The Greenie Determined To Sack The Treasurer To 'Save The Planet'
“It terrifies me." The man trying to kick Treasurer Josh Frydenberg out of Parliament admits the effort could destroy him.
Michael Staindl portrays himself as David against Goliath. Or sometimes as Winston Churchill, doing what has to be done.
The businessman turned climate activist wants the High Court to rule the second most powerful politician in Australia, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, is ineligible to sit in Parliament.
Staindl has filed a petition with the High Court claiming Frydenberg is a Hungarian citizen and therefore in breach of Section 44 (i) of the Constitution, which disqualifies dual citizens from parliament.
But Staindl doesn’t care if Frydenberg is a foreign citizen.
“The Section 44 thing is a joke,” Staindl said.
“My grandfather’s Hungarian. I might have Hungarian citizenship.”
Staindl’s real motive stems from despair about the planet, his belief that without radical change we are doomed.
“Anyone under 50 is not going to have a viable climate to live in in their lifetime,” he said, calling global warming “an existential crisis”, one that threatens our existence.
He says as energy and environment minister, Frydenberg “did nothing on this.”
The National Energy Guarantee - or NEG - crafted by Frydenberg under Malcolm Turnbull was sacrificed in a doomed bid to appease the hard right.
“He’s now the deputy leader of the Liberal party. He’s one of the highest legislators in the land and they are betraying us, absolutely betraying us,” Staindl said.
His dream is that Frydenberg will lose his seat and leave Parliament, but he concedes “that’s not going to happen.”
But a by-election could put Frydenberg temporarily out of action allowing Labor and the Greens - in Staindl’s vision of the future - to rush through radical climate action laws.
“(A by-election) might weaken the government and give a chance for the opposition to achieve some more climate friendly results. That’s probably the best that I can expect,” he said.
As long shots go, it ranks with a kangaroo winning the Melbourne Cup.
Opposition parties would still lack the numbers, even if they could agree on policies. And it would all be overturned as soon as Frydenberg returned from what even Staindl concedes would be a by-election victory.
But Staindl is unapologetic.
“We have to pull on every lever we can,” he said.
For Staindl, the long shot carries enormous personal risk.
The High Court action could leave him financially ruined if he loses and has to carry the government’s legal costs.
“There’s a serious threat of that ... it terrifies me.”
He is planning a GoFundMe campaign.
“I’ve had a lot of support. (People) saying thank you, thank you for doing this.”
Since launching his action, Staindl has faced claims he is targeting the Treasurer because he’s Jewish.
“I find it deeply offensive, I abhor discrimination on all fronts.”
Frydenberg’s ministerial deputy Michael Sukkar used parliamentary privilege to paint Staindl, along with defeated candidates Oliver Yates and Julian Burnside, as part of an anti-Semitic conspiracy.
Neither Yates nor Burnside are involved in the citizenship challenge, and both deny anti-Semitism.
Lawyer Trevor Poulton, who developed a brief on Frydenberg’s constitutional issues, does have a history of engagement with Holocaust denier websites.
But Staindl denies ever talking to Poulton. “I have never had any contact with him.”
Frydenberg says his mother Erica was born a Hungarian citizen in 1943. She survived the Holocaust and an arrival document in Sydney in 1950 listed her as “stateless.”
He says his legal advice is that he has no citizenship issues.
It could be before the High Court within weeks.
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