There is no place in Judaism for intolerance

As far as being Jewish goes, I am no great role model: I don’t keep  kosher, I don’t observe the Sabbath, I don’t fast on Yom Kippur and I have married outside my religion.

But I consider myself Jewish in my upbringing, cultural connections, appreciation of Jewish food, jokes and more deeply a sense simply of always, no matter what, being a Jew.

Then of course there is just being a decent human being: fair, just, kind, compassionate, empathetic. These too I consider very Jewish values (and ones that I try to uphold), though they are also the values of good and decent Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and atheists.

For me they have always been more important than going to synagogue, observing the high holy days, not mixing milk and meat or wearing a kippah on my head.

Which is why I have always believed so strongly that intolerance has no place in Judaism or Jewish life and why I reacted so strongly when I read a letter, published  recently in the Australian Financial Review, written by a fellow Jew, Michael Burd of Toorak, Melbourne.

Written soon after the Australian government had agreed to take in an additional 12,000 Syrian refugees and amidst the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War, Mr Burd’s contribution to the debate was not to naturally as a Jew, identify with the persecuted, tortured, and frightened people fleeing genocide, but argue against compassion and call for the protection of the Jewish community in Australia – one of the most privileged minorities in one of the world’s most prosperous countries.

In his letter, Mr Burd wrote of the threats to Jewish schools from Muslim extremists (never mind that the greatest threat to Jewish kids comes from the paedophiles that work in these schools) and other Jewish institutions, ending his indignant letter by saying:

With 12,000 Syrian asylum seekers  coming to Australia our government is playing Russian roulette with Jewish community safety.

Jewish refugee children arriving in London from Nazi Germany in 1939

Jewish refugee children arriving in London from Nazi Germany in 1939

It appalls me that an educated Jewish man, who probably lost relatives in Europe during the Holocaust, and would well know the long history of Jewish flight from persecution to set up new lives as refugees in countries like South Africa and Australia, should hold such intolerant beliefs and paint modern day refugees in such a negative light, particularly given current events in Europe, and around the world.

But it does not surprise me at all.

So many of the memories of my very Jewish upbringing (I had a Bar Mitzvah, attended a Jewish Day School, went to synagogue on the Sabbath) in South Africa are darkened by intolerance.

Here’s a phrase I remember well: ” Shiksas are good for sleeping with, just so long as you don’t marry them.”

A Shiksa, for those who don’t know is a non-Jewish woman.  Another word used constantly for non-Jew was ‘Yok’.

Then there were the constant references to the ‘schvartze‘ – a derogatory Yiddish word referring to a black person.

When I was growing up in South Africa, the schvartze was the black domestic worker toiling silently in the kitchen or the garden ‘boy’ (in fact a grown man) raking up the leaves from the swimming pool.

Words like shiksa and schvartze was said all the time by the very people who should have been my role models: my peers, older relatives and even those observant, ultra-religous Jews with their disapproving judgements of non-religous Jewish life.

Of course there have been many heroic Jews around the world who have fought for human rights and justice, who would be equally appalled at Mr Burd’s letter.

In South Africa, people like anti-apartheid heros Joe Slovo and Albie Sachs  and war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone spring to mind. Indeed, there is my own cousin Henry Brown,  who represented Nelson Mandela as a young lawyer in the 1960s.

But it is the intolerance within the Jewish community that has seen me drift further and further away from my faith.

Instead, i see my Jewishness, purely through cultural references and reminscences: the comedy and witticism of Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, the mournful hymns we use to sing in the beautiful old Germiston Synagogue on Saturday mornings, the lavish meals of chopped liver, marrow bones on challah, mock crayfish, matzoh ball soup, roast meats, potato kugel and parve chocolate mousse served for dessert.

Australia: a backwards country, going further backwards

Devolution_zps5c30acaaLast weekend, whilst driving in the Melbourne northern burbs, my wife’s phone rang.

It was friends of ours, recently back from a holiday in Europe and they had big news. They had gotten engaged in Paris.

They had been together for a number of years and we were delighted to hear they had tied the knot.

But then the realisation struck home that they cannot legally marry in this country, because Australia does not allow gay marriage –  they are a lesbian couple.

For a very brief period in December last year, it was legal for gay couples to wed in the ACT. Rather than embrace this bold move forward, the Commonwealth government successfully appealed the territory laws that had been in force for less than a week. No sooner were  gay couples saying “I do” then their marriage certificates were being gleefully stomped upon by conservative bureacrats.

