Abbott: look over there, I see a boat



Since being elected, Tony Abbott has gone into hyperdrive on the asylum seeker issue. Without a doubt irregular maritime arrivals are not the ideal way for those seeking asylum to arrive into Australia, however to all but the most ignorant, logic states that in order to put some order into disorder that a primary goal is the goodwill and cooperation of Indonesia.

In 2009, Kevin Rudd and Indonesia were in close cooperation on the issue:

AUSTRALIA is preparing to dispatch police across Asia to fight people smugglers and expand intelligence and security ties with Indonesia under a landmark deal that could be unveiled within weeks.

From the same link, it was none other than John Howard who recognised that a diplomatic solution was the prime solution:

But the Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, said yesterday the so-called Indonesia solution had begun in ”about 2002” under the former prime minister John Howard, who provided millions of dollars to Jakarta to assist with processing refugees and preventing illegal migration.

I wonder where all that cooperation went to? Gone like the wind under hamfisted, egotistical and inept handling by the Abbott-led government.  Completely at odds with his mentor John Howard, one of Tony Abbott’s first actions as Prime Minister was to enact the opposite, and instead of providing “millions of dollars to Jakarta” . . .

Australia will cut $75.4 million from humanitarian, emergency and refugees programs, including $8.5 million from the International Committee of the Red Cross, $4 million from planned donations to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and $1 million from the United Nations Peacekeeping Fund.

Therefore with a diplomatic solution effectively thrown in the wastepaper basket by Abbott and Morrison, what remains?  What else but Turn Back the Boats, irrespective of the wishes of the other party, Indonesia.  Some of a more bogan bent might stand on their soapboxes shouting loud “Huzzahs!” that we white fellas are showing those others a thing or two – here Indonesia; you can like it or lump it!

Stopping the boats has rather interesting history, and it took close to a year before anyone in the mainstream media got around to asking the question, “How?” clearly being far too interested in the politics of it all rather than the policy and that policy’s practical application.

December 31, 2009:

…the Opposition Leader declined to say what specific policies the Coalition would implement to stop the boats.

August 16, 2010:

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott believes he can ”stop the boats” entering Australian waters within three months of a coalition government being elected on Saturday.

Decisions would be made by Mr Abbott personally and on a case-by-case basis, based on the advice of naval commanders making contact through a hotline to the prime minister’s office.

Although the idea of a Boat phone caused a great deal of mirth, expressed in headlines such as “Holy asylum seekers”, the fact of the matter is that Abbott originally came up with this idea when cornered during an interview. Abbott when asked the question; if or when it did occur that people did die at sea due to his turn back the boats policy whether they be asylum seekers or enlisted personnel, then who is it who is going to be taking responsibility for these deaths? Whose responsibility would it be to turn back the boats? Abbott’s sudden and quite odd explanation is that he would have a Boatphone to the commanders, “In the end it would be a prime ministerial decision,” he said.

So where has this Prime Ministerial responsibility suddenly evaporated to?

Mistakes by sailors blamed for breach of Indonesian water

Senior navy officers and customs officials face possible disciplinary action over six incursions into Indonesian waters while turning back asylum-seeker boats under the government’s border protection regime.

And what might this quotation be construed as meaning?

However some blame was placed on headquarters, which while knowing the importance of respecting Indonesian territory, had ”effectively devolved the obligation to remain outside Indonesian waters to vessel commanders”.

How can respect for another nation’s territorial waters “devolve”, and under what circumstances were orders given, and by whom, that this should devolve?  But of course, this is none of Tony’s business, as after all it’s nothing more than a cricket game or a football match.

During a press conference at Parliament House on Tuesday, the Prime Minister was asked how it could transpire that professionally trained and highly skilled naval personnel could mistakenly sail, more than once, into Indonesian territorial waters.

“Even people who are at the very top of their game… will occasionally make mistakes,” Mr Abbott replied, while praising the skill and professionalism of the Australian navy.

