The Greens have lost a second senator in less than a week for having dual citizenship, with Larissa Waters forced to resign on Tuesday after she discovered she was still a citizen of Canada.
Like Scott Ludlam, who quit last week when he found out he had dual New Zealand citizenship, the Queensland senator had been co-deputy leader of the Greens.
She said she had left Canada as an 11-month old baby; she’d been born to Australian parents studying and working briefly in Canada.
She had all her life thought that “as a baby I was naturalised to be Australian and only Australian, and my parents told me that I had until age 21 to actively seek Canadian citizenship. At 21, I chose not to seek dual citizenship, and I have never even visited Canada since leaving.”
After Ludlam’s discovery, she sought legal advice, and was “devastated to learn that because of 70-year-old Canadian laws I had been a dual citizen from birth, and that Canadian law changed a week after I was born and required me to have actively renounced Canadian citizenship”, she said.
“I had not renounced since I was unaware that I was a dual citizen. Obviously this is something that I should have sought advice on when I first nominated for the Senate in 2007, and I take full responsibility for this grave mistake and oversight. I am deeply sorry for the impact that it will have,” she said.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale, heaping praise on Waters, said he was “gutted” by her announcement, coming just a few days after Ludlam’s.
He was initiating an overhaul of the party’s processes.
“I have immediately spoken to our two national co-conveners and we are committed to a thorough root-and-branch review so that we strengthen our governance, improve our internal processes and we make sure that this never happens again,” he said.
“I won’t sugarcoat it, we need to make sure that our internal party processes are up to the challenge,” he said. He did not believe there were any other Greens senators in breach of Section 44 of the Constitution, which prohibits a person with dual citizenship being eligible for election to parliament.
The resignation of Waters opens the way for the possible return to the Senate of Andrew Bartlett, who represented the Australian Democrats from 1997 and 2008. He led the Democrats from 2002 to 2004, and was deputy from 2004 and 2008.
On earlier precedents, the High Court would order a countback which would see Bartlett elected.
It is not clear whether he would then remain in the seat or resign so the Greens could fill it again with Waters.
Bartlett said on Facebook that the party’s membership “will be having many conversations over the next few days as we process what has happened and determine what is the best way forward to ensure we remain a strong voice for the essential values the Greens promote”.
Other foreign-born Greens senators hit Twitter to declare their citizenship credentials were in order. Tasmanian senator Nick McKim said he renounced his UK citizenship in 2015, before being nominated by the Tasmanian parliament to the Senate. Fellow Tasmanian Peter Whish-Wilson, born in Singapore, said he did not have dual citizenship.
For good measure, One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts, born in India, and Labor’s Sam Dastyari, born an Iranian citizen, also tweeted they were in compliance with constitutional requirements. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who migrated from Belgium, said in a statement that he automatically lost his Belgian citizenship when he became an Australian citizen in 2000.
The proposed changes may help to clarify some of the confusion surrounding the role of state police and the ADF in responding to terror attacks. However, to prove effective in practice, the changes will depend heavily on the willingness of state police to accept military advice and assistance.
Changes to call-out powers
The major change proposed is to relax the call-out powers for ADF assistance during a terrorist attack. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described the existing law as “cumbersome” – and it certainly sets a high bar for requesting military involvement.
Currently, the Commonwealth Defence Act provides that the ADF can be called out to respond to violence within state boundaries, but only where:
a state government requests such assistance; and
the state “is not, or is unlikely to be, able to protect itself”.
This is consistent with the Constitution, which allows the Commonwealth to protect states against internal violence “on the application of the executive government of the state”.
A formal request for ADF assistance was not made during the Sydney siege. Despite the many recognised problems with its response, the NSW police force did not believe its capacity to respond to a single armed offender was inadequate.
Details of the proposed changes have not yet been released. But it appears that state governments will be able to request “specialist” or “niche” assistance from the ADF. For example, they may request assistance with specific weaponry such as sniper rifles or other high-powered weapons.
This will provide more flexible arrangements for state governments to request ADF involvement. Rather than admitting that its overall capacity to respond to a terrorist incident is inadequate, a state government could request assistance on more specific grounds.
However, it appears the process will still require state governments to request assistance from the Commonwealth. Whether state police forces will concede that their ability to respond to terrorism is inadequate – even on more specific grounds – remains to be seen.
It also appears that requests for ADF involvement will depend on whether state police classify an incident as an act of terrorism. This in itself is open to interpretation, and may prove difficult to determine in practice.
Changes to military liaisons
Another proposed change is to embed military liaison officers within state counter-terrorism police units. This will help build a closer relationship between the ADF and state police forces – if they can work together well.
During the Sydney siege, ADF liaison officers attended the police forward command post. In his report, the NSW coroner noted that the role of these officers was poorly understood, and that NSW police could have drawn on their expertise to a greater extent.
Controversy remains over whether police failed to heed military advice that their bullets would fragment on hard-tiled surfaces.
Formalising military liaison positions will help clarify the ADF’s role in circumstances that fall short of a formal call-out. However, it seems the key problem to date has not been an absence of military advice, but a lack of willingness to accept it.
Changes to training
A third major change is for special forces soldiers to provide enhanced training to state counter-terrorism police. This is likely to be the most effective strategy for improving operational responses to terrorism.
