Life of Riley: Trespassers prosecuted

December 1, 1999

Life of Riley

Trespassers prosecuted

Here we are, somewhere in the south Pacific. That's the big picture: a big brown stain in a puddle.

Those in the know didn't know about this spot for some time. It was terra incognito — the secret country.

The first civilised person (by that I mean someone who wore underpants) to visit these shores was Lemuel Gulliver. His visit down-under was to the outback settlement of Lilliput, which was located in the inland region of what is now known as Western Australia.

See if I'm right. Gulliver's first journey ignored the big dry bit in order to have himself pegged out on a beach at some distance from the briny and within cooee of Uluru. This spot is not now listed on any Admiralty chart, but back then it must have been.

Kathump! Gulliver lands in WA and the cute little Lilliputians take him to their hearts. They feed him and clothe him, and besides the bits that get edited out for the sake of the children, a good time is had by big and small.

What if Gulliver were washed up today?

If he was mistaken for a whale he would be fondled and fed, rubbed with sunblock and gently nursed in the shallows. Australia is kind to whales.

But, if Gulliver was washed up today and was not mistaken for a whale, do you know what he would be? That's right! An "illegal", a "queue jumper". I bet Gulliver would not like being called those names; he wouldn't like it one bit.

It's not nice to call people — even big people like Gulliver — nasty names like that. It's rude and unkind. Gulliver couldn't help being washed up. He could have drowned! He was just a big boy with no place else to go. All he was doing was trying to keep his head above water.

If Gulliver was washed up today he would be called all sorts of things. And if that wasn't enough, he'd be locked up. That's right! Lemuel Gulliver would be locked up until he stopped being "illegal" and got back in line.

That's not right is it? What did Gulliver do to deserve that? All he did was travel. That can't be a crime, can it?

If Gulliver was washed up today, there'd be no Lilliput, no audience with the king, nothing of the sort. If Gulliver was washed up today, there'd be signs on the beaches: No reffoes! No wogs! Go back home! Drown! We don't care!

Welcome to Australia. Population 18,000,000. Please Slow Down. Trespassers Prosecuted.

By Dave Riley

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