It seems that some Australians are responding to the ‘dob in a worker’ campaign as urged by Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) (see link here). The land of the fair go is becoming a myth of the past as more Australians are fast becoming fearful toadies to our lying politicians. What a heroic land we are building for our children, full of people ever ready to snitch and tell.
Our taxes are being poured into this great enterprise, funding carloads of DIMIA compliance officers scurrying across the land from north to south and east to west, no farm too isolated, no town too distant, spying in every corner, seeking out the stranger who dares to work without papers.
All this activity for the 0.2 per cent of the people who come into the country each year.
The reasons to question this enterprise are many. For some it is the issue of human rights, for others it is the practicalities of depriving farmers of essential workers and for others it just makes no sense while the business lobby are begging for workers. Whatever the reason for our disquiet, our fears that the compliance officers and their overseers are changing the culture of our country into something ugly, aggressive and punitive, are very real.
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Homes are invaded and raided in the early morn, children screaming as DIMIA officers rip open cupboards and laundry baskets in search of uniforms or pay slips – evidence of the heinous crime of working. People are then dragged off to detention centres.
Some of these people are on Bridging visas, awaiting decisions on applications for asylum, but denied the right to work and have no right to income support. When they are found working – literally to eat – the game is up. It is a great tactic to starve people out of the country.
In Sydney Road, Melbourne there are many businesses which trade in the middle-eastern style with tea drinking and chatter alongside commerce. One such business is an Islamic butcher renowned for his big heart. One afternoon four men leapt from a parked car and ran shouting into the shop like stormtroopers. One man flashed a pass at an old man who was actually blind, the others jumped the counter screaming for everyone to stand still and then they propped. There were three butchers lined up at the bench with their tools of trade in hand. The butcher told me later that they were lucky his men had not used their knives because they all thought that this was a robbery in progress.
The reason for this raid was that someone had dobbed in a woman asylum seeker who lived in a Red Cross house and who used to come to the shop to drink tea and chat with the workers and customers. The butcher often gave her a bag of meat to take back to the house where other asylum seeker women and children were living. The woman was not working as claimed and was not in the shop at the time.
Another raid took place on the other side of town in leafy elegant Armadale where an Australian family had offered hospitality to a young Iraqi couple just released from detention. The woman was heavily pregnant and alone in the house when the stormtroopers arrived. Two at the back and two at the front, pushing their way in and demanding passports and proof of visa status etc. Their reason – a tip-off to Mr Costello’s Malvern electoral office that two people of middle-eastern appearance were staying in a house in Armadale.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
The country requires different techniques. Compliance officers drive into town and settle down at the local pub, buying drinks into the night and chatting up the locals to see who has ‘foreign’ workers. Armed with the ‘knowledge’, the local police are roped in to set up roadblocks on back roads to farms at 6am and bingo – it’s like picking fruit. These workers are often dragged off to a country lockup for a day or two before being hauled off to a city or desert detention centre.
A local priest related with disgust how a young mother was held all day and denied the right to breast-feed her baby during a raid in country New South Wales. Farmers are complaining about the broken windows and doors and heavy-handed techniques of the compliance officers. The priest also reported guns drawn on a hapless asylum seeker by the enthusiastic boyos.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
International students are another group who come under scrutiny from DIMIA officers. They raid those suspected of working too many hours, searching their computers and laundry baskets for evidence. One student was caught out when he worked five hours less in one week and then made it up in the second week putting him over the limit. This constitutes a student visa breach.
Some people – many from the Pacific Islands – have lived in Australia for up to twenty years, picking fruit and doing casual farm work and living in rural areas. Because they have never claimed Social Security or broken the law they have not come to the attention of authorities.
A senior immigration bureaucrat relates how, in earlier decades, no such raids took place because everyone knew that this was how the farmers’ fruit was picked. She also reports that only criminal deportees were detained, all over-stayers and people without visas stayed in the community because ‘the department knew where they were and where to find them.’
Unfortunately the department officials don’t always get it right. The latest technique is a midnight raid where everybody is taken to a police lockup. Recently a young Korean student was mistakenly locked up in Baxter for two weeks. She was visiting a friend on a farm when the place was raided. She had her bona fide tourist visa but the compliance officers decided that she must be working so hauled her off to Baxter where visitors reported that the poor girl wept solidly for weeks. Eventually a migration agent helped her out and she was released and fled back to Korea. Under the Migration Act, an officer can detain a person he or she suspects may be without the correct documents. Suspicion is enough – proof not necessary.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
Pastor Martin Niemaller
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