During the last federal election, I did a rant about how both sides of politics were using illegal immigrants arriving by boat to Australia as a way to get votes. Each side promised to "STOP THE BOATS", despite the fact that (as I demonstrated in the original post) boat people are:
- Insignificant compared to other population growth (i.e. births and migration)
- Insignificant compared to other forms of illegal immigration (e.g. people overstaying their visas)
Obviously, though, neither Julia Gillard or Tony Abbot read my blog (their loss, I suppose) because the other day I received this rather charming piece of advertising in the mail:
Lovely, isn't it? I particularly like how they picked the most flattering pictures of Gillard and Rudd - some subtle political commentary there, eh? Anyway, dear reader, it seems I have to dig through some statistics to once again prove that boat people are not something to be alarmed about. Behold:
Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics - Australian Social Trends (Population) and Parliament of Australia - Boat arrivals in Australia since 1976. The figures on refugee arrivals from the Parliament of Australia website differ significantly from the mail I received. I did some Googling and was unable to obtain a link to the Coalition's figures. I even contacted the coalition MP running in my seat, but he ignored my requests for information. Curious, eh?
See how the green line (illegal immigrants arriving by boat) is utterly insignificant compared to births and net migration in Australia? While there was a tiny increase in 2011-12, I'm not too alarmed since the exact same thing happened back in 1999-00.
Folks, what pisses me off here is that both political parties are using one of the most vulnerable groups in society - refugees - simply to scare people into voting for them. While I understand not everyone who arrives in Australia is a genuine refugee, many are. I said it last time, and I'll say it again (bigger this time, since the message didn't sink in):
It may be easy to think of boat people as "invaders" and "queue jumpers", but these are real people, with real emotions. They deserve to be treated as such.
Never forget that for someone to seek asylum in another country, there's got to be some pretty crazy shit going on back home. I for one would only leave my country in the most extreme circumstances - yet Labor and the Coalition want us to believe that these people are taking the easy way out. Far from it - illegal immigrants arriving by boat have exhausted every other option they can think of. Would you take your family on a flimsy boat through dangerous oceans - even if it was illegal - if it meant safety from persecution? It's not an easy decision to make, yet Labor and the Coalition would have us believe asylum seekers just woke up one morning and said, "Gee I'm bored. I think I'll go to Australia!"
They're not seeking asylum, they're seeking fun!
I'm sick to death of this scapegoating, this deception and this horrible behaviour. We have a responsibility as a developed nation to do what we can to help those less fortunate. I'm not suggesting we let just anyone waltz into the country - that would be ridiculous - but the boat people bashing has to stop. Otherwise, we run the danger of this turning into another dark chapter of Australia's history - just like the Stolen Generation or the White Australia Policy.
I, for one, would hate to say I voted for a government like that.
© 2013 by The Free Man
Further reading: You may be interested to read the myths about refugees and asylum seekers that the Refugee Council of Australia has put together.