A game?  A match?  Apparently not, it is now a devolution.

You are a disgrace to our nation

It’s rare that I post an article simultaneously with The AIMN but this is one that I am very passionate about. Given that this site is frequented by many people who are equally as passionate about this (on both sides of the argument) I have no hesitation in offering it for debate.

I was appalled at the results of the recent poll conducted by the Sydney Morning Herald that revealed, for whatever reason, most people want the Abbott Government to treat asylum seekers more harshly than the disgustingly inhumane levels they currently do. It was noted, disturbingly, that:

A strong majority of Australians, 60 per cent, also want the Abbott government to “increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers.”

It is obviously not good enough that the:

Manus Island’s detention centre has been described as cruel, inhuman, degrading and violating prohibitions against torture in a detailed report by Amnesty International.

The most extraordinary claim in Amnesty’s report is that drinking water in the largest compound . . . is limited to less than half a litre a day.

“A dozen bottles a day for nearly 500 men, according to the staff who supply them, or less than a single 500ml bottle per person, an amount that is clearly insufficient, especially given the heat and humidity.”

Or that an:

. . . independent body of psychiatrists, psychologists, GPs and other medical professionals and advocates gave advice to the government about the serious mental health impacts of offshore processing and long term detention.

The living conditions in the facility are hot, extremely cramped and poorly ventilated. There is no privacy. The conditions in one dormitory were so bad that Amnesty International considers the accommodation of asylum seekers there a violation of the prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment. “P Dorm” is a World War II building with a low, curved, metal roof. It sleeps 112 men on bunk beds arranged with no space between. There were no windows, and two standing fans. As a result, the smell is overwhelmingly bad and the heat is stifling. Asylum seekers reported finding snakes in the room and flooding when it rained.

As the week progressed, we witnessed a string of unnecessary humiliations.

The men spend several hours each day queuing for meals, toilets and showers in the tropical heat and pouring rain, with no shade or shelter. Staff refer to them by their boat ID, not their names. Almost all are denied shoes. Most have had their possessions confiscated by people smugglers or staff on Christmas Island.

Pointless advice, apparently, as sixty per cent still want the Abbott government to increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers.

I now have a message to that sixty per cent: You are a disgrace to our nation.

It is highly unlikely that any of that sixty per cent will read this post but I have the satisfaction of telling The AIMN’s readers what I think of those disgraceful human beings and I can only hope that my feelings are widely disseminated. I would like to hope that my feelings would not only be widely shared, but widely supported.

This message comes with the warning that course language will be frequently used. I won’t be holding back.

To that sixty percent:

You are disgusting pieces of low-life shit.

You’re no doubt mildly pleased that asylum seekers are forced to live under conditions condemned by Amnesty International but it still isn’t good enough. What would make you assholes happy? No, on second thoughts, I’d dread to know what would really make you happy: I’d find it even more shameful to accept that we share the same nation and I can assure you that a high degree of shame already consumes me. And disgust. And anger.

What is truly disturbing, nay frightening, is that you possibly represent the views of the majority of Australians. Sixty per cent of them to be precise. That means we have a nation that is predominantly populated by the lowest common denominator when it comes to compassion for the plight of human misery. In other words, we are predominantly a nation of heartless, selfish, ignorant, racist bastards. And you sixty percent have proven to be heartless, selfish, ignorant, racist bastards because you want the Abbott government to increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers.

I have no idea why you are the way you are and I don’t know where you came from. I didn’t grow up in an Australia where heartless assholes like you dominated the social landscape. What happened? Were you simply born a nasty piece of shit or was it external influences like the fear mongering mainstream media in this country that caters for your Neanderlithic intelligence. Or maybe you’ve believed the equally racist Abbott Government – don’t get me started on them or their resident Darth Vader, Scott Morrison – or that xenophobic freak John Howard. Or maybe you await your daily dose of instructions from that screaming idiot Alan Jones on how to run your life. Perhaps you were among the angry mass that came down from the trees pumping with racial hatred when Jones urged his listeners to:

“Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge. This Sunday every Aussie in the Shire get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day . . . “

If any of those poor sods locked up in those filthy detention centres – you know, the ones that aren’t getting treated harshly enough – if they ever make it to this ugly country, what would you like done to them? I can’t imagine how horrific it might be, though I’m sure it’d be something ghoulish enough to satisfy your heartless souls.

