It’s been 10 years yesterday since the infamous Tampa incident unfolded under the Howard government of the day, and, by tapping into Australia’s inherent paranoia and xenophobia, given fresh air by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, helped Howard to win an election.
This is part of Australia’s shame yet most seem to be caught up in the hysteria still, as ‘boat people’ once again become the pawns in our major political parties’ determination to prove who has the most backbone in halting asylum seekers coming to this country. Really, it’s a battle to see who can be the most amoral, least charitable and most pernicious in treating victims of foreign conflicts.
Julian Burnside QC, an outspoken advocate for the rights of refugees, wrote an excellent editorial in yesterday’s AGE in the hope of convincing Australians that they are misinformed and manipulated without compunction by our political leaders on both sides of the House.
Anyway, I won’t waste words when Burnside’s argument is far more informative and eloquent than anything I could write on the subject.
Back in April 2009, I wrote a short post called Tampa Revisited concerning horrific stories of atrocities committed against refugees forced to return to Afghanistan. Here is a story with a positive outcome because the refugees were given sanctuary in our neighbouring country, New Zealand.