The Politics    Friday, April 24, 2015

Hard to stomach

By Sean Kelly

It’s not just Australians who are concerned about Australia’s immigration policies

Yesterday, I wrote about a five-year-old girl suffering post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her stay in a Nauru detention centre, which our government is about to send her back to.

David Marr has a well-timed interview in the Guardian today with the head of the UK Independence Party, a right-wing populist party that makes mileage out of campaigning against immigration.

Nigel Farage had previously come out as a fan of Australia’s approach to immigration, declaring in 2014 that “We should do what Australia does and choose who can come to this country.” Note the Howardesque (Howardian? Howardly?) turn of phrase.

Farage told Marr:

“I suspect that the Australian premier Tony Abbott actually has got this right. Unless we send the message that however difficult your plight we cannot accept you in unlimited numbers, unless that message gets sent, we may well be facing migration from north Africa over the next couple of years of millions of people … Mr Abbott was making a general point that if you say everyone is welcome then a lot more people will come. It’s a very interesting injection into the debate in Britain and Europe.”

Marr then asked Farage if he supported the specific policies used by Abbott – Marr listed immigration detention, detention of children, and forced pushbacks.

The answer appeared to be no.

“Some of the ways that Australia acts on these things are tougher than we in Britain can perhaps stomach.”

A report from think tank Per Capita says Australians’ living standards are under threat. Some facts on commuting, for example: in 2002, the average worker spent 3 hours 37 mins per week commuting. By 2014 it was 4 hours 50 minutes. That’s 56 extra hours a year.

The Abbott government will pay $660 million to businesses and land owners to cut carbon pollution by 47 million tonnes. Environment Minister Greg Hunt called this a “stunning success” for Direct Action. The Climate Institute said the action would achieve only a fraction of the cuts Australia has committed to.

The woman who runs Parliament House itself has lost her job. Carol Mills had attracted attention after accusations her department used CCTV footage to identify a public servant leaking to Labor senator John Faulkner.

Treasurer Joe Hockey mostly ruled out changes to negative gearing today. The Prime Minister had completely ruled out changes just a few days ago. And here’s Mark Kenny on the rent-seekers’ delight budget.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne is writing a book called ‘A Letter to My Children’, in which he explains to his family why he chose a career in politics.

The SMH reports that Best & Less and Just Group have refused to sign a legally binding pact that protects Bangladesh’s garment workers, two years after the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed 1129 people. Oxfam is targeting the companies in a social media campaign.

There are suggestions that the executions of the Bali nine members Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan are creeping closer.

Debate in the US over drone policy after it appeared the military was unsure who precisely they were attempting to kill with certain drone strikes.

And some uncertainty in New Zealand about exactly how the John Key hair-pulling story came to light.

It’s Anzac Day tomorrow, of course. Here’s the opinion editor at the Sydney Morning Herald with the tale of her grandfather. A straight summary of what Anzac is about from a British perspective. Accusations the Turkish government has sought to hide the commemoration of the massacre of Armenians behind the centenary of Anzac. Whether the Anzac identity is still the Australian identity. An argument for remembering the frontier wars on Anzac Day.

Enjoy your non-long-weekend weekend. 

Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and was an adviser to Labor prime ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd.


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