Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has given voice to what many of us concerned with human rights have known for a long time - the Coalition taps into nascent racism to whip up electoral support. This has been going on for a long time, but put its ugly head above the parapet with the Tampa fiasco and the subsequent asylum seeker policies. Leaders and their bandwagon of fellow politicians, shock-jocks and a conga-line of MSM journalists, have beaten this drum, sometimes softly and other times with full amplification.
In a report in The Age Wilkie's speech to Parliament is quoted:
''I stand today to condemn the racism that eats at the Liberal Party and I call on the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to show strong leadership and to stamp it out, once and for all,''
I say to Mr Abbott: you must lance this boil,
It is not good enough to dismiss the hate inhabiting the dark corners of the Liberal Party, and the widespread community concern it engenders, by just noting that your most senior operatives merely go a little too far - what you should have done is sack such people immediately from the shadow ministry and read the lot the riot act.
You must also look afresh at your party's policies, determined to address the way hate corrupts your party's approach to public policy. For instance, asylum seekers are not 'illegals' or terrorists, and heartfelt protection is not afforded by temporary protection visas.
Trying to deny asylum seekers the use of surplus defence housing is nothing short of an act of bastardry. And threatening to slash foreign aid is abominable.''
Coalition spokespersons are out today dismissing everything Wilkie said, but what a bunch of hollow men they are. This is a real problem that requires courageous leadership.
On another front, the hate rhetoric engendered around racial, ethnic and religious difference is flowing into the debate on pricing carbon. The vilification of the PM and anyone who has the temerity to stand against the fear campaign waged by Abbott and his 'coterie' has engendered death threats and foul abuse toward another independent, Tony Windsor. This benighted strategy of using extreme language to prosecute a political argument can easily inflame unhinged minds, and believe me, there are a lot of unhinged people on the fear and hate side of the political divide.