24 January 2004


When a small number of terrified people seek our help, we are told it is a threat to our borders; when 60,000 backpackers from Europe stay on for years, there is no mention of border protection. Australia's human rights record has been damaged by our treatment of refugees. It will not be repaired by the cinematic simplicities of Russell Crowe.

Utilitarianism was used in the 18th century to justify slavery, in the 19th century to justify child labour and in the 20th century to justify the Nazi's treatment of the Jews. Abbott shows that it can be used in the 21st century to justify the Howard Government's record.

Julian Burnside

Melbourne, Victoria

Apart from the special case that Abbot argues I would have thought a government so focussed on 'values' would have thought through its approach to certain universal values like telling the truth before trying to conflate the Aubrey dilemma with fairly marginal policy issues. All Abbot really is doing is recycling the ancient 'There is no alternative' argument that dates back to Margaret Thatcher. Perhaps unconsciously, Abbot is actually speaking in defence of the same relativism his leader fears is rife in the public schools.

Political correctness on the right is just as PC as political correctness on the left.

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