Category Archives: Asylum-seekers

Abbott ratchets up the fear factor to boost poll standings

When a prime minister has discovered that only one tactic — ratcheting up the fear factor — helps to boost his poll numbers, and his poll standing is desperately low, what does he do?

Tony Abbott has made a profession of demonising asylum-seekers and Muslims and pretending that the world faces an existential threat from the terrorist Islamic State group.

In recent times Abbott has gone back to similar tactics. First, he engineered a “request” from the US, for Australia to join in air strikes on Syria.

It was trumpeted as the US asking Australia to join. Not as it really happened.

This is a disgraceful thing to do, showing clearly that Abbott does not mind sacrificing young lives – the men and women of the armed forces – in order to prolong his political life.

And then the farce of the Australian Border Force informing all and sundry that it would be taking what amounts to Stasi tactics on the streets of Melbourne to detect visa evaders and violators added another dose of fear too.

Of course, Abbott denies he was involved in this exercise. So too does the immigration minister, Peter Dutton. The whole thing is put down to a badly written press release.

One needs to keep in mind that Abbott is on the record with an extremely reliable politician, Tony Windsor, as saying that he (Abbott) would do anything but sell his arse to become prime minister. This memorable quote was made to Windsor during the time when neither Labor nor the Coalition had the numbers to form government in 2010 and the support of three independents, Windsor among them, was desperately being sought.

If he was willing to do anything to gain the prime ministership, is it any wonder that Abbott is now trying anything and everything to avoid defeat in the next federal election?

Suffer little children: Scott Morrison is an expert

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. – Gospel of St Matthew, Chapter 19, verse 14

NO DOUBT, this morning, two practising Christians will attend their respective churches and worship their God.

Tony Abbott, the prime minister of Australia, is a committed Catholic. Scott Morrison, his immigration minister, goes one step further – he is a committed Pentecostal born-again Christian.

Or so the pair claim.
Continue reading Suffer little children: Scott Morrison is an expert

Coalition dog-whistles as the election countdown continues

THE Liberal-National coalition which forms the opposition in Australia has just confirmed that it is the party of xenophobes by proposing that whenever asylum-seekers are allowed to move into a neighbourhood on bridging visas, the people staying there and the police should be notified.

This is dog-whistle politics of the lowest kind, but the Coalition will do anything to get votes. A federal election is scheduled for September 14.

Should this extend to the asylum-seekers who are granted permanent residence? Or does the granting of such status suddenly make the asylum-seeker a person of good character?

The irony of this proposal is that Scott Morrison, the immigration spokesman for the Coalition, claims to be a practising Christian! Yeah, sure.

There is a streak of racism which is part of the body politic in Australia and that is very much present within the Coalition.

In the past, John Howard has displayed a kind of closet racism in his bid to stay in power. The 2001 election was shamelessly built on the arrival of asylum-seekers in a ship called the Tampa. Howard and his ministers lied their way to electoral victory on the backs of these poor souls.

And Howard continued in this vein right to the end of his political career. Ironically, he was voted out by immigrants who had grown to a pretty large number is his seat of Bennelong. Sweet revenge, indeed.

But the dog-whistle is still present in Coalition ranks. And it is blown whenever needed. As it has been today.

Xenophobes in Australia about to choke on their cornflakes

THE xenophobes in Australia – and that’s a goodly proportion of the population – will find themselves in a difficult position if Fawad Ahmed is granted citizenship and selected to play for Australia in the Ashes cricket series against England later this year.

You see, Ahmed is an asylum-seeker from Pakistan. Asylum-seekers are a class of human beings whom the average Australian, with his/her devotion to a fair go, deems to be sub-human and only deserving of being sent back to their country of origin. Or drowned at sea.

Ahmed applied for permanent residence last year and while he was awaiting a decision, it emerged that he was a more than capable leg-spinner. Australia was a few weeks from taking on South Africa in a Test series and so he was asked to go over and help the Australians in their net practice. South Africa has a spinner of Pakistani origin, Imran Tahir, in its ranks and the Australians needed to play a good spinner to prepare to face Tahir.

After that the authorities intervened and got him his PR pretty fast. Ahmed did well in the nets, landed a contract with the Melbourne Renegades in the annual Twenty20 tournament, and did a pretty good job there too.

Next, he was selected to play for Victoria against Queensland and promptly returned a match-bag of seven wickets. His captain, Cameron Smith, ranks Ahmed as the best spinner he has seen after Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill. That is high praise indeed.

Smith’s observations come at a time when Australia has just been hammered by India in the first Test of a four-match series on a spinning track in Chennai. Australia’s lone spinner was taken for 215 runs in the first innings and ended with 4 wickets for 244 in the game.

And so the talk has turned to how Australia will combat not only India in the remaining Tests, but England in June. This is an English team that defeated India 2-1 in a Test series in India very recently, with two spinners, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, proving to be the trump cards.

Enter Ahmed. There is talk that the immigration minister Brendan O’Connor is now considering his application for citizenship. Australia is a sports-mad country and the Ashes are one of the most popular sporting contests. Australia never forgets that it was initially populated by convicts who were sent from Britain; paying back the mother country is something every Australian loves.

If Ahmed makes it and proves to be some kind of equalising factor in the Ashes, it will be a classic good news story.

But the xenophobes will choke on their cornflakes – after all, how can a brown-skin from a country like Pakistan, ever be considered a good enough person to play cricket for Australia?

Refugee deal hits the skids

The Australian government, looking to cater to the wishes of the redneck element of the population, drafted a refugee swap deal some months ago, whereby it would send 800 asylum-seekers to Malaysia to be processed.

In return, the government would accept 4000 refugees – people who had been processed through the system – from Malaysia.

The High Court has now struck down this deal after a challenge was launched by a lawyer.

Both sides of politics in Australia use the fear factor to try and drum up votes. Poor foreigners, who are looking to escape tyrannical regimes, are fodder for the spinmeisters in political ranks and few people try to remove the misconceptions that surround this issue.

Boatpeople are what Australia is made up of to a large extent. Everyone here, apart from the Aborigines, is a migrant. Nobody beats up on the people who come here by plane and seek asylum. Nobody beats up on overstaying backpackers, mostly Britons, who come here and then end up as part and parcel of the country, No, it is only the boatpeople who suffer the abuse of shock jocks on radio and pontificators in the redneck media.

It is not that the government cannot try to educate people about migration. The prime minister, herself, is a migrant from Wales. No, the poor of the world who try to gain admission to Australia via the refugee process are excellent fodder to feed the fear factor that exists among the ignorant.

Politicians conjure up a picture of masses invading this fair land and changing the way of life that the white man enjoys – that is enough to lead to an outcry on the airwaves, a cry of insecure borders. It is a cruel joke but, apart from the Greens, no politician will speak the truth.

The number looking for refuge in Australia is pathetically few compared to the numbers that are seen in Europe. And if Australia does not want them coming here, then it just has to withdraw its signature from the UN Convention on Refugees – it’s that simple. Since Australia is a signatory, any person from any corner of the world is entitled to rock up here by land, sea or air and ask for asylum. Australia, as a signatory, has to process those claims.

No country would sign up if doing so were not to its advantage. There are innumerable tales of refugees who have made it good and contributed a great deal to their adopted country. But no government is going to tell you those tales – no, fear, uncertainty and doubt are the tools by which political parties gain votes. And tactics are not going to change overnight.

It’s good that Australian judges and lawyers have more principles than politicians.