Friday, October 22, 2010

The triumph over power, prejudice and bigotry...

Here was South Australian Premier Mike Rann last Sunday on the occasion of Mary MacKillip’s canonisation:

“The values that Mary MacKillop cultivated, nurtured and lived, are the values that underpin our regional towns and communities – an ethos that embraces pragmatism, equality, neighbourly compassion and stoicism in the face of adversity.

For hers was not a dream of self-aggrandisement, personal wealth or power. Her mission was to give comfort and solace to the poor, education to the deprived, hope to society's forgotten underclass.

In Mary MacKillop we see - embodied in shining, heavenly raiment - the pioneering Australian spirit. Our neighbourly, hard-fought ideals of communal decency and good fellowship, and their triumph over power, prejudice and bigotry.

Here is a life to be celebrated, and learned from.”

So what have we learned? What do we celebrate? Here, yesterday, were the people of Woodside in South Australia, the very state that celebrated MacKillip as one of its own:

VOX POP 1: This is something that will wreck this beautiful little town.

VOX POP 2: And we don't want a prison in our backyard lit up with spotlights 24 hours a day. They are not going to assimilate into the community. All they are going to do is their kids are going to come to school and go back behind the fence.

VOX POP 3: Refugees aren't criminals. They are not illegal.

VOX POP 4: Hang on. Yes they are. They have come in illegally so we don't trust them. That's what we're suspicious about, that they are coming in by the back door. They sneaked in.image

Last night to protest 400 asylums seekers being moved in to an army barracks at Inverbrackie (near Woodside in the Adelaide Hills) more than 500 people attended a  meeting at the Woodside Institute. The people who attended this meeting were outraged that a whole 400 people – a large percentage of whom will be children – would be coming into their town area. Why? Well that’s not clear because there was not a hell of a lot of logic on display.

There was anger that health services would be stretched, and then when informed that the detention centre would have its own medical facilities there was anger that they should have better services than the locals.

There was anger that the children would be attending the schools, but there was also anger that they would not assimilate in to the community.

There was anger that there would be spotlight “24 hours a day” (not sure what good the lights will do at noon), but when told the fences would be “low level fencing, it could be like pool fencing or colourbond fencing” there was anger that the security would not be enough.

My old home state has not covered itself in glory this past 24 hours. This reaction coupled with Karen Barlow’s brilliant but shocking report of alleged workplace practises at chicken processor Baiabda in Adelaide does not make the state seem all that great. Barlow’s report contained some awful allegations made by the largely migrant workers:

ANYUON MABIOR: I was called a black c*nt, a black cheat, dumb and everything that has spoken to me and I just (inaudible) for the sake of getting money to solve my problems.

KAREN BARLOW: Workers say they're afraid to raise problems at the factory - even something as small as not getting a pay slip. And Anyuon Mabior claims he and other Adelaide poultry workers have experienced on-site punishments, in his case for refusing to use a forklift in what he says was an unsafe manner. He says he was taken to a termination site where they stun chickens using gas.

imageANYUON MABIOR: They took me there for - as a punishment, to make me feel like I've done something wrong. And that's when I've looked like, is it how everyone is treated in Australia, or is it because all the workers here are migrant?

KAREN BARLOW: How long were you sent there for?

ANYUON MABIOR: I work there for 30 minutes and I was really very sick.

KAREN BARLOW: What happened to you?

ANYUON MABIOR: Like, I feel like I'm contaminated by the gas, because I inhale some gases and it give me a lot of coughing and give me a lot of dizziness. And when I leave the (inaudible) I went to my doctor and I was given some medication by them.

It’s rare that a report on chicken processing is detailing that the chickens get better conditions than the workers.

Over on The Advertiser’s website the comments on the detention centre came thick, fast and ugly (no sight of any mention of Baiabda):

Mick of Adelaide Posted at 1:11 PM October 18, 2010

Send them back on the boats from which they came. I for one am absolutely sick of half my wages being taxed to fund this BS!

Yep, half his wages. Hell he must be on a nice wicket to be in that tax bracket.

Brad of Greenwith Posted at 1:18 PM October 18, 2010

Just send them home! Kids or no kids... Dont come here. Just go back or go else where.image

Angela Posted at 1:35 PM October 18, 2010

What a pathetic decision. The issues of these illegal immigrants are not our problem. Who cares whether their children are coping - the parents are responsible for them being in the situation to begin with. Let them take responsibility for it.

