Carlo's Corner: Tony Abbott now takes axe to his three-word slogans

May 22, 2015
Tony Abbott should probably explain to the Rohingya exactly where the 'front door' is.

You would not have thought it possible, but Tony Abbott appears to be degenerating — in literacy skills as well as morality. Having campaigned on a simplistic three word slogan, in office, he's decided that's two too many, and has cut “Stop the boats” to “Nope, nope, nope.”

Or perhaps this statement of the government's refusal to resettle any of the thousands of Rohingya refugees starving on boats is just the product of Abbott listening to too much Amy Winehouse lately. Presumably the PM's been walking around Parliament with the tune to “Rehab” stuck in his head, humming, “They tried to make to make me show compassion, but I said 'nope, nope, nope'”.

Abbott has offered a couple of reasons for his monosyllabic stance, including that the thousands of Rohingyas starving on boats are actually queue jumpers who should, instead, come through the front door. Which would be fine if the prime minister could actually explain to the Rohingyas exactly where the front door is.

The Rohingyas are, after all, an ethnic minority in Myanmar so persecuted that the ruling military junta don't even recognise them as citizens in their own country. This means that if a Rohingya actually sought an official channel to leave Myanmar, the best they could hope for from a regime dedicated to killing or imprisoning them in camps would be for a regime representative to cover their eyes and yell: “I can't see you! You don't exist!”

You might get the impression that Abbott's stance is nothing more than an act of cold-hearted bastardry, with Australia, as the richest nation in the region most capable of offering assistance, refusing to help while far poorer nations with far less capacity are willing to step up. Examples include the Philippines, whose per capita GDP is about 25 times less than Australia's, and Latin American nations, who are on the other side of the world.

But you'd be wrong, because our prime minister is actually trying to help, explaining he just does not want to encourage people to take dangerous boat trips in a bid for safety.

Yes, you don't want to offer any encouragement for desperate people to ask for help. Ambulances should try this, racing straight past the scenes of car crashes, with ambos yelling out the window: “Sorry, we could help but we don't want to encourage you to drive!”

Sure, denied any rights at all in their homeland, the Rohingya might literally have nowhere to go, but if you go about just recklessly recognising people as human beings with rights, next thing you know, all humans will be asking for rights and then where will we be?

Probably unable to close down remote Aboriginal communities as part of driving the traditional owners off their lands to continue a more than 200-year-long policy of genocide, among other horrors.

And who knows, we might have to think about changing a system where a cop can kill a Black man and get promoted, as happened to Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley after bashing Cameron Doomadgee to death in a Palm Island watchhouse in 2004, but gets stood down for driving a car too fast, as just happened to Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley.

Other policy rethinks could include having to pay welfare recipients a living wage and retracting Abbott's generous offer to employers to employ young jobless people for free for four weeks as part of what he called a “try before you buy” scheme, on the grounds that, you know, that is pretty much a hell of a lot like fucking slavery.

* * *

Personally, I am also quite disappointed in the Abbott government of late for other reasons entirely. Namely, their new-found enthusiasm for being very proudly “dull”.

Really, the only thing this government had going for it was its entertainment value. If we must be governed by cruel racists, they should at least have the decency of being alright for a laugh.

This is important for our self-esteem, to give us something to hold on to. So we can think, “Sure, we might be getting 17 types of crap beaten out of us, but at least we've never tried to knight a Duke.”

Or, “We might be facing the dismantling of our social safety net and destruction of public health and education while the government actively facilitates the hastening of a coming eco-holocaust threatening the basis for existence of human civilisation, but at least we know how to eat a fucking onion! Try using a frying pan next time, Tony, you useless dingbat!”

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