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The Ugly Australians

When one analyses the government’s general performance thus far, it is easy to form the impression that they are so focused on, and beating their chests about, stopping the boats, they haven’t noticed that the current polling puts them out of office in 2016.

A disturbing feature for the Coalition is that these polls override the government’s boats’ policy and renders its treatment of refugees irrelevant. Scott Morrison’s brutal statements via video which were produced as a deterrent for those in detention reflect not just his vicious and malevolent approach but reveal a dark and sinister government intent not just on stopping boats but also applying mental torture as well.

His refusal last week to confirm the presence of two boats allegedly containing 203 Tamils being intercepted by the Australian Customs is further evidence that he and the government have lost any sense of morality and think that stopping the boats is all they need to win the next election. How wrong these ugly Australians are.

In the video Morrison warns asylum seekers: “If you choose not to go home then you will spend a very, very long time here and so I urge you to think carefully about that decision and make a decision to get on with the rest of your life.” This is tough, uncompromising talk indeed and bullying by any other language.

When asked about the recent boat interceptions he said, “A boat hasn’t arrived — let’s be quite clear.” This approach by Morrison was utter arrogance to say the least. All subsequent attempts to seek answers from other members of the government were greeted with their robotic, pathetic mantra, ‘we don’t comment on operational and water matters.’

The arrogance of this minister is mind-boggling. Not only is the level of secrecy unprecedented since the Second World War, it is counter-productive. Well we remember John Howard’s 2004 election campaign slogan which began with, “Who do you trust….” Somehow that slogan must have helped him and the Coalition across the line then, but they wouldn’t want to try it today.

A recent Essential poll found that while the most trust we have today is with the High Court of Australia followed closely by the ABC, the level of trust we have for political parties is at the bottom of the survey at only 2%. And that is precisely where they deserve to be. Labor, despite their appalling coalescence with the current boats policy, were at least upfront with what was happening with boat arrivals and reported it regularly. Such trust and honesty toward the Australian electorate did not work to their advantage. That, sadly, says more about the duplicity and collective ignominy of the electorate than it does about Labor’s honesty.

But now, Scott Morrison has finally released at least part of the story about the boats’ interception and one suspects he will be beating his chest with delight. We can only hope his actions in this matter and that of this government will come back to haunt them both.

We can only hope there will be international repercussions over this unprecedented abuse of human rights. Tony Abbott’s much repeated claim that the government has always acted in a manner consistent with its international obligations is no longer trustworthy and masks a dark victory reminiscent of John Howard’s Tampa.

Abbott must be feeling very smug. His three word election slogans have prevailed. That, of course, is no comfort to the 41 asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka who will now, most likely, face arrest and charges for leaving Sri Lanka from other than an official port. And what of the remaining 153 who have remained on board Australian vessels? Will it be Nauru or Manus and another opportunity for Morrison to show his video?

At the time of writing, the High Court, that institution Australians trust above all else, has just granted an interim injunction preventing any further transfer of asylum seekers by Australian Customs. This ugly story is yet to play out.

No doubt Abbott’s 37 spin doctors employed to manage his media performances will feed the Murdoch press with all the misinformation they can tap out on their keyboards. We can only hope it won’t work.

When the real stories begin to emerge from Sri Lanka, as they no doubt will, can we also hope the collective conscience of the nation will be sufficiently stirred from its disgraceful ambivalence? Perhaps not.

We have to remember that Scott Morrison has 97 spin doctors and they also have Murdoch in their stable. So we can anticipate that, for the time being, with a hapless and complicit Labor and an ineffectual Greens and PUP, we will see continued human rights abuses. Doubtless the ABC, Fairfax and The Guardian will continue to investigate this outrageous act of moral bankruptcy but will anyone be willing to listen?


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  1. Florence nee Fedup

    Maybe our taxes would be better spent, if ten of the media advisers were moved to a special unit within the senate, with the aim of ensuring those on the cross bench have access to information, that ensures they make informed decisions when they vote on legalisation..

    Would not be missed from any govt. dept.

  2. mars08

    John Kelly, you skimmed far too lightly over Labor’s role in creating this grotesque policy. Until THEY renounce the current system and show some moral leadership and courage… nothing will change.

  3. John Kelly

    @Mars08. I agree and right now they are hopelessly wedged on a hiding to nothing; something they brought upon themselves. Who among them will stand up and be counted. I can’t see one.

  4. Kaye Lee


    I do not want to detract from the horror that is our asylum seeker policy. I rejoice in the fact that there is a high court injunction stopping them from abrogating their responsibilities to the 150 on the second boat.

    But having just watched Q&A I feel duty bound to offer Professor Stiglitz an apology for the behaviour of a very arrogant very ugly Australian. Judith Sloane’s behaviour on tv tonight should preclude her from ever being given a platform to interrupt people who know what they are talking about ever again. I am ashamed of her ignorance and arrogance and I am humiliated by her behaviour.

    Judith. you are not as clever as you think you are and you REALLY need to learn how to shut up and let smart people talk!

  5. John Kelly

    Kaye, as I sat there watching Q&A I felt like shouting at the TV and saying, “For Christ’s sake, Sloan, shut up and let us hear what Ross is saying.” I didn’t of course because my wife doesn’t like it when I swear and blaspheme. Thank you for giving me an avenue to vent my frustration.

  6. mars08

    No doubt the same Judith Sloane who insisted that SPC workers were to ENTIRELY blame for the company shutting down production.

  7. Kaye Lee


    My husband goes to bed when Q&A comes on because when people like Rowan Dean and Judith Sloan and Nick Cater are presented as some form of credible commentator he KNOWS I am going to swear! I sent an email to Q&A expressing my disgust and telling them if they allow someone like Sloane to continually interrupt, disparage, and talk over the other excellent panelists that were on tonight then I will no longer waste my time as the online debate is far more informative.

  8. lawrencewinder

    The glimmer of hope in the Asylum Cruelty is that it doesn’t seem to matter how many “spin-doctors” you have or “The Ugly American’s” papers on your side, the foulness of the total message and incompetence of this LIarbril rabble is becoming manifest.
    And Labor will have to grow-up on this.
    On the Q&A …Sloane…. What an ugly, arrogant, non-entity with limited humanity! I liked best, her proposition that the Medi-care co-payment is just an economic experiment and we should just see how it pans out… bloody unimaginative fool!

  9. Kaye Lee

    Let’s not forget Judith’s previous erudite contribution where she referred to childcare workers as “dim-witted graduates from second rate universities”. It would be churlish of me to refer to her as a narcissistic, self-opiniated, inadequate bully so I won’t.

  10. Michael Taylor

    I forgot to watch Q&A. I think I might have missed something.

  11. PeterF

    I watched Q&A until Sloan started to speak,: after the first minute I gave up.

  12. Möbius Ecko

    mars08 @11:12 pm

    No doubt the same Judith Sloane who insisted that SPC workers were to ENTIRELY blame for the company shutting down production.

    What was mostly missed in that was the couple of reports, mostly buried or ignored, that showed Cadbury workers were earning more and had better conditions than SPC workers, yet Abbott arbitrarily deemed Cadbury to be worthy of a generous grant and SPC to be only worthy of scorn and derision through Sloan.

  13. corvus boreus

    Judith Sloane showed herself to be amongst the ugliest of Australians with her rude interruptions, complete with finger wags, of a Nobel prize winner, in order to loudly bray slogans. Despicable in both outlook and behavior.
    What would you expect from someone paid to tell lies by the ugliest export we ever made.

  14. James Cook

    I made a decision, some time ago, not to watch Q&A as my blood pressure didn’t agree with it. Having read your comments I know I’m missing out on swearing atthe TV but my BP rises just reading these comments. And, as I’ve said before, this corrupt coalition will claw back Labor’s lead in the polls by using every false, deceitful and lying means at its disposal. Labor cannot rely on them to continue to bumble. Labor must get pro-active….and soon!

  15. Kaye Lee

    We have hit the international press….again

    “Forty-one Sri Lankan asylum seekers returned by Australia are to be charged with leaving the country illegally and those found guilty face “rigorous imprisonment”, police said on Monday, fuelling concerns about Australian policy and rights abuses in Sri Lanka.”

  16. John Armour

    Judith F Sloane…

    O horror, horror, horror!
    Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee!

    I’m glad I missed that one !

  17. Kaye Lee

    John the other panellists were very interesting. We just couldn’t hear them over Judith’s sneering interjections. It was unbelievably rude.

  18. Kaye Lee

    ninemsn poll

    Is it right to return asylum seekers to Sri Lanka?

    Yes 91558

    No 20568

    It appears there are a lot of very ugly Australians.

    “The sentence for those who are proved to have left illegally is two years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine,” the spokesman said, according to Reuters.

  19. Vicki

    Judith Sloane was a disgrace. Unbelievably rude to both Ross Garnaut and Professor Stiglitz. I was so embarrassed my finger was hovering over the power button to remove the sight and sound of her from my living room. But – I held on until the end to see if someone would have the guts to shut her up. Tony Jones did ask to be quiet on two or three occasions stating that we needed to either hear a response to a question or to let someone finish what they were saying. As my mother would have said; “She showed herself up something shocking”. Agreed, she should never be allowed to repeat that behaviour.

  20. Dan Rowden

    In terms of Sri Lanka, this Government has officially lent its support to a national policy – of not allowing citizens to leave – identical to the sort of thing the Soviets used to do to their people. And in our numbers we’re agreeing. That last part is the scariest bit because it means the social narrative is changing. That’s a lot harder to rectify than changing the policy of an individual Government. You sort of expect a conservative Australian Government to be pretty heartless and stupid on some fronts, but when the population is thus, you have a big problem.

    Somehow we have to convince Labor to go back to standing with the Greens on this, at least at some level. The implications of them not doing so – and very soon – are really quite terrible.

  21. Mr Sloan

    Mr sloan Here I wish to apologise for Mrs Sloan who unfortunately was found out trying to be relevant and self Important It took me Hours and Hours to Shut her up ( Plus another Bottle of Brandy ) I will send Tony Jones an apology and to Insist Not to ask her Back Unless its to apologise

  22. Mr Sloan (spin doctor 88 )

    Hello again I am not Mr sloan (Thankfully ) I am actually One of Her squillion spin doctors , (Fooled you didn’t I ) Believe it or Not Judith is Not The only LNP Politician we have to cover up for you may know them, Morro, Abbo,Joey, Ezza Pinee, oh don’t forget Bronny and Jules

  23. Lee

    I read some racist right wing propaganda on Farcebook today about the recent asylum seekers who were handed back to Sri Lankan authorities. Apparently there was a pet dog with them, which means they weren’t genuine asylum seekers. Conservatives think only of themselves but they should not assume that we are all as selfish as them. If my life was in danger I wouldn’t dream of leaving my pets behind. I made a commitment to care for them for life and they are an important part of my family.

  24. mars08

    Remember when Howard’s scheme was renamed as the “Pacific Solution”? Why didn’t alarm bells sound at the unveiling of that name? Why was that name adopted without criticism? How did so many miss the sinister undertones?

  25. Dan Dark

    I only got the end of Q&A because Sloan was to be on it, she is a male version of Rowan, I want to throw things at the TV when they pop their useless heads up, so for the sake of my TV I turn over, but I did see her shouting over others at end, so if that was what whole program was, I am glad I turned it over…

  26. Kaye Lee

    I was astonished at the voting numbers in the ninemsn poll – either they had their army of spin doctors sitting there clicking all day or we truly are a nation of assholes. A quick look at Larry Pickering’s page makes me feel it is the latter.

