Last Friday, December 7, 2018 was a seminal day in a lot of ways, but mainly because it was a clear example of how democracy has finally died in this country.
It started off like any other day, except for the fact that on this particular Friday morning, Dr. Roman Leljak – historian, author, investigator and now film maker was due to arrive in Australia to promote his latest film: The Myth of Jasenovac.
The problem was Dr. Leljak, who was in the country only 12 months earlier, never made it outside Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport as the moment he stepped off the plane, he was arrested by immigration officials, put into handcuffs, and led to one of the many non-descript interrogation rooms that are used by our border security apparatus.
Then after a five-and-a-half hour ‘interview’ with Australian immigration, he was told he must return to Slovenia at his own expense.
Welcome to Sydney indeed!
Upon hearing this, I immediately rang the Department of Border Security, followed by the Assistant Minister for Immigration Shayne Neumann, the Federal Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman, the Sydney Morning Herald the ABC, SBS, the Federal Member for Warringah Tony Abbott, and various Croatian media outlets, along with veteran Australian journalist and International Editor of the Saturday Paper, Hamish MacDonald.
And then I waited. And waited. And waited some more.
Finally, the Department of Border Security got back to me. Their response was:
Please attribute the following response to a spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs:
- The Department does not comment on individual cases.
- All non-citizens entering Australia must meet the character requirements set out in the Migration Act 1958 (the Act), prior to the grant of any visa.
- Further information on the character requirement is available on the Department’s website: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/meeting-our-requirements/character.
Wow. What a load of weasel words.
Then a spokesperson for Federal Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman range me and said:
“We don’t comment on individual cases due to privacy concerns”
More weasel words and as Dr. Leljak is not an Australian citizen, these words mean nothing since any so-called privacy laws do not even apply to him.
No matter what I tried, the spokesperson kept repeating that same phrase over and over again, much like some sort of religious mantra.
Hamish MacDonald rang me later and told me that he had the exact same experience. It seems the moronic stupidity of our Federal Government does not discriminate as to whom it seeks to offend.
The following day, on the night of Saturday, December 8, after the screening of Leljak’s film, The Myth of Jasenovac, Roman Leljak spoke to the gathered crowd at Sydney’s Croatian Club in Punchbowl via Skype, and described how the entire episode was about his short stint in prison some 20-years ago over his directorship of a failed company.
Dr. Leljak says that some 30 emails were sent from Zagreb to Canberra outlining this 20-year old court case while he was still in the air.
He did not say who sent the emails or why.
This was the ‘official’ reason why he was treated like a criminal and forcibly deported from Sydney.
So four issues are critical here.
The first is why are shadowy figures in Croatia attacking Roman Leljak, a man that has been to Australia before?
The second is why does the Australian government give in to rumour, innuendo and blackmail from foreign shores?
The third question is when will the Croatian Diaspora finally learn that the Liberal Party is not their friend – it never was and it never will be.
One look at who was in power during the Croatian 6 case, the Captain Dragan saga and how the Liberal Party refused to recognise Croatian in 1991 speaks volumes about the Liberal’s real intentions.
As even the most uneducated Croatian peasant can tell you: ‘Words are cheap but actions are everything.’
The last issue is it seems that it looks like not only Jasenovac that looks to be a myth.
Reprising as to what happened to Dr Leljak last week in Australia, so it seems, is Australia’s democracy.