A possie in Aussie

September 15, 2009

Asylum seekers: malicious arithmetic and game show rhetoric

The Australian Federal Opposition is in deep trouble, to put it mildly, and is searching for an issue to raise its popularity with the Australian public. Vilifying asylum seekers worked for the Howard government, so the Opposition is wheeling that one out.

In the past week, three boats carrying suspected asylum seekers have been intercepted off Australia’s north west-coast.

This has given the Opposition’s immigration representative Sharman Stone the opportunity to revive all the shameless spin about asylum seekers. ‘Soft’ asylum policy blamed for boat arrivals

Stones says that the Government’s approach to asylum seekers ‘has put people smugglers back in business’. This is guilt by association, as practiced by Howard and Ruddock. Say ‘asylum seeker’ and ‘people smuggler’ together often enough and asylum seekers will be perceived as part of a criminal gang.

Stone claims that at the current rate, the Government’s ‘refugee intake limit of 13,500 will soon be reached’.

Stone’s arithmetic is deliberately malicious. There have been just over 1,000 asylum seekers arriving by boat this year. Stone is too intelligent to ignore the fact that this will leave 12,500 other places.

Ruddock froze visa allocation at overseas posts in February 2000, claiming it was necessary because the ‘most vulnerable’ people in refugee camps outside Australia might have ‘their places’ taken by onshore asylum seekers, and describing it as ‘unfair’ and the decision ‘regrettable’. This was a lie.  Figures from government records show that even in the worst case there should have been over 4,500 visas available for allocation offshore for the last 5 months of 1999-2000, and indeed that visa allocation at overseas posts would have had to increase in order to ensure that the program quota was filled.

‘No country can simply abrogate its own choice of the needy,’ lectured Stone, thus attempting to revive the frame of the ‘deserving’ off shore applicants and the ‘unworthy’ on-shore. Another deliberately malicious trope – the asylums seekers are nearly all escaping from Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka. Who is more needy?

Stone finishes with a deliberate use of a phrase engraved in the Australian TV viewer’s consciousness “The message now [is] ‘Come on down, you’re going to have a fairly troublefree passage.” The public is unlikely to forget this one.

See also Ruddock: Pauline Hanson made me do it! and Australians turn away from bull about boatpeople



  1. […] Cue: Opposition migration-talker Sharman Stone to recycle Howard-era catch phrases that are at best half-truths, and in all cases a danger to community harmony. Asylum seekers: malicious arithmetic and game show rhetoric […]

    Pingback by Should we worry about boatloads of asylum seekers? Here’s why. « A possie in Aussie — September 21, 2009 @ 8:10 am | Reply

  2. […] Sharman Stone is clearly a pupil of Ruddock, but still has a way to go. […]

    Pingback by Lies, damned lies, and Ruddock « A possie in Aussie — October 14, 2009 @ 7:47 am | Reply

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