A few weeks
ago one of my favourite whipping posts, Amanda Vanstone, was
sacked from the Howard government ministry. As Minister for
Immigration and Multicultural Affairs she continued the Ruddock
legacy of dehumanising the victims of persecution who sought
refuge on our shores. She also ruled over a department that was
not hesitant in press ganging people (seriously ill people) off
shore. She was not prepared to sack her bureaucratic masters who
oversaw the incarceration of the mentally ill. Nor was she
adverse to the notion of locking up people who were falsely
accused of overstaying their visas.
What I find
disturbing is that while she oversaw a department that seemed
intent on denying people their basic human rights and did all it
could to strip their humanity from them, I never saw her once
shed a tear. However, at the press conference at which she
pondered her sacking, she finally broke down. No, not over the
evil she perpetrated on others. Not a tear was shed for the
people she harmed by her inaction and frankly, incompetence, as
the head of the department.
What she did
cry over was the end of her own career. She cried because she
had lost her plum job and with it all the perks she enjoyed. A
pay decrease and loss of access to the centre of power were the
only things she cried over. Her whole focus was on her and not
once did we hear of her remorse at the suffering and pain she
had caused others.
good old Santo. Seems he was quite a player when it came to
share trading – something I am sure requires a great deal of
attention to detail and fine print. His resignation was one of
those kicking and screaming ones in which, while he could not
remember to fill out the paper work required for probity in
government or how many companies he owned shares in, it seems he
was quite able to line his pockets while on the tax payer’s
Santoro just doesn’t get it. He had the gall to stand up in the
Senate and declare that, “I stand here tonight with a heavy
heart to address an institution that I hold most dear.” It’s
obvious how “dear” to his heart his duty as an elected official
is. It’s so “dear” he was willing to ignore his responsibilities
and rort the system for his own and his close friend’s
given the effort that has gone into protecting him from public
scrutiny he has gotten off rather lightly. As an elected
official, had he stayed on, he would have had to face an
investigation, one which by all indicators would have shown just
how corrupt and dishonest he was. So, by falling on his own
sword, he gets to bury his crimes and not have to face the
consequences of them.
But it seems
that not only does Santoro not get it, his defenders in the big
house also don’t get it. I was munching on some cornflakes when
I heard Alexander Downer, perhaps our most appalling politician,
say that we had to lay off Santoro and, “leave him alone now.
He's resigned. Think about him as a human being”. Just think
about this statement, “Think about him as a human being”.
I remind you
of Andrew from last week. He has been breached for not
fulfilling his “obligations” to the dole office. For eight weeks
he will not have any income. He lost his benefit because he was
trying to advance himself and committed a ‘technical oversight’
by not getting the required signatures in his job diary. But he
is not alone in his suffering at the hands of these dangerous
I’ll call her
Debby. Debby is somewhere over 60 and for most of her life has
lived in supported accommodation. Her recurring mental illnesses
have not been well managed or medicated. Under successive
governments and their bureaucratic regimes she has been pushed
from pillar to post and now she finds she has to rely on the
good will of a local church to keep her occupied and off the
streets. While businesses such as the failing Grand Prix are
subsidised to the tune of $30 million a year, mental health care
is under resourced and failing those who need it most.
Fred. He arrived on a boat in 2001 and has been ‘resettled’ in a
rural town. While he has found work and he shares a house with
four other men, he is faced with a dilemma. He told his wife and
children that when he got to safe place and established himself
he would come back and get them. However, he can’t do that.
Under his visa conditions if he returns to the refugee camp he
fled from to collect his family he will not be able to return to
Australia, let alone bring those he loves with him. His life is
torn. Ruined by the false ‘war on terror’ and a government too
scared of shadows to act humanely.
Tania? She’s a single mum with two preschoolers. Since the
council turned the local childcare centre over to a
multinational company she can no longer afford to send her four
year old there. Since her boyfriend of ten years walked out,
taking the car and all the savings from their joint account, she
has had to fend for herself. Her family is in another state and
while they send money from time to time, her will to support
herself and her pride means that it is only when she really
doesn’t have any food left in the cupboard that she calls them.
Phil. He is a small businessman and employs four others in his
cleaning business. However with the multinationals gobbling up
the lucrative contracts with the large businesses and government
departments he used to service, coupled with the rising costs of
compliance, GST paperwork and regulatory red tape, it seems to
him that his business does not have long to go. While he is
forced to pay his bills within 30 days or accrue ‘late payment
terms’ he finds that the big businesses he services don’t
hesitate to wait three or four months before paying him. Cash
flow is tight, overheads rising and the effects of a deregulated
market mean his dream is slowly being extinguished.
So while the
politicians argue about trivia and protect their own backs,
where is their concern for the humanity of others? Andrew can’t
resign from being unemployed and get out of his obligations.
Debby doesn’t have a multimillion dollar taxpayer funded pension
to fall back on. Fred can’t find a quiet place to hide his tears
and anguish. Tania cannot rely on the perks of office to support
her in her hour of need and Phil is denied the opportunity to
fulfil his dream as capital is preferenced over real human
Vanstone’s tears, Santoro’s lack of remorse and Downer’s pitiful
remarks should be condemned and howled down for the self
righteous, self serving acts they are. A pox on them all.
said you cannot rely on what a person says to know them. You
have to watch what they do to find out their true intentions.
Our politicians have demonstrated their true hearts.
Demonstrably, their only allegiance is to themselves and the
power their position brings. Unlike those they rule over, who
are subject to their whims and fantasies, their time for
judgment will come and their punishments will be far worse than
even we can imagine.