John Shute

Amid the smoke and mirrors of the Coalition’s federal budget, the Senate voted to formally censure far-right Senator Fraser Anning on April 3. Since then, the tone in this election campaign has been noticeably less tinged with race fear than looked likely just a few months ago.

The scene is one as old as the long history of the Middle East. A child mixes straw and dung to light a fire, some of the straw on his knee. His face is obscured by a beanie so that this child ­– not an infant but still young – could be any child.

Behind the child is a wall. Such structures are common throughout the Middle East, but it seems symbolic. The dribbles of concrete from its construction make the wall, in rural Homs, seem to weep, for this child and for Syria.

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