A submission to the 2015 ALP Draft Platform

The ALP recently released a draft platform and asked for submissions. The platform will be debated at the upcoming 2015 Conference.

I kept my comments to the section on skilled migration. I tried to write this submission in terms similar to the platform itself, so there is are not many policy details but more high level statements and comments. I also attempted to make my contribution able to engage with and pragmatic, knowing this is a tricky area for the ALP and we should be finding places of agreement as well as defining disagreement.

My submission is below and was provided the 18th of May.

ALP Policy Platform submission

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft national platform.

I previously worked at the Department of Immigration and currently work for the Migration Council Australia. This submission is provided in a strict personal capacity.

Section 55: There are demonstrated benefits of circular migration to both origin and destination countries. I believe the term ‘brain drain’ is an overly negative stereotype and the emigration of Australians can have long-term benefits to the Australian economy from return migration. An estimated ~1 million Australians live overseas and as a party, I believe there is value in better engagement and capacity using the Australian diaspora. New Zealand has a defined policy around its diaspora that could be considered. This would help encourage return migration and to import knowledge and innovation in a global economy.

Recommendation: Remove the term ‘brain drain’ and commit to engagement with Australia’s diaspora.

Section 59-60: There are multiple references to the role of temporary and permanent migration. This is the single most important policy for Australia’s skilled migration framework. I believe there should be pathway to permanent residency based criteria around time spent in Australia. The worst possible outcome is a migrant who is ‘permanently temporary’, excluded from full engagement in Australian society. This also undermines working conditions for Australian citizens and permanent migrants.

Recommendation: A commitment that no migrant will be ‘permanently temporary’.

Section 61-62: An increasing number of permanent migrants are granted their visa in Australia. This has increased from 23 per cent in 1996 to 50 per cent in 2014. This trend will continue to increase in the coming years and the implications should be explored more fully.

For example:

  • 70 per cent of 457 visa holders who stay in Australia for 10 months intend to become permanent residents. The term ‘temporary’ in this circumstance is a misnomer and hurts policy development.
  • Instead of providing information on workplace rights and responsibilities and welcoming permanent migrants to Australia’s community (Section 61.4), this process should have occurred on entry to Australia.
  • ‘Short-term skill shortages’ (Section 62:1) is the objective of temporary migration yet permanent migration is predominantly targeted at medium- and long-term critical skill gaps. There is some contradiction here.
  • Temporary and permanent migration decisions are often driven by decisions of migrants. This is missing from consideration in Section 61 and 62. While there is a legislative difference between an employer sponsored temporary and permanent visa, there is very little different between the two people in the labour market.

These trends are recognised in Section 65. Yet given these examples, I believe there is justification to merge Section 61 and 62 to demonstrate a policy approach that is more reflective on what actually occurs in the labour market with regard to skilled migration. Section 65 should also be incorporated as a general statement of principles.

By creating such a clear delineation between temporary and permanent migration, policy options become restricted and fail to capture migrants who can fall through the gaps.

Recommendation: Combine Section 61 and 62, with reference to similarities and differences of temporary and permanent migration.

Section 63: I support the commitment to removing the possibility to engage in sham contracting.

This section also provides a logical place to reference a commitment to ‘whistle-blower’ provisions for migrants who are exploited, regardless of their visa status. This status would not penalise migrants and provide a unique bridging visa allowing full work rights without a sponsor for a defined period of time.

Recommendation: Include a commitment to ‘whistle-blower’ status for migrants who are exploited in the labour market.

Section 64: I support Ministerial Advice Council on Skilled Migration. I believe the Council should work in similar fashion to the Productivity Committee, providing reports via formal terms of reference from the Minister for Immigration. In addition, a biannual labour market report would be released on how migration policies are functioning.

The Council should also have a demonstrated commitment to publicly releasing all reports. There should be a process to engage externally as the Council deems fit.

Recommendation: Include provisions where the Minister for Immigration can formally request specific reviews. Reference a commitment to transparency for the Ministerial Council.

Section 65: As discussed previously, merge with sections 61-62 to better article policy to temporary and permanent migration pathways.

The reference to requiring labour market testing for permanent residency is poor policy. This would hurt migrant’s settlement prospects and be an unnecessary barrier to gaining permanent residency. The previous commitment to permanent residency, “Labour prefers permanent skilled migration to temporary skilled migration” (Section 60), is undermined by constructing new barriers to permanent migration. Labour market testing would also stymie encouraging employers to sponsor temporary migrants for permanent residency, as referenced in the third sentence of Section 65.

