University of Adelaide
The right to liberty is a fundamental right, recognised in all major
human rights instruments,
both at global and regional levels. The right to seek asylum is, equally, recognised as a basic human
right. The act of seeking asylum can therefore not be considered an offence or a crime. Consideration should
be given to the fact that asylum-seekers may already have suffered some form of persecution or other hardship in
their countryof origin and should be protected against any form of harsh treatment.
As a general rule, asylum-seekers should not be detained.
At the beginning of 2001 Australia celebrated the centenary of Federation, a milestone in nation and identity building, and an event to acknowledge, celebrate and reflect upon. By the end of 2001 and after a series of events in which asylum-seekers were refused the right to seek sanctuary on Australian soil, this reflection highlights attitudes, fears and rhetoric that has resonance with the attitudes, fears and rhetoric that existed in Australia one hundred years ago at the time of Federation. This paper will focus on the historical continuity that connects the enactment of the White Australia policy at the beginning of Federation to the uncompromising and draconian approach to Australian refugee and detention policies at the centenary of Federation.
The attitudes and fears that existed at Federation were of invasion and were directed towards Asian peoples and in particular, Chinese migrants. This culminated in the White Australia policy, which as part of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 was the first act passed by the new Commonwealth government in 1901. Historian Keith Hancock argues that every national policy choice in Australia was conditional, either consciously or unconsciously, upon the relationship with the White Australia policy or the maintenance of a white, preferably British, society. He identified it as the "indispensable condition of every other Australian policy", with obvious consequences for the Australian identity founded on a white British 'self' juxtaposed against its Asian 'other'. This set the tone for national identity and nation building in Australia.
In celebrating the centenary of Federation in 2001 Australia also commemorated the notorious White Australia policy. The White Australia policy reflected a fear of invasion from the "yellow peril"; a fear still entrenched in Australian society and which has surfaced in the detention of asylum-seekers. The Australian national anthem states:
However for some, when they cross the seas to arrive in Australia, they are locked up, sometimes for more than five years (children included) in wretched detention centres in the middle of our hot boundless plains. While Australian immigration and especially multicultural policies have been lauded both nationally and internationally, the history of the White Australian policy and the more recent mandatory detention of asylum-seekers provides an area whereby Australia has been, and still is, criticised for the human rights violations it has incurred by discriminating against particular groups on the basis of their race and colour.
Asylum-seekers are faced with desperate times when attempting to find sanctuary in Australia where the acceptance of strangers has historically been, and remains, controversial. In August 2001 this was highlighted with the Tampa episode in which the right of asylum was denied to asylum-seekers attempting to land in Australia. The right to asylum is a component of international treaties to which Australia is a signatory, in particular the United Nations 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. Its status as a signatory means that Australia has legal and moral obligations to fulfill in terms of these instruments.
Asylum-seekers, especially since the Tampa episode, have become newsworthy, and because of the November 2001 Federal election, politicised. Australian hostility towards them has also increased in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001, but at a deeper level it can be seen as a response to the perceived threat of the 'borderless world' produced by the processes of globalisation. This, I would argue, is another manifestation of the kind of fear that in earlier times focused on the perceived threat of invasion by the hordes from the north. The unfortunate result is that the asylum-seekers have been demonised and, like the 'hordes', defined as the other -- to be feared and used as scapegoats in the name of border control and national security.
The management and portrayal of the asylum-seekers by the Australian government and the media has been abysmal but unfortunately predictable. Apart from the treatment of the Vietnamese asylum-seekers in the late 1970s, Australia's response to asylum-seekers has rarely been acceptable. To produce a clear picture of how and why Australia has treated asylum-seekers so badly a historical context will be given. This context derives from the Immigration Act of 1901 and the beginning of the White Australia policy.
