An email to Scott Morrison

Café Whispers

Yesterday, AIMN reader Mark McCallum sent this email to Scott Morrison, which he has shared with us.

Dear Mr Morrison,

I have a question of you in your capacity as Shadow Minister for Immigration.

Part of your policy in regard to people claiming to be asylum seekers approaching Austalia by boat from the general direction of Indonesia, is to “turn the boats around where safe to do so”, I have been trying to envisage how this might be done, and have imagined being present at the discovery of one of the many over-loaded boats off Christmas Island.

As I think it highly unlikely you would suggest that the boat be simply taken in tow with all remaining on board, I presume the occupants would have to be off-loaded on to a suitable vessel, probably an Australian naval ship, and the empty boat tied to said ship for towing. Could you…

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Australia’s political heartland: hate, fear, prejudice


By ABC’s Jonathan Green

Posted Thu Jun 6, 2013 7:59am AEST

The great Australian shame is that not only are there votes to be had in hate, fear and prejudice, but that this is the heartland in which our political game is lost and won, writes Jonathan Green.

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So where does it come from, this simultaneous sense of shame and licence over racism in this country?

Our twin capacity to tolerate a political discussion that fixes on stopping the boats and Aussie jobs while generating storms of righteous indignation over high-profile instances of racial abuse and denigration?

In all the suddenly inward looking wonder since a single hurled syllable from an irate 13-year-old set off this latest pricking of the national racial conscience, the role of our leaders has been all but ignored, the critical mood set by those who would guide, inform and govern us.

How can we be so detached from what is one of the ugly realities of Australian democracy: that there are votes in a subtle dog whistle to racist sentiment, that an appeal to xenophobia or worse is at the very core of some our most significant and constant national discussions.

What else is at the heart of the bipartisan embrace of our cold-hearted policy aimed at resisting the arrival of refugees from war, hunger, poverty, oppression and simple fear? Policy that masks an appeal to a suburban distaste for an imagined invading mass of ‘others’ with pious mouthings over the safety of lives at sea and noble distaste for the ‘evil trade’ of people smugglers.

We value the assumed order, dignity and righteous process of ‘the queue’.

We honour the now timeworn maxim: “we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”. But surely we also sense the darker truth at the heart of this discussion: that there are votes in pandering to xenophobia and outright racist loathing and fear.

It’s the sentiment that lies in the populist pit Kevin Rudd feared when he warned of a “race to the bottom” in refugee policy. This issue in our politics is a comprehensive failure of vision, execution and communication … and has been prosecuted with an eye not to the realities of global human movement, but against the prejudices of a populist rump, voters whose preconceptions of asylum seekers as disease-laden, terror-tainted, queue jumpers have been pandered to by successive administrations.

Why? Because it has been a political convenience to do so.

Watch the recent parliamentary rhetoric, from Coalition spokesman Scott Morrison who railed against the ASIO “light touch” that has allowed the ready egress of boat-borne ‘jihadists’, to Werriwa MP Laurie Ferguson who challenged the PM on Tuesday to make plainer the ALP strategy for arresting the flow of refugees.

Without more sound and fury waged against the tide of boats and their fearsome cargo, the ALP would be ‘dead’ in western Sydney, clearly the heartland of national concern over questions of orderly migration.

And all of this dark heat around an issue that is essentially a fabrication created for purely political purpose. The trickle of boat-borne arrivals does not by any objective international measure constitute a crisis. What it does constitute is an opportunity to rake fear in a sometimes xenophobic and insular public.

And it’s not just in migration that exploiting a sense of racial disquiet can be a political positive.

What else other than a subtle racist underlay could have enabled the quickly imposed apartheid of the NT intervention, policy at first carried out by our armed forces under the cover of a suspended race discrimination act and that years later still leaves citizens innocent of any offence other than their race with limited control over their own income and the most mundane details of their daily life.

We should think on this when we wonder how it is that somehow, weirdly, inexplicably, racism seems so ever present, such a purulent constant under a thin scab of well-cultivated, sometimes cynical, civility.

And it is of course too quick and easy to blame our politicians for the populism that uses the community’s darker instincts as an easy path to votes.

Politics is nothing if not a mirror of the society it serves … that it, in every sense, represents. We provide the clay they work with.

If there wasn’t a vote in hate, fear and prejudice then there would be no gain in pandering to any of them. The great Australian shame is that not only are there votes to be had here, but that this is the heartland in which our political game is lost and won.

The likes of Eddie McGuire aren’t even a pimple on its backside … and in many ways the star chambers that assemble around these public transgressions just blind us to the greater reality of a public whose blind-peeping anxieties breed an agenda that turns that suburban fear to populist political profit.

Jonathan Green is the presenter of Sunday Extra on Radio National and a former editor of The Drum. 

