Australian politics

Jimmy Barnes calls for children to be removed from Nauru: ‘It’s not the Australian way’

The Australian rock musician Jimmy Barnes had some strong words for the Australian government ahead of a rally on the Parliament House lawn in Canberra to remove children and their families from indefinite detention on Nauru.

Tuesday’s rally saw the delivery of a petition of 170,000 signatures to the government by the newly elected member for Wentworth, independent MP Dr Kerryn Phelps.

Barnes pointed to his own heritage: “I’m an immigrant,” he said.

“I came to Australia in a boat. We were running away from poverty and violence in Scotland, and what we fled was nothing compared to what these people have tried to get away from.

“We should be helping them. Taking these people and sticking them on an island, indefinitely, is not the Australian way.”


We are with @drkerrynphelps and @JimmyBarnes for #KidsOffNauru

November 27, 2018

Since the launch of the Kids off Nauru campaign three months ago by refugee advocacy groups, around 110 of the 119 children and their families had been brought to Australia after five years in detention on the island.

The Asylum Centre Resource Centre estimated only 40% of Australians were aware children were being held in detention at the time the campaign was launched. Many had spent their entire lives on the island.

That figure has since been raised to 80%, boosted by medical professionals including Phelps and international charity organisations World Vision, Save the Children and Oxfam.

A woman and her daughter hold up a sign during a rally demanding the resettlement of kids held on Nauru.

A woman and her daughter hold up a sign during a rally demanding the resettlement of children held on Nauru. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

A statement from Save the Children, which was contracted by the Australian government in 2013 to provide education and welfare services to children on Nauru before its workers were removed and its role taken over by Transfield in October 2015, said the organisation had “seen first-hand the distress and hardship endured by children languishing indefinitely on Nauru”.

“One day in effective detention for a child is unacceptable; five years is a disgrace,” the statement said.

Barnes, one of 65 ambassadors for Kids off Nauru, said he had reached a point where he felt he had to stand up.

Jimmy Barnes (centre) with his wife Jane Mahoney.

‘I hate fear politics’: Jimmy Barnes (centre) with his wife Jane Mahoney at Tuesday’s protest. Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

“You can’t blame governments because we’ve allowed this to happen. The government represents us,” he said.

“I am ashamed that our government has allowed this to happen. And I’m ashamed of myself, because the government represents us, and that’s all of us, and we have to stand up and demand that this be changed … This has to stop.”

Asked how he responded to the view that ending offshore detention risked putting people smugglers back in business, Barnes said: “I think that’s rubbish.”

“There’s got to be better ways to stop that. Let’s tackle that problem on the ground in Indonesia, or wherever. But holding people up as hostages to stop people smugglers, that’s not the way to do things. That’s like two wrongs making a right … This has to stop.

“Politicians have been spreading fear, saying if we’re letting in refugees we’re letting in terrorists. It’s not the truth. We’ve got to recognise the difference between terrorism and people who are refugees; people who are struggling.

“I hate fear politics. And if you look at the Victorian election, that didn’t work and I think the tide is turning, people are changing and they’re not going to fall for that one any more.”

Protesters hold up signs during the Kids off Nauru rally on Tuesday.

Protesters hold up signs during the Kids off Nauru rally on Tuesday. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Barnes has become active in humanitarian causes in recent years, especially since the release of his memoirs Working Class Boy and Working Class Man.

“I had enough of my own problems before,” he said. “I can see a lot clearer now, and I just don’t feel comfortable sitting around not speaking out and saying what I want to say. These are kids, these are families, and they’re people who need help … I can’t sit by any more.”

Asked how he would respond to those – hypothetically, home affairs minister Peter Dutton – who might tell him to stick to singing, Barnes said: “I wouldn’t give Peter Dutton any of my time. It’s a waste of time speaking to someone like him, because they just spread lies and propaganda. He doesn’t represent me, he doesn’t care about people, and I wouldn’t give him the time of day, to tell you the truth.”

Scott Morrison ‘definitely keen’ to attend concert by US rapper Fatman Scoop

The prime minister Scott Morrison has deleted a social media video using a sexually charged song, but the song’s artist, Fatman Scoop, has questioned why, saying it’s a “fun party song that has no negativity or harm”.

The rapper tagged the prime minister in a Facebook post, inviting him to come backstage at a concert on his upcoming tour of Australia. To which Morrison responded on Twitter that he was “definitely keen” but “send me the PG version next time”.

Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP)

Definitely keen for R&B Fridays, @fatmanscoop.
Btw, probably best to send me the PG radio version next time.

September 14, 2018

The 11-second clip from question time in parliament showed MPs raising their arms sound-tracked to the 1999 club banger Be Faithful by the US rapper.

The suggestive lyrics were not included in the brief video, but the full song contains expletives and strong references to casual sex.

The clip was posted to Morrison’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts on Thursday and had thousands of likes and comments before being taken down.

The PM told reporters on Friday it was a “bit of fun” and he will stick to listening to Australian singer Tina Arena.

“It’s quite clear that it’s not a song that’s on my playlist and I think I might stick to my regular playlist,” Morrison said.

Fatman Scoop

US rapper Fatman Scoop has invited Scott Morrison backstage to discuss politics after his song was used in a now deleted video by the prime minister. Photograph: Anthony Harvey/PA/PA

“We’re just trying to connect honestly with people and some of the narcs will get a bit worked up about this sort of thing.

“I think people think politicians can take themselves a bit too seriously at times.”

Fatman Scoop appeared to agree, writing on Facebook on Friday that the video was “a fun PARTY SONG that has no NEGATIVITY or HARM in it” and was clearly “an attempt to reach out to a younger audience”.

The rapper said he had to remain apolitical but was humbled to have his voice “rocking in the highest offices of the Australian government”.

Fatman Scoop then invited the prime minister to be his guest at his next Australian show and discuss politics with him.

“I don’t have to agree with your policies but we can have spirited DEBATE about them and you can attempt to walk me through why you think like that,” he wrote.

After deleting the video, Morrison sent out another tweet close to midnight apologising for posting it following puzzled and critical comments.
Despite the video being deleted from all of Morrison’s accounts, social media users retained the clip and it’s still easily accessible on Twitter.

The original footage came about following Morrison asking Liberal Party members in question time if they had worked in small businesses or the private sector.

The bizarre use of the song could deliver invaluable promotion for Fatman Scoop’s tour of Australia in November where he will play shows in five capital cities.