“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”
Rudyard Kipling’s verse, from 1889, makes a mockery of pride in ‘progress’. His ‘twain’ takes many forms in contemporary Australia, and none more entrenched than the division between those who see mandatory, indefinite detention of asylum seekers as inherently wrong and those who consider it necessary to stop the boats and protect borders.
Just to be clear, I’m in the first group, and see detention as wrong, along with the rest of the punitive policies. I’ll call my pole the pro(refugee rights)group. We’re the ones described by the anti-group as biased, hysterical, bleeding-heart, un-Australian even; all the barbs for dismissing an opponent without the need for evidence.
I can’t imagine what would qualify as an un-biased position; there is no middle ground.
The poles personified: Scott Morrison and Gillian Triggs
The poles have recently been personified by Scott Morrison, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, and Gillian Triggs, President of the Human Rights Commission, who interviewed Morrison as part of the national inquiry into children in immigration detention (click here).
It would be fair to say the Triggs-Morrison interview is fraught (click here) but also that Triggs remains on-task despite being talked over and railroaded. Morrison is…in character as Morrison (although his tie, I notice, is red!)
Responses to this headlock are also pretty much positioned at one or other of the poles….
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