The end of the White Australia Policy brought forth a new era of multiculturalism within Australia, one that has redefined what it means to be an Australian in the modern age. The Australian government policy surrounding refugee migration has come at a cost. As throughout the year’s different political parties have divided the Australian community when considering the humanitarian, economic and moral benefits of refugees. Australia has embraced refugees over the last fifty or so years since the ending of the White Australia policy. By definition, refugees are survivors. They have survived because of their courage, ingenuity and creativity. These are qualities in which we value in Australian society. In addition to this, I have a personal story, as I have seen many refugees in my former home suburb of St Albans, the home to a large Vietnamese community who came across as refugees in the early 1980s. These are hard-working people who have contributed to the Australian prosperity due to the goodwill of former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, who allowed the Refugees to come into this country. However, The Australian Refugee crisis has been a contentious issue specifically in recent years amongst The Liberal National Party and The Australian Green Party, who come from opposing sides of the political spectrum and have differing opinions on the matter.
The Liberal National Party (LNP) believes in strong border security, specifically the use of detention centres, as a controlling tactic. The LNP has judged the last Labor government of dismantling Australia’s effective border security policies, thus creating this ongoing issue of refugee arrivals to the country. Comparatively, The Australian Greens Party is of the view of closing all offshore detention centres. By definition, detention centres are an institution for the short-term detention of Illegal immigrants and refugees. The Greens are also of the belief of increasing Australia’s humanitarian intake to meet our so-called human rights obligations, which was assembled by the United Nations. In this essay, I will discuss the similarities and differences between these two political parties policies regarding refugees and their impact on society, as well as refugees.
The Liberal National Party legislation of tougher border control has largely brought them success, thus resulting in greater votes during election time. The first creation of detention centres occurred under the migration act of 1958 which allowed the detention of unauthorised arrivals. In the early ’90s under the newly formed Labour government of Paul Keating, were able to help shape the whole detention process that we recognise nowadays, by creating mandatory detention of Asylum seekers which ultimately came into effect in 1994, but was subsequently tightened under the Howard Government. The Liberal party has enacted a policy of “boat turn-backs when it is safe to do so” since this policy was first enacted by the then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison the government has been able to return approximately over “800 people from 34 boats and disrupted another 80 attempted ventures.” This had a great effect on the refugee crisis that Australia was facing at that current time as it resulted in the reduction in people dying on the seas as a result of drowning and it also leads to a reduction in overcrowding in Australia’s detention centres. However, life in Australia’s detention centres was reportedly inhumane already and numerous reports found that life in Nauru detention centre one of Australia’s most famous offshore detention centres was more “prison-like” than anything else with the constant abuse and mistreatment of detainees. The Liberal government also introduced a policy of picking and choosing which refugees they want to let into the country.
The Liberal Party’s harsh stance on refugees and immigration has received worldwide attention and have drawn a vast amount of scrutiny to themselves by various media organisations. It is a known fact that the Murdoch family owned Newscorp group has a been very supportive of the Liberal party this is clearly shown through their generous articles on the Liberal parties success and accomplishments. Murdoch is believed to support the traditional values that the liberal party offers to its supporters, he also supports capitalism and the individuals right to be free in a business sense.
However not all media organisations loved the Immigration policy the Liberal party was offering, one of these media organisations is the Guardian this online newspaper is renowned for its more centre-left view and has criticised Liberal party’s policy on immigration and their alliances to the Murdoch family “Rupert Murdoch intends to transform Australia into a conservative nation and he wants to put it on the Trump Road.” This is quoted from a Guardian article. In recent times in Australia, there has been a further divide between far-right and far-left factions this was evident with extremist group Reclaim Australia rallies in Melton on 22nd of November 2015 in pursuit of what they perceive is right in banning all refugee to Australia, this is evident to be an economic disaster as in plain terms migration boost the Economy of our already struggling nation.
The Australian Greens party has a much greater supportive view on refugee immigration than the LNP, they believe the treatment of people seeking asylum must be humane and detention of refugees is a violation of human rights. The shutting down of Australia’s offshore detention and transit centres on Nauru is a big policy of the Greens party compared to LNP. Further to this, the party believes in raising Australia’s humanitarian intake to 50,00 refugees to meet our so-called human rights obligations, while the current LNP government is happy to stay at 18,500 refugees a year. The Greens also believe that as one of the world’s wealthiest countries, Australia has an obligation to do more for refugees.
Australia has had consistent economic growth for the last 28 years, is ranked 14th for the highest GDP in the world and has 3 major cities in the top 10 for most liveable cities so you would assume that we can afford to have more refugees right? Well, the answer is no, 35% of Australia is classified as arid, arid means a place that receives less than 500 mm of rain per year, this is the reason why majority of Australia’s population lives on the East coast as there is water. In Australia, we have consistently had drought over the last 100 years and therefore we won’t be able to afford to house and extra 30,000 refugees a year. I say this as Australia is facing huge debt problems due to overspending by previous governments and adding extra 30,000 people and supporting them with housing and Centrelink benefits for the first couple of years would not be manageable for the financial situation of Australia, please note that as of 6th March 2020, the gross Australian government debt was $573 billion.
The Greens policy of a fair and non-partisan approach on raising the refugee intake and shutting down our offshore detention centres has relatively gone unnoticed by the Australian media which is largely dominated by the Murdoch press. The Murdoch press has given favourable press coverage going back as far to the Tampa incident in 2001 to the LNP. Australian online newspaper The Guardian has relatively supported the Greens Agenda with pleasant news articles, however, this is not evident with the daily Telegraph as they have recently targeted Greens leader Adam Bandt, with a serious of one-sided articles on his so-called ‘poor leadership’ and “The most radical Greens leader, and dumbest” due to his perceived views on Immigration. In recent years Far Right groups have heavily contested the ideological views of the Greens party, this was evident last year with United Patriots Front rallying on the shorefront of St Kilda beach over Islamic refugees being let into the country unfortunately for this far-right group a group of 200 anti-racist protesters came to St Kilda this led to a serious of fights and some disgusting politically incorrect slurs.
Refugee and immigration policy intake to Australia has been controversial for many decades even prior to the White Australia Policy. More to this is that its safe to say Immigration is a great thing for the Australian society as it boosts the economy however given Australia’s bleak financial situation it’s expected that accepting “extra refugees (as per Labours 2019 election policy) will cost $6b in a decade” as said from government sources. Further to this Australia’s infrastructure is not up to the standard to accept more refugees than we currently do, accepting more would just put more pressure on our already strained road and transport systems in major cities as this is where a majority of refugees are likely to live and work. My view is given these matters, even though I support the Greens view on some certain aspects of their refugee policy, it’s safe to stay with the current LNP policy.