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A Boatload of Elephants

Page 3

Darryl Emmerson

“So it has nothing to do with him, and nothing to do with us”, Phil usefully contributed, in a loaded tone.

“Well, not nothing”, said Chris, with uncharacteristic daring.

Phil was onto this straight away, demanding “How do you mean?”

You could see this was not easy for Chris. “What I mean is…you’ve got these people…pretty desperate, they must be…boarding some rusty boat and trying to get to a new place… not knowing what they’ll find there…”

Phil was annoyed at this desertion by the guy he’d supported minutes before. “Well, from what I’ve heard, a lot of them have stumped up money from somewhere, so they can’t be too poor, can they?”

A surprising intervention now came from Donna. “You could say that for poor people to manage to get the money proves they’re very desperate indeed, Phil”.

Sam interposed with, “But even if that’s true, what are we going to do if they get here? I suppose we have to let some in, if they’re getting away from wars, etcetera, but there’s just so many of them, isn’t there? Why is it our responsibility?”

“Because we’ve got to share, because we can’t just let people suffer!” thundered Maxine.

“But there are lots of people right here who don’t have enough”, retorted Phil. “Didn’t we read just this morning about some homeless girl living under a bridge who’s trying to get her HSC? Let’s look at that before we start bringing in people with different customs, language and religion who won’t fit in”.

Noticing Ranjit’s clear discomfort, he added, semi-convincingly, and just quickly enough, “Oh, you’re OK, mate, at least you’ve got a reasonable grasp of the language and a few skills, you’ve got things to offer”.

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