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Empathy and irony in post-Howard Australia

  • 11 December 2012

Becalmed, bereft, besieged

What of your flesh, nestled at her mother's hip unravelling chords, plotting progressions,dancing from voice to piano to violin? What course would you set for her if,adrift of government policies, she fled, seeking compassion and safe harbours?

What of your blood, teasing the dog with balloons, bubbles, grass; grist the houndrenders in growled fury illimitable? See him exiled from health and home:would studied negligence, fell bastardry, suffice? Appease your conscience's qualms?

What of your bone, your breath; soul lover? If, in intransigence, your passion incarnatewas damned to rot for years — human flotsam — would listless inaction be your lodestone?Would you contend for her release, or resign yourself to discontent's torpor?

Becalmed, bereft, besieged by race memory and hip pocket absorptiona nation of travellers and seafarers swallow leaders' sleight-of-hand, as theyconjure pirates from refugees, demons from daughters, sons and lovers.


Asylum primer

Agenda bloodied,courage dancesever fleeting,gasping, harried.Imperium jars.Kindness lags;mythos neverovercomes pride.Quantifying revertssolely toulcered verities.Welfare? Xenophobesyell 'zenith!'



Cluttered at the back of early memory are hurried public conversations.Shared laughter at outsiders. Furtive whispered epiphets againstwomen, gays, wallies; anyone with skin or ideas unlike ours. Pushing backagainst alien creeds, beliefs, unlikely hopes, setups failing our expectations.Oz duly knocks urgers and pushers and bloody bleeding heartswho bitch and moan, whinging against 'our country'.We're a tribal mob; if you challenge us we'll cock a snook,kick your arse from here to Broome; label you unAustralian.The latest floods of rejected life flow in the wake of peopleswho got a fair go and a crack at redemption, Oz style.But just let your memory wander back far enough,Ockers, Ockers, Ockers, oi, oi, oi. Read what went downand you'll cop a mind's eyeful of Jews fleeing for their lives;Abe's children we kept shut up in ships, sent back quick smartfor Adolf to deal with, sent right back where they'd come from.They were deemed unworthy of a spot in this man's land.Rednecked summers come and go, UN boffins can bleat away,but reffos won't desert our haunted dreams, or set foot upon our stolen inheritance.


Below lies excerpts from a speech by Prime Minister John Howard on 28 October 2001, ironies unintended:

'National security is ... about a proper response to terrorism. It's also about having a far sighted strong well thought out