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political impasse « Previous | |Next »
December 21, 2011

Another boatload of asylum seekers. More deaths from capsized boats----several hundred this time. More money for the Indonesian smuggler syndicates. More political gridlock in Canberra on the issue. It's a political impasse.

The political rhetoric from both political parties is about deterrence and off offshore processing. If the risk of drowning at sea is not a deterrent to the spontaneous arrival of asylum seeker boats, then shipping the asylum seekers off to Malaysia or Nauru won’t be. Neither will temporary protection visas.

It is a political impasse because the negative media reporting and political discourse, and the public rhetoric surrounding asylum seekers, imply that their claims are not legitimate, that they pose a threat to Australian identity and security, and are in some way engaging in illegal behaviour by not following formal refugee processes. This perception of illegality is reinforced by the use of mandatory detention of asylum seekers who arrive without a valid visa.

The undercurrent is the asylum seekers from Iraq and Afghanistan appear to be both visibly different from white Australians, and are surrounded by a political rhetoric of danger and threat because of a perceived link with terrorism. We have the overwhelmingly negative discourse which links asylum seekers, Islam and terrorism

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:34 PM | | Comments (8)


You neglected to adequately blame the coalition for the recent deaths. Hopefully a commentor can fix that.

Well of course it is a POLITICAL problem!

Well over 90% of people applying for asylum arrive here by plane. These applicants are processed without fuss or commotion. We reserve our most inhumane treatment for "boat people". Yet these are the most likely to be genuine, desperate refugees. It is the media hysteria and high visibility of boats approaching our shores allows politicians and shock-jocks to cynically exploit the ignorance and fears of the electorate.

I grit my teeth every time someone jabbers about the asylum seeker "issue". There is NO FRIKKIN ISSUE. We are NOT facing an existential threat! It's just a truly pathetic state of affairs.

Les says:

You neglected to adequately blame the coalition for the recent deaths."

the post says---"The political rhetoric from both political parties is about deterrence and off offshore processing." It talks in terms of a political impasse and a gridlock in Canberra.

The implication is that it takes two to tango

Robert Manne in an opinion piece at The Drum says that:

Australia should move at once to the policy now favoured by both the Labor Party's Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, and by the Greens - an increase in the annual quota of refugees from 13,750 to 20,000. Some emphasis should be placed on finding homes for those people who have been found to be refugees but who have been marooned for several years in Indonesia

He also favours offshore processing---on a humane basis.

Let's face political reality. Australia cannot stop the boats. They will keep coming. Dilan Thampapillai at the Drum says that the reasons are:

(i) people are fleeing tyrants and their henchmen who are committing crimes with impunity and (ii) some people are fleeing the broken refugee system. It is the last part that is troubling. The official refugee system which could mean that people will stay in refugee camps for over a decade before getting accepted somewhere is clearly unacceptable to most people. The fact that some 'safe' countries don't offer refugees the option of citizenship is also problematic.

He adds that there is no simple solution to this problem. There are about 14 million refugees in the world. The safe countries that lie between the asylum seekers and Australia cannot be asked to accept or house all of them.

My prediction for 2010. The Coalition will move to ban sex for women except with them. Their extreme Christian right wing, who rave on about family values, dislikes the idea of women having sex. That is part of their anti-sex agenda.

Nan's post follows a very similar idea proposed by the blogger Ken Parish, at Club Troppo.
The fevered knot of fear and panic Gary describes, is indeed inflamed by a defacto race to the bottom, resembling the sort of law and order auctions conducted locally for popularity, usually against people who often more sinned against than sinning, by tabloid politicians and media.
These do understand the little fear based anxieties and prejudices of the general population, but an influential section have cynically aggravated ignorance based fears, rather than moving to ameliorate them, as a civilised person would do.
For activists, the situation is non-negotiable, the deontological view presents the forgrounding of human suffering's alleviation, as absolute imperative- and rightly so, the suffering is real and appalling andought to stir the conscience even of a house brick.
But a consequentialist solution of the sort proposed by Parish, Race Matthews, Nan and others is a good start and may be the only currently implementable process, if only the politicians would heed their consciences. It's low key and designed to prevent obstructionists from further delaying a fair solution to the problem discussed, employing ramped up emotive rhetoric. Eventually then, the general public realises what most of us know already; that these folk are no real threat and are generally happy to be part of our community,once they've settled in.

The easy solution would be to provide every asylum seeker an inflatable doll that looks like Julia as they board the boats.