Saturday 8 June 2024

Quote of the Week

"Plans for Your Good flows with all the plausible, coherent, rhythmic religiosity of a psalm recited by the Swedish Chef. At best, it is unoriginal, inconsequential, cyclical, paternalistic evangelism. At worst, it is a dubious attempt at indoctrination. But neither Christian values nor the practise of faith more broadly are the problem. It’s Morrison’s willingness to use them as tools of manipulation, distraction and evasion. In the Gospel According to Scott, he is always the hero, never the villain. His superpower is amnesia."

[2021 Australian of the Year, author, activist, advocate & Director of the Grace Tame Foundation, Grace Tame, reviewing Scott Morrison's 'memoir' "Plans For Your Good: A Prime Minister's Testimony of God's Faithfulness" in The Monthly, June 2024]

Friday 7 June 2024

NATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION STATE OF PLAY June 2024: When a opaque national anti-corruption body is structured with a deliberate lack of transparency then this type of scenario is almost guaranteed to play out


The National Anti-Corruption Commission (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2022 passed both houses of the Australian Parliament on 30 November 2023 after the government accepted 38 amendments - 36 originating in the House of Representatives and 2 in the Senate.

So on 12 December 2022 the NATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION ACT 2022 received the Governor-General's assent and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) was born.

The NACC is apparently overseen by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the National Anti-Corruption Commission (PJC-NACC) (current membership composition 6 ALP, 4 Coalition, 1 Greens & 1 Independent) and an Inspector of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (the Inspector).

Its jurisdiction limited to the federal public service, its day-to-day activities opaque and lacking any real transparency, it blithely produces meaningless stripped statistics such as this excerpt from a Media Alert concerning NACC Referral and assessment from 1 July 2023 to 2 June 2024:

"At the end of the reporting period, the Commission had:

  • received 3023 referrals

  • excluded 2350 referrals at the triage stage because they did not involve a Commonwealth public official or did not raise a corruption issue

  • 139 referrals awaiting triage

  • 257 triaged referrals under assessment including 22 under preliminary investigation

  • assessed 260 referrals, in respect of which the Commission:

* decided to take no further action in 247 cases. Typically, this is because the referral does not raise a corruption issue, or there are insufficient prospects of finding corrupt conduct, or the matter is already being adequately investigated by another agency, or a corruption investigation would not add value in the public interest. [my yellow highlighting]

* referred 9 corruption issues to agencies for investigation or consideration.

* decided to investigate 19 corruption issues itself.

* decided to investigate 6 corruption issues jointly with another agency.

So it should come as no surprise that the NACC produced this on its News and Media webpage on Thursday, 6 June 2024:

NationalAnti-Corruption Commission decides not to pursue Robodebt RoyalCommission referrals but focus on ensuring lessons learnt

Media Releases


6 Jun 2024

On 6 July 2023, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Commission) received referrals concerning six public officials from the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme (Robodebt Royal Commission) pursuant to section 6P(2B) of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth).

The Commission has carefully considered each referral and reviewed the extensive material provided by the Robodebt Royal Commission, including its final report, and the Confidential Chapter.

The Commission has become aware that five of the six public officials were also the subject of referrals to the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC).

The Commission is conscious of the impact of the Robodebt Scheme on individuals and the public, the seniority of the officials involved, and the need to ensure that any corruption issue is fully investigated.

However, the conduct of the six public officials in connection with the Robodebt Scheme has already been fully explored by the Robodebt Royal Commission and extensively discussed in its final report. After close consideration of the evidence that was available to the Royal Commission, the Commission has concluded that it is unlikely it would obtain significant new evidence.

In the absence of a real likelihood of a further investigation producing significant new evidence, it is undesirable for a number of reasons to conduct multiple investigations into the same matter. This includes the risk of inconsistent outcomes, and the oppression involved in subjecting individuals to repeated investigations.

In deciding whether to commence a corruption investigation, the Commission takes into account a range of factors. A significant consideration is whether a corruption investigation would add value in the public interest, and that is particularly relevant where there are or have been other investigations into the same matter. There is not value in duplicating work that has been or is being done by others, in this case with the investigatory powers of the Royal Commission, and the remedial powers of the APSC.

Beyond considering whether the conduct in question amounted to corrupt conduct within the meaning of the Act and, if satisfied, making such a finding, the Commission cannot grant a remedy or impose a sanction (as the APSC can). Nor could it make any recommendation that could not have been made by the Robodebt Royal Commission. An investigation by the Commission would not provide any individual remedy or redress for the recipients of government payments or their families who suffered due to the Robodebt Scheme.