The ADF has two tactical assault groups – East and West – based in Sydney and Perth respectively. Realistically, these specialist units could only respond to a terrorist attack in one of those cities, or in the event of an extended siege. Having specially trained state police is crucial if first responders are to deal adequately with the threat of terrorism.
Improved training procedures will enable state police to draw on the expertise of Australia’s special forces, while avoiding territorial issues as to who should have jurisdiction in the event of an attack. They also avoid difficult constitutional and democratic issues regarding the expanding role of the military in domestic crime control.
Peter Dutton will take charge of a new mega Home Affairs portfolio in a sweeping overhaul of national security agencies and responsibilities announced by Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday.
The reorganisation is a major win for Dutton, a key conservative supporter of Turnbull, and comes despite scepticism from many experts and several ministers about the need for – or desirability of – the change.
Turnbull said the new Home Affairs portfolio would be similar to the United Kingdom’s Home Office, which he discussed while in London last week. It will include the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Border Force, and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
Turnbull stressed the restructuring was his call, after extensive consultation with colleagues. The changes were the most significant security and oversight reforms in four decades, he said.
Following a just-completed review of the Australian Intelligence Community by two former federal officials, Michael L’Estrange and Stephen Merchant, the government will set up an Office of National Intelligence, headed by a Director of National Intelligence. The Australian Signals Directorate will become a statutory authority within the defence portfolio.
The report did not recommend a mega portfolio.
The broad reorganisation will take months to implement, and Dutton will be home affairs minister-designate until it is completed and he is sworn in as the new minister. This points the way to a summer reshuffle, with Attorney-General George Brandis widely tipped to exit parliament then.
In an apparent concession to Brandis and to head off criticism about civil liberties, the attorney-general will continue to be the issuer of warrants under the ASIO Act. The home affairs minister will also issue these warrants. Exceptions will be made to the need for double approval when the circumstances are time-sensitive.
The attorney-general’s portfolio will also include the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor. Both are now in the prime minister’s portfolio.
“I always have believed strongly in the role of the government’s first law officer. It will only become more critical as threats continue to evolve,” Turnbull told a news conference, flanked by Brandis, Dutton and Justice Minister Michael Keenan.
“So, I am determined to ensure effective oversight,” he said, insisting it would be stronger under the changes.
The first law officer was the minister for oversight and integrity, he said.
Turnbull said that, given the challenges, “we need more enduring and better integrated arrangements for our domestic and border security – arrangements that will preserve the operational strengths and independence of our front line agencies but improve the strategic policy planning behind them”.
“We are taking the best elements of our intelligence and national security community and making them better. As terrorists evolve their methods, we have to evolve our responses.”
But recently retired secretary of the defence department Dennis Richardson, speaking at the Lowy Institute, played down the significance of the changes, saying they were not some great advance. There was a reasonable argument for immigration merging with other areas but beyond that it was presentational.
Turnbull said that Dutton would have two ministers working to him one on the security side and the other on the immigration side. Justice Minister Michael Keenan would be on the security side but Turnbull did not say who would be the junior on immigration.
The changes, expected to become operational early next year, will require some legislative amendment, especially in relation to ASIO. A taskforce will work on the complicated reorganisation; in the meantime the agencies will continue to report to their current ministers.
While critics have suggested a reorganisation would risk diverting the agencies’ attention while it was happening, Turnbull said: “There will be no reduction in frontline capacity, focus or operational tempo”.
Brandis, previously a known opponent of moving ASIO from the attorney-general’s portfolio, told the news conference: “These are historic reforms and they have my strong support”.
Dutton said: “Having made the promise to stop the boats and to make sure that we can keep our borders secure, we make this announcement today with this promise: the home affairs portfolio is dedicated to keeping Australians safe, to doing everything that we can to defeat the surge of terrorism, but beyond that, to work with our agencies in relation to transnational crime, in relation to organised crime, in relation to many other aspects of criminal activity within our country”.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said: “I don’t think this is a captain’s call, I think it’s Peter Dutton’s call”.
He said he was “very concerned that these proposals aren’t being pushed by our security agencies, they’re being pushed by Peter Dutton as the price of him continuing to support Malcolm Turnbull in his job”.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has just announced the creation of a new “super-ministry”, modelled on the UK Home Office. By the end of 2018, Australia will have a new Department of Home Affairs.
This change consolidates responsibility for all security agencies within a single portfolio. Peter Dutton, currently immigration minister, will head the proposed department.
Dutton gains responsibility for the Australian Federal Police from Justice Minister Michael Keenan. He also adds responsibility for ASIO, previously under the portfolio of Attorney-General George Brandis. As home affairs minister, Dutton will retain responsibility for immigration and border protection.
Announcing the change, Turnbull and Brandis went to considerable effort to note the attorney-general’s continued significance, despite his loss of responsibility for intelligence. Both emphasised that the attorney-general would gain responsibility for some oversight bodies previously within the prime minister’s portfolio.
According to Turnbull, the new arrangements will ensure stronger oversight of security matters to balance protection for civil liberties and freedoms.
What does this reform mean for people subject to Australia’s immigration system?
The comments of the four ministers at today’s press conference were revealing in many ways.
