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Turnbull’s dog-whistling Australian values

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Claiming the high moral ground on what constitutes an Australian value is no more an exercise for social studies. Now it is a relentless battle of crude sloganeering and blunt instruments.
Since we have always had a problem with race (after all, we tried for a long time to extinguish one type either through death or sublimation), it comes as no surprise that race is used as the wedge to lever support for one political power base over another.
So when the Minister for Immigration and offshore torture, Peter Dutton, says no one in Melbourne feels safe to eat out at night, what does his boss Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull do? Well, nothing at the time and then on a recent visit he pulls the same card from the deck and plays it.
But he plays it with a twist so that while his blunt instrument, the Dutton hammer, can smash into things, Turnbull can show the gentle, restrained hand. Except you would have to have your hands over your eyes or your ears to not know that the hammer has shaped the hand.
It is rank hypocrisy. Last year, Turnbull released the Multicultural Statement, to which he said: “The glue that holds us together is mutual respect. A deep recognition that each of us is entitled to the same respect, the same dignity, the same opportunities.”
Now, there is little doubt he believes that, but we have gone down into Alice’s world, and it’s not a place of wonder but fear and loathing – where things are not as they appear. Thus when asked if he believed people are too scared to eat out in Melbourne because of African gangs, Turnbull equivocated. First came the grand declaration: “We have zero tolerance for racism, number one, and number two, this is Australia, the most successful multicultural society in the world.”
Responding to the question from Neil Mitchell on 3AW, the PM showed the value of such equivocation, and the party line, which in Victoria coming up to a state election is lock your doors, beware the black youth, eat in.

Instead of hosing down the alarmist Peter Dutton, and Turnbull saying ‘hang on, he might have over-reached’, we get a type of irksome blandishment.

Mitchell: “Do you believe people in Melbourne are scared to go to restaurants because of Sudanese gangs?”
Turnbull: “Well I’ve heard that from people in Melbourne. I have heard people, colleagues from Melbourne, say that there is a real anxiety about crime in Melbourne. It’s a real issue.
“There is real concern about Sudanese gangs. You’d have to be walking around with your hands over your ears in Melbourne not to hear that.”
Thus the PM affirms that traditional Australian value of mutual respect towards others who can help you. There’s your Australian value, self-interest. Instead of hosing down the alarmist Dutton, and saying hang on, the minister might have over-reached, we get a type of irksome blandishment.
The government wants to impose a test of Australian values on migrants. Citizenship and Multicultural Minister Alan Tudge has suggested such a move. Social cohesion had to be maintained. Turnbull agreed. A test would help ensure Australia remained “the most successful multicultural society in the world”.
It’s true that with cohesion comes harmony. Despite the grubby political manoeuvres, we can praise ourselves. And yet always a persistent whorl of sound exists. Ah yes, that’s the dog whistling. That’s the sound of one hand clapping in furious agreement with a political agenda.
Should we value such cant? Fair go, most would say. This is Australia. We can see through the bullshit.

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11 responses to “Turnbull’s dog-whistling Australian values

  1. Turnbull is an empty man, twirling in the wind. He never had convictions, just a conviction to appear as if he had. He is the dog that chased the car and doesn’t know what to do with it now that he has caught it. Unfortunately the country is being sacrificed on his hubris and empty arrogance. He is the natural successor to the wreckers Howard and Abbott – nothing to offer but division, nothing to show except the protection of the venal and corrupt. History will judge him very badly but he’ll be ok living on his Cayman protected millions.

    1. Great metaphors, Noel, for a Prime Minster whose only objective seems to be staying in power. By-elections coming up: whigh way will people jump? I suspect it will be into the cesspool known as One Nation. I hope I’m wrong.

  2. It’s contemptible and he should – he DOES – know better. If people are approached as people, rather than as skin groups, their individual characters, personalities, virtues, are obvious. “Our” PM know this. I was thinking of something John Faine said this morning about how a South Sudanese lady was providing loving care to his elderly parents – and in her spare time reading the Bible. I visited my 99 y.o. father-in-law in his aged care facility (nursing home) this afternoon, and reflected on the respectful and affectionate care he gets from people of all skin colours, but the African lady who brings the coffee stands out for her deep chuckle and good humour as she goes about her business. Our aged care facilities would not survive without this kaleidoscope of colour, our society will not survive this epidemic of old-white-man dog whistling. It’s disgusting. And the next generation will be our nurses, doctors, dentists – if the Liberal dogwhistlers ever allow them to feel they belong, and probably in spite of it.

  3. I thought for a moment I was reading Daily Review. Wait, I am reading Daily Review! WTF is this doing in here?

  4. Yes I couldn’t agree more with the thrust of the article.As Groucho Marx I think quipped”these are my principles and if you don’t like them…I have others.Turnbull is one of the truly hollow men of Australian politics ,a latter day Pontius Pilate.

  5. This is an appalling article – merely an opinion piece over-replete with too much emotion. The spirit of the article may be correct, but hardly “independent journalism” given that it reads like a greens’ kindergarten article.
    More facts please, less emotional opinion.

    1. Your observations are JRAPQQ a load of codswallop….the truth is that Turnbull was far too lazy to actually go & check his facts….there aren’t groups of Sudanese youths harassing people & causing trouble in Melbourne…melting down a whole load of stats to make an argument is problematic at best, as often these politicians don’t know how to actually read them in respect of addressing, what is really going…in this case as this article states it’s rampant racism…I would’ve thought the prime minister would’ve been a lot smarter than that & stayed well out of it..but obviously not…so again (its’ pretty clear) they’ve walked into a mine field that they know nothing about

  6. The “right” uses fear tactics whenever posible, eg reds under the bed, the boat people, – fear contracts people, dulls their feelings and reduces the ability to think clearly. It is likely that the “right wing” of “right” parties is particularly retarded as concerns emotional understanding and clear thinking.
    They are literally unable to understand other points of view, and too scared to try.
    I doubt not that many are clinically insane.

  7. Another great piece by W McF. Turnbull and Dutton’s barrel scraping reveals such low aspirations for the country and singular focus on their own jobs at any cost. When one thinks of what a real leader could have said about a tiny number of Australian Sudanese committing a tiny proportion of crimes in Victoria…eg ‘we must look at why this is happening in this particular community; we know that many of these people have come from traumatic backgrounds so perhaps there is more to be done to help them integrate into Australian society’ etc etc. But Oh no, cheap political, racist point scoring is the choice. By the way PM, Australia will never be a truly successful multicultural country until there is genuine reconciliation with our indigenous peoples.

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