Overland extract: Mungo MacCallum on Rudd and the boat people

In Overland 198, Mungo MacCallum examines Labor’s policies towards refugees:

The first duty of any government is the defence of its citizenry, and that is why border protection is vital to Australia.

It is easy to argue that the boat people are few in number, desperate and helpless, simple seekers of shelter; they pose no threat. But those who exhibit this misplaced compassion tend to forget one very elementary fact about Australia: it is girt by sea.

We are an island, with a mainland coastline some 36 000 km in length, and if you add in the offshore islands that nearly doubles to 60 000 km. Global warming and the consequent rise in sea levels may reduce this quite a bit, but we will remain horribly vulnerable, and only the most severe policies of deterrence can keep us from the hordes who see us, rightly, as the most desirable destination on earth. Pauline Hanson is absolutely right: we are in imminent danger of being swamped, being overrun, losing the Australian way of life forever. Only ceaseless and indeed ruthless vigilance can keep us safe.

Now the bleeding hearts, the latte sippers, the chardonnay quaffers in their elite little ivory towers scoff at the very suggestion. Nonsense, they lisp, it could never happen. But it could; in fact, it did.

The invasion of boat people that began in 1788 was not stopped and it destroyed the Australian nation – many hundreds of Australian nations, as it happened. There was resistance, but it was too little and too late. The Australians who survived the onslaught were reduced to fringe dwellers, their lifestyle and culture crushed by the sheer weight of the newcomers.

So it did happen once, perhaps even more than once, for there is some evidence that those who were invaded in 1788 themselves displaced earlier settlers. The fear of boat people is not a fantasy: it is based on history. It may be atavistic, motivated at least partly by subconscious feelings of guilt, but this does not make it irrational, far less unreal.

Okay, all the above is not meant to be taken entirely seriously. But it is at least an attempt to explain what is otherwise pretty much inexplicable. Why do Australians, normally a laid-back and tolerant, if not welcoming, people, suddenly turn in to foaming paranoiacs when a few leaky craft bearing the wretched of the earth appear off our shores?

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  1. And here’s the latest Roy Morgan findings:

    Send ‘Boat People’ back home

    A large majority of Australians (64%) say that asylum seekers arriving by boat should ‘be returned and apply through normal refugee channels’ compared to 26% that are happy with the current system and believe these asylum seekers should be ‘allowed to apply for immigration as now’ while just 5% say there should be another system and a further 5% can’t say.

  2. Perhaps 64% read this article
    Miranda Devine in the SMH 20 Feb 2010:

    “The latest headache for NSW prison authorities is how to safely house the five terrorists convicted this month of plotting bomb attacks in Sydney. With sentences ranging up to 28 years, the challenge will be how to prevent these unrepentant Islamist extremists from radicalising other inmates in Goulburn’s supermax high security prison.
    And some of our worst home-grown terrorists have come from that community [Cronulla]. They include M, the 44-year-old ringleader of the five men convicted of preparing a terrorist act this month, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
    He came to south-west Sydney with his family from Lebanon in 1977, along with 11 siblings.
    NSW Supreme Court Justice Anthony Whealy said in sentencing M this month: ”There is no present indication that [he] will ever renounce the extremist views. [He] has all the hallmarks of an offender whose motivation is not that of financial or other material gain but … from an extremist religious conviction.”
    Home-grown terrorism is as much a threat to the vast majority of law-abiding Australian Muslims as anyone else. So efforts to suppress the facts are counterproductive and ultimately lead to distrust and disharmony.”

    Our politicians are opting for a ‘deradicalisation program’…….. No wonder the 5% “can’t say”

  3. We can not compare asylum seekers arriving by boat who come to Australia nowadays,with criminals who came to Australia and killed aboriginals.Refugees come to Ausralia without chain,lots of them are educated and just becaus of their viewpoints were condemned to death penalty in their country . A group of them are refugees of war ,war in middle east.They are seeking peace. It is not difficult to see they are hard workers . They have good motivation for buildng a beautiful world after arriving in a safe country.Just give them a chance and please for a moment immagine if you were in their situation!!!

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