One group of people – refugees and asylum seekers – were completely absent from the ministers’ remarks. This raises questions regarding the meaning of the changes for these particularly vulnerable people, who remain subject to the powers of the home affairs minister.
Brandis said the reforms are significant because, for the first time, a senior cabinet minister will have as his exclusive focus the national security of Australia. That is, the home affairs minister’s sole focus will be national security and border security.
Dutton, preparing to assume wide-ranging new powers, reflected on his ministry’s success in stopping and turning back boats. According to Dutton, without integrity in the immigration and border protection system, “we can’t keep our country safe”.
And Keenan celebrated the government’s novel use of the immigration system to further its national security priorities.
The sum of these propositions is a continued linking of people seeking asylum with the notion of a threat to Australia’s integrity and security. Today’s announcement failed to show care or responsibility for the dehumanising impact of this strategy.
Instead, Dutton takes on a considerably expanded portfolio, despite extensive critique regarding his efforts to expand already very broad powers.
Australia’s bid for the UN Human Rights Council
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was absent from today’s announcement. She is currently visiting India and Sri Lanka.
Her opposition to the creation of the new super-ministry has been widely reported.
Until today’s press conference, Brandis was also on record as opposing the creation of a super-ministry. This may explain the emphasis Turnbull placed on the oversight role of the attorney-general for “ensuring governments act lawfully and justly”.
Others will consider whether this change is called for in the sense of enhancing Australia’s security capacity or performance. But today’s announcement must also be assessed in the context of Australia’s human rights standing.
Bishop and Brandis have taken primary responsibility for promoting Australia’s current bid for election to the UN Human Rights Council. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia is the ideal candidate for a two-year term on the council, as it has been – and continues to be – an “international human rights leader”.
The government has taken steps to demonstrate Australia’s commitment to human rights, in support of its campaign.
And, fortunately for Australia, France recently withdrew as a candidate. Although an election will still be held in October this year, Bishop is now confident that Australia and Spain will be elected unopposed to the two available seats for their regional grouping.
Regardless of the likelihood of its election, however, does today’s shift in the national security context support the legitimacy of Australia’s bid for election to the Human Rights Council?
In launching Australia’s bid, Bishop described human rights as “national values deeply embedded in Australian society”. Brandis described Australia’s candidacy as:
… the most natural thing in the world for a country which – at its core – is a nation built on a belief in, and a commitment to, the human rights of all – the human rights of all Australians and the human rights of all the peoples of the world.
Notably, the people ignored in today’s announcement – those seeking asylum from persecution in their home countries – have suffered human rights abuses in Australia’s immigration system.
It is difficult to see how the consolidation of far-reaching security powers in a single ministry will promote human rights. Outgoing Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs has already identified expanding executive power as a threat to democracy and human rights.
While the protection of the Australian community from terror threats is an undeniable and legitimate priority for any government, lawyers must oversee the coming reforms to determine whether they further threaten the delicate balance between safety and security on one hand, and freedom and rights on the other.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is to be given a bigger role and greater powers in combating terrorism, under changes announced by the government on Monday.
The measures – including specialised training by special forces for law enforcement teams – will provide more Commonwealth support to state police forces, which are still acknowledged as the appropriate “first responders”.
The changes are designed to assist in preparing for incidents, enabling a more comprehensive ADF response if needed, and improving the flow of information between the ADF and police during an incident.
In their announcement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne said state and territory police forces remained the best first response immediately after an attack commenced. “But Defence can offer more support to states and territories to enhance their capabilities and increase their understanding of Defence’s unique capabilities to ensure a comprehensive response to potential terrorist attacks.”
Defence will offer to place officers within state law enforcement agencies to help with liaison and engagement. This will assist with “pre-positioning” defence personnel in response to a possible incident.
The Defence Act will be strengthened to remove some constraints governing the “call-out” of the ADF in terrorist situations. This includes removing the current limit on states and territories asking for defence force support and specialist military skills until their capability or capacity has been exceeded.
The government will also strengthen the act to make it easier for Defence personnel to support the police response, such as clarifying their power to “stop and seize” suspects to prevent them leaving the scene of an incident.
“These measures will improve the nation’s ability to respond to terrorism as well as improve the effectiveness of Defence’s contribution to domestic counter-terrorism arrangements,” Turnbull and Payne said. The changes would be made in partnership with state and territory governments, they said.
The government initiated the review of Defence’s support to the national counter-terrorism effort last year in response to the changing nature of the terrorist threat, as shown by attacks overseas. It is the first time the ADF’s domestic contribution has been reviewed since 2005.
The package addresses some of the coroner’s recommendations in the report on the 2014 Lindt cafe siege, in which two victims and the attacker, Man Haron Monis, died. That incident produced calls for a bigger role for the military.
Turnbull and Payne stressed that responses to the terrorism threat must be constantly updated.
The government is currently considering whether there should be a consolidation of the security agencies under a home-office-type ministry that would be headed by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. There are sharply divided views within government about going down such a route.
Later this week, a version of the review of the Australian intelligence community done by former officials Michael L’Estrange and Stephen Merchant will be released.
Citing Jan-Werner Müller’s What is Populism?, the journalist, Amit Varma, was struck by “how closely our own prime minister, Narendra Modi, matched Müller’s definition”. After enumerating Müller’s seven “characteristics” and the three “things” populists did when in power, Varma found these all applicable to India.
