My tiny hands are bleeding: Vanstone on protest

6 Dec
The Exceptional Amanda Vanstone

The Exceptional Amanda Vanstone


In yet another piece of bellicose dross on the thoughtlessness of protesters, former Howard immigration minister turned ABC broadcaster and Fairfax columnist (via ambassador to Rome) Amanda Vanstone, yesterday unleashed her inner curmudgeon in this indignant rant titled “The ‘look at me’ narcissistic politics of the left.”

On reflection, her curmudgeon aspect is not that inner, but let’s not digress into personalities.

Briefly, Vanstone suffered trauma when as a young woman, indentured to the Myer group, she was forced to walk the streets of Melbourne bearing a load of something or other tied up with string that cut into her hands so badly she was obliged to make occasional stops in order to lay down her burden on the pavements and give her tiny hands a break.

One day, she was prevented from enjoying even this small relief by a crowd of “well-fed” protesters, upset about Australia’s involvement in the US war on Vietnam in general, and in particular, the napalming of Vietnamese children.

The utter selfishness of them, whines Amanda, in anarchically denying her respite from pain, and quite possibly preventing other people from going to the doctor or shopping in Myers. Yes, there’s no question. Napalm Vietnam to kingdom come, but what is really wrong here is that some Australians are inconvenienced.

This has been the aggrieved tone of almost every comment I’ve read and heard since some WACA activists glued themselves to the gallery in the House of Representatives last week in protest against our torture of and other criminal actions against those who legally sought asylum in our country.

Of course, those asylum seekers, now refugees, also inconvenienced Australians didn’t they, in the manner of their arrival and then sewing up their lips and dying and suffering the worst mental health outcomes per capita of any group in the western world. Now we have to bear global chastisement, and we still haven’t managed to get rid of them to a third country.

We speak often on the topic of American exceptionalism, but rarely do we mention Australian exceptionalism. It’s time to start.

Australian exceptionalism believes we ought not to be put upon by any of the world’s estimated 60 million refugees fleeing conflict and violence, for our sovereignty is of far more consequence than any human life, even those lives we have ourselves contributed towards endangering.  This is the meta level of Australian exceptionalism.

Australians who don’t care about refugees must not, under any circumstances, be inconvenienced by those who do and take to the street or parliament house to express their concerns at the actions of our recalcitrant governments.

This actually applies to public protest in general: there is a class amongst us who abhor protest, it makes their tummies tingle and all they want is to make it stop because they can’t stand a discomfort worse even than having parcel string leave weals on your palms.

This class puts their comfort ahead of every other human concern, and so we have Vanstone and her ilk believing they are deserving of greater consideration than napalmed Vietnamese children and tortured refugees.

It isn’t “lefty” concern and protest that’s the problem here. It’s entitlement, and an unfounded belief in exceptionalism, both national and individual, that is corroding public discourse and daily life. Nobody is entitled to a life free of all obstacles, be they large or small.

Being delayed or otherwise temporarily inconvenienced by protesters who are legitimately expressing their freedom to speak  on behalf of those who are silenced is a very small obstacle and for mine, those who cannot tolerate even this much without complaint are psychologically and emotionally dysfunctional, and they urgently need to get themselves seen to.






34 Responses to “My tiny hands are bleeding: Vanstone on protest”

  1. paul walter. December 6, 2016 at 9:45 am #


    She was Minister at the time of deportations of refugees, most notably the tragic Bakhtiary family, who fell foul of the government back in the era of the Woomera protests around 2000- 2002 ( police brutality toward protestors; the Man on the Razor Wire, courtcases and appeals).

    I understand both JW and Marilyn have been much closer to the misunderstood events of the time and the brutality of that era has marked them as well as the persecuted refugees.

    I suspect the posting will bring back dark, sad memories for some.

    Certainly jolts mine…

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter. December 6, 2016 at 9:49 am #

      Should mention the Bakhtiaiy deportations occurred in 2005, after the Bakhtiarys had been living in Adelaide at a half way house for eighteen months(?).

      Ps hope I have the name spelling right, people have used two types of spelling re the name Bakhtiary and the wrong spelling infuriates those who new that family personally.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson December 6, 2016 at 10:33 am #

        Marilyn knows them well, I think.


        • Anonymous December 6, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

          Verandah Sandstone was waving around a letter from the Afghan Ambassador of the day stating the family were from Afghanistan, that fat evil bitch dragged them out of bed at dawn in Adelaide and shipped them like rubbish to Baxter prison then at 1 am under cover of the fucking tsunami to deport them on fake papers to Pakistan and 4 days in limbo before paying thousands in bribes to Pakistan and leaving them to die or survive in the snow outside Rawalipindi.

          12 hours earlier Roqia was found to be pregnant again and knowing she suffered gestational diabetes they deported her anyway, the boys had to walk through winter snow to Pakistan to get medicine for her.

