The Wonderful Land of Oz

Hi. Thanks for coming. Please, take a seat.

Now, I want you to close your eyes for a moment. And imagine that the world we live in does not exist. The politics, the problems, the media, the celebrities and the sport. Not even the history. There is nothing.

Australia is a blank slate.

Now, when you open your eyes you will be are here in Australia again, however it is the blank slate nation. And now, I will tell you some things about Australia. (Remember, everything that you have lived up until now does not exist.) I will fill in the slate of the nation for you.

Every week here in Australia, a woman is killed by her current or former partner. Also, a frightening military force is terrorising parts of the globe, with an army of somewhere between 30,000 and 200,000 fighters. Scientists world-wide have concurred that ocean water temperatures have risen due to human-caused emissions, and this could be catastrophic for weather patterns, ecosystems and species of flora and fauna worldwide. Australia is actually the highest emitter per capita of developed nations! Meanwhile, people in dire need of refuge are seeking asylum on our shores. We turn them away, resettle them in developing nations with questionable adherence to human rights, or lock them away in detention, invisible to the public’s eye. In some sections of our community, suicide rates are 8 times higher than the national average. (Yes EIGHT.) And finally, whilst sexual orientation is understood to be a character element you are born with, people whose love does not fit into the conventional heterosexual category are denied the right to marry.

So that is how things are looking here in Australia, just a few things to get you thinking. How do you feel about these things?

Not great. What is my nation doing about these things?

Well. Your government speaks about TERRORISM as the greatest issue. NATIONAL SECURITY they say. We MUST KEEP OUR CITIZENS SAFE, they say. We must put money into stopping radicalisation. We will spend 35 BILLION DOLLARS on “defence, national security and law enforcement”. This includes intelligence gathering, metadata watching and fighting the propaganda of terrorists cells. You will be happy to know that 750 MILLION DOLLARS will help “extend and expand Australia’s military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East.” Good, eh?

But wait – sorry – ummm what about the domestic violence issue? You know, the whole, one woman being murdered each week thing? Is that not something that all that money can be put into? I mean, aren’t the women CITIZENS as well? And also, that suicidal community – wtf? Is my government doing something about that?

Great question.

Well, as I heard a Minister say on the radio this week, National Security is THE most important thing for the government to deal with. I mean after all, all Australians should feel safe and protected. But (now how did he put it…? something like) the Government can certainly chew gum and walk at the same time, so ahh, other stuff like domestic violence etc are certainly major issues but they can be dealt with concurrently.

So billions of dollars are being put into those issues right? … Right? 

Um. Hmmm I will take that question on notice. How about I tell you about the environment? So, your Prime Minister is not a big fan (ha! pun intended) of Wind Turbines. So, they will spin no more! It is all COAL! COAL! COAAAAALLLLL!!!!

What? You said we are one of the worst polluters!? I don’t like broccoli, but sometimes we have to deal with things we don’t like for the greater good!

Nope, nope, nope. No wind turbines, your PM likes Coal. Good for humanity.

That’s crazy! What’s my environment minister doing about this? Surely they are doing something to promote renewable energy? I mean, Australia is a fragile ecosystem we can’t let the oceans rise 2 degrees even – we’ll all be screwed!

Yes, Greg um, Hunt. Yeah, hmmm. You know, funny thing is, I’ve never heard him say anything about the environment. And he IS approving that coal mine in the prime agricultural lands of the Liverpool Plains… But hey – we know for sure that there will be no Carbon Tax ever again!

Isn’t the point of a price on Carbon to help lower the amount of emissions of business as well as the general public? I mean shouldn’t he be arguing FOR the environment and leave finance to the Treasurer and Immigration to the Immigration minister?

You mean Border Protection.

Sorry?

Border Protection. It’s not so much Immigration any more as it is about protecting our borders.

From what? People wanting to live here?

Yes.

You said they are being put in detention? Is the public okay with that? I mean what are these centres like? What happens there?

Well… we don’t really know… You see no one is allowed to report from the centres… But, hey! We trust the government! When they say it’s all fine, it’s all fine! If the Treasurer says tighten our belts, we say how many notches, Gov? Am I right? (Except when I helicopter instead of drive, but hey, we all have our indulgences, right?)

Wake me up I want to leave! Why is my country like this? What is this? 1930s Germany? Communist Russia? 

Hey! Clean slate remember? That stuff never happened!

Why did you do this to me? Why hypnotise me just to enrage me? Why did you do that? I was fine before, just living my life happily, not even caring about all these things! 

 

Oh Dorothy, you’ve always been able to return. But without the clean slate, you never would have realised what was happening in this country – and you never would have believed me if I had told you. Sometimes you need to back away from a situation so that you realise how crazy our world has become. Now my friend, with this rage, maybe you will feel that it is time for a change. And you will do something about it.

abbott wizard

Tennis champ targets… rainbow coloured people.

“Gay activists target outspoken tennis champ” – if we are to believe a NineMSN article today, Margaret Court is being victimised by an army of rainbow coloured warriors, whose “hatred” for her is completely unfounded.

