Friday, 2 October 2015

Is Australia Sending Us A Message?

The Friendly Face Of Australia: In a newspaper advertisement published across the Middle East, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell bluntly informs seaborne refugees that they will not make Australia home. So visceral is Australia's fear of "boat people" that it has proved willing to erode its own and its Pacific neighbours' democratic rights in order to "defend the borders". Not even the strong historical relationship with New Zealand has escaped the Australians' exclusionist madness.
 
THE NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT puts the number of Kiwis incarcerated in Australian detention centres at 184. Seventy-five of those detained deportees are being held in the isolated detention facility on Christmas Island. This lonely spec of Australian territory rises out of the Indian Ocean 2,608 kilometres north of Perth and 2,748 kilometres west of Darwin. If everybody had their own, Christmas Island would be part of Indonesia – from whose shores it is separated by just 500 kilometres.
 
That’s the whole point, of course. Christmas Island’s proximity to the Indonesian coast made it the obvious forward staging point in Australia’s long-running battle against refugees making for Australia in boats.
 
These “boat people” bring out the very worst in Australians. A visceral hatred of “Asians” that erupts from somewhere deep in the Aussie psyche. A primal fear, perhaps, of being over-run and destroyed – just as the First Peoples of Australia were over-run and destroyed by the progeny of Mother England. Australia’s bad conscience is projected onto these terrified human-beings. “Real” Australians see hordes of “illegal migrants” headed for the Lucky Country, and imagine it being swamped under a tsunami of unwanted brown and yellow flesh.
 
Not that there’s any shortage of dark primal secrets for the Aussie psyche to project. Like the genteelly named “Sunday Hunts”. Those still unacknowledged campaigns of genocidal murder that, in grim historical anticipation of the Nazis best efforts to render Eastern Europe “Juden Frei”, emptied the squatters’ sprawling estates of unwanted Aboriginals. Remembering, too, the “Blackbirders” of the early 1900s. Those sea captains and their brutal crews who raided the islands of Melanesia, carrying off hundreds of men and boys to slave in the sugar plantations of Northern Queensland. Oh yes, there’s much more than just the “White Australia Policy” to lay at our Aussie “cousins’” door.
 
It would be funny if it wasn’t all so squalid and so sad. A nation founded on the brutal policy of exiling another nation’s “criminal classes” to a far off land on the other side of the world, rounding up their own “convicts” and exiling them to another country of which they know next to nothing. Forty years ago, to be descended from a convict was something an Australian would happily boast about. Proof that even the most wretched of human-beings has something worthwhile to pass down the generations. That the only thing distinguishing the Squatters from the Convicts was that the former’s crimes almost always went unpunished.
 
But that’s not the way they look at things in Australia’s electorally decisive suburbs. They don’t want to know about their country’s history, and see nothing worth celebrating in its egalitarian traditions. Tragically, the suburbs’ grasping materialism, withered social values, unreconstructed racism and xenophobia has become the Royal Road to electoral success. This brutal fact has made cowards out of virtually the entire Australian political class. To the point where “stop the boats” has become the touchstone of electability for both the Liberal and Labour parties.
 
The big problem with this bi-partisan “stop the boats” policy, is that it is utterly incompatible with democratic norms and values (not to mention in complete contravention of a multitude of international laws and treaties). It’s why the “boat people” had to be moved to places offshore where the protection of Australia’s laws was no longer available. Hence John Howard’s “Pacific Solution” – a sort of “blackbirding” in reverse.
 
Papua-New Guinea’s Manus Island presented less of a problem for the Australian authorities than the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru. As a former colony of Australia, Papua-New Guinea has yet to free itself from the corruption choking practically every institution inherited from its colonial masters. Nauru, on the other hand, is a powerless and impoverished statelet for which not only Australia, but the UK and New Zealand, have long-standing responsibilities. Australia’s corruption of Nauru would be harder to hide.
 
Is it merely coincidence that the arrival of the first Kiwis at Christmas Island coincided with New Zealand’s insistence that the independence and probity of Nauru’s justice system (which New Zealand funds) be fully restored? Australia knows that its Pacific Solution cannot exist alongside functioning courts and democratic institutions. Has New Zealand’s courageous defence of the rule of law in Nauru thrown a spanner in the works? Is the rising number of detained Kiwi citizens some sort of message?
 
