Pauline Hanson

Pauline Hanson, the infamously xenophobic politician, has just become Australia’s latest boat person. It was not that long ago that she packed her bags and huffed off to England as some form of ill conceived protest over Australia becoming unbearably full of immigrants. So off to the colonial homeland she went where no significant outside contributions had been made to the gene pool and everybody ate mushy peas. Struth! Apparently England and the whole of Europe is full of immigrants too. Who knew? And so she’s back . From outer space. I can hear the Aussies singing “ We should have changed that stupid lock, we should have made you leave your key if we’d known for just one second you’d be back to bother me.” And still she survives politically. As does Aung San Suu Kyi. Two women more different in character, intelligence and integrity would be difficult to find and yet there is a connection. If Pauline really finds the idea of desperate people using drastic measures to try to find a life more bearable surely it would be in her best interests to help the cause of people like Aung San Suu Kyi, the once democratically elected leader of Burma? Somehow I think it is unlikely yet that is the reality. Who seriously chooses the croc-infested salt marshes of Northern Australia as option A unless your life is truly insufferable? And life in a country where fat gold encrusted generals spend between 40 to 60 % of the GDP on their own military toys and only .5% on education and where about 1 in 12 women die of complications in pregnancy, must indeed be intolerable. Burma’s problems cause enormous infrastructural problems for Thailand and the rest of her neighbouring countries and should be a cause for concern for all of us. The sanctions applied to its brutal military dictatorship are a joke. In retaliation the US is banned from investing there. Except for the joint venture in exporting gas which started about 10 years ago. Funny how they didn’t make the exception for investing in high schools but then with only 34% of kids attending those I guess it wasn’t economically viable. Travelling there over 18 years ago Burma seemed to me then to be a country whose economic back was broken. Since then it’s only got worse. Failed states are the weakest link in any strategic approach to problem solving rendering any cooperative policy effectively useless. In the early 90’s, Thailand, along with the World Wildlife Fund was desperately trying to get on top of its elephant poaching and illegal ivory and logging trades. It was doing well – except over the border in Burma I saw enormous warehouses bordering a river, stacked to the roof with teak logs and elephant tusks and I heard everything from Russian to Chinese being spoken as it was traded. Uniformed army officers stood by while trucks and boats were loaded, presumably providing security for the traders. It was also a country where the paranoid find their world view entirely justified. Travelling with a bloke whose alternative agricultural pursuits had, in my opinion made him ridiculously paranoid, he informed me at one point that we were being followed. To demonstrate this he insisted we circle a roundabout on our rented bikes a total of 9 times. I acquiesced in order to prove him wrong and rode around the requisite number. As did the guy who was following us. There were only the three of us on the roundabout endlessly circling. It was stupendously silly and eventually we all started giggling. When we’d finally got far enough out of town and away from prying eyes that might report him, he caught up with us. His English was flawless – in the days of Burma being a British colony he’d had a great uncle at Oxford. He agreed to let us buy him lunch in the next town as long as we sat at different tables and refused to talk or even look at him. He wanted to know one thing; could we help get him out of there? And that’s exactly why Pauline and her political ilk should worry a lot less about an influx of refugees and concentrate instead on helping Aung San Suu Kyi get her nation off its knees.

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