It’s a sad fact that Australia has had a long history of intolerance of non-white and non-European people – including its own indigenous Aboriginal people. Proof of this is in the fact that it was only in 1962 that Aboriginal people were ‘given’ the right to vote in their own country, and only as recently as 1973 that Australia finally rescinded the White Australia policy which had dominated Australian immigration policies since Federation in 1901.
Nonetheless, despite the end of the White Australia policy, and the introduction of the Racial Discrimination Act in 1975, a small but vocal group of right-wing white Australians have continued to actively agitate against non-white non-European immigration to Australia and against Aboriginal rights in Australia.
These right-wing white Australians have always been vocal about race issues in Australia but the intensity of their rhetoric tends to rise and fall with the flow rates, in particular, of asylum seekers that arrive at Australia’s shores by boat. The racists that object to boatpeople tend to couch their arguments in terms of it being part of a broader debate on immigration to Australia generally. However, this is just a cover to deflect criticism of their real motives for objecting to boatpeople. The cover is transparent by virtue of the language they use to voice their criticism. Instead of calling them what they are; asylum seeking refugees, the racists tag them as ‘illegal immigrants’ in order to vilify them.
Boatpeople that come to Australia do so as refugees seeking asylum, something they are quite entitled to do under international laws and agreements which Australia are a party to. Once having arrived here, their claims are verified and, if they are found to be genuine refugees, they are offered sanctuary in Australia. Those not found to be genuine refugees are returned home. It is all very simple and straight forward. For the racists though, this is too much.
Virtually all of the boatpeople that arrive in Australia are non-white non-Europeans and it is this that the racists really object to. The vilification of asylum seekers that arrive by boat is reinforced by the fact that the racists ignore almost entirely the real illegal immigrants that are in Australia who have arrived by airline on visas the conditions and limits of which they have every intention of ignoring. However, because the vast majority of them are white Europeans (mostly British and American) the racists seem not to be concerned about them.
The racists’ argument against accepting boatpeople based on concerns regarding Australia’s population growth, particularly in light of recent statements that Australia’s population could be 35 million by 2050, also does not hold water since boatpeople make up less than half of one percent of Australia’s total average annual immigration intake. While the percentage value varies, depending on the geo-political stability of the world, it would rarely rise above one percent, yet the more extremist elements of the racist right-wing of Australia, particularly in the Australia’s mainstream media, are writing almost daily about the so-called swamping of Australia’s shores by boatpeople.
The media, it seems, has now had a profound effect on Australian public opinion with the result being that Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has caved in to the racists of Australia by announcing that the government will not be processing any further asylum claims from Sri Lankan or Afghan refugees.
The move has placed Rudd in a moral dilemma with some even suggesting that the move is in contravention to the Racial Discrimination Act. Certainly, the move has been made for purely political reasons; to placate a section of Australian society that are clearly gullible to racist’s fearmongering at a time when the Australian people face going to the polls later in the year.
Rudd has claimed that he has made the move on the basis that both Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are now stabilized and that people from these nations need not now seek asylum in foreign countries. The reality is somewhat different. Sri Lankan authorities have been arresting Tamils since the war ended, and, in some cases, have been executing them summararily, while in Afghanistan the war continues to rage with another of Obama’s so-called ‘surges’ imminent.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has exposed Australia to be a truly racist nation by bowing to the White Australian extremists demands of limiting or stopping non-white non-European immigration into Australia.
Shame on Rudd and the Australian Labor Party, and shame on Australia.