On offshore detention

Colin Edwards writes: Re. “PNG gives middle finger to selfish Australian overlords — and good on them” (yesterday). Detention on Manus Island and Nauru alone cost the government $1.2 billion in the year to June 2015.  For that money Australia could have a huge flotilla of Australian Border Force ships turning back all the smugglers boats.  Great employment opportunity for Australians interested in a maritime job.  All current refugees-in-waiting could then be settled in Australia.

Greg Poropat writes: Can the rhetoric politicians in this country use in their attempts to whip up fear be described as mere hyperbole? If it’s not George Brandis talking about existential threats or Tony Abbott’s comments about not having seen barbarism like that perpetrated by Islamic State since the Middle Ages, now we have Peter Dutton saying we have never had an election that is more important in terms of national security. Really? Not the 1940 election as Australia descended into World War 2 or the 1943 election held in the depths of that worst of all wars; not the September 1914 election held after the nation had entered World War 1 or the 1917 election conducted in the shadows of the plebiscite on conscription? What would Menzies have to say about Dutton’s comment in relation to the 1949, 1951 and 1954 elections and the spectre of communism haunting the west at the time?

Sadly, explaining this away as merely overblown rhetoric doesn’t do it. It happens too often. This language betrays ignorance and idiocy born of that ignorance. As a population, when our leaders cannot or choose not to talk to us in a measured and informed manner, we should be in great fear of them and what they might do. The seeds of our real existential threats lie in our leaders’ espoused ignorant idiocy and our failure to call it to account.

Peter Fray

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