Does this cap fit ScoMo?

It occurs to me that much coming from Scott Morrison and minions since the passing of the “medivac” reforms last week has more than strayed into demagoguery. In passing, enjoy this quote:

King-demagogues-and-rock-and-roll-wist_info-quote

Back to Australia. I am impressed with this commentary in Eureka Street.

Having failed in Parliament to prevent tinkering to the border protection regime, the Morrison government returned to the well Australian politicians have drawn upon when faced with electoral crisis: demonise humanitarian approaches to refugees and asylum seekers arriving by boat, and accuse opponents of going wobbly. ‘Australia cannot trust Bill Shorten’, huffed Prime Minister Scott Morrison, ‘to make Australia stronger.’ All boat arrivals forthwith would be ‘on Bill Shorten’s head’.

That looks very much like demagoguery to me!  I am afraid that it seems to be working — which Scott Morrison would probably have anticipated from his promotional experiences in his former career.

It is worth revisiting Thus Spake Mungo: ScoMo – the authentic demagogue. Well spotted, Mungo MacCallum!

Which leads to the conclusion that what Morrison really means by authenticity is a cynical dumbing down of complex issues in the hope that the public will not analyse them too closely. And obviously climate change is the prime example. Morrison says he accepts that it is real – up to a point. But the point is a firm full stop when it comes to doing anything about it….

…Marketing is the art of convincing people that what they really need is whatever you are providing.

Which is how Morrison is dealing with the children on Nauru issue. He has let is be known that he is, bit by bit, getting most of them to the mainland, which is receiving wary applause; but he won’t say what happens next – are they to have a swift medical check and be sent back? If not, what happens to their parents? What, if any, are their rights?

And given that Peter Dutton is utterly intransigent about conceding them anything, what, if any, is the long-term solution?

A leader who was truly reliable, trustworthy and entitled to acceptance and belief would at least attempt to answer those questions. Morrison’s response is along the lines of ‘don’t you worry about that,’ echoing another shonky leader who liked to think that he was authentic.

And just for the exercise let’s go back to 2004 during the Howard years. I will let you do your own compare and contrast with where we have come to, with Labor and Coalition really on the same page still, despite all the blow-harding coming from the government about the recent tweak on medical evacuations. Courtesy, remember, of Kevin Rudd and the 2013 election we now just accept the orthodoxy that “they” will never ever for any reason be allowed to settle in Australia — as Scott Morrison’s hoped-to-be viral video so strongly asserts. But back in Howard’s day I posted:

In July 2004 I wrote:

Sometimes one can only welcome policy backflips, especially when the policy concerned has been as draconian, as heartless, as unnecessary, as dishonest, and as big a waste of tax-payers’ dollars as the immigration and refugee policy has been since Tampa sailed over our horizon. Well, partly of course because “the temporary protection issue has become a sticky one for the Government in marginal electorates in Victoria, where the Coalition is polling poorly,” but also because there actually are people even in the Liberal Party who like to think of themselves as compassionate, given half a chance, ” the Government will announce as early as today that most of the 9000 temporary protection visa holders, many of whom have been living in the community for more than three years, will be able to apply for permanent residency.” The temporary protection visa was a disgrace anyway, a kind of limbo.

The decision follows a number of other immigration policy backflips by the Government, including its release of all but one child of boat people from mainland detention centres, and permitting 146 Afghans who have been held on Nauru for more than two years to come to Australia, as it winds back the “Pacific Solution”.

Government MPs say there are indications that the Prime Minister, John Howard, has softened his line on the issue of asylum seekers since he won the 2001 election on the back of his tough border protection policies.

I suspect Rural Australians for Refugees especially should take a bow- ordinary decent Australians with a better idea of what that means than Mister Ruddock apparently had. Well done.

The cost and the idiocy of it all may be summed up in the story of Aladdin Sisalem and his cat: “Mr Sisalem fled Kuwait in 2000, eventually arriving at an island in Torres Strait by boat from Papua New Guinea 18 months ago. He immediately sought asylum, saying he would face persecution if sent back to Kuwait. He was sent to Manus Island, where for the past 10 months he was the sole occupant, apart from a small staff of guards and cleaners hired to look after him at a cost to the Australian Government of $250,000 a month.”

