Abbott's Escher Australia

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M.C. Escher's famous lithographs provide a neat illustration Abbott's Australia.

Looking at the work of the Abbott Government is like perusing a drawing by M.C. Escher.

At first glance, it looks like a normal construction, but when you look more closely, it defies logic and credulity — it couldn’t possibly work. It doesn’t make sense.

For example, at every turn, Abbott’s mob proudly puff up their chests to declare that “we stopped the boats”. You can understand why they do — it is their only "achievement" so far.

Yet the boats haven’t stopped. They are still coming. Either going even further afield to seek refuge – such as to New Zealand – or we are turning them around and sending them back on the same dangerous sea voyage they have just completed. The truth is, we haven’t stopped the boats — we have just stopped them from coming here.

How humane.

And so this isn’t stopping the drownings at sea. It may stop some of the drownings in our seas, but it won't stop refugees drowning. In any case, is it better for people to face death from persecution in their homelands rather than drowning at sea trying to escape it? Apparently it is for us. Our humanity extends to our territorial waters. Maybe not even there. Out of sight out of mind.

Are we so arrogant as to suggest that our nation’s domestic immigration policies – however cruel and harsh – will stop the multitudes trying to flee persecution in intolerable situations? From situations we and our allies' own imperial adventures have largely created?

Are we so vain as to think we can stop so-called people smugglers plying their trade? There are over 50 million displaced people in the world. They will continue to flee death, disease and doom whatever flimsy barriers an insular and bigoted Australia creates.

And speaking of "people smugglers", are they really so rotten? We loved them in Schindler's List? Although they were white. Is it only smuggling brown people away from persecution that is "evil"?

But anyway, I hear we were at war with them? Yet it’s a pretty strange sort of war when we find out our Government is paying these “evil traffickers in misery” to turn their boats around. These payments have been confirmed by the UN, though the Abbott Government won't confirm or deny because of "operational matters" blah, blah, blah ...  Whatever, it's now clear that we are at war with people smugglers and the bullets we are firing at them are tightly wrapped wads of hundreds. 

So, if “people smugglers” are evil, doesn't that make our Government evil for paying them? And more than just being evil, are they criminals as well? Don't these payments make the Abbott gang complicit in the people smuggling trade? Have they broken Australia's own people smuggling laws? And if word gets out that the Australian Government has started paying people smugglers, as it surely has, won’t that encourage these apparently vile "human traffickers"? I mean, they will be getting paid as well as keeping their stock in trade — won't that result in more boats coming our way?

It’s hard to fathom. Like an Escher design, this construction cannot work.

And even though the truth is clear, the Abbott mob won’t admit a thing. In fact, secrecy seems to be the order of the day when it comes to immigration. We know there are horrible things going on – tales of assault, rape, murder and child abuse have leaked out, much to the chagrin of the immigration mafia – but, again, everything is an "operational matter". ":We don't talk about operational matters," is the formula. Dark things are being done in our name under a sinister dark cloud. Again, out of sight and well out of mind for most dull, cud-chewing Australians (and they are the nice ones).

Of course, secrecy is a tool of trade for Prime Minister Abbott. But is he really our prime minister? You can’t be a dual citizen to be an MP in Federal Parliament. We know Abbott was born in London and took his Australian citizenship when he was 22 – ironically, in order to accept a Rhodes Scholarship back to England – but there is no evidence at all he ever renounced his British citizenship. In fact, it looks more likely than not that he never did. But we can’t tell for sure, because he won’t provide proof of his renunciation. And we can’t do a thing about it, except within 40 days of an election in the Court of Disputed Returns.

Perversely, at the same time these questions are being asked and not answered, Abbott is bringing in laws to strip citizenship from dual citizens who may have actually been born in Australia. 

Meanwhile, the same man says Opposition Leader Bill Shorten "has questions to answer" about his job before he entered politics in front of a $90 million kangaroo court despite not a shred of real evidence against him being produced, just a lot of supposition and smear. Then a media fixated in raking over past Labor indiscretions find Shorten out in a single insignificant lie and the media pressure on him becomes immense. Yet the Prime Mendacious never stops lying – about matters of significant concern to all Australians – and the media dote on him like a cherished, favourite son.