    “But Morrison’s quandary is that Tamils are acceptable front-door immigrants, they are Hindu and readily assimilate. They are industrious, appreciative and not potential welfare recipients, but they cannot be accepted by boat under any circumstance, despite today’s imminent High Court ruling.

    The problem is how do we differentiate between persecuted Tamils and free-loading, treacherous Muslims without appearing racist?

    Or should we care?”

  27. Dan Dark

    “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable”

  28. Garth

    Just wanted to add a comment to those earlier regarding last nights Q&A. Isn’t that Judith Sloane an incredibly nasty piece of work. For her first response she starts by dismissing the point of view already put forward by other panelists (which I suppose isn’t a problem in itself) but then she goes on to use inflammatory language saying it’s the line Professor Sliglitz is ‘peddling’. How do you have an intelligent debate with someone when they demean others positions, have an arrogant belief that their position is the only one worth having and then personally insults those with an alternate point of view. Very disappointing.
    And Kaye, regarding the NineMSN poll, unfortunately (as has been discussed here before) many Australians have been led by the bigoted, dehumanising way in which this debate has been framed by our political leaders of all persuasions. I honestly believe many don’t see asylum seekers as people at all but simply a (non-existent) threat to their perceived way of life. All those that have taken part in framing the debate in this manner for purely political purposes (without consideration for the human effects of their words and actions) should hang their heads in shame. Whether or not anyone seeking asylum turns out to be in genuine need of asylum, they deserve to have their claims heard with respect, due process and in a way that preserves not only the asylum seekers dignity but our country’s as well. Unfortunately I think we have reached a new ‘low bar’ level and it’s going to take a lot to bring general public opinion back to a level where we can deal with these questions without the scaremongering and perceived fear. Perhaps we should get James Cameron down in his sub to see if he can find the bar again and raise it! (apologies to all those people not fans of South Park).

  29. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    Please do not look at Pickering’s scumpond if you want to retain faith in the possibility of redemption for humanity.
    It is the domain of a crypto-fascistic conman with a genital fixation, gender confusion issues, islamophobic irrationalities and sub-geolithic arachnoid tendencies.
    His attendent acolytes and toadies reflect his nature.
    Such things are not even arseholes, which serve a natural function. They are cancerous hemorrhoids.

  30. mars08

    Kaye Lee:

    …either they had their army of spin doctors sitting there clicking all day or we truly are a nation of assholes.

    A frightening thought crossed my mind when I read that line.

    This attitude is becoming intergenerational!! We would now have young parents (with children in kindergarten) who do not remember a time when asylum seekers were NOT a political football. How are those children going to know any different?

    For close on one-and-a-half decades both major political parties and a sensationalist media have been demonising innocent asylum seekers and demanding harsh treatment of these vulnerable people. Nearly 15 solid years of fear mongering and defending the bigots right be be… well, um…. bigots. The “assholes” have never taken a step backwards… in fact they have been encouraged by lazy, opportunist politicians and loudmouth media commentators.

    Things are NOT going to turn around any time soon.

    “You see,” my colleague went on, “one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it…

  31. Toni

    When we look at the photo of the little girl Febrina ( apparently on route to Australia by boat the idea that we should be afraid of what she represents and turn her away is frankly appalling. How can Mr Morrison be frightened of this small person, forget our obligations under international law I thought the White Australian Policy was well and truly buried, perhaps Mr Morrison and his friends have taken out the shovels.

  32. Kaye Lee

    “On Tuesday Agence France-Presse reported that the group included 24 women and nine children; they were brought ashore on Monday at the southern port of Galle, 115km south of the capital, and taken to the notorious high-security Boossa prison. Leaving the country illegally is a criminal offence in Sri Lanka, punishable by up to two years in jail.”

    Good job Scott. I did read where they won’t charge the children (even though they are currently in a high-security jail). How scared would those kids be? And if they incarcerate their parents, what happens to the kids?

