During the Australian Parliament’s citizenship crisis most of the pressure for an audit of all MPs has been on the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The failure to propose any type of resolution to the crisis until this week has again raised questions about Malcolm Turnbull’s political judgement as well heightened leadership speculation.
So far Labor and Bill Shorten have been able stake through this crisis unscathed and capitalised on the mismanagement on the part of Turnbull. Although there has been rumours about some of their MPs potentially being dual citizens no evidence has emerged that would see any of them referred to the High Court.
Labor have maintained that their vetting processes for their candidates are rigorous enough to avoid the embarrassments that have beset first National Party and now the Liberal Party. Despite this claim they only supported an audit, or as Shorten stated MPs being compelled to produce citizenship at the end of last week when the political pressure was going.
It is considered more politically damaging for the Coalition to lose MPs since they are the government with only a one seat majority in the lower house. While Barnaby Joyce is expected to win the New England by-election comfortably if they lost an MP such as John Alexander in Bennelong they would not be guaranteed to hold onto the seat given the current polls.
It is in Labor and Bill Shorten’s short term political interests to thwart Malcolm Turnbull’s attempts to resolve the crisis which is why a meeting between the two leaders yesterday failed to reach an agreement. However Shorten’s strategy only works as long as no Labor MPs have serious citizenship questions placed on them.
We learned over the past 24 hours that things may be about to change for Labor with three of their MPs now under citizenship scrutiny. Justine Keay has been revealed to be a British citizen at the time of last year’s federal election, Susan Lamb has a British father and Josh Wilson was born in England. Today Bill Shorten refused to release the citizenship documents of the trio which means we only have Shorten asking the public to trust him Labor has no dual citizens.
After scoring numerous political points against the Turnbull Government during the dual citizenship crisis it would be very politically damaging for Labor if they were seen to be the party most covering up the fact that some of their MPs were not actual eligible to sit in parliament. Bill Shorten has escaped scrutiny over the past few months but the voters have never warmed to him and his strategy to date could spectacularly backfire. Various Turnbull Ministers have been appearing in the media today to try and turn the pressure onto Labor.
The public certainly does not believe one party is more virtuous than the other on dual citizenship crisis, what they are after is MPs and party leaders put forward a resolution that will restore integrity to our parliament once again. No party should believe they can gain anything politically from this crisis, but they certainly have a lot to lose.