I wrote a post a couple of years ago about James Baldwin, and White is a Metaphor for Power.
The main push for equal rights for ALL MEN and WOMEN in America was during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. African American people were treated badly before then to say the least. But now, over 50 years later, what has changed?
It is worse now to be African American, and American in general than ever before in the past. The violence shown to African American people and the prejudice against them has never before been so bad, and that includes the times of the KKK. When the KKK were most prominent, it was after the abolitionist movement and the civil war. Primarily though, the violence then was contained in the southern states. Now it is all over. The violence back then was somewhat primitive. Now, there are all manner of weapons being used, and more African Americans are being killed.
Being any other shade or colour than white in America now, brings fear, insecurity, and anticipated need for recording and retaliation. I have heard men say that when being pulled over, they stop under the brightest street light, so the camera in their car, on their phone, or wherever else can capture the whole thing, in anticipation that they are going to be discriminated against and even violently treated by law enforcement officers.
People are out protesting against this treatment, and what do you think a response should be from the leaders? Certainly not put law enforcement and army and others against them. People should be able to protest peacefully, but they are angry. Rightfully so. Some are so incensed by this treatment, that the protesters themselves get loud and even violent towards those who have caused the problems. The Law enforcement officers need to stand back where the protests are peaceful, and not interfere. I applaud the officers who have knelt with protesters in solidarity with their cause.
Lets talk about international conflicts just for a minute. When there is a dispute between two civilized countries, the first step is diplomacy. The next step is sanctions economical, social and political. It takes a lot of steps before one country feels that the only way to resolve the issue is by violence.
This is not the case internally in the United States. When the first sign of trouble came, the leaders sent the riot squads in, then the army, and now i see there are even people who are without insignia or identification on their uniforms standing against civilians and citizens of the country.
The actions of the President and other leaders is deplorable. I saw a contrast of two pictures earlier today. One where President Obama has his sleeves rolled up and is walking with protesters. The other of President Trump, walking alone with riot squad soldiers on either side of him while he goes to a church, not to pray but to get photos taken. You can make your own conclusions.
What is going to appease the people in this time of crisis? A change in policies and practices of those who have caused such a problem. A public apology from those who are in positions that can change this systemic problem. Not confrontation with violent armed “enemy”.
Now I must talk to the leaders of the protesters. You need to talk diplomatically with the leaders of the police, and if possible, the President. You need to show leadership to save the ones you lead from further harm against people who don’t seem to have any compassion.
I must address the problem of looting. Looting from private citizens, store owners, or publicly listed companies does nothing but hurt your cause. Looters are not part of your protest against injustice, they are opportunistic criminals, who take advantage of the mayhem for personal gain. They do nothing to promote the cause or address the injustice. I don’t expect anyone to turn them in to the police. That would be just stupid, giving up people to be subject to the anticipated abuses. I do however, expect the leaders of the protesters to deal harshly with those who seek personal advantage, stealing and destroying non-public property using your protests as a smokescreen.
Again, like my original post on James Baldwin, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King jnr, I tell you I have regrets about my skin colour and what it represents. The narrative needs to be changed. White should not be and never be a metaphor for power. With your current leadership in that country, I say good luck.
But come November you have a choice. Please choose to exercise your democratic right to vote. Voting is your voice to the leadership that you will not tolerate things as they are.
I am the greatest Mayor of all time. I want to make this city great again. We will build a wall around the city to keep out criminals. I am the most popular mayor of all time. There’s no-one more popular. Look I could stand in the middle of the street and shoot someone, and people would still elect me, that’s how popular I am.
And so, the hubris went on. People actually believed the stuff that spewed from his mouth. Until, that is, his batteries started failing and one of his strings broke.
In this age, it seems there are protests in many different countries. Some of the issues are worth fighting for. the corruption in Lebanon has been going on for years, and the people finally had too much, and protested. in Lebanon, the government has listened to the people and have relented, vowing to cut politicians wages, remove some nonsensical taxes and have said they will fight the corruption.
In Hong Kong, the people are protesting the so called autonomous rule of their region, which is overseen by the communist Chinese regime. The fact that they are communist makes me question the worth, or good of protesting. Historically, communist regimes do not listen to the people and do whatever they like. They broke a promise to keep their hands off the politics of Hong Kong, but communist regime are not to be trusted.
