Australia : Changes For The Worst
By Ghali Hassan
14 May, 2014
It is not difficult to speculate about what a Neo-Fascist government, masquerading as “Liberal” government will do and will not do. The new Australian Government has begun a process of turning Australia into the nation that many Australians thought it is in the past. Australians, however, seem oblivious to the likely effect of the changes and Australia's place in the world.
On the international stage, the new Australian Government follows the same script of past Australian governments by remaining an obedient U.S. lapdog. It has immediately recognised the illegitimate U.S.-installed Neo-Fascist junta in Ukraine and imposed, as directed by the U.S., sanctions on certain Russian individuals. Australian politicians are not well-known for their intelligence, especially when they have to choose between defending Australian interests and U.S. interests. If Russia retaliates, the sanctions will backfire and the Australian farmers will bear the brunt. The new Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a practicing Catholic and a clone of the bigoted John Howard, obediently echo the U.S. regime and blames Russia for the U.S.-sponsored upheaval in Ukraine.
Australia has also voted with the U.S. in favour of UN General Assembly Resolution A/68/L.39 condemning Russia's legitimate action in the Crimea. One wonders, if Australia is concerned about “international law”, why in 2003, the Australian (“Liberal”) government did not impose sanctions against U.S. and British officials when the two governments committed one of history's greatest criminal acts of premeditated aggression against the sovereign nation of Iraq. Australian, of course, was a willing participant in the bloodbath and remains complicit in all U.S.-British war crimes. The invasion and occupation of Iraq destroyed Iraq as a modern nation and caused the death of more than 1.5 million of innocent Iraqis. Today's Iraq is in ruin, poor and mired by U.S.-inflamed violence. To further proves its support to U.S militarism (participating in U.S. aggression), the Abbott's Government will spend $12.4 billion buying 58 F-35 fighter aircrafts, at the same time the new Government is cutting funding to education and health.
Australia's support for the fascist state of Israel and its annexation of Palestinian land has in recent time raised eyebrows in Australia and around the world. On 17 January 2014, on a visit to Israel to attend the funeral of Ariel Sharon, one of Israel's most decorated war criminals, the inexperience and naïve Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop (the only female in the Abbott's Government) made headlines when she questioned the international law that has declared Israel's colonies on Palestinian land are illegal. We do know it is a fact that the Israeli colonies on Palestinian land are in violation of UN Resolutions, including Security Council Resolution 465 of 1980 , deeming Israel's annexation of Jerusalem and its settlements on occupied land to be illegal. According to the Fourth Article of the Geneva Convention, signed by Australia, it is a war crime for an occupying power to “transfer part of own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that “the Israeli settlements [colonies] in occupied Palestinian Territories (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law”. The foreign minister of a country that claims to “play a significant role” in international affairs should know something about international law. It was later revealed that Ms Bishop was instructed by her handlers, the extreme right-wing, and anti-Muslim Jewish lobby in Australia to endorse Israel's fascist policies of annexing Palestinian land. Her empty and unwise comment prompted the former Foreign Minister, Mr Bob Carr to make a useful statement. "I found it very frustrating that we couldn't issue, for example, a routine expression of concern about the spread of Israeli settlements on the West Bank." (ABC 7:30 Report , 09 April 2014).
Another important issue is Australia's impacts on the environment. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has embarked on reversing the progressive legislations and policies that have been introduced by the last Labor government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The Abbott's gang have already dismissed the science of climate change as fictions. Mr Abbott's first priority is to abolish the carbon price, wrongly known as the “mining tax” to appease mining corporations and the “super rich”. Mr Abbot is telling the ignorant and fearful Australian masses that electricity will be cheaper if the mining tax is abolished. It is just another lie, like all his pre-election broken promises. Electricity cost is increasing no matter what the Government is saying. The policy to create clean renewable energy and restore some of the damage to the environment is already consigned to the ‘dustbin of history'. Abbott's advisors are the Business Council of Australia, which represents the CEO's of the top 100 corporations.
