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Analysis and Comment (114)

Britain First is using military tactics to antagonise Muslims. Shutterstock Union flag

Britain First: the party taking far-right politics to new lows

The decision to grant planning permission to build a new mosque in Dudley has come after more than a decade of wrangling in the West Midlands town. And the division caused by the arguments has proved an…
There was an expectation that there would be an increase of negative views on immigration in 2014 – but the reverse has occurred. AAP/Dan Peled

Continuity and change: Australian opinion in a time of stress and fear

The report on the 2014 Scanlon Foundation Mapping Social Cohesion surveys, released on Wednesday, finds both continuity and change. On attitudes to asylum seekers, for example, there is a large measure…
Kicking foreign prisoners out isn’t – and shouldn’t be – easy. Yorkshire Police

Why it’s difficult to deport foreign offenders

Once upon a time, you could tell an election was just around the corner when politicians of all kinds started talking relentlessly about crime. “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” was Tony Blair’s…
Immigrant faces from the early 1900s watch Ellis Island visitors pick their way through a crumbling hospital. Aimee VonBokel

Artists' installations raise questions about abandoned buildings

This fall, French street artist JR and American cinematographer Bradford Young each installed a series of portraits in crumbling New York buildings. The two projects were not coordinated, but together…
A supposedly proud record of generosity to refugees in no way alters the harshness of the government’s present policies. AAP/Stefan Postles

Unfamiliar pasts challenge our view of responses to refugees

How do Australian institutions and political leaders draw on history to tell us who we are? How do they make sense of Australia’s past as a country of immigration and a nation that has accommodated hundreds…
Option 5: Put up a really big wall? Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Cameron’s four options for restricting EU migration

David Cameron made a play for Eurosceptic hearts during his speech to the Conservative Party conference by promising to put the free movement of EU citizens at the heart of his renegotiation strategy in…
Federal government plans to axe several types of family visas could mean that for some, being able to reunite their families in Australia could become a thing of the past. Clark Fred/Wikimedia Commons

Senate set to decide if family visas will go only to the rich

This afternoon, the Australian Senate will be asked to vote on a Greens disallowance motion, which seeks to stop the Abbott government repealing several types of family visas. These include: the Parent…
David Cameron puts families first. As long as they’ve got money in the bank. MIgrants' rights network

Family-first’ government tears couples apart with visa rules

David Cameron has pledged to put families at the heart of his government with a focus on policies that help those most in need. But his rhetoric is rank hypocrisy. While the prime minister claims to put…
A Sikh shopkeeper in Kabul. koldo hormaza

Explainer: who are the Afghan Sikhs?

The recent discovery of 35 men, women and children in a shipping container at Tilbury docks in Essex is shocking for many reasons. Few had known that people were being brought into the UK in shipping containers…
Muslim and Christian Lebanese join with other communities to rally against racism. The Lebanese in Australia story is the subject of a new SBS documentary series, Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl. Andrew Jakubowicz

Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl rescues Lebanese honour from shame

Mediterranean societies have been described as communities of honour and shame. The fundamental currency of their social order is respect. When the Lebanese civil war drove thousands of its citizens to…
A lucrative immigration problem: international students at the ISC. Jirka Matousek

Immigration rhetoric is a threat to Britain’s long-term growth

Immigration has risen to the top of the political agenda in the UK. And the popular press has been propelling the bandwagon. “We must stop the immigrant invasion” according to the Daily Express and “enough…
Romanians not going to UK. EPA/Marc Tirl

Beware the numbers game on Romanian and Bulgarian workers

It is tempting to try and use the recent release of figures from the labour force survey as a (metaphorical) stick with which to hit the likes of UKIP and Migration Watch who predicted that huge numbers…
Planning a NExit: Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders. EPA/Koen van Weel

EU election: pragmatic Dutch aproach means ‘NExit’ unlikely

Elections for the European Parliament in the Netherlands have traditionally been described as either “dull” or “extremely dull”. They were overshadowed by national elections in 1989 and 1994, and in 1999…
Developing policies to shape the level and nature of future population change must go beyond the ‘big’ versus ‘small’ Australia dichotomy. AAP/David Crosling

The state of Australia: our people

In the lead-up to the budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home, but there’s more to a country than its structural deficit. So how is Australia doing overall? In this special series, ten writers…
Maybe the Left should take a leaf out of farage’s book on immigration. Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Immigration should get the same treatment as laissez-faire economics