There have been protests all over the world about climate change, and the humans contribution to it. Now I am not an advocate of climate change, but I do think that we have a responsibility to care for the world in which we live. We cant expect a place to continue to provide shelter and food, if we do not help ourselves. So… recycle, cut down on waste, plant trees and grow vegies. There are policies that governments have that are not helping to care for our earth, and these should be protested against.
Immigration from refugees has been a reason to protest in Europe recently, most notably in France and The Netherlands to name two countries. While I have compassion for refugees, I can understand that people feel over whelmed by the sheer volume of people coming in, taking refuge from war and violence in their countries of origin. European countries can question whether their infrastructure can cope with the sudden influx of so many people. It is one reason that Britain is defecting from the European Union. Britain wants to control who comes into their region and the amount of people they allow to resettle in their countries. France has had man protests recently. The Yellow Vest protesters have been protesting the rise in fuel tax, while the red scarf group and the blue vests, protest against the violence and hate of the other protesters.
“The Red Scarves marched in Paris last Sunday in a “March for Republican Liberties” along with other allied groups, including the “Blue Vests,” or “Gilets Bleus.”
The Blue Vests also call for an end “to all forms of violence and hate” and the group’s founder Laurent Segnis wrote on the group’s Facebook page in late November that “we want to show that there are more and more of us refusing these blockages, refusing these violence, these obstacles to freedom, these attacks our freedom of opinion.” He argued that road blockages would only prompt more unemployment and insecurity.
“We denounce this insurrectional climate created by yellow vests,” he said.
It is important for people to have a voice, to be heard by the government and not to be ignored. In a democratic political system, the people are supposed to be represented by elected representatives chosen by the majority of people in that region. ( I wont go into the merits or problems with preferences). The first place we must protest then is through the member of parliament chosen to represent us. When this fails, then we have a right to take to the streets in protest. Voices of many can be heard when people protest. Protesters must concentrate on the message they wish to convey, using language that is respectful, and making sure the focus is on the problem, not attacking people personally.
I can understand some protests becoming violent, when people are fervent about the issue they are presenting. Violence occurs when the language of diplomacy fails. But when violence occurs, the issue is put to one side, and concentration on stemming the violence takes precedent. The sympathies of the world and onlookers are lost when violence is introduced, by either side… protesters or officials. All credibility is lost when people are hurt, or threatened, or when property is destroyed. When people are hurt or property destroyed, does it advance the cause of the protest? no. The officials do not look at the issues that started the protest, but focus on quashing the violence.
Hong Kong being a case in point. We agreed with the protesters that the communists needed to keep their promises of letting the region have autonomous rule, but they didn’t. And no amount of violence or protests will change their minds. They are communists, they don;t listen to reason.
Chile troubles me. People have lost their lives, been shot by the police. Curfews have been put in place, giving police the authority to arrest people who break the curfew. Does anyone in the world realise what the protests are about? We do not focus on the issue, but on the violence and the lives lost, without knowing the cause they are fighting for. The problem is, the issue is so minor, that protests should not have happened, and the violence is not justified. The issue is that a group of secondary school students were protesting at having to pay fares on public transport, and the rise in prices of that transport. I understand that there is inequality in Chile and that some people ar struggling, but violence is not the way. Now Chile is not considered to be a poor country. In fact the world bank rank it as a high income country and has said that it is South Americas most stable and prosperous nation. Chile is a democratic country, but was previously a dictatorship. Many of the policies of the current government have roots in the former dictatorship. There needs to be dialogue between people and government, and if the government is not listening, then vote them out,
I think we need to not sweat the small stuff, but vehemently protest the big stuff. Argue for the rights for everyone to live in a safe and healthy world, without war, violence or disease. Violence has no place in dialogue between the people and the officials who govern a country.
I was in Bondi today. I saw the sign below.” Equality” was “NO WAY”
Ok, so this sign was actually referring to the debate we have right now in Parliament with regards to same sex marriage, but the word really doesn’t say that, it is just implied or assumed.
I think it is really sad, that one word, which expresses that we the poster wants everybody to be treated equally, not just gays seeking marriage, but the concept that “All men are created equal” , therefore deserve to be treated equally can be disputed. It is not just gay people who are treated differently in Australia. It is the disabled, it is the asylum seekers, it is women, it is people who have different colour skin, earn less money, etc etc.
