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Barnaby back in parliament with brio

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December 06, 2017

Barnaby Joyce returned to parliament to applause and handshakes from the government benches.

The dual citizenship saga has returned to parliament with a bit that's new, a lot that's old and a good dose of the absurd.

Immediately before Wednesday's question time started, a new member was ceremonially announced and in walked Barnaby Joyce to standing applause and handshakes from the government benches.

Joyce was an early victim of the citizenship trap and, having handsomely won the resulting by-election, is the first to get back.

It was as if he'd never been away. In no time at all he was boasting, in his mildly manic style, of all the great things the government had done for farmers - which seemed mainly to consist of sharply higher prices - and the dire threat that Labor represented.

He wound up with Bill Shorten as the leader who can't be trusted.

By then Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull had had a good old barney.

Shorten started it with a faux sincere suggestion that the two sides co-operate by referring a nicely balanced list of nine MPs to the High Court.

Turnbull was having none of it, and you sense he feels the worst of the crisis is over for the coalition while it's only starting for Labor.

The PM accused Shorten of dishonesty and ridiculed Labor's list, saying it comprised Labor dual citizens and Liberals who are not.

He also brought up Sam Dastyari, who is not on the list, as a person whose loyalty to Australia was questionable and whose faction gave Shorten his job.

But this loyalty thing has its odd side.

Barnaby Joyce, as part of his triumphant return, swore allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors.

Now Joyce was pinged because he was, if distantly, a Kiwi. But most who've been caught, or are in danger, have been trapped by a British connection.

They didn't know they were Brits, or they didn't do enough about it, or the dog ate the paper work, or something.

Yet they all, like every other MP, promised allegiance to the Queen.

Sure there's the constitutional fiction that she's Queen of Australia. But that doesn't make her Australian. She sounds English, she live there. We don't sing "God save our gracious Queen".

It seems strange that an MP who has to swear allegiance to this English lady can be kicked out because a great grandmother's cat was English.

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