Thakur Ranjit Singh
An unprecedented diplomatic brawl erupted when Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop jabbed New Zealand Labour Party, accusing them of conspiring to bring down the Turnbull government. NZ Labour Party’s star performer and a minister prospect, MP Chris Hopkins became the unfortunate fall guy. He is reported to have asked parliamentary questions about citizenship after a chat with a former Helen Clark staffer. In fact it eventuated that a Fairfax media investigation into Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Baa… Baa… oops (my jest), Barnaby Joyce confirmed earlier this week he was a dual New Zealand national, which could disqualify him from Parliament.
It is reported Joyce’s father was New Zealand born and he left NZ in 1947, and Barnaby was born in Australia. An archaic clause in Australian Constitution says anybody with a foreign father also assumes citizenship of his/her father. Ironically, Barnaby with his mother and grandmother are Australian born, hence the laughable clause in Australian Constitution.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, contrary to her surname, was full of venom, bitterness and desire of a battle with NZ Labour Party. "I would find it very difficult to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labour Party to seek to undermine the Australian government, “Bishop said. What a load of hogwash, and what a joke.
Neither Australian Labour Party, nor New Zealand Labour Party, not the fall guy Chris Hipkins, not even remotely the new NZ Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern made Barnaby Joyce a Kiwi – Barnaby’s father did! So why is Bishop barking up the wrong tree? They need to take some personal responsibility.
Let me tell you a story. My grandfather, Bansi came to Fiji in 1915 from British India as an indentured labourer from Karouli, Rajasthan, India. He was a British subject, and as a result my Fiji-born father was also a British until Fiji gained independence in 1970, and he became a Fijian, and so did I. When I migrated to NZ, I became NZ citizen, and also obtained dual Fijian citizenship. If I were to contest an election, as an intelligent and wise person who considers himself worthy of representing others, I need to possess grey matter to do due diligence to enquire about my eligibility. I make it my business to know about my heritage, ancestry and legal matters relating to citizenship, especially if you intend to be in politics. And here we have an Australian leader caught with his pants down, and blaming others for his predicament, despite saying that ignorance of law is no excuse. Perhaps his government can walk his talk and stop blaming Labour Parties of both countries, Chris Hipkins or Jacinda Ardern, for their folly.
Australia’s Deputy prime Minister and other politicians have an army of staff, with some of the best brains money can buy to find out and fix these things. They cannot and should not blame others for sleepwalking. Ask Indian MPs in NZ Parliament, Kanwaljeet Singh Bakshi, Paramjeet Parmar’ and Mahesh Bindra – they are smarter than some Australian politicians when it comes to due diligence. Does somebody so ignorant of his genealogy and citizenship deserve to be Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister?
Julie Bishop need to dwell on this issue, rather than blaming others for political misfortune of her party. After her boorish performance, it should be Jacinda Ardern who should be saying, that when Labour Party in New Zealand comes to power after election next month, (August 23, 2017) she would have difficulty working with an Australian Government with such shallow and interfering Ministers.
Julie Bishop needs to appreciate that who sought clarification of NZ laws is irrelevant. The real issue is her interference in our elections. Bishop used this issue to suggest if NZ Labour won the upcoming election, then that Government would not be trusted by Australia. Ironically, she happens to be the one who is interfering in the electoral process of New Zealand and thus propping up National government. She appears to be attempting to influence NZ election outcome with her unethical and unwarranted threats. She is the real culprit who deserves scorn.
In this whole sordid affair, anybody who came out shining and winners is Jacinda Ardern, who had been on the job for only some two weeks. In the first international controversy after taking the helm, she lived up to her reputation of the smiling assassin. Rightfully, she refused to apologise, as there was no wrongdoing on her part. And unlike Julie Bishop, she was composed, controlled, sensible, conciliatory, and was even smiling. She did not call Bishop, but was, and is still, waiting for her to call her – as Julie Bishop was the one who drew first blood.
And that distracting stinking rat is back on the government side of Australian Parliament – creating a stink which may result Labour Party assuming control in Australia, as we will do in New Zealand.
[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a NZ Labour Party Member, is a media commentator and runs his blog-FIJI PUNDIT]