Where do people get off thinking that their own ideology, their skin colour or sexual orientation is any better than someone else’s. Someone doesn’t agree with you? they are not as worthy as you of such privileges that your life deserves. I’m sorry, but that makes me sad.
The second sign I saw was a stencil (after Banksy). Lest we forget 1788.
This of course refers to the colonisation of Australia. When Captain Cook declared this country as belonging to England. Did they ask the indigenous people whether they could stay. No. Did they perhaps compensate the aboriginals for land taken, as one would do when they buy land. NO, Not that the aboriginals had a choice to sell it anyway. English Settlers used to abhor squatters who would live off their land, rent free, using the resources without paying. Truth be told, the settlers were squatters themselves. The English sent people to Australia from Britain for stealing as little as a loaf of bread. What sentence did they get for stealing a country?
My family arrived after the first settlers, so I, and many like me are not to blame for what happened over 200 years ago. We live in an enlightened time though, when we can look back and say, ” the way the aboriginal people were treated was wrong”. Saying sorry now does not admit wrong from my family, but we can say that we are sorry that this happened. We can try and make recompense and ensure it never happens again.
Other countries can’t poke a finger and say it was terrible what happened. It happened to so many countries in the world. The British, French, Portuguese, Spanish and others invaded lands and claimed that land as their own without consulting the people that were already there.
I dont have legs to march in protest rallies, but I have fingers which can type, and a heart that can feel. I will not be silenced until we have equality. Jesus said Love One Another. Lets start now.
I have chosen this as my best creative post for the subject American Literature. I have written freely, from my mind and heart. There are some things in this poem that have been burdening me for some time. Writing a “Ginsberesque” poem has allowed me to use my creative skills to vent a bit about those issues.
I had a thought, an idea, it was a poem waiting to be told, but had funny rhymes, a funny rhythm. Ginsberg and other beatnik poets have given my licence to write in their style. I said and subconsciously wrote. I digitally put pen to paper. I used the Ginsberg breath method. My breathing is erratic though, being an asthmatic. Read a sentence completely in one breath, then breathe after the sentence. That is important. Enjoy the poem below, called:
The Hierarchy of Power
I wrote a letter to the queen and said hi, how have you been. He said fine, how are you. How am I, you ask? I will tell you how I am. I am disillusioned by the politicians of today the statesmen and leaders of the past, they seem to make rules and never obey, then they call us the fools. They think we don’t know what’s going on in their tiny minds having selfish thoughts, caring not for others but raising super and pensions for sitting members. We are doing such a good job saving the taxpayer millions we deserve to give the money saved to ourselves, and those who have come before, who nobody remembers.
Politicians make the hard decisions to send someone to their certain death, fighting wars that are none of our business, meddling in the affairs of states, who were doing just fine without us, or at least keeping the cruelty within a set of borders. Put up a fence! a wall! keep them out and keep us from seeing them at all. Ignorance is bliss. We don’t have to put up with this. They make the decision to raise the pensions of the elite while the hungry are still hungry, the poor poorer still and the sick die of disease. If the sick die there is less strain on the health system. If we move the homeless we can deny there is a problem. Statistics are manipulated, leaders are too. Donations to the party are used to campaign, not to benefit me or you.
Green is the colour of the grass anchored in one spot, restricted movements by fences and walls, plants and walls used to hide atrocities. Blue is the sky that rules over all, it is free to travel where it will. No restrictions placed on it; on the cruelty it can rain down upon the grass beneath. If grass is restricted all its life, it will forget how to grow. A mower is taken to it, those with aspirations and dreams are cut down. Don’t think like that, you can’t do it. Look at where you are. Once a grass behind the fence, grass you will always be. Never a daisy. Blue sky suppresses the green but is in turn governed by the suits of grey, with the red or blue ties, which are above us all, beyond being free, governing what is free. If you get too close to freedom the rules and boundaries will change. Unattainable, unreachable, dreams will remain dreams, there is nothing to gain.
Work your ass off in capitalist society, or even in the new rich communist socialist regimes. Everyone continues to have dreams. Own your own home, burden yourself with debt, be shackled to the desk for thirty years or more. When will you truly be free. THINGS ARE NOT WHERE ITS AT. Keep up with the Joneses? The Joneses are trying to keep up with you. You drive your flashy cars, live in your fancy houses. 2 cars in the driveway but nothing in the fridge. On the outside everything is new. The inside filled with preloved and now dumped stuff. Accumulation of junk, when is enough enough?
The good old days glitter with gold. Gold plate covers the rust underneath. Again, the outside sparkles but the inside is as rotten as your teeth. Dental care, health care, funeral costs. No-one can afford to live but you can’t afford to die either. How am I, you ask? I’m fine because…
Above all there is God. Beyond reach. Never changes. Looks down. Cries. I will make it right. Watch this space, coming soon.
Do we mean what we say? The title of this post is a sentence used by many politicians when there is a leadership speculation. It is often proven to be false. In fact, when the statement is made, we can be sure that a leadership spill is imminent. It was unusual then that Julie Bishop as deputy leader of the liberal party, did not use that term when she spoke yesterday. She distanced herself from Tony Abbott, stating that the deputy position is not deputy to the person, but deputy to the position.
Also Malcolm Turnbull had been silent on issues of leadership of late. He chose not to cause division in the party by not saying anything at all. If he indeed said that the leader had his full support, we would know that he was thinking about a leadership challenge.
Political speak these days had been prophesied by George Orwell in his book 1984 as well as in his essay “Politics and the English Language”. Orwell says that the use of language can corrupt thought.What the government does in promoting a certain dialogue in the media, is direct the way that people ought to think.
Stanley Cohen in the 60’s coined the term “moral panic”. That is the use of media by politicians and other public figures to shape the thoughts of the people. It is often used to promote an agenda of the government such as asylum seekers; creating an us and them mentality.
The corruption of the English language means that the common use of a word is no longer what the dictionary definition is. For example ‘Homophobia’ The word is comprised of two parts, originating from the Greek. Homo meaning the same and phobia meaning an intense fear. Put together, Homophobia means the fear of the same ( sex if we are taking the word Homo being as short for homosexual). The word Homophobia has come to mean not an intense fear of homosexuals, but rather a hatred and comtempt for those who are same sex attracted.
As George Orwell says in his essay, There is a solution. The solution is to get back to the basics.
Pauline Hanson was very right to ask for the definition of the word xenophobia. Before it was used in the 60 minutes interview with Pauline Hanson, this word was hardly ever used in conversational English. The word Xenos is Greek meaning stranger or alien or indeed foreign. Xenophobia has come to mean something totally different… that is racist.
Getting back to basics involves no thought really. It is saying it as it is. Saying what you really mean instead of trying to hide your views or disguise them using ‘politically correct’ language. War is NOT peace, black is NOT white, wrong is NOT right. An invasion of a country these days is termed as troop advancement into occupied territory. Please… its called invasion.
How does one start a move to combat this movement of language abuse? It starts with you. The writer of tomorrow. These days it is so simple to have an opinion, and it is so simple to share it. Get on your blog, get on facebook or twitter, or whatever platform you use to express your views and say what you really mean. Of course in academic writing a certain level of language skills is desired to be shown, but cut out the rhetoric. Use words that can be commonly understood by the level of scholar that you would like to reach. If you arent sure what that is, then go for the lowest common denominator. Use the KISS principle of language; that is Keep it Simple Stupid.
I don’t understand why we have so little respect for politicians. Sure, they don’t always reflect our personal views, but I truly believe that they are doing the best job that they can in governing out countries. Sure, some prove to be corrupt, and some prove not worthy of respect by some devious or deplorable acts; but I believe all politicians, without prejudice deserve the common decency of a title before their surname. Instead of it being Hockey, or Keating, or Abbott or Shorten, it should be Mr Hockey, Mr Keating, Mr Abbott and Mr Shorten.
When did we stop calling our Prime Minister (in Australia) Prime Minister so and so? When did it become acceptable to address people of prominence by just their surname? In parliament they address each other with courtesy, but outside its a different story. Journalists also take liberty using just the surname of politicians and other important people. This is especially so if the said person has views differing from that of the journalist.
It saddens me. This comment is not meant to support one particular view, or party, or political persuasion. I ask us all to treat our leaders with respect and give them some courtesy.
As a teenager I wrote this passage that has stayed with me over the years
“Close your eyes
Pretend you cant see… and perhaps it will all go away”
I have grown up now. I have seen things that nobody should have to see. Not because we should pretend they are not there, but because the things I have seen should not happen. I have held a dying alcoholic in my arms. I have bound the wounds of too many children who have attempted suicide. I have seen kids drugged, whether they did it to themselves or others have done it to them to use them. I have been on the wrong end of a gun more than once. I have seen the inhumanity that man is capable of inflicting to his fellow man.
