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Newsletter, Edition 1, July 2012

Editor’s Welcome Welcome to the first-ever monthly edition of the AIIA Qld newsletter. With the assistance of Paul Ransom and the AIIA Qld interns, we are hoping to use this newsletter as a platform to engage with AIIA members, promote events and spark interesting debate. Most significantly, we are hoping that this newsletter will be an opportunity for students across Queensland to submit their essays, opinion pieces, feature articles and reviews. In this first edition, Paul Ransom discusses the establishment of the AIIA Queensland branchâ€&#x;s internship program, its aims and upcoming projects. Another intern, Simon, also provides a review of our first-ever Q&A panel event. We also have the pleasure to hear from Mr Christopher Lamb as we go behind the scenes of his guest lecture on humanitarian diplomacy. We also hear from intern supervisor, Jacqui Hagger, who writes about the nature of international surrogacy laws. Alongside this, the newsletter includes the AIIAsponsored UQ winning paper by Nathan Lindsay. He was awarded $50 for his work. If you have any feedback or are interested in contributing to future newsletters, please email us at Milly Arsic AIIA intern supervisor

Introducing the AIIA’s new internship program In March, the first AIIA internships program began with an intake of 7 interns. Each intern has been responsible for their own project, as well as helping members of the team with other projects. Two interns have each organised and run a Q&Astyle event. Simon Katterl organised our May 1 event: Global Governance, Sovereignty and Human Security in the Modern World. Chloe Baveas organised The Nature of Warfare: Ethical and Legal Perspectives, our first UQ-specific event. We hope to hold future events at other campuses in Queensland this year. Milly has organised this renewed AIIA newsletter, which we hope will become a way for members to participate actively and share knowledge and insight. Deanna and Victoria have been instrumental in assisting Milly and the team and contributing ideas at meetings. Kent has contributed organisational knowledge and developed a framework to manage the operational element of the program. The majority of interns also fulfilled a representative function on campuses on Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

All interns have proved that a team of dedicated, exuberant and intelligent people working together can achieve good things, and I hope that this begins a new period of active participation in the AIIA. There was an overwhelming response to the announcement of the program, with many fine candidates unfortunately turned away. This only strengthens our resolve to implement programs which allow people to contribute on an ad-hoc basis, outside the formal internship program. Our May 1 and 18 Q&A events were an early example of this, with selected students participating on the panels, and others being able to shape the discussion by asking questions from the audience. This is all to say that the future activities of AIIA Qld should provide a lot more opportunities for direct participation of the membership. The internships themselves are opportunities for enthusiastic young people to participate in and expand the AIIA, but the activities the interns undertake also provide opportunities that stretch to more people.

By the time this article is published, the supervision of the intern program will have passed to Milly Arsic, Jacqui Hagger and Kent Chambers. All have been AIIA members and were interns in the initial intake. Paul Ransom Councillor (on leave)

AIIA’s Q&A Event I was recently fortunate enough to be part of the AIIA‟s Question and Answer („Q&A‟) event at the Irish Club in Brisbane. This event, which brought together Brisbane‟s finest student and academic minds, was part of a broader push by the AIIA to expose young people to international issues. The AIIA Queensland interns chose to run a Q&A event given its popularity among the Australian public. However, unlike the traditional arm-chair participation delivered by the ABC edition, the audience was provided with a real opportunity to discuss and debate contentious topics in international relations. These topics were focused on the key themes, Global Governance, Sovereignty and Human Security in the Modern World. As mediator, I was privileged to gain a unique vantage point between audience and panel. Here I witnessed a multitude of intellectual and impassioned questions and responses. Discussions ranged from the current state of the R2P doctrine, to scathing assessments of Australia‟s current immigration policy, as well as illuminating insight into the undercurrents of the international political economy. AIIA Queensland received a truly encouraging response from the audience and panel participants. The opportunity for the Australian public to engage with field experts is incredibly attractive and a currently unexplored event amongst many organisations.

