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Q&A: Mem Fox vows to never return to the US after “terrifying” interrogation

It was a wild Q&A last night as Tom Ballard took the reins from Tony Jones.

Australians might have thought we got off easy with Trump’s paranoid, racist and ludicrous Muslim ban, but it’s not the case.

Mem Fox is the author of one of Australia’s most famous and beloved children’s books, Possum Magic – hardly, you would think, someone that raise the suspicions of over-zealous US border security officials.

But the national treasure recounted her terrifying experience at the hands of immigration officials during a trip stateside earlier this year, and vowed to never return.

“(I was allowed in) But not until I had been interrogated and I use the word specifically interrogated, not interviewed. I was pulled out of line for a very small reason.

The digital cameras didn’t work and I was sent to a real person and that’s where the trouble started. And the real person found out I was being paid to give a speech in the States and said, ‘You’ve come in on the wrong visa. You need to have more questions asked’.

“It was the way the questions were asked. It was the way they’re trying to protect their borders. It was the insolence. It was the fear that they caused in me. It was the humiliation in a public room in which everything about my finances was shouted out to the entire room.

It was the way other people in the room were treated which made me ashamed of being a human being.

“It was not only I who was badly treated. It was appalling. Of course they can keep their borders safe. There are ways of doing it that are polite.

That are friendly. That are warm. I hope that Australians who would be in the same situation as those border police would be slightly more polite, slightly warmer.”

I think we all know for a fact that with the horror detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, that we probably shouldn’t throw too many stones in this glass house of ours – something Fox was aware of.

“Please don’t ask me to comment on Tony Abbott and our own border protection because there are not enough expletives in Roget’s Thesaurus.”

About the author

Technically, Riordan writes culture, politics and sport, but 80% of his words are direct quotes stolen from The Simpsons. He promises to tweet more at @riordanl and speaks words for The Zero Thumbs Down Podcast.

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