Unfortunately the Rudd Government’s stance on asylum seekers is not that much different to the shameful approach of the Howard Government. It is about not much more than political people-pleasing. Mr Rudd, with his ‘tough but fair’ approach, is looking to have it both ways. And unfortunately, much of the Australian media are going along for the ride. There are touches of courage being shown by journalists here and there but on the whole, no one is really saying it like it is.
Get Up, the independent advocacy organisation, has produced a factsheet dealing with some of the myths about asylum seekers that are being peddled in much of the media today. Some of the issues it deals with are:
- Is Australia doing it’s fair share for asylum seekers?
- Are we being swamped by boat people?
- Has the Government made us a soft target?
- Are asylum seekers queue jumpers?
- Is there a danger of bringing in terrorists if we let in too many boat people?
It’s a pity that Australian Governments of both political persuasions don’t seem to remember that many of our ancestors on the First Fleet were also ‘boat people’. Brought here, not by choice, but as ‘criminals’, these convicts made a life for themselves under the most brutal conditions. Similarly, in the 1950s, European migrants came to Australia from the ravages of the Second World War and made good. They were hounded then by many Anglo-Saxons, and nothing seems to have changed. The voices of reason are so often drowned out by the shrill voices of fear and xenophobia. Why are we so scared of the ‘other’? Why are we so hypocritical?
The hard line should be taken against the people smugglers, not the asylum seekers themselves. It’s like the issue of overseas aid. We didn’t hold back on giving aid to Myanmar when they had their cyclone last year just because they have a military dictatorship. I don’t recall anyone complaining about that. We’re happy to slap each other on the back telling each other how generous we are when we chip in to give to a disaster overseas, but when it comes to my backyard, the attitude often is that we couldn’t possibly let those same people, now called ‘queue jumpers’ in to take all our jobs. Our double standards are atrocious.
Please support Get Up and help to destroy the myths that abound in so many parts of our country today.