The theoretical underpinning of the modern global economy has broken loose. The so-called Washington consensus based on neoclassical, laissez-faire economics has encountered a sustained challenge from…
No brainer. Funding for the Human Brain Project is secure until 2016. Ars Electronica

What Swiss migrant referendum means for future of EU research

In a referendum on 9 February, the Swiss population voted against mass immigration. That outcome will have far-reaching consequences on the position of Switzerland in European research cooperation. As…
Long arm of the law reaches onto campus. Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive

University lecturers must remain educators, not border guards

The increasingly stringent control of student migration by the Home Office is damaging both the integrity of our relationships as teachers with students and the future of our universities. It was for this…
Night of excess - which is unlike the Swiss. AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

Swiss vote for cap on migrants has government tied in knots

Like many others, including Christoph Blocher – the de facto leader of the Yes campaign – I was surprised by the result of Switzerland’s February 9 vote on stopping “mass immigration”. Polls suggested…
I don’t want to be a care worker when I grow up. DFID - UK Department for International Development

Zimbabwean graduate migrants are more than just ‘British bottom cleaners’

Zimbabwean migrants to Britain are often referred to by those at home as being the BBC – British bottom cleaners – fit only for the most menial roles in the former colonial “mother country”. But our research…
That’s a “fail” in the immigration minister’s knowledge test then, Mark. PA Wire

Immigration ministers need to know more about immigrants

Mark Harper MP was a junior minister making a name for himself. He oversaw the publication of the government’s controversial “Life in the United Kingdom” citizenship test – likened to “a bad pub quiz…
Bordering on fiction: the immigration debate has drifted away from reality. PA

Big gap between rhetoric and facts in immigration debate

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, veteran Conservative minister Ken Clarke argued that immigration has contributed positively and significantly to the economy, and that EU free movement is…
Advert for a bus company, Tineghir, southern Morocco Hein de Haas

Explainer: what makes people migrate?

Why do people migrate? At first glance it seems reasonable to assume that most people move hoping to find better conditions or opportunities elsewhere, such as jobs, higher wages, safety or freedom of…
Where are the other 384,999? Vadim Ghirda/AP

Pseudo-research pulls 385,000 migrants out of a hat

The immigration debate isn’t a great place to look for rational or factual arguments at the best of times, and new rules concerning Romania and Bulgaria have spurred a new round of evidence-free speculation…
How big is too big? Australia’s population is growing faster than expected. yananine

Why our ‘Big Australia’ is getting bigger

The latest population projections from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), released earlier this week, suggest Australia’s future population growth will be considerably greater than previously indicated…
Thousands of people are in domestic servitude in the UK, and many are migrants. Photographer: Evil Erin

To end domestic servitude, first fix immigration policy

Details are still emerging in the case of three women who claim to have been held as slaves for three decades in a suburban house in London. The Metropolitan police have stated that a 69-year-old Malaysian…
England: not so pleasant land if you’re a migrant. Freefoto

Get ready for more scare tactics on EU immigrants

Brace yourself for more dire warnings about how Britain will be flooded next year by hordes of migrants from Bulgaria and Romania. This week’s story in The Times quotes figures from the Office for National…
We cannot profess to be taking our international protection obligations seriously until enhanced screening of asylum seekers arriving by boat is discontinued. EPA/Stringer

Sri Lankan boat arrivals: enhanced screening, diminished protection

Since October 27 last year, more than 1,070 Sri Lankan boat arrivals have been returned to their home country. In the most recent repatriation last week, 73 of 79 Sri Lankans who arrived in Australia in…
Welcoming the world for centuries (and causing trouble for almost as long). aherrero

American dream retains appeal despite tarnished reputation

The reputation of the American political system both at home and abroad has taken a battering of late. A recent poll showed the overall approval rating for Congress at just 11%, falling from what were…
It is difficult to convey complex and nuanced research findings around immigration and social cohesion when the media’s interest is in polarisation and headlines. AAP/Dan Peled

Tracking social cohesion and cultural diversity in the media

If you were to believe some reports in the mainstream media earlier this week, Australians are now more racist, alarmed by immigration and much more negative about asylum seekers arriving by boat. However…
Border control: the biggest group of migrants to Britain is students. Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Hard Evidence: how does the public feel about immigration?