This is why the AIIA has decided to make this event one of a series to be rolled out in universities across Southeast Queensland. These events will continue to provide a platform for discussion and debate about contentious matters in an entertaining manner. I would briefly like to make a personal thank you to everybody involved – this event was only a success because of the fantastic work done by our hardworking interns. Kent Chambers, Victoria Foxton, Jacqueline Hagger, Chloe Baveas, Deanna Yourell, Milena Arsic, Rebecca Hall and Paul Ransom congratulations on a fantastic effort and event. My gratitude goes out to the wonderful panel of experts made the night possible: Dr Matt McDonald, Dr Wesley Widmaier, Dr Sara Davies, Emily Young and Hugh Jorgensen. Simon Katterl AIIA intern

Asian Century Competition winners

The AIIA is delighted to announce that first and second place in the online Asian Century competition were awarded to Queensland students. The competitions were funded by the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper Taskforce in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. A big congratulations to first place winner Jacqueline Roberts and second place winner Amanda Wisenthal. Both students are from Brisbane Girls Grammar and entered the school essay competition category. The girls will have their winning essays published in the AIIA Victoria Branch‟s youth publication, Monthly Access, alongside receiving complimentary AIIA membership.

Interview with Christopher Lamb

How does the DiploFoundation strive to connect students and promote a greater understanding of humanitarian diplomacy? What has been your experience with online learning and how have students responded to it?

Milly Arsic talks to former Special Adviser on International Relations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The 21st century is riddled with pressing social and human rights issues – are there any you would suggest should take priority today and why?

Diplo has great experience in running courses for students everywhere in the world. It is wellknown in its field and has a rapidly expanding What has been one of the most challenging alumni community which stays connected long experiences or decisions that you have had to make after courses are completed. Its range is My main concern, as an humanitarian actor, is with in your diplomatic career and why? evident from some statistics: in 2010 its course meeting humanitarian needs. This needs-based attracted about 1000 participants from 121 approach does not focus on human rights as such, There have been many, but one of the most challenging countries. The participants were about 30% but an accurate assessment of needs must take into and ultimately satisfying was the negotiation of the Third diplomats, 20% other civil servants, 20% account established rights. A good example, and one people from international organisations, 20% to which I give personal priority, is the UN Convention Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions, the instrument which enabled the Israeli equivalent of the from business and civil society. The on the Rights of the Child, and its requirement that Red Cross Society to join the International Red Cross male/female proportions were about 60:40. decisions taken which affect a child should give the and Red Crescent Movement. This involved Diplo also fosters discussion groups and hubs, highest priority to that child‟s best interests. overcoming a stalemate which had hindered progress and at present there are about 50 discussion for over 50 years and with it many political and legal groups and 30 remote discussion hubs, In your personal and professional career, what networks which currently have about 1000 have you found to be some effective strategies in challenges. participants in action on a wide variety of helping persuade decision makers and opinion What are some of the greatest challenges that the issues. leaders to act? How do we turn disagreement, or IFRC is currently facing in promoting humanitarian ignorance, into action? diplomacy? It is necessary first to identify the decision-makers and opinion leaders who are relevant to the action wanted. Once this is done, it is necessary to map out the factors likely to induce that person first to listen and then to act. It isn‟t a bureaucratic exercise, for it requires a good deal of personal research and the assemblage of evidence likely to be persuasive in discussion, argument or negotiation. Apart from that, I‟ve always believed in the importance of personal relationships and general good manners within them.

Gaining worldwide governmental acceptance of priority for disaster risk reduction – prevention work before disasters strike. With this there are many sub-threads, but one which is fascinating is the harmonization of national and international law relevant to the provision of disaster assistance.

International Surrogacy Requires International Response In the lead up to the Hague Conference on Private International Law‟s report on international surrogacy, to be published in April 2013, the Hague Conference will contemplate: co-operation in international surrogacy [in order to] ensure safeguards so it becomes a phenomenon in respect of the rights and interests of the children born [and] would put in place procedures to enable States…to prevent abuses, as well as to ensure, in advance, that where an arrangement proceeds, there is certainty as to the resulting child‟s legal status.1 So, why is there a need for regulation of international surrogacy law? Recent research and advancements in assisted reproductive technology have required subsequent legislative developments for the regulation of surrogacy and reproductive technology. Surrogacy is one method of assisted reproduction where a surrogate carries a child to term with the resulting child being handed to another person [or persons] and the surrogate mother relinquishing all rights1 to the child. By its nature, surrogacy is not a practice confined to state borders.2 Instead, as the quantity of surrogacy arrangements has increased, numerous private international law issues contemplating the status of children in international surrogacy arrangements have arisen.3 An example of these

