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Debate over National Interest Migration. Historical Background – White Australia Policy Australia had the “White Australia Policy” from 1901 to 1973.

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Presentation on theme: "Debate over National Interest Migration. Historical Background – White Australia Policy Australia had the “White Australia Policy” from 1901 to 1973."— Presentation transcript:

1 Debate over National Interest Migration

2 Historical Background – White Australia Policy Australia had the “White Australia Policy” from 1901 to 1973. Early drafts of the Act explicitly banned non-Europeans from migrating to Australia but objections from the British government, which feared that such a measure would offend British subjects in India and Britain's allies in Japan, caused the Barton government to remove this wording. Instead, a "dictation test" was introduced as a device for excluding unwanted immigrants. Immigration officials were given the power to exclude any person who failed to pass a 50-word dictation test. At first this was to be in any European language, but was later changed to include any language. This was the tool used to keep out non-Europeans

3 WHITE AUSTRALIA POLICY The policy was seen as protecting Australia’s security White Australia saw itself as an outpost of the British race at the bottom of Asia – that needed to be protected and defended from the “Yellow Peril” to our North Our economic ties at this time were also very much centred on the British Empire – not Asia itself.


5 Populate or Perish After World War 2 – there was both pressure economically and in terms of security to expand our population This had a security goal – if we did not “populate” we remained liable to “perish” from an invasion from our North. It also had an economic goal as we let in many people from Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia as workers on projects such as the Snowy River Scheme.

6 End of White Australia The White Australia Policy eventually was abandoned in the 60’s and officially in 1973 by the Whitlam ALP Government. The outlook of many Australian’s had changed on this issue and the policy had also became a a barrier to the closer economic ties with Asia that Australia had began to develop. So at this time – Australia saw immigration from Asia as a way to develop better economic security and economies relations with our region – we had moved on from just seeing Asia as a security threat ie Yellow Peril to our North but now as a place of national opportunity. Assimilation-to-Multiculturalism

7 Multi-culturalism From the Whitlam Government till the present the official government policy has been one of Multi-culturalism This celebrates cultural diversity as part of the Australian national identity.


9 Ongoing Concerns over Asian migration As Leader of the Opposition, John Howard, argued for restricting Asian immigration in 1988, as part of his One Australia policy, later admitting that his comments cost him his job at the time:John HowardAsian “ I'm not in favour of going back to a White Australia policy. I do believe that if it is -- in the eyes of some in the community -- that it's too great, it would be in our immediate-term interest and supporting of social cohesion if it (Asian immigration) were slowed down a little, so the capacity of the community to absorb it was greater. [19] ” —John Howard speaking on ABC Radio PM, 1 August 1988 [19] At its peak, Pauline Hanson's One Nation party received 9% of the national vote. [20] Pauline Hanson was widely accused of trying to take Australia back to the days of the White Australia Policy, particularly through reference to Arthur Calwell, one of the policy's strongest supporters:One Nation [20]Arthur Calwell “ I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40 per cent of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate. [21] ” —Pauline Hanson in her maiden speech to parliament [21]

10 Summary Australia’s attitudes to migration have always been a balancing act – balancing our perceived economic and security concerns, especially in regards to Asia. Fear of being swamped by Asian and non- European migration has been balanced by our need to grow the population for economic reasons and exploit closer economic, political and security ties within the Asian region.


12 BORDER SECURITY The aspect of our migration policy which has become entwined with our security so much that it is now referred to as: “Border Security” is our policy on asylum seekers – in particular those that arrive by boat.

13 An historical overview As more and more refugees arrive in Australian waters by boat, Rear Vision takes a look at the history of Australia's policies on asylum seekers, from the first boatload of Vietnamese back in 1976 through to today. 2010/2859365.htm 2010/2859365.htm

14 Historical Summary Thousands of “boat people” came to Australia in the 70’s either directly or via regional camps of people who fled the Vietnam War. Malcolm Fraser the then Liberal PM, without opposition from the ALP at the time, resettled the asylum seekers without mandatory detention etc The issue was handled without creating a huge public debate.

15 Mandatory Detention The Hawke ALP Government first set up detentions centres in remote areas in 1989 – to accomodate the wave of particularly Cambodian asylum seekers coming by boat. Hawke’s rhetoric at the timeof border protection was later to be echoed by Howard, Rudd and Gillard. Bob Hawke: Compassion, constructive and orderly compassion, is not the same thing as saying 'Here is an open door for anyone who wants to come'. Bob Hawke: We're not, as I say, going to have a situation where people imagine that they can just determine our immigration content simply by getting boats and coming here

16 In 1991 – the Keating Government brought in Mandatory detention which soon allowed for the indefinite detention of asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Mandatory detention made it compulsory for all asylum seekers who arrive by boat to be detained until they are granted asylum or deported. y_detention

17 Controversies under Howard In 1999 – another wave of asylum seekers started to arrive, largely from the Middle East. The numbers in detention including women and children soon swelled. The Howard Government responded with a number of policies to try and deter boat people from coming.