Australia is a nation of immigrants, like many others such as America, Canada and New Zealand. Apart from the original inhabitants, the Indigenous peoples, all Australians have an immigrant history. Australia was colonised by the British in the late eighteenth century and from then on there have been waves of immigrants arriving. First were the British, who as we well know arrived in the form of convicts- they were banished to Australia as punishment for crimes committed. As immigrants British subjects were part of a scheme of assisted passage, which between 1831 and 1982 became the most important single incentive scheme for attracting immigrants to Australia. Only rarely were assisted passages extended to non-British persons, signifying a policy of preference for Anglo-Saxon and Celtic persons. Thus initial immigration policy focused on assisted passage schemes for white and predominantly English immigrants
The first recorded refugees to arrive in Australia were Germans who had left their homeland to escape religious persecution and settled in South Australia in 1838. It was not until 1848 that the first arrival of significant numbers of Asians occurred when Chinese coolies arrived in Australia, first as indentured labour and then freely, to work on the Victorian goldfields. By 1861 the population of Chinese had grown to 55000 residing in Chinese quarters on the New South Wales, Victorian and Queensland goldfields. The growing number of Chinese migrants prompted both cultural and economic insecurity among the British and their Australian-born descendents. The Chinese and European migrants remained separate and antagonism grew between them, resulting in riots between 1857 and 1877.
These riots were racially motivated in an atmosphere of extreme economic competition and racial hostility. By 1857 negative views of Chinese civilization were widespread throughout the eastern states. Concern about an imminent and enormous influx of Chinese grew, characterised by 'swamping' of the handful of white people by the perceived swarming Asians. During this era the white colonists, desiring to keep Chinese immigration in check, came to believe that the only feasible policy was one of exclusion. Thus the racially motivated White Australia policy was born, initially focused on culling Chinese immigration, but later expanded to include immigrants from "all peoples whose presence was, in the opinion of Australians, injurious to the general welfare". Immigrants from India and Japan who had begun to arrive in the Australian colonies during this time, as well as the Melanesians and Kanakas who were used as cheap labour in Queensland, were included in the new category for exclusion.
The Immigration Restriction Act, which incorporated the White Australia policy, instilled the racist tone of immigration policy. It was a racist policy set to specifically exclude groups of people commonly grouped together as Asian and coloured. Australia was not the only nation to have a white or discriminatory immigration policy. Canada and New Zealand had white immigration policies but they were less severe and were dismantled in the 1960s, earlier than Australia's. The Holt government began dismantling the White Australia policy in 1966 and the Whitlam government finally abolished the policy in 1973, opening the way for the multicultural policies to which we are now accustomed.
The collective national desire to remain British in political principles and institutions, and more importantly to remain white, was the underlying ideology of the White Australia policy. Critics of the policy asked whether many non-Europeans would choose to settle in Australia, implying that only a small number would want to and, in practical terms, could afford to. By the 1930s refugee intakes and their inclusion in immigration policy became an issue, with the arrival of several thousand Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi domination of their homelands. This was a significant development in migration and foreshadowed the post-war refugee intakes. Australia had agreed to accept 15,000 Jewish refugees at the 1938 Evian Conference but the outbreak of war intervened and only 7,500 of the refugees arrived. Other Europeans persecuted in Germany arrived as refugees and more than 2,000 German 'aliens' were transported to Australia in 1940, adding to the diversity of European settlers in Australia. Jewish refugees suffered prejudice during the late 1930s and the war years, and were given the derogatory label 'reffos'. The Jewish refugees were explicitly 'not British' and this appears to be the basis of the prejudice against them, rather than pure anti-Semitism. British migrants were still the largest group to be welcomed and accepted into Australia, but this was to change.
After World War Two a new focus on immigration was introduced, lead by the catch cry 'populate or perish'. Debate had existed in Australian society between pro-immigration groups (the expansionists who favoured large-scale immigration) and anti-immigration groups who opposed all immigration. There were arguments for filling Australia's wide-open spaces with people, as a buffer against the teeming millions of Asia. Others, such as the trade unions, argued that a large immigration intake posed a threat to full employment and the standard of living. Australian government policy, under the immigration policies of Arthur Calwell, began to expand the catchment area of potential immigrants. Migrants of British descent were still the first preference but when the numbers could not be found, immigration began from the Northern European countries and then the Southern European countries.
