Published 8 April 20101 July 2010 · Main Posts Overland extract: Mungo MacCallum on Rudd and the boat people Editorial team 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? Read the rest of the essay. Editorial team More by Editorial team › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 10 November 202311 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the final day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s most important members get to have their say Editorial Team BORIS A quick guide to another year of Overland, from your trusty feline, Boris. I liked the ginger cat story, though it made my human cry. I liked the talking cat, too, but I’m definitely in the “not wasting my time learning to talk” camp. But reading is good. And writing is fun, though it’s been challenging […] 1 First published in Overland Issue 228 9 November 20239 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the second-last day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s co-chief editor Evelyn Araluen speaks truth to power Editorial Team To my friends and comrades, I’m not sure if there’s language to communicate how this last month has utterly changed me. This time a few weeks ago the busyness and chaos of bricolage arts and academic labour had so efficiently distracted me from my anxiety about the upcoming referendum that I forgot to prepare myself for its inevitable conclusion.