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Friday, July 31, 2015

The manifested face of racism

Sports and booing go together like a hand and a glove. As the old song goes, you can't have one without the other. Oh wait, that's love and marriage. Same sort of thing I guess. Booing is in our DNA. We love to hate the opposition and let them know about it.

So it has arisen that many people do not see the fuss about the booing of Adam Goodes, an elite player with the Sydney Swans. He is a two time Brownlow Medal winner for being the best and fairest player throughout the season, played in two premiership winning teams, four time all-Australian, an Indigenous All-Stars representative, plus is the 2014 Australian of the Year. He's been playing with the Sydney Swans since 1999. Goodes is a highly experienced, long-term, one-team player.

Sydney Morning Herald

Herald Sun
Pretty impressive for a country kid.

But it's all gone sour with the prolonged booing of Goodes whenever he plays. Ok, so he's not the first player to be booed and won't be the last. What makes this different is that it is a concerted attack on a player who has reached the pinnacle of achievement in the sport and the community.

Oh, did I mention that Goodes is indigenous. Adam claims the booing is racially motivated. Meanwhile those who boo claim that it isn't.

The Daily Telegraph for instance, ran a story with the headline, 'Adam Goodes isn't booed for the colour of his skin. He is booed for acting like a pillock' (1). Apparently, his allegedly pillock-like behaviour justifies the pillocks who boo him because (and this is directly quoted from the Daily Telegraph article):

1. It’s become a thing;

2. He deliberately taunts opposition fans;

3. He is accused of staging for free kicks, in contravention of the rules of fair play

4. No one has forgotten how he singled out a 13 year old girl in the Collingwood crowd and sicced security onto her after she called him an “ape”;

5. He was rewarded for outing this powerless little girl with the honour of Australian of the Year which he then turned into a grievance pulpit to bag Australia as a racist nation.

Ok, yes it's become a thing because one can't underestimate the power of mob behaviour when the mindless masses congregate. Always was and always will be.

His deliberate taunting of fans is based on him reacting to said fans who were carrying on like pillocks. Goodes performed a war-dance which included throwing a pretend spear. Apparently, the pretend spear scared some of the fans and so this supposedly makes Adam a pillock.

The claim that he stages free kicks may well be true but he obviously hasn't staged them in a manner that affected him being declared the best and fairest player in the entire competition twice. If this is one of the reasons he is getting booed, then why wasn't he booed for the 14 years before the sustained booing started? Obviously, staging wasn't a factor during that time and it is not the factor now. That is just an excuse for people who need to find an excuse to justify their own poor behaviour.

Number 4 in the Daily Telegraph's pillock list is really the crux of the booing. In 2013, a 13 year old Collingwood fan yelled at Goodes, calling him an ape. Considering that 'ape' has been used as a derogatory term for indigenous people for centuries, it is no wonder that Goodes complained about it. The comment was racist, even if she didn't understand or mean it as that. Goodes isn't a mind-reader so wouldn't have known her understanding of racism. However, calling him an ape was offensive, whether it was meant to be racist or not. She certainly didn't say it as a compliment.

Goodes was gutted by the comment and stated, 'racism has a face. It's a 13 year old girl' (2). The girl later called Goodes to apologise, which she followed up with a letter of apology, and he asked for people to not attack her. Goodes didn't pursue the matter further.

Instead of hearing Adam's pain, Collingwood President, Eddy McGuire likened Goodes to a gorilla by stating that he could be used to open the musical, King Kong (3). Ok, so McGuire did apologise later but this doesn't make it all better. It is racism and it is being allowed to fester by these sort of comments from people who should be examples of good behaviour.

The booing started after this incident. It was directly related to Goodes calling out the racist taunt by the teenage girl. On ABC's The Weekly, sports commentator Tony Jones specifically stated it as the reason: 'There’s still a great level of resentment for what he did here at the MCG a couple of years ago, when he called out that 13-year-old girl' (4).

There are now a number of people, including the girl's mother and columnist Andrew Bolt, calling for Adam to apologise to the teenager. So Goodes should have just shut up and let the girl (and whoever her influences are) to continue on with unacceptable behaviour? Some seem to have lost sight of what is acceptable. Racism is wrong. Standing up to it, isn't.

Goodes shouldn't apologise. If anything the girl's mother should apologise. The girl was copying what she's seen others doing. At least the girl had the courage to apologise to Adam.