Calwell's large-scale immigration program was planned to strengthen national security and economic development by increased population; meet post-war labour shortages; and fill the serious gaps in the age structure of the existing population. Australia needed labour for its post-war development such as the large infrastructure projects like the Snowy Mountain Scheme. A change in attitude took place and the 'new Australians', as the migrants from Europe were called, were introduced in a policy of 'public support'. However attitudes to the new migrants took much longer to change as the labels wogs, dagoes and reffos testify. Australia, after World War Two was still a British appendage and the influx of these new cultures from Europe and especially southern and eastern Europe was often treated in a hostile and racist manner.
White Australia was still entrenched. Calwell strongly believed in racial exclusivity and on no exception would there be entrance to aliens as that would open the floodgates to Asian immigration. However the acknowledgement and acceptance of refugees from European countries was a breakthrough in immigration policy. The introduction of non-British immigration was initially based on refugee intake and after World War Two Australia accepted more than 170000 refugees (or as they were called Displaced Persons) up until 1954. However, none were accepted from Asia.
By the 1950s there was an increasing ill-feeling in Asia about the White Australia policy. In the hope of counteracting this and of building goodwill (both of Asians towards Australia and of Australians towards Asia), Australia admitted Asian students for study on a temporary basis under the Colombo Plan. In the 1960s small numbers of Asians in various specified categories were permitted to become permanent residents. During the 1960s and early 1970s there was an easing on Asian immigration, however it was the Vietnam War that was the catalyst for major change. The Vietnam War became a benchmark in Australian foreign policy, with divisive and polarizing effects on the Australian public perceptions. The very large refugee movement produced by this war became the catalyst for Australia's first separate refugee policy. Until this time refugee policy had been part of immigration policy.
During the time of the Whitlam Labor government, immigration policy was shaped by the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 which renounced any discrimination between prospective migrants on any ground of race, colour of skin, or nationality. Cultural pluralism became the ideology that underpinned national identity. This included the preservation of ethnic traditions and languages. Multiculturalism was a term employed to describe the ever-increasing diversity of Australian society made possible by the ethnic diversity of immigrants and the broad and rich cultures they brought with them.
Multiculturalism was a term taken from similar policies used in Canada at about the same time. In Australia it became a policy that delivered services to migrant constituencies in line with new access and equity principles and programs as well as an ideology of society. Multiculturalism became a contentious aspect of Australian society, seen by many in Australia and overseas as an outstanding success. However, there were many critics who saw multiculturalism and especially the increasing Asian immigration as a threat to social cohesion and the British way of life. Among these critics were the historian, Professor Geoffrey Blainey, and the then Opposition Leader, John Howard, who during the 1980s saw the increasing Asian immigration as a threat to Australian society.
Criticism of multiculturalism and immigration, especially Asian immigration is still part of Australian society as we have seen recently with the rise of Pauline Hanson and the One Nation Party. Racism is part of all societies but it comes to the fore in Australia in the attitudes and rhetoric on immigration. While it is widely accepted that immigration is part of the Australian way of life, some of the most virulent and racist remarks are aimed at immigrants, especially Asian immigrants and particularly asylum-seekers (or as they have been labeled; illegal immigrants). At times this resonates with the rhetoric, attitudes and racism directed towards the Chinese coolies over a hundred years ago.
In summing up this section: for much of the twentieth century Australian immigration policy was racially exclusionary, especially in the time of the White Australia policy. During the 1970s the introduction of multicultural policies changed this, highlighting the many diverse ethnic cultures as well as engaging with Asia (in theory at least). But at the turn of the new century and the centenary of Federation, the public perception of refugees and especially asylum-seekers is one still steeped in racism as we will now explore.
|Australia's treatment of asylum seekers|
There has been a detention clause in Australia's Immigration policy since it was introduced in 1901. However detention was not generally used until 1989 when it was activated for the Cambodian asylum-seekers. Boat people, as they became labeled, had arrived since 1976 when the first wave- the Vietnamese asylum-seekers- arrived on northern Australian shores. They were not detained and were settled, and as history has shown became valuable citizens.
