Tony Abbott explains to the Parliament why people like him are so much more concerned about the plight of the victims of this week natural disaster in New Zealand than they have been when even more devastating disasters, with even greater loss of life, have recently occurred in other countries:
New Zealanders are family, they’re not foreigners and that’s why this disaster has especially touched the hearts of every Australian. Whatever New Zealand asks, Australia will give. Whatever the Government does, the Coalition will back.
Of course! THEY’RE NOT FOREIGNERS. Well, sure, technically they are, but, well, you know what he means.
You don’t know what he means because it’s an absurd thing to say?
He means that many of them are of Anglo-Saxon descent who speak English as a first language – just like the kind of Australians he thinks of when he’s trying to figure out who’s “foreign” or not.
Yes, apparently “that’s why” the Coalition is 100% on board this time, why no expense is to be spared. But remember the qualification. If they weren’t “family” – ie, ethnically similar to Tony Abbott – then things would, it seems, be quite different.
Tony’s unsympathetic attitude towards asylum seekers from non-English-speaking countries makes a lot more sense after that admission.
UPDATE (26/2): The full Hansard record of that debate is now online (it wasn’t when I wrote this post). I’d only heard Abbott’s remarks; turns out Julia Gillard said something similar moments earlier:
I know that the thoughts of all Australians are with New Zealanders as we have watched the devastation on our TV screens. New Zealanders are like family to us. They are like family in good times and bad.
She didn’t make the link between their alleged “family” status and support quite as explicitly as Abbott (whose full remarks, unedited by the ABC, are also available on the above link – he also added, rather unbelievably, that “Almost all of us have family and friends across the Tasman”), but the sentiment was still that New Zealanders are “family” in a way that those in other countries aren’t, and we should therefore care more when they’re suffering. You draw your own conclusions as to the assumptions on which she was relying to make that claim.
That said, only Abbott went on about which “foreigners” aren’t really “foreigners”.