Michelle Grattan on Kevin Andrews and Africans

07 Oct


Has the gatekeeper turned card dealer? is fair comment in my view.

Andrews’s mishandling of the Sudanese issue, talking up their alleged problems of integration, has been very odd. The politically tempting explanation is that this was a Government effort to play the “race card”. But there’s something unconvincing about that. This election is not 2001. The “race card” would be seen as a cynical tactic; it could lose more votes in middle-class marginals than it might gain in more redneck areas.

Certainly Labor, with its “me too” policy on cutting the African slice of the refugee intake is avoiding leaving itself vulnerable to any wedge politics, although spokesman Tony Burke quickly jumped in to condemn Andrews.

It’s possible Andrews has created a political storm by stirring the race pot without having any deliberate strategy to do so. Some describe him as narrow in focus and very “technical” in his approach. That might explain his failure to couch any negatives within the wider story of these African refugees. In fact, once they get over initial settlement challenges they make very good migrants…

And such a wonderful caricature of The Plonker by David Rowe!

The Sun-Herald has admirably also published Meet Abuk, 17, the sad face of a political storm, who just wants to see her mum today: “ABUK Atem is one of the Sudanese refugees Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews says isn’t integrating well into Australia. The 17-year-old is sitting her year 12 exams at a Canberra college and hopes to repay her adopted country by becoming a nurse. But for now, what the shy teenager wants most is her mum.”

Andrews deserves the chop.


Jim Belshaw has a very interesting analysis of the way the term “racism” may stymie proper discussion of these matters. He is, I should add, no great admirer of The Plonker either. Good call, Jim. Especially as I partly prompted it. I agree with you about the use of the term “bogan”. Do read what Jim has to say.

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Posted by on October 7, 2007 in Aussie interest, Current affairs, immigration, Jim Belshaw, Multiculturalism and diversity, News and Current Affairs, Politics, racism


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