroad to offer what is his 20th different position on climate change.”

ABC blocked from covering Abbott’s London speech — Emily Watkins: “The ABC’s London bureau chief Lisa Millar told Crikey via email this morning that the team in London had been trying for weeks to obtain permission to film and have access to the speech, but they weren’t successful.”

Do broadcasters have to air both sides of the marriage equality debate? — Charlie Lewis: “The requirement for balance excludes a broadcaster that represents either ‘a religious community interest; or a community interest that includes a gay and lesbian community interest’. So there’s no requirement for JOY 94.9 to ask Karina Okotel what she thinks, nor FaithFM to interview Christine Forster.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

Liz
North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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