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 2 October 2015.

30 comments:

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I actually have a lot of time for PNG. It has some sort of functioning democracy, even though it was left in quite a shabby state by the colonial power. But to suggest it inherited its corruption? Without evidence? Now some of it I know is the result of pressure put on by other governments and large companies, but some of it is definitely indigenous.

Victor said...

Contra the conventional persiflage, I've yet to be convinced that most Australians truly see New Zealand as a kindred nation or think that their own perceived interests should be sacrificed on the altar of trans-Tasman friendship. I know that my cousin in Melbourne loves New Zealand. But she was born in Poland and, for that reason, probably doesn't count.

greywarbler said...

I think GS you tend to get trapped by small, and I suggest unimportant, matters within the main body of the discourse. All areas have their own sort of organisation which placed alongside what purports to be a better system can be regarded as corruption. Often this shows up as nepotism, a group-strengthening practice which is prevalent in simple societies. And then, surprise, is found in 'advanced' ones like Australia as well.

The reason that many New Zealanders came from Britain was to escape a society that often enslaved, demeaned, starved and neglected its citizens.
They could be press-ganged off the street and hustled onto ships in the service of the royal Navy. Or taken for soldiers in fierce fighting, if left chronically damaged, become beggars and/or criminals to get food and lodging. The farm workers were poorly paid, had poor living conditions, no or poor education, and when in the south there were pesky Methodist rumblings and meetings to remedy this, spurious legal charges were manufactured and they were shipped as convicts to Australia. But then there was a mass outcry involving thousands and finally all came home.

The impetus for Australia's advent was majorly to take the poor, damaged and criminals out of Britain's purview, so in Australia they were centred on survival of the fittest from the first. And they adapted into a society with this as its basis. You had to be tough and self-reliant, no time for pantywaists here. Large numbers of immigrants entered Australia prior to 1970, and slowly being brown or perhaps olive-skinned became accepted but there were enough slurs to strike resentment from the newcomers. It took aborigines longer to reach acceptance. In the meantime a squatocracy arose, and wealthy people were pictured posing at charity benefits in the city newspapers' social pages, illustrating the Lucky portion of their very materialistic and self-seeking culture.

The 1970s saw a friendly state agreement between us, which started slowly but now Oz owns the majority of our banks and directs the bubble of our debt-funded and house speculation economy. NZ apparently can still be disparaged as sheep shaggers, a strange description from a nation of Merino stations.

So it appears that we have gone full circle in our relationship with Australia which is now worse than the 1970s, not better. They in turn are sinking back towards their colonial beginnings, having subsumed our economy, and become the sheriff of the Pacific for the USA which they carry forward in a bellicose manner. It doesn't look good to me. They have deliberately humiliated our leader Helen Clark at the time of Ansett and when they introduced new anti-terrorist measures, they have landed us with a known almost insolvent company when offering us Ansett after refusing us domestic rights over their routes. They show us bad faith time and time again, and we hardly protest or retaliate. They have us by the short and curlies and I don't see a good relationship between us being recovered. The trend line is going in the wrong direction.

Galeandra said...

No doubt the Key government will rise to the challenge of exposing in clear and simple terms the sordid reality of Australia's 'statecraft'? The grasping venality of modern Australasian culture is so depressing.

peter petterson said...

Bring them all home to NZ, and send all Australians sentenced to more than 12 mths jail back to their lucky country.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Grey warbler, I think you tend to over think things. Things have not been quite as good between Australia and us since we banned nuclear weapons. Australia has always been closer to the US them we have, and has for at least the last 30 or 40 years treated us as poor cousins. Just think about the Apple controversy, and the fact that Air New Zealand isn't allowed to fly domestic in Australia. Their governments put their interests first second and third. Which is maybe as it should be I dunno, but the last time they showed any great independence of spirit was when they withdrew their troops from the Middle East and World War II.
And the slur on PNG might seem small and unimportant to you, but these throwaway lines are what set the tone. It's a typical right-wing tactic to be honest where they say something like "of course everybody knows......" when in fact everybody doesn't. Hooton is a great master of this the patronising bastard. :-) And what faith can you have in the main body, if they get the details wrong.

