Let’s be absolutely clear about what’s happened here. There are serious questions about Senator Roberts’ eligibility to be a representative in this parliament—and serious question marks. His story has changed more times than I have changed underpants. This is somebody who has made commentary publicly about his status as a dual citizen that bears no relationship to the facts.
Senator Roberts has steadfastly refused to engage in what should have been the appropriate conduct in the first instance, and that was an adjudication within the High Court. Indeed, what we saw from One Nation was a refusal to do the decent thing, the honourable thing, the right thing, into coming to this chamber without pressure, from the Greens and, indeed, the crossbench, and to refer this issue to the High Court yesterday when it should have been done with the other references that were made.
The only reason we have had this contribution now from One Nation is because, in about one hour, we were due to come into this chamber with a motion from the Australian Greens, supported by the crossbench and the Labor Party, which would have resulted in exactly the same outcome.
I want you to contrast that with the actions of Senator Waters and Senator Ludlam, who when confronted with a similar issue did the right thing, did the honourable thing, did the decent thing. They stood up, copped it on the chin, resigned and had their case referred to the High Court so that they could ensure that people sitting in this chamber were eligible to sit in this chamber. It has fallen on the Australian Greens to inject some transparency and some accountability into one of the most fundamental questions facing all of us as members of parliament, and that is whether we are eligible to represent the Australian community in this chamber. This is not some rule that sits there gathering dust in the dark recesses of some act. This is our federal Constitution. Now we do not like the rule, but it is the Constitution that lays out very clearly the eligibility of senators to sit in this place and represent the Australian community.
Senator Brandis says that, indeed, it’s a dangerous precedent and that the test should be whether someone believes they’ve done the right thing. No, Senator Brandis, the test isn’t whether someone chooses to believe whether they are a citizen; the test is whether they have done the right thing.
So the test isn’t whether someone chooses to believe they’ve done the right thing. If that were the test, we’d have to assume that everybody within the system was acting with integrity. We have anti-corruption bodies in state parliaments across the country because we know that there are some members of this chamber and other chambers across the country who don’t do the right thing. I personally believe that the overwhelming majority of members of this place and the other place do do the right thing, but we cannot rely on the goodwill of each and every individual member of this Parliament to ensure that the right thing is done.
In this instance there are serious questions around Senator Roberts. The right thing, the decent thing, the honourable thing, would have been yesterday when these other matters were dealt with, for Senator Roberts to have been referred by One Nation to the High Court. Instead, under duress at a minute to midnight, with a motion put forward by the Australian Greens about to pass the Senate, we had a mea culpa from One Nation—’We better do this.’ That’s not good enough.
There are still many questions hanging over other members of this place and the other place. It’s remarkable now that it is One Nation who have proposed to support the Greens’ position for an independent audit conducted of every member of parliament to ensure that they are, indeed, eligible to stand as representatives of the federal parliament. It’s absolutely remarkable now that we have One Nation setting a higher standard than the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. There is no clearer example of the closed shop that happens when they know that they are coming under scrutiny. We see the Labor Party and the Liberal Party, the Coles and Woolies of politics, coming together to protect themselves.
What we need now more than ever is transparency and accountability within our democracy. It has fallen on us, the Greens, to inject some transparency and some accountability into the closed shop that we see from both of the major parties, so shortly we will be putting forward a motion, not just regarding Senator Roberts but requiring each and every individual senator and member of parliament to ensure that they are eligible to stand here. If One Nation can support it then surely the standard that they set can be met by the Labor Party and the Liberal Party, and the test of that will come very soon.