18 1999 - Temporary Protection Visas In 1999 – the Howard Government brought in in Temporary Protection Visa’s. These did not give asylum seekers full residency/working rights and they could only stay in the country until it was safe for them to return. They also were not allowed family reunion rights like permanent residents.

19 2001 – Pacific Solution After a Norwegian Vessel – “The Tampa” carrying 450 rescued asylum seekers was prevented from landing on Christmas Island by the Australian military The Howard Government introduced the “Pacific Solution” where by many islands were excised from Australia’s migration zone, and asylum seeker were removed to third countries in order to determine their refugee status, namely at detention camps on small island nations in the Pacific Ocean – namely Naura.Australia’s migration zonePacific Ocean Also in 2001, the Border Protection Bill was introduced into the Parliament of Australia, which provided the government with the power to remove any ship in the territorial waters of Australia, use reasonable force to do so, provide that any person who was on the ship be forcibly returned to the ship, and guaranteed that no asylum applications may be made by people on board the ship. [ Parliament of Australia [



22 2001 Election The 2001 Election was dominated by the debate over asylum seekers. John Howard famously declared “"we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come“ During the campaign the “Children Overboard” Scandal occurred whereby the Immigration Minister Peter Reith claimed that a group of asylum seekers had thrown their children into the sea to force an Australian rescue. Photos were released to back the claim but these were only partial photos that it was revealled later did not show that the boat the asylum seekers were on was sinking at the time.


24 Protests Throughout this period there were many, many protests by both asylum seekers inside detention centres who rioted, escaped, self-harmed and burnt down detention centres. Outside rallies, marches, breakouts also occurred by those demanding an end to mandatory detention. 80% of asylum seekers from this time were eventually granted asylum in Australia. By the end of Howard’s Government boat arrivals had indeed lessened – a fact the Howard Government claimed was a result of its harsh policies.

25 Rudd Government When elected in 2007 – the Rudd Government softened our asylum seeker policies a little. They abolished Temporary Protection Visas and the Pacific Solution – although now asylum seekers would still be processed off- shore but this time on Australian territory on Christmas Island.

26 The boats keep coming! However after an influx of a few thousand asylum seekers the position of the ALP again hardened. In 2010 – they put a 6 month freeze on processing the claims of Sri Lankan asylum seekers and a 3 month freeze on Afghanistan claims. They tried to set up the “Indonesian Solution” by having the Oceanic Viking and another vessel containing Tamil asylum seekers process in Indonesia during 2009.

27 2010 Election Tony Abbott promised to “Turn back the boats” Gillard had herself photographed a naval boat on “border patrol” and announced that Australia would try to set up a regional processing centre for asylum seekers in East Timor.


29 Anti-asylum seeker arguments. Australia is a generous country that takes 10,000 refugees a year from the UN system from people waiting in refugee camps around the world. Asylum seekers are “queue jumpers” who come to Australia by paying people smugglers – that comes at the cost of people waiting in the camps. They undermine the integrity of our border protection because the government is not choosing who comes here. They pose a national security threat as they could be terrorists or other criminals amonst them. By “going soft” on asylum seekers you encourage them to pay people smugglers for dangerous trips by boat to Australia, which risks their lives and supports a criminal enterprise.

30 Pro-asylum seeker arguments People who come by boat are mainly valid refugees fleeing war and persecution – how they get here is not relevant Many come from parts of the world eg Afghanistan/Pakistan where there is no “queue”. Even if they waited in a camp they could be waiting many, many years to be resettled in a third country Mandatory Dentention breaks our committment to the UN Refugee Convention and the UN Declaration of Human rights which states every one has the right to ask for asylum in a safe country. Mandatory detention imprisons vulnerable people in remote places causing them even more psychological stress and harm. Boat people form only a small proportion of illegal immigrants most who are visa over stayers from Britain and NZ. Refugees and asylum seekers in Australia only make up a very small percentage of overall immigration program, and the issue is used as a “political football” to win votes Many other nations, including poorer nations take many, many more refugees than Australia without polices such as mandatory detention. The number of boat people coming here is determined by “push” factors like war etc rather than the “pull” of going soft on asylum seekers.