As for the Daily Telegraph's fifth point: it's complete rubbish. Goodes wasn't awarded Australian of the Year for outing the 'powerless little girl'. He was awarded Australian of the Year for his work with indigenous communities and troubled youth (5). But hey, why let the truth get in the way of defending racist behaviour. Goodes spent the year campaigning against domestic violence and racism (6). Something which obviously needs a lot more work from a lot more people given the current inability of people to admit to or understand racism against someone committed to ending it. Goodes was a worthy recipient of the award. But it would appear that you can't have your Award and speak out too if you want to keep the masses on side.

Instead, high profile people like former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett and cricketer Shane Warne are defending the booing. Former Lions star player, Jason Akermanis claims Goodes is a sook and is playing the victim (7). Well, guess what? He is the bloody victim. He is the one being abused and taunted and then told to suck it up. Just like indigenous people have been expected to since the British invaded this land and stole it from the indigenous population.

There was even a call to deport Goodes because he dared to refer to Australia Day as Invasion Day and Survival Day. Not only is Goodes an Australian citizen but he is indigenous to this country (8).

Those defending the booing are trying to turn the fans into victims while victimising the real victim, Adam Goodes.

In addition to being racist, it's bullying. To claim that Goodes brings this on himself because he's reacted to racist comments and sustained booing of fans is to make a mockery of what bullying is. Are people implying that it is Goodes who is bullying thousands of chanting patrons by reacting to them? Thousands of people ganging up on one person is bullying.

Kids are taught to not tolerate bullying. Yes, one option is to walk away. But when it's prolonged it has to eventually be called out for what it is. It's easy for someone who has not faced a life-time of racism to say 'just get over it'. The sad fact is that many indigenous people choose not to react to racist taunts. This doesn't mean they have gotten over it. Many carry unspeakable hurt because of the degradation they suffer. It doesn't mean that they accept it. And it doesn't make it right. There is nothing wrong with speaking up against racism.

The booers claim they aren't racist because there's numerous other indigenous players who they don't taunt. Yet how many of those players have taken fans to task for racial abuse. Goodes was hailed a hero until he stood up and challenged the racism in sport.

Thankfully, there has been a significant show of solidarity with Goodes to counter the racist denials. Opposition football teams, Richmond and Western Bulldogs will don the dreamtime indigenous jersey's for their matches this weekend. Many others are speaking out in support of Adam. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Labor leader Bill Shorten, current Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews and media mogul James Packer are condemning the booing. Today 150 organisations announced their support for Adam (9).

While booing is a part of sport, it is not sporting to attack someone for defending themselves and calling out racist behaviour.

Adam's pain is real and is something that a lot of white people don't understand and haven't experienced. Stan Grant explained it eloquently when he wrote: 'But this is how Australia makes us feel. Estranged in the land of our ancestors, marooned by the tides of history on the fringes of one of the richest and demonstrably most peaceful, secure and cohesive nations on earth' (10).

Instead of defending or denying racist behaviour, instead of attacking Goodes, there should be more energy put towards condemning this behaviour, of stating that it isn't acceptable to vilify a man for standing up for himself and his race.

This isn't a matter of political correctness gone mad. It's a matter of respect.

Instead of using a teenage girl's ill-thought outburst as an excuse to be racist, people should listen to Adam's Australian of the Year acceptance speech in which he stated, 'I believe racism is a community issue which we all need to address and that's why racism stops with me'.(11)

The booing and sledging aimed at Goodes by fans young and old is the manifested face of racism. Kids copy what they see. For that matter, adults copy what they see. It is mob behaviour as the Daily Telegraph pointed out. Following the crowd is no defence. People should question what is happening and not accept the lame excuses used to justify unacceptable and racist behaviour.

And denying it doesn't change it.

So, is the booing racist?

Of course it is.

To boo Goodes over his reaction to a racist comment is to defend racism, therefore the booing is racist. Q.E.D.


1. Daily Telegraph, Miranda Devine, 17 June 2015, 'Adam Goodes isn't booed for the colour of his skin. He is booed for acting like a pillock'. Accessed 30 July 2015.

2. Herald Sun, Matt Windley, 25 May 2015, 'Adam Goodes 'gutted' after 13-year-old girl's racial slur, who called the Sydney champion today to apologise', Accessed 31 July 2015.

