Adrian Barnes

Refugees: An Endangered Species


Adrian Barnes applauds European humanity when it comes to the treatment of refugees, even as he wipes a tear from his eyes and hums Pat Wilson’s ode to asylum seekers written nearly 15 years ago but still so pertinent today.



(Key = F)

I’m sorry that the refugees

Are people,  ‘Cos if they were trees

We’d protest loudly with the Greens,

We’d chain ourselves to big machines,

We’d eMail our M.P.’s.

We fight to save our trees.


I’m sad the folk in Ruddock’s  gaols 

Are people.  ‘Cos if they were whales

We’d put to sea to save their lives,

Condemn harpoons and flensing knives

‘Till sanity prevails.

We fight to save our whales.


Instead of folk with mournful stares

I wish they were koala bears.

We’re sad if a koala starves,

But as for women wearing scarves,

They’re not from here;  who cares?

We save koala bears.


From China and from Pakistan,

Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan…

Endangered species,  locked from view,

Each one a person just like you.

What can you do?

Treat them like you’d treat me.

I am a refugee.

©  Pat Wilson 15th July 2002


These are the lyrics for a song written by the multi-talented Pat Wilson. As you can see from the date at the bottom the song was written in 2002 for a satirical cabaret (satire isn’t always a barrel of laughs) we were performing.

Refugees have been an issue of heated debate in our household for a very long time, something you might have seen in my piece about ranting at the television.

I have been at odds for some time with both the Labor and Liberal party line regarding the refugees or asylum seekers, commonly known as boat people, commonly known as illegal aliens, commonly known as anything that might instill fear into the hearts of the general population. Heaven forbid we let these desperate people in, we don’t have enough room for them (yes my tongue is firmly wedged in my cheek). Just turn the boats around and send them home. In the light of what has been happening in European waters lately, I wonder how many boats were turned around and sunk that we didn’t know about. It’s not as if we are a poor nation without the resources or humanity to help these people…sorry I’m meant to be frightened of them, aren’t I?

Thank goodness European countries have come to their senses, are allowing the boats to land and are attempting to assist these desperate people to come to terms with having to take to sea in a leaky boat or continue to be persecuted in the countries from which they are fleeing . Though my heart goes out to the boat that was taken in by Myanmar as one wonders how these people are being treated, probably, sadly, not much differently from the way we treat the desperate refugees who have braved weeks at sea and their life savings to get to us. They are probably in an internment camp. Yes, I did use the term “internment camp” as that is all you can call Manus Island.

So, every time I sing the song with my partner when we have entertained an audience with our repertoire of satirical songs that poke fun at our fads and foibles, I am hard pressed to sing it without crying.

I can only be ashamed to say that I have not made a loud enough noise yet to make my friends, acquaintances and the government to do something positive to assist these people.

Congratulations Europe.

But be careful, your humanity is showing.

Adrian Barnes

Adrian has had a long and varied career in the performing arts. After training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Adrian had a successful career in the West End as an actor/singer/dancer, appearing in such classics as West Side Story, Kiss Me, Kate and Hello Dolly, as well as working with some of the UK’s renowned repertory and Opera companies including The English National Opera, Birmingham Rep., Derby Playhouse and the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Adrian has lived and worked in Australia since 1981, appearing in such TV classics as Young Doctors and Sons and Daughters, the occasional film, The Slipper and the Rose and Thank God He Met Lizzie being his two favourites, and many stage plays and musicals including The Pirates of Penzance – The Broadway Version, Simon Gallagher’s famous ‘Pirates’ Tour, Seven Little Australians: the Musical and most recently the highly successful Australian 60th Anniversary Tour of The Mousetrap. Adrian has directed many plays and musicals, taught various performing arts schools worldwide, and today combines an active performing, teaching and directing career. Adrian can often be found performing some naughty satirical cabaret with his friend and partner Pat. H. Wilson.