FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Excising Australia

by BINOY KAMPMARK

Melbourne.

It was a crime of sorts, perpetuated against the international community with a brazen disregard that has come to mark the politics of the country.  On Thursday, the bill that had been promised excising the Australian mainland for the purposes of refugee law was passed. It was a grotesque act, one that has become instinctive for the Gillard government.

Teasing out the implications of the decision is even more peculiar.  Australia has, for the purposes of migration, destroyed its sovereign credentials. The government has rendered the country it represents a legal amputee – for the purposes of the “migration zone”, people arriving in Australia in a certain manner will be processed at offshore centres because they are not, strictly speaking, arriving in Australia.  This is not the drivel of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – this is Australian policy.

The migration zone, for the definitions of Australia’s own imaginative law makers, is the area where a person arrives without a valid visa (they are all paper-driven here) but can still make an application for one.  This is all dandy – the Migration Act 1958 will then apply, and there won’t be any need to be carted off for processing in a detention centre on Manus Island or Nauru.  Unfortunately, the act’s focus has dramatically narrowed.

In 2012, the Houston Panel on Asylum Seekers, a body commissioned by the Prime Minister, dressed up the language of brutality with the language of fairness, suggesting that “the Migration Act 1958 be amended so that arrival anywhere on Australia by irregular means will not provide individuals with a different lawful status than those who arrive in an excised offshore place.”  This is the sentiment of a mean society, and on closer inspection, a vicious society.

What has effectively happened is that the vengeful, querulous pupils of the ‘left’ (let’s just abandon the term for Australia’s denuded Labor Party) have outdone their conservative masters.  The individual to pioneer the application of offshore excisions – in that case, Christmas Island, Ashmore and Cartier Reefs, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and various other facilities – was Prime Minister John Howard, a Thatcherite in miniature who thought foreigners were people you just found elsewhere.  In August 2001, with the asylum seeker issue red hot on the electoral radar, Howard decided to keep the Norwegian vessel the MV Tampa at sea, a legal suspension if ever there was one.

On board, 433 asylum seekers were treated as criminal cargo, insurgents at sea waiting to touch Australian land.  With minimal dissent – which goes to show that Australia’s political classes are some of the most conformist in the democratic world – Christmas Island was “excised” and the Migration Act amended.  If refugees reached Christmas Island, they were reaching something distinctly not Australia.  In other words, they were not entering the “migration zone”.

Ironically, when he wished to take one step further – to excise the entire mainland – the ALP, then in opposition, rounded on him, condemning the measure as “racist” and “intolerant.”  The measure failed.  The road of a Pharisee is a long one indeed.

The Australian election in September will feature the hollow party, one of zombie functionaries indifferent to democracy, and the ignoble Liberal-National party, one intent on correcting the ballooning budget deficit and attacking an assortment of spending programs.  The only thing to merit that position is that a Tony Abbot government will be convinced by what they want.  We will have a new set of well-rehearsed idiots to replace the musty amoralists who have populated Canberra with fungal relish.

Hopefully, a set of independent parties, the creatures of difference, will eat away at the carnage, pick away at the morsels of the carcass that will be the Australian Labor Party.  But against the monstrosity that is the Australian political scene, we can only hope that something can be salvaged.  It won’t be in the form of a sounder refugee law, let alone one that involves reading the Refugee Convention. As far as Australia’s legal and political establishment is concerned, the Convention is better than deceased.

Broadly speaking, total excision of the Australian mainland for the purposes of refugee law continues that finely developed Australian policy of letting others do the work for its officials.  If torture can be outsourced, it will be.  Ask David Hicks. If legal presentation can be outsourced, it will be.  Again, a Hicks’ special.  If you want representation overseas, best ask another country, because the Australian mission will probably be closed.  And if you are arriving by boat to flee countries where you are not welcome, pop into Manus Island or Nauru first.

In the meantime, may every single nation in the Asia Pacific and beyond invade this fetid thieving land and take their rightful conquistador’s share.  After all, it is, for the purposes of migration (or invasion, if you are a politician), non-Australia, a state that has defined itself out of existence. It has ceased to be as a legal, law-abiding entity that respects its own borders.  Never in modern times has a country shown so little respect not merely for the people it admits or refuses to, but its own concept of sovereign dignity.  May it pay the ultimate price for that mockery.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail