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Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mnnews.today/aurora-magazine
So we have a new Prime Minister, again.
And once again, the change has come
about through a coup in the gover nment
par ty room, without any reference to the
Australian electorate and not because
of any profound differences within the
gover nment on policy, apparently, but
simply to benefit the par ty's prospects of
Okay, this sor t of thing is not entirely new.
But we do seem to be making a habit of it
lately. My concern is that we are spending
mor e and more time with gover nments
in power that are r ather different from
the government the people voted for.
Cer tainly, changing leader s is not the
same thing as changing a government, but
when the new leader substantially changes
the cabinet as well and the new minister s
star t announcing changes in direction
to boot, we're getting close to 'regime
change'; and changing governments is
properly the prerogative of the people.
One recent change in gover nment policy,
unrelated to the leadership change, is ver y
welcome, however. The announcement
that Australia will take 12,000 refugees
from the Syrian conflict has, I think, been
a great relief to many Austr alians . It came
in the stumbling, hesitant manner that
marks any shift in our asylum policies.
'We'll take 10,000. No, no. Hang on.
Make it 12,000. But they'll be Christians.
No, hang on, that won't do. They'll be
from any per secuted minorities.' After so
many year s of promoting the idea that
accepting refugees is a terribly dangerous
thing for the country to do, it took a
few false star ts before the government
realised that the people actually wanted
to help these poor people, actually
wanted us to do something decent.
Any way, we got there. Australia will play
at least a small par t in resolving a massive
human crisis. It is a start.
At the end of the Second World War
the countr y did r ather mor e. There were
initially more than 8 million 'displaced
per sons' in camps in Europe. Most of
them were able in time to r etur n to their
homelands, but over 3 million were left
with no place to go. Austr alia gave a ver y
significant lead at the time, when Chifley's
government agreed to resettle 100,000
displaced persons here. Austr alia then
wa s a much smaller country, of cour se ,
and, after the war, a much poorer one.
Still, we actually managed to resettle
170,000 displaced per sons between
1947 and 1952, while simultaneously
repatriating our own soldiers and
prisoners of war and accepting a large
par t of the 2 million immigrants who
flowed into the countr y by the mid-1950s.
It was a remarkable achievement for a
small nation and, just quietly, it set us up
for the great boom in prosperity that
marked the late 1950s and '60s. We can
do this stuff.
So, 12,000 refugees from Syria is a
star t. It is profoundly disappointing that
gover nment still feels the necessity to
rea ssure the electorate that nothing
has changed in regard to 'boat people'.
Not one single asylum seeker from our
detention centres on Naur u or Manus
Island will be resettled in Australia ! Why
not? They have actually come to us for
safety and refuge, but we refuse them
while we assist European gover nments
with refugees who have gone to them.
Am I missing something here? Is the
desperation required to sail across the
Mediter ranean so much greater than the
fear and despair that drives people into
boats to Australia? There ha s long been
a bizar re quality to our policy on asylum
seeker s . Our acceptance of some Syrian
refugees has not rendered it any less
bizar re or inconsistent, but simply a little
In some ways, the issues of our rotating
Prime Ministers and our policies on
refugees are related. Both reflect the
pre-eminence in our national life of slogan
and image politics. The political cycle is
shor t in Australia and the next election
is always on the horizon. Governments
are excessively responsive to polls and to
CHANGES AND CHALLENGES:
AUSTRALIAN POLITICS AND
THE WORLD CRISIS
BISHOP BILL WRIGHT
IN THE SPIRIT OF SAINT LUKE
IN THE SPIRIT OF SAINT LUKE
W ITH THANKSGIVING FOR THE MINISTRY OF HEALING AND CARE THROUGHOUT OUR
COMMUNITY, HOLY TRINITY PARISH INVITES ALL CLERGY, RELIGIOUS, PARISHIONERS,THEIR
FAMILIES & FRIENDS TO JOIN WITH MEDICAL, NURSING & ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONALS IN A
CELEBRATION OF THE EUCHARIST
LED BY BISHOP BILL WRIGHT
WHERE: CORPUS CHRISTI CHURCH PLATT STREET, WARATAH
WHEN: FRIDAY, 16TH OCTOBER, 2015
FOLLOWED BY REFRESHMENTS IN THE PARISH HALL
finding the next quick fix that might turn
around their popularity problems of the
day. We talk about the need for sustained
national debate on the great issues , but
we too often forestall any such hard
thinking by re-focusing the political agenda
on personalities or quick gestur es towards
the people's cur rent mood.
The Australian bishops have just released
a Social Justice Statement on asylum
seeker policy, For those who've come across
the seas... It invites us to think mor e
deeply about the issues and principles
involved in our dealing with the present
world crisis of such vast masses of people
forced into fleeing their homelands . It
invites us to think more about who we
are and what we stand for in the world. It
gets us a bit beyond slogans and gestures
as proper responses to these gr eat issues.
proper 'national debate' on a great issue? I
commend to everyone the not-so-ter ribly
arduous ta sk of reading the statement and
thinking about it.
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