But can such schematic “characteristics” of populism describe the ghastly daytime murder of 15-year-old Hafiz Junaid on a moving, packed train? And what about the complicit silence maintained during and afterwards by populists, non-populists and anti-populists alike?
Located barely 20 kilometres from the scene of the crime, neither social-media-savvy Modi nor his ministers posted any tweets, let alone visited the victim’s family.
It was the “crowd” that knifed Junaid. Two of his brothers were severely beaten and injured because they were Muslim. They wore beards and skullcaps for which they were humiliated.
They were called “Mulleys [Muslims]”, “beefeaters”, “terrorists”, “traitors” and “Pakistanis”. As Junaid’s bloodied body lay in the lap of his brother, who begged for help, the crowd simply and silently watched on.
Junaid’s murder was not the first since Modi came to power in 2014. Similar instances of brutality have occurred throughout India: from Jhajjar, Jharkhand and Dadri to Latehar, Una and Alwar.
And since the government backs the lynchings through silence and inaction, and since Hindutva has created a war-like mindset among many Hindus, they will likely continue.
“Populism”, as Müller defines it, fails to articulate the experience and vocabulary of those at the receiving end of such persistent violence.
Religion and the real targets of populism
Preoccupied with the statements of populist leaders nearly the world over, Müller seldom draws on the views of those who are objectified and victimised by populism. His treatment of religion as constitutive of populism is thin at best.
Müller implies that populism is inimical to democracy. But if populists claim to represent “we the people” and therefore democracy, who do they view as their enemy? It can’t just be “the elite” – populists too are elite. The real targets of populists, then, are those non-elites who supposedly threaten the culture of the “real” people.
And who threatens the “Judo-Christian culture”, “homelands” or “ways of life” that populists uphold? In Western countries, the threat is attributed to Muslims, who are depicted as only religious – indeed the most religious of all peoples. Muslims alone are seen as a problem to “integration” and “cohesion”, as if Buddhists, Confucians, Hindus and people of other faiths lived on a different planet.
Müller reads the populist demand for Barack Obama’s birth certificate as a signification of the former US president’s status as the “bicoastal elite and the African-American other”. He leaves religion out of it. So why did one-third of Americans believe Obama was a Muslim well into his second term, after many proclamations of his own Christianity?
Anders Breivik, the terrorist who killed 77 people in Norway, also stands expelled from Müller’s text. Breivik surely was opposed to elites; but elites themselves were not his target.
The real targets were Muslims whose culture, Breivik held, elites had spread by allowing immigration, which in turn threatened Christian Europe. The title of Breivik’s manifesto is revealingly religious.
And while Müller wrote only one sentence on India in his book, Breivik promised military support “to the [Hindu] nationalists in the Indian civil war and in the deportation of all Muslims from India”. He also viewed John Howard and Cardinal George Pell as heroes defending “Christian civilisation”.
So what connects populists in the US, Australia, Europe, India and elsewhere? And what prompted the International Democratic Union in 2016 to grant membership “unanimously” to Modi’s party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), despite its reputation for ethnic and violent politics?
Populism and anti-pluralism in India
Accounts of populism like Varma’s mechanically assume a “secular” conception of India separate from the religious one to which populism is assigned. This separation is central to the Indian liberal story parroted by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Ramchandra Guha.
Mukulika Banerjee traces neo-nationalism (which anthropologists use in association with populism) to religious nationalism in the early 20th century and V.D. Savarkar’s Hindutva.
Hindutva defined Indianness exclusively in religious terms: an Indian is someone who considers India as their holy land. Because India was not sacred geography for Christians and Muslims, they were non/anti-Indian. Indeed they were non-people.
In contrast, Banerjee presents Mohandas Gandhi’s and Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision as secular and pluralist:
It was the great achievement of Gandhi and Nehru that it took four post-independence decades for such enmity [against Muslims] to flourish.
However, anthropologist N.K. Bose, who served as Gandhi’s secretary, had this to say:
Gandhi tacitly formed an alliance with those who believed in a restoration of Hindu domination.
Gandhi’s tactical commitment to non-violence is evidenced by statements in his speeches that authorise violence:
If later they [Muslims] betray you, you can shoot them. You may shoot one or two or a certain number… We must be brave and trust the Muslims. If later they violate the trust you can cut off their heads.
It follows that Savarkar’s ethnic, anti-pluralist vision was not radically at odds with Gandhi’s.
Moreover, as independent India’s first prime minister, if secularism was the hallmark of Nehru’s ideology, why didn’t he write it into the Indian Constitution? Why was it inserted only in the mid-1970s? Nehru admitted that Hindus, including in his own party, were prejudiced and biased against Muslims. Bureaucracy was no different, he wrote:
Nearly all our District Officers and Hindus are … biased in a certain direction. It is unfortunate that so few Muslims are represented in our services now.
If the main political parties and the bureaucracy were prejudiced, where did Nehru’s secularism, then, live? Not in Hyderabad, nor in Jammu, where, with the government playing an active role, 200,000 Muslims were massacred in 1947.
Creating inhumanity in the guise of humanity
Though anti-pluralism (which Müller sees as the core of populism) in India began much earlier than Trump and the Tea Party in America, populism has undeniably taken on a new flavour in contemporary times.