In reaction to the increasing number of asylum-seekers arriving by boat during 1989 the detention provision in the immigration policy was invoked. This provision includes the detention, in certain circumstances, of unlawful non-citizens who seek to enter or remain in Australia without a valid visa or entry permit. Under the Migration Act 1958, such non-citizens can be
This practice is consistent with fundamental legal principles of national sovereignty, accepted in Australian and International law, where the state designates which non-citizens are admitted and also the conditions under which they may be removed. This is also consistent with Australia's universal visa system, which both facilitates and controls the movement of people into Australia.
In Australia, detention for all unauthorised arrivals is mandatory until the determination process is resolved; this process can be prolonged, resulting in detention periods of up to five years for some applicants. Since 1992 detention, for all practicable purposes, has been unreviewable by the courts, a situation that is highly political and contentious. While international human rights standards are breached by the policy of mandatory detention of most unauthorised arrivals, successive Australian governments allowed this policy to remain. Asylum-seekers represent less than 0.01 per cent of all arrivals in Australia and yet they have created major headlines and controversy, out of all proportion to the actual numbers.
While immigration policy incorporates refugee policy, they are in fact two distinct policies. However, refugee policy is subordinate to immigration policy, in that immigration control overrides the obligations and objectives of refugee protection. As noted before, Australia's first officially administered refugee policy was introduced in 1977 in reaction to the influx of asylum-seekers from Indochina. The governmental administrative system, relying heavily on ministerial discretion, has opened up avenues for discriminatory processes to be utilised against Australia's 'other'. In the detention of asylum-seekers the universal aims of non-discriminatory protection for refugees has become lost in a quagmire of governmental administrative processes. This has resulted in a targeted group (namely asylum-seekers) facing discrimination.
The numbers in the first wave of Vietnamese asylum-seekers were small and the Fraser government introduced procedures to make the arrival and settlement of the Vietnamese most humane. There was an ideological bent to these arrivals, they were escaping a so-called communist regime, but to give Malcolm Fraser and the then Immigration Minister Ian MacKellar their dues, the asylum-seekers were treated humanely and within Australian human rights obligations.
The second wave of asylum-seekers - the Cambodians - were not treated so humanely; they were incarcerated in detention centres- some up to five years; a major violation of human rights. Federal and High Court challenges were mounted in the ensuing years with a struggle developing between the government and the judiciary with the government maintaining power and implementing what has been seen as a control mentality, fearful they would lose control over the issue of refugee determination. Asylum-seekers were unfortunately caught in the middle of this power struggle and control mentality. Detention centres existed at Sydney (Villawood) and in Melbourne (Maribyrnong) but two new centres were introduced at Port Hedland and at the Curtin Air Force base in Western Australia. The remoteness of these new centres restricted access by lawyers, community support and independent advisers. By these means asylum-seekers were denied adequate social rights and made vulnerable to intimidation; at the same time the issue could be kept away from the public eye.
While the number of asylum-seekers in the second wave had increased, they were still low, the numbers of illegal immigrants who overstay their visas, and these are predominantly British and American, are much higher. The overstayers are not treated so severely, they are rarely detained if apprehended and the public certainly hears little about them. The total number of unauthorized arrivals i.e., asylum-seekers, from 1989 to 2001 was around 12000, while the number of illegal overstayers at any one time is around the 50000 mark. (2988 asylum-seekers arrived during the period, 1989 to 1997, of which 2289 were removed from Australia- leaving 700 stayers over eight years- a small number and yet a number that has attracted such controversy and hysteria. In comparison, in 1997 there were 51000 people unlawfully in Australia having overstayed the length of their visa). So it appears that the mode of entry is a point of discrimination - arrival by boat on our northern shores attracts hysteria about invasion, disease and criminality thereby enforcing the detention regime whereas the overstayers, in numbers many times greater, seem to be overlooked.
