THE federal parliamentary citizenship saga threw up yet more surprises on Monday, as three new senators were formally sworn into parliament to replace their fallen comrades.
The three new parliamentarians are Jordon Steele-John and Andrew Bartlett from the Greens, and Fraser Anning, who was taking the place of former One Nation maverick Malcolm Roberts.
But Senator Anning entered the chamber flanked by Cory Bernardi (Australian Conservatives), and Liberal Democrat David Lyonhjelm, while One Nation senators Peter Georgiou – who replaced Rod Culleton in March – and the Hunter’s Brian Burston sat watching.
It soon emerged that Senator Anning had split, or been pushed, from One Nation. He and leader Pauline Hanson had diverging accounts of what happened, and he is sitting, at least for now, as an Independent.
But for anyone watching or listening closely to proceedings, the real irony of the morning came with the trio’s official induction ceremony, where they could chose to swear an oath or make an affirmation.
But to what? Or to whom?
Remember, the High Court of Australia has ruled that five of seven senators whose cases were put to it were ineligible to sit in parliament by dint of their dual citizenship.
Since then, former Senate leader Stephen Parry has resigned from parliament, having sat on his concerns until after the court decision, followed by Bennelong MP John Alexander, who will contest a by-election on December 16 after doubts emerged about his possible British dual citizenship.
So, who do the new senators swear their allegiance to? Senator Anning took the oath, saying: “I, Fraser Anning, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and successors according to the law. So help me God.”
The affirmation is similarly worded.
Malcolm Roberts lost his seat for having British citizenship yet his successor is required to pledge his allegiance not to Australia, but to the British monarch. The head of a nation that the High Court found in a 1999 Section 44 constitutional case to be a foreign power.
Amidst all of this strangeness, Labor and the Coalition do appear to have finally struck a deal to draw a line under the citizenship fiasco by December 1. Good governance demands they stick to it.