I also believe “any transition to permanent residency status should not be automatic” is too strict. There are currently migrants who fall through the gaps, as it is easier to access temporary migration than permanent migration. Over time, this will lead to a growing population of migrants who are ‘permanently temporary’.

By providing a pathway to permanent residency based on time-criteria, for example 10 years, this will limit exploitation in the labour market and better support working conditions for Australian citizens and permanent residents.

I believe it is morally unjustified to tell a person who has lived in Australia for 10 years on a temporary visa to ‘go home’ given Australia is now their home. Even in cases whereby the labour market conditions have shifted, this should not force those who have made Australia their home to be removed.

Recommendation: Remove references to labour market testing for permanent residency status. Reference a commitment to a pathway to time-based criteria for permanent migration.

Section 66: I support the commitment outlined in this section. I believe now is the time to initiate a full re-write of the Migration Act. The Act was written in 1958 and the Regulations in 1994. In this time, migration has completely transformed. The Act is not able to deal effectively with a range of issues, such as the migration zone, the intersection with the Fair Work Act or temporary and permanent visas. In addition, policy is so broad that there are multiple occasions where legislation is poorly interpreted. A commitment to re-write the Migration Act would create a critical opportunity to address Australia’s migration policy framework for the 21st century.

Recommendation: A commitment to introduce a new Migration Act.

A look in the mirror

Two events this week demonstrated how the progressive movement can struggle when it comes to migration in Australia.

The most obvious is how the lack of movement on asylum policies will occasionally come back to bite.

Richard Marles’ comments this week – when you actually read them – are nothing out of the ordinary. He spoke about how Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is paramount and boat turn backs damage the relationship (true). He said how the government had yet to establish how the process was safe (true; at least publicly this has not been shown). He did not mention the concept of refoulement but that is more difficult on a five minute talking head spot.

But that’s not how it works. We live in a binary world of yes/no. “Might” doesn’t exist and thinking through issues occurs privately. Marles’ should have known better. The tension within the ALP over asylum policy isn’t going anywhere and this was an opportunity for it to flare up onto the front pages.

Is it possible to simple not talk about asylum policy in Australia for an entire term of government? We’re going to find out as the ALP try.

And least anyone assume I say this negatively, I believe this is the only way forward. Compare it to how the Abbott government handles workplace relations. Don’t respond. Don’t bite. Ignore the question until you are blue in the face. In a vacuum, I would prefer a different approach, one where issues are debated on their merits and evidence is advanced. This is not quite the environment we find ourselves in.

There is a relatively straightforward pathway for the ALP to take into the next election; a world-leading humanitarian program of 20,000-25,000, a commitment to keep relations with Indonesia above politics, offshore resettlement as part of a regional solution and opposition to TPVs. This might sound familiar give it’s the status quo for the ALP.

One cannot forge proper relations with the Indonesian government from opposition. You cannot craft a sustainable regional solution from opposition. The hard work will come in government as the current set of asylum policies are unsustainable over a period of time any longer than 3-5 years. While pull factors exist, push factors also play out over time. This is the largely unacknowledged gap in Operation Sovereign Borders, the most expensive per capita migration policy in the world.

Passionate ALP members and progressive community advocates do not like this status quo. But the way to improve the long-term outcome of Australia’s asylum policies is from government. Witness the current lack of visa processing from the government and you immediately see a stark difference in asylum policy despite the incessant cries that the two parties are the same.

The other event was less political, more difficult. It should generate a reflection of what an Australian progressive movement wants when it comes to immigration. Unfortunately the moment will likely pass us by unnoticed or ignored.

The Scanlon Foundation produces an annual survey on social cohesion and public attitudes to migration. To quote David Marr, the reports contain “a beautiful set of figures”.

In 2014, Australian attitudes to immigration are stark. Unlike OECD countries across the world, Australian’s are largely supportive of immigration. Only 35 per cent of people think immigration is ‘too high’ whereas 58 per cent say it is ‘about right’ or ‘too low’. We are a positive outlier in one of the most socially divisive issues in the developed world.

This is incredible for a number of reasons. The actual number of migrants arriving is high and stable. Combined with soft feelings about the economy and slightly higher unemployment, tradition would dictate about half the population would think there are too many migrants arriving.