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Nick Folkes flogs a dead stalking donkey

donkeymajorette

Fresh from his latest non-triumph as chief dumb majorette for the recent visit of the Netherlands’ own bland bumshell, Niqi “36 votes” Folkes, failed Prime Minister, also now known as “Geert-by-sea” in homage to his new peroxided hero, has swiftly positioned himself and his dead donkey onto the Laura Norder bandwagon. This  follows inflammatory remarks from some intemperate Opposition front-benchers about a recent sexual assault which took place in university accommodation.

Never one to allow facts, the judicial process or compassion for a victim of crime to stand in the way of a publicity stunt, Niqi and his handful of pathetic rag-tag followers aim to turn up at Macquarie University to yell and wave signs at the students and staff there, thus achieving….umm….

nickyprotest2

Now we are sure that most people are concerned and outraged by the alleged sexual assault. There is no doubt that violence against women is a serious problem in Australia, and such violence is massively unreported despite reforms to legal processes because victims often are apprehensive of the legal process itself, and for good reason.

Surprising though it may seem (or maybe not) there is also a culture of acceptance at universities of abominable behaviour towards women by some men, both students and staff, and a culture of sexual entitlement on the part of these men.

And despite our very own Niqab Niqi, self-appointed champion of abused women, flogging his own knackered mount, he really does not have a good track record towards women. Not at all.

nickyhateswomen2

Niqi and disciples act like ladies

So sisters, you know what to do. Put it out there Niqi style.

Elsewhere
Victim forgotten in witch hunt against asylum seekers

Inquiry calls for 90-day limit on asylum detention

ABC Online

Updated March 30, 2012 18:57:04

A parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s immigration detention centres is recommending asylum seekers be detained for no longer than 90 days.

A majority of members of the joint committee say asylum seekers who pass initial health, character and security checks should immediately get a bridging visa or be moved to community detention.

The inquiry also calls for a change to the current situation where the immigration minister is also the legal guardian of unaccompanied children in detention.

Committee chairman, Labor’s Daryl Melham, says where possible the maximum time in detention should be 90 days.

“The committee’s fundamental conclusion is that asylum seekers should reside in held detention for as little time as is practicable,” he said.

“The evidence overwhelmingly indicates that prolonged detention exacts a heavy toll on people, and most particularly on their mental health and wellbeing.

“While academics and psychologists tell us that mental health begins to erode after three months in detention, there are people with adverse security assessments in Australia’s immigration system who have been detained for well over two years.”

The report also recommends an international medical representative be present at detention facilities 24 hours a day and calls for an independent review of the appropriate qualifications for detention centre staff.

Reasons why

The report recommends that when people are held for more than 90 days, the reasons for their prolonged detention should be made public.

The committee also criticised the regular use of remote facilities, saying asylum seekers in detention should be accommodated in metropolitan areas wherever possible.

“There can be little doubt that, while the use of remote facilities has at times been necessary, they should be used only as a last resort,” the report said.

“This will not only better serve the needs of detainees, but save on some of the vast expense required to run large-scale facilities in extremely remote locations.”

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, the deputy chair of the committee, has urged the Government to adopt the recommendations.

“The committee was able to agree to removing the guardianship of unaccompanied minors from the hands of the immigration minister, needing to replace that role with someone who will not be seen to be in a conflict of interest, time limits on detention, dealing with the mental health issues, getting people out of remote facilities.

“These are all very practical and much-needed steps.”

ASIO scrutiny

The committee wants spy agency ASIO to come under much greater scrutiny, including periodic reviews of adverse ASIO findings.

They also recommended laws be amended to allow for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to review ASIO’s security assessments of asylum seekers.

Mr Melham, a lawyer who has worked in the criminal justice system, says there needs to be someone to guard the guard.

        Audio: Committee chairman Daryl Melham speaks to PM (PM)

Who guards the guard while the guard guards you?

And that’s no criticism of ASIO, but there’ll be more confidence in the system.

In the old days, if Nelson Mandela, when he was being jailed in South Africa, had hopped on a boat and come to Australia, under these guidelines he’d have been kept in detention.

Labor MP and committee chairman Daryl Melham

Failures

The majority of the report was supported by Labor and Greens members of the committee, along with independent MP Rob Oakeshott.

The Coalition has supported only 16 of the 31 recommendations and has issued a dissenting report.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says problems in detention centres have increased because of the number of asylum seekers coming to Australia.

“Our detention network collapsed because simply too many people turned up on too many boats as a result of Labor’s border protection failures,” he said.

Mr Morrison says the committee was set up after immigration detention riots last year, but he does not think it has focused enough on that aspect of the detention system.

“I’ve focused very heavily on the riots in my statements today because they have not been focused on, I believe, in the majority report made public today,” he said.

“The Australian people particularly wanted answers as to how and why this happened, so firstly it was because of the Government’s decision to abolish the border protection regime of the Howard government.”

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