The Commission has therefore decided not to commence a corruption investigation as it would not add value in the public interest. However, the Commission considers that the outcomes of the Robodebt Royal Commission contain lessons of great importance for enhancing integrity in the Commonwealth public sector and the accountability of public officials. The Commission will continue through its investigation, inquiry, and corruption prevention and education functions, to address the integrity issues raised in the final report, particularly in relation to ethical decision making, to ensure that those lessons are learnt, and to hold public officials to account.

In order to avoid any possible perception of a conflict of interest, the Commissioner delegated the decision in this matter to a Deputy Commissioner. [my yellow highlighting]

The Commission will not be making further comment.

For the record the current NACC deputy commissioners appear to be Ms Nicole Rose PSM, Dr Ben Gauntlett and Ms Kylie Kilgour. So it was with one of these individuals that NACC Commissioner Hon Paul Brereton AM RFD SC decided to play 'pass the parcel.

Pundits have already coined a term to cover the public reaction to National Anti-Corruption Commission decisions - Being NACCered.

The reaction of one of a handful of reputable journalists who followed the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme proceedings:

Thursday 6 June 2024

Serco Australia Pty Limited & the Community and Public Sector Union (NSW)


Serco Australia Pty Limited operates the Clarence Correctional Centre, a maximum- and minimum-security correctional centre for male and female offenders accommodating up to 1,700 inmates.

This correctional centre opened in July 2020 with Serco Australia having a 20 year management contract. This contract was initially worth UK £1.5 billion or AUD $2.6 billion to the Serco Group.

The company is a subsidiary within UK-based Serco Group plc, a group whose revenue grew by 7% to £4.9 billion in 2023.

The SERCO Clarence Correctional Case Officers Enterprise Agreement in place since 2021 is due to expire on 3 March 2025. The Community and Public Sector Union (NSW) is gearing up to meet with SERCO bargaining representatives to start bargaining for the next Enterprise Agreement.

So it will be interesting to see how this plays out given past complaints about pay and working conditions, including dangerously low staffing levels and alleged prisoner assaults on staff. Which march alongside past allegations of poor prisoner health services and assaults/brawling among prisoners.

Note: There was a death in custody reported at Clarence Correctional Centre in April 2024. This is not the first death in custody - there being two reported by the media in 2022. As to the actual number, there is no publicly available information of which to assess this particular correctional centre.

Wednesday 5 June 2024

UN OCHA Humanitarian Situation Update For The Gaza Strip, 3 June 2024

In a media landscape of competing claims from multiple sources this UN humanitarian situation update is the most reliable.

Please note the body of this document contains multiple links. To read the official text with all active links go to:



Humanitarian Situation Update #174 | Gaza Strip

03 Jun 2024

The Humanitarian Situation Update is issued by OCHA Occupied Palestinian Territory three times per week. The Gaza Strip is covered on Mondays and Fridays, and the West Bank is covered on Wednesdays. The “Humanitarian Situation Update” is a rebranding of the “Flash Update”. The next Humanitarian Situation Update will be published on 5 June, and the next Humanitarian Response Update will be published on 12 June.

Key Highlights

  • Treatment of more than 3,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition is at risk of interruption if nutrition supplies are not distributed, UNICEF warns.

  • No bakeries are currently functional in Rafah and public health concerns are beyond crisis levels in Khan Younis and Deir al Balah, according to the World Food Programme.

  • The Emergency Committee for North Gaza municipalities declared Jabalya town, Jabalya Refugee Camp, Beit Lahya and Beit Hanoun as “disaster zones.”

  • Humanitarian space continues to further shrink, report UNRWA and the Protection Cluster.

Humanitarian Developments

* Israeli bombardment from the air, land, and sea continues to be reported across much of the Gaza Strip, resulting in further civilian casualties, displacement, and destruction of houses and other civilian infrastructure. Ground incursions and heavy fighting also continue to be reported, particularly in Rafah. Intensified hostilities following the issuance of evacuation orders and the Israeli military operation in Rafah have so far forced the displacement of about one million people, amid a decline in the entry of humanitarian aid.

* Between the afternoons of 31 May and 3 June, according to MoH in Gaza, 195 Palestinians were killed and 720 were injured, including 40 killed and 150 injured in the past 24 hours. Between 7 October 2023 and 3 June 2024, at least 36,479 Palestinians were killed and 82,777 were injured in Gaza, according to MoH in Gaza.

* The following are among the deadly incidents reported between 30 May and 3 June:

* On 30 May, at about 13:25, at least three Palestinians were reportedly killed and others injured when an UNRWA school was hit in Jabaliya Refugee Camp, in North Gaza.

* On 31 May, at about 1:05, eight Palestinians, including two children and three women, were reportedly killed and others injured when a house was hit in Bloc 9 in Al Bureij Refugee Camp, in Deir al Balah.

* On 31 May, at about 6:25, three Palestinian men were reportedly killed and others injured when a civilian car was hit in Al Helou Street in An Nuseirat Refugee Camp, in Deir al Balah.

* On 31 May, at about 20:00, three Palestinians including two women, one of whom was identified as a journalist, were reportedly killed and others injured when a house was hit in Al Jalaa Street in the central part of Gaza city.

* On 1 June, at about 15:00, two Palestinians were reportedly killed and four others injured when Ali Bin Abi Talib School sheltering internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Az Zaitoun neighbourhood of Gaza city was hit.

* On 2 June, at about 1:30, three Palestinians, including a man, a woman, and an infant, were reportedly killed when a house was hit in Ad Daraj neighbourhood of Gaza city.

* Between the afternoons of 31 May and 3 June, no Israeli soldiers were reported killed in Gaza. As of 3 June, 293 soldiers have been killed and 1,878 soldiers have been injured in Gaza or along the border in Israel since the beginning of the ground operation, according to the Israeli military. In addition, according to the Israeli media citing official Israeli sources, over 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals, including 33 children, have been killed in Israel, the vast majority on 7 October. As of 3 June, it is estimated that 125 Israelis and foreign nationals remain captive in Gaza, including fatalities whose bodies are withheld. On 3 June, the Israeli military stated that it has found, in Israel, the body of an Israeli killed in the attacks of 7 October 2023. According to media reports, he was thus far believed to be held hostage in Gaza.

* On 1 June, the Israeli military ordered residents of two blocs in Beit Hanoun, in North Gaza governorate, to evacuate to the area west of Gaza city. With an area of two square kilometres, the two blocs were home to 7,284 Palestinians before 7 October and encompass two UNRWA schools, one UNRWA distribution centre, and one health facility. To date, 285 square kilometres, or about 78 per cent of the Gaza Strip, have been placed under evacuation orders by the Israeli military; this encompasses all areas north of Wadi Gaza, whose residents were instructed to evacuate in late October, as well as specific areas south of Wadi Gaza designated for evacuation by the Israeli military since 1 December.

* On 2 June, the head of the Emergency Committee for North Gaza municipalities declared Jabalya town, Jabalya Refugee Camp, Beit Lahya and Beit Hanoun as “disaster zones,” following the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the area on 31 May. They appealed to the international community and UN aid agencies to provide immediate relief and shelter assistance as well as support the municipalities in repairing damaged water wells and other critical infrastructure. According to the same source, the most recent three-week ground operation in northern Gaza resulted in the destruction of 50,000 housing units, UNRWA shelters, and more than 15 water wells and other public infrastructure. The central market in Jabalya Refugee Camp, the fifth floor of Al Awda Hospital, and the main electricity generator at Kamal Adwan Hospital were also destroyed, reported the Palestinian Civil Defense (PCD) in a statement on 31 May. PCD teams have recovered tens of bodies, mostly women and children, from Jabalya Refugee Camp, including 30 people from the same family of whom 22 were women and children, and rescue operations are still ongoing. Highlighting the challenges facing PCD teams due to the lack of equipment, the director of Kamal Adwan Hospital, Dr. Husam Abu Safiyeh, noted in a media interview that over 120 bodies had been recovered by medical teams from under rubble, and that work was underway to repair damages and restore services at the hospital despite limited capacities.