I have grown up now. I am not so inwardly focused that I think “If I feel OK then the world is a good place”. I have become outwardly focused. Since doing Ethics at Uni, and then Sociology, I have become morally and socially aware and responsible. I understand now how others become social or political activists. I have become outraged at the way people treat others. I want to scream from the mountaintops for people to open their eyes and not just accept what they have been told in the media, or by politicians who have their own agenda.
Now this is by no means a religious spiel, but I think Jesus had the right idea. LOVE ONE ANOTHER. If we love one another and care what happens to fellow humans, regardless of their skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, disability or deformity, or any other discriminatory factor, then wouldn’t the world be a better place?
It is not enough that I personally do what is right towards others. I should not keep silent when I see others being treated with less rights or dignity than someone else. I cannot leave it to someone else to voice their opinion while i silently nod my head in the background.
My passion has become justice. Justice for everyone. This is not just in terms of retributive justice; that is punishing someone who has committed an offence, but ensuring that each person is treated fairly and justly. And if a law is wrong, then protest and petition for the law to be changed.
There is a difference between what is legal and what is right. I am committed to become an advocate to upholding that which is morally right.
When I studied ethics, I championed the cause of those held in detention when attempting to come to Australia as Asylum Seekers. Ethics opened my eyes to so many injustices in the world. I am now passionate about aboriginal issues, immigration, slavery, oppression of women and inequality due to sexual orientation or gender identification. I am so ashamed at the way my country’s government treats others, espousing that what they are doing is legal.
It is up to every one of us, as citizens of a country, or citizens of the world, to not only do the right thing but to protest when we see an injustice. As a citizen of a democratic country, I can petition and protest my government and its representatives until action is taken. I can plead with them to act morally responsible and humanely in its dealings with people regardless of who they are, where they come from or how they got here.
I implore you, Open your eyes, don’t pretend any longer. It is only through action, that it will all go away.
I recently completed a philosophy course on Ethical perspectives. It was hard going. We were asked to look at an issue that is current and discuss the ethical perspective of the people involved. In other words… “What makes them think its OK to do what they do?”.
Below is the essay I submitted on the ethical perspectives on Asylum seekers. While the subject is not enjoyable, and may cause you to squirm in your seats, I do hope you will enjoy being enlightened and informed.
The Australian Government is not alone in their inhumane treatment of those seeking to become citizens of a more preferred country. I hope my international readers will take a look at your countries treatment of displaced persons and protest, even peacefully at the treatment of fellow human beings.
That the Australian Government use all means possible to stop unauthorized people entering Australian territorial waters (borders).
The purpose of this preface is to show a learning outcome of studying ethics, and in particular my writing of this paper on the ethics behind the topic. This preface is not to be considered as part of the essay but is purely one student’s reflection of the course studied.
That the Australian Government use all means possible to stop unauthorised people entering Australian territorial waters (borders).
This issue is alive. It is not an issue on which we can look back with hindsight and think “how could we have done it better”. It is an issue which is daily evolving as the problem of forced migration will remain with us as long as we have inhumane governments preying on vulnerable people.
I have been greatly impacted by all the information surrounding asylum seekers and the Australian Government policy concerning it. Until now, I have been unaware of all the issues surrounding asylum seekers and like others believed the rhetoric that the spin doctors spun.
Previously I had made assumptions that all that was told to me through the media and by politicians was true, call me naïve. Now I am aware that I don’t know the true motivations behind certain policies or what ethical perspective people are coming from. It causes me to research and ‘dig deeply’ to find the true motivation behind the rhetoric.
Researching the issues covered in this essay has opened my eyes not only to the motivations behind the policies but also to the concerns surrounding the people who are desperate enough to risk life and limb to get away from the dangers of remaining in their home country.
I have become passionate whereas prior to studying ethics, I was blissfully ignorant. If it didn’t affect me, then I wasn’t concerned. I guess studying ethics has awakened within me the ethics of care that was sleeping within. I now feel the need to research for myself topics before becoming a staunch advocate of one side or another purely on one newspaper report or one point of view.
This course has ruined me for life. I can no longer read a news article or watch the news and accept things at face value. I am no longer content in my ignorance, but must be informed before I make a decision on an issue.
