Robert Manne writes in The Conversation (26.10.16) about the absolutism embedded in an Australian immigration culture of control, in an edited extract of a talk he delivered to the Integrity 20 Conference at Griffith University on October 25, 2016.
‘If you had been told 30 years ago that Australia would create the least asylum seeker friendly institutional arrangements in the world, you would not have been believed.
‘In 1992 we introduced a system of indefinite mandatory detention for asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Since that time, we have accepted the idea that certain categories of refugees and asylum seekers can be imprisoned indefinitely; that those who are intercepted by our navy should be forcibly returned to the point of departure; that those who haven’t been able to be forcibly returned should be imprisoned indefinitely on remote Pacific Islands; and that those marooned on these island camps should never be allowed to settle in Australia even after several years.
‘How then has this come to pass? There are two main ways of explaining this.
‘The first is what can be called analytical narrative: the creation of an historical account that shows the circumstances in which the decisions were made and how one thing led to another. I have tried my hand at several of these.
‘The second way is to look at more general lines of explanation. I want to suggest five possibilities. These general lines of explanation are not alternatives to each other but complementary. Nor do they constitute an alternative to explanation by way of analytical narrative. Rather, they attempt to illuminate some of the general reasons the story took the shape it did.’
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