          And the name is Bakhtiyari – there was Ali the lovely gentle dad, Roqia, my beautiful feisty adopted daughter, Alamadar, Montezar, Nagina, Samina, Amina ( my little one who begged me to shoot her at age 7 after 4 years prison here) Mazhar born in Adelaide yet DICS made fake papers claiming he was born in Quetta and baby girl Fatima was born on 8 August 2005, 7 months after their 30 December deportation.

          McGeough found the real documents before they were deported, Vanstone had them and deported them anyway,

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson December 7, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

            Marilyn, why have you come through as someone?
            This story is heartbreaking. It always will be.


            • paul walter. December 7, 2016 at 5:08 pm #

              Anonymous raises an interesting point.

              Far different if it you actually know the people involved and governments have always sought to keep asylum seekers distanced from the public, out of sight out of mind.

              They are denied a voice and are easy prey for innuendo and nebulous smear campaigns, because they can’t answer back through voice and conduct when people sneer and taunt about their beliefs, appearance and habits as happened a lot during Morrison’s time as

              My experience of Afghanis, Iranis etc on public transport is that they are incredibly quiet, polite and restrained people.

              My friend Marilyn met many refugees in Adelaide and found them to be warm, affable, gracious and civilised people in company, at social gatherings, meals and so on.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Jennifer Wilson December 8, 2016 at 7:57 am #

                We met many in Woomera. One of the most extraordinary things that happened was that everyone we met offered us biscuits & water, and apologised for having nothing better to give us. Hospitality so graciously offered to us by those indefinitely detained in that desert hell.


        • paul walter. December 6, 2016 at 6:10 pm #

          btw sorry from spelling errors. I knew the story would be an upsetting one for a few people I know and didn’t concentrate very well on the actual writing.

          It’s actually a very nasty story once you know of it, both the early-ish chapter Jennifer Wilson presents and the rest of it since.

          Liked by 1 person

          • paul walter. December 6, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

            To tell the truth it upsets me also. And so it should and most other Australians besides.

            There never needed to be the sadism element, but it was part of the selling of it as psychodrama, for complex reasons of political expediency and dominance. What it appealed, both in the perpetrators and large numbers of the public targeted was so dark and powerful, fear and loathing, as to have become an addictive drug demanding more and more cruelty, but playing with matches produces fire for the underdeveloped psychological pathology of the walking ape.

            What has happened is a bit akin to Europe in the nineteen thirties and the result in this writer is a sense of shame and nausea, even though I felt there was a case for regulating flows of arrivals.

            I blame the greedy warmongers who created the massive flows of wretched humanity, as well as our leaders, but in truth, like Niemoller, I equivocated in the end also and that is my personal shame.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson December 6, 2016 at 10:34 am #

      Ruddock as well. He was in charge when I first went to Woomera & Baxter. With his fucking amnesty badge pinned to his treacherous lapel.


  2. auntyuta December 6, 2016 at 9:53 am #

    Reblogged this on auntyuta and commented:

    After WW2 I was extremely upset when I saw pictures about the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews. I am just as upset now about the governments treatment of asylum seekers. To ignore human rights is wrong, wrong, wrong. To keep silent about it, is wrong, wrong wrong too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson December 6, 2016 at 10:32 am #

      Thanks auntyuta, and silence is as bad as committing the crimes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stephanie Cornwallis December 6, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

        When lies are replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.

        Liked by 2 people

    • jane December 7, 2016 at 12:12 am #

      I agree. What we are doing to these poor people is as bad as the Nazis treatment of concentration camp inmates. We are covering ourselves with shame and cruelty.

      Liked by 2 people

      • auntyuta December 7, 2016 at 8:36 am #

        Amanda Vanstone says in her article the following:
        “. . . What would they say if their employer sought to rearrange their rights to salary or super because the employer decided it was fair and reasonable to pay less effective workers less ? No doubt there’d be an uproar. What if their university just decided to not award a degree on the basis of some subjective personal bias by one lecturer? Another uproar. , , , ”
        Well, as far as I can see this has to do with economic rights. Whereas keeping people in detention, as though they were criminals, has to do with abuse of human rights. And abuse it is in my view, no matter what Miss Vanstone says. But none of our politicians are willing to make a fuss about it. To interrupt their talk for half an hour is a crime. And still they wont talk about the issue. It just does not concern them that totally innocent people are lingering meanwhile in detention. How come they cannot show any guilt about it that this treatment goes on indefinitely? In their view it is the right kind of treatment. How can it be right if it goes against human rights?
        I think every one who does not protest against this treatment is totally and absolutely selfish. possibly because of being scared to lose some of their ‘privileges’!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson December 7, 2016 at 4:27 pm #

          The right wing are born without the capacity for guilt.


