It’s come to this

To say I’m depressed about the current state of Australian politics would be an understatement. But of all the things that depress me, the possibility of a section 44 case against Josh Frydenberg is the most gratuitously awful. If someone had said, ten years ago, that the Australian-born son of a Jewish refugee was ineligible to stand for Parliament because he had failed to secure necessary documents from the neo-fascist government that currently rules Hungary, they would have been laughed at, and rightly so.

Yet, that appears to be the state of the law, as rendered by our appalling High Court. I don’t know what I find worst about this. Is it:

  • The gratuitous silliness of the specific rulings in s44 cases ?
  • The absurdity of legal literalism, particularly in the context of constitutional law, where unintended implications can only be fixed by referendum ?
  • The possibility that the Court will add hypocrisy to stupidity by finding some way of rejecting the case against Frydenberg, thereby showing that there was no need for any of the previous rulings?
  • The fact that the case is being brought by a defeated Labor candidate, cheered on by lots of Twitter users, most of whom are apparently on the left?

The only consolation is that, as in all previous cases of MHRs (but not Senators) found ineligible, Frydenberg will be able to fix things up (wasting time and effort that might better be spent running the country) and win the unnecessary by-election created by our finest legal minds.

66 thoughts on “It’s come to this

  1. “The fact that the case is being brought by a defeated Labor candidate, cheered on by lots of people on the left”

    The case is not being brought by the defeated candidate. According to the Australian, before the paywall hits, “Former candidates who contested Josh Frydenberg’s seat of Kooyong are reluctant to challenge his eligibility to sit in federal parliament …”

    The case is being brought by a maverick Labor party member, who may actually be a former member because the Labor Party says they expelled him, though he reckons they didn’t. He has published a novel called The Holocaust Denier, which is summarised on Amazon thus:

    Under the influence of a charismatic ethno-socialist named Kubizek, Constable Ward Price who is a member of the police force begins to question the nature and extent of the Jewish Holocaust. He trawls through the ashes of the Third Reich in search of truth. Unable to discriminate between places of light and dark, he finds himself locked into a world of use-by dates. In this novel, there are no heroes, whether survivors, perpetrators, believers or deniers!

    Unsurprisingly, *everyone* is running as far and fast from this challenge as far and fast as they can. Who on the left is cheering it on, other than a few nobodies on Twitter?

  2. What a strange opinion you have expressed John.

    Why bring up the fact that his father was ‘Jewish refugee’? How is this relevant?

    Many of us have been in similar situations, many have had to get documents from those who previously massacred out families and forced us to flee. Josh’s father would have done something similar.

    Josh is in a better position to do this than anyone (skip a few meals, donate the saved money to a charity; make a few phonecalls; and have the satisfaction of having followed the law, just like everyone else).

  3. Smith9, thanks for the correction on the complainant. On your second point, those cheering may be nobodies, but there are a lot of them.

    Anonymous, such is my depression on this that it took me two reads to realise you were being ironic (at least I hope you were)

  4. Anon, I think it’s likely that a refugee will have less loyalty to the country they left than someone who left voluntarily, and their descendants less interest in any citizenship they may have incidentally acquired from it. I think it’s clear that John doesn’t think Frydenberg’s heritage is a necessary condition for a s44 case to be ridiculous.

  5. No John,
    I was not being ironic. I experienced war and came to this country as a refugee. To me this is reality. Someone like you John, can indeed read it as irony.

  6. In my case there’s a small amount of schadenfreude, because while Frydenberg is one of the less awful far right lunatics in parliament, he is nonetheless a far right lunatic. He has at best stood by while awful things were done to people, including refugees, by his fellow travellers and in his name. So seeing him at risk of a good solid dose of law’n’order seems appropriate.
    There’s also the faint possibility that his case will be the one that prompts the hard-heads in his own party to change their minds on this issue. I’m including the possibility that their private position is “we cannot win this fight so it’s best to deny we want to fight”. But at some point they surely have to realise that not fighting is the most stupid possible position because it rules out the possibility of improvement.
    I also cannot understand how any Jew (who is recognised as such by the state of Israel) can survive an S44 challenge, nor how Tony Abbott could either given his public claim that the laws of Rome override those of Australia (in his Pell decision and justification of it). But the legal system remains a mystery to me in a whole variety of way, this not foremost amongst them.