It doesn't make sense, but there it is.

And despite all the secrecy about its own affairs, the Abbott Grubberment are apparently champions of free speech. We must have the freedom to be bigots. It is apparently a cornerstone of our Federation that we be able to vilify, mock and abuse minorities and other races with total impunity. Dog whistling is too subtle, apparently — folks need to be able to loud-hail their ignorance and hatred.

However, if one of these minorities comes onto our public broadcaster as a free citizen and expresses views not to the liking of the Abbott crew, then not only will this minority be vilified, but the public broadcaster will have ministers and backbenchers alike lining up to deride and castigate it. They will be vaguely implicated in treason. “Whose side are they on,” the Prize Monster will mumble in his stumbling punch drunk way. And the smarmy, supercilious, millionaire merchant banker and former opposition leader, now an utterly emasculated communications minister, will call immediate Government inquiries into this non-incident. The ABC's charter says it is independent, but when the Liberals are in power, it needs to act like a state broadcaster. What sort of nation has its public broadcaster act as the public relations arm of the government? That's right, a totalitarian one. 

Freedom of speech, it seems, is only a right for the far right.

Yes, they like freedom — or at least talking about freedom. We are going back to Iraq to fight a war that has nothing to do with us (except that we helped start it, years ago, based on a lie) to protect our "freedom". The same freedoms we have given away by having all our metadata trawled through by intelligence officers — the same spies that have been given immunity from prosecution for any crime, including murder, they may commit in the prosecution of their duties.

All done to keep us safe, they say. But are we safe? It sure doesn’t feel any safer than when the previous government was in power — a time in which no-one committed any terrorist acts against us. It certainly isn’t keeping safe the hundreds of soldiers traipsing back into a chaotic head severing bloodbath in the Middle-East.

But is it keeping the Australian people safe? I would have thought that any nation whose boorish leader publicly calls terrorists a “death cult” over and over again, as well as repeatedly vilifying the religious group they subscribe to, and who sends troops into combat against them, would be rather aiding the “death cult's" recruitment activities amongst disaffected Australian Muslim youth, and would serve to put the rest of the Australian population in the cross-hairs. Remember the Sydney siege? This isn’t keeping us safe, it is actively putting us into danger. And people who casually put innocent lives at risk to further their own ends can be called nothing other than psychopaths.

It’s all very confusing. Like an Escher lithograph, it leaves you confounded, unable to reconcile what you are observing.

These people will say anything, even if it completely contradicts something they may have said moments before. And if, by chance, our lame duck media ever pick them up on one of their obvious contradictions they will deny it; or say they were taken out of context; or, sometimes, astoundingly, simply say they never said the words at all — even though they were filmed and taped, and there could be no doubt.

Trying to wring the truth out of people with no morals or ethics is like trying to keep hold of a large, slippery and determined eel. But, still, if we had an intrepid, fearless, impartial media, these obvious inconsistencies would soon leave the Abbott gang lining up at Centrelink. Sadly, however, we have anything but a rigorous media. Fairfax is too weak, the ABC is too cowed and the Murdoch mobsters ... Well, Rupert Mordor’s mud-born orcs make up most of Australia’s media. Without them skewing debate, there is every chance some little rays of sanity might be able to shine through the oppressive, shadowy murk of secrecy, lies and head-shaking inconsistencies.

It's a mess, to be sure. An unholy mess.

The good news is that this confusing cacophony of contradictions will soon be gone. No people, no matter how bovine, can be treated with this sort of callous disrespect and expect to be rewarded at the ballot box, even with the unswerving support of a weak, supplicant and biased media.

And then we will be left with a headache and the job of straightening everything out. But we will do that.

Then we must make sure we are never fooled like this again.

You can follow managing editor David Donovan on Twitter @davrosz.

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