At the first major policy announcement of his tenure, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s rhetoric echoed that of John Howard: violence against women, he said, needs to be seen as ‘unAustralian’.
But Australianess is a fluid concept that means different things to different people — for example, the republican Turnbull’s conception of it is fundamentally different to the constitutional monarchist Howard’s.
This suggests that one’s sense of what it means to be Australian entails selecting only certain elements of our past. Often, it means taking the good and ignoring the bad.
Israel’s Netanyahu government isn’t just focussed on the oppression of Palestinians. Tim Robertson reports on the ongoing treatment of African refugees.
Last month, revelations made in a Senate inquiry by Transfield Services, the company contracted to run the Nauru detention centre, illustrated how the Australian government’s callousness and immorality on the issue of asylum seekers is beginning to infect the national consciousness.
It’s reflective of just how punitive Australia’s refugee policy has become that the government still has the ability to horrify thinking Australians this long after Kevin Rudd announced his PNG Solution. At the time it seemed the lowest ebb in what has been a very dark decade for Australia’s treatment of the world’s most vulnerable people. But under Scott Morrison, there have been almost weekly revelations of further brutality inflicted upon refugees that still have the power to shock and abhor a nation that has long struggled to empathise with non-white victims.
On 4 June, twenty-five years ago, the Chinese government turned the guns of the People’s Liberation Army on their own people as they protested peacefully in the streets of Beijing. It was a response so gross and ruthless that it left the rest of the world dumbstruck. In Australia, it precipitated an elegiac moment in our history; the last time a leader of one of the major parities responded to the plight of asylum seekers humanly. Prime Minister Bob Hawke sobbed as he promised Chinese students studying in Australia that if they didn’t want to return home they wouldn’t have to: Australia would offer them shelter.