  7. My comment appears to have vanished, no error message or anything. In short:

    Frydenberg at best stood by while awful things were done to refugees by the government he is part of. This is nothing compared to that.

    If we are lucky this will tip the nihilists in his party over into fighting for a constitutional change even if they think they can’t win, simply because the alternative is so awful.

    How Aboott wasn’t subject to a S44 challenge for saying “the laws of Rome override the laws of Australia” in the Pell case eludes me. Diito any Jew given Israel’s ridiculous behaviour around the law of return.

  8. I know what I find worst about this: that s44 hasn’t been changed by referendum. It should have been an afternoon’s work for the leader of any party to knock on the door of his (!) counterparts and say “shall we knock this over at the next election?” and in doing so established the parliamentary consensus required to get rid of s44.

    This failure highlights the near-term impossibility of any meaningful political reform in Australia.

  9. Anonymous: I have a standing rule not to believe biographical claims from anonymous/pseudonymous posters who don’t comply with the rules requiring an email address. Nothing more from you unless you obey the rules, as you encourage others to do.

  10. The Oz is reporting it as thus;

    “A lawyer who has written a book called The Holocaust Denier is threatening to challenge Josh Frydenberg’s election in the High Court, claiming he is a Hungarian citizen by descent.

    Trevor Poulton — also a Labor Party member — said he was working with the Kooyong Independents Group, which is asso­ciated with former Kooyong candidate Oliver Yates, to test the Treasurer’s citizenship status and eligibility to sit in parliament under section 44 of the ­Constitution.”

    Through a host of small fibs it now comes down to “ALP are Jew haters” and the ghosts of the past are being are being used fight the battles of the day.

    There seems to be no end to this racism stuff.

  11. On gratuitous racism etc, it seems that Trump and his crowd of deplorables are able to walk around the law ie Civil Rights Act.

    When is the GOP going to pull this person into line – does he own them all?

  12. “But how to do such, when referendums have proven to be notoriously difficult to gain approval.”

    The LNP, Labor, the Greens and even ONP have suffered under the s44 interpretation so I’d imagine you’d get strong support for a referendum and positive campaigning for it. That should raise the chances of getting it through.

  13. It’s a ridiculous challenge, I agree, just like all the other ones were. What I don’t get is how the right now routinely uses allegations of anti-semitism as a sort of defence shield against any criticism. Why is a Jew any more special than a Catholic, a Moslem or a Klingon who falls foul of Section 44? This weaponisation of anti-semitism by Zionists and the far right to shut people up is beyond the pale. I guess we can expect if he was a Palestinian expat, The Australian and the rest of the Murdoch filth would be queuing up to throw him out of the country. The double standards and mealy-mouthed fake outrage is beyond the pale.

  14. The ideal solution is for a referendum that changes s44 to something more appropriate for the current times. This won’t happen. Instead, s44 is like a wounded bull, goring whomsoever gets in front of it.

    Even so, it is virtually impossible to sympathise or empathise with one of the crew (i.e. the LNP) who use live human beings in indefinite offshore detention as deterrence. It is simply wrong to do that. Furthermore, the homelessness that has become normalised, all in the space of a few years, is terrible. The party in power, they have to accept some responsibility for the current dire situation. Talk of 5.2% unemployment is hollow, when there are people who can’t even put a tent over their heads.

    Crickets chirrup.

  15. Changing s44 to something ‘more appropriate to current times’ is akin to kicking it down the road – s44 has a limited time before it again, becomes inappropriate.

    As s44 is only applicable to federal MPs it’s utility, if it has one, is unclear.

  16. What I don’t get is how the right now routinely uses allegations of anti-semitism as a sort of defence shield against any criticism.

    It doesn’t. That’s not what happens. That story is a fabrication.

    This weaponisation of anti-semitism by Zionists and the far right to shut people up is beyond the pale.

    Again, that’s not what happens. Nobody has been shut up by a weaponised anti-Semitism, whatever that might mean.

    I’m interested in discussion of statements people have actually made, whether they were true, whether (even if true) there was a good reason for making those statements in the particular contexts, what the effects were of those statements being made. Fabrications don’t facilitate that kind of discussion, they obstruct it.

