In the latest episode of “government collectively frames Muslims”, prime minister Scott Morrison, after the Bourke Street attack, called on Islamic leaders to take “special responsibility” for stamping out radicalism in their communities. He claimed that “the greatest threat … is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam”.
Far from identifying any actual threat, this is just standard divide and rule tactics designed to deflect attention from the real threats in Australian society.
I won’t hold my breath until the day Morrison, or any other prime minister, calls on business leaders to take “special responsibility” for stamping out deaths at work like that of 20-year-old Dillon Wu, killed this month.
Dillon had just started an apprenticeship with the training arm of the Australian Industry Group, one of Australia’s most powerful business lobbies. A safety audit conducted by the company in August identified numerous serious hazards in the workplace, including the factory’s lack of procedures for staff working in confined spaces, as Dillon was.
It categorised these under “High/Significant Risk, Almost Certain likelihood, Serious consequence”. Then it sent Dillon to work there.
No word so far from Morrison that “the greatest threat … is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist capitalism”. Yet in the 14 years from 2003 to 2016, the threat of unsafe workplaces resulted in 3,414 people losing their lives in work-related incidents. In the “best” year there were 182 deaths.
Going to work in Australia is not the only threat that is a lot bigger than anything that Muslims offer. A cursory glance at royal commissions old and new tells us that.
The 407 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people killed in police or prison custody since the end of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991 were not under threat by Muslims but by the thugs of the Australian state. The same could be said of the horrors inflicted on Aboriginal kids in the Don Dale detention centre.
The recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard from 1,200 witnesses representing a fraction of the untold victims – not under threat by Muslims but overwhelmingly by the organised Christianity of which the prime minister is a proud member.
Despite reams of incontrovertible evidence of decades of abuse, and cover-ups that allowed it to continue, there are none of the official accusations of collective culpability that Muslims receive regularly, no “special responsibility” to deal with this cancer infecting Christianity.
Similarly, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety must have slipped Scott Morrison’s mind when he labelled Islamic extremism the greatest threat. Or perhaps he was just covering his own arse.
After all, it was when he was treasurer that funding to the aged care sector was cut by $1.2 billion over four years, and conditions for workers and residents shamefully deteriorated. But let’s not forget the threat to the elderly posed by the aged care industry bosses, who think that an average of $6 per resident a day is enough to spend on food. Penny-pinching in the name of profit is apparently not a threat.
If our rulers were horrified by the threat of violence, they’d stop engaging in it on a mass scale. With the military budget running at $35 billion a year, a lot of money is not going to hospitals or schools or pensions or aged care or women’s refuges.
Where it is going is the “war on terror”, which is a war on Muslim civilians from Afghanistan to Iraq, or on imperialist ventures in the Pacific to secure the region for Australian interests.
Once again, no Muslims are involved in those threats. But as scapegoats, they are beyond compare.