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<nettime> (australia) some reports on the tampa
rcam on Thu, 30 Aug 2001 14:07:55 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> (australia) some reports on the tampa


The Age - overview
http://www.theage.com.au/issues/stranded/

BBC - various reports
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/asia-pacific/newsid_1515000/1515882.s
tm

Proposed legislation to allow the use of force to interdict and turn around
boats
http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/2001/08/30/FFXF0QKQYQC.html

Some comments...

Australia is caught in an election cycle.  Federal
elections are due in a few months, and all political
statements are hyped with this in mind.  How else, in
the complete absence of significant political
differences, do parties assert 'the national interest'
other than by competing as to who is better at
guarding 'the nation' from 'invasions'?

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
_______________

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