As far as vigilante mobs go, this one was ‘good-natured’.
In fact, that’s exactly how they described themselves. Peter, from the Refugee Action Collective even told the ABC that they were ‘good-natured’.
Jolly good for him. And jolly good for the reporter from Australia’s prestigious taxpayer-funded media organisation. I’d hate for ABC journalists to have to cover vigilante groups that weren’t good-natured, especially given that its coverage of asylum-seekers was recently described as ‘advocacy parading as journalism‘ in a Senate estimates hearing by Michael Pezzullo, the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Considering the good-natured nature of all the events outside the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital recently, it should come as no surprise at all that the ABC gave this good-natured report about the mob.
“On Saturday night, hundreds of protesters surrounded exit points at the hospital amid reports there were plans to move Asha and her family to immigration detention.
They said they would put their bodies on the line to prevent Asha’s offshore removal.
“It’s difficult but people are prepared to put themselves in front of vehicles to try to prevent that from happening,” said Mark Gillespie, from the Refugee Action Collective.
“People are vigilant. We’re not relaxing until we get a better outcome,” he said.
Mr Gillespie said protesters were stationed at hospital exits and using mobile phones to communicate.
He said they were stopping police cars coming out of the hospital on Saturday night to check the child was not inside…”
Strangely, when one ponders ‘good-natured’, the phrases ‘bodies on the line’ and ‘exit points at the hospital’ do not immediately spring to mind.
It seems that the Sydney Morning Herald’s John Birmingham also came across this little problem. Nevertheless, being the good-natured and ‘progressive’ moral crusader that he is, he soon found a way to deal with it. He referred to the fact that a bunch of weirdos with weird ideas were running amok outside a children’s hospital with this good-natured turn of phrase in his triumphal piece on the ‘Baby Asha Farce’, otherwise known as ‘Peter Dutton runs from the mob’:
To be sure, there were a couple of the usual suspects from the Judean People’s Liberation Front and the People’s Liberation Front of Judea trying to hitch their donkey carts to baby Asha, but most of the protesters looked like what they were. Mere citizens.
It’s possible that Birmingham was talking about ‘Mums4Refugees’ when he jovially made reference to the Judean People’s Liberation Front. That’s because Mums4Refugees was live tweeting the good-natured mob as it covered hospital exits:
— Mums4Refugees (@Mums4Refugees) February 20, 2016
But then again, he may have been referring to the Refugee Action Collective Queensland. They also took time out from their busy schedule of standing up for Judean liberation to broadcast videos to the world of protesters ready to block roads around the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.
— RAC QLD (@racqld) February 20, 2016
Alas, Birmingham did not make himself clear. He may have been thinking about Amnesty International instead. They tweeted images of crowds clogging up the hospital entrance, the car park and the place that people with serious problems, like burning babies, generally head off to.
— Amnesty Australia (@amnestyOz) February 20, 2016
However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Birmingham was referring to GetUp!, that bastion of freedom fighters, and Australian Unions. Both of those groups took delight in broadcasting the fact that large numbers of noisy protesters were hanging around in a good-natured way outside a children’s hospital.
— GetUp! (@GetUp) February 18, 2016
— Australian Unions (@unionsaustralia) February 20, 2016
Anyway, with all these good-natured organisations coming together outside the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital to save the world, it’s not surprising that school children, being the idealistic sponges that they are, joined in.
— Tanushree Rao (@tanushrao) February 18, 2016
No doubt, these children joined in with this wave of humanity in order to show care and compassion. It was duly noted by the BrisbaneTimes’ Jorge Branco:
— Jorge Branco (@JorgeBrancoBNE) February 20, 2016
I doubt the mob deliberately ignored signs pleading for a bit of peace and quiet for sick children. More probably, none of them could read and next week they’ll join in a new good-natured protest calling for Safe Schools to be scrapped and replaced with a literacy program.
But then again, maybe no one saw the sign due to circus-like performances ready to distract one and all.
— OverMyDeadBodyMack (@mandymcn) February 19, 2016
In the spirit of being good-natured, I’ll point out that this lady’s Twitter profile currently displays this hilarious profile pic, along with the description of ‘lefty feminist’:
I’m sure that you’re as surprised as I am.
As time wore on, the good-natured protest reached its peak. Just outside the hospital.
— Brad Chilcott (@bradchilcott) February 15, 2016
Actually, it’s hard to know when it peaked. The above tweet was posted 15 February. Over the next four days, it seems that the good-natured mob displayed a marvellous capacity for creativity. On February 19 this tweet was posted, showing how a simple slogan had matured.
