Military Support, Islam and Refugees

1a australiaLetter from Australia

By Julia Meek

The most important news from Australia lately is that Canberra has pledged military support for the US-initiated attacks on Islamic State in Northern Iraq ( and Australian ;planes have launched their first attacks).aust warplanes

At first it was air strikes, now ground support is also offered. This was announced by press headlines… ‘Hornets in the air, boots on the ground.’

Some disquiet

Not everyone is happy, including old war resisters such as myself.

Burkhas in OzInevitably, in order to justify military action – both the expense and the whole angst of being a country at war – there has been a heightening of consciousness of possible acts of terrorism within Australia itself.

This has generated some hostility to local long-established Muslim communities .

Some MPs have suggested a ban on the wearing of the burqa in Parliament House. Another idea is that anyone wearing a burqa there should have to sit with children in a special area of the public gallery behind glass!

Warnings at train stations

warningMany train stations have large yellow and black notices warning people to observe and report any suspicious-looking packages left lying, or people acting strangely.

All this comes at a time when the present right wing government, led by Tony Abbott, has made a point of turning away boats that are loaded with refugees/asylum seekers, suggesting that these are illegal would-be immigrants and that their only path is to apply for a visa through diplomatic channels and arrive by air.


Refugee camps

For most refugees, fleeing for their lives, all that is not possible – this being the reason that the UN has made regulations on how refugees should be accommodated.

Manus Island campsCamps have been set up on Manus Island and Christmas Island; inevitably stories are coming out of cruelty and abuse of adults and children. Treatment of refugees was the subject of a demonstration in Melbourne on Saturday.

Australia’s manufacturing sector is facing mounting job losses. The latest news is that 1000 shipbuilding jobs will go as the government sends contracts for building two navy supply ships overseas.

Lots of cheerful stories next time!