10 November 2009
In 1975 when Australia was facing an influx of ‘boat people’ following the Communist takeover of South Vietnam, the then Australian government led by Malcolm Fraser and the opposition agreed on a bipartisan and humane policy that was eventually largely accepted by the Australian people, despite its initial unpopularity.
Sadly the same level of leadership has not been in evidence in recent years as politicians have sought to exploit this issue for political advantage.
The stance of the Australian government was condemned in the latest (Nov) briefing of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council and described as ‘immoral’ by Jesuit Fr Andy Hamilton in an article in Eureka Street .
In adding his voice to those condemning the stance of the Australian government Director of the Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney, Phil Glendenning stated that "This stand-off in Indonesia demeans Australia in the eyes of the world, and diminishes us as a people. It is ugly politics that under a discourse of 'deterrence' uses vulnerable people to send a message to others who simply are not listening."
He went on to say "The current political debate is wrong because it demonises the vulnerable, it employs the ugly tactics of petty partisan race-politics. This is dog-whistle stuff which summons up the darkest fears that reside within Australians' hearts historically."
Get Up the grass-roots community advocacy organisation, believes that hostile myths are the greatest barrier to a more compassionate asylum seeker policy in Australia. It is encouraging people to empower themselves to counter disinformation by reading their myth-busting fact sheet obtainable from the above website.