As I said, you (and your ilk) are a disgrace to our nation. And what a crying shame that sadly, you are our nation.

Image courtesy of

Two-faced Tony

There is no argument that Tony Abbott has shown himself to be the consummate hypocrite, more evidently so since taking over the prime ministership. I’ve stumbled across a wonderful example of his hypocrisy, which has the added bonus of producing further evidence of his stupidity.

Do you remember this from earlier last year?

Tony Abbott demands Julia Gillard explain WA asylum seeker boat arrival.

Tony Abbott is seeking an urgent briefing from the Prime Minister on how a boat of suspected asylum seekers last week managed to reach the Australian mainland for the first time in five years.

The Opposition Leader has written to Ms Gillard requesting an official explanation about the incident.

He writes, “the Coalition is gravely concerned over the extent to which the capacity of government agencies to undertake security checks on arrivals have been undermined and the massive consequent cost blowouts running at more than $5 billion since the last election.”Moreover, Minister O’Connor has failed to satisfactorily explain why he plans to spend more than $100,000 transferring these mainland boat arrivals by air to Christmas Island for health checks and other procedures that should have been done in facilities where they are already accommodated.”

Mr Abbott also accused Julia Gillard of running a $100,000 taxi service for the 66 Sri Lankans – who landed in Geraldton, Western Australia, on Monday – amid plans to fly them to Christmas Island.

Now listen to the same bloke today:

Australia PM Tony Abbott defends asylum policy ‘closed book’

Australian PM Tony Abbott has defended what critics have described as government secrecy over asylum policy.

Officials have in recent days refused to comment on reports that Australian naval forces have turned back at least one boat to Indonesia.

Asylum-seeker accounts have also alleged mistreatment by navy personnel.

Mr Abbott, who promised a tough line on the asylum issue when he took office, said restricting information flow boosted operational enforcement.

“I’d rather be criticised for being a bit of a closed book on this issue and actually stop the boats,” he told local media.

“The point is not to provide sport for public discussion. The point is to stop the boats.

“I’m pleased to say it is now several weeks since we’ve had a boat, and the less we talk about operational details on the water, the better when it comes to stopping the boats.”

All of a sudden ‘keeping quiet’ stops the boats.

I’m sorry, but I can’t help myself, I need to swear . . . Oh for fuck’s sake.

Abbott gets it wrong on Sri Lanka

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Do you remember when Tony Abbott defended Sri Lanka’s human rights record, saying the Rajapaksa government was committed to upholding the democratic charter of the Commonwealth but that “sometimes in difficult circumstances difficult things happen”? Yes, like torture. And murder.

He went to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka with nothing but praise for President Mahinda Rajapakse, rather than to “bury him under the weight of human rights abuse allegations” that had completely dominated the CHOGM.

“We are here to praise as much as judge,” he told the forum’s opening meeting, lauding the ending of Sri Lanka’s civil war, and the development in the country since.

While Tony Abbott is content with showering praise, meanwhile in the real world:

A tribunal of 11 eminent judges has unanimously found the Sri Lankan government guilty of the crime of genocide against ethnic Tamil people. Sitting in Bremen, from December 7 to 10, the Second Session of the Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka found that the crime of genocide has been and is being committed against the Eelam Tamils as a national group.

