Our politicians’ tears last week may have been genuine, but their proposals to fix Australia’s refugee boat problem were not. Each of the so-called solutions - off-shore processing, people swaps, towing back boats, even flying in refugees on jumbo jets – were watered down compromises, dressed up in emotional rhetoric.
After years of inaction, it’s time to for some bold thinking and straight talking. It’s time to do what many people know is right but have been too afraid to say. It’s time to build a fence around the perimeter of Australia.
Australia has a proud history of building big fences to keep pests out. In the 1880s we built a 5,300km fence to stop dingos from eating our sheep in the south-eastern states. In the early 1900s we built a giant fence to keep rabbits out of Western Australia. But there hasn’t been a lot of fence-building since.
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It was unexpected, but after five years as Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott finally relinquished on our cold war of mutual dislike with one simple sentence.
In a Channel 9 interview on Friday March 30, Abbot said: “Every year lifesavers prevent hundreds, if not thousands, of drownings and I think they do a terrific job, but anyone who does surf lifesaving knows there are some risks attached.”
Abbott was of course referring to the tragic death of a 14 year old surfer Matt Barclay who died while competing in the under 15s Australian Life Saving Championships on the Gold Coast on March 28.
It’s official. The water quality in Gladstone Harbour is fine despite one of the world’s biggest dredging programs. Sick fish are getting better, there are no health problems and the three week fishing ban over 500 sqkm of waterways has just been lifted.
Apparently more than 20 fishermen who presented with serious infections and skin lesions after coming into contact with what they claimed to be infected fish and contaminated water are mistaken.
Queensland Seafood Association president and cardio-surgeon Dr Michael Gardner doesn’t think so but swimming in the harbour has also been officially sanctioned by State Government authorities and all the kids who had to pack their fishing rods away during the school holidays can dust them off and get back out in the harbour while the dredging continues as part of a program to move 46 million cubic metres of silt.
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Is it un-Australian to be scared of the ocean? If so, I’m a traitor of the worst kind.
As New Year’s Eve countdowns by carefree, salt-encrusted water rats echoed around our beach resorts, I was thinking of the Poseidon Adventure: “... five, four, three, two, one, Happy New… Oh, Christ, a tidal wave!”... and the passengers who are having the most sex, drinking the most, laughing the loudest and having all the fun die horribly.
Aussie surf champ Stephanie Gilmore considers the sea a refuge from nutcases with iron bars - but really it is a cold and forbidding place.
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