It is “immigration week” on Sky News – but, to be fair, most weeks are immigration week across large parts of the media. In many ways, this is only right – immigration is an issue of huge national importance…
What, you want all these new skyscrapers AND migrant rights? Omar Chatriwala

Less is more when it comes to migrant rights

This week the UN General Assembly is debating the global governance of international labour migration. This meeting is particularly timely, following reports of numerous deaths among Nepalese workers on…
Migrants have become coal mine canaries, warning of future employment troubles. squiddles

Immigration and employment: two sides of the same coin

Labour spokesman Chris Bryant’s speech on immigration calling on companies to take on more British young people came days after news there had been a leap in zero-hour contracts, a type of contract used…
Australia’s population is forecast to reach 35 million by 2050, meaning Australia Day citizenship celebrations could get even bigger. What is the current ‘face’ of our nation? AAP/Lucas Coch

Election 2013 Issues: what do we look like?

Welcome to the The Conversation Election 2013 State of the Nation essays. These articles by leading experts in their field provide an in-depth look at the key policy challenges affecting Australia as the…
Nothing on the box? The Home Office is providing a new source of entertainment. ukhomeoffice

Immigration arrests are not a spectator sport

In the week that saw the British press rightly condemning the use of Twitter to send violent threats to several women, the Home Office started to use the social media site to publicise operations to carry…
Finding happiness is about more than making money. Rui Vieira/PA

Economic migration may not lead to happiness

People who move to wealthier countries surely expect that migration will lead them to a better life – but new research suggests that economic migrants are unlikely to achieve greater happiness in their…
What’s really going on with migration? mckibillo

Calm hysteria and assess the real local impact of migration

The Home Office recently published a sensible and thorough look at the local impact of migration. Did you read about it? You certainly won’t have in the Mail or the Telegraph, who apparently read an entirely…
From White Australia onwards, have the attitudes of Australian society and the government on migration and asylum really changed over time? EPA/Stringer

From White Australia to stopping the boats: attitudes to asylum seekers

For a nation largely comprised of “boat people”, asylum has generated the most debate, and at times hysteria, of all immigration matters in Australia. Is this due to what multiculturalism academic Ghassan…
How many MPs? Don’t rely on the citizenship test for an answer - you’ll fail. PA Wire

UK citizenship test is inconsistent and riddled with errors

When I took the UK citizenship test in 2009, I got the number of MPs in the House of Commons wrong, not because I didn’t know the answer, but because the Home Office didn’t. Preparing for the test was…
It doesn’t matter how much multiculturalism contributes to the economy if your values say it’s bad for Britain. PA/Stephen Dempsey

Economic bottom line won’t sway the immigration debate

How far do facts and evidence get us in public debates and policy formulation on immigration? And how far should they take us? Data on migration and its social and economic impact are of course vital for…
The changing face of Australia was on display this week after a new report listed India and China as providing more permanent migrants to Australia than the UK. AAP/David Crosling

The changing face of Australian immigration

The face of Australia is changing - and it starts at our borders. Whereas Australia’s migrant population once hailed largely from a European background - think of the “Ten Pound Pom” in the post-World…
They’re going thataway: David Cameron delivers a speech on immigration at the University of Suffolk, March 2013. Paul Rogers/The Times/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Roll up! Roll-up! It’s the all-party immigration game show

Foundation essay: Welcome to the first in a series of articles marking the launch of The Conversation in the UK. Our foundation essays are longer than our usual comment and analysis articles and take a…
Life’s a gas: Nigel Farage enjoying UKIP’s success in the local council elections. Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The not-so-secret agenda of UKIP voters

On the surface, the recent surge in support for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) suggests an urgent need to reform Britain’s relations with the European Union. But polls tell a different story. The best…
Changes to 457 visas by the Gillard government has divided political and public opinion in Australia. AAP/Lukas Coch

How the 457 scheme is changing Australian immigration

The current public debate over temporary employment 457 visa holders has thrown a spotlight on a major shift in Australia’s migration program. Historical context Prior to the introduction of the Temporary…
Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and New Zealand prime minister John Key met for bilateral talks in February 2013 to mark 30 years of close economic relations between the two countries. Ross Setford/AAP

