‘The Day Australians Became Refugees’: Exposing the faultlines 8d - Materialising the Faultlines


Materialising the Faultlines

Screenshot of an article featured on 'The Shovel' webpage. The headline reads 'Dutton Calls For Turnback Of Boat Spotted Off Coast Of Mallacoota' and shows a photo of people gathered on a jetty with naval ships approaching and an ominous red-grey sky.


Some commentators on Twitter could not but juxtapose the images of Australia’s new ‘boat people’ with stock images of the very ‘boat people’ who have been reviled across two decades of toxic and racist debates on how best to prevent asylum seekers from entering the Australian nation.

The images of the Australian navy sent to rescue the bushfire ‘refugees’ was underpinned by an unsettling, if effaced, history of this military organisation and the commandeering of its vessels by the Australian government to stage the push back of refugee boats from Australian waters.

An article on the satire site The Shovel carried the headline, ‘Dutton Calls For Turnback Of Boat Spotted Off Coast Of Mallacoota‘:

Mr Dutton said he was unmoved by the stories of desperation. “These people are desperate, they’re trying to save themselves and their families, and they’ve totally run out of other options. So obviously we cannot possibly accept them here,” Mr Dutton said.

Comparisons and  juxtapositions such as these, we contend, are not about belittling the plight of Australia’s bushfire evacuees, but about materialising the deep fault lines that inscribe the nation’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. These are fault lines marked by the forces of settler colonialism, race and the ongoing settler usurpation of Indigenous sovereignty.



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