This is the country we live in.

These are 17 countries where gay marriage is legal with Scotland the latest to the join the list of enlightened nations earlier this year.

First to allow gay marriage was Holland way back in 2000, the others are: England (2013), Wales (2013), France (2013), New Zealand (2013), Uruguay (2013), Denmark (2012), Argentina (2010), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Sweden (2009), Norway (2009), South Africa (2006), Spain (2005), Canada (2005) and Belgium (2003).

Yes, even the country of my birth, South Africa, a developing country with many social issues, has recognised that people of the same-sex have the legal right to become husband and wife, but not in Australia. Prime minister Tony Abbott is vehemently opposed to gay marriage despite, his own sister Virginia being in a gay relationship.

Asylum seekers

This is not an isolated backwards step, Australia is moving backwards in many disturbing and insidious ways.

Our foreign minister, Scott Morrison recently drank champagne with his Cambodian colleagues after agreeing to send refugees that arrive by boat to Cambodia in a grubby “cash for people” deal that treats people like livestock.

Cambodia, one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world will take Australia’s unwanted refugees who are already living in secret squalor on the impoverished island of Nauru.

What will Cambodia get out of this – $40 million and the promise of more money if they take more people. At the same time, Australia has washed its hands clean of its commitment to provide a safe haven for genuine refugees in what Amnesty International has labelled “a new low in Australia’s deplorable and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers”.

This is just the tip of the iceberg: The 2014-15 Federal Budget, the first under Joe Hockey, cut Australia’s refugee and humanitarian program from 20,000 to 13,750 places and reduced its aid spending by $7.6 billion over five years.

Free speech squashed

Rather than enshrine freedom of speech as he had promised in opposition, Tony Abbott has done the opposite.

Journalists and bloggers now face up to 10 years in jail for doing their jobs, providing information about the secret activities of government organisations, even if their stories are in the public’s interest.  This is not all, the new national security laws also make it easier for security agencies to access personal computers and spy on Australians overseas, the very violations of individual privacy, that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed were happening on an industrial scale in the US, UK and Australia.

And while the government eventually backed away from moves by attorney General George Brandis’s love-child – plans to water down protections under the Racial Discrimination Act that would have made Australia a protected haven for Holocaust deniers and racists (legal to offend, insult, humiliate someone based on their race or ethnicity), the fact that they were drafted in the first place, speaks volumes about our retreat from enlightenment.

Other backwards movements

These are but three examples, there are many more:

Savage reductions in funding for impoverished aboriginal communities, scrapping of the two-year carbon tax, which actually worked to reduce carbon emissions  in exchange for support for the coal industry, money pulled from the national broadcaster the ABC forcing the likely cancellation of important investigative journalism programs, a $7 GP co-payment that will hurt the poorest in society. The list goes on.

It’s a depressing state of affairs for those who cherish Australia as a forward-thinking, first-world nation, that values multi-culturalism, basic human decency and a “fair go”.

As for my gay friends who are now engaged,  there’s always New Zealand as a wedding option – a country that’s not just beating us at rugby.

For a far more erudite article on Tony Abbott and his government, read David Marr’s excellent article in The Monthly here.

Welcome to Australia: please turn your watches back 30 years

ilove80sMy cousin Maureen loves telling the story of how she flew to New Zealand in the 1980s and upon landing in Auckland, the pilot announced over the intercom:

“Welcome to New Zealand, please turn your watches back 30 years.”

It was a great line and always made me laugh.

But now it’s no so funny as I suspect Qantas may be forced to play the same message to new arrivals to our shores given the changes that are afoot since the new Abbott government placed Australia “under new management”.

It’s a man’s world

Our new prime minister surrounded himself with his attractive daughters, his wife and other powerful women in an attempt to appeal to female voters during the election campaign, but now that he’s won office its men in grey suits who are running the country. The feisty Julie Bishop is the only woman in cabinet, the rest are all grumpy old men, intent on returning Australia to the conservative values of the king of grumpy old men, John Howard.