  17. J-D,

    Look at the case of the attacks on John Mearsheimer as an anti-semite because he dared criticize Israeli policy and the Israeli lobby in US politics. It’s quite ironic of course because his heritage is Jewish.

    To say categorically “Nobody has been shut up by a weaponised anti-Semitism” (actually the term in context should be weaponised anti anti-Semitism) is palpably not true. There are cases where Israeli, Jewish and Zionist activists overstep the mark and oppress people. Perhaps you overlook how they oppress the Palestinians.

  18. To say categorically “Nobody has been shut up by a weaponised anti-Semitism” (actually the term in context should be weaponised anti anti-Semitism) is palpably not true.

    On the contrary, it’s obviously true: people who make generalised allegations of this kind are unable to produce empirical evidence to support them in the form of specific cases where what they describe has actually happened. When you try to come up with a specific example, you offer John Mearsheimer: but that’s not a valid example, because nobody has shut John Mearsheimer up. It’s true that people have criticised John Mearsheimer, but that’s not the same thing.

  19. Mearsheimer responded to criticism, he wasn’t silenced by it. Sometimes I wonder whether some people have difficulty understanding what the word ‘silenced’ means.

  20. “A lawyer who has written a book called The Holocaust Denier is threatening to challenge Josh Frydenberg’s election in the High Court, claiming he is a Hungarian citizen by descent.”

    And an Israeli citizen. Surely. I saw this coming but I didn’t, in that I thought that our legal industry would make an exception for MP’s of the rabbinical persuasion. I just assumed that they would lock in a legal hypocrisy. We should be thinking about this very carefully. People may have been laughing when they saw the alleged New Zealander Barnaby Joyce be so inconvenienced. But if every “chosen” person is really a dual citizen or has three claims to his citizenship then we ought to knuckle down and figure out how to resolve these matters without fear or favour.

  21. “Again, that’s not what happens. Nobody has been shut up by a weaponised anti-Semitism, whatever that might mean.”

    Happy to have you back. When did you arrive back from Mars J-D?

    “Why is a Jew any more special than a Catholic, a Moslem or a Klingon who falls foul of Section 44?”

    Or New Zealander. Supposing I run as a candidate in ten years time? If Josh doesn’t have to burn all his bridges with Hungary and Israel how could it be that I’d have to distance myself from New Zealand?

    “Changing s44 to something ‘more appropriate to current times’ is akin to kicking it down the road – s44 has a limited time before it again, becomes inappropriate.

    As s44 is only applicable to federal MPs it’s utility, if it has one, is unclear.”

    It happens to be the law of the land. So until we can get a referendum up we ought to follow it. Is it judged to be inappropriate because it excludes the Welsh and New Zealanders from being representative? Or only latent Israelis? Is the logic of it excluding latent Israelis the only reason we are assuming that its inappropriate? We have really got to be objective here and not allow special privileges to any minority. No matter the social inclination to do so.

    Supposing that by following section 44 we end up excluding such people from parliament for ten years ahead of a referendum? How much of a human tragedy is this? Should we be tearing our hair out and ripping out our clothes every moment the exclusion is in place? There seems to be some favouritism in the air.

  22. “Again, that’s not what happens. Nobody has been shut up by a weaponised anti-Semitism, whatever that might mean.”

    Happy to have you back. When did you arrive back from Mars J-D?

    Clearly nobody has succeeded in shutting you up by the use of weaponised anti-Semitism–or in any other way, of course.

    I have encountered this kind of allegation before, frequently (and on Earth, not on Mars), but I’ve never yet known anybody (on any planet) to be able to give an example of somebody who has been silenced in this way. When challenged, the best they can ever do is produce examples of people who have manifestly not been silenced, as with Ikonoclast instancing John Mearsheimer. Sometimes people complain AT THE TOP OF THEIR VOICES about having been silenced, without any apparent sense of irony. To me, ‘silenced’ seems a difficult word to misunderstand, and yet it’s obviously not too difficult to misunderstand.

    ‘Being silenced’ is, for example, what happened to Bobby Seale at his trial in 1969. He wasn’t silenced by being criticised, though; he was silenced by having a gag put in his mouth. That’s an example of what ‘being silenced’ means: what happened to John Mearsheimer isn’t.