3. The Age, Stathi Paxinos, 20 May 2013, 'McGuire apologises for Goodes King Kong gaffe', Accessed 31 July 2015.

4. Mamamia, Mamamia Team, 30 July 2015, 'In 3 minutes, Charlie Pickering perfectly explains why booing Adam Goodes IS racist', Accessed 30 July 2015.

5. Australian of the Year, 'Australian of the Year 2014 - Adam Goodes', Accessed 30 July 2015.

6. ABC News, 25 January 2015, 'Australian of the Year: Adam Goodes lauds progress against racism, but says more work to be done', Accessed 30 July 2015.

7. ABC News, 30 July 2015, 'Adam Goodes playing the victim over booing, says former AFL star Jason Akermanis, Accessed 30 July 2015.

8. SBS, 29 July 2015, 'McMaster benched over Adam Goodes 'deport him' remark', Accessed 30 July 2015.

9. Sydney Morning Herald, Kate Aubusson, 31 July 2015, 'One hundred and fifty Australian organisations condemn racist attacks on Adam Goodes', Accessed 31 July 2015.

10. The Guardian, Stan Grant, 30 July 2015, 'I can tell you how Adam Goodes feels. Every indigenous person has felt it', Accessed 30 July 2015.

11.'Adam Goodes - Australian of the Year 2014 Acceptance Speech, Accessed 31 July 2015.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

We either learn from history or we are doomed to repeat it

We either learn from history or we are doomed to repeat it 

 - by Guest blogger, Willz

Its 1919. Germany is in chaos after four years of war that ended in a humiliating defeat and surrender. The German economy crippled by a heavy handed armistice requiring punishing reparation payments to the allies. The German soldiers were dumbfounded how they were defeated when they weren’t even fighting on German soil . Feeling angry and betrayed the returning soldiers were looking for someone to blame. Amongst them a young Adolf Hitler, bitter about the armistice and Germany's humiliating surrender … then a stranger hands him a leaflet blaming the Jews. The hatred is given direction and a man grows into a monster…in the name of patriotic nationalism the Nazi party is born. In 1933, Hitler arranged for the Reichstag building to be burned in a false flag attack so that blame could be laid against the enemies of the Reich: the Jews and Communists. He called an emergency meeting of Reichstag and the term 'your either with us or against us' was first coined, bullying his way into power with a lie.

The persecution of the Jewish people begins in 1933 with attacks on Jewish shops. Jews are forced out of jobs in newspapers and the civil service. Germans are actively encouraged to boycott Jewish businesses.

1934 - Jews are banned from having health insurance while propaganda claims that Jews murder Christian children.

1935 - the Nuremburg laws are passed. Jews are stripped of German citizenship and are not allowed to marry non-Jews or have sexual relations with non-Jews.

1936 - Jews are banned from all professional jobs.

1937 - Jews are excluded from politics and government positions.

1938 - 'Night of the broken glass'. 100 Jews murdered. 20,000 Jews sent to concentration camps. Synagogues and Jewish homes burnt. Jewish shops trashed and Jews are forced to pay for the damage. Jews banned from schools cinemas and public places Jewish businesses forced to close.

1939 - Germany occupies Czechoslovakia and invades Poland. All Jews forced to wear a yellow star.

1940 - Germany invades Holland, Denmark, Belgium and Norway. Persecution in these countries begins. Auschwitz opens. Warsaw ghetto sealed off 400,000 Jews inside.

Starving children sitting on the pavement in the Warsaw ghetto. 
Yard Vashem Photo archives

1941 - Germany invades the USSR. Killing squads organized to kill Jews wherever they find them in Russia. Gassing of Jews at Chelmno starts.

1942 - gassing of Jews expanded into Balzac, Sobibor, Treblinka and Auschwitz. Mass deportation of Jews to Auschwitz begins.

1943 - as the war starts turning against them, the Nazis attempt to conceal the death camps.

1944 - Hungarian Jews forced on a death march to Auschwitz.

1945 - Russian troops liberate Auschwitz. British and American troops liberate camps in western Germany.

When General Eisenhower first saw the death camps he ordered every soldier to look and ordered a camera crew to film the camp inmates. At the time he stated 'in time to come people will try to deny this ever happened but we will have proof'. He also ordered every citizen of Gotha Germany to tour the nearby concentration camp. After seeing the camp, the Gotha mayor hanged himself.