Mr Abbott's destructive plan to clear what remain of Australia's old growth will further accelerate global warming. Deforestation releases large quantities of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere, which increases the overall carbon emissions and exacerbates anthropogenic climate change . In fact, “ deforestation adds more atmospheric CO 2 than the sum total of cars and trucks on the world's roads”. ( Scientific American , November 2012). In his recent tour of the state of Tasmania, Mr Abbott told a backed room of redneck tree loggers: "You are the ultimate conservationists”. Hearing this, some Australians must felt very sick indeed. Mr Abbott's aim was to appease the Timber Industry and gains the votes of a few hundreds tree loggers. Mr Abbott wants to delist a world heritage ( Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area ) listing of 74,000 hectares of forest in Tasmania for clearing. Australia emits about 1.5 per cent of global GHG emissions. However, on a per capita basis, Australia is one of the world's largest polluters. Australia's per capita CO 2 emissions are nearly twice the OECD average and more than four times the world average. The largest contributor to Australia's emissions is electricity generation (using coal), accounting for 36 per cent of total emissions and agriculture (land clearing and water-intensive monoculture), accounting 18 per cent. Furthermore, Australians love affair with the car and lack of worthy regulations to reduce emissions and to adapt to changes have great impact on the environment in term of GHG, air quality, ozone depletion, water quality and use of natural resources. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics , there are 750 motor vehicles per 1000 Australians, one of the highest in the world and increasing exponentially (ABS, 2013) . A motor vehicle emits an average of 4 to 5 tonnes of CO 2 per year into the atmosphere (1 litre petrol = 2.3 kg of CO 2 ). Australians can take responsibility by mobilising (changing their habits) to reverse the ongoing destructive policies of their government.
Meanwhile, Australia's “War on Refugees” is continuing with horrendous results. The Australian navy is now conducting military operations against a few hundreds desperate refugees, who risk their lives to come to Australia by boats, intercepting them on the high sea and returning them back to Indonesia in breach of the UNHCR Convention. The war's latest victim was a 23-year-old Iranian refugee Reza Berati murdered by Papua New Guinea thugs hired by the Australian Governments to guard the prison camp housing refugees on Manus Island. The notoriety of PNG and its reputation as a lawless country racked by violence are used as a deterrent to refugees. The Camp is run by the British Security G4s, a private security company that helps Israel run prisons at which Palestinian prisoners are held without trial and subjected to torture. According to Ruth Hudson, a lawyer with Stacks Goudkamp law firm in Sydney, the refugees “are being involuntarily detained in torturous, inhumane and degrading conditions including being exposed to possible murder, attempted murder, threats to kill, threats of cannibalism, grievous bodily harm and obviously the very unfit living conditions”. According to reporter Natalie O'Brian: “ photographs smuggled out [of Manus Island Camp] show detainees holding their identity cards and showing the wounds they suffered. The pictures show slashed throats, large machete cuts to the scalp, bruises and a bullet wound above the buttocks'. (Mad and Missing from Manus Island, The Age , 10 May 2014).
According to the ABC, j ournalists and media who visited the refugees Camp on Manus Island have been ordered (and threatened) to delete footages. It is the Australian Government's view that anything that contradicts the Government's own narrative is unacceptable and should not be made available to Australians. Anyone who speaks out or wants to speak out on behalf of refugees will be intimidated and bullied by the Department of Immigration.
Like all refugee deaths, Berati's death is seen by Australians as comeuppance. Contrast this cruelty of Australia towards desperate refugees with that of Sweden. Sweden, a country with less than half of Australia's population and several times smaller in size, but has a history of welcoming refugees. In 2013 Sweden has welcomed over 15,000 displaced Syrian refugees. Australia agreed to settle only 500 Syrian refugees as part of its existing annual intake, which is capped at 13,700 refugees. While Sweden would like to see other EU countries take in refugees, unlike Australia, Sweden has refrained from sending refugees to other countries.