Of course the corridors of female power are not assisted by the like of dowdy old Bronwyn Bishop, the Liberal member for Mackellar and someone with the fashion sense of Margaret Thatcher, who said it wasn’t Mr Abbott’s fault he could choose only one women in his cabinet (and just six out of 42 in his ministry), because he had to choose on merit, meaning no other women were good enough to be placed in senior leadership roles.

Give the environment a good kicking

Another swift act the new government was to kick out former Chief Climate Commissioner, Professor Tim Flannery and disband the Climate Commission, an organisation set up as an “independent and reliable source of information about the science of climate change”. Click on any link on the Climate Commission home page and you get this short message:

The Climate Commission ceased operation in September 2013.

With this single act, the new government broadcast its message loud and clear:

We don’t believe in climate change. We’re not interested in the environment.

What it means is that a lot more of Australia’s natural vegetation and eco-systems will fall by the way side to assist the mining industry. Prime minister Abbott is taking his cues from the ultra-conservative Queensland government, demanding that more farmland be given over to coal seam gas exploration. This at a time when even the rapidly industrialising Chinese economy is looking to reduce its carbon footprint alongside that of the US.

The new age of secrecy

Perhaps, most shocking in an age when government’s are being urged to be more transparent and open, that the new government should seek the pull the wool over its own citizen’s eyes. This was most evident in new “go back to where you came from” immigration minister Scott Morrison’s pledge that “there will be no information about whether [asylum seeker] boats are turned around”

scott morrison

Scott Morrison, a “Pik Botha” of his era

“That goes to operational matters that, whether they affect current or future operational activity, you will not be getting commentary from this podium or that podium either way on those matters,” said Mr Morrison in garbled politco-speak that could have come straight out of the mouth of apartheid-era South African foreign minister Pik Botha.

But let’s not kid ourselves – Mr Morrison is no lovable rogue. Old Pik at least had some dour charisma and was happy to give something back under Nelson Mandela.

Mr Morrison has gone to war with asylum seekers and “lefties” who seek to give them a fair go.

These are but three examples in just a few weeks of government, and no doubt more will come (One more example: The Abbott government is attempting to block the ACT government from legalising gay marriage).

Yes, we have a government that’s united. But in what common cause?

To set us on a course for barren shores?

Are we, in the words of Withnail as a nation: “drifting into the arena of the unwell, making an enemy of our own future”?

Withnail, drifting into the arena of the unwell

Withnail, drifting into the arena of the unwell

“What we need is harmony, fresh air, stuff like that,” Withnail goes on to say.

But I fear the air will become clogged with the foulest of fumes.

Tony Abbott and asylum seekers: another demonization opportunity

There can be no doubt that Tony Abbott, if he is elected prime minister at the next federal elections will take a hardline, perhaps even extremist approach, to asylum seeks arriving by boat.

Indeed the opposition leader is tackling the issue of boat people in the same way he has gone about dealing with the carbon tax; by demonising the matter.

According to Abbott, asylum seekers arriving by boat (or any means bar holding a visa) are criminals.

Last week he was in conversation with ABC Melbourne 774’s Jon Faine – never one to step back in an argument.

This is the relevant bit in the debate, following Abbott’s conjecture that Nauru was “good policy”

Abbott: We’ve had 22,000 illegal arrivals, almost 400 illegal boats,”

Faine: They are not illegal. Tony Abbott, do I need to remind you that the use of words in this is critical? They are not illegal arrivals. There is nothing illegal about seeking asylum when you are a refugee.

Abbott: Well, I am making my point.

Faine: So am I. And it has been made to you before

Then Abbott tries to change tack and talk about “untold tragedies” and shift the blame to the government’s inability to adopt the Coalition’s policy, which he says they are now finally doing.

(You can listen to the whole interview here)

Let’s be clear – Abbott has certainly made it plain that he equates those that seek asylum by coming to Australia by boat as nothing more than criminals.

Here’s what he said about them in July in an interview on ABC Radio Perth:

“I don’t think it’s a very Christian thing to come in by the back door rather than the front door. And I’m all in favour of Australia having a healthy and compassionate refugee and humanitarian intake program. I think the people we accept should be coming the right way and not the wrong way. If you pay a people-smuggler, if you jump the queue, if you take yourself and your family on a leaky boat, that’s doing the wrong thing, not the right thing, and we shouldn’t encourage it.”

Essentially, this is just a re-hash of John Howard’s fiery assertion in 2001 at the height of his power that: “We will decide who comes here and under what circumstances they do.”

