(In the comments thread on the last post, the one about the federal government's plan to house asylum seekers at an army base near the little Adelaide Hills town of Woodside, regular commenter and fellow Adelaidean TFA left a comment so interesting and informative in its provision of historical context that I have asked and been granted his permission to reproduce it in a separate post so that a few more people will see it. NOW READ ON ...)
First, not all those who were vocal at the public meeting were Woodside locals: some speakers travelled from towns like Mt Barker and Gumeracha, 15-20 km away.
More importantly, I'm puzzled by the vigour of the objections to refugees given the history of the area.
For those not acquainted with SA, Woodside sits in the part of the Adelaide Hills first settled in the 1840s by German refugees fleeing religious persecution. Many of their descendants still live in the area.
Woodside subsequently hosted a camp for European refugees from the late 1940s through to at least 1959, apparently without major problems. And in 1955 they weathered one of SA's worst ever bushfires without loss to life or limb, so the fire risk argument looks spurious.
So Woodside seems an unlikely centre for virulent anti-refugee sentiment.
Witnessing spite and malevolence masquerading as resolute self-determination - especially within a society that I had held in regard for its ability to accommodate difference - is hard. And examining a Hills community to find the most base aspects of Western Sydney is - well, it would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
Howard, it seems, broke something fundamental and important.
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