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Tag Archives: border protection

There must be a better way

Solving the problems in the Middle East is a task we cannot achieve but we can certainly do better in Australia to protect our children from the harm others would try to inflict on them and to improve social cohesion by embracing diversity and tolerance.

What do our police hope to achieve when they send in hundreds of armed men to storm a few houses in the middle of the night screaming, searching as terrified families and neighbours watch on, dragging off teenagers, locking them up incommunicado, and then usually releasing them without charge?

Why are these raids filmed and the footage, if not captured by TV journalists along for the ride, immediately provided to the media? Is it a show of strength? Is it designed to terrify the Muslim community? Should we be using fear as a weapon?

The government argues that we must protect the privacy of tax evaders but they are very quick to show the homes of people who have not been charged with any crime, to show them being led off in handcuffs, to detail evidence in the media before any trial has taken place.

In most instances, these raids have been sparked by information from the community rather than intelligence gathered by security agencies. One wonders if the community will continue to be willing to pass on concerns if their children are subjected to such harsh treatment and penalties. These actions are far more likely to build resentment rather than co-operation.

How could we do things differently?

Intervention should be constructive rather than punitive.

If you become aware of teenagers posting inflammatory stuff on social media, or being contacted by people with possible bad intent, instead of being heavy-handed, why not get the family together with local Muslim leaders, psychologists and social workers, police trained in cultural awareness, mentors – a non-threatening support group who can try to help a young person through a vulnerable period.

We should listen to young people and learn about what they are looking for. Show them a way to a happier life, a different path. Help them know their own worth as a contributing member of our society with all of us working to make it a safe and tolerant place for our families to grow.

Rather than looking for solutions, the government is spending a fortune on how to spin its approach. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection and its agencies spend up to $9.2 million on communications staff salaries alone.

They have now hired a group called Talkforce Media and Communications Strategists to provide media training to its top executives. Talkforce trains clients to deal with “difficult media situations” and manage “controversial issues and close media scrutiny”. Its full-day workshops include mock television interviews that teach clients “how to take control of an interview, even when under pressure”.

“Talkforce Media and Communications Strategists can help you tailor and direct messages to your audience in order to be heard over all the competing noise that exists in this modern and technology-driven age.”

Managing the message has become on obsession. Whatever happened to telling the truth?

It comes back down to respect.

Do those who want to stop mosques being built and to ban halal certification of food want to impose their religious beliefs and dietary choices on us all? These people who live in irrational fear that Sharia law is about to be universally imposed cannot see they are trying to do the same thing. Security forces use fear and force to fight against those who use fear and force.

There must be a better way.

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Abbott’s Stockpile of Hubris

In his first interview after losing the Liberal leadership, Tony Abbott gives us his take on how his government performed with him as Prime Minister. “What we have given the new Prime Minister and the new Treasurer is a very strong foundation.”

This is sheer hubris.

Paul Kelly’s interview in The Weekend Australian and republished here on Facebook, reveals as much as you could expect from a wounded politician trying to salvage some form of legacy for his two years as PM.

His self-proclaimed achievements are pitiful. His obsession with boats, carbon taxes and national security exposes his cold-war approach to modern day politics. One old enough can easily imagine his flawed motivation to be something along the lines of ‘What would Santamaria have done’.

He is understandably proud of achieving the top job but ignores the reality that his accession to the Liberal leadership was more a reflection of the discord in the Liberal Party than any personal qualifications he might have had.

His approach to economics, ISIS and his moralistic feet-dragging attitudes toward social issues, put him out of mainstream thinking and out of place in a 21st century setting. Not that he would realise this.

On policy implementation, he claims with some pride that everything he did is still intact, “Border protection policy the same, national security policy the same, economic policy the same, even same-sex marriage policy the same, and climate change policy the same. In fact, the rhetoric is the same.”

Can he really believe that? The new cabinet has been in the job one week and he thinks everything will remain the same?

While no policy changes have yet been announced, it is only a matter of time. The polls were the driving issue that saw him removed but with a fairly modest bounce in the party’s electoral hopes since his dumping, Abbott is somewhat premature in concluding that nothing will change.

The excuses he offers for the party’s poor showing since the 2014 budget ring of déjà vu.

“We had an obdurate Labor party, a feckless Senate and a very difficult media culture,” Abbott said. “I’m not complaining,” he said. “This is the world in which we live.” Nor indeed should he complain.

His strategy as opposition leader was no less obdurate, during which time the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard performed much better. As for the so called media culture, surely he must be referring to social media. The MSM and his radio shock jock mates gave him a free ride, no matter how feckless he was.

He said, “The 2014 budget was a very serious structural attemp­t to tackle our long-term spending problems.” It was nothing of the sort. It was a thinly veiled attack on the weak, the tired and the hungry; easy targets in the high powered world of focus groups, lobbyists and media barons who have your back.

But he then went on and said, “In the end, what counts is what the government decides not how it arrives at the decision.” If this is suggesting that the outcome was more important than the means to achieve it, it was arrogant, without compassion for the most affected and so typical of those in positions of privilege who might well echo the classic line misattributed to Marie Antoinette, “let them eat cake.”

Abbott’s subsequent comment, “I think from all participants in the national conversation there has been an obsession with the trivial rather than the substantial and the long-term,” is, again, a clear indication of his own hubris. We never knew what the substantial was, or the long term.

There was no long term plan. There was a great deal of rhetoric about forging a ‘credible path back to surplus’ despite unemployment increasing.

In effect, they were using rubbery figures in an effort to manufacture a balanced budget, against a deficit that was getting bigger and a ballooning debt that, if it were occurring while they were in opposition, would bring forth screams, renting of clothing and bursting of blood vessels as they squealed for the heads of anyone in charge.

As much as Abbott’s supporters in the mainstream media will try to re-write history and paint him as a much maligned leader, their efforts, I suspect will be in vain.

The image of failure tends to stick, no matter what the mitigating circumstances are, or how they are expressed.


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