As with just about everything Scott Morrison has done since becoming PM, his visit to Fiji was a trainwreck. Morrison must have hoped that his Trumpian willingness to endorse the dictatorial methods of Fijian PM Frank Bainimarama would ensure a warm welcome. It was not to be.
In part, this was due to the government’s embrace of climate denialism, which reflects hostility to the global environment in general, rather than Fiji in particular, and isn’t going to change any time soon. But there was also the avoidable own goal of stripping Australian citizenship from accused terrorist Neil Prakash, on the pretext that Prakash was also a Fijian citizen.
Peter Dutton isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, but under normal circumstances, he wouldn’t have reached the conclusion that Prakash, a Melbourne-born Australian was actually a citizen of another country he’d never visited or had any dealings with.
Dutton’s error is explained by the fact that the legal geniuses of our High Court have accustomed us to thinking in precisely this absurd way. Taking the silliest possible reading of the Constitution, they have led us to the position where people born in Australia to Australian citizen parents, and who may never have left the country, are routinely described as “foreigners“. Even Aborigines like Pat Dodson are open to this attack.
The mere possibility that one might apply for the citizenship of another country is sufficient. And even public renunciation of foreign allegiance is not enough, if the government in question is slow to accept it
It’s striking to observe that seven of the allegedly brightest legal minds in the country are effectively dumber than a bigoted ex-policeman, but that is the sad reality. We would be better off replacing the current High Court with seven randomly chosen citizens, or, for that matter, with the flip of a coin.