Update:

Do read Karen Middleton in The Saturday Paper.

Morrison is understood to be the architect of his own political strategy. His friend, former Howard adviser turned lobbyist David Gazard, confirmed the prime minister is choosing to see the medivac legislation as a gift.

Gazard told Sky News this week: “I reckon it’s ‘make my day’ [for] Scott Morrison.”

Labor is acutely aware that it bungled refugee policy when previously in office, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of asylum seekers heading for Australia by boat, including those still languishing on Manus and Nauru. Its leaders in both the right and left factions are determined not to repeat that. At the same time, its core constituents are demanding a much greater emphasis on compassion.

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Ever want to bang your head against a wall?

Listening to the roaring hysteria coming not only from the likes of Paul Murray but, worse, from the Prime Minister and most of his minions — the Speaker being an honourable role model for sanity — has rather made the nearest wall strangely attractive. No, I am not having a Donald Trump moment…

See cooler heads like Rodney Tiffen, definitely not being partisan:

… the government’s scare campaign over the medical evacuation legislation is out of all proportion to what was proposed in the opposition amendment. The idea that it will encourage boat arrivals is undercut by the fact that it relates only to those already in detention. The Liberals will nevertheless feel that the shift in attention from the banking royal commission, for instance, to asylum seekers represents a victory. But it is far from clear that it can sustain the issue’s prominence over the next three months….

And do read this dispassionate analysis:

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have now passed amendments to the Migration Act 1958 that allow for the medical evacuation of asylum-seekers from Manus Island and Nauru. These amendments are also known as the medevac bill.

So, how will the situation for asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island and Nauru change with the provisions in place?

Finally, Kerry Murphy in Eureka Street:

So in the end, the Minister can still prevent a transfer because of an ASIO assessment, or substantial criminal record. It is not clear what medical treatment such a person would receive, and whether they might be sent to Taiwan if the treatment were otherwise not available. The government states this will reopen the boats coming to Australia, despite the need for a person to be extremely unwell and in need of specialist medical care. This is despite the fact that once here, they cannot apply for any visa (including a bridging visa) without the express permission of the Minister. Arrangements to transfer around 1000 people to the US did not start the boats, however the offer of 150 people resettled a year in New Zealand will start the boats.

So the unnecessary legislation was made necessary because of the government’s determination to maximise the punishment for coming by boat and establish cruel deterrents to prevent people coming to Australia and seeking asylum. The final version of the bill is complex, and not ideal in a human rights context. However it is better than what we have now. It was achieved by discussions and compromise between the opposition, minor parties and independents because the government refused to move from its hard-line position. Hopefully people in need of urgent medical care will not have to go to court again in order to get the medical treatment and care they require.

Going back on my blog ten years I find myself depressed about so much that has happened in this space in that time: On Ashmore Reef asylum seekers – hold your horses!

Very random but related to our new PM

For anyone out there who wonders who the Prime Minister of Australia is this morning, here is the answer: Scott Morrison. See Liberal Party elders lash Tony Abbott for acts of revenge on Turnbull’s government and Scott Morrison’s ministry — who’s in and who’s out.  I see Wikipedia is up to speed. Now for the random bits.

I return to teaching — 1985

For reasons I won’t go into here, I took a break from teaching between 1982-3 and 1985, during which time I was involved in editing a little magazine and, for about a year, in bookselling in Glebe. In the second half of 1985 I recommenced teaching at Sydney Boys High.

In Surry Hills last Monday — 1

Posted on April 2, 2014 by Neil

The other objective of my Sydney trip was to visit my old workplace.

My association with Sydney Boys High goes back [almost sixty*] years to 1955 when I arrived as a pupil, Ken Andrews having just started his term as Principal. Then in 1985 I began teaching English there on a casual basis, after a year spent working at Harkers Bookshop in Glebe: I’ll never forget the Class of 1986! (Or the Class of 2000 if it comes to that!) For the next 20 years much (but not all) of my work was at SBHS. You can find a sample here. – *I wrote the original in 2005 and said 50! How time goes!

