I woke this morning at about five o’clock to the sound of cock crows and magpie chortles, knowing that my third piece, Welcome to Australia, would appear in On Line Opinion today.
It’s a controversial piece and in the pre-dawn darkness I feared some would misread it and accuse me of being anti-Australian. Then I thought that if they did, it would only serve to strengthen one of the themes.
My thoughts wandered on to all the different sorts of people who are against our treatment of asylum seekers. From human rights lawyers such as Julian Burnside, to doctors, actors, musicians, writers, teachers, religious groups and social advocates, Liberal voters, Labor voters, Greens voters, all sorts of people motivated by all sorts of factors.
The bottom line for all of us is that we care.
Why do I care? What motivates me? Before the break of dawn I recalled my relatively late entry into the asylum-seeker cause. It was entirely the result of investigative journalist Antony Loewenstein’s book, Profits of Doom. A fast-paced read taking the reader from Curtin to Christmas Island, then on to PNG and beyond. Of concern to Loewenstein is the role that transnational corporations such as Serco and G4S and Transfield play in the detention of asylum seekers. He calls them vulture capitalists. I think that’s an apt description.
And such corporations don’t restrict themselves to running detention centres. They run our railways, our hospitals, our courts, our prisons, our defence services, anything in fact that governments outsource. Even, if our government has its way, Medicare.
I can only conclude that asylum seekers held in indefinite detention are profiting these vulture corps in exactly the same way as we profit the very same corporations the moment we hop on a train. Corporations who also profit from our taxes, which our governments hand over in payment for their services.
Asylum seekers are the ultimate victims of this system. Like prisoners, the longer they are there, and the more of them there are, the greater the corporate profit.
Yet there is no separation here. We are all victims of the same system.
I think that is why I am so passionate about the mandatory detention of asylum seekers. They are lambs, sacrificed in the name of a dollar god.