* The intensification of hostilities and evacuation orders in Rafah have forced Protection Cluster partners, like other humanitarian actors, to evacuate their premises, with many providers, themselves displaced, unable to re-establish services due to the lack of tents, exorbitant rent costs, fuel shortage and rising transportation costs. This has resulted in a limited number of frontline staff in Al Mawasi area in Khan Younis, reports the Protection Cluster, and negatively affected the availability and accessibility of protection services, including for the provision of psycho-social support, awareness raising activities, and the re-establishment of referrals for Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases. It has also heightened the cost of accessing services, disproportionately affecting women and girls. The SOS Children’s village, the only currently functional shelter for children without parental care, had to relocate the children and their caregivers from Rafah to central Gaza but has a limited number of tents and no capacity to receive more children. According to UNRWA, the “humanitarian space continues to further shrink,” with all 36 UNRWA shelters in Rafah now empty and the agency having had to stop health and other critical services in the governorate.

* WFP is currently able to reach only 27,000 people with hot meals in Rafah, nowhere near what is required, noted the World Food Program (WFP) Country Director in Palestine, Matthew Hollingworth, in a press briefing on 31 May following a ten-day mission to Gaza. Six bakeries remain functional in Deir al Balah and Khan Younis, while those in Rafah have ceased operations due to the lack of fuel, he added. Deir al Balah and Khan Younis, where almost a million people have fled, are highly congested; people face dire shortages of food, clean water, medical supplies and healthcare services and “public health concerns are beyond crisis levels,” WFP stressed. WFP and its partners are currently providing 400,000 hot meals per day in the area but lack supplies to scale up the delivery of ready-to-eat rations while commercial supplies are generally unaffordable. Hollingworth observed that many families were resorting to leaving their identification cards as collateral to pay for food supplies from the market, “putting their own safety and future in jeopardy because they need those identification cards to register for aid in the future.” In northern Gaza, about 12,000 tons of aid, primarily food, that has arrived via the northern crossings since 1 May has provided some relief, but lack of access to clean water, nutritious foods, health care and sanitation continue to devastate the area.

* In Deir al Balah, Al Aqsa Hospital announced on 30 May that one child had died in the facility due to malnutrition and lack of medical treatment, and another 13-year-old child also reportedly died of malnutrition on 1 June. “If nutrition supplies, especially ready-to-use therapeutic food, used to address malnutrition among children, cannot be distributed, the treatment of more than 3,000 children with acute malnutrition will be interrupted,” stated the UNICEF Chief of Communications in Palestine, Jonathan Crickx, underscoring that the “ongoing situation in Rafah is a disaster for children.”

* “With hostilities escalating due to the ongoing military operation, the lack of health care will lead to increased unnecessary deaths and suffering,” stressed the World Health Organization (WHO) on 1 June. The Health Cluster reports that, as of 3 June, there are 15 partially functional hospitals and five field hospitals, including two that are partially functional and three that are fully functional. In North Gaza, WHO informs, Kamal Adwan Hospital had resumed partial functionality and access to Al Awda Hospital has now been restored. In late May, Al Awda became inaccessible due to the intensification of hostilities while 14 health workers, 11 patients and two mothers accompanying their children remained inside the facility. The Indonesian Hospital in the same governorate is still out of service and the hospital has recently been impacted by shelling, according to MoH in Gaza. In Rafah, all three hospitals remain non-functional, WHO reports, and out of six field hospitals, only two are functional; the International Medical Corps (IMC) field hospital remains fully operational while the UAE Field Hospital is only partially functional, continuing to provide services to 37 patients inside the facility but is inaccessible to new patients.

* Access constraints continue to undermine the safe delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza, exacerbating the needs of hundreds of thousands of people. With hostilities escalating in both northern and southern Gaza, particularly in Rafah, security and humanitarian access conditions have further deteriorated in May. Despite the presence of a system to notify and coordinate humanitarian movements, impediments, delays, and denials of missions continue to frequently restrict the movement of humanitarian personnel and the delivery of assistance. Between 1 and 31 May, out of the 78 coordinated humanitarian assistance missions to northern Gaza, 35 (45 per cent) were facilitated by Israeli authorities, 5 (6 per cent) were denied access, 27 (35 per cent) were impeded, and 11 (14 per cent) were cancelled due to operational or security reasons. In addition, out of 270 coordinated humanitarian assistance missions to areas in southern Gaza, 138 (51 per cent) were facilitated by Israeli authorities, 33 (12 per cent) were denied, 52 (19 per cent) were impeded, and 47 (17 per cent) were cancelled. Many missions classified as “impeded” have experienced extended delays imposed by Israeli authorities at holding points, with some lasting up to nine hours at sensitive locations, significantly increasing the security risks for humanitarian personnel.