          • townsvilleblog December 8, 2016 at 10:38 am #

            So Vanstone had one day of work experience, decided she didn’t like it and decided she would become a tory Senator, some of us have had to work for 30 years and longer, she doesn’t (like all tories) respect us for the effort we put in to make the employers richer.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. townsvilleblog December 6, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    Vanstone needs to firstly follow my lead and have a gastric sleeve before she howls, which may give her more credability, she was always hopeless as 99.9% of all tories are. She shouldn’t comment on subjects that she is ignorant on, such as protest against unfairness. The real problem for her as well as tories in general is that they have always known privilege, and never known poverty, and so are ignorant on the world’s basic problem of the need to redistribute wealth more evenly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson December 6, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

      I don’t know about the gastric sleeve, Shaun, but she certainly needs to check her privilege. And her own narcissism.

      Liked by 1 person

      • townsvilleblog December 6, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

         Jennifer, I was just being a bit silly, but privilegeis the thing that all tories have in common. Shaun. 

        Liked by 1 person

        • paul walter. December 6, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

          Yep. What has happened is something akin to Mengele at the concentration camp or Hannibal Lecter at work at its worst.

          That’s the level the nation sank to, with dog whistle politics massaging base mass instincts driven by power drunk politicians and creepy and cynical elements within mass media and press.

          Liked by 1 person

          • townsvilleblog December 6, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

            Jennifer, as financial managers they have taken the budget defict from $19 bn under Labor to $40 bn in only 3 years, they are bloody hopeless! 

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Wilson December 7, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

              Shaun, there’s one disaster after another. Today we hear of the terrible Australian kids results in maths, science & reading in a global survey n which we have fallen dramatically. Unequal distribution of funding is at the bottom of these downward spirals : LNP privilege their own.


              • paul walter. December 7, 2016 at 11:02 pm #

                And a very bad set of economic figures.

                Liked by 1 person

              • doug quixote December 8, 2016 at 12:16 am #

                How to tell lies with statistics. Australian schools are a united nations of immigrants; how many in a Chinese or Singaporean school are not Chinese? SFA, by my understanding.

                Also we have no way of telling how honest the figures are from certain countries. National pride, and quite a few bureaucrat jobs are at stake.

                That being said, we also allow religious sects to run their own schools, all too autonomously. I’d love to blame the governments, federal and state, but the matters require better analysis than we are getting. Again.

                Liked by 1 person

                • allthumbs December 8, 2016 at 10:37 am #

                  Doug I have my own theory as to why the PISA results are in decline, and like all my theories I cannot offer a skerrick of evidence, not a shred, but in this new post truth, post fact world, fuck it.

                  I would lay the blame very squarely at the privatization of Tertiary education. In order to guarantee income streams, Universities have lowered the entry standards.

                  Secondary schools under the added duress of Gillard’s idiotic MySchool ranking program, having their funding needs measured by the success of their ability to grind as many students through the sausage machine of academic success, (normally measured by the ATAR scores for University entrance) have lowered their minimum requirements accordingly to help feed the voracious tertiary system.

                  On top of that the Pedagogy industry flourishes, providing more and more inferior content to meet the lower demand requirements.

                  Who to blame, well teachers are the easiest target, because to say the last thirty years of privatization of the education system is a failure is incomprehensible, because it would mean pulling apart the reputation of that smarmy git Paul Keating and his Liberal successors, as well as hoisting Gillard on her own pet project of importing U.S. educational measurement standards into this country.

                  Oh and let us not forget Christopher Pyne who warrants his own Crimes against Humanity legal classification for torturing the public by his mere existence.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Jennifer Wilson December 8, 2016 at 8:51 pm #

                    Excellent final observation, allthumbs.


                  • doug quixote December 9, 2016 at 9:23 am #

                    There aren’t any facts any more, only opinions.

                    And while no-one is entitled to their own facts, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. No matter how absurd.

                    Liked by 1 person

        • jane December 7, 2016 at 12:15 am #

          And an over inflated idea of their own importance that goes along with their inflated sense of entitlement and privilege. There’s not one of them worthy of anything but scorn and disgust.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson December 7, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

          True, Shaun.


  4. doug quixote December 7, 2016 at 8:41 pm #

    Hmm. So far as it goes, this argument is correct. Of course it assumes that a protest by a few activists in Canberra, or in Timbuktu for that matter, will affect anything in the real world.

    I suppose that they succeed in getting the issue on the News, even if just about every view expressed is negative. Perhaps the suffragettes did something towards getting women the vote; perhaps the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament prevented World War III. Perhaps not.

    Worth a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sam Jandwich December 9, 2016 at 11:43 am #

    Hmmm, now that I’m old enough to get the joke about “martini hand is frozen” I still don’t find it funny… Actually it’s probably meant to be racist, just like the Spanish concierge who said to the newly-married couple, I wish you ‘appiness for the rest of your life!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. paul walter. December 11, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

    Just a thought..ABC Adelaide teev ran an interesting story on the spectacular success rate of a Hazara family at uni entrance exams here.

    Once maligned Playford High (formerly Elizabeth Tech, in the town I come from), finally got its name up in lights for the right reason.

    Liked by 1 person

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