The September 11 attacks marked a new phase in the definition of “the people” around the axes of “terrorism” and “humanity”. In a televised debate soon after 9/11, Modi hailed the Indian media for speaking “the truth” in using the phrase “Islamic terrorism”.
Modi opined that terrorism was innate to Islam (and less emphatically also to Christianity), for it did not consider other religions to be true. In his view, the “whole world” had witnessed terrorism “for 1,400 years” (since Muhammad’s time). Modi saw the post-9/11 era as a battle between “humanity” and “terrorism”.
The “humanity” Modi spoke of did not exist as a prior idea. Instead, it was manufactured through the disingenuous discourse on terrorism that his party enacted on the international stage. In the same debate, Modi said:
Because of India’s initiative in the UN meeting twice, we have made terrorism an issue. Due to this, we have succeeded in dividing the country into two camps: those who are against terrorism and those who are in support of terrorism.
I think that the recent incident in America [9/11] will intensify it [the division]. The world is about to be divided into two parts: those who are in favour of humanity and those who are against humanity.
While Müller does discuss polarisation as constitutive of populism, he fails to connect its articulations across countries as Modi did. Modi’s polarisation was between humanity and its enemy, which is simultaneously anti-human, non-human, sub-human and less than human.
In the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom, which Modi presided over as chief minister of Gujarat, over 3,000 Muslims were killed with state complicity. He maintained a long silence over the killings; when he eventually spoke, he compared the killings to running over puppies with a car. In doing so, he transferred Muslims from human to sub-human.
The act of transference partly explains why hundreds of people at the railway station did not even see Junaid’s dead body. Surely populism itself is too wandering and too light a term to grasp the ferocity with which the crowd killed Junaid, and the subsequent weight of the public’s apathy.
When Junaid’s mother, Saira, was told of his murder after she had broken her Ramadan fast, she responded with words that did not include populism. Can democracy, then, understand the tears and moaning through which Saira spoke?
It’s worth remembering that in addition to Modi’s claim that he is chosen by God, his followers regard him as God. At Madison Square Garden in 2014, Modi described his electoral victory as divine. He pronounced: “janata jan janārdan”, or “the will of the people prevails over the world”, where the people themselves are God because janārdan denotes the Hindu god Lord Krishna.
Thus, unlike “secularism”, which Modi denounces as “pseudo-secularism”, the idea that there can likewise be “pseudo-democracy” remains unthinkable for Modi and his followers.
I tend to agree with Müller’s observation that “one implication of the analysis presented in this book is that National Socialism and Italian Fascism need to be understood as populist movements…” The question, then, is: are populism and fascism substitutes?
The Greens are in shock after their co-deputy leader, Scott Ludlam, discovered he is ineligible to sit in federal parliament because he has dual New Zealand citizenship.
Ludlam, 47, who entered the Senate for Western Australia in 2008 after being elected at the 2007 poll, said he had not thought of the possibility he was a NZ citizen. He left the country with his family when he was three, settled in Australia shortly before his ninth birthday, and was naturalised in his mid-teens.
He had “assumed that was the end of my New Zealand citizenship”, but he accepted that it was his error and apologised “unreservedly”. He was “personally devastated” that an avoidable error was forcing him to leave parliament.
He was quitting immediately. “I have no wish to draw out the uncertainty or create a lengthy legal dispute.” The Constitution bans anyone holding dual citizenship being eligible for election to federal parliament. People holding dual citizenship must take active steps to renounce their other allegiance before standing.
The Senate will refer the matter to the Court of Disputed Returns. Fellow Greens senator from Western Australia Rachel Siewert anticipated there would be a recount and the next candidate on the 2016 Greens ticket, Jordon Steele-John, would be elected to replace Ludlam.
But the party faces further uncertainty, with Steele-John indicating on Facebook on Friday that he may then quit, creating a casual vacancy, to allow the party to pick another candidate.
Ludlam said his dual citizenship was brought to his attention only about a week ago. The Greens said their understanding was that the person who raised it was a “very interested member of the community” but neither a journalist nor an opponent. It is believed the person was a barrister.
The government is considered certain to confirm there will be no attempt to reclaim Ludlam’s back salary. It recently announced that Bob Day and Rod Culleton, who were both found ineligible, would not be pursued over back pay.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale said Ludlam’s decision to deal with the issue directly and immediately showed “his absolute integrity and character”.
Ludlam did not entirely rule out seeking a later return to parliament but said it was way too soon to think about that. “This is a departure, not an announcement of a potential candidacy some time into the future.”
He pointed to the irony of the constitutional situation. “What it is telling us is that I am owning allegiance to a foreign power, which is the sovereign of New Zealand – which is also the same Queen’s crest that flies over this parliament. It is a bit on the silly side. It is also black-letter law. You can’t wriggle away from that.”
Steele-John, 22, who has mild cerebral palsy, is very active as an advocate on disability issues. He posted on Facebook: “If it comes down to it, I’d be happier putting the choice of candidate back into the hands of our party membership.
“But like everyone else in the party I’m going to be spending the next week in sad shock and/or swearing loudly into a pillow. We can worry about who, and how the hell we try to substitute someone else in for Scott later.”