My thanks go to the staff for their guidance in this topic and to my fellow students for their insight and opinions on such a variety of issues. Also I think that the Mission Australia sponsored learning partners are an invaluable resource which as a student I am greatly appreciative.
21 May 2014
That the Australian Government use all means possible to stop unauthorised people entering Australian territorial waters (borders).
I have compassion for the people that try to enter our borders, going to extreme lengths to ensure they arrive to Australia. I come from an ethics of care perspective. I believe the Australian Government should actually care for all people equally, showing no bias to current citizens over potential future citizens. Australia has responsibility to care for displaced persons under international treaties (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1951) and as a global citizen.
The Australian Government espouses an ethics of care in its Sovereign Borders policy (Liberal National Coalition, 2013). If this were truly the case, then it is to be applauded, as it would be doing its duty as a global citizen and also what is morally right. If this were truly the case, then caring for the asylum seekers once they arrived within our sovereign borders would be the priority, not turning them back, detaining the people within detention centres or processing them offshore where their welfare is not best served. This essay will argue that it is not an ethics of care that the Australian Government is coming from; but rather a consequentialist ethic on so many levels.
In the Sovereign Borders policy, the Liberal Government states a key objective is to protect asylum seekers aboard the boats that come primarily from Indonesia (Liberal-National Coalition, 2013). Many have drowned or risked their lives by attempting to travel to Australia in unseaworthy boats provided or captained by people smugglers. I will endeavour to prove that the true outcome of such a consequentialist policy is that “it is not a question of stopping people dying at sea (the ends), it is just that this Australian Government just wants these people to die somewhere else” (pers.comm. Michael Foley quoting Phil Glendenning’s 2014 Palm Sunday speech, 26 March 2014 ). I will show that Kant’s categorical imperative should apply: at all times people should not be seen as a means to an end, but should be valued as individuals in themselves (Burgh and Freakly, 2000, p. 114).
The Australian Government has an ulterior motive. The Australian Government has adopted a policy with a utilitarian or consequentialism perspective towards asylum seekers coming by sea and justifies this as necessary in order to protect Australia’s ‘national interest’ and to preserve the relationship between the Government and the people it serves. This consequentialist approach is encapsulated by Minister Scott Morrison in his statement:
What the people smugglers and anyone trying to get on a boat need to understand is that this Australian Government will take the actions necessary to protect Australian sovereignty and stop the boats. (Morrison, 2014)
A Minister in the Howard Liberal-National Government expressed similar views:
The protection of our sovereignty, including Australia’s sovereign right to determine who shall enter Australia, is a matter for the Australian Government and this Parliament.
This means the Australian Government uses the definition of sovereignty as ‘the right to exclude’ (Gelber and McDonald, 2006). It will decide who is worthy of humanitarian aid and whose visa is granted on humanitarian grounds.
The policies and attitudes of the Australian Government create an ‘us and them’ mentality. Instead of embracing those coming from countries where safety and even life cannot be guaranteed, it forms in the mind of current citizens that, since these asylum seekers are perhaps different culturally from us, then they should not be permitted to cross our borders. It marginalises people who have fled these countries with little more than the clothes on their back, branding them as criminals and a potential threat to our safety without any evidence of this.
Department of Immigration and Citizenship statistics show that on average over 93% of asylum seekers asylum seekers are granted visas (after appeal) to remain in Australia in the period 2008 – 2013 (Cited by Refugee Council of Australia, 2014). These people have proved to be genuine refugees and enrich the lives of communities who choose to embrace them often opening restaurants and various retail outlets reflecting their culture. Such diversity can also be found in the different religions in communities settled by immigrants.
Three former asylum seekers serve as notable examples of this. Ahn Do, the famous comedian, was an asylum seeker who arrived by boat from Vietnam in 1981. He came with his mother and little brother Khoa Do who was named Young Australian of the year in 2005. Accepting his Young Australian of the Year award, Khoa Do said, ‘I hope it might just inspire young people from other backgrounds to find their own way in life and maybe make a difference.’ (Do, 2005). Tan Le was named Young Australian of the year in 1998. She arrived by boat with her family in 1982 when just 4 years old.
The asylum seekers are not permitted to work while on Temporary Protection Orders. It is not until they have obtained a permanent Protection Order (or granted asylum seeker status) that they are able to work, have access to medical assistance and social security. The asylum seekers are not going to take jobs that could have gone to Australian Citizens. Often asylum seekers will do work that no one else wants.
