Climate change means millions of refugees. Australia must prepare

Climate change means millions of refugees. Australia must prepare

Jo Vallentine writes: Rebekah Holt is stating the bleeding obvious — i.e. that Australia’s immigration policy needs a major overhaul. It is cruel. It is demeaning to those directly involved and upsetting to those watching the government “out-Dutton Dutton”.

The government, the opposition and all Australians ought to realise that the trickle of people arriving by boat, seeking asylum, is nothing compared to what we can expect in the future. The climate crisis will see millions of people displaced, looking for a safe place to live. Thousands will try to get to Australia, although we have climate-induced challenges here too.

We should be looking ahead to develop policies that will manage huge influxes of people escaping from their drowned home countries. We should be practising generosity right now so that our communities can ready themselves to help people in dire straits.

Angela H. Smith writes: Clare O’Neil has proudly declared that Dutton never wrote immigration detention laws as tough as the Labor government. Her government has criminalised non-citizens who breach visa conditions after being released from detention and has introduced a bill that is more draconian and punitive than Dutton would have dreamt up in his wildest border-cop imaginings.

The government’s most recent proposed legislation provides mandatory prison terms for those who don’t cooperate with their own deportation and gives the minister a Trumpian-style power to ban citizens from entire countries from applying for a visa to come to Australia.

The Labor government is trashing the lives and human rights of asylum seekers and refugees in its political maneuvering to demonstrate that it is tougher on border security than Dutton and co.

Joanna Mendelssohn writes: Esther Anatolitis’ excellent article gave me a yearning for times past on ABC TV. Once we had witty documentary series’ — The Shock of the New and The Art of Australia — talking about art in a way that directly engaged with audiences without condescension. Later, Hannah Gadsby gave Australian art her own piercingly intelligent spin in Hannah Gadsby’s Oz (comedy’s gain has been art history’s loss). Andrew Frost’s The Art Life was able to both explain and take the piss out of contemporary art.

And now? When the ABC deigns to notice the arts the information is usually stale and/or a regurgitated media release — unless it is an overly reverential documentary, or more likely, an import.

Yet Australia-wide, the actual arts scene — exhibitions, performances, institutions — attract more people than ever before.

There are other issues that deserve public scrutiny. The long tail of Howard et al’s attack on the humanities and universities has led to the reduction (and in some cases elimination) of fields of arts scholarship in some universities.

There is the additional problem of class discrimination. The traditional way for artists/musicians/writers from working-class families to gain professional education via teaching scholarships was killed off years ago. Only those from affluent families can now afford to consider a career in the arts.

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