When Geoffrey Blainey’s seminal work The Tyranny of Distance first appeared in Dymocks’ window many people didn’t realise it was a history book. In 1966, after all, a trip to the old country (any old country) still entailed many vomitous weeks at sea for all but the wealthiest Australians. But thanks to the greater fuel efficiency of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner we no longer have to contend with even the tyranny of the transit lounge. Just the non-stop schmaltz of the new Qantas TV ads. Right now the only one-hop option offered by the flying kangaroo gets you from London to Perth, but Qantas don’t have a monopoly on the Dreamliner, so it’s only a matter of time before other carriers put all our major cities within non-stop range of every country on the planet. Even Air Koryo, the national airline of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, seems keen to compete in this market, although it’s hard to tell how soon their Dreamliner will be in commercial service since the first thing they did after taking delivery of it last week was remove all the seats. Hmm.
If Australia does become the target of an intercontinental thermo-nuclear strike not quite as many people will want to move here so at least the debates about 457 will become somewhat academic. Which is ironic, given that academia is one of the areas which the new restrictions will most affect. They are also likely to deter anyone with serious IT, science and technical skills who might have been contemplating spending a few years in this wonderful country – exactly the kind of brainiacs we need if we want to transform an old-fashioned economy based on digging stuff up into a forward-looking one based on thinking stuff up. But the axing of 457 isn’t just inconsistent with the innovate-or-vegetate mission statement Malcolm Turnbull pushed out two years ago; it’s also a cravenly populist gesture that doesn’t suit him at all, and when he shouts about saving Australian jobs for Australians he comes across as a weird Donald Trump-John Symond-Pauline Hanson hybrid. Perhaps this new rough beast slouching towards the next general election should have a name; perhaps we should call it the giant pander.
Speccie readers will be relieved to learn that the list of occupations which will no longer be covered by temporary working visas does not include Shrill Muslim Apologist, so there should be no shortage of overseas applicants for the many lucrative posts Yassmin Abdel-Magied is currently being asked to vacate. One man who is not qualified to fill any of them is ‘Fake’ Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi, whose guest appearance on a recent Sky News’ Outsiders seems to me to make him an automatic contender for Australian of the Year – not least because his assertion that the laws of your religion should always be subordinate to the laws of the country you live in may also have made him a candidate for a fatwa. Another thing which impressed me about this brave bloke was his self-deprecating sense of humour – a characteristic not exactly conspicuous in most Muslim leaders, but one they’d be well advised to cultivate if they’re serious about Australian integration. Here’s the kind of joke they could tell: Q: What’s the difference between a cold non-alcoholic beverage and your wife? A: At the end of a long hard day you can’t beat a cold non-alcoholic beverage.
One of the perks of being an Olympic host city is that you get to introduce a new event at which you know your athletes will clean up. As far as I know, no Australian city is currently in the running, but the next one that gets the IOC thumbs up should introduce bullying – an activity which, according to the Left and the greens, has now overtaken cricket and all the footy codes in terms of public participation, and which is practised at an elite level in the higher echelons of many of our national institutions. Indeed, to find someone suitably credentialed to head up a nascent National Bullying Federation the AOC would have to look no further than its own senior ranks.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $1 for 6 weeks