If you were exposed to the last conservative government in Australia you have just about seen it all. It was like a trip back in time, to a time when the communist scare had legs, when there was no such thing as ‘society’, and crony capitalism took over from the idea that Australia was the land of the ‘fair go’. And never forget the last prime minister really believed that he was chosen by God.
In the 1950s and 60s many in Australia were afraid that communism was going to sweep down from the Soviet Union, down through China, through South East Asia, with a short stopover in Indonesia, until it made its inevitable landfall on Australian soil.
Darwin would fall, and the absurdity of a new Brisbane Line was a part of the fever dream. We would abandon the country north of the Line, but our brave Aussies would rush to take up arms. It was hoped that we could push the communists back, preferably into the sea.
During Scott Morrison’s shambolic time in office, nothing reminded us of those dark days of fear and xenophobia like Dutton and his China bashing.
Of course he had a lot of Coalition confederates, happy to take China’s money in the good times, but still wanting to blame them for the Covid-19 virus, and attributing all sorts of evil to the Chinese Communist Party.
What was shocking was their willingness to re-visit those days, where the Communist word caused heartburn, and we stood behind LBJ. This time around it was Donald Trump providing us with a shield. Risky!
And we must remember Trump’s record of favouring white supremists. Was there a whiff of the White Australia Policy in our rush to condemn the Chinese? Is there a whiff of post-colonial racism in our demonisation of a document titled “Statement from the Heart”?
Dutton is a throwback to cold war thinking
Watching Peter Dutton as he struggles to find relevance is exhausting. There he is, wearing his scholarly glasses, using words like “history” and even referencing George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The quote he is using describes Soviet Russia in the 1930s and 40s, and is laughable in an Australian context.
In my opinion it better resembles the belief system of the born-again community, where it divides the world into the ‘saved’, and those not saved.
“At a time when we need to unite the country, this prime minister’s proposal will permanently divide us by race,” he said.
If Dutton had acted like any sort of aspiring leader, he would have embraced the Voice as being essential, and as a necessary first step toward reconciliation with our original inhabitants.
He would have welcomed the opportunity to lead the cranky and the disenchanted in his party toward their better selves, but he has instead handed them more to be grumpy about, and sowed seeds of doubt, where none existed. All it takes is a reasonable amount of goodwill.
Even the Coalition would be aware that we have built our estimable modern achievements on stolen land. The least we can do is to give First Nations folk some acknowledgement of past wrongs, and a heartfelt promise that we will consult them in the future.
Everything about the Coalition these days reeks of grim reaction, of rejecting every aspect of modernism. Who do they think they represent? Not even Uncle Arthur, who terrorises all of our Christmas dinners, could hold to all these regressive ideas.
They don’t believe in climate change, because they haven’t read any of the science for the last forty years. They also presumably think those images of melting glaciers were photo-shopped.
They are panicking because they think a shadowy crowd of transgender kids is plotting to flood into girls’ toilets, for some unspeakable reason.
Although they know that there is a tsunami of hunger and homelessness, they do not want to vote for a $40 a fortnight increase in the Jobseeker allowance.
We need a decent opposition. But what we have is a Dad’s Army of nay-sayers, spooked by issues of gender, equality, law and order, reparations for past wrongs to our Indigenous fellow citizens, immigration terrors, and absolute panic that an unemployed person, somewhere in Australia, is rorting the system. God help us!