Seeking To Rebuild Shattered Lives

When asylum seekers left their homeland, it was not just conflict or persecution they left behind. It was their past, their cultural identity. Friends and family. A way of life familiar to them, prior to any conflict, a life that gave reasurance and comfort. A daily existance that had meaning. Gone. 
And as they made their way here, at great risk and uncertainty, they were only intent on reaching safety and restarting their fractured lives. They did not set out to threaten our borders or security nor jeopardise our sovereignty. And none did. 
Treating asylum seekers as pariahs says more about the character of the accuser than of the accused. The crocodile tears over deaths at sea only makes it worse.
There are other solutions. Internment and demonisation are unconscionable. We need to find a better way. Our politicians are very well paid. It is about time they earnt their keep.

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ENOUGH, JUST GO

The confected outrage of our supposed prime minister over the Mallah/QandA affair once again demonstrates his complete inability to differentiate between reality and self serving political spin. While continuing to parade up and down with his minions in front of an increasing number of Australian flags (probably made in China) to demonstrate his commitment to national security, the polls show how distrusted he is by the Australian public. Despite all his chest thumping and national security rhetoric the polls have not improved. And despite the efforts of newscorpse.

The governments propaganda program stays the course, whether on economy, health, education or national security but it has not resonated with the electorate. And so one hopes that it continues on it’s self destructive path. One area that it has had success is, sadly, on asylum seekers, with the help of a compliant,weak and gutless opposition. Racism rules in Australia.

It is a pity that the Labor Party hasn’t got the balls to stand up for human rights. It is a pity that they are relying on the incompetence of this pathetic lowlife government and not coming out with policies that distinguish them from the grovelling swill that proclaims to represent us now (and they certianly do not represent me).

And as the preppy PM rants on and on about his Team Australia and all other related dog shit, we can only hope that journalists (who only report media releases) develop the intestinal fortitude to expose this lousy mob of interlopers for what they are. The worst threat to the safety and prosperity of this country we have ever faced. ISIS be damned, it is the right wing of Australian politics that want to destroy our beloved freedoms and cherished way of life.

It is time this unrepresentative swill (to channel PJK) died of shame and resigned en block. We have had enough.

Why Do They Hate Us?

This post is in response to remarks on Melbourne radio and nothing more.

How often recently have you heard commentators say of Islamic extremists that it is modernism and our democracy and freedoms that they despise. Wrong.

Sure, there has been a reaction to some aspects of modernity. Think the Taliban and television. But not computers. Television brings a message; computers can be used to send a message.

The reaction is not to modernity. It is a reaction to continuous and continued western influence and interference in the Middle East and Africa. And to a lesser extent Asia, but Asian Islam may have been tempered by Hindu and Buddhist influences.

Jerusalem was once a multifaith city where Jews, Christians and Moslems got on well. And then a bunch of French and English Catholics screwed things up. The crusades, where atrocities equal to or even worse than being committed (in the name of Christendom) by the so-called ‘Islamic State’. And they aren’t a state. A confederation at best. And not altruistic.

Centuries of interference in the Middle East, exploitation (spices, oil, more oil) and carving up the spoils in the 18th and 19th centuries and after WW1 have come back to bite the West on the bum.

Same for Africa. Slave trade. Gold. Diamonds. The Western powers interfering in other nations development and governance for profit but claiming they were bringing democracy and civilisation just brewed resentment. And Islam requires devotion, but not to the West.

And the young foreign men going to fight for ISIL are not as disaffected as is claimed. They are young men, looking for a cause; the grand adventure, wanting to right wrongs even if they don’t understand what it’s all about. Many don’t even understand the religion they are supposedly fighting to defend. Some are there because they enjoy violence. Should the West try and stop them going? Probably. But remember how many young men went to fight against Franco in 1936. That is not to equate the two.

There is a civil war in the Middle East. And a war against the West. We should walk away. Offer humanitarian aid, yes (bombs aren’t humanitarian) If the countries of the region ask for help (not us demand they help us) then maybe more. But militarily, walk away. It is time our interference stopped.

Legislate Paid Parental Leave

With the controversy and criticism of various forms of paid parental leave, whether the ‘rolls royce’ government scheme, now cut back to $100,000, or the former governments ‘welfare handout’, it seems that most people agree that there should be paid parental leave.

Are we serious about it?

Then legislate to force companies to provide it. Funding from the current system could be used to provide a backup while companies restructure their wage system to take it into account.

And who knows, eventually it could be expanded to provide not just maternity leave but also paternity leave.

Women who work give to society and the country beyond raising a family and deserve support. Contrary to current popular government rhetoric, it should be an entitlement.

To quote Sam Kecovich, you know it makes sense.

Refugees; Always With Us?

Recent events on Manus Island have once more brought into focus this countries attitude to refugees and immigrants. As a country of immigrants it is historically chequered.

The way in which the displaced of Europe after WW2 were accepted into the country contrasts with the treatment of the Chinese after the gold rush (drug laws were aimed as much at the Chinese than at the scourge of opium).

Look around your community. In my own region we have had a growing African population for years now, and Asian faces are commonplace. Much of the country is the same; it is becoming more cosmopolitan by the day and for the most part this is embraced. Multicultural society flourished.

But somewhere between Saigon and Jakarta we foundered on the beach of indifference. Fears fuelled by paranoia created by endless replays of crumbling twin towers and fed by self serving politicians intent on replacing old cold war menaces with a new bogey turned our compassions sour.

The Tampa affair, where 438 predominantly Afghani Hazaras were refuse asylum became a new low point in our nations history.

