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Earlier today I was reading “Stasiland” by Anna Funder and the absurdity of our politicians hit me harder than usual. I use the word absurdity deliberately because it literally means “devoid of meaning”, but before I start talking about that, I’d like you to imagine you read this somewhere:

Earlier today I had a rather nasty incident. A toddler had just wandered off while she was distracted so I picked him up and placed in my hot car and locked the door, informing the mother that I’d let him out when I’d checked all her documents and ensured that she was, in fact, a bona fide parent. Rather than cooperate, she started to yell at abuse at me, which just proved to me that my swift action was correct because, if that’s the way she spoke to a total stranger, imagine how she spoke at home.

A crowd gathered round and tried to insist that I release the child, but I explained that there had been a number of road deaths from children running on the road and it was only by making an example of this child that we could discourage parents from letting their children walk around unsupervised.

One idiot wanted to know how other people would be aware of this deterrent and I said that I was sure that word would get around, and I intended to film the child in the car and post it on YouTube as a warning to others.

At this point, someone threatened to call the police to which I replied that I was sure that the police would back me up. While they were starting to resemble an unruly mob, I’m a respectable person who’s only doing this in the best interests of the child. Well, perhaps not this child who was getting rather hot and bothered and screaming, but in the interests of the children who don’t get hit by cars thanks to my strong action.

For some reason, the crowd turned violent, pushed me to the ground and stole my keys. As they released the child, I pointed out that I wasn’t the only one who thought that providing strong deterrents justified this sort of action because both Turnbull and Abbott and Shorten and Marles all agree with me, and if another person agrees with you, then you can’t possibly be wrong.


You’re right – using that as an allegory for what’s happening with asylum seekers in Australia is wrong.

In Australia, the crowd gathering round consists of some people demanding that the child be let out of the hot car, while others are saying that the mother needs to be put in there too and then I can drive them somewhere else and push them out of the car and that’ll be a lesson to everyone.

While the mother in the little story didn’t actually break the law, it needs to be pointed out for the 4,237,003,998th time that nobody coming to Australia seeking asylum has actually broken the law. If anyone wants to argue that they have, then I’m more than happy to ask why the government has never actually charged any of them with the crime they’ve supposedly committed. We all know that it’s because once they ended up in the court system there’s no way that children would be held in detention and that the government would be forced to actually live up to its obligations under the UNHCR conventions.

Anyway, back to Anna Funder’s wonderful book. In “Stasiland”, Anna Funder describes her experience interviewing various people who lived in East Germany prior to the fall of the Wall, as well as a few people who helped some of them try to escape. You know, “people smugglers”!

Of course, of course, they did it to try and help their fellow countrymen whereas the people smugglers we’re referring to in today’s Australia are those horrible people who are prepared to do it for money and they’re so reprehensible that they’ll even take money from the Australian government to take the asylum seekers back. I don’t know that for sure, of course; I only know that the Australian government and its representatives refuse to answer questions on whether it does or doesn’t happen. I’m just working on the theory that there are times when a refusal to deny pretty much means that it’s happening or else it’d be denied in a second.

Ok, but let’s ignore today’s Australia and go back to the days where people trying to escape from East Germany. Apart from other dire consequences if they failed and were taken back, some of them were shot trying to cross the Wall.

Using the logic of the major parties in our current Parliament, those who actually made it should have been told that they’ll never be settled in Germany (or anywhere else in Europe, or even New Zealand) and taken to a centre where they could be held behind barbed wire. I believe Germany had a bit of experience with that sort of thing, so there were probably places where these people fleeing the East could have been held. After all, the East had made laws that were breaking, so it’s not like they hadn’t done anything wrong.

Yep, it seems that West Germany got it wrong … They should have joined in with the East in shooting at those trying to cross.

Just as a deterrent … for humanitarian reasons, of course!

I am hurt.
A plague a’ both your houses



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  1. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well written, Rossleigh.

    You highlight the brutality of the Lib/Lab flipflop duopoly’s approach to dealing with this ongoing humanitarian crisis.

    All this is done while trying to maintain the ridiculous charade that they are imposing such inhumane restrictions on vulnerable people for concern for humanity.

    I hate the bastards.

  2. Ricardo29

    See smug, humane, eminently reasonable Malcolm Tunbullshit on Insiders. I think there is a groundswell of antipathy to all of those, both LNP and Labor, who want to continue this Inhumane practise. Support tomorrow’s national gatherings.

  3. Backyard Bob

    I wonder how the Government would respond if either PNG or Nauru were to accept New Zealand’s offer to accept asylum seekers. My understanding is that offer remains extant. This is based on the theory, proffered by some recently, that Australia has no actual power to stop such a transaction.

  4. abbienoiraude

    I have been having arguments on Twitter precisely on this point.
    I have try to suggest that since all those RWNJ commentators who are supporting cruelty because they don’t want ‘anyone to drown’, that Australia should stop people from surfing, because of SHARKS.
    Or that the Australian Govt should stop SWIMMING because people actually drown EVERY YEAR!
    Or that the Australian Govt should stop anyone driving because everyone knows hundreds of people are killed each year on our roads….

    My argument starts at the point of ‘choice’…ie freedom OF choice for those fleeing horror to pay someone ( a ‘saviour’ as you have made clear Rossleigh in your piece in another time another place) to have a place on a ‘leaky boat’ to a Nation that could provide a future for them and their children!

    But no. I have been accused of ‘cognitive dissonance’ and of being an idiot ‘leftie’.

    So Thank you for writing this and making the whole idea much clearer than obviously I have been attempting.

    I am so sick and tired of it.

