Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Forum - 'Desperate Measures' by Susan Metcalfe

On Line Opinion has published this article on asylum seekers.

I have posted the following comment:

"The Howard govt turned itself inside out to excise huge slices of the migration zone as part of its manic determination to repel 'boat people'. The Pacific Solution fiasco underpinned the 'illegal boat people' wedge Howard launched in 2001. I was part of the PM's task force that worked on these issues.

Sadly, the 'dog whistle' has been sounded loud and clear by Turnbull et al, and the 'xenophobe' crowd have responded with alacrity. Within their simple-minded construct it's all the Rudd government's fault! Labor instigated a more humane approach to refugees, although it could be improved by taking the Christmas Island stopover out of the equation. Rudd abolished the egregious TPV regime, which was a violation of refugee rights and a nasty scar on our human rights landscape.

Some of the comments here explain why the Coalition politicizes refugees. The posture is so effective - and is'nt it great to hear back from that bastion of 'multilateralism', erstwhile FM Downer on how his mates would have handled this situation? How can anyone forget the Libs' response to Tampa and kids overboard?

Yes, blame the victims for their own plight, extract as much sensationalism out of the role of people smugglers, put words in the mouth of ADF personnel who cannot answer for themselves, and then whip up public sentiment against refugees. Throw in dollops of confected outrage over your political opponents complete lack of preparedness to face down the 'threat' and you have your stock in trade 'dog whistle' response to the terrible plight of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.

Oh, I forgot - then you can set about making weak neighbouring countries complicit in policies that violate human rights!

The cruel stupidity of the Howard Govt saw asylum seekers ending up in an excised area, unable to access the same legal rights as those who reach our migration zone. The recent case of 29 asylum seekers deposited on an offshore rig brought the small-mindedness of the previous regime back into sharp focus. Labor must align our Migration Act with international law and refugee conventions."

The more things change, the more they remain the same!

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