Tougher policy needed for New Zealanders wanting to work in Australia

There are more than 600,000 New Zealand citizens in Australia, around 500,000 of whom were born in New Zealand. Prior to 2001, the Australian and New Zealand governments allowed citizens to move freely…
President Obama has skilfully identified immigration as an issue that Republicans will struggle with. Shutterstock

Obama tightens the immigration knot on Republicans

For an American president, the first inaugural address sets the stage for the four years to follow. The second inaugural address, on the other hand, focuses on a much longer legacy. Barack Obama’s speech…
With immigration detention recommencing in Nauru, we must monitor the welfare of asylum seekers. AAP image/Department of Immigration and Citizenship

If we care about asylum seekers we must count deaths in detention

The Houston Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers was set the task of reducing deaths of asylum seekers following the mounting loss of life on the seas between Indonesia and Australia. But it remained blind to…
The Federal Government has fast-tracked applications by skilled US workers to fill trades gaps in Australia, citing the close relationship between the countries. But motives of employers pushing the scheme should examined critically. AAP

US workers get the nod … but what does this mean for the local workforce?

The Federal Government recently announced that it would use the 457 visa skilled migration program to fast-track the number of skilled workers applying from the United States. In defending this move, Federal…
The government’s obligations to immigration detainees are very similar to those of prisoners. AAP/Dean Lewins

After Serco, what rights do asylum seekers have in detention?

A training manual instructing immigration detention centre guards to use force to incapacitate detainees was leaked this week. It included techniques to kick, punch and target pressure points on detainees…
Iraqi security forces inspect a taxi in the wake of a deadly attack on the city of Kirkuk last month. EPA/Khalil Al A Nei

Iraqi-Australians on life after the American war

Last week in Baghdad, 17 men were executed. Nothing special to note here in the conflict ridden, post-US withdrawal landscape of Iraq, except that this time they were executed by an Iraqi court. This was…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has resurrected former coalition government policy to “turn back” boats seeking asylum in Australia. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

Abbott’s asylum seeker policy floats in murky legal waters

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has said that under a coalition government every boat coming to Australia carrying asylum seekers will be sent back to Indonesia. The Indonesian police, the United Nations…
How can we stop people putting themselves in peril? AAP/Josh Jerga

Five ways to prevent more asylum seeker tragedies

Last weekend, an overcrowded fishing boat sank off the coast of Indonesia with more than 200 asylum seekers on board. In Australia, the political blame game started soon after with both sides trying to…
Italian-Australians deserve an apology for their mistreatment in internment camps in World War II. Australian War Memorial Collection

Why Australia must apologise to Italians interned during World War II

Last month, the South Australian parliament unanimously accepted a bi-partisan motion moved by Labor member, Tony Piccolo, to acknowledge the wrongful internment of Italian civilians living in Australia…
Asylum seekers held in detention centres like Villawood have been protesting that the current system doesn’t work. AAP/Dean Lewins

Why Australia should abandon the Refugee Convention

With the collapse of offshore processing, and the likely increase in boat arrivals into a politically charged environment, a cross-road may have been reached regarding asylum policy in Australia. Now would…
Would you be out for a duck in the citizenship test? Flickr/R@VITH

Aussie Aussie Aussie: Is the Australian citizenship test fair?

The Australian citizenship test has just turned four. Its birthday passed without fanfare but this is not surprising. Soon after its introduction, a Labor government review addressed early concerns that…
Shooty Vikadan died in Villawood Detention Centre before the Commonwealth Ombudsman could review his case. AAP/Torsten Blackwood

Dead refugee caught in ‘legal limbo’ between government agencies

The asylum seeker who committed suicide in Villawood detention centre this week should have been interviewed by the Commonwealth Ombudsman to establish whether he should have been released into the community…
Without reform of the Migration Act, the governments plan for processing refugees offshore would be in tatters. AFP/Saeed Khan

A cynical Migration Bill ignores Australia’s international obligations

Later today the Australian Government plans to put the Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011 to a vote in the House of Representatives. Without it, the government’s…
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is ‘uneasy’ about Liberal leader Tony Abbott because he is unpredictable. AAP

Malcolm Fraser: ‘we have lost our way’

Welcome to our “In Conversation” between former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and Melbourne University political scientist Professor Robyn Eckersley. First elected to Federal parliament in 1955, Fraser…
Julia Gillard and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen after the High Court ruled the Malaysian Solution invalid. AAP

