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How did we get here?

Scott Morrison may believe compassion is some kind of affliction, but I believe it is important – just as I believe its absence is a glaring character flaw. And like anyone with any compassion, I was obviously happy to see the Phelps Amendment passed yesterday.

But having said that, it is quite a limited and conservative amendment really. My happiness was certainly tempered by the fact that there is still much more that needs to be done; and even more so by the government response in the following 24 hours.

Still, it’s a start. I must say I had little faith in them, but I have to give some credit to Shorten and the ALP for not buckling in the face of sustained and deceitful public pressure from the government cheerleaders in the Murdoch Press.

No surprise that in the aftermath of its embarrassing loss, the government has doubled down on its dishonest scare campaign about the poor victims of its abuse. Enthusiastically abetted by a media – who seems wholly uninterested in the fact that the boats never stopped and record numbers of asylum seekers have entered the country by plane under the current Liberal Government – ScumMo et al took their lies and rhetoric to a whole new level.

Of course that probably would have happened anyway (I actually said a few months ago I was waiting for the scare campaigns and partisan headlines to start properly). Much like a real life version of Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars (I don’t claim any expertise in Star Wars lore so I will pretty much concede any technical critiques of this analogy without argument), Scott Morrison will always seek to capitalise on fear and hatred to draw us towards evil. If Shorten had backed down over this bill, he would still have copped the same ‘soft on people smugglers’ garbage he is getting now. He just would have also been exposed on the left by people disgusted at his capitulation.

The government’s weaponisation of people’s suffering should shock us, but it has become such standard behaviour for the Coalition since the Howard years that it is barely questioned. The constant scare tactics have had their effect on the national psyche and diminished us as a people.

And that is probably what I find the most disheartening. In truth, the outpouring of joy at this decision shows just how low we have set the bar for compassion in this country. Legislation that allows critically ill or at risk people being held in unjust detention in our name to be evacuated to where they can receive appropriate medical attention is a baby step on the way to an immigration system we can take pride in.

How did we get here though?

And what will it take to rediscover our way?

This article was first published on Quietblog

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  1. paul walter

    Actually, Shorten gave a fair sort of speech in response to Morrison’s scaremongering in Parliament today.

  2. Jon Chesterson

    Compassion is not an affliction, prejudice, greed and exploitation are, especially on the victims. There can be no greater evil than one who pretends to be a christian or man of god and imposes abuse, cruelty, poverty and injustice on others and half the population of a country, taking away another person’s choice and freedom. Introducing the current Prime Minister of Australia and the Liberal National Coalition who weaponise the suffering of others. Are we going to repeat our mistake again come May?

  3. Uta Hannemann

    It is obvious Morrison wants some boats to come.

  4. Wun Farlung

    Have the boats really stopped stopped? The planes certainly haven’t

    in the past four years since the government “stopped the boats”, 64,362 protection visa applications have been made by unvetted individuals who have arrived by plane while Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton were the relevant ministers
    A fact that is deliberatly overlooked by the MSM/IPA/lnp ‘news’ unit, here are some more facts that I(a middle aged man with bugger all formal education) found in about 30 seconds.

    Journalists??? yeah, right. Universities have some questions that need answering

  5. Stephegb

    The prejudice displayed by the anglosaxon toward other races, especially
    if their skin pigment is darker than ours is common in the UK, the USA and here in Australia, but I have to say that Australia is whilst is not as bad as the USA, we are far ahead seriously racist.

    I have been in Australia some 40 years, as an Englishman even I have experienced the bullying and racism of the so called dinky dye.

    Just how this is happening is, I believe because Australians are in fact seriously insecure in themselves.

    Meanwhile the behaviour of the LNP since 9/11and, John Howards government has been nothing short of sick.

    The LNP since John Howard have exploited the inherent weakness of Australian insecurity and used basic fear taxtics to display to the world that Australia realy is just a bunch of scared wee little guys.

    I tell you if I could take my family back to UK I would.

    I am disgusted with you bunch of cowards.

  6. Michael Taylor

    The government’s weaponisation of people’s suffering should shock us, but it has become such standard behaviour for the Coalition since the Howard years that it is barely questioned. The constant scare tactics have had their effect on the national psyche and diminished us as a people.


    Great quote from a great post, Dave.

