Thursday, 27 September 2007

A Spot of Doctoring

Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews has been fighting the good fight again this week. He is demanding an inquiry into how foreign GPs are vetted after discrepancies were found in one doctor's work history. Can we guess the doctor's ethnicity? Of course! An Arab! (boooo! hisss!)
The dodgy CV was discovered because the said doctor was a friend of Dr Haneef (remember him? The GP who was slandered, accused of terrorism and then found completely innocent but had his visa revoked by Mr Andrews anyway) and so he was investigated.

Now let us set something straight, the doctor did not lie about his qualifications, he did not neglect his duties but he did fudge his CV. Hmm, I wonder if this minor transgression had been undertaken by a white Australian doctor we would be hearing quite so much about it. I doubt it, Andrews is yet again shamelessly playing the race card.

Of course it is important that doctors are closely regulated but this was not a major issue, it has been blown out of proportion to stoke up distrust and fearing of foreign doctors (and by association all foreigners) to play to the Coalition's strategy of vote-winning through dirty racial slurring. This is a desperate clammer by a discredited politician to find something, anything to justify his heavy-handed attitude to Dr Haneef. The message is: 'well he may have been innocent but we still can't trust these other Muslims.'

The tragedy is that the doctors are providing vital services to the same remote communities that the government is hoping to turn against them. If Andrews successfully invokes paranoia about doctors then they won't come here anymore, they will go to America, to the UK, to New Zealand or somewhere else they are valued and not pelted with state-sanctioned racial abuse, and the people who will pay are the rural communities, because no Australian doctor wants to go to the outback. Shamefully the Labor Party has backed Andrews stance, because it knows that challenging it would lose votes. Yet another indicator of how twisted and intolerant this country is at the moment. If I seem to have been unusually harsh recently then it's because election fever has brought out even more of the unpleasantness underlying the jolly Australian image. I still like it here but only a thug or fool could not be disturbed by the atmosphere in contemporary Australia. There is little room for a positive spin.

In other news, whilst Kevin Andrews is busy slagging off doctors I just purchased my 'ambulance cover', without which I would have been charged for an ambulance. So should I keel over with anger whilst writing this blog I won't be landed with a hefty bill. And that's not just because I'm a foreigner, that's for everyone. So you have to pay for the most basic health care, yet the government boasts of its billions of dollars in surplus tax revenue and feels it a valid use of tax-money to send leaflets aimed at families to every single address in the country (two in two months). Sometimes I feel like I'm in the Australia in the Beano and the Dandy, where everything 'Down Under' is topsy turvy.

The AFL Grand Final is this weekend and the weather should be nice, so perhaps some beer and sunshine will return a little light into my currently gloomy take on the state of the nation.

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