The tribunal found that genocide against the Eelam Tamil group has not yet reached the total destruction of their identity; however, the genocide is a process and the process is ongoing. The military killings of May 2009 have been transformed into other forms of conduct causing serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group. The tribunal considered that the proof established beyond any reasonable doubt that the following acts were committed by the government of Sri Lanka:

– Killing members of the group, which includes massacres, indiscriminate shelling, the strategy of herding civilians into so-called ”no fire zones” for the purpose of killings, targeted assassinations of outspoken Eelam Tamil civil leaders who were capable of articulating the Sri Lankan genocide project to the outside world.

– Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, including acts of torture, inhumane or degrading treatment, sexual violence including rape, interrogations combined with beatings, threats of death, and harm that damages health or causes disfigurement or injury.

– Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part, including expulsion of the victims from their homes; and seizures of private lands; declaring vast areas as military high security zones to facilitate the military acquisition of Tamil land.

The tribunal undertook to further examine allegations of forced sterilisation of Tamil women.

Britain and the US were found to be guilty of complicity in the crime of genocide, including complicity by procuring means, such as weapons, instruments or any other means, used to commit genocide, with the accomplice knowing that such means would be used for such a purpose; and complicity by knowingly aiding or abetting a perpetrator of a genocide in the planning or enabling of such acts.

The tribunal recognised that Sri Lanka did not have the capacity to achieve genocide without assistance and, on the basis of evidence provided, came to the conclusion that Britain, the US and possibly India are guilty of complicity. However, due to the constraint of time, the tribunal limited its findings to Britain and the US, pending the availability of further evidence against India and other states.

After the recent gift of two patrol boats to Sri Lanka’s navy, Australia is in danger of being one of those states. The gift adds to the military capacity of the Rajapaksa regime to illegally detain and harm Tamil asylum seekers fleeing repression.

But in Abbott’s eyes it’s OK to donate two navy ships to Sri Lanka because they simply “promote enhanced collaboration on people smuggling”.

Is it really worth it? Is he that desperate to stop the boats that he’s happy to accept that the alternative for those people is that difficult things might happen to them?

Dan Rowden, on providing the link to the tribunal’s finding (above) on The AIMN summarises it better than anyone:

And this Government has now made Australia complicit. Whatever else this Government does I don’t think this one can be surpassed.

Abbott certainly got that one wrong, didn’t he?

Abbott’s global vision to stop the boats

Our beloved prime minister certainly is serious about stopping the boats. So serious, in fact, that he has taken his plan to distant shores. News comes in that the Australian tax payers will pay for the refurbishment of two patrol boats that will be given to the Sri Lankan navy in an effort to stop people smugglers leaving their shores.

Much has been written recently about Sri Lanka’s dismal human rights record and the situations which make Sri Lanka a wonderful country to flee from. It’s nice to see that Tony Abbott wants those attempting to flee persecution be contained on the little island. Keeping them ‘locked’ up on the island nation is certainly something he favours than the chance of them ‘illegally’ taking to the high seas to escape from it.

But one question appears to be overlooked: how is he to know that any of the boats being stopped intended to come to Australia?

He is, in effect, helping the Sri Lankan navy round up boats that may have set off for England, America, Italy or even the Antarctica for that matter. Personally, I don’t think that’s any of his business. Neither is it ours.

I also feel the human rights abuses in Sri Lanka should be an issue that the Australian Government should be focusing on if they want to stick its nose into someone else’s business.

What is your opinion?

English: Tony Abbott in 2010.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Raising the bar of stupidity

No matter how high Tony Abbott keeps raising the bar of stupidity he manages to hurdle over it with athletic ease.

Thanks to Kaye Lee over at The AIMN she has provided us with his latest effort and one that raises the bar higher than GWB could ever hope to clear. It’s a comment on his favourite topic: boats. Brace yourself for this one . . .

And if any boat ever set out from Australia to Indonesia to enter that country illegally, we would do our damnedest to stop it.

Yes, he said it.

Now I realise that Tony’s knowledge of asylum seekers is very shallow, but even he should be aware that Indonesia doesn’t have a problem with boatloads of asylum seekers departing Australia with their sights set on landing safely on their shores. What’s the count so far? Precisely none. How many have tried? Precisely none.