Yet this is happening (in part) because people are not concerned about asylum. In 2013, a full 12 per cent of the population thought this was the most pressing issue facing Australia. A year later this figure is four per cent. While the economy still plays a strong role in determining Australian attitudes to immigration as a whole, it cannot be doubted that these attitudes are also influenced by the particulars of asylum policy.

How should a progressive respond to such findings?

These are some of the most popular comments on the Marr’s write-up of the findings which represent attitudes similar to what I’ve seen and heard elsewhere:

DameEdnasGlasses: “Oscar Wilde nailed it.’Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious’. If people are happy now they are bloody idiots who deserve to lose the excellent quality of life we used to have to bigoted thieves.”

Wobbly: “Great weather, beaches and food, but too right wing, too intolerant, too anti-intellectual, too apathetic about environmental degradation, Murdoch too powerful and Abbott is worst PM in Australia’s history. You can live well with blinkers on but nirvana it is not.”

Brnost: “What we are seeing is not, as the article suggests, a rise in patriotism, but rather a rise in nationalism of the worst kind – the kind that fuels xenophobic right-wing groups such as the Tea Party and UKIP.”

There are a couple of take-aways from this. The most evident is people will write uninformed rubbish in the comments section.

Take the last comment above. The Tea Party and UKIP exist (in part) to oppose immigration. This is clearly not compatible with Australian attitudes to immigration, where concern is at a historic modern low. One way to look at the current environment is that there is no space for a UKIP to emerge because people do support immigration, on the proviso it is ordered. Look at the failure in the 2013 election of the myriad of far-right, explicitly xenophobic parties.

Other commenters seem perturbed how public attitudes will ‘follow’ politicians. Yet on asylum, you only need to examine opinion over time to see where our failure as a progressive force on asylum stems from.

Since about 2010, between 20-25 per cent of the public support permanent residence and settlement in Australia for asylum seekers. The rest of Australia – around three-quarters – doesn’t. This finding hasn’t changed over time. 63 per cent of Green voters agree, 31 per cent of ALP voters and just 13 per cent of Liberal voters.

That’s the equation for progressive Australia on the question of asylum and public attitudes to immigration.

I think about migration a lot. I work at the Migration Council Australia. I have an Amazon wish list titled ‘migration books’. My Twitter feed is about 30-40 per cent migration-related.

I believe both; people should have more freedom to move, particularly those seeking asylum, and, public attitudes to migration are extremely vital for long-term societal cohesion.

And at the moment, I have no idea what to think about these results. But I do believe if we continue with the current approach embodied by the comments above, history will simply repeat.

My thoughts on Richard Marles at the National Press Club

You can think offshore processing is akin to state-sponsored criminality. You can think all asylum seekers are simply economic migrants.

Whatever you think, the fact Richard Marles is talking about his policy area is a positive. The easiest thing in the world would be to go quiet. Avoid the spotlight. Refuse to respond.

A National Press Club address is an invitation to engage.

Despite this initial good news, Marles’ speech contains grains of difficulty, multiple truths to reconcile and points to an uncertain future.

Marles outlined three values – compassion, fairness and generosity – to provide the foundation of ALP policy on asylum. Yet every example he cites is easily responded to by ALP members and politicians opposed to offshore processing and settlement.

“Compassion does lead us to seek an end to the loss of life at sea” said Marles, but what about Reza Berati they say?

“Fairness leads us to empower the UNHCR in helping us make the choice of who should qualify for our humanitarian program rather than people smugglers”, said Marles, but what about those without access to the UNHCR, in Quetta and Tehran?

“Generosity leads us to increase our humanitarian program”, said Marles. What about the generosity to those stuck in Java?

Most forcefully, “A fundamental maxim: that we as a country should not harm people”, said Marles. But, Shadow Minister, what about the claim up to half of those being detained offshore are suffering from “significant depression, stress or anxiety“? What about the fact the average life expectancy in Papua New Guinea is nearly two decades less than Australia?

There is no objective position in this debate. To bifurcate them as we do is a disservice to the underlying complexities of how people move between and within countries.

I side more closely with Richard Marles in this debate but it is not either/or. More meaningfully, he is right to identify the complexities of the policy and the simplicity of the politics.

He understands the conflict inherent in his words:

There are many voices in the debate today calling for the closure of Australia’s offshore processing.

These voices speak from compassion. And I respect them and recognise the humanity they bring to a terrible debate.

But if compassion is our touchstone, I cannot see how Australia does not accept an obligation surrounding this terrible journey.

