Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Demonising foreigners, from haggis-munching Scots to Bruce Springsteen ...
The story so far, as best the pond can work it out.
Scott Morrison demonises boat people, but then the party is caught out by the backlash, and a strategic retreat is ordered.
George Brandis hears the cock crow three times, and knows nothing about anything, because he turns out that Morrison might have been shooting off at the lip:
Shadow attorney-general George Brandis told Sky News on Tuesday: ''I haven't had a discussion with Mr Morrison about this particular matter." (Abbott ducks questions on asylum seeker protocols)
It wasn't just Brandis ducking, Joe Hockey went the duck too. You know there's a lot of ducking when Dennis "the suit and tie" Shanahan notes the retreat.
But Morrison needs to demonise someone or something, because, well because when you speak in tongues, you become intimately acquainted with demons:
At a conference in Melbourne yesterday, he said: "The Prime Minister is saying, through her attacks on 457s, that skilled migrants who come the right way, who have something to bring to Australia, who get jobs and pay taxes are not the migrants she is looking for. Through her government's continued failures on our borders, she prefers those who arrive illegally on boats and go on to welfare. The budget blowout on Labor's border failures on immigration alone since the last election is more than $5 billion."
Mr Morrison's attack came as Coalition frontbenchers appeared to retreat from the immigration spokesman's earlier remarks about asylum-seekers and refused to endorse his idea of "protocols" to be implemented for those living in the community. (Foreigner 457 visa row boils over, behind the paywall so you don't need to care)
Yes Julia Gillard prefers illegal welfare lovers over skilled migrants so, so much .... that she employed a Scot as her media adviser on a 457 visa.
(You would have thought someone in her office might have noticed this, and thought about it, before the government set about the business of demonising people on 457 visas).
And so to complete the perfect demonic circle, jolly Joe Hockey decided to demonise the Scot and raise questions about security and wonder just how much we could trust these perfidious Celts coming out here and stealing jobs from natural born Australians (as if any local would be lunatic to set themselves up for cheap shots and vile slander by an opposition always willing to play the head or the balls of the kilted exposed Scot, rather than the policy issues).
It was as astonishing a round of demonising as has been seen in recent times, and neither side escaped being tarnished, and now it seems we must fear foreigners on 457s, who should be put through a series of protocols and savage security checks.
Perhaps neighbours and police should be notified of their grasping, vile presence, and they should be forced to issue a circular to the neighbourhood in the dire event that they have a haggis bottling party.
The slandering of the Scot reached the perfect acme of absurdity on PM last night when Tony Abbott said this:
TONY ABBOTT: They're demonising people coming to this country and working from day one.
And then Joe Hockey, demonically demonising, said this about a man, whom, so far as the pond knows, came to this country and started working from day one:
JOE HOCKEY: How did they get security clearance to access some of the most sensitive documents of Australia if she says, well… well I'm just surprised that there's no-one else that is prepared to work in Julia Gillard's office, other than someone who's on a 457 visa. (457 fight gets personal)
Because anyone on a 457 visa is suspect, and quite likely un-Australian
It was the very acme of circular absurdity, yet the casual slanders and the cheap easy shots about foreign workers keep flowing.
In her career-halting column today, Janet "Dame Slap" Albrechtsen nominated five Liberals who should to to the top of the class (yes Dame Slap is always keen to reward the best students in her stringent school, as you can read in Five Liberal golden boys who should go to the top of the class, which you could go to automatically inside the paywall if you hadn't realised subscribing to The Australian was a massive waste of money).
The five golden boys (girlies and weaklings need not apply) who have been given a pointing by Dame Slap's fickle finger of fate, and whose careers are thereby blighted and might never recover?
Arthur Sinodinos, Josh Frydenberg, Alan Tudge, Paul Fletcher and Jamie Briggs.
They're doomed, doomed I tells ya, off up with magic faraway tree with you, but what's interesting here is the way Dame Slap wraps it up:
...Lord knows, we need a hefty skills boost in the next government after the disorder that comes from being governed by imported spin doctors and political opportunists.
Yes, it's the taint of the foreigner and the import trawled over one more time.
It's the simple, absolutely unnecessary use of the word "imported" that gives the gutter trawling away. As if we're being governed by an imported spin doctor.
Has Albrechtsen no sense of shame? Of course not, she's got a hide as thick as a rhino.
So much for what the long absent lord said about strangers in the house.
What a vile period of politics, and it's only going to get worse over the long haul, as both sides desperately descend into their chosen gutters of stupidity, fear and loathing.
So to a lighter note, speaking as we do of rhino hides.
Getting George Brandis to talk about anything is a mistake, but getting him to talk about y'artz is an even bigger mistake. What an unfortunate affair that he should be the opposition spokesperson on y'artz.
Brandis can never take the sneer out of his voice, unless he's wanting to make room for the snigger, and so it was in Our Philistine Treasurer and the art of shelving culture (behind the paywall so you don't have to adopt a plum voice and talk about y'artz).
Of course as soon as anyone mentions philistine in the context of the y'artz, you know you're going to have to swallow a tablespoon of snobbery, along with a bit of cod liver oil. Cop this:
Exciting interest in cultural policy in the Gillard government is a task of almost Sisyphean hopelessness. The Treasurer's idea of high culture is Bruce Springsteen.
Actually it seems that the Treasurer's idea of pop music is a musician whose work he enjoys, Bruce Springsteen by name, and where's the harm in that?
You can apply this sort of uniquely disabling condescension to any pop artist. Try it out, you might find it useful.