“Who cares whether their children are coping”… what can you say?

Mandy of Brisbane, QLD Posted at 6:18 PM October 18, 2010

This is a disgrace. I was born and raised in Woodside and my parents are still living there. This has devastated them and now I don't look forward to coming home each year for Christmas as much. I knew that Julia would make a mess of everything... This is only the beginning.

Amazing. Boy I’ve tried a few excuses in my time to get out of going back to the parents for the holidays, but not going because a detention centre is being built on an army barracks is a new one. I wonder if it will fly?

Thankfully there were a minority of sane comments among the hate:

Dave of Morphett Vale Posted at 4:15 PM October 18, 2010

My dad lived at Woodside with his family when they got off the boat (as "legal" refugees from eastern Europe) in 1949. A site such as Woodside will be far less damaging to refugees than a spot in the desert like Woomera, and will be a cheaper option for all of us in the long run.

Jonathan of Adelaide Hills Posted at 3:41 PM October 18, 2010

The irony that many Adelaide Hills towns were founded by German refugees is obviously lost on many NIMBY's.

These comments highlight why I am so disappointed by the response, and also why I am suspicious of it. South Australia more than any other state is a state founded on migration. There were no convicts, you only came to South Australia if you wanted to. And many of those (including my forefather) were Germans. Some of those (about 5 per cent) came because of religious persecution, but most came because they wanted a better life.

Here is a description of how things were:

Most of the early German immigrants were extremely poor and therefore migration to South Australia was an improvement in both economic and religious matters. Although there were many exceptions, most Germans kept mainly to themselves and married their own kind, kept up their language, customs, such as the Liedertafel and skittle alley, religion and education system. Wherever they went they established their German schools.

Replace the word German with Afghan and ask yourself if things have changed?

And yet guess what: the German migrants did assimilate – they spread and became part of the culture – it is impossible to imagine South Australia without the impact of the German migrants – and yet we are talking about such a vastly smaller number that it is doubtful the direct impact on the culture will be more than negligible – at least for many years.

Oh yeah, my lot came “legally”; they weren’t queue jumpers. Well here’s the question, and the first person to answer it can be Liberal MP Jamie Briggs who was at the Woodside meeting to stoke the fire  listen to his constituents. Show me the queue. Maybe I have been completely wrong about all of this and the media just hasn’t bothered to report it, but if there is a queue, find me one person in it who knows that next year they will be coming out to Australia (or Canada, or America). Then find me someone who knows they will have to wait two years, then someone who has to wait three years. Find me any sense of a queue.

The fact is there is no queue – as the Parliamentary library background note demonstrates:

imageAre asylum seekers ‘queue jumpers’?

There is a view that asylum seekers, particularly those who arrive in Australia by boat, are ‘jumping the queue’ and taking the place of a more deserving refugee awaiting resettlement in a refugee camp. The concept of an orderly queue does not accord with the reality of the asylum process. Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) notes that:

Implicit in this view is that Australia should not be bothered by people seeking protection under the Refugee Convention and that genuine refugees should go to other countries and wait patiently in the hope that Australia may choose to resettle them.

The reality is that only a small proportion of asylum seekers are registered with the UNHCR:

UNHCR offices registered some 73 400 applications out of the total of 861 400 claims in 2008. This number has decreased compared to 2007 (79 800 claims). The office’s share in the global number of applications registered stood at 9 per cent in 2008 compared to 15 per cent in 2006 and 12 per cent in 2007. As the overall number of applications has continued to rise, states are increasingly taking responsibility for refugee status determination.

Once registered with the UNHCR, many refugees seek resettlement to a country such as Australia. Refugees do not have a right to be resettled, and states are not obliged under the 1951 Refugee Convention or any other instrument to accept refugees for resettlement. It is a voluntary scheme co-ordinated by the UNHCR which, amongst other things facilitates burden-sharing amongst signatory states. Resettlement therefore complements and is not a substitute for the provision of protection to people who apply for asylum under the Convention.

According to the UNHCR, less than 1 per cent of the world’s refugees may be resettled in any given year:

Millions of refugees around the world continue to live with little hope of finding a solution to their plight … resettlement benefits a small number of refugees; in 2008, less than 1 per cent of the world’s refugees directly benefited from resettlement.

So the next time any report includes the phrase “queue” you know you are reading or listening to someone who has no idea of the facts (or is flat out ignoring them).

