The hysteria about boat people has put Barry Everingham in a reflective mood. He notes the first boat people arrived in 1788.
The hysteria about human beings fleeing persecution and having the temerity to arrive on our shores by boat and not in a Qantas jet has reached ear splitting proportions and it’s time Tony Abbott and his followers cast their collective minds back to the” glorious, inhumane years” — when Howard, Ruddock and Andrews trashed this country’s reputation internationally.
But more of that trio later.
There’s a delicious irony in the current mind bending dialogue taking place — do the detractors realise the first wave of modern boat people arrived in 1788?
Everything old, it seems, is new again.
The first wave, of course – we now know – didn’t come by boat, they ambled in — the warriors, the hunters, the gatherers.
OK, it might have been the longest walk in the park on record – two or three thousand years, it took – but they had time on their side and eventually they found a place where the climate suited them, where they discovered new culinary delights and where there were no red-necked interlopers or custom officers to turn them away.
Very fast forward to war-torn Europe, post WWII.
Think of the remnants of Europe’s Jewry — those incredible warriors (for that’s what they were, surviving warriors) who gave Hitler and his cohorts the well-known two finger salute.
Many countries turned their backs on them just as some of us are turning ours right now.
We seem to have a fear of the unknown in our DNA.
Then came the Italians and the Greeks — the government of the day courted them but it didn’t stop us from calling them dagoes and wops or for that matter labelling the Jews yids.
Then came the ten quid Poms — Julia’s one of them; the Abbotts arrived at the same time though under what plan, we don’t know.
Whatever it was there are many of us wishing they’d left Tony at home.
Then Malcolm Fraser’s incredible streak of humanity came to the fore and plane-loads of Vietnamese were here — John Howard showed his colours by warning us there were too many Asians and, a few decades later, along came Pauline Hanson with her skewed take on things.
Right now, we are witnessing appalling scenes of Libyan refugees flailing around in the water clinging for dear life itself as their boat sinks in the background.
Back to the present in this wonderful empty country of ours.
Wretched souls escaping dreadful regimes where there is no value in human life.
Abbott and Co call then queue jumpers.
Is there an Immigration Office in Afghanistan?
Is there one in Somalia? In Libya? In the myriad of other mad states these people are fleeing?
We are an awesome mixture of human beings from all parts of the world and, with each intake, either legal or illegal, we become even better.
Watching my grandchildren at play in an inner city school, I see a microcosm of this country.
Little Australians of incredibly mixed races, but all the future of Australia.
Little Australians who will become big Australians and who, all of them, if they are allowed, will make our country even greater.
Take note, Julia and Tony.
Both of you have a stake to make this country a better place — don’t stuff it.
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