circumstances was contemplated by the Hague Conference in which a child may be “marooned, stateless and parentless”4 following their birth, with either the surrogate or parents sometimes resorting to desperate action, breaching criminal and civil laws, to take the child to their “[legal] home”.5 All parties are potentially vulnerable in international surrogacy arrangements. Amongst the international community, there is a growing sense of collective responsibility to prevent these vulnerable parties‟ human and financial rights.6 The problems parties may currently encounter will not be resolved by maintaining the international system in its current state.7 The current legal inconsistencies surrounding international surrogacy suggest “there is a need and a desire for regulation”.8 That is, common regulation of the surrogacy industry would be mutually beneficial to citizens of all signatory nations and most significantly to the parties participating in cross-border surrogacy arrangements”.9 If enacted, an international legislative framework must be “flexible and adaptive to changing technology needs in order to serve its purpose” 10 as the unintended consequence of actually encouraging more international surrogacy arrangements may occur.11 In light of the imminent publication regarding international surrogacy from Hague Conference early next year, an international regulatory framework for cross broader surrogacy would be of significant benefit to the international community. Jacqueline Hagger AIIA intern supervisor

References 1 Prel. Doc. No 11 of March 2011 for the attention of the Council of April 2011 on General Affairs and Policy of the Conference (available on the Hague Conference website at < > ). 2 Katarina Trimmings and Paul Beaumont „International surrogacy arrangements: an urgent need for legal regulation at the international level‟ (2011) Journal of Private International Law 7(3), 627. 3 Richard F. Storrow, The Handmaid's Tale of Fertility Tourism: Passports and Third Parties in the Religious Regulation of Assisted Conception, (2005) Tex. Wesleyan Law Revue 12, 189-204. 5 Re X & Y (Foreign Surrogacy) [2009] Fam 71, 76C. 6 Ibid 7 Prel. Doc. No 11 of March 2011 for the attention of the Council of April 2011 on General Affairs and Policy of the Conference (available on the Hague Conference website at < >). 8 Debora L. Spar, The Baby Business: How Money, Science and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception 83 (2005). 9 Ibid. 9 Trimmings and Beaumont, above n2, 629. 10 Ibid. 11 Ibid.

Making sense of Australia’s approach to unauthorised arrivals AIIA sponsored cash prize goes to winning entry by Nathan Lindsay, UQ student The manner and extent to which Australia gives effect to its international obligations under the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees has, to varying degrees in the past 30 years, been a significant domestic policy issue. At this intersection of domestic politics and international law lies both the humanitarian right of an individual to seek asylum and the sovereign right of the state to maintain control over its borders (Skulan, 2006; 62). These rights appear to conflict most visibly in the context of the „unauthorised arrival‟ of persons seeking refugee status without a valid visa. This essay argues that since 2001, Australia‟s approach to the unauthorised arrival of asylum seekers stems from a securitisation of public discourse in which political opportunism, misinformation and an accommodating media allow those applying for recognition as refugees to be cast as a threat to Australian society. This argument is advanced in four stages. Firstly, this essay briefly recounts Federal government policy on asylum seekers since 2001 and identifies a clear pattern of attempts to deny access to Australia‟s shores and its legal system. Secondly, it is contended that these policies have been delivered through Government rhetoric designed to elevate asylum seeker flows to the realm of security and cultivate a fear of „otherness‟ for political gain.

Finally, this essay argues that the link between security rhetoric and broad public support for „tougher‟ policies on asylum seekers is sustained predominantly by public misinformation. Background: Legal Framework and Policy Since 2001 The prohibition against the refouler (return) of a refugee is enshrined in eight International Covenants, Conventions and Declarations to which Australia is a signatory (Schloendhardt, 2002; 56). Of these documents, the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is the primary source of an individual‟s right to seek and enjoy asylum in Australia (Edwards, 2005; 294). Protection obligations under the Convention extend to any person who satisfies the definition of a refugee, which requires possession of a well-founded fear of persecution that gives rise to an inability or unwillingness to secure protection in a person‟s country of origin (UNHCR, 1967; 14). The Convention confers a series of social and economic rights on refugees, as well as prohibiting the „penalization‟ of refugees who arrive in a country „unlawfully‟ (Kneebone, 2009; 7). In Australia, the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) “contains elaborate and interrelated provisions directed to the purpose of giving effect to [these] international treaty obligations” (2010 [HCA] 41). August 2001 is widely regarded as a critical turning point in asylum seeker policy (Hugo, 2002; 38). The Howard Government‟s decision to deny entry to, and subsequently intercept, a Norwegian freighter („the Tampa‟) that had rescued 433 asylum seekers from a sinking boat resulted in the enactment of the „Pacific Solution‟ (Hudson-Rodd, 2011; 1733). This Solution was instituted in two stages in the lead up to the November 2001 Federal election and

