My good friend Paul has very kindly forwarded me Malcolm Fraser’s online petition seeking the release of kids from illegal entry-associated confinement. As Tim Dunlop observes, a spot of petition signing isn’t a bad way for bleeding hearts to salve their consciences – and it beats those “refugees are welcome here” signs that used to festoon to-die-for Paddo Terraces when it was fashionable so to do; at least with a petition, there’s no risk of some deluded soul actually taking you up on your commitment. And let’s face it, no-one wants to see kids confined indefinitely while their parents appeal endlessly against the decisions of Refugee Review Tribunals, do they? Had Malcolm been willing to offer himself up to Woomera as a permanent hostage against absconders, I might even have signed – until I read this in the email blurb:
“I know this message is doing the rounds so please excuse me if you’ve
already seen it. But the petition it mentions is in an especially important
cause and is initiated by the now-rehabilitated Malcolm Fraser.’
Now-rehabilitated!? Wha? Is he hanging out in Newtown cafes, with a pierced eyebrow reading Michael Moore, or something? Last time I looked he was the same old pompous, Tory blowhard consumed with bitter rage that he – a Bunyip aristocrat – should have been succeeded by an unspeakably suburban, petit bourgeois nobody who doesn’t deserve – d’ye hear me?! – doesn’t deserve to preside, statesmanlike, over the fora of the internationally Great and hence (obviously) Good? It’s just not fair. One very minor incident involving a rooms- by-the-hour hooker hotel and the loss of one’s trousers and you’re reduced to the electronic equivalent of the Jim Cairns Prahran Market card table, touting your “rehabilitated” wares.
Still, there were some interesting entries in the petition. Here’s Janet Keese:
“I am ashamed to be an Australian. I was proud of our nation’s support of the oppressed, the dispossed, the refugees fleeing man’s inhumanity to man; of our religious, cultural and ethnic diversity, and our humane unity. Mr Howard, your government has returned Australia to the dark days and zenophobic fear of the ‘White Australia Policy’. By inflicting oppression and dispossession on the desparate few who face enormous odds to reach our shores, we are no better than those from whom they fled. Our national character is tarnished. Free the children! Unite the families! Replace detention with compassion! Restore our national pride!!”
Gimme more of that oldtime humane unity! Gimme an x in xenophobic!
Chris Chaplin offers:
“Abolish mandatory detention, release ALL asylum-seekers who pose no threat to the community!”
Which is kind of confusing. Does Chris wish to retain asylum-seekers who do pose a threat to the community? How would he/she do that if he/she had abolished mandatory detention? How would Chris assess the ‘threat?’ What would Chris do about an appeals process. Maybe Chris should ask Malcolm? Maybe Malcolm – who despite being a rehabilitated Republican still clings to his royalist ‘Right Honourable’, I note – could tell us? Or perhaps not. Rehabilitation only goes so far…