* As of 3 June, Member States have disbursed about US$1 billion out of $3.4 billion (30 per cent) requested to meet the most critical needs of 2.3 million people in Gaza and 800,000 people in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, between January and December 2024. For funding analysis, please see the Flash Appeal Financial Tracking dashboard.

* The oPt HF has 118 ongoing projects, for a total of $72.5 million, addressing urgent needs in the Gaza Strip (85 per cent) and West Bank (15 per cent). The HF has allocated an additional $22 million to bolster prioritized HF-funded projects in Gaza. Recently, 14 projects for a total of $5 million have been approved under the Third Reserve Allocation titled "Critical Humanitarian Aid for Gaza Amidst Escalating Conflict and Displacement (Phase 3)." Following a steep rise in displacement from Rafah to Khan Younis and Deir al Balah and to capitalize on the operational presence of national partners, these projects will be implemented by national NGOs (12 projects) or through a partnership between international and national NGOs (2 projects). Since 7 October, the oPt HF has mobilized over $100 million from Member States and private donors, designated for programmes throughout Gaza. A summary of the oPt HF activities and challenges in April 2024 is available through this link and the 2023 Annual Report of the oPt HF can be accessed here. Private donations are collected directly through the Humanitarian Fund.

For the most recent Gaza Humanitarian Response Update for the period between 20 and 26 May, please visit: GazaHumanitarian Response Update | 20–26 May 2024. As of 3 June, the Gaza Humanitarian Response Update will be issued every two weeks. The next update will be issued on 12 June, covering the two-week period between 27 May and 9 June.


An Australian Perspective

According to the Gazan Ministry of Health, the predominately civilian Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023 is > 36,550 men, women & children killed and 82,959 wounded - with an untold number missing presumed dead.

Tuesday 4 June 2024

At the most recent ordinary monthly meeting Clarence Valley local government councillors voted themselves a 3.45% pay rise - 5 votes to 4


How this decision went down......

Clarence Valley Council, Ordinary Monthly Meeting, 28 May 2024, Minutes, excerpt:




Council is advised of the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal’s determination of an increase of 3.75% to mayoral and councillor fees and allowances payable for the 2024/2025 financial year, with effect from 1 July 2024.



1. council note the determination of the Tribunal.

2. fees and allowances payable to the elected members increase by 3.75% for the 2024/2025 financial


3. the Deputy Mayor’s allowance be $7,354 plus 3.75% to be funded from the Mayor’s allowance.




1. Council note the determination of the Tribunal.

2. Council does not increase the fees and allowances payable from the amount applied in 2023/2024.

Voting recorded as follows

For: Day, Novak, Smith, Tiley

Against: Clancy, Johnstone, Pickering, Toms, Whaites

The Motion was put and declared LOST





1. council note the determination of the Tribunal.

2. fees and allowances payable to the elected members increase by 3.75% for the 2024/2025 financial year.

3. the Deputy Mayor’s allowance be $7,354 plus 3.75% to be funded from the Mayor’s allowance.

Voting recorded as follows

For: Clancy, Johnstone, Pickering, Toms, Whaites

Against: Day, Novak, Smith, Tiley



Clarence Valley Independent, 29 May 2024:

Adopting the recommended 3.75 per-cent increase which would see remuneration in the 2024-2025 financial year increase to $26,512 for councillors, $34,087 for the Deputy Mayor, and $84,422 for the Mayor, increasing the annual wage expenditure by $10,989 to $304,093.

Monday 3 June 2024

So you think that next year's federal election campaign will be just like other federal election campaigns in the Northern Rivers region? Not if those sitting on the Opposition benches in the Australian Parliament have their way

October 2023 found many adults in the est. 315,775-strong resident population of the NSW Northern Rivers region eager to believe the misinformation, misdirection and downright politically-inspired lies and racial slurs being put about by the Liberal-National Party Coalition and Advance Australia for much of that year.

So much so that 62.32% of all of Northern Rivers voters felt comfortable at the national referendum to metaphorically spit in the faces of est.14,879 other Northern Rivers residents whose ancestors had lived in Australia for at least the last 40,000 years.

For that 62.23% life seemingly went on as before after the referendum vote. With no thought that they themselves, except for their barely disguised animosity towards First Nations peoples, were not the homogeneous group they thought themselves to be.

For the last national census revealed that 40,240 people who were living in Northern Rivers region were born overseas and 12% had only arrived in Australia within the 5 years prior to 2021.