Nick J said...

Well stated Chris: I felt a little disturbed yesterday reading about Kiwi born but Australian raised people being deported via Christmas Island. Their failure was to commit a crime punishable by a years imprisonment without first becoming an Australian citizen. I'm not overly worried about repatriation of criminals BUT you do have to question their technical citizenship versus where they really belong to. One man was taken to Australia at 4 years old, and is being sent to NZ where he has no friends or family or knowledge of. His own family are all in Australia. Totally heartless, I am ashamed of my Australian neighbors and have no wish for us to emulate them.

Kat said...

As long as we New Zealanders elect to have the likes of John Key and co running and representing this country we occupy scarce moral high-ground let alone castigate the Aussies.

Anonymous said...

Australia is a respected player in world affairs, they see the world differently than we do, I believe that New Zealanders, amongst all immigrants, lead in countries with the highest amount of dole recipients. Australia saw the battles of the Coral Sea as vital to the very survival of their country. NZ did not. Australia suffered attack by the Japanese at Darwin and also Sydney. The Coral sea conflicts, the attacks on Darwin and Sydney do not register with most NZ'rs. Most Australians rate NZ as a country with a high amount of people who come to their shore's to bludge. Many of the criminals in Australia are Kiwis, they have high percentage compared with other migrants. That's enough though there could be more.

Anonymous said...

This week I heard the radio segment on Radio Live with Rodney Hide and Chris Trotter. Chris was surprised and seemed to be taken aback at Hide's attitude. The first was at Hide's thought, "They (NZers) decided to live there, they should be prepared to live by their rules."

Hide's flippant dismissal of people being incarcerated without legal representation was stunning. I have the feeling that if some far away country were acting like Australia Rodney Hide and others would be wailing about the subjugation of human rights and condemnation would be quick and loud.

I suppose the heady commemorations of Gallipoli with the attendant chants of "ANZAC brothers" and "fighting and dying for freedom" are long gone. Long gone, and replaced by the blissful acceptance of being gutless lapdogs. Got that Mr Key? "Gutless."

Anonymous said...

In the last , lets say 10 years, have the Romanians, Chinese, Filapino, Albanians and Indian refugees to NZ gained citizenship of NZ and then get access to Australia so they can get free entry to the Australian welfare and healthcare systems. I would venture to say most. Australia is sick and tired of this rort into their country. Most of these criminals held in Australian detention centres are not NZ born.

Anonymous said...

Yes they are sending us a message, it reads' Dear NZ we are sending back some of the lovely people you have allowed to migrate to our country, we are sure that you will enjoy their company, we didn't, kind regards Australia, PS please do not send anymore, you can look after them yourself.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well the guy who was over there since he was 4 was MADE a criminal by Australia - maybe they should keep him :-).

greywarbler said...

GS I don't think I am over-thinking our relations with Australia. I mentioned our not being allowed to fly on domestic routes there. And the power of advertising is revealed when you refer to the Apple controversy! But all the things you refer to over at least thirty years underline our diminishing and now eroded relationship. Where is the mateship and ANZAC rugged respect man to man? (They are often AWOL when it comes to accepting women as equals).

As for PNG, perhaps there is more to do in helping them to get a viable democratic government system going. And perhaps it would be done better by other than Australia?

Koro Neil said...

For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

Anonymous said...

Australians are like computers, you have to punch information into them.

The last NZ PM to do so was Rob Muldoon, the rest have rolled over.

Ansett was a dog that needed puting down, but instead, we bought it and acted like the SPCA while it bled all over the floor.

Australian disdain for NZ and every other country who doesn't stand up to their arrogance won't go away voluntarily. PNG / Australia relations is just scum finding its own level.

I worked in WA for a number of years when one day the Commonwealth unemployment figures came out. Coincidently the number of unemployed in the state roughly equalled the number of kiwis working there. We became the jews of WA; every talk back radio and newspaper opinion piece revolved around kiwi's taking 'Aussie jobs'. One day a letter to the editor in the West Australian got featured. "Sir, I note there are x thousand NZers employed in WA and there is the same x1000 number of locals unemployed. If you send the kiwis home it will mean x1000 lazy Aussie bastards will have to go to work"
The whining died down. But not the number of deadbeat locals that came to my firm wanting their dole paper signed saying they were unsuitable for the jobs we advertised.

