Frankly, I cannot see anything wrong in paying people smugglers to go home; had I been in the government’s position I would have done the same thing. As usual, the point of this transaction has been entirely overlooked by the pro-refugee lobby. Its purpose was not to enrich people smugglers, but to get the passengers to realise, and then spread the word, that they can waste as much money as they like on people smugglers, but they will never get here by boat. In any event, it is not as if the Indonesians are entirely unfamiliar with the power of money to get people to do what you want. I had my first experience of this when I renewed my visa in Djakarta; the clerk who took my money slipped it into her handbag, as if this were the natural place where the funds of the Indonesian immigration authorities should be kept.
In my formative years, I used to trot along to St John’s Presbyterian Church in Essendon and belt out various uplifting hymns while we raised money to save the heathens in far-flung mission fields. My favourite was ‘Jesus Wants me for a Sunbeam.’ It seemed appropriate at the time, but now, in light of the Pope’s intervention on climate change, it may have to be changed to ‘Jesus wants me for a solar panel’ or ‘Jesus wants me for a windmill.’ The Pope was right to say we should protect the environment, although I think it was over the top to claim we have destroyed everything and now live in ‘filth’.It is also about time that someone said that industrial progress, built on coal, iron, steel and money, has lifted millions from poverty and unleashed the creative intellectual power of Man that has fashioned our civilisation. But the really significant thing about the Pope’s statement was how it galvanised the left. Most of the climate change industry and their acolytes seized on the Pope’s statement as manna from Heaven; the Fairfax press, the Guardian, the ABC and every climate organisation with ‘institute’ in its name were at the forefront, struggling to outdo each other in their superlatives of praise for the Pontiff. Naturally, this is only when he agrees with them; no sign that his views on abortion or same-sex marriage would be accepted with the same enthusiasm. And, despite the Pope’s intervention, the real objectives of the climate lobby remain the same: to stop industrial progress and denigrate anyone who disagrees. Opposition to it should remain resolute.
You should not underestimate the significance of recent cabinet leaks of the plan to cancel the Australian citizenship of terrorists. The fact that some ministers should want to breach their oath of secrecy on a matter of national security, should fill us – and them – with alarm. Ministers should be free to discuss any option and propose any remedy for the existential threat now posed to all western societies by Islamic extremism; only by that means and by wide ranging debate can ministers decide on the best policies for the country in the face of this threat. But they will not be frank and fearless in their debate and will not be able to test their proposals or choose the right one if the spectre of a leaking colleague lurks in the cabinet room like Banquo’s ghost.
I hate restrictions on civil liberties. But sometimes –in the face of the threats we face at the present- they are necessary and we have to trust the judgment of senior members of the government. That reminds me: giving journalists a special exemption from our new data retention laws, so that they will not have to reveal their sources, was a backwards step and one that will hamper our fight against terrorism.
The Labor party certainly performs a useful social function. Take last week, for example. In these trying times, when we look for any escape from the perils of global warming, the plight of refugees and the hideous fashion statements of Islamic terrorists, we can find hilarious relief in the travails of the ALP and, in particular, the cameo appearances of Senator Sam Dastyari and Mr Tony Burke as hit men in the never-ending saga of Rudd, Gillard and Rudd Redux. But first, it is said that Kevin Rudd should not becomes Secretary-General of the United Nations, he being entirely unsuited to that demanding role. I do not agree. His appearance on The Killing Season was all we needed to show that we have the right man for the job. We no longer need to crawl through the bloated ranks of self-centred failures who would normally fancy themselves as prime candidates for the position. Rudd’s narcissism, his pivotal role in the universe, his boyish naivety and his conviction that he is right and everyone else is wrong, all fit him for this high post. But it was Dastyari and Burke who really starred in The Killing Season. The former, not content with recounting how he had gone to Melbourne to engage in some political chicanery, actually went there and posed for the camera, clutching a mobile telephone, like some ludicrous, goblin-like Mr Bean perched on a toadstool. Mr Burke, clearly anxious to present himself as the new strong man of the party, acted out a similarly ridiculous scene by donning his suit coat, putting on his serious look and striding manfully down the corridors of Parliament House for the camera, like Tony Soprano on a mission of revenge. For this relief, much thanks.
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