In fact the Northern Rivers resident population contains migrants from over 90 different counties around the globe, speaking at least 50 different languages other than English in their homes.

Now the success of the negative divisive "No" campaign in the lead up to that national referendum vote appears to have encouraged the Liberal-Nationals Coalition to contemplate a national campaign along similar disruptive lines for the federal general election due next year.

However, based on the performance of the Opposition in Parliament and elsewhere, this time the bogey man employed is likely to be 'migrants'.

 It will be migrants who will be held responsible for the high house prices, rising rental costs, increased cost of living pressures and spike in domestic violence in Australia. With the Labor Party solely responsible for their supposedly increasingly high numbers, including an unspecified number of allegedly violent asylum seekers who have been left to roam at will.

So now, instead of being encouraged to hate on est.14,879 of their fellow community members, the Coalition and Advance Australia will be encouraging Northern Rivers voters to hate on up to 40,240 of their neighbours and work colleagues. To form a negative opinion on those community members who come from a non-English speaking background and, in particular on the over 4,000 who only arrived in Australia during the last seven years.

If as many people living in the two federal electorates covering the Northern Rivers region again embrace the thinly disguised racist rhetoric of another 'fear' campaign, then we are all in for yet another sustained attack on social cohesion and local community spirit by the Liberal-Nationals Coalition, supported by Advance Australia and other shadowy pressure groups.

Sunday 2 June 2024

Australia is now less than twelve months away from a federal general election and we are being warned of what is to come in the 2025 election campaign

Construction site in Melbourne
ABC News, 3 April 2020

Neo- Nazis marching in Ballarat, December 2023
The Age, 3 December 2023

The Saturday Paper, 1 June 2024:


In defence of Laura Tingle

The statement from Justin Stevens is eight sentences long. If crabs could write, their words would be as chinless and scuttling.

Nowhere does the ABC’s news director attempt to support his political reporter. Nowhere does he try to engage with the truth of what she said the weekend before.

Laura Tingle’s remarks, he claimed, “lacked the context, balance and supporting information of her work for the ABC and would not have met the ABC’s editorial standards”. Those standards, he said, served a vital role. “Laura has been reminded of their application at external events as well as in her work and I have counselled her over the remarks.”

Tingle had made the mistake of saying what is obvious: Australia is a racist country. It was settled on the racist fiction of terra nullius. It federated over racist concerns. It developed policies unique in their racism and was horrifyingly late in dismantling them.

Race has defined most elections in the past three decades. It is an ever-replenishing anxiety, an excuse for policy failures and a salve for lost primacy. The Voice referendum was lost to racism and the racket was so old and familiar that campaigners were told they couldn’t mention it.

We’re a racist country, let’s face it,” Tingle said last weekend. “We always have been and it’s very depressing and a terrible prospect for the next election.”

That last point is important and the reason for the backlash that has followed. Right-wing politicians and the right-wing press are preparing for an election fought on race. Peter Dutton has never campaigned on anything else. He does not know how.

The purpose of the attack on Tingle is to license what will be said once the campaign is under way. It is a warning about what will happen to people who stand up against what will be an ugly and vicious attempt to win office through fear. Dutton’s budget reply speech was an opening salvo. He had no qualms about linking migration to the housing crisis, despite limited evidence to support this. He added on schooling and childcare and queues at the doctor. Migrants were also the cause of congestion on roads.

Almost all these lines once belonged to John Howard. He saw the double benefit of racism: the creation of an other you could campaign against and who you could blame for all your own failures. Underfunded healthcare stopped being his problem and became the fault of refugees. Traffic on the M4 became an issue of border security. His strawman wore blackface.

Tingle’s statement last weekend made another point about Australia: racism is almost never punished, but the people who name it almost always are. This is especially true if they are women or if they are not white.

The status quo depends on an agreement not to mention what is obvious. Racism is too central to the project of Australia. For people such as Dutton and those in the Murdoch press, it is too big to fail. That is the truth behind what Tingle said and it is the reason it needed to be said.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 1, 2024 as "His strawman wore blackface".



Australian society was not always so shy of admitting its racism. The last slave known to have been sold was an Aboriginal house servant in northern Australia, a fact admitted by the then Minister for Home & Territories in 1927.

While more than one Aboriginal female child was human trafficked and sold as a house servant as late as the beginning of the 20th Century. Along the Australian east coast sea route from south-east Queensland to Tasmania and from Tasmania to the southern coast of mainland Australia.