Sunday, August 8, 2010

Code red

From the increasingly indispensable Grog's Gamut:
At the Liberal Party campaign launch, the big policy announcement was the plan to introduce mandatory prison sentencing for people who harbour asylum seekers. The policy Abbott was most proud of was announcing the return of the Pacific Solution.
In 2007 the voters were pretty much of a mind that Pacific Solution was the type of policy only a backward looking, racist and morally bereft nation would employ. Now it is Abbott’s set piece.
Just so you know.


Tatyana said...

I noticed this too.

My family members escaped conflict in the past (WW II), and wouldn't have survived if it hadn't been for people who generously welcomed them and made them feel at home. This was not in Australia. Resonances of this sort of trauma are felt over several generations. Fortunately, most people don't run a risk of having any asylum seekers knock on their doors, so there's no need to be scared about mandatory prison sentencing, but the phrase makes me shudder...

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

I think what utterly floors me about this kind of slime is that my generation, which is more or less the generation at the top of the power heap at the moment, was brought up on books like The Diary of Anne Frank and other iconic WW2 texts, where the people who help and harbour refugees at great risk to themselves are unambiguously, and rightly, represented as heroes. The idea of Australians being told they'll be punished (with jail!) unless they're dobbers is about as far from 'fair dinkum' as it's possible to get. Even Abbott's populist, jingoistic nationalism is nothing but the sheerest hypocrisy.

Tatyana said...

Yes, Kerryn. I'm a bit younger, but due to my mixed European heritage, and the fact that I grew up all over the place, I too read Anne Frank, as have now my Australian children. My Australian partner, who grew up in Melbourne, read it too as a school boy, and says he can't recall this sort of talk being part of public rhetoric.

Fortunately, we live in an island, and so we will never face a situation of having to keep our doors firmly locked in the face of human disaster because we are too scared to go to jail. But it would be a very difficult dilemma indeed.

I'm not suggesting that the problem of asylum seekers is an easy one to solve, nor would it be wise to be completely nonchalant about 'open borders', but this sort of talk surely goes against basic notions of human decency.

I have a personal bias, obviously, and generally avoid discussing politics, but had to comment on this.

Thanks for your clear thinking on many of these issues.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

'... he can't recall this sort of talk being part of public rhetoric.'

No. Never. This is new.

And we should be shouting about it from the roof-tops. Hooray for Loud Denunciation!

Tatyana said...

I've just read the transcript of the speech (I previously heard it on tv). (

'As soon as parliament can be recalled, the necessary measures will be taken to provide much tougher penalties against people smuggling including mandatory prison sentences. '

There's a bit of a semantic difference between 'harbouring asylum seekers' and suppressing people smuggling, but I agree with the general assessment of this policy, as quoted in the post, and my sentiment on the issue of refugees, expressed in my two previous comments, remains unchanged.

Tatyana said...

Sorry, last one. Response to comment 4.

Yes it is new, and not pretty at all. And it'll be interesting to see if if it will be denounced.

Now time to go. Wishing everyone a great week.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Yes, I too was taking my cue from another blogger and should have gone to the speech.

Bernice said...

It has been a criminal offence to shelter asylum seekers for some time in Australia - a Howard government innovation. Hence various refugee support organisations having to organise a network of safe houses etc etc - the need for which had fallen away with Labor's changes to mandatory detention. However, I don't think they did repeal the sections of the Act relating to criminal activites of refugee shelterers. Oh what a nice shiny toy for Tony to play with then when he can take personal responsibility for the horrifying toll Nauru and mandatory detention will inflict upon asylum seekers. That'll keep him busy for a while in the confessional. Or does Tony's God think they're queue jumpers as well?

paul walter said...

A little known but legitimate point from Bernice. Initselfit seems nobig dealjust a sort of bylaw. But when you get all the petty sedition, surveillance and "homeland security",internet filters, plus media dumbing down, the suite of incrementaly chipped away little portions of democracy, the whole becomes a repressive-tolerant whole greater than the sum of its parts.