Posted by David Chibo from 203-206-78-178-dial.froggy.com.au (220.127.116.11) on Monday, February 18, 2002 at 3:56PM :
In Reply to: Re: Lawrence rallies the troops on detainees posted by pancho from adsl-64-165-199-47.dsl.snfc21.pacbell.net (18.104.22.168) on Monday, February 18, 2002 at 1:31PM :
Back in September and October when the Australian Federal election was in full swing members of the two major parties Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Liberal Party where invited to attend Melbourne's Beth Nahrain Cultural Club and speak to Assyrian voters and attempt to win their vote.
Darren Buller a candidate from the Liberal party was the first to give a talk.
He began by holding a minute's silence for the Americans who died on Sep 11.
Very bad move.
After his shallow talk focusiing on local issues it was question time.
He was poorly prepared and expected an easy ride.
Amongest other questions I enquired about why the Liberal government, at the time, was enforcing sanctions on Iraq and then not accpeting the asylum seekers who flee as a result of our government's actions.
He gave the "arnuwa gu shraya d'radeyta" (rabbit in the headlights) before finally caving in and admitting "I'm not very strong on foreign affairs."
A week later Greek-Australian candidate Maria Vamvakinou, from the Australian Labor Party (ALP) visited us.
I had warmed up with Darren, I thought I'd do the same with Maria, seeing how her party, the ALP, were also for mandatory detention.
She however shocked me.
She began by explaining how people in her electorate had recently become alittle hysterical and the Australian community had become polarised. She then flat out stated, the cause of the recent attack was the U.S.'s imperialistic foreign policy and Australia had nothing to fear from terrorists!
She went from good to better and upon going into question time my hand was the first to be raised.
I fired off the same question I asked of Darren Buller and wanted to know her stand and her party's stand on the mandatpry detention issue.
She didn't dissapoint me.
She explained that it was a disgusting policy that stunk of the "white Australia" policy of the 1900s. She explained how she personally despised the policy, her party supported, but promised that if elected that she'd fight to abolish mandatory detention.
I was not sure if she was just telling me what we wanted to hear or if she was genuine. I mean politicians are on par to lawyers when it comes to honesty. I did however give her the benefit of the doubt and wrote an overall positive article about her talk in Nakosha's November issue.
Meanwhile our very own Sam D. and I decided to campaign with the Australian Democrats who had promised to abolish mandatory detention. We were at separate polling booths giving out 'How to vote pamphlets' for the entire day. I was competing against other volunteers endorsing Darren and Maria.
As the day was ending Maria dropped in to check up on her volunteers and progress at the polling booth. She looked at me alittle puzzled.
I looked at her and basically explained that although I respected her personal stand on the issue of mandatory detention that I would campaign against the ALP and Liberal parties because overall they supported it.
She nodded her head and indicated that she understood why I was campaigning against her.
She ended up winning the election for the seat of Calwell.
I had assumed that she was a typical politican and that now that she was in power she wouldn't "rock the boat".
Well come last Tuesday, which was the day she was sworn in, and the official opening of the Australian Parliment, before being sworn in, herself along with Tanya Plibersek (see previous post) as well as other ALP candidates broke ranks and joined protestors campaiging against mandatory detention (see article).
If you think you're proud of these politicians you're not half as proud as I am of them.
Maria and the others are fighting not only against the opposition but also against their own party!
-- David Chibo
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