A federal election to determine all 226 members of the 45th Australian parliament will take place on July 2.
The election is considered significantly important. One of the factors that make it more crucial than any previous election is the economic transition the country is witnessing, from a mining export-based to a more service-based economy.
Australia has one of the world’s largest economies, and it is dubbed the “lucky country” not because of its political strength but due to its natural resources.
However, many pundits believe that the country is running out of luck, and they believe the mining boom is over and the economy will remain sluggish.
A successful economic transition, which would actually boost the economy, is unfortunately treated as a second-degree political matter.
Instead, xenophobia and the refugee crisis are two of the most discussed agenda elements for a number of politicians. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, among others, kicked off his campaign by making a controversial comment about migrants, calling them “illiterate” and claimed “they will take Australian jobs.”
The rationale behind his comment can be understood through his fascination with U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump, the Republican party’s only remaining candidate.
But why would the Australian minister flirt with Trump’s anti-immigration views?
First, many people believe that the rise of Trump is based on his controversial anti-immigrant speeches, in which he has spoken on several occasions about building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. and banning Muslims from coming to the U.S.
As Australians fear the spread of insecurity, Dutton thought it would pay off to use their concerns to grab more votes. He’s aware of the fact that the attention of the Australian public is shifting from important issues such as economic development to less important ones.
Dutton is currently facing the same fate as Donald Trump. The minister’s views were condemned not only by the Australian Labor party whose leadership has asked him to resign, but also by the Australian Green party and the Australian public.
Citizens whose parents came to Australia and contributed enormously to the country’s prosperity and multiculturalism, were outraged at his anti-refugee comments.
Whether the purpose of his provocative comments was to distract the public’s attention or to gain more votes, it is a clear underestimation of the significant contributions of migrants across Australia.
Some of the election campaigns are not bringing anything new to the table – they’re a mere repetition of old stances. Those same campaigns are the ones overlooking those who have transformed the Australian economy, such as the Muslim cameleers who had worked tirelessly to open up the Australian outback and had helped with the construction of overland telegraph line and railways.
In the post-World War II era, more than two million migrants came to Australia from Europe, after their countries had been destroyed, and started doing whatever jobs the government gave them, putting strenuous efforts to establish a new life and offer better means to their subsequent generations.
A huge number of currently successful people in Australia have parents or even grandparents who migrated to Australia.
Dutton’s comments were not left unchecked. He was grilled on social media, here are examples of how people reacted:
my mum was an illiterate migrant who taught herself english then went on to have an MP son and a daughter who is a phenomenal twitter celeb— Sabina Husic (@sabinahusic) May 18, 2016
Dutton’s remarks are surely offensive to all immigrants—how many Vietnamese refugees could read & write English? How many Italians & Greeks?— Caspar Fairhall (@PixelsAndAtoms) May 18, 2016
An American guy whose name happens to be Peter Dutton was mistaken for the Australian minister on Twitter and received some of the backlash. Here is how he tried to distance himself:
As the world faces some incredible challenges, anti-immigration campaigns are surging in different countries and it has become obvious by now that their leaders are trying to divide their communities through spreading a fear of others.
By looking at polls, the two major political parties in Australia, the Labor party and the Liberal party, seem to be in a tight race. The election’s outcome is yet unpredictable but one thing is for sure, Dutton, like Trump, became a frontrunner for the wrong reason.
Cover credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV