We’ve been pwned

I read this: Residents erupt over detention centre plans:

“They have come in illegally so we don’t trust them. That is why we are suspicious about it,” another said.

“They are coming in by the back door. They sneaked in.”

And I heard people on ABC radio this morning saying they didn’t want the children of refugees to be at the same schools as their own children.

And it made me think of this:

“… the “queue jumper” terminology represented not just empty government rhetoric but also an expression of real fears about the “legitimacy” of asylum seekers,” (Romano, 2004, p. 56).

And this:

“Journalists rarely deal with the issue of how the community understands and copes with the present situation… Why is it that citizens who see few or no refugees coming into their area and no direct signs of the immediate impact of their arrival still voice concern about the arrivals?,” (Romano, 2004, p. 55).

And this:

“… instead of a range of peoples and cultures
[on television news], we see mainly Anglo faces, projecting an archetypal image of a “white Australia” that is more applicable to the 1950s than it is today. More disturbingly, when we do encounter people from manifestly different racial, cultural or religious backgrounds, they tend to be featured as victims, or as social deviants, or as in some way “unAustralian”, (Phillips, 2009, p. 19).

And this:

“Those who believe in racial hierarchy and separation (old racisms) are a minority and are largely the same people who self-identify as being prejudiced. The ‘new racisms’ of cultural intolerance, denial of Anglo-privilege and narrow constructions of nation have a much stronger hold,” (Dunn et al. 2004, p. 409).

But mainly this:

“… research shows that media coverage has been heavily influenced by the Federal Government’s generation and manipulation of public fear for electoral gain (Klocher & Dunn, 2003; Mares, 2002; Saxton, 2003; Slattery, 2003),” (Romano, 2004, p.55).

We – the public and the media – have been pwned by the Howard, Rudd and Gillard Governments. They wanted us to hate asylum seekers, and now we hate asylum seekers. They wanted us to think that 692 people a year is a massive problem, and now we think that 692 people a year is a MASSIVE PROBLEM. John Howard must have soiled his pants a little when he (or, more likely, an adviser) came up with “we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” – a sentence that’s almost nine years old to the day, and one I’ve heard trotted out constantly since then. Even my own mother (an immigrant) has used it.


Dunn, K., Forrest, J., Burnley I., & McDonald, A. (2004), ‘Constructing Racism in Australia’, Australian Journal of Social Issues, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 409-430.

Phillips, G. (2009), ‘Ethnic minorities in Australia’s television news: a second snapshot’, Australian Journalism Review, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 19-32.

Romano, A. (2004), ‘Journalism’s role in mediating public conversation on asylum seekers and refugees in Australia’, Australian Journalism Review, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 43-62.

35 responses to “We’ve been pwned

  1. Upsetting and disappointing but not surprising.

    • I had a conversation today with another journo about our role in creating anti-asylum seeker sentiment in Australia by reporting every single boat that comes anywhere near us, so people – our audience – get the impression we’re being swamped. She said it’s not our fault, that Australians have always disliked immigrants and that applies to asylum seekers. I call bullshit on that.

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  3. And again I will accuse the MSM of not doing their job . One or two or even six whiners in the crowd get the attention.
    Surely it’s not too hard to find a punter who either does not care if refugees move into the neighbourhood or actively welcomes immigrants.
    Of the people I know most dont give a toss one way or the other a small number might grumble but really dont care .Of course there is the bloody nutcase that raves and rants ,the fucking know all who gets their information from the libs friend the shock jock .
    Why is that the one that gets their ugly ideas broadcast?

    • Tredlgt, I think the MSM hasn’t been doing their job properly for a long time. I believe that news should be useful to people, to tell them about their world and give them the information they need to make decisions about things happening in their world. I don’t believe the MSM does this any more. On the asylum seeker issue, quoting the Government and the Opposition does not make a balanced story.

      And to answer your question, the angry person gets their ugly ideas broadcast because apparently that’s the real story. I call bullshit. There are apparently 1826 people in Woodside, and according to the news reports, around 500 don’t want asylum seekers there. Which means that 1326 are ok with it – assuming the 500 are legitimate residents and not a rent-a-crowd, which is probaby more likely since some were yelling anti-Muslim bullshit, and there are some white supremacists in South Australia, as well as the Church of Creativity which I won’t link to. And this is where current journalistic ideas of what makes a balanced story has gone pear-shaped. Balance in this case does not mean quoting department officials/Tony Burke and some of the angry residents. Balance includes interviewing those residents who don’t mind/don’t care/openly welcome the asylum seekers and actually having a three-voice story. Gosh, imagine that!

  4. The media and TV does give the impression that only anglos live in Australia but all of us who live in the real world know this is a nonsense. I travel on a so called anglo train line because of the suburbs it travels through but often I am only one of 3 or 4 passengers that are white in my carriage. It is time that this variety in population is shown. It might make people more accepting. But it also perhaps adds piquancy to the nature of the resistance to boat people. If Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Sri Lankan populations out number the anglos then they too contribute to the disquiet that is being voiced.

