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Attention Australia's politicians: I've had enough!

By Tim Wishart - posted Monday, 30 April 2001

Somehow in the last week or so I have sloughed off my blinkers. I don't know how. I don't know why. But it happened.

I am guilty of having been attracted to (but I hasten to say – not voted for) bits of Pauline Hanson's rhetoric: if immigrants come to our shores illegally, by the back door – send them packing! What's wrong with mandatory sentencing? The solution is simple: if you don't want to go to prison, don't break the law.

But its just not that easy, is it?


It seems to me that we are guilty of putting our illegal immigrants into concentration camps. Let's not forget that our British forebears invented concentration camps during the Boer War. And we are following in that British tradition – just as the Nazis did.

I have decided that I find the notion of putting people into concentration camps (however called) abhorrent. Even if these people have come to our country uninvited and illegally, they deserve better.

After all haven't we tacitly invited them? On important civic occasions (sometimes broadcast to the world) do we not sing; "For those who've come across the seas, we've boundless plains to share"? – but of course no one knows the second verse.

Yet when they answer that invitation we lock them away in a prison in the middle of nowhere.

We should hang our heads in shame.

Let us not forget that the Pilgrim Fathers (where were the mothers?) that America remembers each Thanksgiving were boat people in much the same mould as our boat people.


We swallow the guff that the politicians shovel to us to justify this shameful practice. They tell us that these people aren't refugees. They tell us that these people are wealthy and privileged.

If they are wealthy and privileged why do they feel compelled to run away on a journey that must be fraught with peril and uncertainty, to a place that they know will probably put them, at least temporarily, into a concentration camp?

I no longer believe what our politicians, of whatever colour, tell me.

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This article was first published in "Yoursay" at

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About the Author

Tim Wishart was endorsed as a People Power candidate for the 2001 senate election.

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