31 Broader implications of the debate

32 Internationalism Australia’s sovereignty on this issue is at least theoretically constrained by Internationalism in the form of the UN Conventions we have ratified on Refugee rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Article 14 states “ (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” The Australian system of mandatory detention has been repeatedly criticized by the UN on human rights grounds. There has been much debate as to whether we are currently fulfilling our UN committments.

33 Globalisation The asylum seeker issue demonstrates how Globalisation undermines the sovereignty of states. The ability of people to travel long distances to claim asylum by using globalised people smuggling networks undermines the ability of individual states to control their border. s

34 Quote from Interpol website : Human migration is not a new phenomenon. For centuries, people have left their homes in search of better lives elsewhere. In the last decade, the process of globalisation has enhanced the ‘push-pull’ factors which drive migrants’ desires to seek more gainful employment abroad. This has caused an unprecedented amount of migration from the least developed countries of Asia, Africa, South America and Eastern Europe to Western Europe, Australia and North America. Criminal networks which smuggle human beings for financial gain increasingly control the flow of migrants across borders. Due to more restrictive immigration policies in destination countries and improved technology to monitor border crossings, willing illegal migrants rely increasingly on the help of organized people smugglers. Link to report from United Nations on People smuggling migrants.html

35 Third Agenda Issue This is a perfect example of a security issue that Australia struggles to solve on its own without the help of other countries. First with Vietnamese boat people in the 1970’s, the Pacific Solution in 2001, Rudd’s 2009 Indonesian Solution and Gillard’s proposed East Timor processing centre, then failed “Malaysia Solution” – Australia has tried to involve other countries in the region in solving this “problem”. The AFP has worked particularly closely with the Indonesian authorities to try to disrupt people smuggling from Indonesia.

36 Regional Perceptions in Asia This issue has also affected how other countries in Asia have seen Australia. For many people in Asia this debate has backed up perceptions of Australia as still harbouring a “White Australia” mentality that is fearful of its Asian neighbors and is still racist.

37 Recent Migration Debate How fast should Australia’s population be growing?

38 Current Immigration Arrivals 67 100 in 1997–98 67 900 in 1998–99 70 200 in 1999–00 80 610 in 2000–01 93 080 in 2001–02 108 070 in 2002–03 114 360 in 2003–04 120 060 in 2004–05 142 933 in 2005–06 148 200 in 2006–07 158 630 in 2007–08 171 318 in 2008–09 168 623 in 2009–10 sheets/02key.htm#b The mix of people immigrating to Australia includes skilled migrants, family reunion program, refugee intake (including “boat people” and overseas students.

39 Size of Population The Rudd Government in 2010 created a Minister for Population and said that Australia was on track to be 39 million by 2050. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today released an update on the nation's population, which reached 22,066,000 on September 30, 2009. This was an increase of 451,900 people during the year, keeping the growth rate high at 2.1 per cent - which is higher than China, the US, Canada, Indonesia and most other nations. The majority of the growth, 66 per cent, was due to overseas migration, with the remainder, 34 per cent, due to there being more births than deaths. Read more: reached-22-million-abs-statistics-show/story-e6frfkvr- 1225845408880#ixzz0yhyXsWcG reached-22-million-abs-statistics-show/story-e6frfkvr- 1225845408880#ixzz0yhyXsWcG

40 Tightening up student visa rules In 2009 – the Rudd Government, under pressure over immigration, tightened the rules for international students, making it harder for them to apply for permanent residency after they finish studying. This was seen as closing a loophole into a “backdoor” way of getting residency but has also raised concern it may harm Australia’s lucrative 18 billion dollars a year international student market. Read more: brisbanes-overseas-students-20100726-10skl.html students/story-e6frebvu-1225897531101

41 2010 Election Gillard changed the name of the Population Minister to the “Minister for Sustainable Population” and announced if re-elected would examine population growth carefully Tony Abbott announced immigration would be cut from 300,000 a year to 170,000 a year

42 Pro- growth in migration Traditionally, the business community has favoured immigration growth to fuel the economy It does this by both attracting the kind of labor we need – whether that be skilled labor or unskilled labor in the case of the guest worker scheme. New migrants are also new consumers of products and services, thus expanding the market.

43 Anti-population growth Australia both economically and environmentally is has limits on the amount of people that can be supported and out of control growth will lead. Read more: Sustainable Population Australia Website:

44 Guest workers scheme The Rudd Government announced in 2008 that it would allow “guest workers” on temporary work visas to come to Australia from Pacific Island state.

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