Michael Burrill

Current Affairs Wrap: “Nope Nope Nope” – the new Abbott mantra

Image: AAP
Image: AAP

A good week in the world’s news? Nope nope nope, according to PM Tony Abbott. Michael Burrill brings TBS the weekly #currentaffairswrap: jihadists, people smuggling and worst of all, the PUP…

Indonesia and Malaysia agreed this week to assist the 7,000 people still floating around out at sea, and shelter them for up to one year. Although initially they, along with Thailand, had followed Australia’s example and turned back boats carrying refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh (amid desperate scenes of starvation and violence), hundred of deaths and rescues by Acehnese fisherman compelled by their “sense of humanity”. When asked if Australia would be acquiescing to those countries’ request that the international community help with resettlement, PM Tony Abbott replied rather certainly, “Nope, nope, nope,” and went on to add “we are not going to do anything that will encourage people to get on boats“. The Rohingya refugees at the centre of this crisis may suggest that the discrimination they are fleeing from provided all the “encouragement” they needed. European leaders are a lot more receptive to T’s way of thinking, approving a plan which can be described as an evolution (or escalation) of his efforts, to deal with their own migrant crisis. A kind of Operation Super Sovereign Borders, in which EU naval forces will identify and destroy boats used in people smuggling. Whatever the humanitarian facade and posturing about “deaths at sea” (whether here or in the EU), such policies still don’t provide any real alternatives for migrants, and essentially amount to attempts to quarantine poverty and suffering just out of sight, while greedily guarding advantages granted by one’s birthplace or other such arbitrary conditions. I guess it should be no surprise; just as Western countries often fail to live up to their inflated self image in international affairs, they often fall short of much of the exceptionalist mythology which pervades societal perceptions within them. While widespread skolling of the mateship red cordial may lead most Australians to think they are middle class members of a multicultural, accepting society, inequality is rampant, with advantage and disadvantage likely to be influenced by where or who someone is born and whether their ancestors were colonisers or the colonised. Whatever the case, with unsubstantiated claims that IS operatives are beginning to exploit people smuggling channels for their terrifyingly nefarious, if as of yet completely unproven plots, it’s conceivable that the next step up in strengthening of border sovereignty may involve destroying the boats with migrants in them…

As IS overtook Ramadi in Iraq (and, after recent advances, now control over half of Syria), Nope-Nope-Nope-Tone continued the one word repetition motif when discussing the potential return of repentant jihadists, possibly signalling a fresh minimalist take on his repetition of phrases like “budget emergency”, “stop the boats” and “death cult”. “A crime is a crime is a crime,” according to Tone, and anyone returning will be “arrested, prosecuted and jailed”. De-radicalisation expert Dr Clarke Jones tended to disagree with T, countering, “We need to remove some of the fuel from the fire and try and encourage some of these young kids to come back,” and went on to claim that on a case by case basis, “some people that have been overseas are good mentors” in de-radicalisation programs. Another expert in combating extremism, Professor Michele Grossman, expressed similar sentiments, stating, “Those are the people who are in a unique position to be able to offer some of the most authentic counter-narratives, because they have been there themselves.” With over a billion dollars in last week’s budget for national security and only 1.6million in funding for de-radicalisation, it’s very clear where Tone feels most comfortable…talking up a fight, with a crowd of menacing Australian flags applauding silently at his back.

In coverage of IS’ undeniable brutality, much has been made of their use of sexual violence. A report from the International Federation for Human Rights suggests that the regime of ally in the supposedly righteous battle against them, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, has been similarly involved in systematic use of sexual violence as a “cynical political strategy aimed at silencing all opposition”. It’s right up there with demonising IS for being salafists who behead people and oppress women while you’re allied with Saudi Arabia. Perhaps we’re supposed to believe that as the Egyptian regime’s sexual violence targets both genders and is a “cynical political strategy” rather than a hardline interpretation of religious scriptures, it’s a small victory for secular values. Or maybe we’re meant to feel relieved that the sexual violence which occurs under the Australian government in mandatory detention does so only as the byproduct of a cynical political strategy, rather than an active tactic…

As talks of double dipping, super incentives and the other aspects of the welfare debate continue, the IMF, an organisation not exactly known for lefty environmentalist sympathies, have estimated that world governments are making sizeable welfare payments to the fossil fuel industry, paying subsidies of 10 million dollars a minute, which in conjunction with the vast amounts we all know multinationals (including the aforementioned fossil fuel companies) save on tax, should add a few extra orgy chambers to the decadent sky palace that the super rich will ascend to after global warming takes hold.

But nope nope nope, it’s not all doom and gloom though; last week, Clive Palmer announced the continuation of his own personal welfare contribution to the Australian people, the Preposterously Unstable Parliamentarian scholarship (or PUP as it’s more commonly known), which will now focus solely on federal elections. The latest graduate of the program, Glenn Lazarus, displayed the same humility shown by fellow alumnus and Minister for non-halal bread and media circuses, Jacqui Lambie, in announcing the formation of a party named after himself, the Glenn Lazarus Team…

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