Carlo’s Corner: A word with our prime minister on the question of boats

'Ah, I don’t know what these so-called boat things are.'

I recently had the misfortune of being granted an audience with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and was unlucky enough to conduct an interview with him. I include the transcript below.

* * *

Well, thank you very much, prime minister, for agreeing to this interview.

Well, I am always very happy to be interviewed by my good friends at the Daily Telegraph.

Yes...

You’ve moved offices I see. Nice Che Guevara poster!

Yes... Can I get you something to drink? I’m having a beer.

You don’t have any Bollinger do you?

No, I don’t think so.

No worries, just picked up the taste from Malcolm.

Prime minister, I wanted to ask you about your government’s policy to “stop the boats”.

Sorry, the what?

Your policy about stopping the boats.

Not sure I follow you.

Mr Abbott, you ran an election campaign almost entirely on the three word slogan “Stop the boats”!

I really don’t think so.

Are you seriously denying it?

I don’t see what option I have. Ah, I don’t know what these so-called boat things are.

You don’t know what a boat is?

No clue what you’re talking about, mate.

It is a vessel for travelling in water. A pretty small number of desperate people fearing for their lives denied any other means of reaching safety come to our country by boat.

Oh boat people! Illegal immigrants invading our borders in a national emergency under those incompetent bleeding heart Labor mob? Right ah, no, we’ve abolished them.

But the boats are still coming!

I think you’ll find they’re not.

Well, haven’t you been holding frequent talks with Indonesia in a bid to impose your policies for, among other things, turning boats back to Indonesia despite the blatant risk to the lives of those on board?

No, no. No need any more. We’ve abolished boats, I told you! Really if you are not going to listen... you are as bad as a woman in a cabinet meeting!

Then what were you talking with Indonesia about? Did you raise West Papua?

Ah... I’m not sure it came up.

You mean that, even though West Papuan asylum seekers have asked Australia for sanctuary from Indonesia’s repression, you have not raised Indonesia’s ongoing occupation of West Papua and denial of self-determination, underpinned by serious and well-documented human rights abuses, by all appearances on behalf of Western mining giants like the Freeport gold and copper mine? What about Australia’s role in training Indonesia’s Detachment 88 special forces unit implicated in serious human rights abuses in West Papua?

...You’re not actually from the Tele are you?

And prime minister, what about Australia’s ties with, and active support for, the genocidal Sri Lankan regime, going so far as to actually assist Sri Lanka in physically preventing the Tamil victims of its brutal repression from escaping the island? You do realise the regime slaughtered 20,000 Tamils in a single night in May 2009 and continues to dispossess Tamil people? How on Earth do you sleep at night?

Look, ah, how much longer is this going to take? I’ve got a wedding to attend in Tahiti.

Well Prime Minister Tony Abbott, I have to inform you that you will not be making that wedding.

What do you mean? It is very important government business, I must get to the wedding of... ah... can’t quite remember their names, only met them last week, but I’m pretty sure they are big in coal.

You are right. I am not from the Daily Telegraph. I am Carlo Sands and I am here to carry out a citizen’s arrest for crimes against humanity for your role in the torture of innocent people in Australia’s concentration camps and complicity in the oppression of peoples around the world, from West Papua to Sri Lanka! You will soon face a public people’s tribunal, but now... you must be feeling a little sleepy. For you see, prime minister, I secretly spiked your beer with a powerful sleeping drug!

But I am not drinking beer.

Then whose beer did I spike?

You’re the only one drinking a beer.

…oh shit.

***

There the recording ends. I don’t recall what happened next, but when I finally came to, Tony Abbott was gone and so was the Che Guevara poster. But hopefully the interview gives some insight into the type of man we have as our prime minister.

[Carlo Sands is performing at a Sydney Green Left Weekly fundraising show, The Yucky Country: Welcome to the Abbottoir, along with Michael Hing, Twiggy Palmcock and Hannah Gissane. The show is on Sat, Nov 9, 7.30pm, at Addison Rd Community Centre, Hut 9 theatre, Marrickville. Book tickets.]