But it’s good to know that Tony is in control of the problem. And what would he do with the asylum seekers fleeing Australia? Send them to Nauru? Turn them back?

I might give it a try to see what happens. While he is Prime Minister I’m sure I can find many who would be willing to take the trip with me. I might push off from Hobart and circle around New Zealand to escape detection.

Seriously, while he and his incompetent mob are running the country the Navy is going to be kept very busy . . . not only watching for boats heading to Australia . . . but watching for boats leaving it.


Tony Abbott stumbles on


I doubt that there is anyone outside of Tony Abbott’s close circle of media apologists who is unsurprised at the arrogance of Abbott’s attitude towards our international neighbors.

Tact has never been Tony’s forté, and whilst here at home it is either overlooked, glossed over or apologised for by the Murdoch media; or even made a virtue of for that matter, abroad is where good manners, protocol and an adequate dose of humility are an integral part of the job.  Professionalism is expected.  While some small faux pas might be glossed over or explained away, plain bad manners and arrogance cannot be.

Australia has watched, sometimes with wry fascination, at other times with embarrassment as Abbott has either been unable to answer basic questions, been incapable of speaking “off the cuff” other than by the use of slogans, or, and especially when challenged:  he runs.  Perhaps expecting far more, the Murdoch media had their headlines ready before Abbott had even hopped onto the plane to Indonesia, this was to be Tony Abbott, the success; Tony Abbott, the powerhouse of diplomacy.  That is, the media were expecting, one way or another that Abbott would be able to somehow mysteriously morph into prime minister Abbott.  After all, some of the media perhaps speculated; the fleeing to escape questioning, the sloganeering, the asinine half thought out responses were really just “clever politics”…weren’t they…

Mainstream media had previously crowed with delight at the thought that Abbott has procured a “gotcha” on the issue of asylum seekers but had studiously overlooked the ineptitude of both Abbott and J. Bishop. Incidents such as Indonesia telling both Abbott and J. Bishop, and specifically that they would treat their assumptions most seriously were relegated to minor incidents by mainstream.  Reported incidents such as below were quickly replaced by yet more turn back the boats rhetoric from Abbott.  Abbott’s deliberate strategy was to give the impression that Indonesia had never said a word.

May 5, 2012:

An Indonesian official has accused Australia’s Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, of promoting an arrogant policy on asylum seekers.

July 8, 2012:

As the Opposition Leader admitted his plan to send boats back as “dangerous”, he also appeared to concede he had not raised the issue of boatpeople with Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when they met in Darwin last Tuesday.

“The fact is Indonesia knows exactly what our position is,” Mr Abbott told the ABC’s Insiders program, after being pressed repeatedly on whether he had broached the issue with the Indonesian leader in private talks.

“It’s not as if the Indonesians are in ignorance of what the Coalition intends.”

Clearly it was Tony Abbott himself who has been ignorant because a year later:

A furor over Australia’s policy of turning boats full of asylum seekers back to Indonesia has erupted ahead of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s first visit as Australian leader to its important neighbor.

Indonesia has warned that the Australian Navy’s plan to intercept and force back Indonesian fishing boats crowded with asylum seekers from countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Myanmar could breach Indonesian sovereignty.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa drove home that message in a meeting with his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, in New York this week.

Why the surprise from the Murdoch media?  This is exactly what the Indonesians have been saying to both Abbott and J. Bishop for well over a year.

Reality in the form of an article by Raoul Heinrichs has finally appeared via the Sydney Morning Herald:

Abbott returned from his trip humbled and empty-handed. While the episode had been a disaster, he was spared the full embarrassment. A still-fawning press bought the distracting spin. Meanwhile, the previous government’s PNG solution began working, allowing Abbott to quietly backtrack from his commitments while taking credit for fewer boats.

With a prime example of “fawning” coming from The Australian’s Greg Sheridan:

TONY Abbott has had an extraordinarily successful first trip to Indonesia as Prime Minister. But it’s only the beginning of his adventures with Jakarta.

Agreed Greg, thus shone-eth Tony’s true radiance…

Could it be that the mainstream media and the Murdoch media in particular are suffering from a severe case of “Tony Abbott says….”, and as a result we end up with the Murdoch media giving the appearance of incompetence as they regurgitate whatever Tony Abbott says.  In March this year it was, “Tony Abbott says Indonesia will accept boats turned back”. In June, “Indonesian Vice President Dr Boediono said the country would not accept Australian vessels trying to return asylum seekers..”.  Ignore the Indonesian government and believe “Tony Abbott says……”.

A pertinent quote from the Sydney Morning Herald is:

THE Indonesian government has confirmed that it would not accept the towing back of asylum seeker boats to its shores, sources say.

The policy puts an incoming Coalition government in Canberra on a collision course with Indonesia after the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, reiterated the stance yesterday.

However, let’s not concern ourselves with what the Indonesians say, it is that which Tony Abbott and his backers in the media say which is of all importance.  The date of the above quote is July 6, 2012.  No, this is not a typo, the year is 2012.  It is therefore well over a year that Indonesia has been rejecting Tony Abbott’s I’ll turn back the boats policy.  Therefore although Raoul Heinrichs in his article quite accurately states that Abbott has “lurched from one diplomatic disaster to another“, these are hardly “rookie mistakes”; Abbott has been making the same ones for quite some time.

Scott Morrison: lying, forgetful, or just plain ignorant

The Coalition ‘never had a policy of towing boats back’, says Scott Morrison:

Morrison said the Coalition had “never had a policy of towing boats back to Indonesia” and blamed “misrepresentation over a long period of time” in the media for that impression.

Really? Then he hasn’t seen this on the Liberal webpage. It’s an interview Tony Abbott gave with with Steve Price back in 2011. Here is the transcript relating to towing back boats:


I notice the Opposition spokesman Michael Keenan last night on Sky talking again about towing boats back to Indonesia. Is that really a viable option?


It’s happened before and…


Well, you did it what, 11 times in government?


That’s my understanding…


I think 11 or seven, I might be wrong on the figure.


Well, we didn’t make a big fanfare about it, Steve, because if you want to get things done in Indonesia you don’t in the process humiliate the Indonesian government and this is the difficulty with the Rudd-Gillard approach.


But how does boat towing work in practice?


Well, that’s the kind of operational question that would have to be worked out by the commander on the spot and I’m not going to set myself up as an expert, but what’s been done in the past can under the right conditions be done again in the future.


So you would intercept boats in international waters, check that they are seaworthy and try and either convince them to turn around and go back from where they came or attach a rope and tow them back?


Well, as I said Steve, I’m not going to get into the precise operational details because that would be a matter for the commanders on the spot but it’s been done in the past, successfully done in the past and what was done in the past can be done again in the future.

It’s very difficult to blame media misrepresentation, don’t you think?

Either Scott Morrison is lying, forgetful, or just plain ignorant.

I wonder if his boss likes being contradicted?

Scott Morrison MP, Federal Member for Cook

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Will the real Scott Morrison please stand up?

Anyone who listened to Scott Morrison’s maiden speech to Parliament in February 2008 would have been heartened that a man of such humility and humanity could one day be a political heavyweight in our country, especially of one who belonged to the Coalition. They had, after all, suffered a massive defeat at the hands of an electorate after twelve years of Howard’s mean spirited government.