Their unions, cops and politicians have been rotted by corruption since the colony days and it hasn't been helped since by imports from the Levant. They will continue to act as they always have done unless whacked on the snout.

I doubt Key has the same counterpunching testicular fortitude of the late Rob 'Gang-of-One' Muldoon. He'll make the right bleating noises while they ignore him. I hope he proves me wrong.

Mick

pat said...

if you enter Australia as a toddler and are raised within their education and social policy environment are you not a product of Australian society?

Anonymous said...

Maori criminals are an easy mark for Aust politicians...

greywarbler said...

I think that Anonymous (signed Mick) has set out the very important points that we need to bear in mind which come from his direct experience.

It has the ring of truth about employment. We have heard similar plaints here about immigrants taking 'our' jobs. Which will be partly true, but not the whole story. My father while in business, often was asked to sign the Labour Department form stating there was no work for that person. And it would often be that he had been tried and been unreliable.

So that quick resentment rising against Kiwis was incorrect and based on prejudice, and indicative of a latent hostility that shows the friendship, mateship attitude of respect and affection for Kiwis is just skin-deep.

Charles E said...

Despite their bravado Aussie is an unhappy country with deep seated insecurities in my view.
They feel inferior to the Poms whereas we feel their equal.
They look up to the Yanks whereas we feel superior.
Aust is also relatively corrupt, like the US. We are not, like Britain.
They should be called correctly the United States of Australia. We should correctly be called New Britain.

I don't know if it would work but we should take them to Court over deporting people here if they have been brought up in Aussie. They are products of Aussie, so not our people.
As I understand it the most successful immigrant group in Aussie are Kiwis but some of our worst talent goes there too. Both facts help the Strines resent and dislike NZ. This all plus having a way better climate, better government and better sporting success per capita just plain annoys the Unhappy Country. We are a more advanced, humane and modern country than Australia which is stuck with a Winston Peter's like nationalism that is laughable. Our ability to change our flag and become a republic over night if we choose also pisses them off, as it is almost impossible for them constitutionally.
The best reason to change our flag is to piss them off, since they will be stuck with the one they copied from us!

Jigsaw said...

No one has been MADE a criminal by the country they live in.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jigsaw. Yes they have.

pat said...

Jigsaw...so your contention is criminals are born?...... and in this instance as they were born in NZ they should be sent to the country of their birth irrespective?
Shall we perhaps develop some system for identifying these natural criminals and a method of preventing the potential cost/harm they may inflict on society?
I believe theres been quite a bit of work that has already been done around this, indeed even some trials.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I doubt somehow if jigsaw feels that criminals are born, though he may do. It's more like that he thinks they CHOOSE to be criminals – nothing to do with unemployment, poverty, lack of hope and all that left-wing stuff.

Bushbaptist said...

GS that is the mentality of most rightwingers, Remember they believe that people are poor because they are deficient in body and soul. Has nothing to do with economics of course. Also there are plenty of jobs out there but the un-employed are just too lazy!

pat said...

you may be right GS...and I guess they also choose to be indefinately incarcerated without charge and access to the legal system before they are dispatched to a place they have no knowledge of or familial support in....maybe Muldoon was right

Michael Wynd said...

Chris, only NSW and Tasmania were penal colonies. WA, SA, VIC, QLD were settled by free men. With regard to the boat people, so the fact that approx 1500 people drowned at sea trying to get to Australia does not mean anything? Is it not humane to prevent people drowing ar sea? Or do you feel as the Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young "accidents happen"?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Of course I'm right :-). To right-wingers, POVERTY is a choice.

Jigsaw said...

To left wingers poverty is not a choice since those who don't want to work should be able to live off other people with the state can tax them to do so.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jigsaw, until you come up with actual figures as to how many people "don't want to work" as a percentage of those people who are actually unemployed, you're still pulling stuff out of your arse. I've had a damn sight more experience with unemployed people than you I guarantee, and very few of them don't want to work. So you come up with some figures, then we might take you seriously.