From a One Nation kind of perspective, one of the most inconvenient truths about the Muslim population of modern Australia is that some of its forebears may have arrived here a century or more before any Christians showed up. Indeed, there is compelling archaeological evidence to suggest that as long ago as the mid 16th century Makassarese fishermen from the Indonesian archipelago were interacting peaceably with Aboriginals and Torres Strait islanders, who, allowed them to settle here – and to observe their strange faith – more or less unmolested. In the 1880s these remote and diminutive outposts of the Umma were augmented by a few hundred redundant Afghan cameleers. But they were still vanishingly small by the time the far more populous European settlers, having battled valiantly against all the natural adversities of the landscape, found themselves confronted by a threat of their own making; the Celebrity Bush Ranger. There is a kind of global poetic justice then, in that, thanks to a recent article by an ex-editor of this magazine’s parent UK publication, visitors to the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s new Sidney Nolan retrospective will find it impossible to contemplate one of our greatest artist’s iconic depictions of our most notorious criminal without also thinking about the sartorial challenges currently facing Muslim women the world over. And letter boxes.
I wonder if the campaign to ban live Australian exports will have repercussions for any of our domestic airlines. For legal reasons I hesitate to name the one that brought me home from Queensland last week, but suffice it to say that the flight was unbearably hot and cramped, and that nobody offered me anything to eat or drink, and that when we landed in Sydney the view down the economy cabin was distressingly reminiscent of the footage which helped get Channel 9’s 60 Minutes its Logies Hall of Fame nomination this year. Since that program aired, much has been done to ensure that the dignity of slaughter-bound Australian sheep will never again be compromised. But what about the dignity of Australian people? I have a suggestion. Perhaps the post-Triggs leadership of the much-maligned Australian Human Rights Commission could be persuaded to set aside a little of its generous funding for an enquiry into the degrading conditions in which Australians of limited income are currently forced to travel. And while they’re at it, perhaps they might also take a look at the unhealthy living conditions which the many Australians who don’t travel must endure in their own homes, now that they cannot afford to heat them. But such studies would surely fall more comfortably within the AHRC’s charter than persecuting university students for using the wrong computer, or telling cartoonists what they can and can’t draw, or threatening legal action against companies which, due to embarrassingly anachronistic management values, prefer not to employ convicted paedophiles. The 2,400 animals which died of thirst, heat and starvation on that fateful Emmanuel Exports voyage were part of a shipment of 60, 000, most of which arrived at their destination in good enough shape to be, er, butchered and sold. A mortality rate of around 5 per cent may sound horrific, but it is not actually that different from the actuarial projections of the companies who operate the luxury cruises my elderly mother and her friends enjoy. It is also sobering to think that if, instead of being shipped off to the Middle East 3 months ago, those hardy WA merinos had been trucked to NSW and Queensland, their chances of dying of thirst, heat and starvation would have increased exponentially. On properties most affected by the drought the stock mortality rate is higher than 75 per cent.
It won’t hurt you,’ Scott Morrison memorably assured the opposition benches 18 months ago, thereby flatly contradicting the belief on which their – and to a large extent his own party’s – energy policy was and continues to be based. Innumerable black-outs and power price hikes later, perhaps we will now find out if the man who once smuggled a lump of it into parliament will have the courage to put the coal back in coalition.
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