The Nuremberg trials ran from late 1945 till 1949 to prosecute Nazis for war crimes. Three of the top Nazis, Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels escaped trial by committing suicide. 21 senior Nazis were hanged for crimes against humanity and many others received various years in jail depending on the severity of their crimes.

During the trial Goering was asked how they coerced the German people into another war. He stated 'The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country'.

In closing arguments the lead prosecutor said that we must be ever vigilant that we never let this happen again. A psychiatrist was heard to comment, 'evil is the complete lack of empathy'. The second war to end all wars was finally wrapped up.

But what has all this talk of fascism got to do with Australia?

We’ve never had fascism in Australia, right?


Fascism has been part of the political landscape in Australia since the great depression of 1929 to 1933. You see, fascism is a direct result of the failure of capitalism. When capitalism fails, as it did during the stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression, it results in fascism. From 1931 to 1932, 130,000 (out of a population of 6 million) were members of far right wing paramilitary groups, such as the New Guard, composed primarily of people who had the most to lose when the capitalist system collapsed, such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, wealthy graziers, factory owners and businessmen.

The New Guard formed in 1931 with 36,000 members. It was a fascist organisation that physically attacked union, ALP, unemployed and communist meetings. Its leader, Eric Campbell, visited Italy and Germany and established close relations with fascists there.

New Guard leader Eric Campbell at a meeting in Sydney 1932

Menzies, Australia’s longest serving prime minister was glowing in his praise of Nazi Germany. In 1938, when federal Attorney-General, he visited the country and enthused about the 'really spiritual quality in the willingness of Germans to devote themselves to the service and well being of the state'.

1937. William Mackay, the NSW police commissioner, established the first Police Boys Clubs. They were modeled on the Nazi labor youth battalions, which he admired because they 'subordinate the individual to the welfare of the nation'.

Fast forward to 1975 when the Racial Discrimination Act was passed in federal parliament overriding inconsistent state legislation under the 'external Powers' section of the Australian Constitution. This Act was left largely intact and unchallenged until 2013, when the most right-wing fascist government to ever govern Australia was elected. Suddenly the fascists were calling for the Act to be watered down. They wanted the freedom to make racial slurs and get away with it.

Proclamation of the Racial Discrimination Act

Repealing Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was an election promise borne out of the case of columnist and Abbott confidante Andrew Bolt, who was found guilty of breaching it in two articles he wrote about light-skinned Aboriginal people in 2009.

The changes the fascists wanted would leave Australians with no protection against racial vilification. The comments by the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis, that 'people have the right to be bigots' shows how racist this government has become.

Tony Abbott's pledge to 'stop the boats' was central to his election campaign, and immediately after the election he and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison appointed then Deputy Chief of Army Angus Campbell to take charge. The policy involved secrecy about what was happening on the high seas, a continuation of offshore detention, and reviving the practice of turning refugee boats back.

But this policy has come at a price: riots have broken out at an offshore detention center on PNG's Manus Island, resulting in the death of an asylum seeker, and the Government was forced to bring a group of asylum seekers to Australia after a High Court ruling. Reports also continue to emerge of mental illness and brutality in detention centers. Rape and pedophilia are rampant.

There is no need for Abbott to subdue the mainstream press in Australia as they are already on his side. Dissenters such as the ABC are ridiculed and have their funds cut.

It is now an offense to report anything going on at offshore detention centers, with penalties of up to two years jail for anyone convicted under this law.

The new national security laws make it an offense to travel to a designated area of 'terrorist activity' without a valid reason. Anyone traveling to these area can have their citizenship cancelled on the say so of the Immigration minister without having the opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law.

There are also plans for legislation to compel phone and internet companies to retain customers' metadata.

Muslims in Australia make up only two per cent of the population but are copping a huge amount of racial discrimination, yet the government is silent about it, indicating that they either support the racism or don’t care; this government is killing multiculturalism in this country.

The rise of right-wing fascist groups in Australia should be alarming everyone. Frighteningly, there no objection from the federal government as these hate groups multiply and grow like a virus. Groups such as Boycott Halal in Australia, Restore Australia, United Patriots Front, are made up of white supremacists calling for discrimination against Muslims. Some threaten violence against Muslims based on religion.

Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

The Reclaim Australia movement held rallies around Australia recently to try and spread their vicious lies and bigotry. Although they were outnumbered by anti-racist protesters everywhere they went, the racists were well protected by the police and allowed to spew their vile racism. Some of the openly Nazi-inspired bigots openly displayed Nazi symbols and tattoos which shows what they really are: 'White Supremacist Nazis'.

Sydney Morning Herald

Meanwhile in Canberra our government keeps talking up Islamic terrorism, further isolating the Muslim community and inspiring the white supremacists to be bigger, bolder and more violent. The term 'Team Australia' is the same flawed 'us and them' rhetoric used as an excuse to drag Australia into an illegal invasion of a sovereign nation, Iraq, based on lies which left it in a mess, ripe for the rise of terrorist groups like Isis.

In closing, I would like to say that I am confident Australia will not slide into the abyss of gassing those deemed undesirable like Germany did in the Thirties. However, I am becoming more and more concerned with the increasing violence against Muslims while the Government remains silent on the issue and continues fear campaigns. Australia of 2015 is starting to look eerily familiar to Germany in the 1930s.

It’s up to the decent people of Australia to stand up and say enough is enough, that we don’t tolerate hate, fear and discrimination here.

We must turn back the tide of fascism before its too late.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Capitalism - Avarice be thy name

Capitalism - supposedly an ideology of freedom and democracy. Yet the more 'free' the market, the more enslaved are the workers and the more oppressed are the most vulnerable.

While Socialism gives workers freedom to chose how their industries and workplaces operate, Capitalism puts that choice in the hands of a few who have often never worked in an operational capacity within that workplace. Instead, they arrive with their MBAs or through an 'old-boys' network and make decisions that boil down to maximising profits while minimising overheads. Those overheads are often workers and their conditions.

Capitalism's basic tenet is to make as much money as possible. The rich are portrayed as hard-workers who deserve every penny they've accumulated. Yet where is the concern for the livelihoods of those they've destroyed in amassing fortunes. Those fortunes are the result of hard-work by the workers, not by the CEOs. While few rich people become wealthy from their own sweat and tears, few workers become rich from the profits of their employers.

Those who dare to criticise the excesses of Capitalism, to condemn the accumulation of wealth at the expense of the poor, are crucified as Socialist scum, as traitors, as heathens or infidels. It's as though Capitalism is a religion.

Karl Marx described religion as the 'opium of the people'. The 20th century has seen the marriage of religion and economics. Conservative Christianity embraces Capitalism as though it is the economics of Jesus, as though there is no difference between prophet and profit. This wedding now gives Capitalism control of the 'opium' of the people, making it even easier to control the masses without question.

Like all religion it has a dose of fear within it to control its adherents. Fear that the wealth an individual's wealth will be taken away. That they'll be left penniless through Socialism's redistribution of wealth. Yet it is capitalism that redistributes wealth - from the worker to the wealthy.

Socialism is portrayed as creating a welfare state. Those who make this claim clearly do not understand Socialism. Marx stated 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need'. If you can afford to pay more you do, if you have higher needs than someone else than you receive more. Redistributing wealth to the needy is not creating a welfare state. If anything, it is preventing the need for welfare. Most people who are on welfare in a capitalist economy are the victims of capitalists, of a dwindling job market as companies downsize and expect the remaining workers to do more with less.

Critics of capitalism are often labelled as being anti-Democratic. Workers deciding how their workplaces are run is far more democratic than the autocratic attitude of most employers. In terms of government, if workers are having a say in the every day running of the economy, this is far more democratic than voting once every few years for politicians who are out of touch with the community and have their snouts in trough. These politicians only look out for themselves or the wealthy who can afford to pay exorbitant amounts to lobby the government for favourable dispensation in policies. Favourable dispensation that often comes at the expense of the common person.

Capitalist governments balance budgets at the expense of the poor. Australia's conservative government led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott has become one of the world's largest recipient of its own foreign aid by redirecting its aid funds to maintain a cruel and inhumane refugee program that imprisons people without charge for years at a time, that jails whistle-blowers for reporting abuse of children and adults in these gulags, that demonises and tortures desperate people who are seeking asylum. These human rights abuses and violations of international law are justified by portraying refugees, the victims of war and terrorism, as being perpetrators of war and terrorism. Well done, Capitalism.

The greed that underpins the deep fear held by most capitalists manifests itself through racism and bigotry. Fear that those who are 'different' in some way will steal 'our way' of life. One only has to look at the fear-driven hatred directed particularly at Islam or at other races.