Under an ethics of care, which is an agent based approach; all people have an intrinsic value. Each life is valuable and one should not place greater importance of one life over another.
According to the 2014 Australian National Budget, the desired end of a consequentialist policy is to save money. It costs less to turn back boats, to process asylum seekers offshore, to return them to countries of origin than it does to house and care for people physically, mentally, socially and spiritually within our borders. Money continues to be spent on ‘managing the legacy’ of Labor’s border control failures (Australia’s 2014 National Budget cited in Lyon, Daily Telegraph, May 14, 2014).
Meeting the needs of a growing population absorbs and saps our political energy. It requires a lot of money – money for transport infrastructure, money for new electricity and energy infrastructure, money for water infrastructure like desalination plants. And building these things requires effort – effort from the private sector, effort from public servants, effort from politicians. There are decisions to be made, conflicts to be resolved. (Thomson, 2010)
The desired end for marginalising people who attempt to arrive by boat is to garner support from voters. To not provide aid to people is to save money, therefore no changes to taxes are needed. To embrace asylum seekers and provide assistance in the forms of housing, health, jobs etc. all costs money that the voters need to supply. This while not getting voter support from asylum seekers themselves; these people have no right to vote.
There was a substantial increase in people attempting to arrive in Australia by boat, known in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection as ‘unauthorised maritime arrivals or UMAs, over the last decade. Between 2003 and 2013 the number rose from 53 to 20,587. This may seem large on a national level but on a global level Australia absorbs a relatively small number of people seeking asylum. In 2012 10.5 million refugees were hosted by countries around the world. Australia ranked 49th in the world hosting just 30,083, or 0.29% of the world’s refugees (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 2012). The need is certainly there. Each day brings more news of countries in strife and Australia, along with Canada, are desired destinations for those fleeing such countries.
The current Liberal National Coalition Australian Government, along with the previous Labour government, is determined to enforce its sovereign borders by all means possible. This includes turning boats back or towing them back to Indonesia, detaining people seeking asylum in inhumane conditions; most in offshore detention centres, returning people to countries of origin despite the danger that these people will be persecuted or even killed and firing across the bow of boats to deter them from entering the Australian territorial waters.
Turning the boats back to Indonesia, towing them, or providing other safe passage back to Indonesia puts those people on board at risk of persecution, imprisonment and inhumane conditions. They are not welcome in Indonesia and are either imprisoned or sent back to their country of origin. Returning these people to Indonesia or sending them to other countries for processing creates an underclass of people not wanted and therefore persecuted and treated inhumanely until they can be returned to the countries of origin. They will not be granted citizenship or refugee status by Indonesia as Indonesia is not a signatory to the treating concerning displaced or stateless persons. While this is a utilitarian or ‘useful’ approach (consequentialist) it does not address ethical obligations that arise if an ethics of care (or even non-consequentialist approach) was used.
The Australian Government is currently working on having agreements in place with Papua New Guinea to resettle people from Manus Island detention centre and Cambodia to house refugees currently residing on Nauru. Australia is ‘fobbing off’ its responsibilities as a signatory of the convention concerning refugees and stateless persons to third world nations, sometimes without that capacity to assist. Failed compliance with international standards include placing people in arbitrary and compulsory detention, not providing fair or efficient procedures for asylum claims, not providing safe, humane conditions (UNHCR, 2013). This can be seen as unethical from an ‘ethic of care’ perspective.
Detaining people in refugee camps or detention centres either in Australia or in third party countries has proved to be detrimental to the mental and physical health of those detained. The Australian Government provides mental health workers to detention centres to minimise the effects, but this does not stop people detained from sewing their lips together or going on hunger strikes as a protest to the their treatment. It has come to light recently that although mental health nurses and psychologists are employed on Manus Island, there is not a fulltime psychiatrist.
In his film, ‘A Well Founded Fear’, Phil Glendenning and his team from the Edmund Rice Centre research the fate or demise of those rejected as refugees by Australia. This film and the associated report found that many people returned to their supposed country of origin were persecuted or killed as a result of returning to a hostile country.
Glendenning also learned that Australia has been deporting people to Syria on short-term visas who aren’t Syrian. When their Syrian visas run out they must go into hiding. Equally disturbing is evidence that Australia has been knowingly using false passports to deport people (cited in Film Finance Corporation Australia & November Films, 2008).
