Published on Wednesday 27th July 2016
Asylum Seekers in Australia
Figure One: Asylum Seekers, Source: Google Images
The current debate surrounding accepting asylum seekers to Australia continues to spark a heated argument within Australian politics (Tourneur et al. 2015). The way in which the media has framed this case has negatively affected the way in which the Australian public has viewed and responded to the situation. In the case of the media’s reporting, asylum seekers have been marginalised and dehumanised in the light of the media’s agenda setting. Consequently, allowing the general population to believe that these individuals are contributing towards the current influx of world terrorism and that they are taking Australian jobs.
According to Tourneur et al. (2015) countless individuals continue to leave their home land where instability, repression, terrorism, forced labour and poverty continues to pose a threat on their lives and the welfare of their families. Consequently, these individuals continue to seek refuge in countries like Australia (Fleay et al. 2015).
According to the BBC News asylum seekers have attempted to reach Australia from Indonesia by paying large sums of money to people smugglers (BBC 2016). In my opinion, this could be seen as their way of fast-tracking the process of reaching Australia instead of waiting for the legal system to take its course of action.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the Coalition Government continues to implement and enforce harsh penalties on asylum seeker arrivals within Australian waters. In addition, the Coalition Government made Australia’s asylum seeker policies harsher when Tony Abbott became Australia’s newly elected prime minister in 2013. This saw the Coalition introduce and implement the Operation Sovereign Borders policy with the objective to stem the then current influx of boat arrivals in Australia (Cowie 2013). Under this policy, military vessels patrol Australian waters and intercept all migrant boats, then have them detained in immigration centers on island nations such as Nauru and Papua New Guinea (Cowie 2013). Through the media’s representation of this policy, Tony Abbott has been widely acknowledged by the Australian public for the hardline “stop the boats” policy due to his continual drive to turn all asylum seekers vessels back.
Previous government leaders had implemented various policies which specifically aimed to deter all asylum seeker vessels from Australian waters, however, no successful attempts had been made by previous government leaders in deterring these vessels from coming to Australia. The media further suggests that the issue surrounding accepting asylum seekers into Australia is deep seated with no clear set of corrective actions or an appropriate time line for resolution. Despite Mr. Abbott’s attempts to stop the influx of asylum seeker vessels into Australia, boat arrivals was at its highest it has been in previous years (ABC News 2015).
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop states that Australia is contributing to the world humanitarian cause as its asylum seeker intake has increased by 12,000 in 2015-16 as a result of war outbreaks in Syria and Iraq (ABC News 2015). Ms Bishop further comments that ‘I believe it is the largest single intake of permanent resettled refugees since the Second World War in any one year’ (ABC News 2015).
Julie Bishop’s statements are portrayed in the below graphs which clearly illustrates the current influx of asylum seeker arrivals into Australia as a result of major displacement events.
Figure Two: Australia’s largest yearly intake of refugees after major displacement events, Source: ABC News
Figure Three: Boat arrivals by calendar year and financial year, Source: ABC News
Tourneur et al. (2015) argues that Australia’s currently employed asylum seeker policies are widely criticised by some advocacy groups, some citizens and by some government leaders who suggests that these measures and methodologies are inhumane and draconian to those individuals who are seeking refuge.
In the light of Ms Bishop’s refugee intake statement, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton has recently received backlash over his comments that some asylum seekers have been making false abuse allegations in order to get fast-tracked into Australia (McIlory 2016). Mr. Dutton further comments that ‘I have been made aware of some incidents that have been reported – false allegations of sexual assault – because in the end, people have paid money to people smugglers and they want to come to our country’ (McIlory 2016).
Due to the recent spread and outbreak of global terrorism within the world, I believe that the comments made by Mr. Dutton could be seen as a political ploy and his way of expressing his current concerns over accepting asylum seekers into Australia. This may be because Mr. Dutton believes that these individuals could be contributing towards the spread of world terrorism. Furthermore, if the Australian Government were to stop these individuals from fast-tracking into Australian then we may see a possible reduction in the number of terrorist attacks that occur within the world.
The video (below) clearly illustrates and emphasises some of the current political stances and ideologies that are present on Australia’s asylum seeker policies. The video also includes some of the current issues that are present with Australia’s asylum seeker policies.
‘Australia asylum: why is it controversial?’ 2016, BBC News, 3 August, viewed 7 August 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-28189608
Ali, M, Briskman, L, & Fiske, L 2016, ‘Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Indonesia: Problems and Potentials’, Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 22-43.
Clarke, M 2015, ‘Tony Abbott tells European leaders to turn back asylum seekers or risk catastrophic error’, ABC News, 28 October, viewed 22 July 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-28/tony-abbott-urges-european-leaders-to-turn-back-asylum-seekers/6890886
Cowie, T 2013, ‘Coalition launches operation sovereign borders’, SBS News, 18 September, viewed 19 July 2016, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/09/18/coalition-launches-operation-sovereign-borders
Hashman, N 2015, ‘Did Tony Abbott stop the boats? New analysis casts doubt on claims’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 September, viewed 21 July 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/did-tony-abbott-stop-the-boats-new-analysis-casts-doubt-on-claims-20150924-gjtwfo.html
Tourneur, I, Walker, X, Wiley, E, Mattar, C, Esen, F, Mijaljica, G, Roditis, K, Louis, K, Murt, A, & Hornung, T 2015, ‘Health and Asylum Seekers in Europe’, World Medical Journal, vol. 61, no. 3, pp. 89-97.
Fleay, C, Cokley, J, Dodd, A, Briskman, L, & Schwartz, L 2016, ‘Missing the Boat: Australia and Asylum Seeker Deterrence Messaging’, International Migration, vol. 54, no. 4, pp. 60-73.
McIlory, T 2016, ‘Asylum seekers have self-immolated to get to Australia’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 August, viewed 12 August 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/asylum-seekers-have-selfimmolated-to-get-to-australia-peter-dutton-20160811-gqq48f.html
ABC News 2015, ‘Fact check: will Australia’s refugee intake in 2015-16 be the highest since WWII?’, 29 September, viewed 12 July 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-29/fact-check-syria-largest-refugee-intake-julie-bishop/6786074
SBS 2 Australia (poster) 2015, Asylum seekers and Australia: is the debate over?, video, 23 July, viewed 17 July 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO1AKcBUkp4