A bellicose John Howard boasted “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”, a timid Kim Beasley aquiessed. Asylum seekers were demonised for political ends. It worked; Howard won. Between Tampa and the October election in 2011 two planes flew into the Twin Towers, New York. All muslims were now suspected terrorists.

Illegal immigrant became the catchphrase and the Pacific Solution was born in 2001. The flow of so called illegals was to be stopped. The policy, a latter day sibling of the White Australia Policy (in existence from Federation1901 until 1973, not that long ago) played on the xenophobia of a nation caught up in the post 9/11 panic. Our borders needed protection.

Boat people were intent on destroying our cherished way of life.

The enforcement of policy or the lack of push factors such as the removal of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, slowed the flow of asylum seekers considerably. In 2008 the policy was scrapped by the incoming Rudd government.

And not long after that, with developing conflicts in places like Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as the escalation of the civil war in Sri Lanka the flow of refugees increased. And so did deaths at sea.

When 353 people died at sea in October of 2011 there was political controversy, but more about ‘a certain incident at sea’ occurred rather than the loss of life. How many more died at sea during this time we will never know. We have no idea how many Vietnamese either drowned or were killed by pirates during the seventies and eighties. Australia eventually took 137,000 Vietnamese refugees.

When the boats started arriving again the then opposition ran the border protection line so familiar now. After the drownings off Christmas Island in 2012 suddenly the murmur from conservative politicians and commentators became a chorus and the deaths at sea became the focus of their ire, a thin cloak of compassion over their continued demonization of asylum seekers.

These desperate people fleeing oppression and war were now a threat to our sovereignty.

And then it became a race to the bottom. The Gillard/Rudd government and the Abbott opposition tried continually to outdo each other in more bizarre and morally doubtful policies. Malaysia, Manus Island, Stop The Boats, Operation Sovereign Borders. Both governments stand condemned for their appalling human rights record over boat people.

There is nothing illegal about seeking asylum. There are many people in the world facing a life of quiet desperation. There are many who live under oppressive regimes and confronted by persecution, even death. They are all worthy of our help. Some will make their escape. Some will be lucky enough to afford to travel far from the conflict that threatens.

For some asylum seekers there is a chance to use diplomatic channels. For others the option does not exist. Waiting for years in refuge camps takes its toll. Being given an opportunity to escape isn’t something that you turn down.

There may be many in the world in more situations. That does not mean we refuse those relatively more fortunate.

But the treatment of asylum seekers as political prisoners was always going to end in tragedy and the death as a result of the Manus Island Riot was not the first such tragedy. Sadly it will probably not be the last as long as we continue as we have.

And instead of demanding answers conservative commentators condemn the outrage in a glaring display of cant and hypocrisy.

To be outrage by this tragedy is not to deny earlier misadventures, nor belittle them. This death occurred under our government’s watch. Our government’s jurisdiction. The victim is not at fault. The blame game is on in earnest with conflicting evidence in the public arena. Hopefully the perpetrator, the full account of what happened will be brought to light. And justice served. That is the least that needs to happen.

But while wars and persecution exist in the world there will always be refugees. We need to make it easier, not harder to come to our country. This will help stop the boats. This will help save lives.

• Iranian born asylum seeker Reza Barati died on February 17 as a result of riots. At this stage the full circumstances of his death are not known. There are three investigations concurrently under way.

Fire Sale

Well, the fire sale has begun. Medibank, QANTAS, who knows what else both federal and state will fall under the auctioneers hammer. The poor governments broke you see.

So, as we plummet headlong to a possible third world economic future, the chance of financial assistance from the institution that is elected to protect us is zilch. Nada. Unless you are a mining company. Or a farmer, and even then it’s often only in exceptional circumstances.

The argument goes that why should someone who works for SPC get special treatment by having their job propped up by a subsidy from government. Someone who works for BHP Billiton doesn’t get assistance. Oh hang on there, that’s a mining company that does get assistance, and will get more assistance when the mining tax is repealed. So if you work in the mining industry your job IS subsidised.

And at Cadbury. When all those tourists flock back to factory tours it would look odd if there was no one working there after all.

But all is not lost as our work experience treasurer believes that super funds should invest in Australian companies. Mums and dads, stick your hands in your pockets and hand your cash over. Just hope it doesn’t go up in smoke.

Be Outraged, Be Very Outraged …

Notice how much outrage there is in the world these days? Hardly a day goes by without someone expressing outrage at something that some one, group or organisation has said or done.

Of course it’s nothing new, it’s been bubbling away under the surface for some time now. Talk back radio, letters to the editor; it’s all there. Express an opinion, put forward a theory and someone will respond with outrage. And experts in their field are not immune in fact they are prone.

“How dare they … What right have they got to say …” and on it goes. “How dare this so called expert try and control how I … etc., etc., etc.” The mere fact that you bring to the public sphere some new knowledge on any given topic or express the notion that there may be an alternative point of view is enough to raise the hackles of the perpetually indignant.

Taking offence and being outraged is an industry. There are amateurs and professionals. There are the slightly miffed to the jugular about to burst apoplectic melt down.

And the tabloid media and shock jocks are virtuosos in this field. Not only do they take umbrage in the most profound and calculated fashion, they are past masters at creating an outrage in the first place. Naming names would only give them the publicity that they so ill deserve so I will not slide down that slippery slope.

In this modern day of social media the outraged response has been ramped up. No sooner has someone said/done something than the vitriol starts flowing, though the idea of liking something in order to attack it seems particularly peculiar. As far as expressing outrage in 140 characters or less … only the most eloquent and concise could do so effectively.

Lets face it; most of us love a good outrage every now and then. Take a little bit of offence here, nose out of joint there. Affrontary, vexation and high dudgeon. We all get disgruntled over something. Very few of us ever seem gruntled …