Jane Nethercote writes:
Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul Sheehan had many things to say on Monday about the challenge of migration.
But the last paragraph — where he called some refugees “parasites” — stole the show.
Sure, the overall tone of his piece was alarmist. Eg. “Under the Rudd Government, Australia’s net immigration intake is now larger than Britain’s, even though it has almost three times the population of Australia.”
And that’s before you count New Zealanders, he said.
It wasn’t until the end that he really fired up.
Noting that the Rudd government must explain its immigration processes, Sheehan warned that “thousands of Australian [sic] have paid a heavy price for the failed refugee-vetting processes in the 1970s and 1980s, when thousands of parasites who should never have been allowed into the country were approved [Crikey’s emphasis].”
Sheehan’s “parasites” are now Australians too, but perhaps not the right kind.
Within three hours of being online, the copy had been amended on The SMH website to read: “Thousands of Australian [sic] have paid a heavy price for the failed refugee-vetting processes in the 1970s and 1980s, when many people who should never have been allowed into the country were approved.”
PC balance was restored. (Apparently, the sensibilities of Queenslanders are not quite so delicate — the original version is still up on the Brisbane Times.)
But how had it got through in the first place with its vilifying taint? After all, it would have been subbed and possibly legaled. And just what did Sheehan mean? Could he really be railing against the influx of Vietnamese boat people during the 70s and 80s?
Not at all. It seems he was returning to a favourite topic: Lebanese Muslims (in Sydney).
After civil war broke out in Lebanon, around 14,000 Lebanese Muslims migrated to Australia between 1975 and 1977.
As the the National Archives recount, at this time, “the pace and scale of Lebanese-Muslim migration changed dramatically … Most arrivals continued to be sponsored by existing residents, but many of the usual requirements for entry into Australia (such as health and security checks) were held in abeyance or waived on humanitarian grounds.”
In April, Sheehan was also dishing it out to Tongan “morons” who, because they were violent, are “regrettably, Australian citizens”:
…last Monday a group of violent racists acted out their YouTube fantasies and stormed into Merrylands High School at 8.50am, armed with machetes and baseball bats. They then started to beat the crap out of people.
A week after this rampage, any member of the public interested in this crime could have deduced the alleged perpetrators were Tongan morons. Or perhaps morons who are, regrettably, Australian citizens but portray themselves as “nigga gangstas”.
In the article, titled “White lies about dark crimes”, he referred to Cronulla’s “violent, racist Lebanese Muslim men”.
-- Pamela Curr Campaign coordinator Asylum Seeker Resource Centre 12 Batman St Melbourne 3003 Ph 03 93266006 / Fax 03 93265199 www.asrc.org.au