It’s MY prerogative: Morrison’s last despotic act as Immigration Minister.

4 Jan

One of the last despotic acts of former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison was to threaten to revoke the power of Moreland City Council Mayor, Meghan Hopper, to perform citizenship ceremonies unless she agreed to read out his ministerial message during the ceremonies.

Moreland Council has a policy of welcoming refugees into the shire.

Ms Hopper stated: “I do not feel comfortable acting as a spokesperson when it comes to personal messages from the minister. I feel that the reading of a message from the minister in fact politicises what should be an apolitical occasion, as does threatening to remove Moreland’s ability to confer citizenship.”

The Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection Australian Citizenship Ceremonies Code:  Citizenship ceremonies are non-commercial, apolitical, bipartisan and secular.They must not be used as forums for political, partisan or religious expression or for the distribution of material which could be perceived to be of a commercial, political or religious nature.

More from the SMH article: According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the reading of the minister’s message is not compulsory under legislation.

Despite that, Mr Morrison said in his letter to Ms Hopper that it was his “prerogative” that the message be read aloud, as it is an “integral part of the ceremony”.

As part of his response, Mr Morrison included a one-page “letter of agreement” for Ms Hopper to sign, stating that she will include the message as part of Moreland’s ceremony.

“If you fail to comply with this request by January 10 2015, I will withdraw your authority, and that of the deputy mayor and general manager, to preside at Australian citizenship ceremonies,” he said in the letter.

It is difficult to see this behaviour by Morrison as anything more than petty revenge against a Mayor and council who oppose the Abbott government’s refugee policies.

No one should be surprised at Morrison’s efforts at petty revenge. Such efforts are the hallmark of a government that has spent the majority of its time so far in office deliberately trashing previous ALP policies for no reason other than that they were ALP policies.

There is no legislation that requires any official performing citizenship ceremonies to read out a ministerial message. Regardless of the law, Morrison employed intimidatory bullying tactics to demand his speech be read in the future. This is, he claims, his “prerogative.” Note that legislation is irrelevant to this minister of the crown. What counts here is his personal “prerogative.”

As Morrison is now Minister for Social Services we can expect an ongoing disregard for legislation, and a lot more bullying on the grounds of his personal prerogatives.

A minister of the crown must uphold legislation or seek to change it. Deliberately ignoring legislation and instead attempting to impose one’s personal prerogative over and above it, is not acceptable ministerial behaviour. Ministers of the crown have a particular responsibility to respect our laws.

Morrison’s former department, when seeking extended powers for him, argued thus: The DIBA submission to a Senate committee argues that an elected member of parliament and minister of the Crown has gained a particular insight into the community’s standards and values. 

The rest of us are expected to observe the laws that govern community standards and values. If an elected member of parliament and minister of the crown so conspicuously fails to do this, and instead threatens and bullies others on the sole grounds of his personal prerogative, we do not have a democratic government, we have a burgeoning dictatorship.

And this comment from @ForrestGumpp:

Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp)
January 4, 2015 at 8:32 am Edit #
By what authority does a Federal government Minister get to directly require anything of a Local Government Authority? The question as to the recognition of local government within the Constitution was rejected at referendum in September 1988 resoundingly with one of the lowest ‘Yes’ votes since federation. Surely the federal Immigration Minister would have to work through the appropriate State Minister and legislation to make such demands?

 

despotism-aristotle

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16 Responses to “It’s MY prerogative: Morrison’s last despotic act as Immigration Minister.”

  1. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) January 4, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    By what authority does a Federal government Minister get to directly require anything of a Local Government Authority? The question as to the recognition of local government within the Constitution was rejected at referendum in September 1988 resoundingly with one of the lowest ‘Yes’ votes since federation. Surely the federal Immigration Minister would have to work through the appropriate State Minister and legislation to make such demands?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jennifer Wilson January 4, 2015 at 8:33 am #

      Excellent point. Proving Morrison’s tactics are bullying

      Like

    • Lucas James January 4, 2015 at 9:06 am #

      Given that it is a citizenship ceremony, the Minister of Immigration/Dept of Immigration would have power to set the requirements of said ceremony. This includes any oath of loyalty, any citizenship tests.

      In this case the ceremony is going to happen at a local government authority, and as the local government authority is subject to both state and federal laws and regulations, it has to comply (just as any other group conducting these ceremonies).

