Last night I watched Immigration Nation on SBS One and filled in some gaps in my knowledge. For months I’ve been hearing it said on social media that Malcolm Fraser has become more humanitarian with age, he wasn’t like that when he was Prime Minister. Oh, yes he was! Whitlam allowed 1,000 and no more Indo-Chinese refugees in case, coming from a communist country, they wouldn’t vote Labor later on. Fraser was the Prime Minister that opened Australia’s heart and we accepted 70,000 refugees. I have no idea of their voting patterns and nor does it worry me.
I am no longer a member of the Liberal party because I can’t accept the party line on several issues but I have taken some flak for my ongoing support of Fraser. I don’t understand how or why people think he has changed when history tells me he hasn’t. He may have more freedom now to speak in ways he couldn’t before, or in ways that were not necessary before the current crop of Liberals, but I see Fraser acted humanely then as he does now.
The program put in perspective for me why Fraser is so disapproving of the current approach to the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
It makes me wonder how history gets so twisted. Every historian has a personal perspective, I suppose, and in some cases that will impact later perceptions of historical times and events. Most historians research diligently and write with the earnest intention of presenting the recounting of a time and events as closely as they possibly can to the reality. I believe Matthew Wright is one of those historians.
Of course, we don’t go around reading history books all the time. We read newspaper articles, we talk to friends, family and co-workers and our perspective becomes removed from the reality of the time. Given the state of the mainstream media at the moment, more opinion than actual reporting, the media doesn’t necessarily present an accurate picture to the reader. If we live in a country we weren’t born in, we have less knowledge of the history than we might otherwise have had. In that situation we have, I think, a tendency to think the “locals” have it right when in fact they may not.
I am not talking about the Battle of Hastings in 1066 though. I am talking about a period of history in my adult lifetime. Many of the political players of that time are still alive and able to state what happened with clarity. Yes, there will always be fundamental differences of perspective: everyone knows Whitlam and Fraser see November 11, 1975 entirely differently from a personal perspective, yet the facts of the day remain the same.
The facts of who had the humanitarian approach at the time was certainly brought home to me last night, watching Immigration Nation.
Which brings me to another observation. It seems there is a tendency to blindly defend OR blindly attack. People will blindly defend the policies of either political party just because that is the party they support, rather than provide critical feedback. If they disagree in many cases they will simply stay silent and so the voices of the blind defenders rise above all else. Just as over the years many defended the institutions now appearing at the Royal Commission in Child Sexual Abuse. How many years has it taken for the voices of those blindly defending the institutions to be drowned out and some action taken?
Humans are pack animals. We like to belong, be it a political, religious or football affiliation. The power of the pack.
Let us not be blind to things we should we should not accept even when those things are in our own pack. Let us open our eyes and our ears and seek the truth of situations current and past.
We must speak out when things are not right, for only then can we improve the very “pack” we consider we belong to.
Malcolm Fraser speaks out. Years ago he took action. So should all of us.
- Dear Deputy Leader of the Opposition (teamoyeniyi.com)