“And through it all we must ensure that we never harm people as a form of deterrence.”

Deterrence, as many discover too late in the journey, is a fickle beast. Some policies designed to deter – such as Temporary Protection Visas – are found wanting. They inflict cruelty as they don’t deter and cause harm.

Other policies to deter – such as offshore resettlement – appear, initially at least, to have more power to deter.

Australia is beautiful and rich. A place where dreams are made in the third world. A land of proverbial milk and honey. Papua New Guinea and Cambodia are anything but. They are racked with violence and exist within a fragile political environment. This is harmful. A young man sent to Port Moresby is harmed by not being able to join our society in Australia. His life is shortened by this government policy.

To deter is to harm. This is because relative to Australia, almost anywhere is somewhere less.

And yet, there is a place for this policy. Deterrence is at the heart of global asylum policies.

I do not expect an elected member of parliament to publicly exhort the Australian government to harm asylum seekers. Words have long been the most effective weapon in politics and speaking these words would end Mr Marles’ tenure.

But they are important to how we understand Australia’s current policy framework on seeking asylum.

Deterrence equals harm. To be deterred is to not reach Australia. In this sense, it is hard to see how compassion, fairness and generosity reconcile with deterrence.

But this is what a concrete regional policy must look like. A system where the nation-state – governments across the region – dictate the movement of people. Policy coordination on small things, like visas, will create the foundations for a more substantial policy of burden sharing. Burden sharing is the ultimate goal of any regional policy and we are a long way from there. Unfortunately for Richard Marles, this is not something easily achieved from Opposition. Platitudes and the right signs are about as much as one can do.

Towing back boats to southern Java is a short-term measure which will not stand the test of time. Refusing to resettle asylum seekers in Australia is also likely to call into this category. An ‘all or nothing’ approach to deterrence is likely to fail because its divisive, expensive and cannot be sustained without the war-like environment we have dazzled ourselves into.

If you believe, as I do, that the attraction of Australia to asylum seekers will persist over time, the current set of policies is inadequate, insufficient. This is Richard Marles’ best way forward. This is the ALP’s best way forward. This is Australia’s best way forward.

Marles’ words on the government ring loud and clear. Yet “political opportunism” is an easy term to defend when you have “stopped the boats”. Malaysia is an afterthought if Cambodia exists in the here and now. These are battles are already years old and it shows. But they are critical.

Despite the protests of the then-Opposition, the Malaysia Solution was, and remains, the starting point for asylum policy in South East Asia. Australia takes the primary share of responsibility in terms of settling people. Other countries in the region lessen their responsibility while implementing other measures designed to limit irregular movements. Unlike PNG or Cambodia, a policy based on the primary tenets of the Malaysia Solution provides for improved, yet imperfect, environment where regionalism can play the overriding role.

This is deterrence, with softer edges and an ability to survive the next election cycle. The potential benefits are massive. Over a hundred thousand asylum seekers in Malaysia stand to benefit from that government being drawn into a regional framework. Using leverage in this system, Australia may be able to prod and poke forward rights which we take for granted. Engagement creates this opportunity. Our current system appears to foster resentment rather than opportunity. We are in no position to help those most vulnerable in the region because we are disengaged.

No-one is able to prosecute the brief in Marles’ possession. He is not debating Scott Morrison. He is debating nearly 15 years of struggle, an issue which divides the ALP unlike any other. When he does engage Scott Morrison – by promoting the ‘scoreboard’, tallying death at seas – Marles’ appears morbid to his own supporters who want a simple ideological hero, not a man pointing to how many days have passed without boats.

This isn’t easy or pleasant. Marles’ does not argue with intent on the government’s position on Manus Island because his position does not allow it.

But his words from today at the National Press Club, combined with real policy difference like the massive disparity in numbers under the humanitarian program, will help.

At the moment, Australia has the neither an approach to asylum policy steeped in a commitment to human rights or one infused with utilitarian logic. I hope this changes and that as a country, we muddle through to somewhere better.

Should Martin Ferguson be kicked out of the ALP?

The sad part is that we are even discussing this.

The WA state executive of the ALP has asked the national executive of the ALP to expel Martin Ferguson – longtime ALP MP, former Cabinet Minister, ex-President of the ACTU – from the Australian Labor Party. From my (limited) understanding, I don’t believe the national executive has to do anything with this motion. Regardless, this is a symbolic event for a party that lauds it history over its primary political opponent.

