Australia is a country that will not be intimidated by its own decency. On 28 August 2001, as a detail of Special Air Services soldiers was dispatched to MV Tampa, Prime Minister John Howard spoke about the 438 people – mostly Afghan Hazaras – who languished aboard the freighter. ‘We are humane people,’ he told Mike Munro. ‘[B]ut on the other hand, I have to worry and my colleagues have to worry about the flow of people coming into this country. Now we have decided in relation to this particular vessel to take a stand.’ There is a blunt art to Canberra’s politics on immigration: it consists of assuring voters that asylum seekers’ detention and removal from our shores are the exception to the ‘national character’ – unfortunate, yes, invidious even – but essential in preserving this lone island as our own.
A Country Too Far
Writings on Asylum Seekers
A Country Too Far: Writings on Asylum Seekers
edited by Rosie Scott and Tom Keneally
Viking, $29.99 pb, 260 pp, 9780670077465
If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.
Leave a comment
Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.
NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.