Signs of the future?


One of the tricks of the trade, as it were, is to know which way the tides of history are flowing — to look for signs of social and political unpleasantness: the knock on the door in the middle of the night, the detention camp, the disappearance of people, and so on.

There is the smug and naive assumption that Australia is a mature democracy, with a tradition of freedom and fair play; that what happened in Chile under Pinochet, Germany under Hitler, Rhodesia under Smith or South Africa under Verwoerd could not possibly happen here. In any event, we are too far away from the unpleasant events of Europe, South America, Africa and Asia. We are a land ‘girt by sea’.

Thanks to Peter Nicholson at The Australian


Thanks to Peter Nicholson at The Australian

Not any more — our splendid isolation has ended. It has ended technologically, militarily and politically. We are, whether we like it or not, in the firing line.

‘The price of liberty is eternal vigilance’. This, I think, is the motto of the RSL. But it depends on where the threat to liberty is coming from. It doesn’t always come from the terrorist and Osama bin Laden. There is more than one enemy within.

To put it bluntly, there are some nasty people in Australia, as there are in any society. Politics (all parties) has its fair share of them, so does the business world and the bureaucracy. Examples might be some of our people in Cabinet, DIMIA, and Global Solutions (who run the detention camps). The list, if one included the business sector, could be a long one.

The Department of Defence and DIMIA are but two of the bureaucracies that have been politicised to implement government policy. And ASIO now has unlimited de facto powers.

The detention camp, forced deportation, wrongful imprisonment and the disappearance of habeas corpus are signs that all is not well in the body politic.

I am trying not to be paranoid, but there are now further signs of unpleasantness. The signs come from the Young Liberals, or to be more precise, the Melbourne University Liberal Club, who have a song book. Here are three examples of its lyrics:

In detention inside Port Headland,
The Reffo sleeps tonight.

Bread and water for the Reffo’s daughter

And Keeno for his wife!

Ooooh – the Reffo sleeps tonight.

In the suburbs of western Sydney

The Reffos rule the night,

Ripping britches off the Aussie bitches

The Reffos like it white!

Ooooh – the cops aren’t out tonight.


We’re the Liberals and we love to bomb Iraq (clap, clap)
Lots of terrorists will die, who gives a fuck (clap, clap)
So he didn’t have the weapons
Or the Al Qaeda connection,
But we still won the election
Bomb Iraq
(clap, clap).


The Battle Hymn of the Federation
We’ve seen the brave Liberal students

Fighting dirty Left scum

The lefties they’ve abused us,

But we’ll kick them up the bum.

Their compulsory student unions

Out of money they will run.

When VSU comes in.

Glory, glory Liberal students

Glory, glory Liberal students.

‘Young Libs accused of uni room attack’ was a headline in the Melbourne Age on Saturday, 13 August. The report told of the trashing of a women’s room in the Melbourne University student union building. The President of the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation (who works part-time for the Federal Liberal MP, Tony Smith) denied the allegations, which, he said, were ‘spurious’.

I wonder how long it will be before the Melbourne Young Liberal students will organise a kristallnacht in Melbourne’s Sydney Road and in Sydney’s western suburbs.

Student political activity and violence in Australia is, of course, by no means new. One has only to cast one’s mind back to the sit-ins of the 1970s. In those days, I suppose, the students were on the ‘right’ side, from the point of view of the radicals. So maybe I’m putting too much into the Melbourne University Liberal Students’ songbook, and the alleged trashing of the women’s room.

On the other hand, there is the famous Pastor Niemoller quote that Jocelyn Scutt recently used when she wrote about shooting to kill (click here for full article) The treatment of the Bakhtiaris, Rau and Solon raised little more than a ripple in the general public, who are transfixed by the state of the economy and interest rates. It will be interesting to see how many of our writers and artists will go to the wall if things get tighter.

The words in the Melbourne University Liberal Students’ songbook do reflect, I suspect, a general attitude in the Australian public at-large. Let’s face it: ours is a racist and politically conservative society — one in which racism and the detention and persecution of ‘undesirables’ can be tolerated.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.