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Racism underpinned colonisation, fuelled federation and still infests much policy and media coverage 121 years later.

It’s a festering sore on the national psyche that manifests in dehumanisation and mistreatment of innocent people and ongoing Indigenous disadvantage. So let’s all take a deep breath then because we must go back to move forward and, yes, we need to talk about boats.

Whether the first fleet’s arrival on invasion day 1788, asylum seekers fleeing persecution or citizen-led flood rescues, it’s a fitting starting point as the east coast of Australia drowns. And let’s not forget the boat trophy that sits proudly in Australia’s prime ministerial office.

That boat symbolises suffering, death, racism, xenophobia, deception, lies and propaganda, myopia and the degradation of Australia’s humanity. It encapsulates perfectly who we have become – that it sits lovingly on Scott Morrison’s desk speaks volumes about him and us.

Australia has been so bombarded by decades of dog whistling, xenophobia and racist portrayal of other that we literally are willing to let innocent people rot and die. The most vulnerable people on earth – refugees.

But I know what Australians are capable of. The force of our goodwill and compassion in the extraordinary capability of this country from the sports field to the bushfires, from the floods to Save Hakeem.