In 1994 a new wave of asylum-seekers - the third wave - arrived; these were mainly Chinese nationals who created a media frenzy with headlines such as "boat people flood feared'', "refugee crisis" and the usual headline of "invasion". This third wave brought harsh new legislation - tightening the government control and isolating detainees further by making access to legal avenues much harder - it also brought renewed claims of human rights violations and very publicized protests when detainees took to the roof of Port Hedland detention Centre. This protest went on for over a week along with hunger strikes. It was to no avail for the detainees - they were deported; it did however highlight to the Australian public the inhumane conditions in which asylum-seekers were placed.
The current wave of arrivals - the fourth wave - began in 1999 under the aegis of people smugglers. This invidious process of people smuggling highlights the desperate and extreme methods that asylum-seekers will take to escape persecution, discrimination, trauma and in some cases torture. This wave originates mainly from Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The fourth-wave asylum-seekers are still being detained at the time of writing and, as events at Woomera Detention Centre testify, in no better manner than previous asylum-seekers.
The Australian public has become conditioned to fear the arrival of asylum-seekers, especially boat people and this I argue, perpetuates Australia's strain of racism - the fear of the 'other'. The Port Hedland protests during the 1990s alerted the Australian public to the inhumane treatment of a specific group of people. The validity of the detention policy also came under question. During 2001 the protests and breakouts at the Woomera Detention Centre and the Tampa fiasco have had a similar impact on the public. However while some may question Australia's detention and refugee policies, it is clear that a large proportion of the Australian public continue to see asylum-seekers as a threat to national purity and security.
The Howard government has hardened its resolve and control over asylum-seekers. In 2001 the government introduced a Bill to allow strip-searches of refugees, increase prison terms for those who flee detention and further restrict visitor access to detention centres (which are much harder to access than ordinary prisons). At the same time, The Border Protection Bill and the Migration Amendment Bills 1 and 2 excised from Australia's migration zone certain territories such as Christmas Island and Ashmore Reef. The Border Protection Bill and the Migration Amendment Bills authorise the expulsion of asylum-seekers from Australian territory with the Migration Amendment Bill 2 allowing removal of an individual to a country that the Immigration Minister deems appropriate. This allowed the government to instigate the so-called 'Pacific Solution' of interning asylum-seekers on neighbouring Pacific Islands - at a considerable (and yet to be determined) cost to Australia.
The Border Protection Bill also allows the Australian navy to intercept boats before they enter Australian territory. This enables asylum-seekers on them to be either taken outside Australian territory or brought into the migration zone. The Tampa incident illustrated that such detention may be lengthy, potentially involving people being detained in poor conditions during protracted negotiations with other states and international institutions. This situation, because of its indeterminacy, may breach article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Howard government has indicated its plan to build two new detention centres at the cost of around $116 million, although the latest policy of interning asylum-seekers on the Pacific Islands could halt this plan. With what they perceive as a mandate on their treatment of asylum-seekers after the November 2001 election, the government has strengthened its resolve to maintain the draconian and inhumane detention system, regardless of criticisms from organizations such as the United Nations, Amnesty International and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. It was predicted that the government would spend over $200 million on locating, removing and detaining asylum-seekers during 2001-02. However, with the latest system of interdiction by naval vessels and transfer of asylum-seekers to poorer Pacific Islands, this figure could easily double or treble
On the other hand Australia will only contribute around US $12 million to the UNHCR refugee fund (not including the contributions earmarked specifically for Afghanistan). The money spent on detention centres and the use of the navy in the interdiction of boats could be better used by the UNHCR to alleviate some of the root causes of displacement of asylum-seekers. Until the root causes of displacement are addressed, people will continue to flee life-threatening situations. These people are desperate: they seek asylum for their very existence and will continue to do so until conditions are safe within their homelands.
In the saga of the Tampa crisis, two major issues are once again highlighted;
Successive governments have sought to turn the issue of asylum-seekers to political advantage and in so doing demonise asylum-seekers, and none more so than the current government. Since 2001 and particularly with the Tampa episode, the government has, once again, played to the darkest fears in the Australian psyche. The government has managed to mobilise and inflame public opinion against Muslims and refugees from the Middle East.