The former tennis great is feeling “targeted”, over the Rainbows over Margaret Court Arena movement, the campaign that uses the arena in her name to show opposition to her views on the LGBT community.

This “political stunt”, part of a “hate campaign” against Court involves people waving flags and wearing rainbow coloured clothing.

… Sorry? Flag waving? And wearing coloured clothing? Oh dear, she seems to be easily offended. This is a woman who considers that anyone not heterosexual needs to be (and can be) cured through the glory of God and prayer. According to Court and her church, LGBT people have made their lifestyle choice, and due to these choices, the nation’s morals are in swift decline.

Wait, who’s being targeted here? I forgot. Oh – that’s right, Court. Right, so back to the “political stunt” of the hatred-filled flag waving. The article on the Nine News website is accompanied by a short video, Court telling of her transition from tennis glory days, to church pastor days, filled with glory. Gee, I wouldn’t like to see anyone using tennis to push their views on society.

This campaign is not filled with hatred, and in fact, even though Margaret Court’s arena is being used as the obvious site of protest, there is nothing but love and support being espoused by the rainbow coloured spectators. If it were a hate campaign, would we be seeing smiling, happy, loving people watching the tennis – the only thing distinguishing them from other spectators, the fact that they are wearing a rainbow coloured headband, or holding a colourful flag next to their Australian one?

Importantly, commentators on this issue need to realise that these protesters are not just openly LGBT people – this protest is for everyone, anyone, any person who values the right to choice of lifestyle, freedom from discrimination, and ironically – the right to not be targeted for their sexuality. Activists for this cause range from outspoken notable LGBT identities, to family members of a gay son, brother, uncle etc.

I was always told that if you can’t take it – don’t dish it out. I think Margaret Court needs to remember that.

Compassion Seekers and the Quickness to Forget

I thought Australians were caring people. I thought we were all about ‘helping out the battler’ and ‘the underdog’, ‘mateship’, and all that. We have shown amazing generosity in years gone by as natural disasters have shattered neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and Thailand, and even contributed millions to those further away such as Haiti, Japan, and African nations.

But when it comes to ‘boat people’ – asylum seekers, refugees – I am just so sick of the lack of compassion. Have we forgotten how most of us got here? Millions of us are descendants of people who fled from a wide array of continents and countries to this nation for a new life.

How quick we are to judge those arriving on boats – one reporter the other day talked of people smugglers preying on the ‘unwitting and unwary’ refugees. What?!

Do you think people would climb onto a leaky boat and sail across an ocean without knowing the dangers they might face? Do you think they are deliberately flouting the system because they have a choice? If anything, those seeking refuge on Australian soil by way of these terribly dilapidated boats, run by shady people, are showing their absolute desperation.

If someone arrived on your doorstep, fleeing a dispute, domestic violence, a robbery or unfair persecution, would you turn them away and say they should have applied properly for your help, should have gone through the proper avenues?

I love Australia, and especially Melbourne, for its array of people who have turned this country into a multifaceted thing, of cultures, foods, people, personality and styles of which we should be proud.

But the xenophobic rubbish that is coming out of politicians’ mouths, being emanated from the media, and being supported by so many of Australia’s citizens is frightening, and shameful.

The Australian government, which so happily welcomed European settlers post World War Two, and allowed fleeing refugees from Vietnam in the seventies and eighties to emigrate, now detains and ‘processes’ refugees seeking asylum for so long that mental illnesses are ripe, suicides are frequent and anyone being passed through the system has to live with the horrors and memory of their detention on top of their already existing trauma of that from which they fled.

A book exists about new Australian emigrants from the 50s, in which there is a picture of my father’s family – A Dutch family of then, 6 children, sitting around a kitchen table at the refugee camp at Bathurst. They look happy. They are together. They have hope because they are in Australia now, narrowly escaping the bombing of Rotterdam which ravaged the streets around their home. They know they are safe now, and that people care. They will be looked after and supported.

Fast forward to today, and refugees are suffering. Leaving their homeland, and facing pain and uncertainty – the parts of life they were trying to escape.

So many times as a child, I was told to ‘put myself in someone else’s shoes’. I thought this was a common, completely non-religiously affiliated plea made by many a parent, many a teacher. How would you feel…? Think about if that was you…

I am frustrated, ashamed, sad and despaired by the tragedies that are occurring in our detention centres, and in the oceans surrounding our nation. I just wonder, if conflict, famine, war, disaster or dictatorship suddenly arose here, and we decided to flee to our neighbouring countries, who, of those around us, could honestly say: “Well, you showed us compassion when we were seeking it, so we will show it to you…”?

I can’t believe this – but I found the picture on the internet! http://completepeter.blogspot.com/2009_03_01_archive.html had the photo on his blog, which he had found through national archives http://www.naa.gov.au/collection

* The final Dateline episode on SBS this week will highlight the story of Les Murray, famed Soccer reporter and commentator, and explore his family’s escape from Hungary, aided by people smugglers. He is eternally and wholly grateful for their role in helping his family, and mentioned on the 744 radio this week that these people responsible for his family’s escape from Hungary, at that time, faced death if caught.