No, this is a post about the meaning of 'never again', a mantra so many in the ALP, such as myself, hoped would prove true following the humiliating nonsense of Tampa. Some left back then, joining the Greens or retiring from political involvement altogether, while others such as myself sucked up the bad realpolitik and thought 'well, this has been a particularly nasty period in Australian history, but perhaps once the poor-bugger-me set have had their little vent, and the aftermath of 11/9 has settled, we can reach saner ground on this issue.' Quietly we waited, watching things improve a little, trusting in people's decency and empathy to slowly eat away at the policies. And for a while it appeared things had changed. Not remarkably, but perhaps enough to remove reffo-baiting (nonsensically known as 'border security', as if there were any threat whatsoever to the integrity of the border, as such) from the prime issue tray.
We were wrong. Abbott, the great prodigy of St Ignatius Riverview, my alma mater, with its Ignatian slogan Men For Others...
...The term has come to mean that if one person graduates from a Jesuit school lacking a sense of social justice, the school has not achieved its primary mission...
...has ramped up the hatred for the Samaritans, and in response Kevin Rudd- not desperately trying to get elected like Beasley, in fact from a position of notable political strength, has screamed 'ME TOO!'
Pathetic. And palpably dishonest. Any idiot who follows international affairs knows neither Afghanistan nor Sri Lanka has demonstrated any improvement in respect of the treatment of its vilified minorities. In Sri Lanka's case it's a bit like claiming that the Tutsis were safe once the Hutus had successfully taken power (or indeed, as the worm turned back, the other way around). But in any event that is a moot point, because if people cannot show the requisite risk of persecution then the process, stacked against them to begin with, should weed that out. The fact that Rudd has suspended the process demonstrates complete lack of confidence in the very argument he is asserting.
So where does this leave the 'never again' contingent? Did I in fact vow to leave the party if it ever stooped that low again? Perhaps assuming it couldn't possibly do so twice, that last time was the result of a particularly bad confluence of events and the sheer surprise factor of Tampa...?
Bizarrely, I'm to the right of many in Labor, at least theoretically. But I found myself arguing with a comrade at the last branch meeting I went to, she was from the left, and she was running the old 'better off than the other side' line I've run so often, and I found myself really struggling with it. Labor has been better, pound-for-pound, than the Howard Liberals, but is that the test we should be applying? There is another test, the opportunity-cost test, one I've often held the Greens up to. It goes a little like:
If there wasn't an ALP, in its present form, dominated by unions and factions, controlling the space it does, obtaining consent from the likes of us, what else could there be?
Or- is the only choice we have a choice between two social conservatives, with a hard left party sniping away from one side and some illiterate nutballs hurling bibles from the other?
If everyone who doesn't like the status quo just rolls with it, and accepts the apologia articulated by my comrade, will it ever improve?
Do I roll out my credit card again before May, keep up the membership, hope for something better if we win again? Wasn't that the hope the first time around?
Would I do more good dumping this policy shebang and going back to law, finding a way to a spot where I'm fighting tooth and nail to at least achieve some small wins for people who are getting screwed over?
Will we ever, ever, get over the fact that we're Girt by Sea?