I did a theatre workshop over the weekend run by a writer/director friend of mine. It was exploring Brexit and the current political divide, amongst other things and we had to bring in a speech made by a politician, which we viewed as marking a turning point in politics and towards right-wing conservatism in particular. I immediately thought of the Tampa crisis and John Howard’s insistent that we would decide who came into our country and the circumstances in which they arrive. So, I brought an interview John Howard did with Mike Munro from that time. I found it on this archive that is kept of select Australian prime minister’s press releases, speeches, interviews etc. You can find it here. We had to create something new from what we had brought and I was quite pleased with my effort. The disturbing thing about it is how similar the rhetoric is from the current European refugee crisis, even though this was 15 years ago. People at the workshop were really shocked it was so old.
So, here it is:
This is a very difficult situation for everybody.
We are a humane people.
We are a generous people.
We are reaching a breaking point.
We are not obliged to accept.
We appear to be losing control.
We have an absolute right.
We have decide to take a stand.
We assert the absolute right to control our borders.
We cannot surrender our right as a sovereign country, our right to control our borders.
No country can ever give that up.
We cannot have a situation where people can come to this country when they choose.
We can’t continue sending a signal to the rest of the world that this is a nation of easy destination.
The should be returned to Indonesia.
All we’re asking is that there not be any queue jumpers.
There are a lot of people waiting in the queue.
They should go through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
They’re not in imminent fear or concern about the situation.
They try and intimidate us with our own decency.
Four of the illnesses were not as represented.
Three were very mild.
One was feigned.
We will provide medical assistance, we will provide water, we’ll provide food, I mean, we are a very generous people but you’ve got to balance that against not having that generosity played upon.