The use of force in the laws of the sea is acceptable in times of conflict. Are we at war with asylum seekers? Under the 1982 Convention on the Laws of the Sea (LOSC), of which Australia is a signatory, forcing a boat to halt or change course” must be avoided as far as possible. Where force is unavoidable, it must not go beyond what is ‘reasonable and necessary’. Turning back the boats therefore does not meet our obligations under this treaty and is therefore not in keeping with an ethics of care.
The Australian Government is coming from a consequential or utilitarian ethical perspective. The end justifies the means. The aim or end result sought is to have the borders protected and the means of entry into Australia by boat stopped. The Sovereign Borders policy seems to have been successful, in that fewer boat arrivals are reported in the media.
It has now been 95 days since the last successful people smuggling venture. For the same time period last year the number of IMAs that arrived was 3,116. The number of SIEVs during that same period was 55. (Operation Sovereign Borders Joint Agency Taskforce Spokesperson, 24 March 2014 cited in Leslie & Corcoran, 2014)
It is clear from the statistics that while the Labor Government was in power, the number of boat and asylum seekers increased dramatically. Something needed to be done in stemming the tide of people arriving by boat. The current government policy is that anyone arriving by boat will not be processed on Australian soil and will not be granted a visa to live in Australia, whatever the situation.
The percentage of asylum seekers who are successful in their bid is over 90% with very few people refused entry. The total immigration for 2012/2013 is over 200,000 people. The 200,000 places granted includes over 20,000 immigrants from England, New Zealand and India. That is 20,000 from each of these countries, not as a total. Yet we are concerned with the comparative few who arrive by boat.
Many asylum seekers are even prepared to be detained in processing centres for the privilege to be able to settle in Australia after fleeing a country where persecution, war, torture and murder are the norm.
Concluding, the aim of the sovereign borders policy is to stop boats containing asylum seekers from entering Australian waters; thereby protecting the lives and lifestyle of people already citizens of Australia. In that sense, being a utilitarian ethical perspective, it has been a successful operation as the flow of boats has seemingly slowed or even ceased by information released to the media and passed onto us, the citizens.
It is my belief that if the government was coming from an ethics of care, it would increase the immigration places allocated to humanitarian causes, granting quick visas to those who are desperate enough to come by leaky boats and decreasing the immigration to others who are not under any threat of harm in their country of origin. The Australian government could further show an ethic of care by quickly processing those already in detention centres and thereby reducing the need for such centres. Those people arriving under desperate conditions should be housed and cared for in the community and processed quickly, so they are able to gain employment, access health care and everything else a citizen enjoys in Australia.
Many articles under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1958), The United Nations on the Law of the Sea (1982) and Convention and Protocol relating to the status of refugees (2010) are being totally ignored or flagrantly broken by Australia. Coming from an ethics of care perspective, the question needs to be asked is; “Why does Australia remain a signatory of these agreements if it has no intention of upholding these treaties?”
Burgh, G and Freakly,M (2000) Engaging in Ethics. Ethical perspectives. Katoomba NSW: Social Science Press, 95-140
Gelber,K. and McDonald, M (2006) Ethics and exclusion: representations of sovereignty in Australia’s approach to asylum seekers. Review of International Studies, 32, 269-289. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0260210506007029
Glendenning, Phillip (2008) In Film Finance Corporation Australia & November Films (2008) Press Kit for the film ‘A well-founded fear’. Retrieved from http://www.novemberfilms.com.au/assets/inline/AWFF_Press_k it_FINAL.pdfGlendenning, P. Speech given to Palm Sunday Rally and March ‘Declare Peace on Refugees’, Hyde Park, Sydney on 13 March 2014. Pers.comm., Foley, Michael, Australian Catholic University, 26 March 2014.
Ruddock, Phillip (2001) Member of Australian Parliament, House of Representatives Hansard, 18 September 2001, 30869-72.
Thomson, Kelvin (2010), MP for Wills, Population growth and the democratic deficit. Address to the Australian Capital Territory Branch of Sustainable Population Australia, Wednesday 10 February 2010. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Sue/Downloads/100210%20population%20and %20democratic.pdf
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2013) UNHCR monitoring visit to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea 23 to 25 October 2013. Retrieved from http://unhcr.org.au/unhcr/images/2013-11- 26%20Report%20of%20UNHCR%20Visit%20to%20Manus%2 0Island%20PNG%2023-25%20October%202013.pdf