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So that’s thirty years on now since I first met that class of 1986 when they were in Year 11. (Scott Morrison was in Year 12 in 1985 but I can’t recall anything about him.)

I have mentioned the class of 1986 several times – for example Philip Larkin 1922-1985….

Someone who was at SBHS at the same time, but graduated hence in 1988, is Russell Ward. He has posted a somewhat unfriendly account of Morrison on Facebook. Russell now lives in California.

It seems a boy I went to school with is the new Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison. I’ve a few emotions at the news, none of them nice. Shame one of them.

I’m reminded of a lovely guy Tri Phan who was a Vietnamese refugee, a “boat person.” While at school with us he won a state science essay prize on about the cancer-fighting drug interferon that won praise for having scientifically useful insights. Scott Morrison enthusiastically supported the policies that would have put him on an island to rot (a policy btw I protested against all the way over here at the embassy in San Francisco).

I’m also thinking of my brother, a captain of the school while Morrison was there.

My brother and his dear partner Paul O’Grady endured a lot of suffering when Paul came out as the first openly gay NSW politician and in their campaigning for marriage equality. Scott represents the homophobia that causes suffering where there should be love….

I remember (Associate Professor) Tri Phan well, and not just from school. He was a registrar (I think) at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital when I had a hernia operation there in 1997. SBHS people tend to pop up like that. (They  — staff and students — account for quite a few of my current Facebook friends!)

Another is Joseph Waugh who commented on Russell’s post:

High had always been a school that welcomed refugees – whether it be from the Holocaust in Europe, from the American war in Vietnam, or post-Tienanmen Square. My vain hope is that he is an outlier (the class of 1992 has a murderer, for example). Had I gone to that outrageous event put on for him, my one question would have been, which gulag would he have condemned Tri and his family to, had he been Minister for Immigration in 1980?

Joseph is referring to Scott Morrison’s time as enforcer of the tough “stop the boats”/Manus/Nauru policy Australia is now (in)famous for. He was invited to some SBHS Old Boys event and many boycotted it/him. Indeed.

Mind you, Tri arrived here, so far as I know, when Malcolm Fraser was in charge, and some on the left were not entirely admirable either back then, as I noted in a comment on a post by Jim Belshaw a few years ago.

On Vietnamese refugees and Fraser: In 1979 I have to confess I worried about Fraser welcoming so many Vietnamese. I wondered how they would, um, assimilate! (We all grow, don’t we?)

And unusual as it is for ne to commend Quadrant, Hal Colebatch is quite right here.

…Labor Senator Lionel Bowen also invoked anti-Asian white Australia imagery on July 27, 1976, claiming Australia was in danger from the “teeming millions in the North … And these people are on the move.”

The leftist Nation Review of June 1–7, 1978, carried an article referring to Vietnamese refugees as “bourgeois capitalist exploiters on the run” and ridiculing efforts to help them. In the issue of August 18–24 it referred to them as “political extremists and soft-life seekers”. The pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia organ, the Socialist, of May 31, 1978, carried a headline: VIETNAMESE REFUGEES VICTIMS AND TOOLS OF ANTI-COMMUNISM and referred to them as “right-wing Vietnamese who betrayed their country”. The CPA’s Tribune of June 7, 1978, claimed: BHP PREFERS VIETNAMESE and quoted South Coast Labour Council Secretary and CPA National Committee member Merv Nixon to the effect that the situation was disgraceful and that: “We can do without these right-wing elements.” Tribune elaborated on this in the following issue and warned of “right-wing people organizing private armies”. At the University of Western Australia, ALP Left Caucus member Graham Droppert published an article in the student newspaper Pelican, Number 4 of 1978, under the heading REFUGEES OR RATS?, claiming they included “the pimps, the wealthy merchants, the racketeers, the standover men and other exploiters”…

I was in Wollongong at the time and recall Merv Nixon very well.

No, the White Australia attitude was not dead and buried, and Fraser’s courage in this is highly significant in the story.

Here is a handy list of our Immigration Ministers, and the mind-boggling series of name-changes over the years.

