Michael Burrill

Current Affairs Wrap: Jake Bilardi, “lifestyle choice,” children in detention

Image: AAP

Michael Burrill’s current affairs wrap is all about “choices” – Jake Bilardi’s tragic choice of IS, PM Tony Abbott’s “lifestyle choice” for indigenous remote communities and, well, the PM’s appalling choices over asylum seeker policy.


Seemingly unperturbed by the Gillian Triggs debacle, Tone has waded back into the mire, happy as a pig in shit (I more so refer to the Black Panthers’ usage, as literal pigs are apparently quite clean animals), after the UN rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, found that the Australian government had “violated the right of the asylum seekers including children to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” In response the PM said, “I really think Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations, particularly given that we have stopped the boats, and by stopping the boats, we have ended the deaths at sea,” which not only again claims rather dishonestly that secretively turning back boats is the same as stopping them but also a victory for humanity in a policy that is essentially enforced via cruelty. If that wasn’t enough (I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m insulting these poor defenceless politicians unfairly), not only does it seem that the Moss Inquiry report looks set to question former Immigration Minister Morrison’s claims that Save The Children workers coached asylum seekers on self harm, a University of Queensland study on turning back boats has also suggested that, “Given the official secrecy surrounding this topic, it is not possible to say with certainty that there have not been further cases of death or injury,” and “that it paints us in a very bad light internationally.”

But I guess that’s just lecturing eh?

Like a throat cancer patient smoking a ciggie through their tracheotomy, Tone continued bumbling around in the muck, defending cuts to federal funding which seem set to force the closure of 150 remote indigenous communities in WA, claiming these communities were a “lifestyle choice.” Maybe it’s just me, but watching cricket, barbecues, draping yourself in a cheap Australian flag made by children in the developing world (things T probably considers cornerstones of “Aussie culture”) seem to be lifestyle choices. Attempting to stay in touch with and preserve a 50,000-year-old culture that white Australia has historically done everything to destroy (and arguably continues to) is not so much. But what do I know? I’m just a middle class white dude. I only wish (rather futilely) Tone might have the same revelation from time to time.

Elsewhere in WA “lifestyle” news, Liberal state backbencher Peter Abetz (brother of federal senator Eric) has labelled an anti-LGBTI bullying campaign “little more than a gay, lesbian, transgender lifestyle promotion program” (I’ll let that one hang in the air like a bad fart). Whatever one thinks about the Abetz brothers, at least they aren’t as bad as their great uncle, Otto. Though if Juan Mendez is to be believed, Eric is trying his hardest. Most of all, I can’t help but wonder where such a self-described “humanitarian” party opposed to lecturing gets off on lecturing marginalised communities trying to protect themselves.

Lastly this week, Melbourne teenager and IS recruit, Jake Bilardi, allegedly killed himself in a suicide bombing in Iraq. It seems before leaving Australia and joining IS, Bilardi also considered carrying out attacks in Melbourne. Blog posts attributed to him suggest that the path which eventually lead to his radicalisation started with a keen interest in global politics and exasperation with the distortion and injustices committed in the name of western democracy. Though Muslim teenagers, due to some factors, may be particularly susceptible to the alienation and disillusionment which can lead to radicalisation, Jake Bilardi (a self described “atheist” with no previous cultural ties to Islam before his embrace of IS) and his journey seem to suggest even further that painting such issues as simplistically as many of our politicians seem happy to is exactly the kind of distortion that acts as one of their root causes.

While I have no time for the eventual politics or actions of Jake Bilardi, due to the all the time I spend with Tone, Short William and co for this column (and evidently some subconscious masochism), the base disillusionment is something I can relate to.

I’ll see you all next week for some more “base insults”, as my biggest fans describe them.


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  1. Michael Burrill said:

    That’s definitely a fair point and something I’ll bear in mind in the future. Thanks again for the support Rainer.

  2. Rainer the cabbie said:

    Ha, I like a largh more than anything else, considering this world we live in.
    Still, without wanting to take your fun away, reacting like this may also be interpreted as a sign that your critics’ got to you, in a funny way.

    Personally, considering your astute observations of the farce we get dished up daily, I wouldn’t give them that satisfaction.

    Just saying Micheal, keep up the good work!

  3. Michael Burrill said:

    Haha cheers Rainer, I guess it could be perceived that way but I’ve openly advertised my contrarian nature in my bio from the start haha, Whatever the case, I’m perfectly happy to admit they were petty jabs included for my own amusement

  4. Rainer the cabbie said:

    As always, well written, informative and humorous. One of my favourite TBS regulars and a great way to start Sundays.
    But man, two references to last weeks criticism? That a wee bit pedantic, wouldn’t you say.

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