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

January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail