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Northern Development Plan: Australia’s ‘fraught vision’ of our tropics

‘ … the White Paper recommends Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA) to permit foreign skilled and semi-skilled workers into a few northern zones. It promotes the Seasonal Worker Programme for labourers from the Pacific Islands and Timor Leste, as well as a new pilot program for workers from Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu.

‘A few pages earlier, these people and the places they come from were stigmatised as biosecurity risks, but presumably our tropical medicine industry can render them secure. Once used to justify keeping Asians and Pacific Islanders out of Australia, tropical medicine will now be employed to bring them in “safely”.

‘Too often, members of the infamous leftie lynch mob and other vaguely ABC-types protest that prime minister Tony Abbott is taking us back to the 1950s. But any Australian historian reading this White Paper will realise we’re actually heading all the way back to the 1890s, before federation, when unbridled capitalism and various forms of indentured labour were developing our North.

“Whose North?” we should ask, “whose triumph?”

(Warwick H Anderson, The Conversation, 6.7.15)

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