Current Affairs Wrap: Charlie Hebdo, unemployment, refugees

Michael Burrill returns for this week’s Current Affairs Wrap, bringing us Tony Abbott in Baghdad, Charlie Hebdo, Nauru and unemployment.


Last week in Sydney, Australia, a man described as “So young, so cynical” (thank you Mike Welsh for that potential epitaph) spent his New Year’s Day (and indeed a couple of days after) shivering in sweat soaked sheets wondering how he had fallen so easily into one of his friend’s (as Joe Hockey may refer to him while doing his best cigar chomping Sopranos impression) stereotypes, and unable to write his column.

With that in mind I’d like to thank PB (TBS’ understanding Editor) for his very capable fill in, and explain why I’ve included some references to stories from last week.

As “The Muppet’s Pacific Solution” draws to it’s not very amusing end (I hear Kermit’s on Manus Island for having a foreign sounding name and Ms Piggy has puzzlingly joined the “anti-Sharia” campaign), last week, while some of us were working out whether “Stanky Johnny” was going to mix up his yearly “bucket of FUNK!” (two parts orange cordial, two parts goon, one part lighter fluid), refugees screaming with pain in the credits of the aforementioned Muppet’s Pacific Solution (“Extremely decent, four stars” – Tony Abbott), only further proved their sinister economic migration ambitions. One such “economic migrant” spoke of the “hospitable” (as some government literature probably describes it) welcome in Nauru: “You are walking in the street, they say ‘fuck you, go back to your camp’. They throw rocks. They spit at you. This is normal.” To illustrate further the entitlement “these people” (as some government literature probably describes them) possess, this week another went on to whinge about PNG’s welcome, quoting locals: “We will rape and then kill all of those who enter new accommodations in Lorengau.” Bunch of complainers, eh?

From one set of “entitled complainers” to another. As we enter 2015, “The Muppet’s All Year Round Carol,” the new work by piece-of-work Scott Morrison, begins. Once when I ended up infiltrating the Australian Paralympic Team on a work for the dole “find the bludger” program, these foreign dudes introduced me to something called “math” (which they apparently invented). Despite the claims last year by folks like “The Brain” Brandis (as he’s known when he and his crew are robbing the public bank for expensive dinners or bookcases), Smokin’ Joe Hockey and Tone, the ANU (Australian Intellectual Olympic team) used “math” to find that levels of unemployed men between the age of 25 and 54 have stayed the same for the last 15 years, despite the introduction of work for the dole programs. But we have to do something about these bludgers, right? Just look at Newcastle man John Grayson (if that is his real name) trying to use his terminal brain tumour to avoid looking for work… What’s worse is with a medicinal marijuana bill soon to be introduced to parliament, such people may be legally allowed to hit the “reefers” (as I hear young “hepcats” describe them). I don’t know about you, but it feels like my glaucoma may be flaring up…

Our fearless leader “Mad Monk” Tone (known as such due to his love of everyone’s favourite OCD detective according to Stanky Johnny) has taken a leisurely working holiday to Baghdad (which I hear is lovely this time of year). T refused to rule out increasing the number of Australian troops deployed and went on to add that the military action (don’t call it a war, whatever you do!) was needed to “stop the fight coming to Australia,” despite terrorism experts, IS and well…even his own government, previously saying it could bring “the fight” to Australia.

Elsewhere in France, terrorists (real ones with actual political aims) killed 12 in the offices of satirical publication Charlie Hebdo. It would seem the magazine was targeted due it’s publishing of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. While I’m sure most would agree the press and people in general should never have to fear death for utilising their right to expression (something that we should remember is a constantly shifting concept defined by the political climate of the day), it must also be acknowledged that the issues and tensions behind the publishing of such cartoons are generally far more complex than the binary put forward by some of their proponents, or indeed by the extremists which violently seek to silence them. If “free speech” is to ever truly exist, it must be coupled with a collective appetite to question, to analyse and ultimately to understand the myriad societal issues constantly at play. While I unequivocally condemn these murders (as have, also, many of the French Muslim groups that previously labelled Charlie Hebdo discriminatory) and value satire most highly, the idea of blanket satire can be a problematic one. It tends to presuppose that all groups in society are on an equal footing, that mocking powerful politicians or the more dominant cultures carries the same weight as jokes which can further marginalise already marginalised communities.

Lastly this week, for all those angry right wingers thinking I’d be right at home on the “Marxist” ABC (I’m available if the producers of News Breakfast are reading) and wondering when I’ll do some stuff about the centre right…sorry, “lefty” Labor party…if and when Short William manages to say anything of any real substance, I’ll be sure to let you all know…


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