In a cynical and disgusting act, the ALP has stirred up a “debate” on asylum seekers within days of capitulating to the major mining corporations. Once again the rich and powerful seek to scapegoat the weak and vulnerable to disguise their misdeeds. The mainstream media has jumped to the cue, no-longer discussing the “old news” of how multi-national mining companies have successfully avoided paying billions of dollars in tax and helped engineer the overthrow of sitting PM in the process.
This is not being done subtlety. Literally at the very same press conference where Gillard announced 1.5 Billion dollars in tax concessions to the mining companies she turned the debate to asylum seekers. The ALP is following the orders of the Murdoch Press, the mouthpieces of the capitalist class by doing so. They responded with the following charming headlines in the Australian “Tax done PM Julia Gillard turns to boats” and in the Herald Sun “Tax done now Julia Gillard vows to tack voters asylum seekers fears”
The ALP’s and the establishment’s plan is simple
Step 1: Sell out massively to corporate interests
Step 2: Turn attention to the scapegoat of asylum seekers by whipping up racism. Remember people your “real” enemy is not the rich parasite corporations but 3000 people fleeing violence and war – including wars we are waging!
Step 3: Call an election, stir up further hatred against migrants and welfare recipients and proceed to slash public spending, attack workers rights as demanded by the international money markets. To finish it off send more troops to Afghanistan. The beauty of this approach for the establishment is that it works no matter who wins the election!
The tactic reminds of the magician’s trick of “misdirection” which is defined as “ the art of distracting the audience while you perform your 'secret move' without being spotted.”. The “secret” move in this case was the Whitlamesque removal of Rudd to facilitate the mining tax sellout and the coming attacks on ordinary people’s interests.
Gillard is playing hard ball with this tactic, wheeling out the rhetoric of Howard from 13 years ago that unleashed a racist and nationalist upsurge when he said Australians should no longer hide their racism and be silenced by “political correctness”.Gillard sounded exactly like Howard when she said
“''People should feel free to say what they feel,'' she said.''For people to say they're anxious about border security doesn't make them intolerant. It certainly doesn't make them a racist. It means that they're expressing a genuine view that they're anxious about border security. ''[By the] same token, people who express concern about children being in detention - that doesn't mean they're soft on border protection. It just means they're expressing a real, human concern.''So I'd like to sweep away any sense that people should close down any debate, including this debate, through a sense of self-censorship or political correctness.''
The ALP is also deliberately conflating the issue of migration numbers, the size of the Australian population and asylum seekers despite the fact we receive hundreds of thousands of migrants a year but only a few thousand asylum seekers. This is another dog whistle to the racists out there that asylum seekers are stealing “our jobs” etc.
This is a difficult strategy for the left to fight. Whilst our first instinct is to defend asylum seekers from attack, if this is done without pointing out WHY the debate is being stirred up it just plays into the governments hands. The mainstream press, particularly the supposedly “progressive” ABC has jumped on cue. Talk back radio and commentary today was all about whether we should increase our already incredibly harsh asylum seeker policies. John Faine even wheeled our Pauline Hanson! I believe that refugee advocates and leftists should be very explicit about always pointing out that this whole debate is a smokescreen to distract from the economic policies of the ALP. We need to provide the analysis that stirring up racism is a deliberate policy which is being used to achieve a specific aim – to use the ever present racism and nationalism of a large section of Australian society to hide the governments economic attacks on ordinary people during this time of economic crisis.