Australia, what has happened to you?

Oh Australia, my dear birth country, what on earth has happened to you? As a kid I remember you being a country that welcomed immigrants, cause come on, with the exception of the Aboriginals, we were all immigrants, some had just been here a bit longer than others. However, as I got older you gradually became more and more, well, racist. You started to lock up refugees and asylum seekers, some for years on end, including kids and then pretended to act all shocked when they dared to protest about it. Then under the Howard government, we started to export our asylum seekers to a tiny island in the Pacific for what was called Off-Shore Processing but it was just a solution to deny them access to the Australian legal system. I really thought with the Labor party gaining power back in 2007 that we would start to see more humanity being shown.  I cheered when the processing station at Naru was closed down and there became a real effort to process refugees more quickly and you started to refuse to lock up kids.

However, then something changed. Things got dark again.  When I left your fair shores in 2010 I saw two immigrants one from Wales and one from England from the opposite sides of parliament trying to outdo each other in making the treatment of refugees worse.  The Welsh woman won.  The woman from the supposedly liberal political party.

Now when I read the news, I’m glad I no longer live in Australia.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that I’m ashamed of you. Your policies towards refugees are inhumane.  So inhumane in fact that even the conservative party, the guys who invented off-shore processing, are protesting against it.  Gillard, when it become okay to show cruelty towards people who want what your parents wanted – a better life for their children in Australia?  These people have lost everything, but instead of processing their asylum claims fairly and quickly, you are rewriting Australian law to make it legal to export them to Malaysia which has a terrible human rights record. These people will not receive fair treatment there in massively overpopulated refugee camps and you are well aware of this. You simply do not care. Is this is what Australia has become now? A nation that simply does not care about anyone but themselves? If this is the case, perhaps it’s best that I never return.

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About Meg

A thirty something queer Aussie geek girl who now lives in Germany.
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11 Responses to Australia, what has happened to you?

  1. shoegirl says:

    It’s funny how living somewhere else only magnifies all those things you couldn’t stand about your home country, isn’t it? I was fed up with a lot about life where I used to live before we left, and now the more I read about politics and just news in general, the more I am disgusted at the greed and the ignorance and want never to return. It’s also rather sad that countries that started out with so much potential have lost sight of things so terribly, especially for the sake of its people.

    • Riayn says:

      I was pretty disgusted about where the political landscape was heading when I lived in Australia, but I’m just saddened that things have gotten worse and not better.
      The movement of almost the entire world towards insular politics is very disappointing to watch. I, unfortunately, think that things are going to get much worse before they get better.

  2. Iain Hall says:

    It amuses me the way that you cite “racism” in this issue when in fact race has nothing to do with this issue, you would have to be a lefty eh???

    • Riayn says:

      Yes I am a lefty but honestly, that has nothing to do with it. Treating people humanely should be important to all sides of politics. Also, yes, I think racism has a lot to do with the way we treat asylum seekers, if they were white I bet that they would get far better treatment, but because they don’t ‘look like us’, politicians from both sides of parliament think it is okay to treat them like human rubbish.

      • Iain Hall says:

        Riayn
        Do you really think that giving those who claim asylum everything they want is required for their treatment to be considered “humane”?
        Because you surely have to accept that our obligations under the UN convention does not require us to give residency to every economic migrant who wants to come here and despite their claims of “persecution” many of those who come here in the boats are really just economic migrants rather than “refugees”

        • Riayn says:

          Where in my post did I say that asylum seekers should just be given residency without any sorts of checks that their claims are true? I’m well aware of what Australia’s obligations under the UN convention are. All I’m asking is for the Australian government to treat these people with respect whilst processing their claims. It is not a criminal act to enter a country asking for asylum so why do we lock them up and treat them like scum until we determine if their claim is legitimate?

          • Iain Hall says:

            How would propose to ensure that those who are found to have invalid claims would be available for removal if they are released into the community while their claims are processed?
            Surely you don’t think that they would just turn up to the immigration department with their bags packed ready to be deported?

  3. I’ve heard about some of this on the news before. While we’re criticized for how we treat our aboriginals here in Canada, we rely on immigration because we don’t reproduce enough to replace ourselves. It’s so interesting how things can be so different.

    • Riayn says:

      Aboriginals in Australia also get a rough deal. In fact many of them live in what could best be classed as third world conditions. Also, like Canada, Australia relies on immigration but as the politicians put it, ‘we decide who comes here and how’. Lovely, isn’t it?

  4. Riayn says:

    Iain: You ask a really good question and it’s one I don’t have a simple, quick response to. However, other countries are able to process asylum seekers without locking them up for years, so I’m sure a viable solution is out there. The Australian government only has to care enough about human rights to go and find out what it is.

    • Iain Hall says:

      The biggest reason for delay in genuine asylum seekers achieving release from detention is that nearly all who arrive by boat do so with out any identity documentation because said papers are deliberately destroyed or disposed off. Further they have an almost endless number of chances to appeal unfavourable decisions about their claims including the ridiculous situation that even when they have exhausted all legal chances and they are fount NOT to be genuine refugees the government is unable or unwilling to forcibly deport them. That is why they spend so long in detention.
      All of those rioting and so loudly complaining are those who have been found not to be real refugees or they have been found to be a security threat top this country and its saddens me that so many people who have good hearts and good intentions make the mistake of assuming that every mendicant who knocks at our door is genuine and that the stories that they tell are true.

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