Very proud to be a Melburnian today.
This morning it was announced the newly formed Australian Border Force (ABF) would be operating in the heart of Melbourne this evening, where they would stopping people at random to question, and checking papers in the hope of catching out people committing visa fraud. The name of this joke was Operation Fortitude.
As I sit here writing this the operation has been cancelled in farcical circumstances. To no-one’s surprise except the fascist clowns organising this, the operation was met with outrage, condemnation and ridicule. This was not something that Melburnians were going to stand for, and amid the flood of indignation a protest was very quickly organised to oppose the operation. Melbourne was always a tough place to start, probably the most liberal and politically active city in Oz.
The ABF just about fell over itself backtracking. First they retracted some of their earlier claims, and then cancelled the operation altogether. They’ve had their nose bloodied over this, as has Abbott, whose baby the ABF is.
It’s very easy to say that this was a very dumb idea. It was, but at the same time, entirely in character for this government. Of more concern is what it signifies.
I’ve been warning for months of the fascist leanings of the federal government. Bit by bit we’ve had freedoms compromised and liberties constrained. More and more they’ve sought to intrude upon our personal lives. This is how it happens, I’ve said, we lose our rights gradually, until one day they’re gone altogether.
Then Abbott created the ABF, a paramilitary force complete with their spiffy black SS style uniforms (like most proto-fascists Abbott loves uniforms). For someone like me this was a sickening development, a million miles away from the free and easy Australia I grew up with and loved.
The announcement today of Operation Fortitude made it clear that the ABF were intended to be more than just a passive organisation. If you’re like me you’ve been brought up on movies about Nazi Germany, and read books about Stalinist Russia. How many times on screen have you watched some Gestapo agent ask some poor sap for their papers? It’s always a chilling moment.
The thing is, you switch off the TV and it’s gone – except now, unbelievably, the brains-trust of the ABF figure it’s not a bad idea, and as a piece of PR theatre shows that we’re serious. It’s scary, but it’s awfully delusional also to believe they could get away with here in democratic, liberty loving Australia. If they tried it with me I’d tell them what to do. Seemingly that was the view of most Melburnians today.
It gives you pause though. Today they suffered a setback. It won’t do Abbott any favours politically, but you can bet they’ll try again somewhere, somehow.