  23. “Clearly nobody has succeeded in shutting you up by the use of weaponised anti-Semitism–or in any other way, of course.”

    Yes they have. Now I don’t think I should sully this blog by getting down in the dirt with you on this matter when you are just playing silly-buggers and you know you are being dishonest.

  24. Is it judged to be inappropriate because it excludes the Welsh and New Zealanders from being representative?

    Well, by John Quiggin it is. Perhaps you don’t follow his blog as closely as I do, but anybody familiar with his record on this subject will be aware that he has been objecting to the High Court’s interpretation of section 44, repeatedly, long before this case. Anybody who thinks he is objecting to it now only because it has affected a Jew (Josh Frydenberg) would be badly mistaken. Here he is in January:
    https://johnquiggin.com/2019/01/25/how-the-high-court-helped-wreck-morrisons-visit-to-fiji/
    Here he is in November:
    https://johnquiggin.com/2018/11/02/yet-more-high-court-absurdity/
    Here he is two years ago:
    https://johnquiggin.com/2017/07/07/not-the-way-to-bring-down-a-government/
    https://johnquiggin.com/2017/07/26/most-australians-ineligible-for-parliament/

  25. “Clearly nobody has succeeded in shutting you up by the use of weaponised anti-Semitism–or in any other way, of course.”

    Yes they have. Now I don’t think I should sully this blog by getting down in the dirt with you on this matter when you are just playing silly-buggers and you know you are being dishonest.

    It is an interesting reflection on your standards that you think that if you gave an account of how somebody silenced you it would constitute getting down in the dirt and sullying this blog, but you don’t think it counts as getting down in the dirt and sullying this blog if you accuse another commenter of conscious dishonesty.

  26. J-D your comments are very strange.

    You are engaging in rethoric while denying the existance of the same rethoric.
    Using rethoric to deny its existance.

    Where does one learn this way of arguing? It makes people angry. I guess this is the strategy.

  27. J-D,

    The attacks on Mearsheimer and his co-author were massive and sustained. Yes, he responded to that criticism. As a respected and well-known academic he could get his responses published. He also had the courage and tenacity to respond and fight back. Do you think other people, seeing those kind of massive, scurrilous, savage and unwarranted attacks do not actually get silenced early in the piece or self-silence, self-censor in fear? If you think that you are highly unrealistic. Of course evidence of silenced people is much harder to come by. How does one ever hear about it if they are silenced?

    Here is a report of some evidence of the silencing power of the Israel Lobby.

    https://newmatilda.com/2014/04/15/israel-lobbys-goal-silence/

    If the Israel Lobby has not silenced all opposition it has not been for want of effort and pressure. It has actually silenced a lot of just criticism of and debate about Israel’s actions over the years.

  28. J-D your comments are very strange.

    You are engaging in rethoric while denying the existance of the same rethoric.
    Using rethoric to deny its existance.

    Where does one learn this way of arguing? It makes people angry. I guess this is the strategy.

  29. My truth is not your truth, you say. I then must say that your truth is not my truth.

    This suits you while you are on the winning side, but your credibility is nil.

  30. And you will make enemies, which is not what you should be doing. You are doing yourself a disservice. The only puzzling thing is: Why? What us your aim.

  31. “And you will make enemies, which is not what you should be doing. You are doing yourself a disservice. The only puzzling thing is: Why? What us your aim.”

    I can speculate about this. When I do I come up with a formulation wherein this community is more manipulated even than the rest of us. I am thinking maybe the dynastic families, and their greater networks. use a small proportion of this community for wrong-doing such that the majority of them can be used for human shields. But this is only a speculation.

    The aim of the dynastic networks is simply to keep the rest of us fighting so they can maintain their control and parasitism.

  32. You are engaging in rethoric while denying the existance of the same rethoric.

    Of course rhetoric exists. If I made any statement denying the existence of rhetoric, I would apologise and withdraw it. I don’t recall making any such statement, though, and don’t know what you’re referring to.

    My truth is not your truth, you say.

    No, I don’t say that. Again, I don’t know what statement of mine you’re referring to.

    And you will make enemies, which is not what you should be doing. You are doing yourself a disservice.

