A possie in Aussie

March 29, 2010

‘Kevin Rudd’s boats’ are looming, and yet some people just don’t care!

The asylum seeker rhetoric is coming out of the closet, after a remarkably slow awakening, and the Australian is paving the rhetorical road with new nasty labels and malevolent metaphors.

Asylum seekers are now ‘Kevin Rudd’s boatpeople’, and the boats are now also ‘Kevin Rudd’s’.  Not only are they flooding us, but now the Australian says, they are ‘looming’ Detainees flee Villawood as Kevin Rudd’s 100th boat looms

Single words and simple phrases are of such importance of in the asylum discourse that Niklaus Steiner used rhetoric as the empirical basis of his book about asylum in Europe, because of ‘the power of language’ to ‘set the political agenda’.

In contrast to our national paper, Al Jazeera has produced an excellent report on asylum in Australia, very balanced, acknowledging both the rights of asylum seekers and of the government to control entry.

There is a remarkable comment from Gordon Thomson, the Christmas Island Shire Council president.

“I think, complaining about a couple of thousand people coming to Australia by boat is just absurd”.

Clearly Gordon Thomson does not perceive the ‘looming threat’ nor is he concerned about being ‘flooded’ by the boat people, who now number about twice the population of his council area.

Here’s the video: enjoy. (And thanks to Jack Smit for the heads up!)


October 22, 2009

All asylum seeker advocates have left is Andrew Bolt

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,refugee — Nayano @ 6:09 am
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Why is Rudd falling in with the opposition’s ‘tough’ line on asylum seekers, especially when for the third consecutive week Labor’s lead is widening still further despite the boat arrivals?  The Poll Bludger

I find it hard to forgive. ( And how will I ever forgive him for making me agree with Andrew Bolt?)

Andrew Bolt calls Rudd a hypocrite for ‘replacing’ John Howard’s “Pacific Solution” with his “Indonesian Solution”.

Andrew quite rightly wonders whether we will see ‘the furious damnation of Rudd by the Left that we saw of Howard? Where is Oxfam? Amnesty? Julian Burnside? Phillip Adams? World Vision?’ Confirmed: Kevin Rudd replace’s John Howard’s “Pacific Solution” with his “Indonesian Solution”

Damnation is starting to come, and from Rudd’s ‘side’.

Two of the most powerful unions, the Australian Workers Union and the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union have warned Rudd against demonising refugees. The Australian quotes AWU national secretary Paul Howes:

“It’s really important for Labor to have a compassionate line on this to demonstrate leadership. This is an issue about leadership. It won’t be popular in the electorate, but this is the right thing to do.”

CFMEU’s national secretary for construction, David Noonan, warned politicians against revisiting the “dark days” of Tampa. Unions warn PM over boatpeople

Labor MP Michael Danby has rebuked Rudd over his use of the term “illegal immigration”. ‘Humanitarian’ boatpeople deal breaks deadlock

The Herald reports Heather Ridout, the chief executive of the Australian Industry Association, said the shrill politics surrounding asylum seekers was ”causing the worst possible outcome”.

”The whole community is completely confused; they want to be compassionate,” she said. Call for compassion before politics

Like John Pasquarelli says, we need a flag bearer. (That’s it. Agreeing with Andrew Bolt and Hansonists. I have gone over to the dark side) 🙂

October 20, 2009

Winning the asylum-seeker war of words, part 2

As Stephen asked (see Comments, How to win the war of words about asylum seekers) just how can we turn back the floods of paranoid rhetoric, if numbers and reasoned argument don’t work?

As President Lyndon B. Johnson said “the ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds of the people who actually live out there’.

Yes, I know, Johnson was talking about winning the Vietnam war. Sorry to quote from the right wing, but they do this sort of thing much better than liberals, in general.

We have a highly privileged life in Australia, and our secret fear is that the rest of the world is waiting for any chance to grab that from us. In order to keep us calm, and let in some of the underprivileged, successive immigration departments has met our fears with a tightly-managed refugee resettlement regime.

Australia’s policy on refugees has been, since the 1970s, a few thousand refugees resettled every year, chosen individually, ‘case by case’, by the immigration department from UNHCR recommendations. Being generous, but safeguarding our comfort.

In the last few decades that mythology has crumbled in the face of sharp increases in asylum applications from ‘boat people’. We have not adapted to this new reality.

We have never had a mythology or policy of giving shelter, and we are floundering around, grasping for one right now.

This is the moment for Rudd to step forward and claim the debate.

Phillip Coorey (Unconvincing acts on asylum seekers) says, “Rudd enjoys enormous political capital. If he takes a consistent line on both policy and rhetoric, he may just be rewarded for it.”  

Conservatives more easily win the hearts and minds because they are not as afraid of metaphor, symbol and hyperbole.

Obama has shown that liberals can do it too.

