Constructions of asylum seekers and refugees in Australian political discourse

Rowe, Elizabeth & O'Brien, Erin (2013) Constructions of asylum seekers and refugees in Australian political discourse. In Richards, Kelly & Tauri, Juan Marcellus (Eds.) Crime Justice and Social Democracy : Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, pp. 173-181.

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Immigration to Australia has long been the focus of negative political interest. In recent times, the proposal of exclusionary policies such as the Malaysia Deal in 2011 has fuelled further debate. In these debates, Federal politicians often describe asylum seekers and refugees as ‘illegal’, ‘queue jumpers’, and ‘boat people’. This paper investigates how the political discourse constructs asylum seekers and refugees during debates surrounding the Malaysia Deal in the Federal Parliament of Australia in 2011. Hansard Parliamentary debates were analysed to identify the underlying themes and constructions that permeate political discourse about asylum seekers and refugees. This paper argues that a dichotomous characterisation of legitimacy pervades their construction with this group constructed either as legitimate humanitarian refugees or as illegitimate ‘boat arrivals’. These constructions result in the misrepresentation of asylum seekers as illegitimate, undermining their right to protection under Australia’s laws and international obligations. This construction also represents a shift in federal political discourse from constructing asylum seekers as a border or security threat, towards an increasing preoccupation with this categorisation of people as legitimate, or illegitimate.

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ID Code: 62722
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLITICAL SCIENCE (160600)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Crime & Justice Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Crime and Justice Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2013 22:30
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:48

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