“Go back to where you came from”: Australia’s asylum seeker policy, 2007-2015

Eyalama, I 2015, “Go back to where you came from”: Australia’s asylum seeker policy, 2007-2015, Masters by Research, Global, Urban and Social Sciences, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title “Go back to where you came from”: Australia’s asylum seeker policy, 2007-2015
Author(s) Eyalama, I
Year 2015
Abstract Australia’s asylum seeker policy in recent years has been contentious in nature. It is arguably designed to send asylum seekers back to wherever they came from and if not detain them in a third country. How and why deterrence has become the hallmark of Australia’s asylum seeker policy while Australia had a well-deserved reputation as a country accepting of refugees, is something that needs to be explored. In exploring deterrence as a central aspect of Australia’s asylum seeker policy, I have employed an analytic framework comprising Bacchi’s “What’s the problem represented to be” and Lakoff”s account of the role of metaphors. For research data the thesis draws on seventeen asylum seeker bills presented to the Australian Federal Parliament between 2007 and 2015, as well as speeches, press releases and media events involving Prime Ministers and a range of Ministers for the period 2007 and early 2015. This research builds on existing research on asylum seekers in two ways. It builds on work already done analysing successive government’s policies since 1992. It also analyses these policies using a new framework and emphasis on political discourse. I have identified the representation of asylum seekers as a security problem. There are also five key metaphors that explicate what successive Australian governments have treated as the key problems and the course of action it took based on its problematisations. The first metaphor is the “country as home” metaphor that represents the problem of “illegal” boat arrivals by constructing Australia as a house/home under threat from asylum seekers. The second metaphor is the “queue” metaphor where the asylum seeker system is depicted as though it is a queue, which has formed out the front of the “Australian home”. The third metaphor constitutes the arrival of asylum seeker boats as a “natural disaster” that leads us to believe that like any disaster, they pose a serious threat, but in the form of insecurity, and also issues of identity. The fourth metaphor justifies the government’s chosen course of action. The fifth and final metaphor is the “war” metaphor with the depiction of boat arrivals as an “invading army”. While these metaphors are not isolated but are well bounded, they originate from the Australian/western understanding of a home and privacy. Each metaphor relies on the existence of the other metaphors for support and reinforcement for representing what the problem is and what action is required. The first three metaphors serve to represent Australia as a home, a home that is under threat and what it is under threat from. The findings from this analysis are that there are specific ideologically (mis)informed representations of asylum seekers in the context of metaphors. This research has busted these representations and findings should guide policy makers and advocates to rethink the current approaches to asylum seekers.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Sciences
Subjects Australian Government and Politics
Political Science not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Asylum seekers
Australian Parliament
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Created: Wed, 06 Apr 2016, 13:49:22 EST by Keely Chapman
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