Excerpt from an article by ANTHONY SHARWOOD
Australia was not always so reluctant to take in asylum seekers. In fact we once welcomed them. Here’s a statement from Michael MacKellar, the immigration minister in the Fraser Liberal Government in 1976:
“As a matter of humanity, and in accord with international obligations freely entered into, Australia has accepted a responsibility to contribute towards the solution of world refugee problems.”
Mr Mackellar spoke these words after the first ever asylum seeker vessel docked in Darwin Harbour. That boat contained Vietnamese refugees, all of whom were granted asylum.
Mr Mackellar (who held Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah for 25 years until Mr Abbott assumed the seat in 1994) promised that the government’s “full resources” would be made available to these and other asylum seekers.
He peppered his speeches on the subject of asylum seekers with phrases like “sanctuary” and “harrowing experiences” and “moral rightness”.
It’s a far cry from the pejorative language we hear these days. Words like “illegals”, “queue jumpers” and “potential terrorists” dominate official government communications and the conversations held by everyday Australians.
The government’s “full resources” nowadays go not into resettlement, but into offshore detention centres -----and then there's the recent creation of a highly militaristic 6000-strong entity called Australian Border Force, which you can still join until this Sunday. If that is your thing, good luck to you?