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AustraliaComment: I'm a 'quiet Australian', but Scott Morrison doesn't speak for me

23:11  03 september  2019
23:11  03 september  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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I’m a quiet Australian. Ask anyone who knows me. He’s very quiet your son, my mother would be told, in my younger days. Oh, he’s always thinking, she’d reply. Ah yes, that was me, always thinking.

Truth is, where people mistake me looking into the middle distance as wise as an old owl, contemplating the meaning of the universe, really I’m blissfully thinking of nothing or wondering what shape that passing cloud resembles. This is no mean feat when I’m indoors, and it’s night.

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One could say this reserved nature is just your typical good old Australian laconic male. Keeps himself to himself. Not much of a talker, but a very good listener. This lack of utterance may seem a strange contrast to the formation of words into stories that emanate from the keyboard. The fingers can speak for me, I shrug. But even my fingers have come to resent, and hence this conversation, that being a quiet Australian has been hijacked for political purposes.

I may be quiet. I may be Australian, but I am not a “quiet Australian”, as defined by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Where once it might have been a societal description, now it’s loaded with the weaponry of politics. It’s part of the strategy of attack and defence. Divide and conquer by virtue of one standing forth as the guardian of all that is right and proper – that is, Morrison – for those who cannot speak for themselves above the din of the enemy.

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And yet there are unquiet Australians, who will not be silenced. They speak when they believe their government does not speak for them. They speak for a family, kids and parents, whisked off in the middle of the night onto a plane, into detention, treated like some kind of infectious organism that might by its very presence taint our society. Heaven forfend.

Comment: I'm a 'quiet Australian', but Scott Morrison doesn't speak for me © AAP Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave thanks to the “quiet Australians” after his election victory. The unquiet ones rage against the dying of the light of compassion. They rage against people rendered into merely cogs in the machinery of cruelty.

And yet this government, led by Morrison and Peter Dutton, talk as if they speak for the quiet ones. It is a thread of Morrison’s narrative. Recently the PM told public servants to "have a laser-like focus on serving these quiet Australians".

The sibling to the phrase, be it quiet Australians or quiet Americans, is the silent majority.

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Perhaps the most famous use of the term was by US President Richard Nixon 50 years ago. At the height of the Vietnam War he spoke to the nation: “And so tonight to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans, I ask for your support.”

It hasn’t always been linked to the living, that is voters, of a nation. At the turn of the century it had been employed and was recognised as a term for the dead, the “silent majority” who outnumbered the living.

On election night last May, Morrison gave thanks to the “quiet Australians”. They had “won a great victory”.

As to the others, well, they’re losers. The quiet Australians “have their dreams, they have their aspirations, to get a job, to get an apprenticeship, to start a business, to meet someone amazing, to start a family, to buy a home, to work hard and provide the best you can for your kids, to save for your retirement”.

The unquiet ones would apparently, by inference, have none of that. Thus being delivered a “miracle” – his own word – Morrison keeps ploughing the field of opportunity, hoping for another harvest in a few years.

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It’s a pity, and a tragedy, that he cannot discern the difference between quiet and silence. But then one would need empathy to reach those of the latter, and a new start in how to listen to them. And really, there’s just not the funds in the political conscience for that. And so a family is chucked out, their pleas falling on deaf, callous ears.

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Warwick McFadyen is a Melbourne writer.

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