Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note July 2015

Was anyone seriously suggesting that we didn’t already have sufficient laws to deal with terrorism? No. The citizenship issue is about national identity, and the right to dictate to whom it, and the law, applies.

If Tony Abbott is choosing to exclude dual-national suspected terrorists from Australian legal jurisdiction because he believes the nation’s legal system – in practice – cannot be trusted, it is an incredible admission from our leader, who is supposedly a constitutional monarchist and conservative. The purpose, of course, is simply to demonstrate he is “tougher” than his political opponent, less subject to such petty annoyances as due process.

The history of governments that seek to remove citizens from the law is not a pretty one, especially when they do it with political motivations. This government may think it’s been on a winner with this issue – maybe it is, this week – and perhaps pursuing human-rights advocates, legal professionals, the ABC and anyone else who can be branded unpatriotic is considered effective politics. But the government’s actions are dangerously unprincipled and, as Mark McKenna argues, its leader is merely signalling again that he has but one way of acting on complex political issues – like an attack dog. Tony Abbott is a one-trick animal.

In this month’s lead essay, Richard Denniss points out that simple slogans and attacks on political opponents won’t solve many of the issues that face the government. They won’t address growing unemployment, for instance, or a sluggish economy, and while Abbott can talk big about fixing the debt, the only thing he hates more than budget deficits is “collecting the revenue to fix them”. It seems Treasurer Joe Hockey is trying to be keep a low profile for the moment (even on our cover), perhaps in tacit recognition that the government is unable to form a coherent economic message of any sort. Denniss exposes (and demolishes) the Coalition’s overall economic record.

Elsewhere in the magazine we return to the issue of citizenship, but in a different realm – and one much less likely to attract government action. Margaret Simons visits Angeles City, the capital of sex tourism in the Philippines, to find what Australian men have left behind: children. These boys, girls and babies, abandoned by their fathers, have the right to claim Australian citizenship, too. A legal right, however, is no guarantee of anything for them. Simons also discovers a sub-branch of the RSL in Angeles City, with 600 members, but you’ll have to read the essay to learn more about that weirdness …

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the editor of The Monthly.

@nickfeik

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