Complacency is not an option.. my take on the political implosion at play, complete with a Handmaids Tale reference for good measure. Seemed apt.
Any which way you summarise the political machinations of the past 48 hours, the conclusion is remains that as a nation, we are edging closer to a Prime Minister that represents the worst excesses of his party.
What does this mean? Why does it matter? What do we do?
Peter Dutton’s affair with racist invective is evidenced in some astonishing actions and statements – these incidents are neither isolated, nor are they secretive. We are talking about a man who personally refused, without regret, to attend the national apology offered to stolen generations by then PM Kevin Rudd in 2008. In more recent years, his hardline stance warning against ‘compassion’ towards refugees and asylum seekers languishing off Nauru and Manus Island have come to represent a badge of honour he wears with pride, while our growing international reputation as human rights violating country remains an intractable scar.
We continue to witness the deteriorating mental health and wellbeing of children and adults, some of who have been in these camps for years, and the 12 people who have perished on these islands. His outspoken criticism of Lebanese migrants being allowed into the country as a ‘mistake’, his urgent desire to bring only white South African farmers to Australia, and an insistence, based on no evidence at all, that Melbournians are terrified to dine out in fear of attacks from African gangs – are all hallmarks of Dutton.
While commentators across media outlets lament the ascent of a conservative right wing MP to the PM’s role, it cannot be underscored that this single candidate has received enough backing of his party to take office. Let me repeat that: enough backing of his party. Let that sink in. This is a party willing to back a man with a record of racist comments and policies to lead this country to the next election.
I have been noting with interest the spike in public political apathy – with comments ranging from ‘why bother’, ‘it’s pointless, whomever you vote for the government still wins’ to ‘I’m throwing my vote the way they’ve thrown the country’ etc. While I understand these reactions, as a minority and Muslim woman in this country, I do not have the luxury of apathy. If anything, the likelihood of the next election heralding a term of xenophobic legislation, presents itself as a definitive wake up call. Trump happens.
Once I’m done grieving, it’s time to mobilise. Similar to the women’s marches after the election of Donald Trump, we now have an opportunity to protest and engage with the political process more actively.
I am hopeful this momentum translates to increased political action, whether that be protest, signing up for party membership or writing to local MP’s about issues that matter – the action is small, but the impact is huge.
We need better leaders as prospects in the first place. Ironically, the gift of a political implosion like the one we are enduring now can either yield apathetic cynics or trailblazing change makers.
Indeed, if you are a refugee, migrant, Muslim, minority, supporter of diversity, or human rights advocate, heck, if even if you value Medicare, the prospect of PM Dutton is woe inducing. But it certainly isn’t game over.