Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Stop the Stopping


It’s enough, Mr Abbott. Please stop Stopping The Boats – we can’t take it. We are sick of this boring masochistic game you play called boat stopping. Like you are some sort of boat-stopping superhero. You use the phrase ‘Stop The Boats’ like it’s a bumper sticker. It’s a catchy slogan that tells the nation that you are powerful. You are in control. That you will protect us… from whom exactly I wonder.

Stopping boats basically means you are complicit in the death of vulnerable and desperate people. If you are such a hero then you’d stop the boats and then open our front door and let the refugees in that way. You’d send our boats to pick them up. Or our planes. You’d see the suffering and realise that these people don’t need processing, they need compassion.

To ‘Stop The Boats’ and to put a dent in human trafficking the obvious solution is for more countries to offer more people sanctuary. If the world properly looked after its refugees there would be no need to Stop The Boats because there wouldn’t be a market in people smuggling.

We’ve reached boat-stopping breaking point. We can’t take seeing the image of a drowned child without realising that it’s an actual child. A tiny three-year-old who knew nothing of country or borders or politics or policies of stopping the boats. A dead child is a dead child, and there comes a point when you have to ask, how many dead children have to wash up on the beach before we reach our compassion tipping point?

How can you drive your car and hear a story about more than 70 people suffocating to death in the back of a lorry without needing to pull over and vomit in revulsion. That is our horror, our heart of darkness. Because somehow we manage to keep driving, we finish the coffee, or worse, we turn off the radio so we don’t have to hear any more. The world has become a place full of vulnerable people seeking sanctuary and we continue to turn away.

Australia is like the person who lives next door to the domestic-violence house. We hear screaming, someone shouting ‘help’, and instead of intervening we lock the door and turn up the music. We deny the humanity of people who aren’t us. Maybe they are Somalian, or Syrian, or Afghan. In Tony Abbott’s Australia, a refugee is someone to be feared, a potential risk, and perhaps even a terrorist!

The reality is, refugees are ordinary people escaping war and persecution. Wouldn’t you do that? If you thought your children were going to be killed, wouldn’t you risk everything to leave? To find sanctuary? Families risk the lives of their children, not because they are reckless, but because that risk is less risky than staying where they were.

This bullshit about people smugglers, like they’re the enemy. They are the ones causing the problem. Oscar Schindler was a people smuggler – and we made a movie about him. You can stop the boats but you don’t stop people dying. People still die, they just don’t die in your waters. I guess then those bloated women and children who wash to shore aren’t your problem. And maybe Tony should feel happy about that, he should go home and congratulate himself that he stopped the boats so people can die somewhere else.

There are lots of us who would welcome refugees into our communities. For god’s sake, we have so much space half of us are renting the excess on Air BnB.

Maybe it’s time this so-called Christian country had another look at its primary religious text, and started living the ethos expressed in the parable about the Good Samaritan. And let’s not forget that as a baby Jesus’s parents had to flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s toddler-killing spree. I guess that made Jesus a refugee. If Tony were around he would have had a whole new slogan: ‘Stop The Donkeys’. Avoiding our compassionate responsibility has become incredibly complicated. But in the end it’s simple: We need to let more people in. It’s all well and good to say you feel terrible about the humanitarian crisis, but you can’t open your heart unless you open your borders.

3 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Stop the Stopping”

  1. Lavender says:

    Thanks Mandy – that was a great column. Yes people are dying because of wars and borders and selfish western and/or wealthy nations. We should get stuck into those heartless pollies and not let up.
    … Lavender.

    by Warsan Shire. ©
    A Somali woman living in London. In 2014 she was Queensland’s poet in residence. She liaised with the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts over a six week period and appeared at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival

    no one leaves home
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well.
    your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with

    who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

    no one leaves home
    unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt
    threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets

    as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

    you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper
    unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.

    no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

    no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches
    where your
body is left aching
or prison,

    because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men
    who look like your father

    no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough.

    go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and
    now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs?

    maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off.

    or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child’s body
in pieces.

i want to go home,

    but home is the mouth of a shark

    home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hungry
forget pride
your survival is more important.

    no one leaves home
    until home is a sweaty voice in your ear saying

    run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.


  2. Nityabodhananda Saraswati says:

    So Mandy, behind your comedy you have a compassionate depth which separates you from the animals. That selfish attitude taken by Peter Maggot whoops sorry Tony Abbot and his cronies is to preserve his status quo. He is worried refugees will dilute Australians wealth. That is an act of animalistic consciousness not human consciousness. We humans feel for the difficulties of others while animal or lower limited consciousness people dont and cant. So who cant we turn to to be our leaders.
    OK we cant have dimwits in charge but we do need to turn to evolved compassionate leadership.
    Who will pay? they ask. Maybe we can sacrifice a little of our wealth. We only need food and a roof and how can we be comfortable when others around us have nothing and are under threat. Well I suppose the animals don’t mind as long as their belly is full.


    It’s all well and good bringing refugees and supposed refugees into Australia but the problem lies with who we get because overseas in Arab countries Sunni and Shiite Muslims are killing each other constantly so I fear these same peoples coming to Australia to continue their bloodthirsty destruction of each other as they have been doing so for the past 1400 years and there is no sign of their war with each other will ever be finished so that is something we should all be worried about .

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Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

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