Monday, March 3, 2008

A Fair Go Is The Australian Way

Over the years Dick Smith has impressed a lot of people as being a pretty sensible bloke, as well as astute, and a clever businessman. He has been known to combine altruistic activities with the opportunity to make a dollar, such as his line of food products cashing in on national pride by encouraging people to buy Australian. So when he says he is asking his friends to help find a job for David Hicks, it might be tempting to ask if this is some sort of stunt, and if there’s anything in it for Dick. But you’d have to be pretty cynical to think so because that overlooks a couple of fundamental things.

Firstly, given the odium in which many people hold David Hicks there really isn’t anything to gain in it for Dick Smith. Opinions are divided over Mr. Hicks, but there’s no shortage of people who would refuse to spit on him if he was on fire. For some people, Dick Smith could be seen as giving comfort to a confessed traitor. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Secondly, David Hicks has done his time. Now that he is expected to rejoin the community it is essential, for his benefit and ours, that he finds something productive and useful to do with his life. Without that we run the risk of allowing Mr. Hicks to simply become a disaffected alienated individual with no prospect for a happy life. That is an outcome which is not good for him, but also not good for the community generally.

Dick Smith claims that David Hicks has told him that, as many people suspect, he initially rejected a plea bargain because he claimed not to be a supporter of terrorism, but ultimately came to believe that the only way to ever be released was to accept whatever deal was put to him, regardless of the facts. Whether that’s true or not, we may never know, but it certainly amounts to reasonable doubt.

As Dick Smith says, so far we have only had one side of the story, the official one from the American Government, supported by our own. It’s time to give David Hicks a fair go… it’s the Australian thing to do.

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