They now had microphones.
— DASSAN (@DASSAN12) February 19, 2016
That was a signal for the Greens to step forward, that good-natured party of hair-shirt wearers. Below you can distinctly hear Senator Larissa Waters say blah, blah, blah through a distorted microphone as children tried to sleep in the hospital.
— Kirsten Lovejoy (@lovejoykirsten) February 19, 2016
The good news is that even if we could understand what she was staying, it still would have been blah, blah, blah, whales, blah, blah, it’s our fault Islam is violent. Blah.
And then the mob good-naturedly hung around at night as well:
— Jorge Branco (@JorgeBrancoBNE) February 20, 2016
Finally, a rumour spread like a wildfire: the lawful authorities were actually going to enforce the law. And that sent the mob into a spin.
The wonderfully and truthfully-named twitter user, ‘Selfishly Rabbling’ sent out this message:
— Selfishly Rabbling (@KayeWinnell) February 20, 2016
As people with common sense will note, forming a vehicle blockade around a hospital generally tends to interfere with human rights. In the parlance of the day, it could be described as a health and safety issue.
However, common sense did not appear to be oozing forth from the Lady Cilento mob. So others followed suit with similar dangerous demands:
If you’re at #LadyCilento block all entrances and exits including carparks, staff & security entrances. Sit down, park your car, anything.
— ☆ Clinkerbelle M ☆ (@mm_ssssshh) February 20, 2016
Find anything that looks like a Serco scumbag. Shadow it.
Block EVERY exit.
Physical obstruction is go.#LetThemStay
— Craig Andrew Batty (@ResignInShame) February 20, 2016
Then the police arrived:
— James Wolfe (@InnoSphinx) February 20, 2016
— Chris Campey (@Chris_Campey) February 20, 2016
In response to demands that the hospital be blocked-off, the Police good-naturedly allowed protesters to search their vehicles:
— Real News One (@RealNewsOne) February 21, 2016
— choosing (@ch150ch) February 20, 2016
It seems that even the protesters were surprised that the Police allowed the mob to take the law into its own hands. I think most Australians would feel the same way.
Unfortunately, it seems that not all Australians felt as good-natured as the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital mob. Someone, somewhere, must have expressed outrage that they were blocking cars outside a children’s hospital and searching Police vehicles. I can hardly think why.
But this response indicates that the mob could understand this concern and enter into a constructive dialogue about the way forward:
To those outraged about a car blockade – where were you when asylum seekers lost lives IN OUR CARE???? #LetThemStay
— Selfishly Rabbling (@KayeWinnell) February 20, 2016
I suppose that’s why they paid attention to comments like these about their use of a children’s hospital as the location for a noisy protest stretching over several days:
Unfortunately, if the protesters outside the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital weren’t going to change their good-natured ways for anyone, including sick children and their families, the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton was not going to stand so firm.
In the face of noise, he wavered.
In the face of protesters searching police cars, he buckled.
In the face of the holier-than-though demands, he back down.
On 4 February, 2016, Peter Dutton had this to say in a press release that he issued:
“My message is that there are only two outcomes for people who travel illegally by boat to Australia: they will be intercepted and turned back from Australian waters or they will be sent to another country for processing.
“Processing and resettlement in Australia will never be an option and there are no exceptions; these rules apply to everyone.”
Speaking to Ray Hadley on 2GB/4BC on 18 February, 2016, Peter Dutton said this:
If people have received medical assistance and the assistance is no longer required, if they’ve recovered from their medical condition, then they’ll be returned to Nauru.
A couple of days later, baby Asha was released from hospital. Presumably, she had recovered from her medical condition.
And on 21 February, Peter Dutton then said this:
We are proposing that baby Asha will come from Lady Cilento and will go into community detention, as have as I say the 83 others who are living in the community who are in Australia for medical assistance and their family members who are here to support those for medical assistance. It will be a continuation of that policy.
So in the space of a few days, the protesters forced the government to back down.
Stopping the boats has been universally applauded as a successful and responsible government policy. Now there is a chink in the claim that our nation will defend its border security.
There are exemptions where children are hurt. They will be allowed into Australia. So will their families. They will be processed here. And the activist lawyers will get involved.
So be prepared for more good-natured headlines like this:
Baby Asha’s mother questioned after claims child was ‘purposely burnt’ to get into Australia
That’s because an injured child, a mob and activist doctors armed with lawyers have shown that they can make Peter Dutton waver. Let’s hope that when the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection does act to enforce the government’s policy he doesn’t waver again…