Peter Burton, Queensland Regional Meeting

A few weekends ago I was a delegate at the Queensland ALP State Conference. I had submitted a resolution to change policy re the confinement of refugees on Manus and Nauru, and after some consultations I reached a compromise with the group “Labor for Refugees”. This meant that our two resolutions were combined, but at least it could lead to getting the refugees off the islands and out of detention. I’ve been active through Amnesty International ever since the Tampa incident.

The agreement meant that I would second the motion on the floor of Conference the following day. That night I sat down to get my head in order because there had been so many reasons and arguments colliding and I was determined that I had to do this for those who had suffered for so long.

After settling down to stillness, as soon as I picked up the pencil the words just flowed, in waves, for no more than 10 minutes, and in another 10 minutes I had transcribed my scribble into the form it now.

When the time came and I presented these words the usual low background hubbub suddenly ceased. Not one speaker spoke against the resolution. Several delegates afterwards asked me if they could get a copy of what they said was ‘my poem’. I had not presented this as a poem but now I would like to share this.



How can we sleep when our ears are burning?

Take an island  –  seas are rising                         Take a price  –  $9,000 million

Take a slogan  –  stop the tide                               Take a quote  –  ‘Out, damned spot’

Take a cliché  –  collateral damage                     Take a value  –  give a fair go

Take wedge  –  add a slogan                                Take a definition  –  what are YOU for?

Take a fear –  paranoia                                         Take an example  –  Tree of Knowledge

Take information  –  keep a secret                       Take a time  –  6 years

Take a lie  –  save the drowning                           Take a parable  –  The Good Samaritan

Take a rescue  –  hit the surf                                 Take a Salvation  –  unless YOU do something

Take a profit  –  Kangaroo Island                       Take a diagnosis  –  YOU need a heart

Take a compound  – blood and madness           Take a vote   –  YOUR heart, YOUR guts,

                                                                              YOUR brain ….. YOUR feet


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