had the express aim of denying “unlawful non-citizens” access to Australian law (Ford, 2010; 32). First, Parliament passed amendments to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) which excised offshore territories from the Australian migration zone. Second, the Government entered into an agreement with Naura and Papua New Guinea to establish Offshore Processing Centres in order to ostracise asylum seekers from Australia‟s legal system (Bem, 2007; 11). This technique of redefining Australian borders in order to avoid processing asylum seekers was used in a remarkably ad hoc nature after a fishing boat carrying asylum seekers landed on Mellville Island in 2003. On that occasion, the Government swiftly excised the Island from the Migration zone, cast the boat back out to sea, and retrospectively denied its passengers any rights which had attached in the short time they were in „Australia‟ (Weber, 2006; 21). Legislation introduced by the Howard Government arguably breached numerous provisions of the Refugee Convention. Examples of these potential breaches arose through discrimination between asylum seekers on the method of their arrival, the use of „privative clauses‟ to restrict judicial review of migration decisions (Mathew, 2002; 24) and “the ability to draw adverse inferences from a lack of identity documents” (McDonald and Gelber, 2006; 275). Moreover, Australia continued its pre-existing practice of mandatory detention, attracting criticism for breaching the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Evans, 2003; 170) and the prohibition against arbitrary detention in Article 9 of the ICCPR (Kneebone, 2006; 706). The election of the Rudd Government in 2007 heralded the end of the „Pacific Solution‟. Labor closed the centres at Nauru and Manus Island, but continued to process asylum seekers at the excised Christmas Island facility. Some of

the more significant changes under the Rudd Government included the abolition of Temporary Protection Visas, such that any refugee who settles in Australia would be afforded permanent protection (Phillips, 2012), and the removal of detention debt (Millibank, 2009; 12). In contrast to these developments, in early 2010 Labor suspended the processing of asylum applications from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, a move described as a breach “of the nondiscrimination principle found in the Refugee Convention and the ICCPR” (Francis 2011; 2). Shortly after Julia Gillard became Prime Minister, 40 asylum seekers died in a boat crash off Christmas Island, prompting calls for reinstatement of offshore processing on Nauru (McKay et al, 2012; 115). Amid these calls, the Gillard Government implemented the so-called „Malaysia Solution‟. This policy constituted an agreement whereby 800 asylum seekers who had arrived in Australian territory by boat would be sent to Malaysia for determination of refugee status in return for Australia accepting 4000 recognised refugees (Weeks, 2011). Numerous human rights groups condemned the arrangement with Malaysia as an abdication of Australia‟s obligations under the Refugee Convention by sending asylum seekers to a country with “an extensive record of ill-treatment of refugees” (Wood, 2012; 274). On 1 September 2011, the High Court of Australia held that this arrangement was unlawful as Malaysia was not obliged to afford protections to refugees in domestic or international law. The Court also noted that removing asylum seekers before assessing their claims might be inconsistent with Australia‟s non-refoulement obligations (Weeks, 2011).

Subsequently, the Government‟s failed attempt to introduce amendments preventing judicial oversight of compliance with the Refugee Convention typified a long-standing bipartisan approach to unauthorised arrivals. Namely, since 2001 the Government has attempted to remove unauthorised arrivals both from our shores and, more importantly, from the rule of law (Crock, 2011; 101). The remainder of this essay addresses how this approach may be understood. Securitisation for political gain The second section of this essay argues that the Government has „securitised‟ the issue of unauthorised arrivals by unnecessarily invoking the protection of borders and national sovereignty as a policy justification. First, it is clear that there are natural alternatives to presenting asylum seekers as a threat to national security. While “the right to asylum has [historically] belonged more to the state that grants it than the individual that claims it” (Phillips, 2000), the practice of seeking asylum is not incompatible with the maintenance of sovereignty or security (McMaster, 2002; 288). An humanitarian response to asylum seekers is consistent with a liberal conception of national interest in which Australia prides itself as a good international citizen and accords with the ubiquitous embrace of the „fair go‟ (Clyne, 2005; 188). Moreover, McDonald has noted the possibility for “alternative approaches to security emphasising an ultimate concern with individual emancipation or quality of life” in lieu of the “statist, exclusionary and militaristic” approach which has prevailed in asylum seeker discourse (2001; 298)”. The Howard Government, however, represented the challenge posed by asylum seekers in “realist terms, wherein the nation-state was in need of being protected from external threats to its territorial integrity” (McDonald, 299).

This approach was evident in statements by John Howard, who justified military interception of the Tampa in light of “Australia‟s sovereign right to determine who shall enter Australia” (Devetak; 2004; 105). Similarly, Defence Minister Reith and Foreign Minister Downer described control over unauthorised maritime arrivals as raising issues of “security” and “territorial integrity” respectively (McDonald, 2001; 305). Thus, political discourse on asylum seekers constituted an extension of traditional Westphalian sovereignty to encompass “control over transborder movements” (Krasner, 2001; 24). The Howard Government mantra that “we will determine who comes to our country and the circumstances in which they come” occurred alongside attempts to contrast Australian values with those of asylum seekers (Leach, 2003; 27). Most notably, the „queue-jumpers‟ analogy was employed to distinguish the values of asylum seekers arriving by boat with a core egalitarian element of “Anglo-Australian fairness” (Clyne 2005; 184). Moreover, the Government often erroneously described asylum seekers as „illegal‟ immigrants, implying that „boatpeople‟ were not worthy of the freedoms afforded to law-abiding citizens (Vas Dev 2009; 36) and deserving of punitive responses such as mandatory detention (Kneebone et al, 2012; 117). The positioning of asylum seekers as „Other‟ and an external threat in 2001 has both historical and contemporary explanations. Historically, the unanticipated arrival of asylum seekers on Australian shores enlivens a long-standing fear of “the racial other” (Gershevetich, 2010; 4) that has existed since Federation (Burke, 2008). A more contemporary factor was the opportunity for the Coalition to use „wedge politics‟ to divide blue-collar Labor voters whilst regaining voters from the anti-immigration One Nation Party (Ward, 2002). Moreover, in line with increasing asylum applications from the

This predilection for cultivating a fear of the „unknown‟ (Gale, 2004; 334) led to criticism from the United Nations for “deliberately inflating” the threat posed by asylum seekers (Maley, 2003; 192). The Government adopted an increasingly flippant approach to such criticism, epitomized by Alexander Downer‟s comment in 2002 that “we here in Australia don‟t appreciate ill-informed criticism of Australia‟s policy…it‟s not what we pay the United Nations to do (Rudd, 2004)”. This reflected a global trend following 9/11 in which States “reemphasised the role of the border as the traditional symbol of national sovereignty” (Crepeau, 2007; 312). Conversely, humanitarian approaches that emphasize the need for protection of the individual rather than the State (Stevens, 2002; 864) were silenced, evidenced by the Government directive that public relations officers “not release any images that served to humanize asylum seekers” (Dunn, 2011; 578). Following his election in 2007, Kevin Rudd described himself as a “passionate supporter of the [Refugee] Convention”, but espoused a simultaneous “commitment to tough border protection” (Millbank, 2009; 12). Rudd‟s position on asylum seekers appeared increasingly confused, and even used phrases such as “illegal immigration” to describe asylum seekers (The Australian, 2009). Julia Gillard brought a degree of clarity to Labor‟s asylum seeker policy, announcing her intention to further develop offshore processing and framing maritime arrivals in the context of border security (Gillard, 2010). Moreover, Prime Minister Gillard‟s call for an open debate “on the issues of border protection and asylum seekers” (McDonald, 2011; 288) mirrored John Howard‟s “opposition to political correctness” in the lead up to the 2001 Federal election (Clyne, 2005; 174).

The shift toward offshore processing through the Malaysia Solution was also justified as a necessary deterrent to the „evils‟ of people-smugglers, who convince asylum seekers to undertake perilous sea voyages (Hogue, 2003; 208). Admittedly, this deterrence mechanism has led some commentators to dispute the dichotomy between restrictive policies and humanitarianism that this essay has thus far relied upon (Rod, 2001; 13). However, “there is wide consensus among both scholars and refugee organizations” that conditions in destination countries have a minimal impact on asylum seeker flows (Koser, 2010; 3). Moreover, the $1.1 billion dollars of expenditure allocated to managing „Irregular Maritime Arrivals‟ in the 2012-13 Federal Budget (Spinks, 2012) appears to be a disproportionate response to the ill-defined threat posed by less than 5,000 persons whose applications for refugee status are usually accepted (Koser, 2010; 5). These factors appear to weaken arguments that legitimate practical considerations, rather than political opportunism, compels Government policy. It is apparent, therefore, that the securitisation of asylum seeker discourse offers a partial explanation for Australia‟s approach since 2001. However, a further issue remains. Namely, why the broader Australian public has sanctioned this approach.

