'Genuine' Refugees or Illegitimate 'Boat People': Political Constructions of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Malaysia Deal Debate

By Rowe, Elizabeth; OBrien, Erin | Australian Journal of Social Issues, Winter 2014 | Go to article overview

'Genuine' Refugees or Illegitimate 'Boat People': Political Constructions of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Malaysia Deal Debate


Rowe, Elizabeth, OBrien, Erin, Australian Journal of Social Issues


Introduction

In May 2011, then Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that the Australian Labor Federal Government had plans to strike a deal with the Malaysian Government to swap 800 asylum seekers for 4000 refugees. This proposed 'Malaysia Deal' was the latest in a long line of policies designed to manage the arrival of 'irregular' migrants to Australia. The history of Australian immigration policy has often been criticised for its exclusionary and delegitimising measures of irregular migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees (Crock & Berg 2011; Grewcock 2009; Mares 2002a). The White Australia Policy (1) saw the restriction of non-European migration for more than 70 years until the 1970s when the policy was formally abandoned (Crock & Berg 2011, 113; Grewcock 2009). Following the end of the Vietnam War, the arrival of more than 50 boats carrying asylum seekers from South East Asia prompted an increase in concern regarding people arriving by boat, and as a result the term 'boat people' emerged in the media, public and political discourses (Grewcock 2009; Phillips & Spinks 2011). This concern and anxiety has captured the attention of successive governments and resulted in the introduction of restrictions and exclusionary measures towards unauthorised arrivals, including and most notably the establishment of mandatory detention for all unauthorised arrivals introduced under Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating in 1992 (Grewcock 2009; Phillips & Spinks 2011). The last two decades have been characterised by increasingly negative attitudes towards asylum seekers, crystallising around major events such as the Tampa Crisis, (2) and resulting in exclusionary political agendas and policies, such as the introduction of the Pacific Solution (3) under former Coalition Prime Minister John Howard (Every 2006, 10; Augoustinos & Quinn 2003).

The proposed Malaysia Deal emerged within an ongoing maelstrom of public debate about asylum seekers, and sparked significant discussion in Federal Parliament. In August 2011 the High Court ultimately declared the Malaysia Deal to be illegal and invalid, and following this the Labor Government proposed an alternative solution involving settlement of so-called 'boat people' in Papua New Guinea instead. More recently, following a change in government in September 2013, the Liberal/National Coalition under Prime Minister Tony Abbott maintained the policy of offshore detention and processing, and established 'Operation Sovereign Borders'--a military style response to irregular immigration and asylum seekers that includes a priority on deterrence measures and the possibility of asylum seeker boats being towed back to their origin (RCOA 2013). The Malaysia Deal represented the first in a series of significant policy changes over the last three years seeking an alternative to the 'Pacific Solution'. The parliamentary discourse surrounding the Malaysia proposal thus offers significant insight into the social construction of asylum seekers and refugees in Australian politics.

Methodology

This article draws on research examining the Hansard transcripts of debates on the Malaysia Deal in the Commonwealth House of Representatives and Senate in the time period from 1 May 2011 until 1 October 2011; which included several months of negotiation, the signing of the agreement on 25 July 2011, and the aftermath of the High Court ruling. Initially, 360 transcripts were identified through searches of Hansard using the search terms 'asylum seekers', 'refugees', 'boat people', 'irregular maritime arrival' and 'Malaysia Deal or Agreement'. To work with a manageable sample size the analysis was limited to all transcripts that refer specifically to the Malaysia Agreement, producing a sample size of 182 transcripts. Statements, debates and speeches from all major and minor parties; Independent politicians were also included in the data collection. Parliamentarians from the two major parties in Australian Federal politics--Labour and the Coalition--contributed the most statements to the data, due to the larger numbers of representatives from these parties in the House and the Senate. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

'Genuine' Refugees or Illegitimate 'Boat People': Political Constructions of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Malaysia Deal Debate
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.