To be honest, I doubt the 500 people who attended the meeting reflect the real view of most people who live in the hills. My suspicion is more than a few of those who attended the meeting don’t even live in Woodside. If Jamie Briggs wants them to be his supporters, then go for it – but he can then forego any crud about him being “a moderate”. My view is that the real majority of the residents is voiced by people such as Kim Galdigau who “said the Christian church community in the area wanted to know what it could do to help”.

My hope – and actually my belief – is that when the asylum seekers do arrive they will be treated well and very soon it will become hardly an issue.

Let us hope so, lest the view of South Australia become one of angry people not having any care for those in desperate states.

And lets hope as well that when the asylum seekers do finally settle in this country they don’t end up in a situation like the one detailed in Barlow’s report.


Thomas King said...

You have no idea how much your post saddens me ... yes, some might speak up but if the main media is allowing such hateful and bigoted comments to be published. *shakes head*

Anonymous said...

I didn't read your post properly grog, just enough to get the sense, I'm in SA and its embarassing and frustrating to share a locale with those folk, not the refugees the other.
In fact if it was a choice of the people at the meeting and several boatloads as to who I was going to live next to I know who I would rather.
I speed read your post, I'll check it properly later.
Thanks for writing it.
I mean it, thanks.


Anonymous said...

The disgraceful display of pure hatred by those horrible, small minded bigots sickened me to my core. Australia has truly become a very sad, disgusting, and depressingly miserable place...

Unknown said...

Grog, I cannot agree more with you.
These refugees (many are children) have been through more hardship than we can imagine. We live in a lucky country free of famine and war, yet some of us cannot extend even a little of kindness to our fellow human beings.

P.M.Newton said...

Do you think little Johnny Howard feels proud when he sees this kind of ignorant racist nonsense on display?

I reckon Labour under Rudd tried to run dead on the refugee issue. Instead of expending some political capital when they had it to defuse this issue, to educate the ignorant and, if unable to change their minds, to at least expose them as pathetic One Nation wannabes, Rudd & Co just hoped it would go away.

It didn't.

Howard's children have had a decade of training on how to respond to these cues - they won't be de-sensitized without someone breaking out a moral compass and showing a bit of leadership, on both sides of the house.

Only reason to watch Q&A this Monday will be to see if Howard is pinged on these revolting attitudes his years in power fostered.

Dennis Diamond said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Disgusting, redneck, Liberal voters. Products of an 'it's OK to be racist' idea fostered by Howard. And Gillard's pre-election urging people to vent their fears about the boats without worrying about political correctness. Pragmatism. When some leadership is what's needed. What a sick joke.

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, I agree that Howard is to blame for this. And the media keeps on legitimising the most reactionary dickheads they can find. Labor is so scarred by Tampa they don't know what to do with themselves. I hope you're right Grogs and the real community voices can lead pollies on this.

Fozzy said...

It's all very distressing. Did you catch PM Tonight? The Interviewer kept pressing Chris Bowen about what was the Government going to give this community in return for housing the refugees.

I was disgusted by the line of questioning that started from the presumption of it being OK for a community to expect a bribe to accept refugees. Chris Bowen was left to defend why the Government wasn't going to Bribe them.

Where did this presumption come from of an expectation of "what do I get out of it?"? What ever happened to the good of the community/society as a whole?

Greg Jericho said...

yes fozzy I did hear that. It was a very odd line - as though they deserved something because err, you know because they were upset!

jane said...

Considering we're the ones who have made these unfortunate people refugees by jackbooting into their country, those idiots at Woodside have a colossal gall.

I recommend we take 400 of those clowns and drop them in Afghanistan, so they can experience the delights of living in a war zone.

They'd be hiring the first people smuggler they could find faster than the speed of light!

Pip said...

Woodside is in the safe Liberal held seat of Mayo, formerly the turf of Alexander Downer.
The current member for Mayo, Jamie Briggs has a bit to say about Labor Govt., failure.

That isn't meant to imply that all those Liberal voters are against asylum seekers, but it would be fairly easy to quickly round up enough residents to make a racket for the tv cameras and news reports.

I wonder if the decision to house the refugees there had been made by the Coalition, most unlikely I know, would their reaction have been different.