Public misinformation The argument that the asylum seeker debate has been securitised for political gain necessarily implies that this approach resonates with the Australian public. The final section of this essay argues that the support for policies such as mandatory detention and offshore processing relies heavily on public misinformation. First, the link between a restrictive approach toward unauthorised arrivals of asylum seekers and political success is well established. Detailed analysis of the 2001 Federal election has illustrated that the Coalition‟s success could be “widely attributed to [its] policies on asylum seekers” (Betts 2002; 38). This link is also evident in the post-Howard era, in which Kevin Rudd‟s attempts to “differentiate [Labor‟s] approach to asylum seekers” appeared to be unpopular among voters (Lowy Institute, 2009), and preceded what Greens Senator Hanson-Young has described as a “race to the bottom” between Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard (McDonald, 2011; 290). Second, it is important to identify the nature of information, or lack thereof, that Australians possess in respect of unauthorised arrivals of asylum seekers. In a poll commissioned by Amnesty International (2009), most participants estimated that “80% of asylum seekers arrive by boat”, when the actual figure was 3.4%. Other studies on public misinformation include findings that 64.3% of Australians regard asylum seekers as queue-jumpers (Pedersen et al, 2005; 173), and report widely held views that asylum seekers “threaten the security of individuals, communities and the nation” (Kneebone et al, 2012; 123). It is necessary, however, to demonstrate a connection between misinformation and support for restrictive asylum seeker policies. Numerous studies have identified a strong correlation between “negative attitudes toward asylum seekers” and false beliefs about asylum seekers, particularly regarding the illegality of their applications for refugee status (Pederson et al, 2006 and 2005). There are, however, valid counter-arguments to the validity of these studies. In particular, these surveys only measure correlation between the variables of false beliefs and public perception, but do not imply a reliable causal connection. Moreover, it is inherently difficult to measure the extent to which an individual‟s stance on asylum seekers is derived from an understanding of facts rather than subjective factors such as an embedded “Islamaphobia” (Dunn et al, 2007; 571).

and false beliefs about asylum seekers, particularly regarding the illegality of their applications for refugee status (Pederson et al, 2006 and 2005). There are, however, valid counter-arguments to the validity of these studies. In particular, these surveys only measure correlation between the variables of false beliefs and public perception, but do not imply a reliable causal connection. Moreover, it is inherently difficult to measure the extent to which an individual‟s stance on asylum seekers is derived from an understanding of facts rather than subjective factors such as an embedded “Islamaphobia” (Dunn et al, 2007; 571). While the above counter-argument is legitimate, there is strong evidence that media reporting has reinforced, rather than challenged, the use of asylum seekers as a target for subjective fears or prejudice. This dynamic has been described as the „politics of fear‟ in which the media has framed the asylum seeker debate - even discussions regarding “humanitarian ideals” - within the parameters of “national interest” and “border security” set by Government rhetoric (McKay et al, 2011; 610). Analyses of news sources reveal that the media frequently adopts misleading Government vernacular such as “illegal” and “threat” when discussing asylum seekers (Klocker and Dunn, 2003; 86). The impact of these representations are heightened in light of evidence that public perception of asylum seekers is “highly dependent” on media reporting (Kneebone, 2012; 128). Moreover, while some articles pursue a “humanitarian theme” which criticize xenophobic Government discourse (Gale, 2004; 331), the majority of media outlets erect a clear Self/Other binary by using dehumanizing labels such as “detainee” and “boatpeople” (Dunn et al, 2007; 579). This „dehumanization‟ is also evident in the relative anonymity of asylum seekers and refugees in media reporting (Pugliese, 2011), a practice that suppresses awareness of the actual motivations and characteristics of asylum seekers.

The analysis above demonstrates that misinformation strongly influences public perception on unauthorised arrivals and, critically, that a largely passive media has failed to redress this factor. Conclusion Australia‟s approach to the unauthorised arrival of asylum seekers is a product of complex interplay between political interests, media reporting and public perception. It is worth noting that there are inevitable gaps in the preceding analysis. For example, the degree to which other actors, such as human rights activists (Smits, 2009), influence public policy is an area of inquiry that rests outside the scope of this essay. This essay, however, has proposed that the securitisation of public discourse and pervasive misinformation are the predominant explanations for Australia‟s systematic attempts to evade its international obligations toward „unauthorised arrivals‟. Reference List – Sources Cited 1.

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AIIA Qld Newsletter July Edition 1 2012  

Check out the Australian Institute of International Affairs QLD Branch release of its first edition of the monthly newsletter!

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