Australia needs leadership on the asylum issue; it has been a bipartisan issue with little to distinguish between policies of the major parties. However, major change is needed to avoid a fiasco such as happened at the centenary of Federation. This is possible if all political parties were to take the initiative, show leadership, humanity and basic common sense. In the latest asylum crisis we have smaller nations than ours, such as Nauru, New Guinea and New Zealand, coming to our rescue - what an indictment!
Asylum-seekers have been used as pawns for the political advantage of the government; however there will be no effect on the overall problem of asylum-seekers. There is a need to let asylum-seekers know that only certified refugees will remain in Australia. There is a need for orderly programs with quotas. There is a need to stop people smugglers. However, there is also a requirement that Australia uphold the human rights treaties it has ratified and is obliged to provide asylum for those in need. To attain a fair balance for this requires dialogue, cooperation with countries that the asylum-seekers traverse such as Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as with the UNHCR. Australia has simply not been doing enough in these respects. Leadership is necessary from Australia to maintain open dialogue so that either the root causes of people movement can be ameliorate or their movement can be accessed and processed quickly to alleviate the misery, economic cost and political conflict that exists at present. These are major and complex issues that will not be resolved quickly - but leadership is needed to move from the stubborn obstructionist policies Australia has at present to a more proactive and humanitarian approach.
Australia's management of asylum-seekers is abysmal - we are failing those we detain as well as ourselves as a nation - our treatment of asylum-seekers is not the mark of a civilised society. Australia justifiably celebrated its achievements during the centenary of Federation. But it could not celebrate its treatment of asylum-seekers. The attitudes underlying the treatment of asylum-seekers at the centenary of Federation seemed not all that different from the attitudes informing the treatment of Chinese coolies at the time of Federation. It appears that attitudes to strangers have not changed.
 UNHCR, 1996, Guideline on Detention of Asylum-seekers, Guideline 2: General Rule, UNHCR Publication, p. 3.
 W. K. Hancock, Australia, Jacaranda, Melbourne, 1930, p. 59.
 From 'Advance Australia Fair', words by P. D. McCormick; cited in Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Report, 1998, Those who've come across the seas: detention of unauthorised arrivals, Commonwealth of Australia, AGPS, Canberra.
 Freeman, G. and Jupp, J. (eds.) 1992, Nations of Immigrants: Australia, the United States, and International Migration, Oxford University Press, Oxford, especially preface; Lowenstein, W. and Morag, L. 1977, The Immigrants, Hyland House, Melbourne, p. 1. The Bradshaw rock carvings in the Kimberleys, WA are dated at around 60,000 years ago suggesting that Indigenous people had arrived on Australian land by boat. Human habitation, dated at between 35,000 and 38,000 years have been found at Lake Mungo in south-western New South Wales, which indicates an earlier landing would have occurred on northern shores. A figure of 50,000 to 65,000 years ago is suggested as a time when humans set foot on Australian soil, which means that Australia's Indigenous have inhabited Australia for 250 times longer than Europeans; Dare, T. 1988, Australia: A Nation of Immigrants, Child and Associates, Frenchs Forest, pp. 7-8.
 For details of these riots refer to Yarwood, A.T. and Knowling, M.J. 1982, Race Relations in Australia: A History, Methuen, Australia, pp. 165-187; Chung-Ming, Y. 1983, Awakening Conscience: Racism in Australia, Lung Men Press, Hong Kong, p.46; Markus, A. 1979, Fear and Hatred: Purifying Australia and California 1850-1901, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, pp. 14-34; and Buggy, T. and Cates, J. 1982, Race Relations in Colonial Australia: An Enquiry Approach, Nelson, Melbourne, Chapters 4 and 5.
 Hawkins, F. 1989, Critical Years in Immigration: Canada and Australia Compared, New South Wales University Press, Sydney. p. 11.
 Yarwood, A.T. and Knowling, M.J. 1982, op cit, pp. 225-255; and Evans, R, Saunders, K. and Cronin, K. 1975, Race Relations in Colonial Queensland: A History of Exclusion, Exploitation, and Extermination, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane for accounts of Chinese and other coloured migrants, including the indentured Kanakas, during this time.
