Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Next time you're thinking John Howard was the Meanness of Spirit King ...

 ... think again.

Tony Abbott, fearless would-be saviour of the good burghers of Woodside in the Adelaide Hills from the invasion of the bomb-concealing, classroom-hogging, doctor-stealing alien hordes small handfuls, thinks that women and children in fear of their lives should be parked somewhere as horrible as possible, lest they forget that they deserve punishment for, erm, being in fear of their lives.

But then, we know what Abbott thinks about women and children, don't we.

Given the published reaction of some of the selfish, short-sighted, mean-spirited citizens of Woodside (and I bet there are plenty of Woodside citizens who don't fit that description, but did they make the papers? Oh my wordy lordy no they did not) to the idea of a detention centre being located there, I should have thought that was punishment enough. If someone threatened to plonk me down in the midst of that lot, I wouldn't care how many pretty trees I was surrounded by, I'd still be begging to be sent to the desert.

For a while I thought they had a point when they complained about not having been consulted (although, as Chris Bowen and several other people have quietly pointed out, it's government land and they can do whatever they like with it), but surely it must be clear to everyone by now, given their under-informed whingeing about how terrible it would be if they were a bit disadvantaged by a sudden influx of population, that the reason the government didn't humbly ask their permission was that if they had, they would have said No, we hate f*cking foreigners, naff off.

Now that it has been painstakingly made clear to these citizens that of course extra support services will be provided, I see they've shifted to whining about how hard it will be to get people to safety if there's a bushfire. Obviously they're not aware of this little fact about their own town:

The CFS has developed a list of townships that have been identified as Bushfire Safer Precincts for South Australia. This is a place of relative safety and may be considered as a place for people to stay in, or relocate to if their plan is to leave their home on a bad fire day. Hahndorf, Mount Barker, Nairne and Woodside are considered Bushfire Safer Precincts.

If the citizens of Woodside have ever whinged in the past about the possible influx of people fleeing from the Hills bushfire hot spots, it hasn't made the news.

And in the meantime, Abbott is having a field day doing his best to broaden and darken the mean streak in human nature, and to cosset and force-feed its fears.


Lucy Sussex said...

I take it you didn't get Howard's bio to review. Keef Richards is much more interesting. Unlike Abbott he actually seems to like women (had matriarchies on both sides, one lot socialists, the other musos. The photo of his aunties is great--7 classy women.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

No, all my reviews books are fiction, thank God. For the SMH, anyway. If I had any spare time at all at the moment I think I would at least try to read the Howard book, just to see what he was thinking. On the other hand, life is short.

Anonymous said...

Some history.
'The first 907 DPs (438 Poles) arrived in South Australia in May 1949 and were taken to an immigrant holding centre in converted army huts at Woodside.' (p 13, 20th Century Heritage Survey Stage 1, Marsden et al, SA Dept Env & Heritage, 2004)

A friend was born in the Woodside camp, & was there during the 1955 Black Sunday fires.

Odd that none of this has appeared in the media....


Anonymous said...

Several points further to my last hasty comment.

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.


Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

'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.'

That's what I would have thought, too -- even the conservative elements in the Hills are (or were) more the much-maligned Doctors' Wives sort (a trope that deserves unpacking at some future date, both for its lost meaning and for its sexist logic) who draw the line at this sort of basely inhumane behaviour.

Actually, TFA, I don't think your info is at all widely known, and we certainly won't be getting it from baby journalists who think the world began yesterday, not even here in Adders, much less on the East Coast -- can I cut and paste it into a short guest post so a few more people will see it?

Anonymous said...

Kerryn, be my guest. By all means lift anything that's useful for your post.


David Irving (no relation) said...

Those people made me ashamed of my home state.

Quite frankly, I think the govt should find some slightly more polite way of saying:

1. It's Commonwealth property;
2. We'll never win this seat anyway; so
3. You can get fucked.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

DI (nr): hee hee. I particularly like (3).

Re Mayo, didn't John Schumann come within shouting distance of taking it off Downer, or is that just a fantasy memory of mine?

David Irving (no relation) said...

Yeah, he got within shouting distance, Kerryn. Wasn't that around the time that Downer had trodden on his dick with the "Things that batter" speech?

David Irving (no relation) said...

I reckon the govt should say the same thing, pretty much, about the Murray-Darling Basin plan, too.

Stephen Luntz said...

Actually, the Libs have come close to losing the seat of May twice. In 1998 Schumann nearly took it off them, but that was in part because of the rather odd decision of One Nation to direct preferences to him.

In 2008 when Downer left The Greens got to 47% two party preferred in the by-election. I know the Greens didn't campaign flat out - they thought there was no chance of winning and saw it as a practice run for the next state election. Afterwards there was some thinking both locally and nationally that given how close we got we should have tipped some money in and brought in organisers from elsewhere to give it a good shake. A progressive independent might have had a shot of winning had she squeezed past the Greens.

However, looking at the polling booth results it is clear that Woodside is somewhat (although not drastically) less progressive than the seat as a whole.