When I came to Australia in 1952, I couldn’t speak English, I couldn’t count to 10 and I came by boat. If Minister Dutton had been on the wharf, would he have turned my boat back?
I know heaps of people who run restaurants, market stalls, who are builders and taxi drivers. I know many hard-working people who clean other people’s toilets and bathrooms, who tend other people’s gardens and do menial jobs because those jobs are available because Australian-born people won’t do them.
Almost all of them couldn’t speak English when they came to Australia and hardly any of them have taken jobs of Australian-born people; neither have they spent a lot of time on the dole queue.
I have met a few old blokes who plied their trade, without the benefit of English, on the Snowy Hydro scheme. Nuff said.
And I remember in about 1975 and 1976, people saying that our Australian way of life is under threat from the Vietnamese invasion by leaky boats. They were going to destroy our way of life and take our jobs. Sound familiar?
As an aside and to show another similarity, we had bombed their country to blazes to fight an anti-West ideology far from our shores and these people were the victims of that war. Sound a bit like Iraq, Afghanistan? Syria?
I also know of a couple of Australian-born people who work the required number of hours in a volunteer capacity deliberately so that they can satisfy the dole test requirement where, if you do the required hours of volunteer work, you don’t have to show that you have submitted job applications. Sound like a dole bludger to you?
I understand, anecdotally, that in Nimbin and Kuranda in Queensland, it is the accepted way of life to have the major source of one’s income from the public purse in lieu of actual manual or intellectual labour, for which a wage is paid and taxes duly handed over.
So Minister Dutton has raised the spectre once again that these asylum-seekers, speaking no English and being largely illiterate in their own language, being innumerate and stealing places in the dole queue, are a major threat to our way of life.
Rounding the numbers just for ease of imagery, the Libs want a limit of 15,000, Labor 34,000 and the Greens 50,000.
From where I’m sitting, I can’t see a huge threat from an influx of genuine refugees numbering less than half the number of people who live in Tuggeranong. I can’t see my lifestyle being threatened by a small number of folk being brought here from the misery of Manus and Nauru as a gesture of humanity, with no guarantee of repetition. I can’t see any chance of the menial jobs like fruit picking being threatened by the acceptance of these asylum-seekers.
But I can see a scare campaign taking hold. It is sad that those who wouldn’t apply for a cleaner’s job, a fruit picker’s job, a menial task, would deny someone who deserves a break.
It’s sad that those whose employment results in a financial return that can raise the deposit for a number of negatively geared properties or island-based investment strategies, whose philosophy is the trickle-down effect (while not actually doing it), can’t see that our nation was built by these hard-working, salt of the earth type folks.
My own party, the ALP, is a bit better in that they want to raise the intake figures but anything short of closing Manus and Nauru and opening on-shore processing centres, will not satisfy me.
The Greens will never be in power anyway so they can take a moral high ground as usual.
Oh, back to the beginning. I came to Australia in 1952, aged three years old. Naturally, English was not my strong suit, neither was counting and I lived in two process centres for the next six years. And when I left school to find work having not completed high school, I refused to apply for the dole and did whatever I could find.
I say bring them in, welcome them in, and reap the benefits.