One of their complaints is that property values will fall because of the use of the former Defence residences, houses, not barracks, to house these desperate people, many of of whom are children. Apparently the houses are no longer used for Defence personnel who now live out in the community. They appear to be respectable if more modest than some other properties in the district.
One of the reasons given for Defence not using them is because they only have one carport, but that won't be a problem for the new occupants.
One of the speakers in the audience attempted to say that she is the founder of Circles of Friends, an advocacy group for refugees, and was drowned out by a voice at the back of the hall, disagreeing vehemently.
All in all a sad event.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, good on the baiada workers for standing up to their boss. I'm assuming one of them shot the footage.

I have to say as someone who has been involved with unions for a while, I'm surprised that everyone is so surprised that workers get treated this way. There's always someone out there who is prepared to exploit people. Perfect illustration of why right of entry laws are needed.

Anonymous said...

May I be so bold to cut through the bullshit, what you saw on display was the underlying racism that still runs through the veins of most Australians, note all the white faces at the forum, all displaying their coalition John howard well cultivated FEAR. Racism is Racism is Racism cut the bullshit about hospitals and schools, all the small country town white faced folks want their town left just the way it is. I went through exactly the same foul town meetings in my own small country town in Camden NSW where a local Muslim group wanted to build a school, the racism on display here made it to the BBC and CNN. Australians bath in racism it's still a national past time. Not a shameful display by rednecks, rather a shameful display of what most Australians really think but are not willing to voice in such a public manner

mollymalone said...

I too originally come from Adelaide and am appalled at the heartlessness and racism of these people. The frightening thing is that these views are shared by a majority of Australians. The media does its best to stir up racism by continually reporting every boat arrival as shock horror news (hang your head in shame SBS). Rather than being overrun by asylum seekers, Australia is being overrun by the small-minded, ignorant and materialistic. I'm not sure how much longer I can live in this country.

San Francisco 53 said...

You gloss over the "assimilation" of 19th century refugees in SA - during WWI this was characterised by much the same hysteria as today.

Greg Jericho said...

San Fransisco 53 - you are right - my point was that the Germans did come, were viewed with misstrust (especially during WWI), and yet look at them and their impact on the culture today.

Hillbilly Skeleton said...

This is a Rubicon that had to be crossed by the ALP. Were they going to continue to 'Lurch to the Right', or were they going to put on the humane face that the leaching of votes to their Left demanded? Thankfully Chris Bowen decided on the harder road to follow, but one which finally starts to dismantle the horrible bigotry and xenophobia encouraged by the Conservatives.
Btw, Jamie 'WorkChoices' Briggs, a Liberal 'Moderate'? Pull the other one, it plays 'Jingle Bells'.

Hillbilly Skeleton said...

This is one up the jacksie of all the bigots in Woodside(sounds like the name of a Mental Institution):

Hillbilly Skeleton said...

Sorry, Grog, just trying this one again to see if videos can come through:

Hillbilly Skeleton said...

I think the answer to that questionj is, 'No'. :)

sam said...

As Andrew Leigh detailed the Liberal Party is not "Liberal" or moderate. The moderates who were members of the Liberal Party - known as WETS have all been driven out.
Abbott and his like from the NSW very Christian lobby control the Liberal party.
Tolerance and compassion (St Mary MacKillop) contrast vividly as Grog has shown.

Kevin Rennie said...

I was deeply disturded when I heard the AM report about Woodside. It was not only the opinions expressed but the venom that was displayed with appalling lack of respect for others present. It came hot on the heels of the barbaric behaviour at some of the Murray/Darling consultations. I'm sure the same people complain about the poor "manners" of the younger generation.

Yaz said...

Love your juxtaposition of Rann's speech with the racist nonsense. Have you ever considered submitting a piece to the New Yorker?

Anonymous said...

I've taken the time to read your post more carefully now grog [or is it Greg?].
Good post.
It illustrates the problem with Oz politics in general.
The role of the media in doing 2 things, accentuating the negative and silencing the postive.
Recently in a suburb not too far away from the locale in this story the local rag supported the calling of a public meeting of residents to protest the problem of hoons and thugs who had taken over the local streets and were terrorising the people.
A problem highlighted by a series of 'exclusives' in the local rag.
At the meeting tempers ran hot, sort of like this story and even the MDB irrigators stories, as they grilled the police rep who attended.
Then the copper asked the meeting this question:
"Has anyone here actually seen any of these incidents of 'hoonery' you are all telling me about which are causing so much concern?"


The meeting broke up.

Same here in this story.
And with the refugees issue in general.

A media beat up over next to nothing.

Meanwhile the positive, illustrated by this in your post:
"as Kim Galdigau who “said the Christian church community in the area wanted to know what it could do to help”, could have been the headline.
But was not.

We have gotta do somethin' about the media in this country.


Anonymous said...

I wasn't surprised at the level of racism displayed, I've seen enough of that lately to never be surprised again. I was however amazed at the level of idiotic bogan pride evinced by the ringleaders at just how venal, stupid, rude and profane they were as they spewed their bile into the public domain.
Boganism uber all!!

Anonymous said...

It's frustrating to me to read about things like this. Frustrating because I'm only second generation Australian myself (three out of my four grandparents were migrants from the UK - ten pound Poms who came out here seeking a better chance at a job). Australia as a whole is a nation founded on the principle of illegal immigration (I don't recall ever hearing whether the permission of the various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were displaced by the influx of Europeans was either requested or granted) and as such, I'd argue just about every Australian living here today has either directly or indirectly benefited from illegal immigration.

I wish some of these folks who are objecting so strongly to the refugees coming to this country would stop and consider whether there's any great difference between these people now, and their own immigrant ancestors. The majority of "Ten Pound Poms" came here looking for a place where they could find a job and a place to live (just like a lot of immigrants from places like Pakistan). A lot of the post-war migrants were escaping political and social chaos back in Europe (just like a lot of the Sri Lankan and Afghani refugees now, and the Vietnamese and Cambodian people back in the 1970s and 1980s). There are Sudanese and Afghani children who are here in Australia learning what a place which isn't a war zone looks like (and in some cases, so are their parents).

I wonder... do any of these people who are objecting so strongly to the mere presence of refugees in their district have a good suggestion for which year the Australian border was supposed to be shut and locked?

Anonymous said...

I think you are right in saying that many of those people at the meeting are not representative of the good people of Woodside. My daughter lives there and boasts of a community who jump to support and help each other ....
The rage those people vomited was very scary and based on the fear mongering they have eaten from the Howard years and still eat from Abbott and his cronies ...
I was waiting your your blog on this ~ thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Good one Greg. I wonder what race of people we named the Ghan train after?
We join with America in wars,then complain that first the Vietnamese boat people arrive then the Afghan and then he Iraq people. Maybe if we wern't over in these countries bombing and destroying their homes they would not be wanting to come here. So we must all bear some responsibility for what is happening.

Anonymous said...

Worried about ghettos are we? Just wander around most cities, we have China town, a Vietnamese, Greek, Italian, Jewish etc areas but we don't want these new arrivals to live together.
South Aus. has not a very good record with newly arrivals. Go back to WW1 and read about Torrens Island internment camp also WW2. People anglised their names i.e Schwartz to Black so a lot of the good people might not realise they were from German backgrounds. Now we have Kitchener buns instead of Berliner buns for example and many towns changed their names Even though many of the German people had lived here for close to 100 years. A lot of them settled in the Adelaide hills so the odds are your ancestors we subject to persecution a 100 years ago.

Greg Jericho said...

Anon certainly so, and many towns of course also changed their names - eg Blumenburg became Birdwood.

My point is SA has gone through all of that and can now see how dopey it was, and yet still we get this reaction.


2353 said...

When I was growing up in sunny Queensland, the narrative was that I would never get a job because of all the "new Australians" - predominately southern Europeans would take them. When I did get a job it wouldn't be for long because all the Vietnamese would take it from me as they would work for less money. Now it's people from the middle east will ruin the country for all the people who immigrated to Australia first.

Bottom line here is that everyone (regardless of their ancestors) is descended from a immigrant. The forebears of Aboriginals walked into the country some 50,000 years ago and most of the rest arrived by boat or 707/747 sometime more recently.

This display is disgusting - Howard and his dog whistlers who stoked the fires with petrol in the 1990s and 2000s for political reasons should (but probably won't because their heads are too far up another orifice) hang their head in shame - we shouldn't be having this discussion in 2010.

Political Animal said...

I was the child of migrants who lived in the old Woodside Immigration camp for some months in 1957. Different to today! Tin huts, unpaved streets, dunny hundreds of yards away from our hut, disgusting food and a prohibition on cooking in the huts.

The refugees will have much nicer conditions than we did and good luck to them!.

Wonder HM of the idiots at that meeting spent time in the old immigration camp?

Michael said...

While the behaviour is disgusting, this is not all bad.

There are plenty of people in the hills who will volunteer their time to help the new arrivals with acts of human kindness.

Those who exhibit hatred will be shown up by their own actions and that will be more powerful than anything we can say or do.

I know people in the hills who are already preparing to offer their services teaching English and more.

This sour motion in our blood will dissipate.

RodH said...

For an equally depressing picture of just how sick "Australian Values" have become about such matters have a look at

Here, for a change , The Telegraph actually publishes a story which provides boat people with a human face. Regardless, almost every one of 14 responses published beneath it seeks to deny their humanity. It may, of course, be that The Telegraph was selective in which responses it posted (I tried sending one myself, which didn't see the light of day), but either way, the picture we see is of Australians at their ugliest.

Sonia said...

When Ayslum seekers became a partisan issue in politics it allowed the coalition to tap into the racist part of society. I have been saddened by this no end. What was displayed in the Woodside community was appalling but sadly not surprising. Since the election is over I thought things were calming down but clearly nor
Great article by Peter Hartcher in the SMH this morning about Chris Bowen. He is a star and doing a great job. Im sure he would have been great in an economic portfolio but Im so glad hes been given the job.

Anonymous said...

I've been considering for a while now whether it would be better to reduce "skilled" migration and increase the take of refugees instead. How would we deal with the skills shortage? Why look at all these education facilities not being used now that overseas students are being scared off by the high dollar and racism.

The government should spend money on educating/skilling people who are here (and refugees are amongst the most motivated people around) with locally recognised standards and qualifications. This would be true nation building, and in the future we might even end up exporting doctors to poor countries instead of stealing doctors from them.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post as usual, Grog. As you say it is especially galling that such should occur in SA where we have such a rich heritage of German refugee migrants from the 19th century.

Yes, they had to withstand vicious xenophobia in WWI but triumphed to SA's benefit.

Even The Advertiser has now settled down a bit on this issue, and we hope that that initial reaction was an aberration.

I am very glad Bowen is sticking to his guns and that the churches and other community groups are rallying positively.


emjar said...

Grog, As usual an insightful comment.What a shame you had to write it in the first place. I'm pleased to say that some of my family live in Woodside and nearby Balhannah and are not in least fazed by the new arrivals in the neighbourhood. In fact two of them are nurses only too willing to help out and to also support work by the churches in the hills. We can all imagine what it would be like if we were in that situation and our small children were locked up in camps like these poor little refugee children. Let them smell some fresh Hills air and grow in to great South Australians-SA... HEAPS GOOD!

Anonymous said...

This is why no person of conscience could vote for the Liberal Party.

leioss said...

'So the next time any report includes the phrase “queue” you know you are reading or listening to someone who has no idea of the facts (or is flat out ignoring them).'

Just so interesting considering Howard's comments on Q&A tonight.

Unknown said...

I fucking love you grog
You couldn't have summed it up any better.
Although 'great' pioneers called this land Terra Nullis - it wasn't. We're all 'queue' jumpers

Clytie said...

On one of the "news" articles about the Woodside meeting, a commenter mentioned that a great deal of the anger and confusion we see about this issue and the MDB is due to perceived helplessness.

Government imposes change and we have to deal with it. We're no longer fooled by token "consultation". Not mentioned, but IMHO just as key, is the resentment and confusion caused by a proliferation of change, and the hardship currently being endured by many Australians.

This is no excuse for bad behaviour, but it does provide ready fuel for rabble-rousers.

I live in Renmark, a S.A. town on the Murray, and one where at least 50% of the population is of NESB. Over 63 languages were spoken in the Riverland when I last checked. I think we're a generous community: we've welcomed and resettled many refugees in the past. We certainly didn't "riot in the streets" over the MDB draft plan.

All the same, we've endured systematic government stripping of our infrastructure, and after years of zero or tiny water allocation (while other states were on 100%), financially we're really struggling. It might be harder for some people to feel generous in this situation.

I think that's where the request for subsidy originates. A community like ours would find it much easier to support a group of refugees if our severely strained services were augmented. (For example, you _cannot_ make an appointment with the Renmark GP surgery. I used to have to wait three months for an appointment, but now you have to wait until they "open the appointment books again" even to ask.)

I'm not saying this justifies a demand for bribes or hostile behaviour. But it might help explain why not everyone jumps up and shushes the person speaking.