Now we musn’t get misty-eyed…

Not one of Malcolm Turnbull’s finer turns of phrase. Even made the South China Morning Post though.

Australia cannot be “misty-eyed” about boatpeople, the country’s prime minister said on Thursday, the day after his immigration policy was thrown into disarray when Papua New Guinea ordered an offshore processing camp to close.

Malcolm Turnbull, who likely faces an election in coming weeks, said allowing even genuine refugees who arrived by boat to settle in Australia would encourage more people to make the risky journey.

“By stopping the people-smuggling we have stopped people drowning at sea,” he told reporters.

“We cannot be misty-eyed about this. We have to be very clear and determined in our national purpose.”


Simon Letch in today’s Sydney Morning Herald

See related news: Manus Island detention centre to be closed down and Nauru refugee who set himself on fire in critical condition in Brisbane hospital.

You can review my posts on this blog in the past about asylum seekers and some of those refer you to posts on my earlier blogs. It is a topic I have quite often raised. Rather than saying more today I refer you to three items worth your consideration.

First, Jim Belshaw back in February: A brief note on Australia’s refugee policy.

Statement of Problem

The Government has been successful in stopping the boats but this has come with costs.

Our international reputation has been damaged. We may or may not have breached UN conventions and our treaty obligations, but at the very least we have lost moral authority. I for one find it discomforting when Australia is quoted as a role model by European parties of the far right. We have also done some damage to our relations with our neighbours and especially Indonesia.

The policy and the rhetoric around the policy has fed into domestic division within Australia, encouraging the rise of groups with more extreme views.

The policy has cost and continues to cost large sums of money at a time of budget constraint. There has been a running sore of complaints and apparent cases of mistreatment and injustice, not aided by a lack of transparency…

Second, Robert Manne in The Monthly, 22 October 2015:

Many Australians recognise that we have a responsibility to people who arrive on our shores seeking our help, which is different from the kind of responsibility we owe to the 50 million or more refugees worldwide – even if it is not always easy to determine what actions that responsibility entails, as was revealed in the debate about whether we should try to discourage boats from coming to Australia to prevent predictable mass drownings in the future. If what I call an ethic of proximity does indeed exist, clearly the 1500 people Australia transported to Nauru and Manus Island fall within it. Given what has occurred, we cannot now say that what happens to these people is none of our concern.

Third, Waleed Aly in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Perhaps the most stupefying aspect of our asylum seeker debate is that we call it a debate in the first place. It’s not. It’s a complete political consensus. Our current policies are a bipartisan concoction; the result of years of mutual posturing, outflanking and then outbidding. “You’re banishing asylum seekers to detention centres in the Australian desert? Fine, we’ll send them to Nauru for processing!” “You’re still resettling them here? We’ll banish them forever!” “Oh yeah? We’ll get an army general to do it!” And so on…

“They have botched this from day one,” puffed Labor’s immigration spokesman Richard Marles when Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled our detention centre there to be illegal.

But here’s the problem: that centre was always illegal. It didn’t suddenly become illegal when Abbott took power. Marles is right it was botched from day one, but that was Labor’s day. It takes some special level of gall to establish an illegal detention centre, then insist it’s the Coalition’s mess…

They’re there because “stop the boats” – in truth a bipartisan slogan – only ever masked a question we could never answer: what happens to these people? What happens to the ones who don’t die at sea, or the ones we convince to return home? Do they die elsewhere? We don’t really know because the minute they aren’t on boats headed for us, they cease to exist. And as far as we’re concerned, their misery doesn’t exist either…

King of the tipsters, me!

Well, co-regent now with DL. Earlier this month I posted:

I am in the Diggers competition again this year, though it is smaller than last year. Believe it or not by the end of last week (Round 5) I was running equal second, just behind DL who was a mere two points ahead! Just shows real knowledge of the game is not essential.

Last week I scored 100% in Round 8 – but so did DL. Now Round 9. I offer you my picks:

  • RABBITOHS vs Tigers
  • EELS vs Bulldogs
  • PANTHERS vs Raiders
  • ROOSTERS vs Knights
  • Sea Eagles vs COWBOYS
  • Warriors vs DRAGONS
  • Titans vs STORM
  • Sharks vs BRONCOS

Let’s wait and see how that goes. You might like to compare with a site called The Thinker (NRL tips from the biggest mind in Rugby League.) I see there a guest set by one of the greats of the game, Wally Lewis.

Wally Lewis – round nine selections (in bold)
  • RABBITOHS vs Tigers
  • EELS vs Bulldogs
  • PANTHERS vs Raiders
  • ROOSTERS vs Knights
  • Sea Eagles vs COWBOYS
  • WARRIORS vs Dragons
  • Titans vs STORM
  • Sharks vs BRONCOS

Close, eh!

