Tuesday, 5 December 2023

Australians have celebrated our sense of opportunity, of fair play, of judging individuals on their own merits.  “He’s a top bloke” and “she’s a good sheila” were accolades won based on turning up, working shoulder to shoulder – not whinging, just contributing.

For generations, towns like Mount Isa, Jindabyne and Tully have been a melting pot for people arriving from around the world, often escaping war, poverty, hunger and misogyny.

The Mareeba Multicultural Festival celebrates the dance and food of 91 nationalities, and the only rule, you can’t fly your flag or bring old grievances from home.

What is happening right now in this wonderful country of Australia is the opposite of that. Senator Mehreen Faruqi and many others who came to this country for something better than their country was offering, are instead bringing the hatred and division that many who came here sought to escape.

Australian culture, peace and tolerance is being threatened.  Because genocide never starts with killings and gas chambers, it starts with identification, name calling, and exclusion from public places.

My grandfather’s diary documenting a work trip in 1937 talks about the sense of foreboding walking under the swastika flags in the streets of Berlin.

My daughter sent me a message on the day of the Sydney Opera House anti-Israel protests – under the fiery picture with the words of the protestors, “gas the Jews”, she asked “is this in Australia?”

In Townsville, a woman I have known for some time told me she tells her granddaughter at boarding school not to tell her secret: that she is Jewish.

I am shocked, and ashamed to realise that right now in Queensland, a 12-year-old girl should feel frightened to tell her friends her truth.

We are teaching our children to be understanding and embracing of others regardless of gender, sexuality or race, but apparently being Jewish is something that we will not defend.

The failure of the Premier, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, our universities and the entire Greens Political Party to defend our Jewish citizens and demand that the hatred of Hamas and other terrorists has no place in this country is frightening.

Today we must wake up, show up and be the neighbour and friend that Australia has prided itself on being and ensure this is not 1937 Germany, but defends – and indeed fights – to be a safe haven for all who choose to come here to build something better.

Our silence or otherwise, from Queanbeyan to Chillagoe, will determine the quality of our children’s lives, and define if this is the beginning of the end for our democracy.