With Turnbull’s new cabinet filling the headlines, Jordan King-Lacroix feels we’re whitewashing a much greater issue. And he’s not done talking about it.
I feel like it’s fading from the public consciousness, and we should be nowhere near done talking about it. As it stands, Turnbull and his re-arranged political furniture catalogue has taken over the headlines, and elsewhere I feel like we’re finally getting some traction on the conversation about how Sydney’s nightlife is dying or dead. This is an important issue, and not just because I like drinking and live music, but because a thriving, bustling city requires an amazing nightlife. Because otherwise, we’re just a big small town.
But that’s not the conversation I’m talking about.
I mean the one about Nauru and Manus Island.
The Premiers of South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and Mike Baird of New South Wales have all said they would happily #LetThemStay. “Them,” of course, referring to the asylum seekers that the Turnbull Government (again with no opposition from Bill Shorten and the Labor Party he represents) intend to send back to what is essentially a prison camp hellhole. One where people are reduced to the status of animals.
Here are some of their faces:
These babies were born in Australia. I feel like we’re not talking about that one fact nearly enough. Even the US has legislation which states that a child born there is an American citizen, which in turn can allow the parents and/or family to stay. It’s called birthright citizenship. The parents of the children pictured above have survived hell on earth, and upon stepping onto the far banks of the river Styx, have created life. How, if the Premiers of our states are willing to house these asylum seekers, can the government honestly not find themselves in contempt of all morality by sending these babies to an offshore jail they’ve churched up with the term “processing centre”?
The world’s reaction to this is both heartening and bitterly sobering. We are now a nation condemned for our treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. By ways of a comparison, Manus Island is our Guantanamo Bay. And when the people who actually run Guantanamo Bay shake their heads, maybe it’s time for a rethink.
Speaking of condemnation, do you know who else joined in? North Korea – who just accomplished its first “successful hydrogen bomb test,” a nation we have, on numerous occasions, condemned for a variety of human rights abuses.
Pot, Kettle, Pyongyang, Gitmo.
In the face of all this international condemnation, we have decided it means nothing. I don’t need to make comparisons to certain events 70 years ago. Other people have already made them. The fact that you know what I mean without saying it should say a whole lot to you, and to what these people face.
In the final analysis, it reads simply: they are people.
They are scared.
They are helpless.
They came here for a better life, like most of our ancestors did before us. They are trying to do what is best for their families, a make a bold choice, as ours once did. And now, many of those families are irreparably broken.
Children have tried to commit suicide.
Children. Suicide. Yeah.
If the heart of our national psyche still beats, and the idea of the Lucky Country still holds court, then simply, our disgust should not subside on this issue. As the truism states, I’d rather be lucky than good. We, as the immigration nation, stand at a pivot point. We have the unique chance to be both. Which is a very Australian thing, a vast humanitarian step, hidden by a casual hug. Discussion of the purported process (and it’s failings) is valid but misdirected. It’s just background to the issue proper: These people are trapped in a living hell.
Malcolm Turnbull, in his Christmas speech, put forward the idea that in we should now “look after each other” and be a noble crutch for the “less fortunate.”
Well, Mr Prime Minister, you stand at a crossroads. You could leap on the stoicism of the Queensland hospital who rebuked the rule of law for the greater good. Or you could not. The efforts of those at (and outside) the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital is a grand symbol, but one that lacks governmental shape. Pending which avenue you take, you may meet us heading the opposite way.
The option, Mr Turnbull, lays with you. As our PM, you represent us. So, you could speak eloquently, and hide behind humanist Australian auspices, or you could subtly just have a go. For, as a citizen of this nation, you know a truth we all do – there’s a vast difference between being an Australian and just speaking in our distinctive twang.