There’s an excellent rebuttal piece to Abbott in The Drum written by Julian Burnside, QC, a barrister and human rights advocate, who makes the point that there is “no queue when you run for your life”.

Burnside goes on to write: “The recent execution of an Afghan woman by the Taliban (another example of a very well-established pattern) gives some idea of why people seek asylum.

“A significant proportion of boat-people in the past 15 years have been Afghan Hazaras fleeing the Taliban.”

He then points out that firstly, the Australian embassy in Kabul is kept secret for security reasons, and then, even if a refugee could find it, (Burnside quotes from the Department of Foreign Affairs website) that the “Australian Embassy in Kabul has no visa function”.

So, there’s no front door for many refugees – only the backdoor (or the illegal route a Abbott prefers to call it)- even if that be on a dangerous, unseaworthy craft – it’s better than torture and persecution.

Burnside also points out, what should be bleeding obvious on both sides of politics, that these are people to whom “we owe a duty of protection according to our own laws, and according to the obligations we voluntarily undertook when we signed the Refugees Convention”.

Burnside also reminds us that Abbott, a well-known Christian who once trained to be a member of the clergy, is vilifying a group of people, many of whom are Muslims.

“It is inconceivable that he failed to notice that some people, hearing his comments about boat-people being “un-Christian”, would have understood him as criticizing boat-people because they are Muslim, not Christian,” says Burnside.

“It is a sad reflection of the depths to which political debate has fallen in this country that an avowed Christian could stoop to such shabby tactic.”

And it’s a sad reflection on our society that opinion polls point to Abbott winning power at the next election.

If they do, we’ll get the government we’ve voted for – conservative to the extreme and hell-bent on turning the clock backwards (even beyond the Howard-era compromise that’s being put in place) on refugees, the environment, labour relations and many other important issues.

Why are we obsessed with boat people?

This article first appeared in Crikey (sister publication to the website I write for Property Observer) and behind the pay-wall. I’ve also included some of the comments my story generated underneath.

For all the eight years I have lived in Australia — I am now a permanent resident — I  have never understood the obsession we have with people who arrive by boat and the apparently desperate need for some sort of policy that “stops the boats”.

“Stop the boats” — these three words make me think of an invading horde, not a group of mostly desperate people taking extreme and dangerous (often life-threatening) measures to make a life in Australia.

There’s talk in the so-called expert asylum seeker proposal from Australian defence force chief Angus Houston of a “no advantage” policy for boat people. As if there really is some kind of “advantage” gained by arriving in a derelict craft across choppy seas to be placed in detention for an indefinite length of time with the hope of being granted the right to stay.

The only people who are advantaged are people such as me, who come to Australia with an education, skills, find a job, get a visa and are able to call Australia home and fit into society like the proverbial hand in a glove.

But I have never understood the near hysteria (raised to maximum pitch by the media) of so many people in this country opposed to people who arrive by boat. Governments seem to come and go based on how good they are at deterring boat arrivals just as much as by their ability to manage the economy and keep the unemployment rate down.

“Illegal” boat arrivals are a tiny “problem” that hardly makes a dent in the fabric of our society, except to give us the opportunity to expand our multicultural tapestry.

The recommendations in the asylum seeker report by Houston recommends increasing Australia’s intake to 27,000 within the next five years from current level of just 13,000.

Figures from the Department of Immigration reveal Australia received 168,000 new migrants through its various visa schemes in 2010-11 with 185,000 expected in this financial year. Up until July 9 this year 5459 people made the journey to Australia via boat, last year there were 4565 and in 2010 there 6555. Figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics put the number of humanitarian visas at less then 10,000 for 2009-2010.

So we are talking about less than 10% of all visas being granted on humanitarian grounds and less than 5% all migrants arriving in Australia via boat.

We are a rich country, with jobs for nearly everyone (an unemployment rate the envy of the First World) and a proud history of building out culture on the backs of waves of migrants from all parts of the world. If you visit a suburb such as Footscray in Melbourne, you’ll find east African restaurants, many of which would have been started by refugees, alongside the popular Vietnamese eateries.

Thankfully there are many humanitarians in this country who actually believe in the plight of desperate refugees, not an unrecognisable Labor government (on this issue anyway), who is intent on adopting any policy that may revive its fortunes in the polls, no matter how far its strays from its humanitarian principles.

