TUMBY BAY - Politicians and other reprobates are known to rely on a suite of well-worn axioms as they go about their nefarious dealings and machinations in office.
One of these is the accepted wisdom that if a lie is repeated often and loudly enough people will eventually come to believe it is true.
Another is that if a problem is ignored for long enough it will eventually go away. No, this is not a truism; it is not an infallible axiom. Issues never go away until they are fixed.
Climate change and global warming have been resolutely ignored by the Australian government both before and since it got into office.
But the issue doggedly defies erasure from the public mind.
The Coalition has fiddled around the edges with the hope a few tweaks, some minor adjustments and loudly announced concessions might speed up the demise of climate change as a public issue.
It probably had good cause to think this true, not least because obfuscation and the appearance of action have worked in the past.
Morrison, Barnaby and Co probably expect this one is just taking a bit more time to expire.
This idea that time, and an unreliable public memory, so often works in favour of politicians and their ilk occurred to me when I was reading and then reviewing ‘Escape from Manus’.
It is a good book, but I couldn’t help thinking that time has passed it by.
What it describes in vivid and horrendous detail is unfortunately yesterday’s outrage.
As a stirring public scandal, the industrial scale mistreatment of refugees in Australia seems to have reached its use-by date.
It had been surpassed by new outrages, like the treatment of women in public life and now the war in Ukraine.
As a society we seem to be forever trundling blindly along a road strewn with wreckage and carnage, naively hoping to see green hills in the distance only to be fooled when we turn the next bend and run smack bang into another outrage - and some smirking politician promising to make it all go away.
The Greek poet Menander, who lived around 300 BC, wrote that “time is the healer of all necessary evils”.
But I don’t think that’s true.
It is simply the memory that is taken care of.
The evil remains and often resurfaces again when least expected.
That’s why some events, like what is going on in Ukraine, come with a sense of déjà vu; the feeling all this has happened before.
But do we really consign everything to history?
Vladimir Putin is currently waging a war that dates back to the time of the Tsars.
Christians and Muslims the world over are still fighting the Crusades.
Revenge is something that lingers through time, ready to resurface at a moment’s notice.
It seems to be a primal human instinct which we try to normalise with terms like ‘closure’ and ‘justice’ and ‘resolution’ that play out interminably on tabloid television and in popular conversation.
Perhaps the appalling treatment of the refugees on Manus and Nauru will resurface on a day of reckoning one day in the future.
But I rather think that this is a forlorn hope.