  33. aravis1

    Too depressed even to comment tonight. Thank you all for writing in, it helps to balance the madness I see on FB.

  34. corvus boreus

    as a slight lift, I recommend looking at “we are winning” by the flobots on youtube. It has a beautiful message from an elder spoken to strings, even if it is American and features rhythym and poetry(rap).

  35. Pappinbarra Fox

    Australia giving gun boats to Sri Lanka is the exact equivalent of Russia building the Berlin Wall in its purpose. Don’t let people who fear for their lives flee. Don’t let them cross that border. Use all means available to stop them.

    After all we are doing them a favour – saving them from drowning at sea.

  36. corvus boreus

    The High Court of Australia may require an urgent special commission of audit into their views.
    Apparently they believe the application of law takes precedence over LNP policy.

  37. John Armour

    On your recommendation Kaye Lee I watched the replay of Q and A, and I’m glad I did.

    Joseph Stiglitz and Christine Wong were like a gentle zephyr of sweet sanity compared to Sloan.

    I’ve watched/listened to a fair bit of Sloan over the years so maybe I wasn’t as offended as others. It’s what I’ve come to expect; ignorant, bellicose, rude, and usually dead wrong.

    But mostly I find Sloan hilarious, a caricature of the right-wing ideologue, beyond parody.

    While she banged on about cutting the deficit (“tightening our belt”) and getting back to surplus, Wong and Stiglitz calmly talked about the need for governments to run deficits in times of weak economic activity.

    Amongst MMT adherents the expression “tightening our belt” is a kind of joke, but Sloan wouldn’t understand why we’d be laughing.

  38. Kaye Lee

    “Senior politicians and clergyman in Sri Lanka say they’re deeply concerned for the safety of asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka by the Australian Government.

    They say the nation may not be at war but it is still extremely dangerous for many Tamils. They may face imprisonment, torture and the destruction of their livelihoods.

    Jesuit priest Father Yogeswaran has written to the Australian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, saying that the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is wrong to suggest that Sri Lanka is now a peaceful country.

    And, as Jo Jarvis reports, the chief minister of the Northern Province says the situation for many in Sri Lanka is so intolerable that they’re forced to seek a life elsewhere.”

    But of course, Tony and Scott would know better than the people who live there

  39. berlioz1935

    East Germany was the other country were it was an offence to leave the country. The West Germans would take any refugee with open arms and would not send anyone back. The people who voted yes to the ninensm poll should be ashamed. J. Sloan, the ugly face of capitalism, must be a reincarnation of Ayn Rand.

  40. Kate Rose

    Leaving aside the gut wrenching aspects of these poor refugees. They have been on the Australian Navy Vessel for over two weeks (we think) with at least another week ahead of them. What are the practicalities? How is this vessel able to accommodate an extra 153 people? How are they managing to feed them? How are the navy personnel treating them? Are they allowed to get fresh air?
    There are more questions than answers and we know nothing – will the UNHCR step in and demand answers to these questions, at least?

  41. MIssPamela

    It might cheer you up, Kaye Lee, to know that ABC polls (The Drum and Radio National) got the opposite result to the Nine MSM poll. That poll was completely invalid as it allowed you to vote multiple times.

  42. Peter Garcia-Webb

    You are right, of course, that Scott Morrison is an ugly Australian. But his policy of allowing mental and physical torture of incarcerated asylum seekers in order to play to the gallery of the majority of Australians is working.

    The demonisation of asylum seekers is a cross party phenomenon. Only the Greens stand out against it; I doubt the new Senators will. Both sides have been telling us for years that our “golden soil and wealth for toil” are insufficient to support these greedy invaders “who’ve come across the seas”. Our “boundless plains” are not “to share” with the likes of them.

    Where is “Australia Fair”?

    I have written a poem about refoulement titled No clouds were in the sky. You can Google it.

  43. Pingback: The Ugly Australians | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

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