      We can argue that the content of these documents (the minister’s statement, loyality oaths or tests) are good, bad, bullying or unaustralian, but it is the purview of the minister and his department.

      Like

      • Jennifer Wilson January 4, 2015 at 9:09 am #

        It’s worth having a look at the Ceremonies Code : http://www.citizenship.gov.au/_pdf/australian-citizenship-ceremonies-code.pdf

        It is not compulsory under legislation for the ministerial message to be read out.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Lucas James January 4, 2015 at 9:40 am #

          On page 26 of the document you linked to there is a requirement to read the ministers message. This is an administrative requirement for a valid ceremony to have taken place. This is an exectutive power (the third pillar of governement).

          You are correct in saying there is no legistlative requirement, however you cannot hold a valid cerimony unless you meet all the requirements in the code (which includes a requirement to have read the statement in toto).

          Yes, the minister (or the department) can on a whim change this requirement (or waive it in certain circumstances). Administrative requirements are the easiest to change (regulations are the next hardest, and Acts are the hardest).

          The fact the minister will not waive this requirement in this case demonstrates his vindictiveness.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson January 4, 2015 at 9:50 am #

            It’s an interesting situation, and I’m curious as to what Peter Dutton will do about it.

            And does simply not reading a ministerial message mean these people are not citizens?

            And a code of conduct must be compatible with legislation, mustn’t it?

            Like

            • Nick January 4, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

              “And does simply not reading a ministerial message mean these people are not citizens?”

              No, it doesn’t. Not as I’m interpreting it anyway (feel free to disagree, Lucas!)

              You can’t hold a valid ceremony unless you meet all requirements as set out in the relevant Act and Regulations.

              The “code” is nothing more than a guide to proceedings. Words like “must do this” written outside of the Act and Regulations are meaningless.

              1) Meghan Hopper has every legal right not read his ministerial message.

              2) The Minister for Immigration has every legal right to remove her authority to perform citizenship ceremonies.

              Hence why he’s threatening to take that course of action.

              He doesn’t have the power to invalidate a ceremony which has met all the requirements of the Act and Regulations. And nobody is going to try to revoke those people’s citizenship down the track in a court of law as a result of her “insubordination”.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Nick January 4, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

              That said – and as much as I might agree with her views – I think it’s Meghan Hopper who appears to be politicising the ceremony, not the Minister for Immigration.

              From the SMH: “Ms Hopper said she did not want to be “forced to act as a mouthpiece for a government whose policies this council does not agree with”.”

              As a city mayor, on this occasion, it’s her job to be that mouthpiece.

              If she wants to disagree with and protest federal government policies, there are many avenues and forums available to her to do so in.

              I’m not convinced the citizenship ceremony for a bunch of innocent new Australians is one of them however.

              \Why should her problem become their problem? How do they feel about the possibility of the ceremony being cancelled as a result of her personal decision?

              Liked by 1 person

            • Lucas James January 4, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

              Peter Dutton doesn’t strike me as a “man of action”. I think he has already ruled out reversing Scott Morrison’s decision.

              Does it invalidate a citizenship performed at a ceremony that didn’t read the ministers message? That would only be decided if someone challenged it. Interestingly the code also requires that it is non-commercial, apolitical, bipartisan and secular (on pg 6), so one could challenge the minister’s statement on those grounds.

              Yes a code of conduct must be compatible with the enabling legislation. On my (rather quick) reading of the legislation and the regulations there doesn’t seem to be any conflict here, and the code seems to be authorised under regulation 8.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. doug quixote January 4, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

    All very interesting, commenters. The legal issues are one thing, the political issues another and the moral issues yet another.

    However I think it is a fairly minor piece of ratbaggery by the no-longer Minister. Expect this issue to be quietly buried.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson January 4, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

      Yes, I can’t see Peter Dutton running with this one.

      Like

      • mix1127 January 4, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

        Perhaps the govt’s agenda for cutting red tape could include the offending regs discussed above?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Team Oyeniyi January 5, 2015 at 1:47 am #

    Interesting comments indeed.

    In my view the man is a bully with a very questionable history.

    Heaven help Social Services.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill Favero (@JillFavero) January 5, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

    Just glad to hear from you, David! You had a few Tweeps worried because you were silent on Twitter 🙂

    Like

  5. paul walter January 5, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

    Hi Jill!!

    Like

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