Capitalism isn't just a religion. It's a cult. It brainwashes people through fear while bribing them with unattainable dreams of riches and greed. It sacrifices the most vulnerable as scapegoats on the altar of the all-mighty dollar in the name of life-style: defending wealth and its distasteful methods of oppression and exploitation at all costs.

Capitalism is not the religion of God. It is the religion of Greed.

To truly defend democracy and freedom, requires love, tolerance and sharing. Not hate, intolerance and accumulation of wealth.

Capitalism - Avarice be thy name.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Shorten: the new Beazley

After the tumultous Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years of Labor leadership, it seemed to many ALP supporters that Bill Shorten would offer a breath of stable air for the 'workers' party. After all, Shorten is an ex-Union leader so surely should have some sense of justice for the down-trodden.

Shorten's appointment followed Labor's unsurprising defeat at the hands of the Tony Abbott led Liberal National coalition. While the defeat wasn't a surprise for most, it was the worst nightmare for many with the appointment of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. Abbott. A pugilist politician who led in Opposition with three-word slogans, belligerence and assailing any perceived weakness like a shark striking at wounded prey. Even when there was no weakness, Abbott wasn't adverse to lying or exaggeration in order to create the perception of weakness. One of his better known pieces of deception was rebranding the carbon price as a carbon tax even though the legislation clearly stated it was not a tax. But hey, why let an Act of Parliament stand in the way of an effective misinformation campaign. And then there was his incessant fear mongering about the numbers of asylum seekers coming into the country. In Opposition, he even took to the streets with bill-boards broadcasting how many arrivals there were each week. Interestingly, when Abbott took power, these numbers became state secrets as they were 'matters of national security'. The hypocrisy of the man.

Unfortunately, Australia only has two viable parties that can form a government. The ultra-conservative LNP and the ever more increasingly right-wing Labor Party. Being a workers' party, Labor's roots are entrenched deep in left wing ideology, yet their politics these days are more to the right than the Liberal Party's was only a few years ago. To compound this, Bill Shorten is a member of the right-wing faction of the Labor Party.

In 2001, then Prime Minister John Howard (Liberal Party) was facing a crushing defeat at the polls. He'd led for two terms, having ascended to national leadership in 1996. With Labor looking like it would win the election, Howard had to do something drastic. That something conveniently came in the form of the MV Tampa, a Norwegian freighter that had rescued 438 refugees from a sinking boat bound for Australia.

Howard refused to let the Tampa dock in Australia. He followed this up with the nationalistic slogan, 'We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come'. Refugees were portrayed as wanting to steal our way of life and our jobs. They were demonised as possibly being terrorists. The Tampa affair began in August 2001. By the end of August, Howard had rolled out the Border Protection Bill. Two weeks later, September 11, the largest terrorist attack on American soil occurred. This justified Howard's fear-mongering in the minds of Australians and he never looked back. He won the November 2001 election convincingly (1).

The leader of the Opposition at the time was Kim Beazley. Although he'd been enjoying a lead in the polls, the Tampa crisis and then 9/11 caught him out and he capitulated to the nationalism and the sloganeering. Beazley didn't have the fortitude to challenge Howard's hyperbole and politicisation of the issue. Instead of coming to the defence of innocent refugees fleeing persecution, Beazley folded and gave his support to the government's position and xenophobically-named 'Border Protection' Bill, leading to the implementation of the inhumane Pacific Solution.

As an aside, every single one of the asylum seekers on the Tampa was found to be a genuine refugee. Their persecution at the hands of Australia was for one reason only: political point-scoring.

Since then, asylum seekers have been the go-to for the Liberal party. A dip in the polls? Roll out another boat-load or two of refugees to demonise. Labor in charge? Invent a threat from refugees.

When Kevin Rudd led Labor to an election victory in 2007, he did so with the promise of a fairer and more humane asylum seeker policy. The LNP took advantage of this and salivated over every arrival, broadcasting every boat, whipping fear and racism in the community. Amidst a major public backlash borne out by the LNP's racist fear campaigns, Rudd reinstated Howard's Pacific Solution and opened gulags on Nauru and Manus Island.

Bill Shorten, Labor's Opposition leader is the new Kim Beazley.

