Carlo's Corner: Listen girlie-men, Abbott wants a mature debate or he'll shirtfront you

"Let's have a 'mature' debate..."

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called for “a mature debate” on whether to raise the GST — and, make no mistake, he'll shirtfront any economic girlie-men who try to stop it.

Yes, that's right. Tony Abbott wants a mature debate. The man who threatened to physically assault a foreign head of state. The prime minister whose finance minister called opposition leader Bill Shorten an “economic girlie-man” and then got upset when it was suggested that might have been a little sexist, and whose education minister famously used parliament to call Shorten a (cough) “grub”. Allegedly. Depending on how accurate your hearing is.

True, you are more likely to get an actual mature debate on the economic and social consequences of raising a consumption tax that disproportionately hits the poorest at the same time as the government has repealed an already weak tax on mining companies from a group of pre-schoolers who've just binged out on red cordial. But the call does make sense when translated from “politician speak”.

In Australia, a politician says “we need a mature debate” when they have a policy that is deeply unpopular — and they want everyone to stop shouting at them. Whereas a politician says “that's un-Australian” when their opponent has a policy that is deeply unpopular — and they want everyone to shout louder.

When Abbott calls for a “mature debate” on the GST rate, it is because he is fully aware that raising it would be very unpopular, make most people's lives worse and would be yet one more broken promise.

But he also knows it is a “debate” he can force on an unwilling nation for the simple reason that his government has blackmailed the states by slashing funds they need for health and education — leaving them in need of new ways to raise cash.

In other words, any “mature debate” we have on raising the GST will be a bit like the sort of “mature debate” you might have with people who've kidnapped your family and now want to discuss the ransom.


A second Afghan Hazara asylum seeker, identified by The Guardian as “R” to protect his identity, was deported from Australia on October 28.

He was sent back to the country he fled nine years earlier — despite the fact the United Nations estimates 40% of all towns and villages in Afghanistan have a “raised” or “high” threat level from the Taliban, who torture and kill members of the Hazara ethnic minority.

The deportation came just weeks after the first Hazara man deported by Australia to Afghanistan — Zainullah Naseri — was kidnapped and tortured by the Taliban.

Now you might think the fact that Naseri had fled Afghanistan and sought asylum in Australia on the grounds that he feared being harmed by the Taliban, and on his return was almost immediately harmed by the Taliban, might actually be evidence that he was fucking telling the truth, that his deportation was a terrible mistake and we really should not deport anyone else back to a similar fate.

You might think that, but not if you're immigration minister Scott Morrison.

You see, Morrison's response was: “I am advised that at this stage, the reports suggest that any kidnapping was opportunistic and is not therefore related to a fear of persecution that would have otherwise given rise to a protection obligation.”

Oh, right, just an opportunist kidnapping and torturing. Well that's alright then, obviously it was fine to deport the man! I mean, if it could have happened to anyone in Afghanistan, then clearly any claims of discrimination are rubbish!

Say what you will, Morrison is no fool. He's not going to fall for any of these wily refugee tricks! No, if the Taliban are going to go around kidnapping and torturing willy nilly, then there is obviously no basis whatsoever to seek asylum on grounds of ethnic persecution.

Get back to him when you can prove your horrific torture was not opportunistic and then maybe Morrison will consider trying to keep you safe.

Well, probably not ... I mean, he'll almost certainly try to find another excuse, but the point is it is no longer enough to be able prove you are at risk of torture — even if you prove it by being tortured — to have a legitimate claim to asylum in this country. That's Team Australia for you.

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