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DIDGE - The View From Down Under

An Aussie’s ridgy-didge view of world affairs and popular culture.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Australia is revolting…

If by some horrible chance of fortune you have been living ignorant of Australia’s biggest story since, well forever, I have a little news for you: Schapelle Corby was found guilty, and will spend twenty years in jail.

For those of you who have not been bombarded by the circus that was/is the Corby drugs trial (you lucky people) I’ll fill you in on the details. 27-year-old Australian Schapelle Corby was arrested for allegedly smuggling marijuana into Bali. She went on trial, cried a lot, collapsed, cried some more and always insisted on her innocence. And 90% of Australia believed her. There was talk of the death penalty, which got the media stirred up, but that was later taken off the table. Fast-forward to last week and Corby was found guilty and sentenced to twenty years behind bars.

The Australian public was apparently appalled, and then the boycott calls started.

I am not surprised about people being angry over this whole affair. The media certainly turned it into an emotional extravaganza that few average Australians could resist sinking their teeth into. I never had an opinion on her guilt or innocence, I haven’t been privy to all the evidence, so I don‘t think it‘s fair to make a judgement. I am, however, in the minority. With opinion polls consistently saying 80%-90% of Australians believe Corby was innocent it’s not unexpected that many in the community are angry. But I was not prepared for how far that anger would be expressed.

Not long after the December 26 Asian tsunami tore apart millions of lives, Australia held various charity benefits, all raising an incredible amount of money. So too the Australian Government, offering a billion dollars to Indonesia alone. Indeed, it was a proud time to be an Australian. But now that pride has been torn to shreds by several incredibly shameful people. Get this: there are actually Australians who want their donations returned. That’s right, people who donated money to help the Indonesians want their money back. Many people have also stated they won’t donate to the Red Cross’s Red Shield Appeal if the money goes to Indonesia (which just shows their level of ignorance, for the Red Shield Appeal is solely for Australians).

There have been signs erected on Freeway overpasses, such as: “Honk if U H8 Bali”. Several travel websites have stopped booking flights to Indonesia, while many ordinary people say they will boycott Bali by not travelling there. And to make matters worse a biological agent was sent to the Indonesian embassy in Australia, the first “biological terrorist act” on Australia’s soil.

It’s a persons right to protest, however things get murky when the target of the anger and the consequence of that anger fly in different directions. Why lash out at people who have been ravaged by the forces of nature, and who had no hand in the verdict at all. Fine, if you believe Corby is innocent then target your anger towards the judges that sentenced her. Just leave the innocent people who have absolutely nothing to do with the judgement alone.

Wanting donations returned that could help people who have been made homeless and had their lives destroyed is not only repulsive but also smacks of racism.

Come on Australia, where has that compassionate spirit that showed itself after the tsunami gone?

Bacteria alert at Indonesia mission

Indonesia's embassy in Canberra has closed after receiving a package containing bacteria. The incident comes amid Australian anger over the fate of Schapelle Corby, who was jailed for 20 years last week for smuggling drugs into Bali.

Terror shame over bio attack
The finger of blame points to Australia, with anger over the Schapelle Corby sentence behind the attack. Mr Howard labelled the attack a "reckless act of indifference to human life."

Australian guilty on drugs charge
An Indonesian court has found Australian woman Schapelle Corby guilty of smuggling drugs into Bali and sentenced her to 20 years in jail. Her case has stirred widespread public sympathy in Australia.

UPDATE: [Friday, June 3]

Howard warns of powder revenge
Despite triggering a full-scale emergency and evacuation of the embassy on Wednesday, and the Prime Minister claiming the incident was "murderously criminal", The Australian has learned the letter contained talcum powder laced with a the bacterial agent bacillus. Although anthrax has been ruled out, police were continuing to test it to establish its exact nature last night.


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