The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Australian Border Force. Nuff Said.

It was with an unpleasant mixture of consternation and embarrassment that I heard of the combination of Customs and Immigration into a single paramilitary unit called the ‘Australian Border Force’. I saw the press conference: a bunch of civil servants shuffling uncomfortably in faux military uniforms, wearing every medal they were able to muster and, most likely, wondering how the Customs strike was going. And that’s the thing – on the very day that the ABF was announced, one of its critical, frontline arms was on strike. For me, this kind of set the tone. I knew, from that moment, that this whole humiliating experiment in misdirected aggression was going to be a farce from day one.

My prediction, unsurprisingly, was borne out yesterday. The official version of the story is that a ‘junior staffer’ released a poorly drafted press release about OPERATION FORTITUDE that gave the impression that random visa checks were going to happen tonight on the streets of Melbourne’s CBD. At first I thought, “I can believe that – it’s a credible story and it’s been released with a speed that suggests truthfulness.” But then it occurred to me that in a newly-minted unit, there are going to be a lot of people sitting around who do not yet have very much to do. Which means that it’s unlikely that an elementary mistake like this could be made, and very likely that there would be people on hand to spin the aftermath with breathtaking speed. It also occurred to me that OP FORTITUDE was a World War II operation in which a phantom army was created with the intention of deceiving the Germans. Hmmm… creating a false army. Is someone, somewhere, trying to tell us that those within the ranks think it’s as ridiculous as we do?

Because a fake army is what this is. Mr Abbott has touted manning increases in this newly formed Stasi… I mean, Border Force, but most of these increases are putative and the modest increases that have already taken place can all be accounted for by increased manning to handle the transition. So, apart from some snazzy fascistic uniforms, and a tendency to wear dad’s medals at press conferences, our border protection capacity would not appear to have increased by one single whit. I can confidently say this even though I have absolutely no idea how much a ‘whit’ is. Because it doesn’t matter – the net increase in capability is zero.

I try to be balanced – I really do. Mr Abbott is a public servant of long standing, with a proven commitment to civic duty and a sincere personal and professional investment in our national interests. Okay, so maybe he’s incapable of coherent speech on most occasions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s stupid. Really. I just said that. Everything I know about the man points to the fact that he cannot possibly be the gigantic idiot that he is portrayed to be in the press, and I work very hard to preserve this knowledge in my own mind. But he’s not helping. Stunts like this Australian Border Force nonsense are wearing away at my self-restraint. I’m sorry, but what in the name of reason was he thinking? On what planet was this blustering, tokenistic, shambolic and utterly stupid gesture going to make our country better or safer in any way whatsoever? How in God’s name was a ten million dollar re-branding job going to help a pair of organisations that are routinely underfunded, undermanned and generally ignored by the country at large? And I say in God’s name because, with this PM, God, apparently, is never very far away.

The answer to these questions leads unavoidably to a conclusion I’m unwilling to come to. The Australian Border Force is a stupid idea, with a stupid name and, apparently, is staffed by people too stupid to understand their own powers or the English language. Which means that the minds that came up with it are equally stupid, and Mr Abbott’s was one of them.

What’s in a name? Well, usually, the conceptual vision of the creator of whatever’s being named. In this case, the name says it all. Australian Border Force. Vague, mindlessly and needlessly aggressive, writing cheques that reality cannot cash. Remind you of anyone?

Category: Asinine

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