The announcement that Australian Army facilities near Woodside in the Adelaide Hills are to be upgraded to house up to 400 asylum seekers strikes me as an overwhelmingly Good Thing, but there's something a little strange going on with the ABC's reporting of it. The radio reporting, which I've been hearing intermittently in the car all day, has been pretty unrelentingly negative, with reports of SA Premier Mike Rann being annoyed that he only found out about it an hour before it was publicly announced (fair enough too, I guess: didn't the premature announcement of the phantom East Timor centre teach the PM anything?), reports of locals having insular, knee-jerk negative reactions, reports of the local mayor being worried about the effect on the provision of services, and nothing much positive at all.
So it was weird to check the ABC's website a minute ago and see quite a different spin on all this. Obviously quite a few people are, if not actively welcoming it, at least being accepting and open-minded (and open-handed) about it. But one local woman I heard being quoted on the radio whinged, complete with whiny upward inflection, 'But those children will be going to the local primary school? It'll make class sizes bigger? And my children will be disadvantaged?'
Tell you what, love, if I had kids at school and someone told me to expect an influx of children from asylum-seeker families, I think it would remind me of my high-school days, when I learned at least as much about the size and complexity of the world from the Italian, Polish, Russian, German and, most of all, Greek kids I went to school with as I did from the curriculum. I'd welcome the chance for my kids to find out something about the other side of the world, and what some people's lives are like there. And I'd welcome the opportunity for practical lessons in tolerance of cultural difference and generosity to people in trouble, as well as -- if necessary -- in how to stick up for kids who are being given a hard time. I think the kind of education afforded by that broadening of their horizons would far outweigh any disadvantages of being in a bigger class.
In which the pond turns to the Caterists and Dame Groan ... - The pond is never sure whether the reptiles are mocking the Donald, or mocking themselves for admitting that they're the Donalds of down under journalism...
14 minutes ago