    I don’t have the affirmative aim of making enemies, but I don’t make every decision about what I do on the basis of doing nothing that could make me an enemy. Anything I do (or refrain from doing) might possibly result in making an enemy, and the same is true for anybody else, so ‘Do nothing that could make enemies’ is not a rule anybody can live by.

    But if you think that making enemies is not what I should be doing, what is it that you think I should be doing?

  33. The attacks on Mearsheimer and his co-author were massive and sustained. Yes, he responded to that criticism. As a respected and well-known academic he could get his responses published. He also had the courage and tenacity to respond and fight back. Do you think other people, seeing those kind of massive, scurrilous, savage and unwarranted attacks do not actually get silenced early in the piece or self-silence, self-censor in fear? If you think that you are highly unrealistic. Of course evidence of silenced people is much harder to come by. How does one ever hear about it if they are silenced?

    It is important to distinguish between censorship and self-censorship. People should self-censor, and most people do. If you refrain from voicing your opinion of a cousin because you fear that doing so will spoil a family gathering, you are self-censoring but you are not being censored.

    It is also important to distinguish between criticism and threats. If other relatives criticise you for saying what you really think about your cousin, they are not silencing you; if that criticism results in your deciding not to repeat your opinions, you are being silent but not being silenced. On the other hand, if other relatives threaten you in an effort to stop you from voicing your opinions, then they are attempting to silence you, and if their threats succeed in silencing you, then you have been censored and not merely self-censored.

    Sometimes the prospect of being criticised discourages people from expressing their views. When that happens, those people are not being censored but are self-censoring: those choices to self-censor will sometimes be good choices and sometimes bad choices.

    Some acts of criticism are justifiable and some unjustifiable: criticism-in-general is not a pernicious phenomenon. The world would be a worse place if nobody ever engaged in criticism.

    Some threats are justifiiable, but threatening-in-general is a worse thing than criticism-in-general: on balance, threats-in-general make the world a worse place.

    The fact that Mearsheimer was heavily criticised is strong evidence that the people who criticised him were in no position to threaten him into silence. People who are in a position to make effective threats don’t have to waste time on criticism instead and usually don’t.

  34. I rather regret getting into this discussion. Whilst I disagree with J-D’s position, I also disagree with Visigothkhan’s position and his way of arguing it. I have to withdraw from this crazy triangular duel.

  35. “People who are in a position to make effective threats don’t have to waste time on criticism instead and usually don’t.”

    What is an `effective’ threat JD? An effective threat is surely something I can read also as a critism (if they liked me surely they would not threaten me) by the person/s threatening me.

    Similarly a criticism is a threat (more or less serious, depending on who it comes from and to what end).
    Teenagers criticised (for who they are and what they stand for, what they do) online by their friends, commit suicide (by your logic they have not been ‘silenced’, so those who bullied them have no fault). You don’t have to have blood on your hands to have part in someone’s death.

  36. What is an `effective’ threat JD?

    To describe a threat as ‘effective’ means that it has the intended effect, as follows.

    If I let you know that if you do not do X, I will do Y, then Y is the threat, and the intended effect is for you to do X. For example, if I let you know that if you do not give me money I will beat you up, then the threat is a threat of my beating you up, and the intended effect is for you to give me money. If you do give me the money, then my threat of beating you up was effective; if you do not give me the money, then my threat was ineffective.

    In a different kind of example, I let you know that if you do do X, then I will do Y. In this case, Y is still the threat, but the intended effect is that you not do X. If I let you know that I will beat you up if you rat on me to the police, then the threat is the same as in the previous example, and the intended effect is for you not to rat on me to the police. If you do not rat me out, then my threat of beating you up was effective; if you do rat me out, then my threat of beating you up was ineffective.

    An effective threat is surely something I can read also as a critism

    In the examples previously given, the threat (effective or ineffective) was one of beating you up: that’s not a criticism, though. Conversely, if I tell you that you’re incapable of getting the job done right, that’s a criticism but not a threat.

  37. Graeme

    You don’t suffer censorship, you are free to express what you want on any venue. There is no limit to your avenues for expression, you could start a blog, a patreon, an all instagram- the opportunities are endless.

    What you are suffering from is loneliness. .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s