  5. You’re absolutely spot on, again

  6. NWN
    It is also possible that in the crowd of 500 were people who truly wanted to find out from the officials just what was occurring ,not to protest but to actually engage in their society, maybe to even offer assistance . With the fucking media looking for the biggest nut jobs to highlight who would put their hand up to be the reasonable one and if they did would the reporters report? SAD SAD SAD.

    • In my experience, journos tend to think their readers are idiots who cannot understand politics, which is why they only report the ‘colour’, rather than an intelligent report of what actually happened.

  7. Thanks for this post. I am passing it on to everyone I know.

  8. And people say that Australia isn’t a racist country.

    • Aw, c’mon berry, you know a lot of people say Australia is a racist country.

    • I think only white Australians would say that. And certainly not all of them.
      Outside of Australia it is perceived as pretty racist, at least in my experience.

    • I thinkit is interesting that Australia has this kind of dual perception thing going on.
      On one side you have this sunshiny, happy go lucky, laid back, have a crack, opportunity filled image.
      ‘australia, the best mate everone wants to have’.
      But the other side is narrow minded and indemically racist.
      The latter seems to be forgiven because the former is much more pallatable and inviting.
      Or is it just me who thinks this?

      • You only have to look at the Sydney Olympics to see this – we used indigenous culture as part of our national image that we projected to the rest of the world, but in reality, we treat indigenous Australians like shit.

  9. Depressing isn’t it?
    Australia is racist, but I think it has become considerably worse in the last 10 years or so. Worse in that it has become much more publicly vocal by its regular exposure in ‘legitimate ‘ media. It seems to be acceptable nowadays to say the most stupid and ignorant things and have it then reported as being an ‘opinion’. Consequently, people who might otherwise think twice before stating something because they know they don’t know enough about it, suddenly find that ‘lots of other people’ (because that’s what it seems like) are saying what they might only be sort of wondering about.

    My take on it is not so much that journo’s have a particular view of the public, but that they need to earn their bread and butter working for the media we have in Australia. Fear and outrage just sells better. Pragmatism and resolving issues is boring. The media is not here to report, but to sell, the policiticians buy into this to gain publicity. Just think of the policians that get the most media space.

    I’m lucky in that I’m bilingual, and with the internet, I can access other media outlets. Australia is very, very poorly served by the media we have.

    • Hi Yvonne, welcome to the News with Nipples. I’m not convinced that fear and outrage do sell better (look at how popular feel-good reality tv is), but I am convinced that news organisations think it sells better. Problem is, now they think everything has to be outrageous.

  10. good article in The Monthly about how and why Australia has developed this bizarre reaction to migrants over the last 20 or so years.

    Actually we were having a discussion in my office on Friday about the issues in SA and then it morphed into a chat about how radical Howard was as a politician (he’s such a nasty little man isn’t he, I’m quite entertained by his public ‘vomit’ at the mo) anyway back to subject… the Indigenous chick in my team half way through the chat just reminded everyone that all Australians are migrants so everyone out there in SA or wherever whingeing should just pull their heads in…nuff said.

    As a side note, its worth remembering that migrants are not always accepting of other migrants and do not speak with one voice. There can be rivalries, prejudices and racism from all nations. There can be annoyance if some are ‘fast tracked’ particularly if they waited 10 years in a camp. It can even be as simple as ‘pick on the new guy and then they wont pick on me any more’ or ‘we did it right and they arent’ You’ll hear lots of old Italians, eastern Europeans etc moaning about ‘boat people’ and Muslims are whatever the group du jour is.

  11. There’s nothing I like better than a good post with references! (Well, there probably is, but I do like it quite a lot)

  12. I especially hate, hate, HATE, the way “asylum seekers” and “immigrants” are constantly conflated. John Howard did it on #qanda tonight and not one single person pointed out that IT’S NOT THE SAME THING. It’s a massive difference having a passport and immigration documentation and getting on a plane to having no documentation and having to take whatever chances you can afford to take. It’s criminal that that confusion is allowed to continue.

    • Shiny, hello. I refused to watch qanda because of Howard. Reading the paper this morning, it’s a shame that shoe didn’t hit him. I also see he completely avoided answering David Hicks’ question.

      That confusion serves a purpose – the MSM loves it because they think everything must be sensationalised, and the politicians love it because they think/know there’s votes in it, but it’s all a bunch of bullshit.

  13. Apparently we have a member of the Fraser government to thank for the term “queue jumpers”. Ian Macphee, the then Min. for Immigration & Ethnic Affairs is said to have first used the term in the House of Representatives in 1982. (though there was an article by Dr Moss Cass, opposition spokesman on immigration and ethnic affairs published in The Australian entitled “Stop this unjust queue jumping” in 1978)

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