Among his achievements Ludlam pointed to his work on preventing an internet filter, and in getting “the threat of a radioactive waste dump off the shoulders of some old Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory”. Last week he was at the United Nations, making a speech before the sign-off on a global nuclear weapons ban that was endorsed by 122 countries though not the nuclear powers (and Australia), which boycotted the negotiations.
“It’s been quite a ride. I will miss that, absolutely,” he said of his time in parliament.
Now that the Liberals and commentators have overdosed on a debate about where the party’s founder stood on the centre-right spectrum, could someone go to a shopping centre and ask a dozen people under 40 who Robert Menzies was?
How many would know? And if the mall happened to be in multicultural western Sydney, what chance “Ming” would have any recognition?
This week’s argument may have meaning for the Liberal tribe, and in the context of Malcolm Turnbull’s fightback against the conservatives who are making his life hell. But to many families in the suburbs and the regions, it would likely come across as just irrelevant “insider” stuff.
While a lot of people just shrug impatiently at insider politics, a substantial number have turned to “outsider” players. The challenge to the Coalition vote from the confronting “outsider” Pauline Hanson brand was clear in polls out this week.
Newspoll had Pauline Hanson’s One Nation on 11% for the second poll running. This was ahead of the Greens, who were at 10% in the latest poll, and 9% in the previous one.
ReachTEL polling commissioned by The Australia Institute, a progressive think-tank, and done on June 8 in the seats of six ministers and the prime minister, shows very diverse but some substantial results for One Nation. The figures are: Cook (Scott Morrison) 16.7%; Curtin (Julie Bishop) 4.3%; Dickson (Peter Dutton) 14.1%; Flinders (Greg Hunt) 8.9%; Kooyong (Josh Frydenberg) 3.6%; Sturt (Christopher Pyne) 3.8%; and Wentworth (Turnbull) 8.1%. If the “undecideds” were distributed, the figures would be higher.
According to polling analyst John Stirton: “In 27 separate polls this year (from Newspoll, ReachTEL, Essential and YouGov 50 Acres) One Nation has averaged 9% of the primary vote, although there is some polarisation with Newspoll and ReachTEL tending to be above average (10-11%) while Essential and YouGov have been below average (7-8%).”
Although it’s unclear how much of the One Nation vote would hold at an election, the Newspoll level should be of concern to the Coalition, especially as the minor party has had a lot of bad publicity recently from internal scandals.
It’s a national figure for a party whose support is lumpy. We know it is particularly strong in regional Queensland. How strong will be tested in the coming state election, when the Liberal National Party (LNP) will be looking to harvest One Nation preferences, formally or informally.
Unlike the situation with the Greens and Labor, where the ALP can rely on receiving the overwhelming bulk of Green preferences, the One Nation flow on to the LNP will be less disciplined. Some One Nation voters would be former Labor supporters.
The test major parties face from “outsider” players is explored in a new book by respected British political commentator Steve Richards, The Rise of the Outsiders: How Mainstream Politics Lost its Way. He looks at the phenomenon across national boundaries, including a modest reference to Hanson and the Australian experience.
In an era of globalisation and rapid change, the answer to the question “who rules?” can be unclear. Richards notes that insiders’ power is less than it looks. “Elections, opinion polls, the media, constitutional checks and balances and the near-impossibility of managing a party’s internal tensions mean that elected power is fragile and often fleeting,” he writes.
“Most leaders or governments in democracies rule precariously, partly because they pay so much attention to the voters.
“Yet voters regard the democratically elected as out of touch, part of a lofty, arrogant elite. The opposite is closer to the truth.
”… Elected leaders rule in an era of extreme mistrust. If they do not do x, y or z, the instinct of some voters is to assume that those they elected are liars … At the very least some voters feel ignored and overlooked … The instinct to mistrust elected leaders is fuelled by some media outlets …”
The outsiders offer simplicity and clarity, albeit their messages are simplistic. They are fancy-free and so can be self-contradictory in the positions they take – although things become more complicated if, as with Donald Trump, they win power and become the new insiders. (Hanson has a lot of Senate power, but it doesn’t seem to have affected the view of her as an outsider.)
Richards argues that one inadvertently positive contribution the outsiders have made “is to trigger constructive questions from mainstream parties about what form the centre ground takes, and tentative questions about the role of government in a globalised economy”.
In the Australian context, this week Turnbull has reasserted that the Liberal Party needs to be in the “sensible centre”. We have recently also had the Coalition embrace a more active role for government than the Liberals would have advocated three or four years ago – such as a stated willingness to invest in a coal-fired power station, and the use of export controls to ensure a bigger supply of gas for the local market.
It seems obvious that the best place for the Coalition to pitch its tent is the “sensible centre”. That, we know – or believe – is where elections are decided. Turnbull is competing for swinging votes that could go to either him or Bill Shorten.
Many of these voters are pragmatic, uninterested in ideological wars, or in what Menzies might say if he were alive now. They just want things done – about power prices, health, education, whatever.
But that 11% is a different kettle of fish, or maybe it contains several kettles. They are deeply cynical about today’s political process and major parties; the siren call of Hanson, and some in the media, picks up on that.
