Leading article Australia

Grateful, not dead

7 October 2017

9:00 AM

7 October 2017

9:00 AM

As is the case after every horrific mass shooting in the United States, Australians not directly affected by the events can allow themselves a small moment of gratitude towards John Howard and his government for reining in our own gun culture at a critical moment in our nation’s history.

A nightmarish attack of the sort that took place in Las Vegas is, hopefully, something that Australians will never have to endure. Mercifully, since Port Arthur, we’ve had 21 years largely free of such home-grown horror.

Similarly, every time there is an attack by Islamist ‘refugees’ in Europe, mowing down innocent citizens in trucks or with knives and guns, Australians not directly affected can allow themselves a moment of gratitude towards Tony Abbott and his government for ‘stopping the boats’ at another critical moment in our nation’s history. Had a Labor government been returned in 2013, despite their howls to the contrary, it is inconceivable that our borders would have been secured to the degree that they have. Moreover, the successful Operation Sovereign Borders, devised largely by Mr Abbott, Scott Morrison and Jim Molan, was fortuitously up and running just as the vast waves of economic migrants posing as refugees (or even children!) began pouring out of North Africa and the Middle East in uncontrollable numbers and swamping Europe, bringing terror, mass rape and social breakdown in their wake.

Indeed, both our gun laws and border protection policies stand out as milestones in Australia’s contemporary internal and external security. And it is fair to say that without the political willpower and determination of both those Liberal prime ministers, it is likely that horrifying loss of life would have occurred here that has mercifully been avoided.

But that is not to say we can rest on our laurels as regards either threat. Whilst gun crime statistics are obviously far ‘healthier’ here than in the US, we still see too many instances of gun-toting gangsters, shootings, murders and illegal guns being prevalent in our midst. This appears not to be so much a reason to further crack down on legal gun ownership by sportspeople, farmers etc., but rather, a failure to prevent guns being smuggled in unacceptable numbers into the country and being easily available on the black market.

And despite the success of our border policies, vigilance is required at all times both in terms of ‘radicalised’ Muslim or other youth who already live here, along with the need to prevent Islamists returning from fighting overseas.

The suggestion that Syrian jihadists, such as Neil Prakash, be returned to these shores should be resisted by the Turnbull government. Mr Prakash’s interests would be best served, in the opinion of this magazine, by spending many years contemplating any and all similarities between a modern Turkish prison and the ‘80s hit move Midnight Express. On a similar note, Liberal premier Gladys Berejiklian is to be applauded for announcing new laws permitting certain terrorists in NSW to be kept in jail even after their sentences have been completed.

The large number of ‘thwarted’ Islamist attacks on Australian soil is testament to the skill and quality of our numerous security forces, and Australians have every reason to be proud of their efforts. It is to be presumed this will remain the case, or will hopefully be enhanced, with the new security super-portfolio under Peter Dutton.

Despite a handful of horrific attacks, Australians have much to be grateful for. But our security did not happen by chance. Which is something we should contemplate slightly more, instead of fretting about idiotic threats like ‘climate change’ and wasting our intellectual energy on current obsessions with ‘identity’ and other cultural fads of the neo-Marxist variety.

Thawley countdown

With only three weeks remaining until the October 31 deadline for this year’s Thawley Essay Prize, time is rapidly running out for all budding essayists to secure for themselves a tasty five grand, an even tastier dinner with former PM John Howard, Michael Thawley and Rowan Dean, and – of course – publication in this most prestigious of magazines.

The theme for this year’s prize is: ‘The great Australian speech that never was’ – write between one and two thousand words about a great Australian speech that never happened, or should have happened, or could have happened – or might still happen yet.

Entry details, including former winners, at https://www.spectator.com.au/category/australia/thawley-prize/

Time to get a wriggle on!

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