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In 1997 Australia became infamous because of the rapid rise of the overtly racist Pauline Hanson's One Nation party. Following a wave of anti-racist protests, One Nation went into decline, but Hansonism is far from dead in Australia.
We, the undersigned, strongly oppose the new laws and regulations introduced by the Liberal-National federal government. They are racist and an affront to basic human solidarity, and it is utterly despicable of the Labor opposition to support such measures. In particular we condemn:
1. Regulations recently made by immigration minister Philip Ruddock that will offer approved refugees only three-year temporary visas, instead of permanent residence. This racist proposal was first advocated by One Nation.
2. The Border Protection Bill, which toughens the already inhumane rules on the treatment of "boat people", removes refugee decisions from the rule of law, criminalises refugees and gives the government the power to evade its responsibilities to refugees under international conventions by intercepting suspected "boat people" in international waters.
We also demand the end of mandatory detention of "boat people" introduced by the Labor federal government in 1992. This law, which has been condemned by the Uniting Church as racist, has kept hundreds of families seeking asylum locked up in remote detention camps, sometimes for several years, while their applications for asylum are being processed. These detained asylum seekers are overwhelmingly from countries in the Third World and have fled severe political persecution, war and economic crisis. There is no mandatory detention of other "illegal migrants", most of whom come from wealthy countries.
We urge all anti-racists to fight this latest wave of racism.
Lisa Macdonald, editor, Green Left Weekly
Max Lane, Asia Pacific Institute for Democracy and Development
Wendy Robertson, national coordinator, Resistance
John Percy, national secretary, Democratic Socialist Party
Pip Hinman, national secretary, Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor