Asylum Seekers: Australia's Response to Refugees
Two groups of refugees arrived in Australia in 1999: Kosovar refugees and Chinese boat people. One group was welcomed with open arms; the other was interned. Don McMaster analyses Australia’s discriminatory policy towards the group that it has constructed as its “other”: the “hordes from the north,” the “yellow peril.” He locates the earliest fear of ‘Asians’ in attitudes to Chinese goldminers in the 1850s. Half a century later this fear culminated in the White Australia policy, enshrined in the first legislation of the new federal Parliament. Thus the very beginnings of Australia’s immigration policy were explicitly racist. Asylum Seekers is an indictment of present policies and a call to create a more humane response to people who desperately seek asylum.
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