After Howard’s demonisation of asylum seekers it was a breath of fresh air to hear someone new in the party speak of his love for all people and their right to share our country. One could have easily been lulled into believing this man could one day become the Minister for Immigration and through his beliefs restore Australia’s long-gone goodwill of fellow beings. Here are some extracts of his speech:

It is with humility and a deep sense of appreciation to the electors of Cook that I rise to make my maiden speech in this House. Today I wish to pay tribute to those who have been instrumental in my journey and to share the values and vision that I intend to bring to this House. I begin by acknowledging the first Australians, in particular the Gweigal people of the Dharawal nation of southern Sydney, who were the first to encounter Lieutenant James Cook, the namesake of my electorate, at Kurnell almost 240 years ago. I also commence by expressing my sincere appreciation to the people and families of the Sutherland shire in my electorate of Cook for placing their trust in me on this first occasion.

The shire community is a strong one. It is free of pretension and deeply proud of our nation’s heritage. Like most Australians, we are a community knit together by our shared commitment to family, hard work and generosity. We share a deep passion for our local natural environment and embrace what Teddy Roosevelt called the vigorous life, especially in sports. It is also a place where the indomitable entrepreneurial spirit of small business has flourished, particularly in recent years. In short, the shire is a great place to live and raise a family. As the federal member for Cook, I want to keep it that way by ensuring that Australia remains true to the values that have made our nation great and by keeping our economy strong so that families and small business can plan for their future with confidence.

At a local level, families—in particular carers—will come under increasing pressure because of the inability of local services to meet the changing needs of an ageing population. The character of our local area is also threatened by a failure to deliver critical state infrastructure such as the F6 extension for our current population, let alone the population growth targets set by the state government for the future.

On the Kurnell peninsula, the modern birthplace of our nation, we must reverse 150 years of environmental neglect, most recently demonstrated by the construction of Labor’s desalination plant—a plant that New South Wales does not need and the shire community does not want.

We must also combat the negative influences on our young people that lead to depression, suicide, self-harm, abuse and antisocial behaviour that in turn threatens our community. We need to help our young people make positive choices for their lives and be there to help them get their lives back on track when they fall.

For the past nine years, the Hon. Bruce Baird has ably represented the Cook electorate. Bruce Baird is a man of achievement, integrity, faith and, above all, compassion. He has set a high standard. I thank him for his service, his personal guidance over many years and for being here today.

From my faith I derive the values of loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others; to fight for a fair go for everyone to fulfil their human potential and to remove whatever unjust obstacles stand in their way, including diminishing their personal responsibility for their own wellbeing; and to do what is right, to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life and the moral integrity of marriage and the family. We must recognise an unchanging and absolute standard of what is good and what is evil.

Australia is a strong nation. It is the product of more than 200 years of sacrifice—most significantly by those who have served in our defence forces, both here and overseas, and by those who have fallen, particularly those who have fallen most recently, and to whom I express my profound gratitude. But a strong country is also one that is at peace with its past. I do not share the armband view of history, black or otherwise. I like my history in high-definition, widescreen, full, vibrant colour. There is no doubt that our Indigenous population has been devastated by the inevitable clash of cultures that came with the arrival of the modern world in 1770 at Kurnell in my electorate. This situation is not the result of any one act but of more than 200 years of shared ignorance, failed policies and failed communities. And we are not alone: our experience is shared by every other modern nation that began this way. There is much for us all to be sorry for. Sadly, those who will be most sorry are the children growing up in Indigenous communities today, whose life chances are significantly less than the rest of us.

We can choose to sit in judgement on previous generations, thinking we would have done it differently. But would we? Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Nor can we compare the world we live in today with the world that framed the policies of previous generations. So let us not judge. Rather, having apologised for our past—as I was proud to do in this place yesterday—let us foster a reconciliation where true forgiveness can emerge and we work together to remove the disadvantage of our Indigenous communities, not out of a sense of guilt or recompense for past failures but because it is the humane and right thing to do. Having said this, we cannot allow a national obsession with our past failures to overwhelm our national appetite for celebrating our modern stories of nationhood. We must celebrate our achievements and acknowledge our failures at least in equal measure. We should never feel the need to deny our past to embrace our future.