 Hawkins, F. 1989, op cit, p. 14.
 Yarwood, A.T. and Knowling, M.J. 1982, op cit, pp. 235-237; Rivett, K. (ed.) 1975, Australia and the Non-White Migrant, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, Preface. Also refer to Rivett, K. (ed.) 1962, Immigration: Control or Colour Bar?, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, for a background to the White Australia policy and a proposal for change. Associations for Immigration Reform were organised in mainland states during the 1960s; refer to Hawkins, F. 1989, op cit, p. 310, note 24; and to Jupp, J. and Kabala, M. (eds.) 1993, The Politics of Australian Immigration, AGPS, Canberra, p. 198.
 Rivett, (ed) Immigration, p. 43.
 Rivett, (ed) Immigration, p. 24; Sherington, Australia's Immigrants, pp. 123-135; K. Rivett, (ed) Australia, pp. 240-241. A 1948 survey distinguished Jews from; Chinese, Negroes [sic], and various European nationalities, 58 per cent of respondents questioned indicated to keep them out. By 1947 non-British migrants constituted only 1.9 per cent of the population with 0.3 per cent of these from Asia, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population, 1947.
 Refer to Calwell, A. 1945, How Many Australians Tomorrow?, Reed and Harris, Melbourne; and Calwell, A. 1949, Immigration: Policy and Progress, Department of Immigration, Canberra, for a detailed account of government policy regarding population increase. 'Populate or Perish' was not the official slogan but was used as an explanation for increased immigration; it was well known as a phrase coined by J.H. Gaffney as a title for his book in the 1940s.
 Markus, A. 1994, op cit, p. 169.
 McMaster, D. 2001, Asylum Seekers: Australias Response to Refugees, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, p. 49.
 Lack and Templeton, 1995, op cit, p. 219. Also refer to Kukathas, C. (ed.) 1993, Multicultural Citizens: the Philosophy and Politics of Identity, The Centre for Independent Studies, Sydney; and Foster, L. and Stockley, D. 1984, Multiculturalism: The Changing Australian Paradigm, Multilingual Matters, no, 16, especially chapter 3 " The emergence of the concept of multiculturalism: 1972-1982."
 Refer to Berry, J. et al. 1977, Multiculturalism and Ethnic Attitudes in Canada, Canadian Government Printers, Ottawa; and Standing Committee on Multiculturalism, 1987, Multiculturalism: Building the Canadian Mosaic, Queens Printer for Canada, Ottawa.
 Refer to sections 88, 89 and Div 4B of the Migration Act; and also Joint Standing Committee on Migration, Asylum, Border Control and Detention, AGPS, Canberra, February 1994, Foreword; and Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Fact Sheet 82. Immigration Detention, http://www.immi.gov.au/facts/82detain.htm, p. 1, 1 August 1998.
 Richardson, D. "The Detention Provisions in the Migration Act", Migration Monitor, nos. 29-30, June 1993, p. 13; and also Joint Standing Committee on Migration, 1994, op cit, p. 11.
 Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner, 1997, Face the Facts: Some Questions and Answers about Immigration, Refugees and Indigenous Affairs, p. 17. The United Nations Human Rights Committee found and adopted, in April 1997, that Australia had violated the rights of a boat person under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights by detaining him arbitrarily for more than four years, cited in Audit Report no.32, 1997-98, The Management of Boat People, http://www.anao.gov.au/rptsfull_98audrp32/contents.html, p. 3; also HREOC Report, 1998, op cit, p. v. International Human Rights standards permit detention only where necessary and requires that the individual be able to challenge the lawfulness of his or her detention in the courts. Children and other vulnerable people should be detained only in exceptional circumstances.
 The Hon. M.J.R. MacKellar, Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, "Refugee Policy and Mechanisms," Ministerial statement, Parliamentary Debates, 24 May 1977.
