Fear and hypocrisy on display.
I attended a funeral of an old friend on Friday afternoon, and just to get myself in the mood, first went to a lunchtime talk by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. From the fourth row I calculated that I could throw my shoe far enough to hit him, but reason prevailed; no politician is worth gaining a criminal record or even losing one’s Camper heel.
When the Coalition won government last year, it changed the old Department of Immigration into the "Department of Immigration and Border Protection". It wasn't an original idea; the UK government did the same in 2008 but had abandoned the idea by 2013 after an avalanche of complaints. What the local merger did was reinforce in the public’s mind -- especially those poor Penrith voters
who suffer congestion on the M4 -- that Australia must be protected from the encroaching hordes on our doorstep.
Morrison started the speech
on a high note -- a ringing reminder that the Abbott government had "stopped the boats" due to the success of Operation Sovereign Borders. From there, he descended into a kind of anodyne bureaucratese that sounded like it had been written by Winston Smith in 1984
‘s Ministry of Truth. With a straight face, the minister said that the government had "invested hundreds of millions of dollars in additional facilities and services" at the detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, "to expand and bring these facilities up to standard, especially for families and children and with particular reference to health and security". To say this publicly, when the Australian media has exposed the appalling state of these places, was incredible.
From there we got to the crux of the speech -- the economic benefits of closing our borders. "In the budget there will be $2.5 billion in savings following the collapse in illegal boat arrivals ... as a result of our policies." Morrison then segued seamlessly into the next topic: "Border protection does not stop and start with stopping the boats. Organised criminals will peddle anything from which they can profit -- people, drugs, guns or other illicit substances." So although there is no connection between a drug dealer and a desperate Hazara woman fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, the minister has linked the two, thus creating the feeling in the public’s mind that asylum seekers, who travel here legally, are in fact criminals.
I’m not sure what offends me more -- the hypocrisy of his public protestations of a Christian faith, or his reduction of an situation involving real, flesh-and-blood human beings to an economic equation. As Orwell reminds us: "If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."
Fat is in, carbs are out.
For those of us who regard most animals as menu items, a recent study published in the US journal Annals of Internal Medicine will be the best read of the year. In a nutshell, the study, as reported in The Wall Street Journal
, has found that "saturated fat does not cause heart disease". Of course, this is a ringing endorsement of what we have been telling our "health-conscious" friends for years -- that daily consumption of meat, butter and cheese will lead you to a long and happy life.
The study found, in fact, that it is carbohydrates that can cause heart disease and poor health. The article points out that it was the US government’s adoption of fatally flawed research back in the 1950s that gave saturated fat a bad name. People started cutting back on fat in favour of carbohydrates, so that instead of meat, eggs and cheese, they ate much more pasta, grains, fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. But fat carries flavour, so in order to enhance the flavour of low-fat items, manufacturers added sugar, which is a carbohydrate:
"The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin -- a hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news."
Excess carbohydrates lead only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease, the study concluded:
"The reality is that fat doesn't make you fat or diabetic. Scientific investigations going back to the 1950s suggest that actually, carbs do."
This just reinforces what all sensible people have known for years: to live well, you must emulate the French, whose reputation for healthy hearts and longevity is no longer a paradox. Eat meals made from ethically sourced, high-quality meat, enjoy butter and cheese, and go easy on the baguettes. With a glass of red wine. Cheers!
Gold Coast deconstructed. Blue Angel, an exhibition of work from young Queensland-born artist Anna Carey, is currently on display at Sydney’s Artereal Gallery until May 31. Carey first makes architectural models of buildings before placing them in front a painted backdrop and photographing them. Walking around the photos is like being in a David Lynch or even a Hitchcock film -- the eerie strangeness of the buildings draws the eye in, looking for the story.