Has Any Country Ever Been So Kind?


Have you ever felt so proud to be Australian? Has ever your chest swelled more in patriotic fervour than this week, when our elected representatives, led by Tony "Schindler" Abbott and Julia "MacKillop" Gillard, joined together to find a way forward, a solution to our problems and a kinder, more compassionate Australia.

For the measure of a country is not in its wealth. It is not in its military might. It is only a little bit in its sporting success. The true measure of a country is in its compassion, and this week Australia has proven itself possibly the most compassionate country in the history of compassionateness.

And we did it — you and me. Not literally, of course, but via our elected officials, apart from the ones who don't really count, who took on board the message that we were a compassionate people who wanted to do compassionate things, and set about implementing a compassionate suite of measures that will make us all feel incredibly compassionate about ourselves.

We've all taken a long cool drink of Compassiona, and it feels pretty damn good, doesn't it, to know we are all good and decent people committed to doing the right thing for those less fortunate?

This outpouring of compassion, of course, is a result of the Houston report, emanating from the expert panel consisting of former Defence Force chief Angus Houston, former diplomat Michael "He's so" L'Estrange, and Paris Aristotle, who is apparently a real guy. This panel sat down to have a look at the question of what the Australian government could do to stem the tide of asylum seekers that continue to hurl themselves recklessly to the bottom of the ocean in response to the bloodthirsty policies set in place by Kevin Rudd, who at the time had not revealed himself to be the homicidal maniac we now know him to be.

And the panel did a good job, because they made sure they were hard-headed, but also at the same time soft-hearted. This is very important when it comes to asylum seekers, because if you get hard-soft balance wrong it causes all sorts of problems.

Be hard-headed AND hard-hearted, you end up firing torpedoes at the boats. Be soft-headed and soft-hearted and you end up flying millions of refugees to Australia in helicopters and building them a castle to live in. Be hard-hearted and soft-headed and you accidentally bomb Adelaide.

It's a tricky thing to get right.

Luckily, they did get it right in this instance, and their hard-headedness combined with their soft-heartedness has produced an overall anatomical consistency not unlike the centre of a hazelnut whirl. And in this delicious chocolatey treat is contained the beginnings of the most compassionate policy ever devised, a policy that will ensure that no more asylum seekers will die where we can see them, while at the same time keeping our borders safe from whatever it is our borders were unsafe from.

Probably the best thing about the Houston recommendations is that they involve a suite of measures. As my old dad used to tell me, "Son, you can never go wrong with a suite of measures". These days, all the best governments are using suites of measures to address their problems, and it's a great relief to find that the current Australian government has got up to speed and will be using the measure-suite model to handle this most pressing of issues.

And of course it IS a pressing issue: people simply will not stand for any more deaths at sea being photographed in newspapers. We are much too compassionate for that. And we know why they are dying at sea: because the Australian government told them to.

Do you really think an asylum seeker wants to get on a leaky boat? Do you think they choose to? Do you think they have any power of human volition? Of course not! Refugee camps around the world are filled with people living perfectly happy lives, until the irresistible siren song of Canberra comes floating over the seas. "We won't put you on Nauru," it drones seductively, and the asylum seekers have no choice to obey, for they are but poor foreign folk, and they are no match for the slick, mass-produced death-lures of our mighty Eurocracy.

But thankfully, this compassionate suite of measures of compassion will end this intolerable situation. No longer will they be tempted. No longer will they be forced to risk their lives. Instead they will stay safely where they are, living out their lives in simple, wholesome contentment in Indonesia or Malaysia, or, if they are lucky, in Afghanistan. Their mad lemmingesque impulses cooled by our compassion and measures, we will enter a new era of happiness across the globe, where nobody need die in the direct line of sight of a white person and Pacific island economies will boom thanks to the surging keeping-people-here industry.

So I say bravo to our politicians. Bravo to Julia and Tony and their brave crusaders fighting for a better world. And bravo to us, for voting for them and urging them on towards this glorious new age of compassion.

We really do deserve some hearty pats on the back for how compassionate we are being right now. Even now I can barely type for the tears of compassion blinding my eyes. I can't walk, for my compassion has made me weak at the knees, and I can't concentrate on my work due to my mind being filled with love and admiration for my fellow Australians and their almost superhuman compassion.

Can you believe it? Can you even fathom that a country could be so kind? Is it even possible that a nation of human beings could have so perfect a sense of empathy? Is it not amazing just how much we care for our fellow man?

To think that we, as a people, have put selfish desires and partisan bickering aside, and gone out of our way, at our own cost and inconvenience, to help those less fortunate than ourselves in such a generous way. To think that for no other reason than brotherly love and a deep concern for the plight of humanity, we should extend the hand of friendship to those who come across the seas, and using that hand of friendship, pick them up and place them lovingly on a tiny island for as long as possible…well it just makes me think, "Australia, you're all right."

Congratulations to all of us. We have created a society so filled with compassion that it's bursting out and oozing down the sides. How lucky the world is to have us. How blessed are the poor, the hungry, and the desperate, that we Australians are looking out for them with a paternal yet tender eye. How wonderful, in a nutshell, we are.

Our greatest export isn't coal. It's compassion, and by God, business is booming in this beautiful southern land of ours.

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.