Yes, believe it or not, I have been blogging for the whole decade! This is the second of a series.
13 December: Great letter…but the Australian government will ignore it
I have a page on my website devoted to the recent twistings and turnings of the Australian government on refugees and immigration. The tragicomedy rolls on. Like tiger repellent in the Australian desert (very effective, as you never see tigers there), our fearless Ruddock’s "Pacific solution" and "border protection" have kept the millions of Afghan refugees from leaping into boats and swamping our shores. Nauru (24 square kilometres isn’t it?) has accepted another payout and will take more asylum seekers. Do they outnumber the Nauruan population yet? The cost of all this–well, not really 500 million dollars salted away from three different government departments–oh no; maybe just 100 million dollars, said Ruddock yesterday.
Born in pre-election vote-catching expediency, morally vacuous, patently absurd, ad-hoc management–what else can you say about it? This perhaps:
A letter to the Prime Minister
We write to you as a group of Australian citizens currently living overseas, who share a common concern with regard to recent events in Australia that have attracted significant international criticism.
We are proud that Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. Immigrants have made a profound contribution to Australia’s unique national character. Although our history is not perfect in this regard, we have succeeded in creating a common identity through tolerance and open-mindedness towards those who join our community.
In this light, we are disturbed and disappointed by the Federal Government’s actions in relation to the desperate plight of refugees. We are deeply concerned that Australia’s international standing as an open and tolerant nation has been compromised. As ambassadors for our country, we have found it difficult to justify to our overseas colleagues the Australian Government’s recent decisions in this regard.
Furthermore, we strongly object to the Government’s use of language that dehumanises and vilifies refugees trying to escape persecution. We feel that, as Prime Minister, you have a responsibility to encourage Australian citizens to overcome their fears and uncertainties about the significant changes that are currently taking place in the international sphere. Instead, we believe that your Government has framed the debate in a way that gives legitimacy to intolerance in the general community. We ask you to move beyond populism and to conduct Australia’s affairs in a way that reflects our status as a forward-thinking nation.
We call on the Australian Government to comply with its international treaty obligations with respect to refugees, and to meet its responsibilities as an international citizen in responding to humanitarian disasters.
We call on the Australian Government to respond to the current refugee crisis (as it did for East Timor) by increasing the number of available places in the humanitarian program for the refugees currently fleeing Central Asia and the Middle East.
We call on the Australian Government to put an end to mandatory detention and to inhumane treatment of asylum seekers.
We care deeply about Australia’s role and future direction, and strongly entreat you to re-visit these issues.
Dr Bryan Gaensler, Cambridge MA, USA, Clay Fellow, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Harvard University, 1999 Young Australian of the Year. And others.
That appeared in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald, but to the government and the true elites around here (you know them, always slagging genuinely liberal views as "elite") it won’t make a blind bit of difference. Just another soft-headed set of chattering class chardonnay swilling pointy headed politically correct crypto-socialist bleeding hearts after all: not real Aussies at all, not real patriots.
14 December: A long partnership over
An hour ago, Australian Eastern time,
in East Devonport, Tasmania
my brother’s partner of 30 years,
passed away after a long battle
15 December: My brother.
My brother and his partner have been living in Tasmania for many years now; I am not quite sure how many, but certainly more than five. Before that they lived in various parts of Queensland.
One of the ironies of their life together was that they were both married on the same day in Sutherland, way back in 1955, but in two different churches and to two different people. My brother’s first marriage lasted ten years, and it was after the end of that that he and Norma got together. I remember once saying to them that they could have saved a lot of trouble by getting it right on that day back in 1955, to which my brother replied, "Oh well, we still celebrate our wedding anniversary."
While my brother and I have been in regular contact by phone, especially since our mother died 1n 1996, I have not seen him for many years, and Norma even longer. Unfortunately there is no way I can go down to Tasmania either, not that I could do much.
Ian and Norma were together for over thirty years. A second attempt at partnership suited both of them. They were kindred spirits, and were very lucky to have found each other. In the past few years Norma was basically bedridden, constantly on oxygen for her emphysema. My brother could not have been more loving and more devoted. He certainly had more peace and happiness with Norma over the greater part of thirty years than he had ever had before.
He’s not a young man now; neither of us is. I am not sure what he will do eventually–stay in Tasmania or move back up north. At one time he said he might move back to Queensland, should anything happen to Norma.
My brother had four children by his first marriage, some of whom I see from time to time. Norma had at least one daughter, whom I met, by her first marriage. Ian and Norma had no children by their relationship.
And yes, I won’t harp on it, but Benson and Hedges had a hand in Norma’s suffering and death.
The deep blue skies wax dusky and the tall green trees grow dim
The sward beneath me seems to heave and fall
And sickly, smoky shadows through the sleepy sunlight swim
And on the very sun’s face weave their pall
Let me slumber in the hollow where the wattle blossoms wave
With never stone or rail to fence my bed
Should the sturdy station children pull the bush flowers on my grave
I may chance to hear them romping overhead.
–Adam Lindsay Gordon
20 December. Christmas thoughts…of a naked Ninglun
Yes, it is very warm in Sydney tonight and you should be glad I don’t have web cam. Looking at myself I can have few illusions about being no longer young, despite rather nice remarks today from some female colleagues, who expressed amazement at the concept that I turn 59 next year (God willing, of course.) I told them it must be my healthy lifestyle 😉
It is that time of year, school having ended, Christmas and New Year, just around the corner; a time to take stock. So I am naked in another sense, trying here to be unpretentious and honest with myself and my readers, some of whom I know and are dear to me, others of whom are total strangers. I so love the web diary–it has helped me so many times since I started, simply in the fact that I can say and do things here in total privacy and yet I am sharing it with the world. It is quite amazing, as happens from time to time, when someone suddenly pops up from, say, Denmark or Texas, and tells me: "Thanks for that" or "Yes, I love what you said…"
A year ago I made a list which is now on my Home Page of ten beautiful things in life. I still stand by that. But this year I will put in ascending order the year’s six greatest blessings, bearing in mind what a horrible year it has been in some ways. This is a very personal list, and are the things I thank God/fate/circumstance for in 2001.
6. Some good things professionally, targets achieved in some areas at least, and students whose difficulties I have been able to make easier.
5. The blessing of reading and our local library.
4. Being able at my age to still think new thoughts and learn new things, and to take an imprudent decision when I knew it was what I had to do.
3. My friends at yum cha and around the pubs/coffee shops for their fellowship and confirmation of one’s worth and existence.
2. Becoming a non-smoker at last.
1. Finding one is loveable after all, and seeing another find that too about themselves.
Yes, I know the grammar is not quite right in number 1, but the thought is wonderful 🙂