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The god of indifference.



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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Department of the Parliamentary Library.

 

It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in any other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.

 

For the purposes of quoting verbatim from a transcript, it is advisable to verify the transcript against the broadcast.

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Perspective

Friday 2 September 2005

James Bourne, actor

 

The God of Indifference  

 

Australians all let us rejoice for we are heartless and indifferent.  

 

The most common mantra at demonstrations these days is “Shame, Howard, shame…” but should really be “Shame, Australia, shame…” Do we need to remind ourselves that Mr Howard is the elected voice of the majority of Australians? 

 

The majority of Australians (around 70%) also call themselves Christian - that is, the sorts of Christians who allow traumatised refugees to be imprisoned (and, as the Howard government vehemently argued in the Supreme Court, we can lawfully imprison them forever if we so choose). Christians who stand by and watch the slow disintegration of these refugees into madness or suicide as they abandon all hope of being treated humanely. Surely, if they can’t expect Christian compassion they could at least hope for justice, or for what we Australians were once famous for : a ‘fair go’. 

 

As a majority Christian population, we continue to ignore, mistreat and vilify our national shame, our indigenous population. Over the last ten years we have managed to reduce their rights and stifle their voice further still, most recently through the destruction of ATSIC, as we gleefully prepare to drive them out of Redfern - and elsewhere - in the name of increasing land values and the gentrification of suburbia.  

 

We are the sorts of Christians who hold up the banner of War and Invasion, assist in random imprisonment and torture, without charge or trial or even production of evidence. 

 

The same Christians who remain indifferent towards our immoral claim to international fame as having the world’s-highest-emission of greenhouse gases (not only the world’s greatest producers per capita, but in 2002-3 we even managed to break our own record and produce 15% more per person.). We refuse to ratify the Kyoto protocol while implementing the construction of bigger coal stations and more wood-chipping mills. 

 

Recently, the National Australia Bank made two great announcements: firstly, that it’s half-yearly profits were around 2½ billion dollars, and secondly, to thank all those employees who had helped in the making of such unexpectedly high profits, they will be slashing 4,200 jobs. Telstra, with similar profit margins, previously announced slashing 2,200 jobs. Australians remain silent, for this will mean an increase in the share price - our silence, here, is bought. 

 

How can a majority Christian population vote in, support, and condone a so-called Christian-majority government that so actively undermines the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (especially Article 14), The UN Covenant on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (especially Article 9). How can we aid and abet a government in the abuse of humane values such as justice and equality, and encourage it to campaign so tenaciously for the reduction of these values? We collude with this team who preach democracy while reducing its scope, curtailing its application and limiting its access, the same team who lie, deceive, vilify and mystify, while holding up a Christian banner. This is what Samuel Johnson meant when he described prayer as “the last refuge of the scoundrel”.  

 

When asked about the electric fence around the Baxter Immigration Detention Centre, the Deputy Secretary of DIMIA denied that it was an “electric fence” - it is an “energised” fence, she said, a 9,000-volt “energised” fence. Mr Ruddock refers to it as a “courtesy fence”, while arguing in the Supreme Court that it is lawful to imprison refugees for life behind this “courtesy fence”. He refers to Baxter as the “family-friendly” Detention Centre, while pretending to be Christian, pretending that an almighty, all-powerful God would agree with the almighty, all-powerful Prime Minister in implementing and actively encouraging such heinous practices. Mr Howard, himself, describes his government as “a modest, humble government”.  

 

However, the real sadness comes from the majority of ‘Christian’ Australians who not only collude through their indifference and silence, but actively condone and support it with their vote. 

 

This is how we promote human rights in Australia, how we practice the Christian values of “do unto others”, how we justify our luxurious and privileged position in a world where two-thirds of the planet’s population struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day, while we break records for obesity and preach the Christian way. This is how we instruct our young, through example, of the true meaning and application of democracy, human rights and a ‘fair-go’.  

 

“Shame, Australia, shame…”  

 

Guests on this program:

James Bourne  

Actor, Director