    They are OUR asylum seekers. They belong to us and if a billion dollars a year to keep 2000 in a gulag torture camp does not prove it, I am sure others may be able to do so as ‘their taxes’ a channelled into horror camps.

  5. anniegoldfisher

    It absolutely amazes me that people constantly trot out the line that putting asylum seekers in detention on Nauru and Manus Island will stop people from drowning. Oh so caring! They have bought this crap hook. line and sinker from the two big parties. I wonder if they ever stop to think about the stupidity of what they are saying.

    To me, they are really saying that, to stop desperate people from drowning, it’s essential to torture those who were fortunate enough not to drown. I despair.

  6. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    It also astounds me that they can’t imagine the human fear of death or torture; persecution; and starvation that asylum seekers face. These are SO bad that they would risk their lives and their children’s.

    I know I would be taking every chance to avoid those circumstances if I and my children were faced with them.

  7. diannaart

    …and, no one can state, definitively, that no more drownings have occurred – we do not know – ‘operational matters’ – all we do know is that boats still leave Indonesia. These boats just don’t reach their intended destination.

    I cannot believe the majority of Australians cannot figure this out.

  8. Christine Farmer

    You’re right, diannaart,we have no idea what is going on, and no-one is going to be allowed to tell us. How is it that so many Australians seem to have so little imagination that they cannot comprehend how desperate people must be to abandon everything and everyone they know to seek refuge in a country which is totally foreign to them in every way? And that we as a country are apparently mostly unconcerned by their further traumatisation? How did we get to this? And what on earth can we do about changing our government’s appalling behaviour?

    As for the sanctimonious twaddle about preventing people from drowning…words fail me.

  9. margcal

    I read Stasiland not long after it was published and not long after that visited the Museum in der Runden Ecke in Leipzig and the Stasi Museum in Dresden. If it weren’t so terrifying, much of it was laughable. Little (in the moral sense) men (mostly), afraid of their own shadows but in love with power, cowed almost an entire populace.

    How could such moral midgets succeed? Because “the rest” turned a blind eye. That old story of who would stand up for me …. nobody, because they were gone because I didn’t stand up for them ….. that is so true. We see it in voters who are comfortable now (“I’m alright Jack.”) so vote for the status quo, never mind that the status quo is literally a death trap for others – and might be bad news for them too in the longer term.

    East Germany imploded and the wall came down …. but what death and misery before that happened.
    Australia is on the same path.

  10. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes margcal,

    that is the long and short of it, if left only to the political players.

    If we want to make a difference then we do opposite to what is implemented.

  11. Deidre Zanker

    We can’t trust our govt.Too much power in the hands of a few. Too much secrecy. Who knows which group in our society they will take a dislike to and target next? Environmentalists, scientists, protesters, anyone who disagrees with them?

  12. Zathras

    It’s never been about stopping drownings – that’s the humanitarian excuse they try to put on what has always been a punitive policy that was manufactured for political reasons. Off-shore detention and excising immigration zones were well under way before drownings occurred and Siev-X was conveniently brushed aside. There have been lives lost by as a result of boat turn-arounds as well without TV footage but they apparently don’t matter. What politicians really want is for them to go drown somewhere else.

    The current arguments against refugees and immigration are a flow-on from what was once the “fear” of being “swamped by Asians” a few years earlier. That particular debate was never resolved. Instead, the target was shifted but the political opportunism increased.

    Refugees are not the problem. They are just the symptom of another problem that we are ignoring or failing to address.

    The additional tragedy for us is that both major parties have committted themselves (and us) to following this path to its inevitable tragic dead-end.

    They have let this ugly genie out of the bottle and it may never be put back in.

  13. Kara

    last year approximately 1200 people were killed on Australian roads. The government, in an effort to stop these unnecessary deaths, will now target shopping centres and detain people who have survived their trip and place them in offshore facilities. This will act as deterrent for the rest of the population who insist on putting their lives at risk by driving.

  14. mars08

    The “prevent drowning” line is a ploy, a wedge…. nothing more. It is aimed directly at silencing those who criticise government actions and policies. It’s a angle that has been used by both the ALP and the Coalition to derail arguments against the cruel, humiliating and inhumane treatment of vulnerable, innocent, isolated, dejected, helpless men women and children.

    How do we know it’s merely a shabby trick aimed at silencing critics? Because it doesn’t take long for those in favour of the collective punishment to switch the conversation to one about Muslims, assimilation, existential threats and assorted bigotry. Those angry bullies who demand this punitive regime don’t give a rancid rat’s arse about the well-being of asylum seekers. They have no intention of ensuring a fair and just outcome. They just want to inflict more pain on those desolate, traumatised souls. And it seems that the government of the day is happy to oblige.

    Oh please, spare me the crocodile tears!

  15. Mercurial

    mars08, it’s partly about prevention of deaths at sea, but more widely, prevention of deaths in our yard. As long as those wretches die out of our area of influence, we don’t care where they die at all. Just don’t do it under our noses.

    Another demonstration of the extreme parochialism gripping this country.

  16. mars08

    They have died, and continue to die in our detention camps. And they are being neglected and tortured in our facilities. The majority of Australian people aren’t particularly bothered by it. In fact, according to the political number crunchers, it’s a vote winner.

  17. Stephen

    The fact that putting innocent people in prison camps is a vote winner should tell us everythung we need to know about Australia, xenophobia and racism!

  18. Deanna Jones

    Wonderful turn out of protesters here in Sydney last night, calling for justice. There were less than one hundred people at the last rally I attended but last night there were thousands. Critical mass is building.

  19. paul walter

    Sums it up and God help you if you comment on it at many blogsites.

  20. paul walter

    mars 08, the correct term is “preventative drowning”.

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