One possibly good thing Scott Morrison has done right now is to divide that monstrous Home Affairs Department into three parts, restoring in the process a Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs! There is also a separate ministry looking at population policy and congestion. Mr Potato Head has been allowed to retain his black-uniformed Border Force, but not as part of Immigration. Back in January I had noted:

Posted on January 15, 2018  Reposts.

NOTE 2018: On Mr Potato Head’s latest frolic see Peter Martin and Benjamin Miller. Oh, and we no longer have a dedicated Immigration Department in Australia. Did you know that? Instead we have this gargantuan thing….

It is at least encouraging that Scott Morrison has rehabilitated the M-word. I gather Pauline Hanson has noted this with some displeasure.

Enough of my random thoughts. Let’s see if Scott and the government can recover from the dreadful thrashing they are getting right now in the polls.

Dorothy Hoddinott — an example to us all

Ignore those paranoid “patriots”, the dwindling supporters of Pauline H, the moaners about consideration for others — sorry, “political correctness” — gone mad. The best way to go has been before our eyes for years now, and one shining example has been just retired school principal Dorothy Hoddinott. What a positive influence she has been on so many lives, and for harmony in our country! As a former teacher myself I am humbled by what she has achieved, with her colleagues. The best thing is realising the ripple effect of her example.

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Dorothy Hoddinott in 2014: see my previous posts Refugee success stories, Islam and so on… and Iraq, Downer, Rudd, and a really positive story to end on.

In that last post:

Dorothy I met through ESL circles.  There is a great story on her in today’s Herald.

One morning earlier this month, Dorothy Hoddinott left Wollongong at the crack of dawn to drive back to Sydney. The Holroyd High School principal had been attending a conference but was determined to make it back in time to see one of her former students graduate from university.

Zainab Kaabi finished high school 11 years ago. But her personal accomplishment was also an exceptionally proud and significant moment for her mentor and former principal.

Not only did Hoddinott once willingly add $9000 to her personal credit cards to secure her student a place at university. But the young asylum seeker inspired her to set up a trust fund in her name, which has since expanded to support refugee students studying in public high schools and universities across the state.

The Friends of Zainab trust fund was established when, in her final year of high school, Zainab Kaabi told Hoddinott she would have to drop out because, as she was now an adult, she would no longer be eligible for her welfare payments under the conditions of her temporary protection visa.

Hoddinott recalls telling her ”I’m not going to let you leave school, you’re too good. Sorry but you’re a scholarly girl.”

She contacted everyone she knew for donations and set up the trust fund, allowing her to remain at school.

The donations continued to support her through a bachelor of medical sciences at Macquarie University and a bachelor of pharmacy at Sydney University…

So I was very pleased to see 7.30 during this week:

GEOFF THOMPSON: After years of travelling and teaching in Australia and in Europe, Dorothy arrived at Holroyd High in 1995, where about half of the students have a refugee background and almost 90 per cent speak English as a second language.
DOROTHY HODDINOTT: There was an educational Apartheid in the school. There was a ‘them’ and the ‘us.’ And so one of the first things I had to do was to actually extend all of the facilities of the school.
There were lots and lots of rules and a lot of the rules were overlapping each other and they weren’t common sense.
(Shots of kids at Holroyd High)
So what I did was I threw out all of those rules and we operated on common sense for a year, while we negotiated a new
way of doing things, and we came up with respect. And so we had to make that sort of suitable for kids: respect for myself, respect for others, respect for the school and community.
GEOFF THOMPSON: It worked. Just ask Bashir Yousufi, whom 7.30 first met in 2012 when he came to Holroyd High as a 15 year old… He had just fled Afghanistan after his parents were killed by the Taliban.
BASHIR YOUSUFI, FORMER HOLROYD HIGH STUDENT: I didn’t go to school so I didn’t think I would ever have this opportunity that I have at the moment.
GEOFF THOMPSON: This week Bashir travelled to Sydney to thank the person that he now calls his mum.
BASHIR YOUSUFI: She is more than principal to me and she is my mum and she adopted me, which is a great thing and I love her and I really, I respect her.
GEOFF THOMPSON: Bashir is now in the final year of a business degree at ANU.
BASHIR YOUSUFI: How are you?
DOROTHY HODDINOTT: Oh, how wonderful to see you!
GEOFF THOMPSON: Dorothy helped Bashir through school and into university with her Friends of Zainab Scholarship Program, named after the first student she helped to get to uni using her own credit card.
BASHIR YOUSUFI: Without your help, it would be – I wouldn’t be studying at ANU right now.
DOROTHY HODDINOTT: You decided to learn English while you were in detention. You decided to learn 15 English words each day.
(LAUGHS)
That wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t had the motivation. It was a happy combination of your motivation, the school supporting you and so on.
BASHIR YOUSUFI: Yes. Holroyd High became my favourite place and you will be my favourite place for the rest of my life.

