Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

A Note On Our National Debate

Boat people.

Just the name is enough to make me sigh, sink into my chair, and switch off mentally. It's nothing short of a political distraction, an item to toss around when there are more important things to discuss, one that gets the multicultural country of Australia up in arms, and has politicians making all sorts of random proposals, and why not? Boat people are a minuscule number of the country's intake of migrants, they also represent a minority that is not only voiceless, but happens to be from another country. In short, you can say and do anything you want with boat people, because boat people are voiceless. To put into perspective just how voiceless, I came across a graph the other day, which I thought particularly interesting.

The boat people debate has been around for years, however, and a cynical person might suggest that our new Prime Minister has attacked it with such relentless ambition because it provides an easy distraction from her sudden step into power, the back down over the mining policy (read: big business owns Australia, and they just showed it) and the slow turning voter tide that is taking place in Western Sydney. Indeed, Western Sydney has been tossed into the same pool as the boat people, with various commentators claiming that the reason why this issue has to be solved now, is because the people in Western Sydney are the 'front line' and are concerned, mad, ill informed, or any combination of those three plus more, about the subject.

It is, in short, bullshit.

The Western Suburbs of Sydney is not worrying about boat people. I know this because I live in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, a deeply multicultural area which has long been misrepresented by the media, especially by journalists, who have more than once been accused of not travelling beyond Leichardt. It is an area that has long lived under the sigma of misrepresentation: the gangs of Campbelltown, Blacktown, Fairfield, and Mt Druitt, to name a few, the violence in each, the poverty, the racism, and so on and so forth, in an ugly collection of bad news reporting, stereotypes, and misinformation.

The truth about a voter turn against anyone in the NSW government is based in the story of a government that has been in power for much too long, and which has over the years fallen into a series of scandals over sexuality, money, and race. If the Labor Government of NSW is removed it will have nothing to do with the politics of Australia at all--it will not rely upon boat people, mining taxes, or whether or not Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard look good in a bathing suit. It will be due to stagnation, to simply being tired of the same old lies. Anyone telling you otherwise is peddling the same old story for years, which like everywhere else, has an ounce of truth in it, just as another ounce of people reject it fully. It's a large, multicultural community lodged out here, and it's worth remembering that.


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