He has capitulated to the government on a number of Liberal policies that should have been opposed. However, such is the desire to win elections that politicians are willing to sell their out the souls of themselves and their party. Shorten has proven to be no different. Instead of showing integrity and decency he has supported (2) the moral bankruptcy of the LNP in such issues as:
  • preventing High Court challenges against the treatment, detention and processing of asylum seekers
  • revocation of the citizenship of dual nationals suspected of terrorism (forget due process and the rule of law, forget innocent until proven guilty - just exile people based on rumour and hearsay)
  • preventing whistle-blowers reporting the abuse of asylum seekers in detention (3)
  • the ongoing abuse and indefinite detention without charge of asylum seekers in breach of UN conventions on refugees and torture
  • refouling asylum seekers back to countries in which they face imprisonment, torture, execution (e.g. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka)
  • tow-backs of asylum seeker boats
  • incessant hyperbole conflating 'every day' Muslims with extremism and terrorism.
Where was Shorten when the LNP launched their unprecedented attacks on the independence of the Human Rights Commission? Instead of defending the Triggs report that identified systemic abuse of children in detention, Shorten was silent. Possibly because some of the abuse happened under the former Labor government.

Where is Shorten as Abbott continues attacking the independence of the ABC? Silence is complicity. Leonardi Da Vinci stated that 'nothing strengthens authority so much as silence'. Perhaps that should be 'nothing strengthens authoritarianism so much as silence'.

Yet, the lack of leadership from Shorten has resulted in his own party defending LNP policy (4)

Abbott's policies serve only to distract from the government's inability to manage the economy. Abbott invented the economic crisis when in fact, Australia's economy was the strongest in the western world. But cute little three-word slogans for those who are economically-challenged worked and he managed to hoodwink the electorate into believing that only the LNP could save us from terrorism, asylum seekers, economic ruin, 'lefty lynch mob' media and sustainable energy.

With Abbott's blatantly obvious scare campaigns and Bill Shorten acquiescing to them, is it any wonder that the popularity of both leaders has plummeted (5).

These two 'leaders' have concerned themselves only with their political careers and the rest of the country be damned. Reports have emerged that nine people died in immigration detention in the last year. Combine this with the reports from Amnesty International and the United Nations, that Australia is breaching international law. And most recently reports that the Abbott government paid people smugglers; the very same smugglers whose vessels resulted in the deaths of more than 1200 asylum seekers at sea during the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd governments between 2007 and 2012. The LNP boast that they are saving lives, yet asylum seekers are in record numbers while Australia turns its back. Asylum seekers may not be drowning on their way to Australia (although how would we know as it's top secret), but there have been significant increases in boats in the Mediterranean and a corresponding increase in drownings (6). It's entirely possible that these increases are the result of asylum seekers who've decided to rebuild their lives in Europe rather than subject themselves to the torture and brutality of an Australian refugee centre.

So where's the royal commission? The Liberals were quick to set up royal commissions into the pink batts affair which cost the lives of four young Australians. They were quick to set up a royal commission into alleged union corruption. Yet the federal Liberal government's blatant breaches of international laws related to refugees and torture go uninvestigated and unpunished.

It's time (as Gough once said) for Labor to return to its roots and stand up for the downtrodden. To be a true alternative to the conservative parties. To offer humanity, dignity and integrity in their policies and campaigns in contrast to the belligerence, negativity, fear-mongering and outright lies of the federal LNP.


1. ABC, Tony Jones, Sarah Clarke, Lateline, 'Liberals accused of trying to rewrite history', 21 November 2011, Accessed 30 June 2015.

2. The Guardian, Shalailah Medhora, 'Labor supports asylum bill but lambasts Coalition's partisan record on issue', 24 June 2015, Accessed 30 June 2015

3. The Guardian, 'Open letter on the Border Force Act: 'We challenge the department to prosecute'', 1 July 2015, Accessed 1 July 2015.

4. Buzzfeed News, Alex Lee, Mark Di Stefano, 'Labor’s Richard Marles Found Himself Defending Coalition Policies And It Got Worse From There', 7 July 2015. Accessed 8 July 2015.

5. Sydney Morning Herald, James Massola, 'Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott hit by popularity nosedive: Fairfax-Ipsos poll', 6 July 2015, Accessed 7 July 2015.

6. The Age, Claire Mallinson, 'Australia must turn around its attitude towards asylum seekers - stop the disgrace', 17 June 2015, Accessed 4 July 2015.