Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Major parties scapegoat refugees

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Demand jobs, homes & services – not racism!

In the lead up to the Federal Election the major parties are trying to outdo each other with their anti-migrant and anti-refugee policies. Desperate to close the gap in the polls, Tony Abbott has drawn Kevin Rudd into a debate about population growth.

Keen not to give any ground, Rudd has been happy to match any of the Opposition’s reactionary policies. Already Labor has backed away from their plan to increase immigration and has installed the nation’s first population minister.

By Dean Roberts, Socialist Party

Rudd has also put a freeze on any new refugee claims from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Keen not to be left out, the Greens have proposed a national inquiry into population in the Senate. Rather than acknowledge the shortcomings of their own policies, all the major parties prefer to divert attention away from the real issues that people face.

The increased level of political debate around immigration has given confidence to a handful of far-right racist groups across the country. In Melbourne and Sydney racists have attempted to organise protests “against immigration” while in Perth racists have attempted to infiltrate progressive rallies.

While these groups are still small and the majority of people in Australia would find their views repulsive, the Socialist Party believes it is important to come out and oppose their actions. Their level of sophistication is varied but in many cases these groups have links to violent white supremacist organisations.

If ordinary people allow racist groups like this to organise on our streets it will only encourage more violent attacks against migrants and sow further divisions in society. This is why we have helped to organise several anti-racist protests and counter-demonstrations.

These far-right groups take advantage of the failed polices of the major parties and play on people’s insecurities in order to build support for their racist ideas. Against the backdrop of an economic crisis it is understandable that many people have legitimate concerns about the lack of jobs, homes and services.

Both far-right groups and the major parties promote the idea that migrants are the source of all these problems. Instead of looking at the way society is being run they encourage people to ignore the policies of the bosses, landlords, bankers and speculators and just fight over a few crumbs.

The reality is that migrants and refugees are not responsible for sacking workers, the lack of affordable housing or the privatisation of services. The culprits in every case are the big business profiteers and the major parties that represent them.

Ordinary working people from different backgrounds have more in common with each other than they do with those who keep our wages low, our rents high and our services under funded.

Racism is a tool that is used by far-right groups and the major parties to keep people divided. They would much rather that we are fighting amongst ourselves instead of uniting to campaign against their policies.

Business owners who are slashing wages and working hours, wrecking the environment and pushing up prices are loyally supported by all the major parties. Unfortunately ordinary people are left without a party that unashamedly represents their interests. This leads some people to blame migrants for the problems that exist when they should be blaming the system.

The solution is to fight for a genuine political alternative. We need to build a new workers party that would campaign for secure jobs, decent housing and well funded services for all. Such a party would cut across the racist ideas of both the far-right and the major parties. It would also unite working people in a common struggle against the system that puts profits before people regardless of your background.


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