As the Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten delivered his (admittedly quite good) speech on reparations for stolen generations in Parliament this week, I just sat there shaking my head.
Don’t get me wrong, I agreed with what he was saying and was slightly buoyed that he was (albeit a few centuries late) saying it.
I just could not escape the sad irony of the timing.
Not 24 hours earlier Australia made global headlines (again for all the wrong reasons), this time facing allegations of crimes against humanity from a coalition of legal experts.
Bill, you can’t take the high ground when you’re wading through the river on the valley floor.
Well, evidently you can. I meant to say you shouldn’t.
That’s the real trick to having a heart – you don’t get to pick and choose when to use it and when not to because if you stop using it you die.
That our political leaders (or members of society for that matter) even debate that there should be reparations for indigenous Australians is insulting and sad in and of itself.
But when this debate is taking place AT THE SAME TIME that said politicians and members of Australian society are creating an entirely new generation of stolen, forgotten humanity… profound sadness doesn’t even start to describe it.
Maybe ‘stolen’ is a bit misleading in this context – it is probably more apt to borrow from Good News Week and described these 30,000 souls as the Fallen Off the Back Of The Truck Generation.
But back to my point – why do our political leaders find their backbone/heart/soul/conscious on one issue but don’t even mention the other?
Again, we are talking about the International Criminal Court and crimes against humanity!
How can a person, a government, a nation find half their spine? How can their human decency and moral code be conditional or situational?
Migration is as old as human history.
People move around.
Food, famine, disease, war, adventure, empire, persecution – over time the reason for the mass movement of humanity has shifted sure, but it is not a ‘head in the sand’ problem.
On this issue, we are either bad, or we are good.
Good means helping and bad, well we know what that means as were currently a decade and a half into it.
Pain, suffering and death.
We’ve sold our souls, our international reputation and ruined tens of thousands of lives and for what?
In a world of nuclear weapons, weaponised viruses and drunken 85-year-olds driving home from a day at the bowls club, safety and security are relatively meaningless terms.
This Mandatory Detention policy does not keep us safe, all it does is cost millions, hurt people and muddy the moral waters so much that when a politician eventually gets up and does something right people focus on the contradiction and label the action politically motivated.