This sort of rhetoric must come from deeply-held beliefs if it is to resonate. Howard really believed that he could control ‘who comes to Australia, and the manner in which they come’.

Does Rudd believe deeply enough in the right of the oppressed to seek asylum in Australia to speak from the heart?

Mark Kenny agrees that how Rudd handles the crisis will be a defining moment for him, “personally and politically”. My name is Kevin Rudd, and I’m just like John Howard

Could we tempt him with a Nobel prize for turning the tide of Australian history?

October 7, 2009

Rudd Government alarmed by asylum seekers

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,refugee,Tamils — Nayano @ 7:35 am
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I received a media release from Chris Evans (Minister for Immigration) yesterday. It made me realise that there is a thesis in analysing media releases!

The release announced the first deportations (of two people) from Christmas Island.  The motivation for the release is clear –boats of asylum seekers arriving are by sheet weight of numbers providing fodder for a new surge of anti-asylum seeker sentiment in Australia.\

On the same day news outlets reported the Department had hired Saatchi & Saatchi to stop potential boat people from Sri Lanka by providing a publicity campaign about the likely horrors of the attempt, including street theatre Street theatre to stop boat people.

The day before there was a media release from Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre announcing that the Sri Lankan men deported have been beaten and sent to Negombo Prison, which has an egregious human rights record. A foul fate for asylum seekers – is Australia responsible?

There is no doubt that the situation for Tamils in Sri Lanka is of such a terrible nature that any of them reaching Australia would be considered to meet the conditions for acceptance as a refugee. Asylum seekers are not tigers – just Tamils

I don’t know whether the two deported last weekend are indeed refugees, but it is clear that the Rudd government is becoming anxious, and seeking to publicise any measures that could indicate that they are not ‘soft’.

Public opinion was the motivation of the Howard government, which introduced the Pacific ‘Solution’, an unlawfully hard line on refugee status determination, and the torture of the Temporary Protection Visa. “Be alert AND alarmed” if you remember the TPV

Rudd abolished these excesses – but will his government also succumb to pressures to look tough?

July 6, 2009

Malaysians do Australia’s dirty-work: Rudd goes to encourage them

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is beginning a week-long overseas trip in Malaysia, where he will hold talks on people smuggling with the Malaysian  Department of Home Affairs.

He and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith “will have very serious conversations about the joint efforts on how to stop it”. People smuggling first on PM’s overseas checklist

Just one day before the trip, an article by Tom Allard appeared in the Brisbane Times Tamils’ transit to Australia, ‘land of freedom’, about conditions refugees are living under in Malaysia.

Allard quotes Rameshwaren, a young Tamil asylum seeker:

“‘I feel castrated,’ he says, casting his eyes up from the floor. ‘All of this is unbearable. I am on the edge of a mental breakdown.’

One of an estimated 100,000 refugees living precariously in Malaysia, the Sri Lankan’s helplessness is a frustration felt around the world. Out of every 250 people forced to flee their countries because of war, famine and persecution, only one can expect to be resettled as a refugee this year.

This is why Rameshwaren is prepared to chance his arm and take a boat to Australia. “I can’t return to Sri Lanka but there is no life for me here in Malaysia,” he says. “I cannot work here legally, there is no medical [care], there is no education. I don’t think that the UN will be able to resettle us. So we have to find somewhere else, we have to find some way to get there by ourselves. That is why I want to take a boat to Australia.

‘It is a land of freedom. It is somewhere safe for me, my mother, my sisters and brother.’”

May 23, 2009

Safe haven not a solution for Tamils

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,refugee,Tamils — Nayano @ 11:20 am
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The United Nations estimates that up to 300 thousand people have been displaced by the fighting. Most of those people are Tamils, an ethnic group that has complained for decades about being discriminated against in Sri Lanka. The Australian government is reportedly worried about a potential influx of Tamil asylum-seekers and has sent officials to Columbo to work with the Sri Lankan Government, particularly over the threat of people-smuggling Australia prepares for influx of Tamil asylum seekers

The Tamil community in Australia is pleading for authorities to show compassion and to allow Tamils to start a better life in Australia.
Opposition call for Tamil havens in Australia The World Today 21 May 2009

Ms Stone, Shadow Minister for Immigration has today suggested bringing an unknown number of Tamils to Australia in the same way as the Howard Government brought 4000 Kosovars in 1999.

Pamela Curr, refugee advocate of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, says that

“It took people out of their home country for 11 months and then sent them back to nothing.

“Ms Stone may not know the history of this political exercise but people in Albury remember well the day that the Australian army walked out of the camp and ACM guards walked in and locked the place down. In one day it changed from a happy friendly place into a detention centre with privately contracted guards.

“Six years later, 500 people who refused to go home were in desert detention centres and in the community in great distress. Ms Stone is now suggesting that this horrible experiment be repeated in an attempt to differentiate coalition policy from the government.”

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