Aboriginal academic and activist Sharon Firebrace is the Victorian Socialist Alliance Senate candidate in the federal election. Firebrace founded the Aboriginal Genocide Centre. Repealing the NT intervention and standing up for refugee rights are key parts of her election policy.
Below, she responds to Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s announcement on refugees.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is typecasting refugees as inherent wrongdoers when she says that Australians expect them to “learn the rules under which we live” and that she will “ensure refugees shoulder the same obligations as Australians generally”.
It’s the same racist paternalism that underlies the Northern Territory intervention. The previous Coalition PM, John Howard, suspended the Racial Discrimination Act to allow the intervention. Gillard suspended “political correctness” to gear up for a “Boat People Bashing” election campaign.
Gillard admits Australia has taken only 0.6% of the world’s refugees. Yet both major parties are trying to outdo each other in proposing ever more expensive, bureaucratic and dehumanising offshore “solutions” to our refugee “problem”.
The prime minister said: “People like my own [migrant] parents who have worked hard all their lives can't abide the idea that others might get an inside track to special privileges.”
Well, people like my Indigenous parents, and like the immigrant parents of many second-generation Australians, who fought against discrimination and assimilation, who held out hope that Labor would change their lot, can’t abide this resurgence of racism and class divisions.