November Verse 5

I phoned Peter Dutton’s ministerial office (02 6277 7860) to plead for a change of heart on the men currently in dire circumstances on Manus Island. The person I spoke to heard me out and thanked me for my input. I asked if he’d written it down. Silence. I asked if any of my concerns would be passed on to the Minister. He said, ‘I have listened to you and know what you said. I won’t comment on the internal workings of this office.’ Democracy in action.

I do feel for the people who have to face the public on Peter Dutton’s behalf and hear repeatedly that their boss is committing crimes against humanity. I also feel for the members of the cabinet who are obliged to go out and spout cruel absurdities in support of their party line on this and other subjects, as in this clip from the Today Show in 10 November. Here’s a little verse in response:

Verse 5: Christopher Pyne on the TV
‘Those men on Manus now are squatters,’
he said, face straight as his can be.
‘Our government aren’t beastly rotters.
That squalid camp we now can see
has been closed down. The men have choices.
If they ignored the lefty voices
they’d pack their bags and quietly go
back home or to East Lorengau,
or to the US. World’s their oyster.
Their fate’s no longer up to us,
so, bleeding hearts, please stop your fuss.’
A saintly monk, safe in his cloister,
recites the creed, averts his eyes,
and shuts his heart, acts unco wise.

9 responses to “November Verse 5

  1. The hearts are closed. I’m sure that Peter’s staff are recruited to think like him. But at least not rude to you – as is the Minister to us all.

    Travelling in Turkey some four years ago (how quickly time flies) a woman working in the Dept of Immigration – as part of our group at its two-thirds point – had tales of the unworthy pretending to be asylum-seekers. (Those from Iran, etc – her point). A closed heart I knew at once – no doubt going far in her career path. Of a background – she was – one would, without thinking, see as diametrically opposed to those of middle eastern Islamic faith. Then I think of Antony LOWENSTEIN and balance re-establishes itself.


    • Unworthy pretending is one thing, Jim, but so many of the men on Manus have already been assessed as refugees. (And I know many Jews who are pro-refugee advocates; I think the anti-Muslim thing is a slur.)


  2. Dutton is in a safe seat. Campaigns to target safe seats are a waste of time.
    Campaigns in marginal seats are a different matter. There the minions don’t record the details of the argument either, (they’ve heard them all before) but they sort and tally them. They sort the opinions into for or against, and if the numbers look like they are going to matter then the nervous politician – who may never present in public anything other than a persona loyal to party policy – will lobby furiously in the party room, seeking support from other marginals who think they’ll lose their seat.
    PS It’s important to let the politician know that the issue is a vote changer. Voters carry on about all sorts of issues but at the end of the day they like stable government and a good economy and they will vote for that above all else.
    PPS Refugee policy is driven by the opinions of crucial western Sydney electorates. Polls and focus groups show that current policy has the approval of those hard-hearted electors. What is actually needed is a campaign to change *their* hearts and minds…


    • Thanks Lisa. Wise words. I’ve been telling myself a lot recently that outrage is useless, and even worse if it takes the place of strategic action. But as this blog post shows I don’t always take my own advice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not at all. I write reviews of refugee stories, and each time I do I think I’m wasting my time, but then I think: even if no one ever reads the book itself, just my review, if I reach someone with what I’ve written, and that someone influences someone else, then it’s been worthwhile.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. PS I forgot to say, that even if everything seems ineffective, it’s important to try. When as time goes by, we look back on this period, we need to be able to answer the question, what did we do about it? I don’t want to answer that I turned a blind eye.


  4. I think all of us bloggers are contributing. As Lisa says even if it’s just small steps. When you put us all together as a community the ripple becomes a wave. The present government in this country has so much to answer for ie. refugees, NBN, marriage equality, Adani mine, the list goes on. Keep up the good work everyone


  5. I agree – that’s a good and necessary perspective. Have you read Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark? She makes a similar point to yours with great logical power


  6. Haven’t read Hope in the Dark but will have a read of it. Thanks Jonathan

    Liked by 1 person

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