We are a prosperous people, but this prosperity is not solely for our own benefit; it comes with a responsibility to invest back into our communities. Our communities are held together by the selfless service of volunteers. We must work to value their service and encourage more of our community to join the volunteer ranks and assist local organisations engage and retain today’s volunteers, particularly from younger generations. We must also appreciate that our not-for-profit sector has the potential to play a far greater role in the delivery of community services than is currently recognised. As global citizens, we must also recognise that our freedom will always be diminished by the denial of those same freedoms elsewhere, whether in Australia or overseas.

We must engage as individuals and communities to confront these issues—not just as governments. We have all heard the call to make poverty history. Let us do this by first making poverty our own personal business.

The Howard government increased annual spending on foreign aid to $3.2 billion. The new government has committed to continue to increase this investment and I commend it for doing so. However, we still must go further. If we doubt the need, let us note that in 2007 the total world budget for global aid accounted for only one-third of basic global needs in areas such as education, general health, HIV-AIDS, water treatment and sanitation. This leaves a sizeable gap. The need is not diminishing, nor can our support. It is the Australian thing to do.

What a wonderful human being. One who recognised injustice to the first Australians; one who felt for those suffering overseas and one who believed in Australia’s ability to open up its arms to the underprivileged of the world.

What happened to him?

First, as our Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship  and now as our Minister for Immigration and Border Protection we hear these words (not in chronological order):

“I have always been angry at people making moral judgements…just because we took a different position from them”.

. . .

More than 30,000 refugees living in Australia will be denied permanent settlement and have their appeal rights stripped, under a new Coalition policy released on Friday.

Mr Morrison said the system would, in part, be modelled on Howard government policies and a system currently operating in the United Kingdom.

He said it would prevent the “90% of those arriving receiving permanent visas”, and address “a backlog of more than 30,000 illegal boat arrivals” already waiting for permanent visas.

. . .

Liberal Party immigration spokesman Scott Morrison has taken the demonisation of refugees and immigrants to new depths. Morrison called last month for asylum seekers living in the community under the Labor government’s punitive temporary visa scheme to be publicly identified, forced to report regularly to the police and placed under unspecified “behavioural protocols.”

. . .

This is an appalling failure from this government where we see other governments like the Government of Canada acting to introduce temporary visas.  They understand the need to take permanent residency off the table.

. . .

Well, I think the real point here is that the Gillard Government is known globally as a soft touch on this issue and people will go where the door is open and that’s certainly the case under this Government.
. . .

THE opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.

Sources say Mr Morrison told the shadow cabinet meeting on December 1 at the Ryde Civic Centre that the Coalition should ramp up its questioning of “multiculturalism” and appeal to deep voter concerns about Muslim immigration and “inability” to integrate.

. . .

The Coalition won’t give up the ‘tow back the boats‘ line, even as it falls apart under scrutiny. It’s dangerous, illegal and threatens our key bilateral relationship with Indonesia.

Morrison’s media strategy is simple, but effective. Every time a boat arrives, he issues a press release and makes himself available for media comment. The line is always the same: we’ll tow them back. On 5 July, for instance, he wrote that “if elected, the Coalition will implement a full suite of proven border protection policies including turning boats around.

I could go on. And on. And on. The internet is filled with online material providing examples of what has become of Scott Morrison (look them up if you need more convincing). He isn’t behaving like the “man of such humility and humanity” that spoke to Parliament in February 2008. The new Scott Morrison seems as mean spirited as Howard himself. It’s hard to believe that the Scott Morrison of today is the same as the one of five and a half years ago.

Will the real Scott Morrison please stand up?

I’m afraid he has.


You’d have all heard by now Kevin Rudd’s announcement that any asylum-seeker arriving in Australia by boat will be sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement. You can read it here on It’s not worth me repeating what the main features of this announcement are, rather, preferring instead to hear your views.

Personally, my wish is that asylum seekers be processed in Australia with the view of having them settled in Australia. But neither do I endorse people smuggling nor like the idea that people drown because of the people smugglers.

Will this fix the latter?