These people, like some in the Liberal base – and they are overlapping cohorts – will be more drawn to Tony Abbott’s manifesto than Turnbull’s sensible centre.
The Turnbull government has genuflected to them by playing gesture politics in immigration, revamping foreign worker arrangements, and proposing the English test for potential citizens be ridiculously tough. It will have a careful eye to the demands of the coal lobby as it tries to land its clean energy target.
But those attracted to “outsider” politics would prefer the Abbott-style bald negativity toward immigrants and renewables.
The Liberals enjoy pointing to the two core constituencies Labor has to juggle – lower- and middle-income workers, and affluent inner-city progressives. But the Coalition has its own dual constituencies – the mainstreamers, and the punishers on the right whose power is a protest vote.
The idea the world is sleepwalking to war, much like Europe did in the early years of the 20th century, deserves to be taken seriously. One of us (Chris Barrie) set the hares running recently when he said that, as in 1914, political leaders today are doing just that.
But the problem with history is that it is always easy to gainsay such parallels. History doesn’t repeat itself – at least not in an exact way. The parallels that exist are usually at such a high level of abstraction that small shifts in local circumstances can render them useless.
History’s problem is the problem of the dynamics of all complex systems. Their futures are not determined, yet nor are they random. At any given point in time, the next step for any complex system exists as many possibilities – some of which are much more likely to occur than others.
How complex systems thinking can help
Complex systems thinking offers another approach to examine the parallels between today and the early 20th century. We can look forward with a complex systems perspective to seek the many possible futures, and then ask the question: which is the most likely?
We can do this through simulation. In this case, we need a model of the strategic interactions between countries that is sufficiently general that both the model and the real world are similar complex systems. And we need a model that is sufficiently realistic that its behaviours are easily recognisable in the real world of strategic interaction.
Until about 20 or 30 years ago, simulations of complex systems were pretty clunky and unrealistic. With advances in complex systems science, we can now build models that meet both criteria – generality and realism.
In this vein, we (Roger and Dmitry) have been building a general simulation framework that models the strategic interactions between countries. In discussion with Chris, we created a model within that framework that explores the essence of the sleepwalking hypothesis.
What we found broadly confirmed the hypothesis – but added some surprising wrinkles of its own.
What we found
The model stripped the problem to its essentials – a set of countries that interact with each other through competition (at its extreme, war) and co-operation (at its extreme, peace).
Countries can grow in wealth and power through these interactions. But there are costs imposed (especially by war) even on winners, so countries can also decline in wealth and power. Countries choose how to interact with a strategy they develop from their past experience and from observing what works for their neighbours.
For the sleepwalking hypothesis, we focused on two parameters that are part of a country’s strategy – hawkishness and risk aversion.
There is evidence of hawkishness in the rise in nationalism within countries as they adopt more aggressive postures in their international relations. In recent years, hawkishness has been growing in China, Russia, North Korea and the US.
An aggressive posture is one thing – but doing something about it is another, as countries factor in the costs and risks of aggression. So, we see risk aversion as a parameter distinct from hawkishness.
Saudi Arabia has demonstrated less risk aversion combined with high hawkishness in its Yemen excursions – as have Turkey and Iran in their Syrian adventure. But they also can be decoupled – North and South Korea are both pretty hawkish, but South Korea’s subtly calibrated risk aversion in the face of outrageous North Korean aggression has kept the two countries from war.
For instance, in 2010, a North Korean submarine, in an unprovoked attack, sank the South Korean corvette Cheonan. South Korea kept its response to the diplomatic domain.
We hypothesised that the world sleepwalks to war when hawkishness rises to high levels and risk aversion falls to low levels across the ensemble of states.
The interactive below shows the evolution of countries’ strategies when they believe war is not costly (whether it is or not), and when they have a tendency to copy other countries’ successful strategies.
We see that hawkishness grows very quickly and risk aversion declines very quickly across the whole ensemble. We also see that these strategies are very stable once achieved. When successful, the willingness of countries to resort to war to resolve their strategic dilemmas increases, the threshold for such a resort decreases, and this willingness is resistant to change once it is in place.
The model clearly confirms the hypothesis.
Is there a way out?
But is a de-escalation path available once the ensemble of countries is locked into high hawkishness and low risk aversion, and just waiting for a trigger for a major conflict?
Because of the in-step nature of “sleepwalking to war”, we wondered if explicit policy action by individual countries could carve out a de-escalation path. So, we drilled down into the behaviour of pairs of countries to see if we could visualise paths from war to peace.
Here we modelled, for a pair of countries, the most likely regions of war, peace and stand-off in their interactions for different degrees of hawkishness for each. We added the idea of a stand-off to our model to account for the “not-peace, not-war” phenomenon observed, for example, during the Cold War.
We then tracked the evolution of that landscape as risk aversion increased, as shown below.
We can see clearly that increased hawkishness alone will not lead to war unless risk aversion is also low. When risk aversion is high, there is plenty of peaceful space available even in the highly hawkish parts of the landscape.
In the Cold War, even though both sides mirrored each other in highly hawkish ways, their mutual risk aversion actually created a long, if tense, peace – a stand-off. And statesmanship on both sides continually steered the strategies towards the more peaceful parts of the landscape.
