Passion and politics

A while back Mark Bahnisch commented in response to a ‘centrist’ post by me that centrism was all very well, but hard to get passionate about. I didn’t really follow that then – saying that if one wanted to get passionate one would surely be passionate about specific principles – which I’d outlined taking principles from the three major ideologies of our time – rather than the label.

I think the contrasting responses of ‘centrists’ Malcolm Fraser and Kim Beazley on security, wars, civil liberties and the protection of the vulnerable illustrate this well. Malcolm’s recent op ed ended with a passion which is often absent from Australian politics.

Recently we have seen at least one Australian citizen illegally deported. We have seen the probability that Australian citizens have been tortured by a foreign power. We have seen the Government endorse a totally inadequate trial process, which has been condemned by the highest law officers in britain and by United States federal courts. We need to ask ourselves when the basic decency of the great majority of Australians will be stirred to outrage at these violations of basic human standards.

Further this is something which it can at least be seen with hindsight was prominent throughout Fraser’s career (with the probable exception of the Vietnam years which were just before my time).

I remember listening transfixed during an interview on one of the interminable ABC Radio current affairs programs in which Fraser was rendered practically speechless with emotion as he explained that Australia could hold out a hand to those people swimming in the water after their boat had capsized. He choked repeatedly on his words as he explained what might have passed through the mind of a refugee being fished out of the water off Australia’s coastline. “Australia has helped me. Thank you Australia. Now I’m safe”.

Beazley went the blub on the “Bringing them Home” report, and good on him for that. But his calming interventions on all matters to do with the outrages of civil liberties perpetrated in the name of security have been lamentable. I don’t think the Australian people would have been confused if he’d said that we abhor torture and should do everything in our power to defend our citizens against it even if its done to people we don’t like – like Mamdouh Habib. Instead he said he ‘wasn’t going to make a hero’ of Habib. Whoever asked him to do that?

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2022 years ago

I’m beginning to wonder if Fraser wasn’t PM about twenty years too early…

2022 years ago

Big Mal was 75 today btw.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I remember reading somewhere that full access to Fraser’s papers has now been granted to historians and biographers. It’ll be interesting to see if this changes how he’s perceived as PM historically.

2022 years ago

I still have my “Shame, Fraser, Shame” button and I find it unutterably sad and perplexing that my thinking now is more aligned with Malcolm than it is with anything enunciated by the ALP’s current crop of boofheads. Happy birthday Mal.

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

The Left actually did make a hero out of Habib. He addresses the “peace” rally at Sydney last March.

It’s disgraceful that the Left so openly aligns itself with the enemies of civilisation and human rights.

2022 years ago

EP, stop trolling.

2022 years ago

Even if the Left does make a hero of Habib, what has that got to with Beazly? He would like to be to the right of Howard if possible on “national security” issues

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Actually, this is the time for the re-invigoration of the centre. Absolute toads have been making off with the fundamental premises of a stable, decent mixed economy civilised society for a generation.

Ironically, Malcolm started it, although he soon realised at least some of the mistake he had made.

I don’t like the word centre, because it implies balance. I think a better metaphor is of a planet surrounded by satellites full of zanies who can sometimes have a very good idea. At the moment, the planet is being strip mined by beings from a very ugly solar system.

I don’t like this phrase either, but actually we are fighting for secular humanism. With all that scientific stuff about doing things for the common good, finding out if it helps, and then changing it so it does, rather than worshipping some deranged rule book on an altar made of stupidity, malice and egomania.

You can see that the prospect of a Liberal senate is getting to me.