As I understand it, Labor is in favour of circumventing our pledge on human rights under UN agreements to get the Malaysia people swap deal through — all in the name of politics, votes and power.

People swap — as if we’re trading gold, silver or cotton.

But at least I can understand the politics. I don’t get the core reason we are so obsessed with these desperate people, who make up a tiny proportion of new immigrants to Australia

Perhaps I have not been here long enough. Perhaps I am too much of a lefty. Perhaps I am soft.

People talk about refugees applying through the normal channels and not “jumping the queue”. As if they were standing in line for tickets to the grand final.

But what queue are we talking about? Do those displaced in countless domestic conflicts around the world come to a crossroads with two arrows — one pointing to the left saying “Persecution this way” and the other point to the right saying “Australian humanitarian visa this way”?

Anyone who thinks a refugee is taking the easy way out by jumping on a boat and “jumping the queue” should watch the film In this world by acclaimed British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom about Afghan refugees journey fleeing a Pakistani refugee camp for a better life in London to get a sense of what it really means to be a refugee.

It includes a scene of families couped up in a cargo container, with not enough air so that when the ship arrives at its destination in western Europe, most of the people are already dead.

Surely there is space for the tiny numbers of people who come by boat, without all the political game playing, which has been going on long before I landed on these shores.

Perhaps you can let in fewer of my kind in future and make room for those who don’t really have any choice.

Comments from Crikey readers.

  1. ELIZABETH THORNTON

Posted Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

That is silly Larry.You have not read the rules.

Media requires stimulation of tired brain cells.

Media inflicts great pain on anyone who introduces ethical discussion.

media run Australia mostly by courtesy of Rupert murdoch.

Murdoch plays with very nasty persons

Boat people are “Catchy”

Boat people make great pictures especially children.

Boat people sound like terrorists and often look like terrorists {Leaving aside certain Norwegians and Americans who are exceptions to the terrorist rules}

The war against the Axis of Evil has created an opportunity for all the Bigots and Racists to feel free to express their contempt of anyone not like them.

  1. TINMAN_AU

Posted Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

I don’t get why we don’t process these people at our embassy in whatever country they are in and then just fly them here once cleared.

Be a whole lot cheaper than the Naru thing…

  1. ARTY

Posted Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

Larry , you can get a response to your question if you can be satisfied with slogans and abuse.

Otherwise don’t bother waiting.

  1. MERLOT

Posted Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

Larry, the political game playing is because “stop the boats” means 3 completely different things to the 3 different parties with infinite variations in between.

For the Greens and your sense of the phrase – “stop the boats” means denying legitimate refugees the right to claim asylum on Australian soil

For the ALP “stop the boats” means a specific preventative measure to cut down the 500+ death toll from drowning.

For the Coalition “Stop the boats” means stopping refugees from coming by boat.

A pox on all 3 parties I say.

The ALP as the governing party should have negotiated with the Greens after the pattern of boat deaths became obvious instead of trying to wedge the coalition which was futile.

The Greens had a proven opportunity to pass the Malaysian solution with a sunset clause and an increased intake, but they chose to ignore the short term problem of people drowning because for them allowing Malaysia was like Meg Lees voting for the GST; political suicide.

The Coalition chose to oppose the ALP because in good faith they believe the John Howard solution worked, and cynically because they know that every day the issue is in the headlines is a good day for them.

It’s proven almost impossible for me to have a conversation with people about the need to stop people drowning now without being put into an anti-refugee box which I’m not since I support a liberal refugee intake policy. I find the discussions with the left exactly the same as trying the convince the right on the need for action on climate change; it’s like arguing with an immovable object and my motives get questioned. None of which particularly helps refugees who are now stuck with a ‘free range’ Nauru solution with no expiry date and no end in sight.

A pox on all 3 political parties AND their members who can’t differentiate between short term problems and long term solutions.

  1. ARTY

Posted Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

I am with you Merlot.

Even the simpliest conversation is impossible, unless it is a conversation with one’s self. With anyone else it soon descends into the the sickening fog of hatred.

What would Jesus do?

Weep.

  1. DAVID HAND

Posted Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

Larry,
You write a classic piece of left elite prose, that adds nothing. I can dig out a piece written by any luminary last year, the year bfore that or even earlier that puts out all the points you make. So I’m not sure why Crikey put this up for publication, apart from an editorial decision to campaign for the Greens.