Notionally, the motion is because Mr Ferguson, it is argued, has broken a rule by becoming a lobbyist after leaving Parliament.

Let us be clear. This is not about the rules of the ALP. This is about policy, personality and politics.

Ferguson was a strong supporter of the Mining industry within the last Rudd and Gillard governments. In his other portfolios – Energy and Tourism – he supported industry positions, including on contentious issues such as some industrial relations matters and immigration policy. As a Cabinet minister with policy responsibility, he lined up against some traditional tenants of the ALP, including some major unions such as the Maritime Union of Australia and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. Notably, the WA motion was seconded by Carolyn Smith, the secretary of United Voice, a union covering much of the tourism industry.

Inevitably, these issues split over into personal animosities. In the article linked to above, Mr Ferguson is quoted by the Australian as saying “As far as I’m concerned Christy Cain and his ilk can go to hell”, Christy Cain being the State Secretary of Maritime Union of Australia. For his part, Mr Cain said of Mr Ferguson, “He’s with his right whack now, his right people – the bosses, the employers. I’m happy for that”. What presumably started (a long time ago) as a set of legitimate policy differences has transformed into something quite different. 

Behind it all is politics. Perhaps this is a ruse by the WA executive to move on from the Joe Bullock senate disaster. This might be too unkind. It may be a show of strength, signalling to those elsewhere to stay out of their business. It might even be aimed at voters, an attempt to show the ALP is moving in a new direction, away from the people and (some of the) policies of the Rudd and Gillard governments. I don’t know.

But whatever it is, I abhor it. Whatever you think of Martin Ferguson, you cannot take away his role in shaping the ALP over the past three decades. If you don’t like the result, playing the man instead of focusing on the here and now, only highlights how far backwards we in the ALP have really gone.

In the middle of a national discussion about the worst Budget from a progressive perspective in nearly two decades, the best thing the WA ALP could come up with was to fight yesterday’s war of personalities? Give me a break.

I understand many in the ALP do not agree with the policy positions Ferguson took. His position on Uranium for instance attracts many opponents. Yet look at the ALP’s policy position on uranium. Martin Ferguson did not win that battle. If he advocated for retainment of the ABCC within the Rudd/Gillard governments, he lost that battle also. Martin Ferguson’s opponents get there way more than he does in the ALP. We all have the right to oppose or support policies as we see fit. This right does not extend to attacking the people who promote such policies.

Expelling him from the ALP reeks of opportunistic, shallow symbolism. It ignores 30 years of service for a chance to make noise. It exacerbates tension within the party by acting recklessly, forcing people to choose sides. It reduces others’ commitment to the ALP, impacting how we treat each other. While dissimilar in nearly every manner to Mark Latham, this example again shows how the ALP is weaker without a diversity of voices. If this is how we treat members and representatives with such a record of commitment, I can see how a regular member who has concerns about a policy or party rule is easily perturbed.

Some might argue this is nothing more than a factional stoush being played out in the media. But its more than that. This might be someone’s first encounter with the ALP. A member might read the paper and think why bother. Dealing with the fallout with chew through time which should be spent elsewhere. It reinforces the meme some (read: particular News Limited publications) have that the ALP like talking about themselves over anything else.

Martin Ferguson should not be kicked out of the ALP. It shouldn’t even be a conversation.

The end of softly, softly for the ALP on asylum policy

Senator Dastyari said five principles should underpin the offshore processing regime if it is to continue – greater transparency in the form of open access to offshore processing facilities, fair access to legal assistance, faster processing and improved care for asylum seekers.

Most significantly, Senator Dastyari has called for an independent review of every asylum seeker case by the refugee tribunal.

(Source)

The softly, softly approach on asylum policy lasted six months for the ALP. Dastyari is one of a handful of people in the ALP who is able to seriously start this conversation.

And he’s right. Offshore, regional processing does not have to be this way. Secret and nasty, brutish. At the moment, there is no processing on Manus Island. It’s not processing, it’s offshore detention.

I would echo the call in particular for transparency, legal assistance and recourse. In conjunction with an increase to the humanitarian program, the ALP can have an asylum policy which recognises Australia has a role to play in this global issue, defines a genuine regional framework and treats people with respect. The young Hazara men profiled in this piece – Taking the Carrot – should not be forced to wait forever.

The most successful period of Australian asylum policy – participation in the post-Vietnam asylum resettlement scheme – was integrated into a regional approach. While the scope and scale is vastly different today than it was then, similar notions of cooperation should be at the heart of Australian policy. Manus and Nauru shouldering this burden alone isn’t good enough.