Onshore processing: what it means for asylum seekers

The Federal Government’s position on handling asylum seekers is in disarray. The High Court has ruled its Malaysia Solution invalid and the Coalition has indicated it will not support moves to amend the…
Not a deterrent? This boat arrived on Christmas Island after the “Malaysia solution” deal was finalised. AAP/Josh Jerga

There are better alternatives to the ‘Malaysia solution’

The government’s controversial “Malaysia solution”, in which Australia “swaps” refugees with Malaysia is being challenged in the High Court this week. Asylum seekers are being backed by the Australian…
Mentally ill detainees should be placed in the community for treatment and support. AAP

Asylum seeker mental health probe long overdue

The Commonwealth Ombudsman yesterday launched an investigation into rising rates of self-harm among detainees of Australia’s immigration detention centres, after it emerged that 50 instances of cutting…
Malaysia’s history with human rights spells disaster for its refugee deal with Australia AAP Image/Karlis Salna.

Malaysian refugee swap spells human rights disaster

On Monday, Australia and Malaysia signed a deal that will mean 800 refugees that have arrived in Australia will be swapped with 4,000 verified refugees from Malaysia. This deal from both Australian and…
International education might not be as healthy as it seems Tim Ellis/Flickr.

Figures for international student enrolments can be misleading

International education has become a vital industry for the Australian economy, in recent years rivalling coal and iron ore as one of our largest export industries. But the way we’re calculating international…
Refugees fled the Crusades. This is a detail from St Dominic and the Albigenses by Pedro Berruguete. Flickr/derechoaleer

Why lessons from the past can help us understand the refugee debate

Given the often hysterical media coverage of the refugee debate you could be forgiven for thinking that people seeking refuge in other countries is a new phenomenon. Not so. Refugees have been around since…
Australians don’t know enough about Indonesia to judge its farming practices. AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka

Why being a better neighbour could ease our biggest political problems

We need to learn more about the countries we are exporting livestock to, or swapping refugees with. Two recent publicly-funded television documentaries have revealed just how little most Australians know…
Thousands of Brits moved to Australia for the thrill of a more glamorous life. But many struggled. Flickr/MarkFaviellPhotos

A moving history: how personal stories illuminate the past

Published biographies, and indeed many histories, are often about the famous, rich or powerful. And most often, they’re about men. I’ve preferred to research and write about so-called “ordinary” men and…
Go Back To Where You Came From participants prepare to go on patrol in Baghdad with the US military. AFP PHOTO/ HO/ 2011 CORDELL JIGSAW/SBS

SBS preaching to the converted on refugees

SBS’ recent three-part series Go Back to Where You Came From is, simply, a manipulative piece of media spin calculated to redress the balance of a media spun too far towards racist insularity. The intentions…
Are talkback radio hosts or Julia Gillard leading debate in areas like immigration and the mining tax? AAP

Immigration: does government or the media decide Australia’s policy?

The release of figures today showing a dramatic fall in immigration numbers prompts the question of whether certain sections of the media are influencing government policy. Are Australian politicians allowing…
Participants in “Go back to where you came from” had their attitudes towards refugees challenged. SBS: Go back to where you came from

Go back to where you came from: Reality TV encounters the refugee crisis

Tonight, during World Refugee Week, SBS One premieres Go Back to Where You Came From. Over three nights the series plunges six Australian participants into the intense fear and desperation of the refugee/asylum…
Ancient Athens practically invented Western culture, but xenophobia led to the collapse of the Empire. Flickr/SantiMB

A lesson in immigration policy from the cradle of democracy

Those debating Australia’s future, and its immigration policy would do well to consider a lesson from the past. Anybody can establish a successful state, the real difficulty is maintaining its success…
The government says it’s on track to release all children asylum seekers in detention soon, but other policies need to be changed urgently. Flickr/Takver

Australia’s wake up call from the UN: Yes, we’re a racist country

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says Australia is racist. And she’s right. Racial discrimination in Australia is not idiosyncratic; it is enshrined in laws, policies and practices…
Australia needs professional migrants to fill skills gaps. AAP/David Crosling

Australia not about to turn its back on immigration

Australia has been a nation of immigrants since 1788. It has always sought additions to its population to increase its prosperity and economic strength. But two recent controversies have distracted us…

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