Friday, 23 November 2007

Remember Tampa?

Robert Manne is frequently overwrought, including in this article from today's Age. But it's hard not to agree with this bit:

The abandonment of both the aspiration for multiculturalism and the quest for reconciliation had no direct electoral impact. The Government's callous treatment of asylum seekers, fleeing from the Taliban or Saddam Hussein, did.

At first, using Labor's dangerous mandatory detention legacy, the Howard Government imprisoned these refugees for indefinite periods in appalling desert camps. With the arrival of the Tampa at Christmas Island, in late August 2001, it decided on an even more brutal strategy — to use military force to drive all asylum seekers away. To legitimise its cruelty, the Government let the people believe a lie: that the Iraqi refugees had thrown their own children into the ocean. In the long term, mendacity and a carnal desire for power at almost any cost became the trademarks of the Government. In the short term, "border control" hysteria helped Howard win the November 2001 election.

And nothing much has changed in government policy.

Anyway, that's the issue I'm steamed up about. But for analysis without favour, I 've always appreciated Michelle Grattan's work.


Anonymous said...

Nothing much changed? Really?
Yes, the Pacific Solution is still in place with all its associated horrors
But this week we had a rescue in the Timor Sea with people overboard. The difference was no-one played it for political advantage - let alone lied about evil refugees throwing their children into the water. Nothing much changed in that the navy rescued desparate people from a leaky boat in dangerous conditions - thats how the story should have been told with children overboard.
The difference is that fear we're being encouraged in has moved on. Refugees have done their job, even terrorists were on the wane in this campaign. So now its union, your childrens future, the economy stupid.
In the meantime of course these refugees are on their way to Nauru or Christmas Island. So perhaps, the more things change, the more they stay the same

Anonymous said...

I am very happy, for once, to agree with you unequivocally, Gordon. The Tampa incident, and the Siev X tragedy, are blights on our recent history and are one of the few incidents that have ever made me ashamed to be Australian.

I hope Little Johnnie and his cronies (and don't worry, I do remember that Kim Beazley didn't exactly cover himself in glory around about that time) have their day of reckoning tomorrow.

One Salient Oversight said...

When it comes to deciding not to vote for the Coalition, there are so many reasons that it forms a rich tapestry.