Sunday, March 19, 2006

Vanstone explains aboriginal art and migrant policy to the Indians

Expat Jane Rankin-Reid recounts the sensitivity with which our Immigration Minister regaled the Indian press during her recent visit with Howard:

" So it was disappointing a day or so earlier to hear Amanda Vanstone, the Australian government’s Minister for Immigration and Indigenous Affairs speaking at an exhibition of Aboriginal art in Delhi. The show of finely-painted traditional skeletal imagery by some of the world’s oldest artists, deserved better than this over-sized conservative mumbling banalities about storytelling. “I like stories, you like stories, we all like stories,” she told the small gathering who may have hoped to hear more of contemporary indigenous experience from the minister. “Aboriginals are big on storytelling,” she said, rounding off her unscripted speech.

Visiting India to participate in the Australian needs skills migration Expos, Vanstone told the Indian media several days earlier that the country is a “comfort zone” for students and skilled immigrants. Her department has been accused consistently over the last five years of widespread discriminatory practices in its often-brutal handling of asylum-seekers and refugees. "We don't want 'tyre kickers' i.e. people who are let in to the country but fail to get a job and may translate that frustration into something more dangerous," she told national media in a statement that speaks volumes of her government’s perennial unease with newcomers’ cultural differences. Although Australia wears its multicultural diversity like a sports medallion, cultural integration has increasingly become a demand rather than a process of experience."


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