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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> (australia) some reports on the tampa
Ian andrews on Fri, 31 Aug 2001 08:02:54 +0200 (CEST)


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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> (australia) some reports on the tampa


Before I say anything, let me say that I do sympathise with the plight of
the "undocumented migrants" and I admire their courage to cross shark and
pirate infested oceans in small craft. But I do think that this debate has
become a little blinded by emotional issues which, to some extent, play on
white middleclass guilt associated with a history of xenophobic policies
(the White Australia Policy).
The main issue that is being constantly overlooked is that the "illegal
refugees" force themselves ahead of others who are patiently waiting in
refugee camps somewhere. I do not think that it is fair, just because many
of these people are better off economically (they have enough money to pay
the "people smugglers"), and that they are ready to risk, not only their
own lives but those of their children, that their entry into Australia
should take precedence over others.  On the other hand I do believe that
anyone whose life is threated by the goverment of their own country,
because of their, ethnicity, religion, or political leanings, has the
inalienable right to seek asylum in a neighboring country.  In this regard
I would not wish to turn back assylum seekers from East Timor, or
Indonesia, for example. But Afghanistan is not on our borders and the
refugees would not be placed in any direct danger if they were forced to
return to their last port of call, be it Indonesia or Malaysia. I don't
think this attitude is xenophobic. I would gladly accept more Asian people
in Australia. And if it is true that we don't accept our fair share of
refugees then that is a problem.  But it IS a seperate issue. The way I
look at it is that people who buy their way into a country are much like
people who buy an educational quailfication.  I support people who go about
things in such a way that is fair to everyone else.

>For some time, but in particular around a fortnight
>ago, the Opposition Australian Labor Party increased
>to fever pitch its rhetoric of Australia's borders
>being assailed by gun-runners, drug-runners and (you
>guessed it) people-smugglers. They have a longstanding
>policy of militarising the border under one authority:
>the so-called Coastguard. The ALP managed to seed the
>media with reports which apparently illustrated that
>Australia's borders were under threat by criminal
>gangs, including a five page spread in the
>_Australian_ newspaper.
>
>Seeing an opportunity to show that they were 'in
>control', a boat floundering just outside Australian
>waters became the Liberal-National Government's big
>election pitch.  They instructed a foreign ship to
>rescue the boat and did so before it entered
>Australian waters.  There has been no assessment as to
>whether or not a ship from Christmas Island might have
>made it there quicker, for instance.   Nor has there
>been any assessment of how long the Australian
>Government knew that the boat was in distress before
>making a decision to send out a call for a rescue.
>
>A footnote...
>
>It is worth re-stating that the current Australian
>policy of mandatory and extrajudicial internment of
>undocumented migrants was authored by the Labor Party
>in 1992.   Therefore, claims that the current frenzy
>over the most recent lot of arrivals amounts to a
>Liberal-National Coalition chasing One Nation votes
>are wrong.  The Liberal-National Coalition has always
>competed with the Labor Party as to who was most
>xenophobic; the Labor Party began the cycle of running
>for elections by scapegoating undocumented migrants
>way back in 1992; and more to the point, all this
>began well before One Nation had even emerged on the
>political landscape, that being 1996.   The Labor
>Party has simply reverted to its historical
>preoccupation with the White Australia Policy, which
>it championed from its inception, and brought into
>being in 1901.
>
>Angela
>_______________
>
><end message>
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Ian Andrews
Metro Screen
Sydney


Email: i.andrews {AT} metroscreen.com.au
http://www.metroscreen.com.au
1981 - 2001 Metro Screen is a celebrating 20 years of access and
innovation in independent screen production.

Metro Screen
Sydney Film Centre
Paddington Town Hall
P.O. Box 299
Paddington NSW 2021
Ph : 612 9361 5318
Fax: 612 9361 5320




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