In addition to PNG and Nauru, the Australian Government has co-opted the governments of other poor countries (e.g., Cambodia), with appalling human rights records, to imprison refugees destined for Australia. The irony is that, the governments of these countries have lobbied successive Australian government to allow their nationals to do seasonal work in Australia. The draconian policy is inhumane and in violation of the UNHCR Convention. Furthermore, Australia is also trafficking hundreds of children across national borders, causing serious abrogation of duty of cares an in violation of UN protocols. There are nearly 1000 children detained behind razor wire in camps Australia and another 177 children detained in grim conditions in Nauru. Their long detention period is "being used as a form of deterrence to refugees, and placing children at risk”, said Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Many of these children are suffering acute psychological stress. One wonders how Australians feel if the same treatments applied to their children?
Without a voice to defend them, refugees are demonised and used as a scapegoat by politicians and the media to promote racism and xenophobia among Australians. At the same time, tens of thousands (approximately 100,000) of backpackers from Britain, Ireland and former bogus students from India and China are left unbothered to live and work in Australia (illegally) even they have overstayed their visa.
Although most Australians know that the Government's refugees policy is cruel, a poll in January 2014 found that 60 per cent of Australians support the Government policy of harsh treatment of refugees and urge the Government to “increase the severity” of the policy. As Henry Giroux writes, “Shallow consumerisms coupled with an indifference to the needs and suffering of others has produce a politics of disengagement and a culture of moral irresponsibility”.
Moreover, the anti-refugees contagion has infected the new waves of economic and “life-style” seeking immigrants from Europe, Britain, New Zealand and Asia (overwhelmingly Chinese and Indians). This writer has in the past interviewed newly arrived immigrants (Brits, Indians , Europeans and Chinese) and can attest that the majority of these new immigrants are bigoted racists and hold hostile views towards refugees, Muslim and Indigenous Australians in particular. They feel very inferior to white Australians, but very superior to other non-white immigrants and refugees. Most of these new immigrants have resources, know how to manipulate the corrupt Australian Immigration system and had no problems entering Australia on bogus students' visa and the flawed “Skilled Occupation” (457) visa. As a result, the education system turned into a predatory broken system, and Australia's skilled (and unskilled) workforce has well and truly reached saturation levels. Furthermore, many of these new immigrants (the ethnic yuppies) are recruited by white Anglo Australians and placed in important positions to provide an ugly mask to cover the face of Australian racism. To use an analogy by American sociologist, James Petras, the new immigrants imitate the worst of white Australians racism and their attitudes towards refugees and other dark-skinned immigrants are driven by white Australians identities which preclude any sense of solidarity with other immigrants. In addition, these new immigrants have brought with them all the paraphernalia of racism and cultural malaise that they supposed to have left in their own homelands. If they own business (most of them do), they treat their employees the same way they were treated back home and pay them the same wages they were paid back home. They are turning Australia into the same countries they have left behind. While refugees are not saints – there are bad ones –, most of them (particularly the young), if given the opportunity have shown to be more loyal and adaptive to life in Australia.
The Abbott's Government is considering introducing legislation that protects racist and bigoted Australians, despite opposition from the two most populous states, NSW and Victoria. The two states released a joint statement warning "the proposed changes threaten the social cohesion and well-being of not just our states' culturally and religiously diverse communities, but also the wider Australian community". Attorney-General George Brandis, “Australia's top law maker”, who compares himself to Voltaire (an insult to a great man), stated that, “Australians do have rights to say things that other people find offensive or insulting or bigoted”. In other words, white Australians have the right to incite hatred and decide on what racism is and what is not. But, white Australians have always had the right to be bigoted racists, and do not need new legislation to protect them. A society that proposes to legalise bigotry and has put bigot's rights ahead of protections for the most vulnerable Australians (Muslim and Indigenous Australians) has no right to call itself civilised. Australia remains a backward society.
