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Issue #1792      August 30, 2017

Editorial

Contempt for life itself

The Turnbull government this past Monday has thrown onto the street more than 100 asylum seekers who were brought to Australia from offshore detention for medical treatment. The government has cut their income support of about $200 per fortnight and given them a three-week deadline to move out of their publicly-funded accommodation. It is a vicious-minded ploy in which the government has brought home to Australian soil its contempt for human rights and life itself.

Since colonisation, the Australian nation state was made up of mainly Anglo/Celtic stock and for many years this was enforced through the White Australia Policy. Its imperial aim was to make Australia a bastion of the British Empire in Asia. After WW2, and the collapse of colonialism and successful national liberation struggles in many countries, the racist White Australia Policy had to eventually be abandoned as official policy although elements of it continued in practice.

The underlying aim of the immigration policies of both the Labor and Liberal Parties continued to be guided towards preserving and building up the conservative forces in Australia.

Immediately after WW2, thousands came from the Baltic states and from Germany. Many of these were collaborators with the Nazis but that did not deter Australia’s governments. (Not a single migrant to Australia has ever been successfully prosecuted for war crimes arising from WW2.)

This is not to say that there were not genuine refugees among those given residence in Australia. Many came from conflicts in Greece, Lebanon, Iraq, Chile and elsewhere but this did not alter the main objectives of the immigration policy.

Following the Vietnam war there came a “wave of boat-people” who were the remnants of the forces who fought with the South Vietnam military dictatorship and with the US invaders.

The people who are now arriving from are in the main fleeing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world where Australia, in service to US imperialism, has forces fighting in wars of occupation.

The aims of Australia’s present migration policy are clearly indicated by the government’s decision to give preference to those with money and by the barriers being put in the way of family reunions, and in its violation of human rights laws in offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

The aims and objectives of the migration policies of successive governments have not fundamentally changed from those of the 19th century. It is all about giving preference to those who are most likely to have conservative politics and those with money. Elements of racism still prevail. The objective remains of returning Australia to a predominantly white, Anglo/Celtic state, maintaining its servility to its US master. What has changed are the specific circumstances and the application of the policies.

Immigration has been and will continue to be a widely accepted part of Australia’s development. In the interests of progressive and democratic development, immigration must be free from racial and cultural bias. Australia has become a multi-cultural and multilingual society and this is also in the sights of the government.

The Human Rights Law Centre represents many refugees and asylum seekers involved in legal actions for their rights: “We’re talking about women who were sexually assaulted on Nauru,” the centre’s lawyer Daniel Webb said. “Men who were violently attacked on Manus. Children who were so traumatised by offshore detention that they needed urgent psychiatric care in Australia. The minister evacuated these people because he knew full well they’d suffered serious harm.

“Some have filed cases on the basis that they would face further abuse, danger and harm if returned. The minister has never disputed those claims in court... instead he is trying to starve them out. He is cynically exploiting their vulnerability and trying to force them back to danger by making them destitute.”

Next article – Meeting the challenge – celebration of the life of Marie Lean

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