Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gerard Henderson, Boat People, Children Overboard, Detectives at Work and dancing with angles on the head of a pin

(Above: time to call in the famous Clouseau to solve the petrol beeermb affair?)

Knock me down with a feather. In a bid to sound fair minded about the Rudd government and boat people, Gerard Henderson has dented his shrine dedicated to John Howard.

That of course allows him to join in the general hysteria, and in particular to brood over Silence over boat-people fire, never no mind that it's a police investigation, and conceivably murder charges, or manslaughter, or incompetence on the part of the team handling the affair might come to light during the course of investigations - such that if you say nothing, you're damned, and if you say everything, you might subsequently be revealed as a premature ejaculating fool.

In fact, pretty much is already known through a series of orchestrated leaks, off the cuff remarks from West Australians, and the obvious events - except for the crucial detail of who did what precisely to set off the fire, and therefore might (or might not) have committed a crime on the high seas.

In his usual prattling pious sanctimonious Polonius style, Henderson doesn't consider any of the events in this light, but rather on the specious basis that somehow it's all tied in with freedom of information, John Faulkner's offer to open up the doors of government, and the public's right to know.

If that's the case, then I look forward to police and prosecutors making fully available all details and information to the public in relation to criminal matters before the courts. It should be an immense relief to defence lawyers and bikies.

Thanks to Gerard however we now know that no one was involved in a criminal act. It was all an accident, in much the same way that the poor bikie at Sydney airport stumbled into a bollard. Well the coroner and the bumbling NT cops will be pleased to know it's all sorted, done and dusted, and it seems you lot were in fact wrong to call on Inspector Clouseau to sort out the problem:

The explanation for what happened seems clear. It is known that, at times, desperate people take desperate and sometimes ill-considered actions. It is likely that petrol was ignited on the boat by a person or persons who believed that this was the most effective way to ensure that those on the boat were taken by the navy to Australian territory. It is unlikely that anyone intended that there should be an explosion followed by a sinking.

There you go Ruddster and team. In the absence of hard core information and a detailed brief for the prosecution, the mice will gossip, and provide a succinct explanation while actually being thousands of miles from the scene of the incident (or the scene of the crime, who knows). 

Lordy, and they make such a fuss about the complexity of police work. Ten Gerard Hendersons on the case and we could sort out the crime in this country in a month.

In the meantime, let's just go with the John Howard mea culpa - which is remarkably based on one thing. The way John Howard got the facts wrong by speculating on convenient gossip ready to hand without knowing the facts of the matter:

It is much the same with the children overboard controversy that occurred before the 2001 election. In fact, in that particular instance, no children were thrown from an asylum-seeker boat by their parents or guardians. But if such an eventuality had taken place, this would have been motivated by desperate persons believing that this was the best way to ensure that all the occupants of the boat were rescued by the navy. John Howard got the facts wrong. But his more significant failing was an inability to exhibit an empathetic understanding about how desperate people sometimes act.

In other words, he did what Henderson is now inviting the Ruddster and his gang to do - shoot off their collective mouths, and maybe turn out to be all day suckers, so that years later, a pious Henderson can accuse them of getting the facts wrong, and lacking an empathetic understanding (which of course drools from Henderson with an unctuous rhetorical flourish worthy of Uriah Heep).

But here's where it gets tortured for poor Gerard. 

Certainly the Howard government's treatment of asylum seekers was excessively harsh, especially during the period 2001 to 2005. But there is no doubt that the policy worked, in that the boats stopped coming to Australian shores, even if asylum seekers continued to arrive by air.

So the Howard government policy worked, yet it didn't because people still came in by air, and it was excessively harsh, but it worked, yet it didn't work because it was excessively harsh, and so Gerard supported the changes announced by the Labor Immigration Minister Chris Evans last year. Yet they didn't work, because it's encouraged more people to take the trip by sea to these fair shores, and yet by being excessively soft, Gerard has forsaken an ideal opportunity to shaft the Labor party, an unfortunate error not made by hard core eel bashers like Piers Akerman, who always kicks any head positioned next to his bovver boy shoes.

So what to do? Well how about dancing on the head of a pin, doing an on the one hand, and on the other hand routine, and then slagging off a couple of easy targets, such as long time favorite for a lashing refugee advocate Tony Kevin for suggesting the Government as at the mercy of public opinion. 

Harrumph, snorts Gerard, the very nature of representative government requires that politicians pay some respect to the views of those who elect them. Well yes, but more likely to an inflamed commentariat who see boat people as an easy issue with which to beat a Hansonist drum, and an issue now with a long history of having petrol flung on it and regularly set alight, but still showing no signs of sinking into the sea.

Okay let's go back to the dancing on the head of a pin bit:

There has been a world-wide increase in asylum seekers. Even so, in view of the acute risks involved in attempting to enter Australia in small boats, it seems that such trips are likely to be undertaken if the chances of success are seen to have increased. The intensity of the debate is such that there is not much room for rationality at either extreme. Contrary to what many refugee advocates proclaim, not all asylum seekers are refugees, not all tell the truth and not all are secular saints. Contrary to what many of those who are hostile to them believe, asylum seekers are not security threats and most who gain refugee status become hard working and entrepreneurial citizens. Anyone who has the ingenuity to make it here - by sea or air - has a skills set which adapts well to a multicultural migrant community such as Australia.

Okay given all that it seems likely that we should be welcoming entrepreneurial boat people on to our shores, as the next wave of people ready to do shit carting for the happy citizenry currently ruling the roost. But in his own special disingenuous way Henderson isn't really appealing for rationality, he'd dearly love to pin something on the Labor party.

So what's the one charge that Henderson can reliably muster after this bout of equivocation? The public is likely to resent being being denied information. Sure, and the commentariat is likely to seize on any unreliable information with the same glee the Labor party displayed over the children overboard saga.

Meantime, in case you fear you've found nothing useful in all this, allow me to go back to the days when Australia experienced a famous hoax, involving a couple of poets conspiring together to make up nonsense poems under the name Ern O'Malley to send up modernist foolishness (you can read about the hoax here).

Well it seems O'Malley is still alive, for here's a really moving and profound 'found poem' that came to me courtesy of a random email. Such is the beauty of life, and the ability of people to spin words together in ways that seem to be meaningful but actually amount to the kind of gabble Hamlet used as an excuse to puncture the rat hiding behind the arras.  

Make of this what you will. 

Twentie shall stand on the sides of the rankes,
knowledge of the yajushes.
I desire to know them.
Sexuality - From AAgony to Ecstasy
Learn more
From a mountain spring.
And attacked thus by that
and the one at the other end of the sixtyfoot among men,
those mighty car warriors,
also made denying his divinity and the truth
of the miracles.
Found dispositions less estranged from
christianity, the forms of pleadings had not taken place,
lawyers numquam nisi:
a strange expression for which manut drinks,
for the sake of the pleasure
that those will pronounce him mad
you, however, lucullus, that, in the brief space
between his dreaming grimmy
we must get him out somehow.
Let's adjourn said,
in the general conditions
the degree of moisture.

No comments: