Carlo's Corner: Cruelty battles idiocy in Team Abbott

September 4, 2015
Abbott expressing his position on the recent refugee tragedies in Europe.

I am sure we all appreciate the federal government's bid to secure Melbourne's borders, but in the aftermath of its farcical Border Force debacle, I have a tactical suggestion. If you really want to catch visa violators, just invite Liverpool FC back to play another match at the MCG, then round up the 90,000 English visa over-stayers who rock up.

In fact, once everyone is in, just lock the stadium's gates and you have yourself a brand new ready-made detention centre.

It is hard to see how the good people in Immigration missed that one. Unless, perhaps, the large number of English and other European visitors here without valid visas were not the actual target, and the plan for “random checks” on people's visa status in Melbourne's CBD was actually about ratcheting up “security” fears and playing to racism as the only cards left for an unpopular, out-of-touch, pro-rich government.

I know, such cynicism in one so rapidly approaching middle age. It is either that or else someone genuinely thought it was a great idea to crack down on the terrible scourge of walking the streets of Melbourne without appropriate documentation by announcing the planned operation to the media a full day in advance, which suggests a level of stupidity not even an Abbott government minister could be accused of.

Although not for lack of effort.

Perhaps the most stunning thing about the Australian Border Force farce, abandoned in a matter of hours in a storm of protest, is that rather than reverse course from the “endless stream of idiocy”, the government just keeps rolling on.

For instance, immigration minister Peter Dutton — who, as the man technically responsible for the Border Farce, you might think would be trying to keep a low profile — kept the farce going by claiming that Fairfax media, assisted by the ABC, was on a jihad to bring down the government.

It was a strange comment as, by all appearances, the government is doing a fine job by itself. If true, it smacks of laziness, like the Fairfax people should put their minds to something more challenging, like nicking a baby's rattle or securing a batshit crazy quote from Jackie Lambie.

One spark for this claim was the fact Fairfax was reporting on apparently unprecedented leaks from within the cabinet. A media outlet reporting on leaks from within a government? What next? Rain being wet? Joe Hockey blaming Labor for economic woes? An Australian sports star being a dickhead?

Imagine using the media to try to bring down a government or act in a politically partisan fashion. Shame on Fairfax and the ABC, if only they took a leaf out of the book of News Corp and stuck to impartially reporting the news. Perhaps Andrew Bolt could mentor them?

Meanwhile, a real humanitarian crisis is enveloping Europe as huge numbers of desperate people fleeing war zones die trying to enter Europe, rot in detention centres or seek to physically force their way into the wealthier Europe nations.

The Australian government’s response to this has made as much sense as you might expect. Tony Abbott says those dying in the Mediterranean were evidence of the importance of “stopping the boats” — you know, like his government has.

Leaving aside the deeply questionable nature of the claim Australia has “stopped the boats”, which is hard to verify given the secrecy the government maintains on the matter, the Abbott government’s approach breaks international law and is based on extreme cruelty.

Abbott's comment also ignores the truly minuscule number of asylum seekers reaching Australia compared to Europe. This in turn is just a small percentage of the millions of refugees languishing in camps around the world in some of the poorest nations who are most ill-equipped to cope.

It's like giving advice to the Australian cricket team on the grounds you won a backyard game of cricket against a six-year-old kid — and then saying all you have to do is “bash your opponent round the head with your cricket bat like I did”.

For Julie Bishop's part, reported on August 31 that she urged “more European nations to bomb Islamic State terrorists and help end the fighting that is driving a growing mass of refugees towards the European Union”.

Yes, that is what is needed. More war to go with the war in Syria, which has so far produced 3 million refugees and 7.6 million internally displaced people, with some of the worst violence caused by ISIS, which is a direct outgrowth of the West's disastrously failed war on Iraq.

True, when asked, Syrian refugees seeking asylum in Europe offer up desperate appeals for an end to the war, but what would they know?

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