Brandis's idea of high culture is Bob Dylan. Brandis's idea of high culture is Madonna. Brandis's idea of high culture is the movies, ones from Hollywood without subtitles.
The whole notion of "high culture" is as dodgy as Brandis's legal advice. You have to go a long way back to find it of any use, perhaps as far back as Matthew Arnold in 1869 (yes, there's a wiki about that archaic and antiquated concept and term here).
The trouble of course is that much of this alleged "high culture" is foreign, and imported on 457 visas. There's bloody opera, and highfalutin classical music and paintings by Europeans (or even worse Poms like Francis Bacon), all sent over to weaken the precious vital fluids of native born Australians.
Among the rest of the hatchet-faced ex-trade union officials and dodgy union lawyers, indifference is as good as it gets. Better that than hostility - for many the default position. Crean is surrounded by colleagues to whom the arts sector has the whiff of dangerous elitism - yet another set of enemies in the class war.
What's perhaps funniest of all is the way the feral rat pack of Tea Party types routinely go after the likes of Cate Blanchett for daring to turn up to the Ruddster's bright minds affair, or appear in ads drawing attention to climate change.
Indeed the Liberal party is surrounded by ranting emotionally high strung types like the Bolter and Tim Blair ever ready to draw attention to the dangerous deluded whiff of elitism in the arts (the Bolter only sobs in private into his presumptuous red wines while listening to the opera).
The usual charge is that Blanchett and the like, soft huggy liberal lefties, who make a motza in Hollywood, are a major set of enemies in the class war, at odds with the bogan flip floppers of the western suburbs.
It takes the unique mind of Brandis to reverse this stereotype.
What's even more poignant is his demand that hatchet-faced ex-trade union officials should stand aside, because they're in the way of Brandis handing out oodles of money to needy artists.
Should a hatchet-faced Liberal berate others for being hatchet-faced?
Never mind, it seems we must now forget a favourite old song and dance free market routine, beloved of many Liberals, which celebrates the y'artz that don't require funding because they have popular appeal, and bemoan the dying decadent arts that always have their paw out for government cash.
So does have Brandis have anything new and fresh to say about arts funding?
You know, perhaps an explication of how the new NBN could be used to pour content funded by the Australian government into the homes of consumers too remote to attend events in Sydney?
Not really, he's too busy harking back to the good old days of Harold Holt and John Gorton who really truly did create the Australia Council (next thing he'll be telling us Gorton gave money to the film industry when we all know that was created single-handedly by the omnipotent Phillip Adams).
Brandis places great importance on the Labor government's long proposed and yet to be delivered National Cultural Policy, without seeming to understand that anyone actually active in the arts, practitioners, couldn't give a stuff about a paper which is designed by and for arts bureaucrats.
A sensible practitioner will simply say "show me the money, and without the cults and cliques that determine who gets what via the Australia Council or Screen Australia or other funding bodies". Or they'll just go and make their art anyway, because they're driven to do it.
So when Brandis boasts about how it's the the Coalition that puts runs on the board, the pond stamps its foot impatiently and says, stop talking jibber jabber about the nineteen sixties, as if that counts for anything. It's 2013, and what have you got?
Where's your very own policy statement? What are you proposing to improve? What bright new future do you foresee for "high culture" in the western suburbs? Will any snake in the grass on a 457 profit from it?
If a tree falls in a forest, does anyone hear?
Hopefully your brand new, yet to be fully revealed policy, isn't full of the preening, prattish boastfulness with which you filled your column?
But if you can't deliver a policy, never mind, just show the artists the fucking money ...
As the Boss himself sang:
I got a Smith and Wesson .38
I got a hellfire burning and I got me a taste
Got me a date on the far shore
It’s bright and sunny
I’m going on the town now looking for easy Liberal money
You put on your coat I’ll put on my hat
You put out the dog
I’ll put out the cat
You put on your red dress
You’re looking real good, honey
We’re going on the town now looking for easy Liberal money
We’re going on the town now looking for easy Liberal money
Or how about this one by the Boss?
I wish I was Mr Brandis,
Pay me my money down,
They'd haul my Liberal money in in crates,
Pay me my Liberal money down
Oh pay me, oh pay me,
Pay me my money down,
Pay me or go to jail,
Pay me my money down
Well 40 nights, nights at sea
Pay me my money down,
Mr. Swan worked every last dollar out of me,
Pay me my Liberal money down
Here's a hint to Brandis. While discussing the y'artz stop dissing artists and people who enjoy the works of artists.
Start by stopping dissing the Boss. He might be old and frail and a stadium rock dinosaur but he paid his dues when he was born to run to Nebraska.
Sure he made one of the worst Xmas songs in recorded history, but he's still got more notion of art in his toenail than you, Mr. Brandis, have in the entirety of your pompous, smarmy, smirking, sneering, shameless philistine-defaming hide.
Now let's forget this little storm in a philistine teacup, and adjourn to High Tea, and talk of Bartok and Shostakovich and Peter Sculthorpe and Percy Grainger, and all the other classical musicians who were never afraid to rip off a folk tune circulating amongst common working folk, because they liked the melody ....
... but only if you stop demonising foreigners like the Boss, blathering on about philistines and high culture, and show the artists the fucking money ...
Some might even settle for a little respect or a little love and joy.
(Below: not many cartoonists have paid attention to Senator Brandis - it's probably hard for an artist to do much with the face - but there's a series of encounters with ferrets here).
Posted by dorothy parker at 3/06/2013 08:05:00 AM