Says it all, doesn’t it?

Here we go again…

Seems Malcolm Turnbull is these days Mr Potato Head’s glove puppet when it comes to citizenship and “Aussie Values”….

peterdutton_potato_0

Some say this could be our next Prime Minister and most agree Malcolm Turnbull is getting more and more desperate to hang onto leadership. The issue being dragged back into the spotlight is this: New citizenship test: Here’s what is changing. I agree wholeheartedly with Jonathan Green:

I remember a time when a key Australian value was abhorrence for the pompous, self righteous, sanctimonious expression of national values.

And haven’t we been down this track before!  Back in the day I posted: When asses rule…,  Migrants to sit English testThat idiotic citizenship “test”Government careers down path of superficial idiocy on citizenship testCitizenship and human rights and That de facto English test: scrap it, or admit what it really is! I also posted in May 2007 Ninglun’s Dinkum Aussie test, mate!

Since the sample citizenship test is such a travesty, let’s get real. The government, for a fee, may use this test any time they like. They can even employ me to generate thousands of similar questions.

1. The best blogger in Australia is

A) Ninglun
B) Thomas
C) Jim Belshaw
D) Marcel Proust

2. When you see a shark while swimming in a Blue Mountains creek you should

A) be very surprised
B) report it to the police
C) eat it
D) report yourself for environmental vandalism

3. Bushwalkers should beware of

A) politicians
B) bunyips
C) hoop snakes
D) all of the above

4. A popular Australian pastime is

A) gambling
B) getting pissed
C) horse racing
D) listening to Radio National

5. The ABC is

A) biased
B) very biased
C) very very biased
D) far too biased

6. Australia’s greatest Prime Minister is

A) John Howard
B) John Howard
C) John Howard
D) John Winston Howard

7. The Liberal Party is

A) the obvious choice to lead Australia
B) the best choice to lead Australia
C) the only choice to lead Australia
D) the party you should join tomorrow

8. Labor are

A) in thrall to the trade union movement
B) not to be trusted
C) getting too bloody cocky
D) all of the above

9. Work Choices

A) never existed
B) was a good idea at the time
C) is far better than anything in your home country
D) is a close relative of the hoop snake

10. When watching the cricket you should

A) avoid snoring
B) close your eyes and think of England
C) look for a bookie
D) wear a silly wig

Any suggested questions?

The real thing (current version) may be practised here. Apparently changes under consideration are as follows:

A new citizenship test, besides assessing their commitment to Australia, their attitudes towards gender equality and whether they have assimilated with the Australian social values, will also test their English proficiency by including a reading, writing and listening test.

If an applicant fails the test three times, they will have to wait for two years before they are allowed to attempt the test again.

Those seeking Australian citizenship will have to demonstrate that they have integrated into the Australian society by way of joining clubs, employment and enrolling their children in schools.

The new test includes questions on domestic violence, genital mutilation and child marriage but the government denies the test is targeted at the Muslim community…

The Revenant of Oz has quite rightly claimed credit.

Do read also The Lying Game: Turnbull Government Concedes Citizenship Test Can Be Coached And Fudged.

In my opinion all that is really needed is that we ensure by education that all Australian citizens take their pledge seriously. It really says it all. (Of course being descended from a family that goes back in Australia to at least the 1820s I have never been called upon to make this pledge. Obviously I would if I could…)

From this time forward
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect, and
whose laws I will uphold and obey.