 "Boat People appear to be Cambodians", Advertiser, 1 December 1989, p. 16. Commonly referred to as Cambodians by the media and government, the first group from the Pender Bay who arrived at Broome consisted of 10 Vietnamese, 9 Cambodians and 8 Chinese and were aged from 3 to 84 years. The second boat, codenamed the Beagle, also landed at Broome and consisted of 92 Cambodians, 34 Chinese and 9 Vietnamese, comprising 92 adults, 27 children and 16 babies. Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Fact sheet 81. Boat Arrivals since 1989, http://www.immi.gov.au/facts/81boats.htm, p. 1, August 1998.
 Crock, M. (ed.) 1993, Protection or Punishment, p. 32.
 HREOC Report, 1998, op cit, pp. 267-269. Of the 822 Chinese boat people who arrived, only 15 remained (detained) and the others were returned; also refer to Lester, E. "Singing Our Song", Uniya Focus, no. 19, June 1998.
 Age, 6 January 1995, p. 1; Weekend Australian, 24-25 December 1994, p. 1; Advertiser, 29 December 1994; Sydney Morning Herald, 23 November 1994, p. 5.
 Natalie O'Brien, "Boat people protesters denied food", Australian, 3 July 1995, p. 3. and "Boat people protesters get treatment for exhaustion", Australian, 4 July 1995, p. 5; and Colleen Egan, "Security 'provoked' refugee violence", Australian, 10 July 1995, p. 2. The deportation of the third wave of Sino-Vietnamese boat people caused another controversy with Senator Bolkus being accused of "grossly underestimating" the cost to Australia of resettling the 700 or so boat people to China. An agreement was made between the Australian and Chinese governments that repatriation costs of $500,000 were to be paid by the Federal Government to China as part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in January 1995 that enabled the return of people verified to have settled as refugees more than 10 years previously under the United Nations program. The figure of $500,000 was queried by the opposition party's spokesperson Senator Short, who estimated the resettlement cost to be $1 million and total costs of repatriating the boat people in the range of $10 to 15 million. A group of 118 Sino-Vietnamese boat people had their appeal for refugee status rejected by the Federal Court in February 1996 and were deported; Maria Ceresa, "Bolkus accused of fudging boat people costs", Australian, 11 April 1996, p. 7; Maria Ceresa, "Reassured boat people deported", Australian, 9 June 1996 p. 7; and Penelope Green, "Court rules in favour of deporting boat people", Australian, 29 February 1996, p. 2.
 Migration Legislation Amendment (Immigration Detainees) Act 2001. The strip search provisions were rejected but reintroduced on 27 June 2001 in the form of the Migration Legislation Amendment (Immigration Detainees) Bill (no.2) 2001.
 HREOC, Human rights and International Law implications of Migration Bills, Briefing Paper, 21 September 2001, www.humanrights.gov.au/human_rights/asylum/migration_bills.html
 RCOA Media release, 20 June 2001.
 refer to Seth Mydans, "Which Australian Candidate has the harder heart?', New York Times, 9 November 2001; Kathy Marks, "Shame on Australia!", Independent, www.independent.co.uk, 11 November 2001; Norwegian Refugee Council, Media Release, 30 August 2001; "Australia Migrants land in troubled camp", New York Times, 2 December 2001.
Don McMaster has a PhD from Adelaide University where he has taught Politics and is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Politics Department. He has also taught Communications at the University of South Australia and Indigenous students at Adelaide University. Current research interests range from issues on asylum seekers, civil liberties and the proposed anti-terrorist legislation as well as the history and politics of coffee. He has had a book published on asylum seekers issues; Asylum Seekers: Australia's Response to Refugees, Melbourne University Press, 2001 (second edition forthcoming 2002) and articles in Dialogue "White Australia to Tampa: the politics of fear", vol 21, 1/2002; forthcoming in Australian Journal of International Affairs "Asylum seekers and the insecurity of a nation", vol. 56 no. 2, July 2002.
|Paper presented at the International Conference "The Refugee Convention, Where to from Here?" convened by the Centre for Refugee Research (Sydney, December 2001).|