(Intellectual) Snob of the Week
HEATHER EWART: ... Initially, the Hawke Government thought it had public support [for the Australia Card], but an outcry from civil libertarians and others galvanised widespread community reaction against the card.
SUSAN RYAN: It was like a bushfire rampaging over the public debate. It went from apparent public acceptance to hysterical opposition in a very short space of time. I myself, in public life, never experienced such ferocious opposition to any proposed government measure. It was out of control. You couldn't deal with it by rational argument.
We couldn't win it politically. At a town hall in Launceston somebody got up and said the real program was that the Government was going to have the mark of the devil, 666, lasered on to the foreheads of Australians or even on to the wrists of new born babies, and the person who said that didn't appear to be a rat bag and the other people in the town hall didn't appear to be rat bags and they all cheered him.
HEATHER EWART: So the former ministers offer John Howard this advice.
NEAL BLEWITT: I think if the Government wants to argue its value as a security weapon, that case has to be made and I'm certain the people are willing to listen to that.
SUSAN RYAN: On the other hand, I think those very deep-seated fears that were whipped up back at the end of 1987 could be whipped up again and probably would be. [my emphasis]
7.30 Report, Monday July 18.
It's a little frustrating the way that a statement that strikes you as smug and self-satisfied when you see see and hear it spoken comes out so sanitised in the transcript. And it's possible that the smugness and self-satisfaction I detected in the statement I've emphasised was an artefact, a product of my mood when I was watching the report and the montage of interview clips that preceded it.
All the same, Ryan's characterisation of the opposition to the Australia Card as a rampaging bushfire of hysteria beyond the control of rational argument makes her a so much of a shoe-in for "Snob of the Week" that it's hardly worth waiting until Friday to declare her this week's winner. Will someone else pip her at the post on Friday? Will there be a next week's winner? Well folks, that's what comments threads are for.