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Australian Immigration Refugee Debate Politics Boat People

Refugee debate takes us back to Howard era. Julia Gillard could show leadership by exploding asylum-seeker myths and misconceptions. POLITICS by myth and slogan has taken over as the currency of public debate, nowhere more so than on refugee policy.

“Moving Australia forward” was the title of Julia Gillard’s speech last week in which she announced a set of policies taking Australia unmistakably backwards to the Howard years. Turn back the boats, cries Tony Abbott, but don’t look at the fine print that shows such an approach cannot be implemented unless we allow people to drown at sea.

Even the hardy perennial about boatpeople as queue jumpers has re-entered the debate. The government recently moved its immigration officers from Islamabad to Dubai because it regards Pakistan as too dangerous….

….At least the Prime Minister did tackle another enduring myth last week: that, to use a Hansonism, we are being swamped by boatpeople. While condemning refugee advocate Julian Burnside for talking about “rednecks in marginal seats” (all voters in marginal seats are sacred political objects), she took up his challenge to point out that, at the present rate of arrivals, it would take about 20 years to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground with boatpeople

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