||Issue No. 133||26 April 2002|
The Struggle Continues
Interview: If The Commission Pleases
History: Protest and Celebrate
Unions: A Novel Approach
Industrial: Hare Tony, Hare Tony
International: Never Forget Jenin
Politics: Left Right Out In France
Health: Delivering A Public Health Revolution
Review: The Secret Life of U(nion)s
Poetry: May Day, May Day
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Gold Star Student
Time for a General Strike?
Week in Review
The ANZAC Spirit?
As a New Zealander who has chosen to live in, and enjoy, Australia this was a watershed week. As rarely before, questions like why, and on what terms, hovered over the decision.
To proceed, it is perhaps necessary to explain that key motives for crossing the Tasman included improved access to footy and horse racing.
Back then, when the media started giving attention to rusty boats lobbing up on the coast, I have to admit, the first reaction was - what a bloody cheek!
As more background was revealed that required reassessment and the unarguable facts of recent days have turned it on its head.
Two smoking guns have been discovered leaving Australians, considering Anzac Day, a dilemma in terms of how they see themselves and their country.
The first went off with something of a pop as the Senate Inquiry into Children Overboard meandered along its predictable, party political route. It came with revelations that Peter Reith's office had forbidden Government photographers to publish pictures that, in its words, "humanised" refugees.
It wasn't until seven days later that the report from this shot rang around the country with a bang.
The gruesome reality of state sanctioned "dehumanisation" was laid out for all to see when the ABC's Lateline aired a tape shot by management at the Curtin Detention Centre.
Beamed into living rooms, for those willing to see, were pictures of desperate people smashing their heads into the walls of isolation cells, hyperventilating, knocking themselves unconscious, hurling the last vestiges of self-respect to the wind as they wrestled dehumanisation and went down for the count.
These people were Hzaris. There has been no argument, even from Government or its apologists, that they were victims of a brutal Taliban campaign of persecution, verging on genocide. Reports from Afghanistan suggest that while the Government might have changed, their status has not because, apparently, by and large, they aren't considered devout enough in the Moslem department.
Yet, when they flee their persecutors, Australians turn on a welcome that is equal parts degradation, desparation and dehumisation.
The comments of the Government-appointed man in charge of monitoring Western Australia's penal system, that such management oversight would have brought criminal charges in his jurisdiction; and a leading psychiatrist, that the nation was stacking up mental health problems for its future; were damn-near superflous.
Clearly, American-owned ACM which runs the detention centres, needs to be punted, and soon. Not just because it is a disgrace but, more importantly, because Australians need to take responsibility for what is being done in their names.
Obviously, there has to be a rigorous assessment of people landing on these shores. But, surely, there is a better way than replacing names with Alpha Numeric code, then locking them up in the desert, behind barbed wire for years on end.
I really wonder whether our fore-fathers, and don't forget there is still an NZ in ANZAC, would have lain down their lives for state-sanctioned dehumanisation?
It's not the business of outsiders to tell Aussies what they should do on key policy issues, even when they have lived here for years.
All this Kiwi can say, with some reluctance, is maybe there are more important things in life than horses and footy. Didn't think I'd be saying that when I took a punt on life across the ditch.
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