  7. New England Cocky

    @Stephegb: The Ten Pound Pom Migrant Scheme had a return rate for English people of about 25% that was the highest of all national groups. Certainly the English have for decades cultivated cultural imperialism, praising the English way of life as superior to mere “Antipodean colonials”. Yet in the 1930s Australian workers had the highest standard of living in the world and post WWII much of London remained a bomb-site well into the 60s while Australian workers thrived in the post-war economic boom that English migrants sought rather than starve in England.

    I take no responsibility for little Johnnie ‘Flakjacket” Howard and his Liarbral Notional$ misgovernment mates presently destroying Australian society.

  8. terence mills

    On ABC’s DRUM, Julia Baird asked Philip Ruddock whether it was appropriate for the prime minister and senior government ministers to be telling lies and fabricating the truth around the medivac legislation and creating a scare campaign about imminent boat arrivals. He tried to hold the government line but it became farcical and he got very shirty when other panel members accused him of joining in the campaign of misinformation.

    The end result demonstrated that most engaged citizens are fully aware of what is going on and have no respect for Morrison and Dutton for their blatant lies.

    On SKY after dark (Paul Murray) the situation was fraught as a very well informed commentator (from Melbourne City Council I think) was attacked by Murray and Bronwyn Bishop but he held up well and was able to explain to anybody who was interested that the legislation was a modest, humanitarian change and that the three hundred people on Manus requiring assessment were in fact a backlog unable to be accommodated by the Manus Island facilities.

    This onslaught of misinformation needs to be tackled head-on but I fear Labor have an uphill job with Newscorp now being energised.

  9. Zathras

    It certainly was Howard who broke with long-standing political convention and played “the race card”. One reason was obviously blatant political opportunism but the other was more likely to be his own personal prejudices.

    He is a man who admitted that seeing Asian faces on Sydney streets made him nervous and is known to refer to aborigines as “boongs” in private conversation and yet strongly denied that the Cronulla riot was an indication of even a hint of racism within our society – a man of his generation. His recent support for studying Western Civilisation as being worthy of some sort of worship is just an extension of the notion of white cultural superiority.

    Still, he and his party have many rabid supporters who either share the same views or are simply blind to cognitive dissonance.
    Refugees by boat – bad. Refugees by plane – no problem.
    Deaths at sea – bad. Deaths in detention – unfortunate.

    His legacy will always include the consequences of of letting that particular genie out of the bottle and his political descendants show no sign of wanting to put it back in, not as long as it works in their favour.

  10. Peter F

    It is no longer a question of whether the Parliament has no confidence in the government, the coalition has not confidence in the government, as shown by their actions yesterday. Clearly, they did not expect to win a vote which was due after question time.

  11. Kronomex

    And we thought the Mad Monk and Trembles were bad when they were PM’s, Scummo is making them look like kindergarten kids.

  12. terence mills

    Actually, Turnbull is looking like a statesman and I didn’t think I would ever say that !

  13. David Bruce

    Maybe ScuMo will publish his Vision for Australia in 2030 before the next election and give LNP voters some HOPE?

    If Shorten can write and publish his Vision too, we may have some idea of the differences between the two Franchise bidders?

    When the kurdaitcha man pointed the bone at John Howard, nothing physical appeared to have happened.

    (In 2004, Indigenous Australians who disagreed with his policies ritually cursed the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, by pointing a bone at him.[12])

    Perhaps that was the start of the soul-destroying period we are currently dealing with?

  14. totaram

    “Perhaps that was the start of the soul-destroying period we are currently dealing with?”

    Add another success to the law of unintended consequences. They cursed John Howard’s soul, but since he doesn’t have one the curse has backfired on us. Even sorcery needs to be used very carefully!

  15. helvityni

    Zathras says it well;

    ‘Refugees by boat – bad. Refugees by plane – no problem.
    Deaths at sea – bad. Deaths in detention – unfortunate’

  16. andy56

    terence mills, ruddock tried the old line of ” are you calling me a liar” to which the young lady said yes. He was somewhat taken aback. About time somebody in public actually called this scum out. Remember this guy was in amnesty international only to sell his soul for silver.
    Actually i dont mind morrison going troppo over asylum seekers, let him use all his BS spittle now. All that obvious over the top manufactured indignation. Come election time, most people will have had a gut full. Shorten is a masterful strategist. Those who underestimate him will soon learn.

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