The flaw in left elite thinking, as exemplified by you, is that you know better, that you are morally superior and that somehow the Australian public have been duped by some shock jock into being afraid of boat people.

Let me state this very simply so you can understand it. Middle Australia does not want the boats to come. I’ll repeat it so we are clear. They don’t want the boats to come. Your article sheds no light whatsoever on why that is. It rests on an elitiist view that it is some sort of irrational obsession. While the left continues to believe that, I will be assaulted almost daily by shrill, superior, self righteous and smug rants such as yours.

In contrast, both major parties know that adopting the Greens policy of on shore processing and letting anyone who turns up into the country is electoral death. Most people don’t want it.

You have no insight at all about why that is so. Here’s a possible insight. The entire basis of left elite thinking about who are actually on the boats is not what everyone else thinks. Most people think customers of people smugglers are like you. Oh, and like me. I’m an economic migrant too.

  1. COL CAMPEY

Posted Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

The refugees on boats issue is another addition to a long list of reasons why we’d be better off with non-partisan government. See
colflower.blogspot.com.au

  1. NOODLE BAR

Posted Friday, 17 August 2012 at 1:15 am | Permalink

I’m from middle Australia. Born here. I have never comprehended the whole “stop the boats” thing either. I did write a letter to the Government for Get Up suggesting that they be re-named “potential tax payers” and welcomed. Also pointed out that anything when applied to a group with “solution” in the title sounds somewhat final.

  1. KEVIN TYERMAN

Posted Friday, 17 August 2012 at 3:18 am | Permalink

David Hand responded:
Let me state this very simply so you can understand it. Middle Australia does not want the boats to come. I’ll repeat it so we are clear. They don’t want the boats to come. 

I am afraid that I am not an economic migrant – can you please define “Middle Australia “, and why you/they/whoever think it is “elitist” to be concerned by the needs of other humans in a much worse situation than themselves?

  1. CML

Posted Friday, 17 August 2012 at 3:23 am | Permalink

Good try Larry, but for once I agree with DH. The majority of
Australians do not want refugees, particularly of the boat variety,
coming willy-nilly to this country. I think its an equity thing, an
orderly process thing, whatever.
Having followed the asylum seeker “problem” for many years, I think
it is more a dislike of fundamentalist religious types, rather than anything
to do with racism. There are known religious groups who do not readily
integrate into western societies – witness what is happening in places
like France – and maybe many people here in Oz do not want to see
the same social problems erupt here.
There is also the so-called economic versus genuine refugee debate,
the security thing and the huge costs involved. Seems strange to me
that there are so few asylum seekers refused entry. Then we pay for it
later with people smugglers gaining entry along with those who
attempt terrorist attacks and those who preach jihad – or something
similar. Its a bit late to undo this kind of damage once these people
have gained citizenship (or permanent residency).
I think we can do all this stuff much better, and more carfully, than just
an open slather approach.

  1. DAVID HAND

Posted Friday, 17 August 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

Kevin,
“Middle Australia” is a loose description of Australian’s who are not rusted on Labor/Green supporters or Liberal/National supporters. They’re the people who reduced Labor to 7 seats in the last election. They are firmly in the coalition camp at the moment, giving Jilia’s government the most dismal polling in living memory. Some of them might shift a bit now as the boat people issue has become bi-partisan with Labor re-embracing much of coalition policy.

Being concerned about the needs of other humans is not elitist. Having a view that the majority of voters are too stupid to make up their own mind about an issue and labeling them as “hysterical” is elitist. The left has made its mind up that middle australia has been duped by shock jocks.

Larry here even believes that Labor has moved simply because of votes and power, missing completely the possibility that the Houston panel, by finding in favour of deterrence, may actually be promoting good policy and Julia has been handed a chance to back down and bow to the will of the people.

Don’t forget that one in twenty people who get on a boat drown. Greens policy perpetuates that outcome.

  1. DAVID HAND

Posted Friday, 17 August 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

Here’s a great example about what gives so many of us the shits. Front page of ttoday’s Australian. An asylum boat puts out a distress call. A container vessel is asked by Australian authorities to rescue them, the passengers are transferred off the “distressed” boat and the Indonesian crew promptly sail off to Indonesia in a boat that is suddenly not “distressed” any more.

We are being had.