The problem with being brown

By August 29, 2018Australian Politics, Society

Australian Army Captain Jason Scanes served in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban with the Afghan National Army. While there, he was assigned an interpreter, Hassan. Scanes has been trying for five years to get Hassan asylum in Australia, for the latter’s safety (he has already been the target of an attempted hit-and-run). One can only imagine what the Taliban would do to him if they found out who he was. Scanes had begun what promised to be a daily protest outside then Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton’s electorate office in Brisbane. Of course, Dutton’s office contacted Scanes to tell him that Hassan’s case was being reviewed, but that Dutton could not meet him because, as Dutton would be involved in the review, that would be a conflict of interest1. Such a statement is risible, given the corruption of this government. In April this year one of Dutton’s minions, Tom Fleming stated that Scanes would be provided with an update within the next three weeks. Scanes said it was a relief to know that the case is being reviewed and that he realised the process would take time1. Scanes’ Forsaken Fighters Australia Facebook page is worth reading2.

By late May, Scanes found out that Hassan had been denied refugee status, despite the fact that other interpreters have been murdered by the Taliban. It has been stated that he was denied a visa because of a “language technicality”. Hassan opted for having his interview conducted in English instead of his native language, and when asked by an American assessment officer if he had ever committed a violent act against Australia, Hassan’s reply was ‘Not yet’ instead of ‘Never’. This lack of understanding of the nuances of English was enough for the American to deny Hassan3, on the basis of this failed US Defense Department character test4. The Americans still seem to tell us what to do. Unlike Australia, interpreters who worked for the British Army have been granted the right to live in the UK.

On March 5th this year, an asylum-seeker family in Biloela (Queensland) had their home stormed by Border Force officers, police and Serco (!) guards. This happened one day after the expiry of the mother’s (Priya) bridging visa. The couple (father is Nades) and their two daughters (Dharuniga 7 months old, and Kopiga 2½) were given 10 minutes to pack up. Both daughters were born in Australia and their parents fled Sri Lanka up to 18 years ago and came to Australia in 2013 and were married here. Nades, who works at the local meatworks, was associated with the Tamil Tigers and at best faces persecution if sent back to Sri Lanka5. This family have been held in Broadmeadows Detention Centre (in Melbourne) for a few months, and have been allowed to stay in the centre for the time being while their appeal against their deportation is heard6. Since the family was forcefully removed from their home, members of the Biloela community have sent a petition to Peter Dutton for the family to be returned to their community. At the time of writing this piece, over 119,000 people have signed the petition7.

On October 31st, in 2015, a French woman named Alexandra Deuwel was detained at Adelaide’s international airport. Her Tourist visa was cancelled at the border because there were suspicions that she intended to work. This was because she had been counselled over allegedly breaking visa conditions during an earlier stay in Australia. However, Peter Dutton intervened to save Deuwel from deportation within 24 hours of her arrival. Dutton stated that “it would be in the public interest to grant this person a visa” and “that as a discretionary and humanitarian act to an individual, with ongoing needs it is in the interests of Australia as a humane and generous society to grant this person a visitor visa”8. However, this is where the story gets very interesting. Deuwel had previously worked (allegedly against the terms of her visa) for Callum and Skye MacLachlan in South Australia and was returning to visit them. Furthermore, when detained, she told the Border Force officers that she intended to work while in Australia. Callum MacLachlan is joint managing director of the Jumbuck Pastoral company and is second cousin to the AFL’s CEO, Gillon McLachlan (even though they spell their name differently), and it’s understood that an AFL official rang Dutton’s chief of staff, Craig MacLachlan (no relation, apparently) on behalf of Gillon MacLachlan to ask Dutton to intervene, which he clearly did9. It gets worse. Callum MacLachlan’s father is Hugh MacLachlan, who, over the last 20 years has donated about $150,000 to state and federal branches of the Liberal Party, including a $20,000 donation in 2008 and a $25,000 donation in 2013. Six months after Dutton’s intervention in the Deuwel case, Hugh MacLachlan donated $50,000 to the South Australian branch of the Liberal Party10.

What is the difference between the stories of Hassan, Priya and Nades, and Deuwel? Probably two things: Deuwel was white and her employers were Liberal Party donors. This is where our nation is at. Our government is clearly corrupt and run by bigots, and is almost at a point where it cannot even be bothered covering it up any more. It is a disgrace. If this bunch of criminals are re-elected, this nation is stuffed.



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