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Something’s been sending chills up my spine lately.

That is, Australian policy on asylum seekers has been scaring me ever since I can remember hearing about it. These particular chills are tied up with the language attached to the policies.

From 2001 to 2007, we had “the Pacific solution,” which involved sending asylum seekers to detention camps on Pacific island nations rather than “processing” them on the Australian mainland. Now we’re talking about “the Malaysian solution”, which the government is trying to find a way to still implement after it was struck down in the High Court. And we’re talking about a “Nauru solution” again.

Is the continual use of the word “solution” to talk about vulnerable people scaring anyone else? Because that usage has historically been attached to ethnic cleansing. And that it could become so attached to Australian policy inspires nothing but horror.

Anyone who isn’t seeing a racial tint to what’s happening here is kidding themselves. It’s fear of the non-white other that is driving these policies about “boat people”. The Australian government certainly isn’t making sure that white Britons who overstay their visas – you know, the largest population who come here without legal permission – get back on their planes.

People aren’t problems that need to be solved. They don’t need to disappear into a convenient equation. They are human beings.

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