A Christmas (Island) Post: the agenda for 2011

I haven’t been able to fully comprehend the tragedy that happened on Christmas Island this month because I’ve quarantined myself (hah! geddit! Oh dear) from the news and the political vitriol that followed. I just couldn’t do it.

But next year Imma have lots of time on my hands and Imma get them dirty (with Andrew Bolt’s blood if need be…) on this.  There’s been far too much of this BS  going on for far too long.

As Ben Eltham has put it so well in The Drum today, this is the agenda for next year:

What Australia needs most is a new policy to change the attitudes of Australians, not the practices of people smugglers. We need a national effort to stop the fear, not the boats. A sustained campaign by government, the media and informed citizens to demystify the issues around refugees and to allay the fears of ordinary Australians might help change the debate. Rather than mounting a hysterical reaction as boat after boat reaches our shores, we might instead reflect on the opportunities we are offering desperate people to start a new life. Ironically, the increase in asylum seeker inflows might assist this practice, as Australians come to realise that migration inflows are a regular and predictable fact of international affairs, not an unprecedented assault on the integrity of our national borders.

Who’s in with me?

your face is illegal [refugees and asylum seekers]

I was having a tanty the other day when I heard a news-anchor* refer to the asylum seekers who are going to be housed in Northam as ‘illegal immigrants’ that turned into a rather heated debate.

The debate ended with me throwing up my hands in frustration and us agreeing to disagree.  I was pretty pissed off.

Mostly, I was unhappy with myself for not having the actual answer — even though I knew I was right, that asylum seekers are not illegal, the best I could do wasn’t much short of going, “YOUR MAMMA IS ILLEGAL”.

So much for 6 years of law school and reading lots of stuff.  [Peter Garrett must resign &c]

I thought I was going pretty well by arguing that there is no law that says “if you come to Australia without a visa you commit an offence and are a detestable criminal”, and there is totally a difference between being ‘illegal’ and being ‘unauthorised’.

My opposition countered that if you need to have a visa to be ‘authorised’, and come here without the visa, you are unauthorised and that’s basically illegal. Cause that’s not legal.

[Me: Your face isn’t legal].

The Libs continue to use “illegal boat arrival[z]” and I think that’s one of the most damaging things in the debate about asylum seekers at the moment: of course people [let’s not call them rednecks, &c] are going to worry that people we lock up behind razor wire are scary if every day they are insidiously referenced as being tantamount to criminals.

Please don’t get me started on when our Dear Leaders as well as saying it out say horrible, incorrect, mean-nasties out loud (you know, it’s so scary to have 1500 single men in one place. Like in a mining camp).

So I got on the path to truth and wisdom as soon as I could and reminded myself the following things, which I encourage you to remember and share with your friends and bring up when you’re having your own debates in your communities about this issue:

  • Asylum seekers are not migrants, who leave their country voluntarily (often a choice they make to seek economic gain on yonder shores).  Asylum seekers leave because they are forced to flee from their homeland for fear of persecution and cannot return due to that fear [ASRC];
  • Asylum seekers – regardless of how they arrive in Australia – are permitted under Australian and international law to enter Australia for the purpose of seeking asylum, therefore asylum seekers have not broken any law [RCOA];
  • All people have a fundamental human right to seek asylum from persecution [AHRC]; and
  • Australia is a signatory to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, but successive governments have continually failed to fulfill Australia’s obligations under international law [AIA].

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has an excellent Fact Sheet out that I also recommend that you read and share.

For those of you interested in something heavier about the debate between sovereignty (ie, deciding ‘who comes into our country and blah blah blah’) and the human right to seek asylum, there’s a great paper in the Australian Year Book of International Law entitled ‘Sovereignty and the Right to Seek Asylum: The Case of Cambodian Asylum-Seekers in Australia’ (written in 1994 – the  laws have changed a bit but the debate hasn’t at all) that is available on AustLII.

*It was 7 Perth on Sunday 7 Nov 2010. Boo-hiss.

Gen Y goes to work (and whinges about it)

So I’m a Gen Y, right, and frankly, I’m quite proud of us. While I freely admit that there are some of us who may be narcissistic, materialistic attention-seekers (as an absolutely un-researched, baseless, person opinion, I think this mostly applies to kiddly-winks born after 1986, but I know lots of peeps my age who are like that), I reckon it’s bloody awesome that I went to high school with about five girls who wanted to be PM and change the world, just like I did, and honestly could do it if they really wanted to.

Sure, maybe I just went to a feminazi all-girls school, maybe I hung out with totally geeks, whatevs, but the fact is that there are plenty of good apples to make up for the bad ones, and this applies to “Gen Y” just as much as the Baby Boomers and whatever other generations there are (just KIDDING!!).

But we’re still getting a bad rap for being whiny little twerps. A few months ago there was this article on Jezebel (heart) that, ironically, I was reading at work because I was so over my shitty job (which I totally did not go to six years of university to get paid at public service salary for):

I spoke with an acquaintance who just graduated from college last May, and is about eight months into her first-ever job. I asked her, now that the stress of the first six months and figuring out the lay of the land, how she likes her work. “I answer the phone and file things,” she said. “You don’t need a college degree to do what I do. It’s stupid that I am in this job.”

Jezebel cited and NYT article that quoted Dan Pink (who is totally Oprah’s new guru, by the way) on what’s wrong with Gen Y and why we’re whinging about having to do shit jobs when, frankly, we’re way too awesome to have to do that:

“This generation has been spoon-fed self-esteem cereal for the past 22 years,” he said. “They’ve been told it’s all about them — what they want, what they are passionate about, what they find fulfilling. That’s not a bad message, but it’s also not a complete message.”

This point of view is shared among many, apparently:

“Generation Y is much less likely to respond to the traditional command-and-control type of management still popular in much of today’s workforce,” says Jordan Kaplan, an associate managerial science professor at Long Island University-Brooklyn in New York. “They’ve grown up questioning their parents, and now they’re questioning their employers. They don’t know how to shut up, which is great, but that’s aggravating to the 50-year-old manager who says, ‘Do it and do it now.’ “

But Dan Pink has some life-lessons for us, so that we get the complete message:

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko” (Riverhead Trade) is a career guide cum manga comic designed to appeal to the newest entrants to the workplace. During the illustrated tale, the title character learns six lessons that Gen Y workers might not have fully absorbed at home.

I scanned over the 23-page preview that’s available online, and urgh, don’t you just hate it when you realise someone’s got you pegged?

So I’m sitting here on a Saturday night, and I am actually supposed to be doing work (but surprise, surprise, I’m blogging, but fricking-eh, it’s Saturday night) because my co-worker is going on holidays and my boss is making me finish HER work as well, and I know I’m not going to get that done otherwise.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been completely miserable about my work lot, because this was totally not what I had reasonably expected to be this job to be like — if I’d really wanted to be doing work at home on a Saturday night, I’d have gone straight to The Firm and been happy with the  nice-little private-sector salary I’d be getting in lieu of free time. I was totally expecting to not only be working 9-5 flat, but also have really interesting work to be doing (which my collegues get to do — grumble grumble)

But do you know what freaks the heck out of me?

The blurb to Dan Pink’s book A Whole New Mind — Oprah’s new bible about “professional success and personal fulfillment” in the post-Information Age — highlights that lawyers (and accountants and software engineers etc) are totally going to be part of the dead professions. So where will that leave me?

Freaking out in the cobwebs?


[Un]Happiness And The [Start] Of The Working Week

Sitting at work during the 10-minute internet break I’m giving myself for working super hard for an hour and a half (despite the horror start to the day), and find this gem from Put Things Off in my Google Reader.

Despite all the obvious warnings, like the cubicle stress that ends in Godzilla-style office rampages, all of this is somehow considered normal. Commuting is a fact of life, isn’t it? Or perhaps, like me, you find a dark humour in wasting our lives by physically travelling to work in the Internet age. If it wasn’t so sad it might be funny.

It was pouring with rain this morning. After the thunderstorms last night, the clouds apparently had a few more dams-full to squeeze out. The traffic was horrendous. A 10-minute drive (which I would normally catch the bus for, since petrol is nearing $1.65/L this week) took over 3 times as long. On the walk from the car park to my office, my beautiful bespoke-tailored-for-super-cheap-in-Vietnam pants got so soaked that I probably don’t need to worry about finding time to get them to the dry-cleaners this week — they are ruined.

On days like this, if I was able to work from home, Monday-itis would be a LOT easier to deal with.

Great article, Nick.

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