Wednesday, September 04, 2002


Claudia Karvan is an Australian actor who is not content with fame, fortune and a place in a protected, subsidised industry. Last night she took advantage of a Marie Claire sponsored girlie fest to fluff her compassion feathers for the benefit of any producers who might have been watching.

We are fortunate indeed to have actors prepared to use their expertise in public policy, international treaties and human right agreements in order to show the overwhelming majority of Australians the error of their ways. Karvan even spelled out a few of our delusions in easy to digest pieces.
Myth: Boat people are queue jumpers.
Fact: Most asylum seekers arriving here by boat are from Afghanistan and Iraq. Australia does not have any diplomatic representation in these countries. There are no queues for anyone to join, let alone jump.

More Facts: Few asylum seekers appeared on boats by magic. All transited two, and up to five countries that are considered safe havens. Queues exist in all those countries, for those who feel like getting in line.
Myth: Australia already takes in more than its fair share of refugees.
Fact: Australia takes in a maximum of 12,000 refugees a year - that is less than half the number accepted by Britain and the United States on a per capita basis, and about half the number we accepted in the early '80s.

More Facts: The figure of 12,000 applies to permanent settlement, not asylum seeker status. When permanency is your game, Australia is your aim. Note She did not examine anyone else's record, like Bahrain.
Myth: There is no alternative to mandatory detention.
Fact: Mandatory detention costs about $104 a person a day while home detention, out in the community, would cost about $59 a day.

More Facts: This cost does not include the price of tracking down those hundreds of asylum seekers who will fade into the landscape when their applications are refused. Without a universal ID system, the blowout in detection and apprehension costs will soar.

In a moment of candour, Karvan glimpses her place in the public debate:
I certainly don't have all the answers to this situation. I don't advocate open borders.

"I don't know what to do, but being on television qualifies me to demand change".

Now compare it to this item that didn't rate the same prominence.
ONLY 3 per cent of new migrants find Australians racist or unfriendly and an overwhelming number are happy about the decision to move

Well that doesn't make sense. Why would new entrants into the world's most diverse society NOT find us racist? Aren't they listening to international opinion? Or is it that opinion, as held by actual people, is that this is the place to be.
Climate, crime and a lack of discipline, and the lack of services and facilities appear to be among migrants' greatest dislikes – around 11, 13 and 11 per cent respectively.

Their greatest dislike is the level of crime in their own community, since that is what they know. 75% say they would encourage others to move to Australia. Sure sounds like the land of fear and scapegoating, doesn't it?

So the lesson is: rich, white television personalities will give you a different perspective on immigration and Australian society, than do immigrants. Who should we believe?

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