And now Morrison (yes him again) denies us our history

5 Jan

Woomera Detention Centre Riot SMH


Author Peter FitzSimons recently completed a documentary on the history of race riots in Australia. The first episode of “The Great Australian Race Riot” aired on SBS on January 4th.

FitzSimons wanted to include the 2001 riot at the Woomera Detention Centre. However, then Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison (yes, him again) refused FitzSimons access to the long-closed facility, and demanded the crew not film within 150 metres of the site.

“That furiously annoyed me,” says FitzSimons. “We couldn’t shoot in Woomera itself, which staggered us. We were attempting to take a serious look at a sometimes difficult multicultural society.”

This is a deliberate attempt by the Abbott government to control a historical record of racial unrest in Australia.

The 2001 Woomera riot took place on the Howard LNP government watch. It is a period steeped in turmoil over asylum seekers arriving here by boat. It was at this time the notorious Tampa stand-off took place,causing an international incident between Australia and Norway as well as profound domestic political unrest as then Prime Minister John Howard made his infamous declaration: “We will decide who comes to this country and the manner in which they come.”

Howard exploited populist xenophobic fears incited by Pauline Hanson, then leader of right-wing One Nation, a conservative, anti multicultural political party. Co-opting Hanson’s xenophobic policies, Howard attracted her voter base and went on to win the 2001 federal election.

Woomera Detention Centre was central to the combination of circumstances that elevated the exploitation and incitement of xenophobia and racism to the central platform they remain for both the LNP and the ALP to this day. That period began what has become an increasingly isolationist and inhumane Australian response to the global problem of stateless persons.

The treatment of asylum seekers imprisoned in the Woomera and Baxter detention centres marked the beginning of increasing public acceptance of the state’s dehumanisation of those fleeing persecution, and laid the ground for popular acceptance of Morrison’s narrative of border protection. Morrison’s alleged “war” against waterborne asylum seekers has been used to justify the ludicrous and sinister secrecy in which the Department of Immigration and Border Protection is now irrevocably steeped.

It is astounding that the Abbott government has in this instance successfully engineered the recording of Australian history to exclude any reference to the Woomera riot. Fortunately many records of these events exist. Morrison and Abbott are fighting a losing battle if they believe the voices of this period of our history can be silenced. Indeed, their attempts to control information appear increasingly desperate and naive, as they consistently fail to recognise that what one attempts to omit from the narrative eventually becomes the narrative, and all they are left with are increasingly sullied reputations drenched to the bone in lies, secrets and guilty silence. History eventually will judge Morrison and Abbott, and the Australian Labor Party, and find them all excruciatingly wanting.


Woomera Riots Two



8 Responses to “And now Morrison (yes him again) denies us our history”

  1. doug quixote January 5, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    It takes two sides to have a race riot; usually one race is the perpetrator, the other the victim, but it may be equal culpability at times. I see no grounds for including Woomera or any recent events in Australia other than Cronulla 2005. Fitzsimons may have a different view.


    • Marilyn January 5, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

      The fact is that most of the footage from Woomera was doctored by the media. I got hold of a disc of an Adelaide journo. ready to leave out of sheer boredom because there was no riot at all, just peaceful protests.

      Then the racist cops turned up on their horses and started trampling people.

      There was also footage of Samina Bakhtiyari being stolen by someone in the crowd and taken out into the desert only to be followed by poor Roqia out of her mind screaming MY DAUGHTER, MY DAUGHTER, and the idiot journo. screaming at here WHERE ARE YOU FROM, WHY DID YOU COME HERE?

      She found her daughter in the desert with activists from Melbourne and was then charged with escaping and her chances of ever being released were done.

      Claiming it wasn’t racist though Doug is just plain absurd, if the people inside were nice white people the cops would not have attacked them later with gallons of tear gas and bashed them with batons.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 5, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

      He does, but what interests me even more is the refusal to allow filming there.


  2. paul walter January 5, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    No, I think Dr Wilson has her teeth into this one- it’s a very “95 Theses” statement, clear and organised state of play summary and Marilyn’s comment offers back up on the substance, which is to do with government obsession with control and secrecy and what comes of lack of accountability.

    Doug may be ok in differentiating between state policy (if it should be dignified by such a term in this case)and individual gut racism, but in the end the consequences for the victims are much the same and that’s what Marilyn and Jennifer are saying: the differentiation between the two forms of oppression are only peripheral and in fact the incident demonstrates Jennifers point as to surveillance and censorship- the truth is, there is absolutely no reason why the Woomera system should NOT be examined and (holds breath) learned from.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 5, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

      Yes, that’s my opinion, PW, it is the forbidding of entry to Woomera that stands out for me.


      • paul walter January 5, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

        Petty fascism. We haven’t done fascism in OZ or many parts of the Western World and only the wrinklies remember really hard times.

        Having no real experience of the sort of adversity the global population actually lives under, we remain complacent about Niemoller style warnings and wouldnt really understand the danger until we too ended up in a camp, like ww2 bourgeois Jews and socialists.

        I’m wondering if our real threat comes more from complacency than racism, altho racism derives of it, because it IS true that that apart from the overt crimes committed against refugees, we miss that those who pull strings also see refugees and people movement issues as an opportunity to push things even closer to authoritarianism than has already happened through superfluous surveillance/ detention’/ security legislation and censorship, ensuring that large tracts of thepopulation continue to live in a claustrophobic unheimlich, Kafkaesque vaccuum

        The truth is, the Howard Wedge is as lodged and as operative as ever it was and our country remains broken in pieces on the ground.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. doug quixote January 6, 2015 at 12:22 am #

    I agree that it was an example of fascist oppression. But still not a race riot. There is some risk of the Niemoller warning and little doubt this present pack of fascists in Keystone Kops drag would like to go further. But still not a race riot.

    Would they oppress “nice white people”? You bet your last dollar! If they had Marilyn, Paul Walter, Forrest Gump, the Oostermans and a few others in there, the batons’d be swinging.

    Nasty, fascist and oppressive, but still not a race riot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. paul walter January 6, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    Yep. He’s on the square. Look, as you know, what is actually happening here is a semantic and organisational thing in the conversation involving the term race riot.

    But it is a bit straw man, whether or not it was arace riot in the Cronulla sense or not, shouldnt preclude it from serious enquiry- and without governemt censorship, obfuscation and interference….what are they hiding?

    Whether it is a race riot or state terrorism or whatever, Woomera is an atypical thing for a democracy and Jennifer argues that a number of contributing factors make it inevitable that speculation will continue, since by her argument, human life and suffering is at stake, through the international system becoming so rigid and greed driven.


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