Next day

Not exactly a good start. Alas, poor Bunnies! South Sydney coach Michael Maguire furious as Wests Tigers send Rabbitohs to fourth straight defeat.

And this, a sad personal story as it is, could affect EELS vs Bulldogs.

Just back from East Redfern/Moore Park

Had dinner with M last night – Cleveland Street’s “Little India”. Stayed overnight at M’s in East Redfern. Been quite a while since I was last there. Here are a couple of memories, as I had no camera this time.


M’s orchid 2009: On a balcony overlooking South Dowling Street.


South Dowling Street from M’s Balcony 2009

I did spot the weird structure taking up an inordinate amount of space in Moore Park. Bloody awful, and useless! See Bridge to nowhere: The plan to give away Moore Park (ABC Radio National 20 March 2016).

Mark Davis: It’s Saturday night at the Sydney Football Stadium, less than an hour before kick off between the Waratahs and the Reds, and the stadium is starting to fill. Thousands of fans are trudging up the hill from Central Station in the CBD, a kilometre away.

To finally get into the ground, fans have to cross here at the intersection of Anzac Parade and Moore Park Road. 400 metres down the road sits a new and rather gigantic pedestrian bridge. But the fans are still crossing here at the lights.

Why choose here and not the bridge as your crossing point?

Man: Because this is a direct line. It’s in the wrong spot.

Mark Davis: It should have been here, if it was a bridge it should have been there.

Man: It’s in the wrong spot. Any dill can work that out. It was always in the wrong spot up there.

Mark Davis: And if you look over there I think there’s a couple of people on that bridge, it’s bizarre…

Tibby Cotter Bridge aerial shot ABC

This month the new stadium scheme came unstuck: Football codes unite against Mike Baird’s plan to build on Sydney Football Stadium site.

More on Anzac Day

I went down to City Diggers yesterday. As I said on Facebook:

Fascinating conversations at City Diggers Wollongong today, one with a Macedonian who arrived Oz 1990 and had recently been back witnessing the refugee crisis, and the other with someone who served on HMAS Murchison in the Korean War. The things you can learn from a good conversation.

On the second see HMAS Murchison in the Han River.He told me about this. See Wikipedia. I wish I had known more when I had that conversation!

My cousin Russell Christison added this photo:


Also on Facebook is this wonderful photo of the dawn service yesterday at Shellarbour Village.


This is a place I get very nostalgic about. See last year’s post Next Saturday is the centenary Anzac Day. (Or rather of the Gallipoli landings.)

Thinking of my father’s home town of Shellharbour…

My uncle Ken’s name is on that memorial. See ANZACS born in Shellharbour, NSW, Remembering some of our Anzacs, and Illawarra Remembers

Anzac Day reposts: 2

Anzac Day in Wollongong: honouring my father 1911-1989

Posted on April 25, 2012 by Neil


Afterwards at the Diggers Club, Wollongong. I carried that picture as I marched.


From within the parade – the group I marched with


Very proud, and very happy to have done this.

Two Australian poems of World War II

25 April 2006

Judith Wright (1915-2000) is one of my favourite poets. “The Company of Lovers” was written during World War II and I think captures the feel of the time as many lovers were separated by the war. It is not one of her better known poems.

We meet and part now over all the world;
we, the lost company,
take hands together in the night, forget
the night in our brief happiness, silently.
We, who sought many things, throw all away
for this one thing, one only,
remembering that in the narrow grave
we shall be lonely.

Death marshals up his armies round us now.
Their footsteps crowd too near.
Lock your warm hand above the chilling heart
and for a time I live without my fear.
Grope in the night to find me and embrace,
for the dark preludes of the drums begin,
and round us round the company of lovers,
death draws his cordons in.

On the other hand, the following poem by Kenneth Slessor is — or used to be — very well known.

Beach Burial

Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs
The convoys of dead sailors come;
At night they sway and wander in the waters far under,
But morning rolls them in the foam.

Between the sob and clubbing of gunfire
Someone, it seems, has time for this,
To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows
And tread the sand upon their nakedness;

And each cross, the driven stake of tidewood,
Bears the last signature of men,
Written with such perplexity, with such bewildered pity,
The words choke as they begin –

‘Unknown seaman’ – the ghostly pencil
Wavers and fades, the purple drips,
The breath of wet season has washed their inscriptions
As blue as drowned men’s lips,


Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall,
Whether as enemies they fought,
Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together,
Enlisted on the other front.

If you go here; you will find an account by my mother of her feelings during the war years and a letter my father wrote in 1945 from Papua.