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Australian asylum seeker policies and practices


Some 20 years ago, I returned to Australia to study the administration’s asylum seeker policies and practices. I was appalled by what I observed. I was appalled by what I read. I was appalled by what heard. I was indoctrinated into the language of the generosity of this land; whereas the reality of the response was miserable in every which way, and continues so to this very day. I could not reconcile this situation with my understanding of the Australian character. Not at all.

In so many areas of Australian life, the reputation of a decent society is deserved. After all, this is where, long before Europe and North America, the struggles of ordinary people achieved a legal minimum wage, an eight-hour working day, pensions, child benefits and the vote for women. All of which makes the mistreatment of the refugees an even greater crime, and the world should know.
John Pilger, 2001, In the remotest parts of Australia’s great outback, refugees are incarcerated, insulted and abused.

How is it possible that in 2011 these vulnerable people are so poorly treated in Australia of all places? Inhumanely in fact. It is clear that a significant chapter of the Australian constituency are not of the decent society but rather racist extremists. And it is these people’s votes that politicians have in their sights. It is their quest for power – the drive to retain, regain or acquire power – that is the only possible answer. Everything else is bullshit: we must control our borders from this menace, people smugglers, they are queue jumpers. All of this is a gross hoax. How can so few desperate and miserable people (worthy and deserving of our help) cause so much irrational fear other than by a pack of lies. These nasty despicable lies are designed to scare and reinforce the base xenophobic, unsophisticated, ill-informed attitudes of people residing in a few ‘marginal’ constituencies that ultimately decide elections’ outcomes.

To succeed with their lies an acquiescent media is there on tap: immediate and unchallenged.  Their brazen lies are never challenged. As people have become more aware, propaganda has become more and more sophisticated.


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