But we can also see that the peaceful domain in the landscape shrinks rapidly as risk aversion decreases, such that, at low risk aversion, even low levels of hawkishness can drive countries to war.
What does all this mean?
Taking both sets of results together, we think that, in walking countries away from war, statesmanship might find much more purchase on risk aversion than on hawkishness.
It seems hawkishness is more about values (as seen, for example, in emotional calls to nationalism and populism). Risk aversion, by contrast, seems more about the rational balance of war’s costs and benefits.
With hawkishness strongly influenced by the behaviours of other countries, it is easier to talk it up than down. And, with high emotional content, it’s likely to be resistant to statesmanship – that is, policy actions that go against the grain of the moment.
But risk aversion, as a rational action, depends to a significant degree on a country’s internal policy environment – how its citizens feel about the costs of war – and so may be more amenable to change.
In an increasingly hawkish world, this may be our best bet for maintaining peace.
The first week of July is not normally one that brings great events in world politics. Around that time, the northern hemisphere normally shifts into summer holiday mode.
Recently, this has become less true. Coups in Egypt, Turkey, and a terror attack in France have bucked the trend. Asia’s early part of July 2017 has also defied the languorous tendencies of the seventh month.
Presenting it as a gift to the US on its national day, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un proved his isolated country now has the ability to fling death and destruction across the Pacific. Contrary to US President Donald Trump’s declaration that it “won’t happen”, North Korea has successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile and is now within touching distance of a viable nuclear weapon capability.
China’s approach to the 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong sought to underscore Beijing’s power and prestige. But it only succeeded in reminding us of the party state’s insecurities and increasingly militarised approach to its regional dealings.
The over-the-top martial parades, China’s first aircraft carrier sailing into the harbour city, and President Xi Jinping’s powerful warnings not to “use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland” made clear China’s intent to signal that it is firmly in charge of the upstart entrepot.
However, Xi did so in a manner which reminds us of the party-state’s military instincts and its thin skin.
In the Himalayas, China and India had another of their high-altitude standoffs as Chinese military engineers constructed roads and buildings in territory that is disputed, as well as in land that no one regards as anything other than Bhutan.
Tensions have escalated, with China’s ambassador in New Delhi reminding India of the “bitter lesson” of the 1962 border war.
And in the South China Sea, the US deployed B1 bombers to fly over the disputed features – much to China’s chagrin.
The Trump administration stayed its hand in trade and the South China Sea in the belief China could restrain North Korea. But North Korea’s test shows the White House either that Beijing wasn’t trying hard enough, or that it does not have necessary leverage over Pyongyang.
Either way, the Sino-American relationship, which had seemed in reasonably good condition following the “citrus summit” at Mar-a-Lago, is entering a much more difficult phase.
It is hard to recall a time at which Asia’s geopolitical circumstances have been this fraught – at least since the 1970s. The region, which had enjoyed one of the most settled strategic circumstances, is now in a period in which its great powers not only don’t trust each other but are beginning to contest one another’s interests militarily.
Over the past 40 years, American leadership has been vital to Asia’s stability. Its dominant military power provided public goods and kept regional rivalries in check. Economically, it provided much-needed capital, and its large home market was open for export opportunities.
But US leadership is visibly waning. The credibility of US power and influence is openly questioned while its economic openness is also in doubt. Rising powers realise this and are jostling for advantage.
In response, defence spending is on the rise, as countries take steps to secure their interests in an increasingly uncertain world. North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test is only the most visible example of a region that is arming itself in the face of a shift in the balance of power.
Declining US leadership predates Trump’s election. But the sense of uncertainty has been badly exacerbated by the absence of a coherent Asia policy from his no-longer-new administration.
US policy in Asia is largely on autopilot, with the direction set by the Obama administration remaining in place. But this is due to inertia; it is not a considered strategy. If this continues, it will amplify the destabilising actions taken by those across the region who are unsettled by this uncertainty.
China’s position in the region is changing swiftly. Its gains in the South China Sea are unlikely to be reversed, and its infrastructure initiatives – both the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Belt and Road Initiative – are being widely welcomed.
Equally, China has taken the opportunity of Trump’s unwillingness and inability to lead to present its rise as a positive force on a range of issues – most obviously on climate change and the global economy.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s globe-trotting efforts to build the country’s reputation has seen him complete more than 60 trips abroad since his election in 2014. While there is some way to go to turn his ambition for India’s international heft to match its demography and civilisational legacy, it is modernising its military capacity and expanding its international influence.
As the standoff with China shows, it will be no pushover. Crucially, India sees the current period of flux as one of historic opportunity.
The region’s lesser powers are also playing their part in this geopolitical drama. Like Modi, Japan’s Shinzo Abe sees opportunity in these circumstances. He is pushing for Japan to be able to do far more militarily – something that is contentious at home and abroad. And even with its very limited capacity, Japan is proving a thorn in Chinese ambition.
Many others, such as Australia, the Philippines and Korea, are positioning themselves in relation to a larger contest for influence in Asia.
For decades, Asia’s countries took comfort from a stable balance of power underwritten by US might and economic openness. This allowed rapid economic growth. But that wealth is now powering ambition that, when paired with America’s declining influence and sense of purpose, has created an increasingly unstable Asia.
Unfortunately, there will be many more months and weeks ahead like July 2017’s first week.