Centrelink staff are going to be busy, given the
new policy of clamping down on the Australian tradition of the community “whip
around”. Or is it only the Muslim “whip around” that is under threat?

The
Australian
this morning continues what is beginning to look like a News Limited
vendetta as it reports that “Centrelink will investigate the wives of
Melbourne’s alleged terror suspects for possible
welfare fraud
after revelations that an Islamic
group is paying them an allowance while their husbands are in jail”.

Yesterday, the paper reported that “a hardline Islamic organisation has
helped raise
thousands of dollars
for the families of Melbourne’s
alleged terror suspects”.

Has everyone in north Queensland who received a
donation after Cyclone Larry declared it to Centrelink? The office or small town
whip around after a house fire or other family tragedy is as common as muck, and
presumably Centrelink will not be guilty of targeting just one small and
vulnerable group.

As The Australian keeps reminding readers, this latest
Muslim outrage comes after the “revelation” in the Herald
Sun
that “22 terror suspects and their families
receive more than $1 million a year in taxpayer-funded welfare and legal
aid”.

More beat-up than revelation. A million dollars sounds big, but
let’s see, it’s for one year and for 22 suspects, plus families. We are starting
to talk about a lot of people. Let’s deduct the legal aid, because that’s not
money in hand. Now divide that by 52 weeks and you are left with three-fifths
of five-eighths of not much to feed a bunch of women and children.

Make
that innocent women and children – the dependants of men who are also innocent
until proved guilty. What are these people supposed to live on? Is News
Limited proposing that Centrelink become the instrument of persecution for the
collective punishment of a community whose members are yet to have their day in
court?

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has further enhanced his standing
with Amnesty International by joining in, suggesting the Muslim community “would
have had other priorities … whose needs would be greater”. Is the Attorney
going to sit in judgement of all charity donations made by every
Australian?

If so, he is going to be busier than Centrelink. Unless of
course he is happy to be seen as part of what is beginning to have all the
trappings of a racist lynch mob.

Peter Fray

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