It is important to emphasise that, while most Australians claim to abhor racism and often brag about Australia's “fair go” attitude, racism is deeply entrenched in the Australian society. You only have to scratch the thin surface and the venom of racism and aggression will be spewed out. Anyone who complains about victimisation and stand up to racism will have to face dire consequences. With the exception of a tiny minority of decent and honest Australians, most Australians breathe racism and cannot live without racism. From early childhood, Australians are conditioned by the media (TV in particular), music, sport, pornography, politicians and even their parents, to objectify others – dark-skinned people and women. They are fed a daily American diet of consumerism, racism and xenophobia. By the time they have reached adulthood, Australians are completely indoctrinated and brainwashed. They see the world in black and white. They are treated by the political and media establishments (the elite) as “restless children”.
Unlike the overt violent racism that is practised in many other countries (e.g., India, Israel, U.S.A. and parts of Europe), Australian racism is institutionalised systemic (more subtle) racism nurtured and/or exploited by white Australian elites. The Government and its agencies, the media, the education system, the justice system and the police depend on the contagion of racism to function. Jobs, particularly in government departments, and in higher education are exclusively reserved for white Australians and Brits to preserve white privilege. At Australian universities, known as the breeding grounds for elite racism, this writer – as student and as a staff – has experienced the most bigoted form of racism, not by students, but by academics and executives. These are the most bigoted and racist Australians. They are protected by the high walls of the universities and a culture of rampant corruption unmatched by any other country. Their main target for discrimination and exclusion is Australians from non-Anglo-Saxon and low socio-economic backgrounds. Despite government funding, the number of Australian students from low socio-economic backgrounds in higher education remains low.
For example, at Australian universities racism is practised overtly and designed to enforce white supremacy. Employment decisions in Australian universities are not based on merit; they are made on the basis of nepotism and cronyism. A case in point is the daughter of the former University of Queensland vice-chancellor Paul Greenfield jumped 343 better-qualified candidates to gain entry to a highly-competitive medicine course. A report by the Crime and Misconduct Commission found that the then VC's daughter was not qualified to be offered a place in the 2011 medicine intake and at least four other senior officials at the university were informed it was improper. Only when someone blew the whistle and exposed the corruption – and it is very rare –, Mr Greenfield resigned with a generous handshake paid for by the students. After he left, his “mates” took-over the running of the University, one of Australia's largest public universities. Now and then a few crumbs are thrown for those “ethnic Australians” who are ready to serve whites and provide a veneer for a shallow “multiculturalism”, which is nothing more than a collection of designated ethnic boxes – despise each other – designed to protect white supremacy. The latest Mapping Social Cohesion survey by the Scanlon Foundation ( PDF ) found 19 per cent of Australians were discriminated against because of their skin colour, ethnic origin or religious beliefs last year – up from 12 per cent in 2012. It was the highest level since the survey began in 2007.
Finally, Indigenous Australians continue to suffer under white-Anglo rules. Indigenous Australian population make up 2.3 per cent of the Australian adult population, but account for 26 per cent of all adult Australian prisoners. Furthermore, Australian authorities continue the racist policy of removing Indigenous children and babies from their biological parents. In addition to having a lucrative market among whites, the criminal policy is creating a new stolen generation. Imagine the outrage if whites children and babies are forcibly taken from their parents and sold in the black market. Moreover, preventable diseases like trachoma and gonococcal conjunctivitis are two eye infections that have been eradicated around world continue to cause havoc among Australian Indigenous communities. It is high time Australians stop bragging about Australia's “fair go” myth.
Only by pursuing an independent path and abandoning its race-based inhumane policies, Australia can move forward and joins a truly civilised community of nations. It is up to Australians to hold their government accountable and deny it constituency to carry out changes that affect not only most Australians but also other human beings. Overcoming self-induced ignorance and fear is the first step to a truly free and sovereign Australia.
Ghali Hassan is an independent researcher and writer living in Australia.
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