From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 27 September
The Tasmanian Senator, Jacqui Lambie, sent me an email. It was not personal, since we have never met.
NONETHELESS, it was a most unexpected and welcome sight in my inbox. Its purpose was even more intriguing.
Senator Lambie, through a third party, invited me to take part in a survey which might assist to more clearly crystallise her ruminations on a proposed piece of most serious Federal legislation: the mobile phone ban changes to the Migration Act. An amendment which will enable the government to ban mobile phones across the entire immigration detention system.
The legislation has passed the through House of Representatives, and is expected to be laid before the Senate when Parliament sits again in October. It is most probable Senator Lambie will hold the deciding vote. A truly unenviable dilemma.
The draconian mobile phone ban amendment is a direct consequence of the relevant authorities having discovered, we are told, abhorrent child exploitation material on the mobile phone of an immigrant paedophile. It is a most serious offence. The punishment should fit the crime; however, one swallow doth not a summer make. The remainder of the immigrant populace is not guilty by association. The attraction of demonisation to win the argument is to be deplored. The result should be a manifestation of sound law based on fact and consideration.
Phones are a lifeline for people seeking asylum and refugees being held in detention. They allow access to families, loved-ones, legal representation, health support, and the outside world. Doctors, lawyers, and human rights organisations are united, unassailably, in their strident opposition to the change.
The Government has made no clarifying public case for the need of this grab-bag of powers when already police have authority to investigate any allegations of criminal activity.
Hon Peter Dutton, MP, Minister for Home Affairs, previously served for 10 years as a police officer with the Queensland Police Force, which was exposed by a Royal Commission to be one of Australia’s most corrupt. Does it follow, ipso facto, that Mr. Dutton was corrupt? Absolutely, categorically, and resoundingly not! The suggestion is both wrong and regrettable, and highly offensive. Such extrapolations are the insidious consequences of painting with broad brushstrokes; however, the analogy serves to prosecute the argument, and to magnify the discrimination of the legislation. In less florid terms, it only takes one bad apple…
Senator Lambie has been much pilloried by the Morrison Government for her information gathering exercise. Their inability to recognise it as a fine example of “government of, for, and by the people”, is depressing but expected, and is irrefutable evidence of their implacability to win, irrespective.
How many know the second verse to our national anthem – Advance Australia Fair? It is a noble sentiment – joyous in theory and problematic in its application – a dilemma which is sometimes reflected in our social discourse – some of which is puzzling in its uncaring sentiment.
Let us not forget that we are, all of us who arrived after 1788, immigrants whose forebears came to this extraordinary land in pursuit of a better life.
We are a secular nation, but the Prime Minster, and various of his colleagues, define as born-again Christians who, regularly, join the congregations of several of the more modern, fundamentalist organisations.
It is a curious phenomenon that the most important moments of Christianity are not religious. Mary and Joseph were not boat people – they were donkey people – but I suspect their status is similar. They were refugees. It is writ in Holy Scripture how Mary and Joseph, with Jesus, were forced to flee their homeland and live in Egypt to escape Herod’s madness and his murdering soldiers, in exactly the same that many have been forced to flee their homeland and look to Australia for sanctuary.
Perhaps the Prime Minister, and others of his religious cronies, should reflect a moment on the life of the man whose example they claim to follow. It might help relieve them of their punitive hankerings.
Roland can be heard on RADIO 3BA, every Monday morning, 10.45 and you can contact him via [email protected].