Is compromise a dirty word? My Labor for Refugees experience

Last night I attended a Labor For Refugees event, hosted by the Refugee Action Committee at ANU. That there were over 100 people in attendance, an admirably showing for a mid-week forum. Yet I felt a great sense of disappointment. I fail to see how Labor for Refugees will effect positive change and am mortified by some of the very ugly messages heard.

First is the notion of compromise. I would summarise the policy position of the refugee movement as; onshore processing, permanent visas, replacing mandatory detention with community living, de-linking asylum seekers from the humanitarian program, as well as raising the number of humanitarian refugees Australia accepts. We are so far from this set of options. Therefore, its critical to find points of compromise to slowly begin the process of change.

I heard none of this. I asked a question about where the speakers thought there could be compromise and I didn’t receive a single straight response. I heard violent rhetoric about John Howard, Tony Abbott and Chris Bowen. I heard cliches about scare campaigns. But I didn’t heard compromise. Personally, I believe the longer term objective should be to raise the humanitarian program substantially while implementing a deep, broad regional framework. I didn’t feel there was much support for this in the room. I was even told these ‘solutions’ were promoted by the ALP in the immediate past because they simply didn’t know what else to do, inferring elected politicians don’t really care about boat drownings. How quickly we forget that the period of asylum policy under Malcolm Fraser was built on a bedrock of regional cooperation. Boats were not an optimal occurrence, even in 1982.

Instead of compromise, we heard other ideas. “Cut immigration to 100,000 and accept 100,000 refugees”, “The Houston Review was a load of baloney”, “Regional solutions are just about stopping the boats, a distraction”. I should of been disgusted and angry, but instead I could only shake my head.

Further, there was a strong belief the Australian people have been hoodwinked by a wicked media and devilish politicians.

‘People have been manipulated by the stop the boats message’

This could not be further from the truth. Thankfully, one speaker rose above this and commented on the way the advocacy movement had a tendency for one way communication which limited the ability to reach the people who ought to be targeted. The comment, ‘our asylum debate takes the place of a real policy debate’ I believe to be far more accurate and was well said. Thank you Yvette Berry.

Perhaps most disappointing was the contempt for other migrants, expressed by both a speaker and a person asking a question. When you think the way to “win” this debate is to ask people to compare refugees vs. 457 visas vs. backpackers, you’ve already lost. Not only was this said, it was a “key fact”, something to lead the way forward in discussions with other people on asylum seekers. Just for good measure, we were told of the “wave of Chinese workers” about to descend on Australia. It was hard to believe I was in the 21st century.

Replacing the fear of one migrant with another is to enter a never ending abyss of hatred. Admittedly, this sentiment was questioned. But it was a strong presence in the room and finds institutional support elsewhere in the refugee advocacy movement.

Finally, many of the speakers and audience members spoke of their optimism. I was told a turning point was coming, leading to significant social change. Given where we find ourselves as a nation on asylum policy combined with an intolerance to compromise (perhaps best epitomised by the Malaysia solution, opposed by both the current government and the Greens), I don’t understand this sense of optimism. Rallies and speeches do not a movement make.

It is undoubtedly true it is easier to demonise the vulnerable yet this is not an excuse to ignore a way forward. There is no tipping point in this debate. There is only a long, hard road to change.

Disgusting. ALP to voters: Can you trust Habib?

It’s easy to get caught up in politics, especially at election time. A sense of hurry and importance changes how decisions are otherwise made.

However, this isn’t an excuse for racism. This is an official ALP endorsed campaign flyer targeting a Liberal candidate, Carolyn Habib, in the South Australian state election:

(Source: Adelaide Now)

This is sickening, but as an ALP member, I feel a great sense of shame.

As Tory Shepherd outlines here, it is clearly designed to appeal to underlying racist attitudes. It is disgusting – no ifs, no buts. This flies in the face of what the vast majority of people in the ALP believe in but more meaningfully, undermines their passion for stamping out this type of behaviour. Multiculturalism is meant to be led from the front by politicians, instead of being undermined by racist campaign methods.

I’m sending an email to the National Secretary to express my displeasure as an ALP member (albeit from a different state). You can do the same: National.secretary@cbr.alp.org.au 

(Note: I received a reply and of course this is a state issue. You can instead contact the State Secretary of the SA ALP here:  Reggie.Martin@sa.alp.org.au)