The obvious reason George Fishman (The Australian, Last Post, 30-31/7) does not recall “post-war European migrants” burning detention centres is that they weren’t detained. But like today’s refugees, they aroused some ugly resentment and bigotry. The governments of the day, Liberal and Labor alike, quietly ignored this and went about doing the right thing, with exemplary results for the immigrants and the nation.
Today’s political parties seem so busy running focus groups, and generally breathing their own exhaust, that this same ugliness is dictating a policy of pointless, expensive arbitrary detention and deportation, with predictably ugly, violent results. With bitter unintended irony, Fishman terms this “biting the hand that feeds” – it is in fact the gaoler’s fist.