Home Roland Rocchiccioli From the desk of………. Roland Rocchiccioli

From the desk of………. Roland Rocchiccioli

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It is hard to pinpoint the moment it occurred, but it seems that Barnaby Joyce, the National Party Member for New England, has transmogrified into a right-regular know-all. He has something to say about everything – even the Rinehart family feud. Why a servant of the crown would be making public comment is bewildering? His hubris is overwhelming, and he has become a pompous, crashing bore who is far too pleased with himself, and seemingly too keen to be seen on television commenting on issues which are not related to his portfolio. What can only be described as disdain is most disagreeable. His public pronouncements about Johnny Depp’s dogs, and Mr. Joyce’s need to make a snide remark about Mr. Depp being twice voted one of the world’s sexiest men, were both a disgrace, and an embarrassment. The rest of the world scoffed at him. He even referred to Mr. Depp by his character’s name from the pirate films. I presume – which is always a dangerous activity – that Mr. Joyce does realise the character is make-believe and that it is not legally Mr. Depp’s name.

Politicians are not celebrities. I do not want to see them on cooking shows et al. It is time for Mr. Barnaby, and many other of our politicians, to reflect, to hold their tongues, and to get on with the job they were elected to perform. What is it about politicians that changes them on winning an election? Seemingly, and overnight, they are endowed with the wisdom of Solomon, and are the font of all wisdom. Too often they forget they are our employees. It is we who pay their wages, and we decide whether or not they stay or go. They occupy the highest office in the land by the will of the people. It is not a sinecure, and they should be more concerned about good governance than they are about staying in power.

It is interesting to note that Barnaby Joyce assured the nation that the live animal trade export was ‘working’ – whatever that ambiguity means. So much for his assurances! When the Israelis viewed secret vision provided them by Animals Australia they took immediate action. The best the Australian Department of Agriculture could manage was a promise to ‘investigate’ the ‘allegations’. Why they were termed allegations is something of a puzzlement? The vision was absolutely and categorically conclusive. Animals were being slaughtered in the most barbaric fashion. It is difficult to know what evidence the department required. There was no doubt the sickening cruelty was taking place. To their credit, the Israeli authorities acted on the ‘evidence’ without hesitation. Israel’s biggest abattoir -once the scene of horrific, wanton cruelty is today a silent, empty building, with no frightened animals in sight.

Perhaps the next time Mr. Joyce, and his department, is presented with irrefutable evidence of horrific animal cruelty, they might take it a little more seriously, and be less patronising in their response. Many of us are not intellectually concussed. On seconds thoughts – and given their track record don’t hold your breath.

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Indonesia’s vice-president, Jusuf Kalla, has likened to ‘bribery’ the allegations that Australia paid people smuggling crews, and has questioned the country’s ethics over claims that Australian officials paid $US5,000 each to crew members of a people smuggling boat to return 65 asylum seekers – including a couple of toddlers to Indonesia. He said:”Bribing is of course not according with the ethics of international relationships.” It is an action which sits awkwardly with a lot of compassionate Australians.

Indonesia has demanded an explanation, with foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, saying in a statement that it was “actually not so hard for Australia to answer the question” and accusing it of “deflecting the issue”.

I agree. I am appalled to think that the Federal Government may have engaged in ‘creative’ measures to stop the boats. The rest of the free-world is incredulous at the allegations.

What has become of us a nation? Are we so morally bankrupt that we will do anything – regardless of the consequences – to achieve an end which allow a window of opportunity to cling to power. The vexed problem of illegal immigrants is not unique to Australia. The numbers are much greater in Europe and they are not being turned-around the high seas. The Italian island of Lampedusa is inundated. They, fortunately, are more compassionate than Australia.

The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, verbally attacked the president of the human rights commission, Gillian Triggs, over her criticism of the government’s asylum-seeker policies. He said Ms. Triggs is ‘reducing the office to that of a political advocate’ which is ‘in nobody’s interest’. Mr. Dutton claims that Ms. Triggs had ‘not a word to say’ against the Labor government when there were more children in detention under Labor than there are now under the Coalition government. It is an accusation which Ms. Triggs refutes.

I would have thought the news, if it be true, that the Australian government was willing to pay people smugglers money to turn their boats around and return to

Indonesia would only encourage them to become even more active in the trade. For these unscrupulous individuals, it is the perfect opportunity for double-dipping. It is hard to imagine the smugglers would be making refunds to the hapless passengers when they arrived back in Indonesia.

Given the Abbott government’s litany of broken promises, back-flips, changes-of-mind, clumsy and unpopular decisions, and disastrous opinion polls, one is forced to draw the conclusion that ‘stopping the boats’ – whatever it takes – is an easy option to fulfil at least one of their election promises.

Berthold Brecht was accurate: ‘Watch closely the film clips of your leaders walking and talking, as they hold in their cruel hands the threads of your fate.’

In the interim, I despair for what this country is becoming. Roland can be heard each MONDAY morning on 3BA at 10.30 with Dan Lonergan. rolandroc@bigpond.com