After 15 years of a deeply divisive and toxic debate over refugees, ordinary Australians have finally and decisively rejected the politics of fear. It is my hope that in doing so they will have also led our political leadership to a new and fairer place.
Increasingly I find my country's past easier to explain than its present. Today's Australia confusingly lacks a coherent narrative or explanation for how we are doing things, and to what purpose.
Julian Burnside is puzzled by Scott Morrison's faith. Burnside examines Morrison's maiden speech to Parliament, in which he stated that his values come from his faith in Jesus, and concludes that Morrison is a hypocrite (Comment, 23/12). Others, including myself, are puzzled that the most Catholic Coalition Cabinet in Australia's history can be so cruel in slashing our aid program – the lowest in our history.
There are some things we as a nation want to stop from happening. The continued spread of Ebola, which is delivering a dividend of misery across West Africa, and may eventually reach our shores, is one of them. The suffering of millions of people in Syria and neighbouring countries is another.
The world of today is doing its best to give the impression that it is falling apart. We are witnessing outbreaks of fundamentalism in many destructive forms. Some nations are retreating in fear from the Ebola epidemic instead of contributing to prevention and treatment efforts. And more and more ordinary citizens are loudly demanding that policy-makers incorporate the notion of fairness into their deliberations on global economic reform.
On Thursday July 10 I was watching our local news in Gaza and heard there had been a missile attack which resulted in several deaths in the El Halabi family. Seven of my family members had been killed. In that moment the day’s news instantly shocked me to the core.
Three years ago there was dancing on the streets of South Sudan as a new nation was born with hopes and dreams for a free and independent future. Finally there was to be a future of democracy and peace, with plans for rapid development and construction of infrastructure funded by newly found oilfields. More than 1 million South Sudanese, including many who had been living in Australia, returned to their homeland full of hope and expectation.
Much is made of the need for a changed 'mindset' in the budget rhetoric. But what if the decisions outlined in this statement of government priorities appear to change a mindset that is beneficial, even admired?
The killing was on a terribly efficient scale, much of it accomplished not with bullets but machetes. It was 100 days of frenzied violence and merciless killing that left more than 800,000 Rwandans dead, the world struggling to comprehend, and the international community disastrously slow to act.
Imagine half the suburbs of Australia deserted; comfortable middle-class houses abandoned or burnt out; neighbours, their pets and cars nowhere to be seen. Think what life would be like if we were no longer able to enjoy our own prosperity, to work, to shop or send our children to school.