Maybe it’s just a function of growing older and more aware of the strings at work behind the puppet show, but it seems as though this election is one of the most cynical we’ve had.
Even though Barack Obama is the USA’s first black president and Kevin Rudd is the whitest white guy anyone’s ever seen, they both managed to bring a sense of genuine idealism and hope back to politics at a time when voters were becoming increasingly disengaged.
This time around, it’s hard to be excited about the prospect of our first elected female PM when both contestants are so focused on winning, they only tell us what they think we want to hear.
Well, I for one do not want to hear any more about ‘stopping the boats’ in this election. It’s a non-issue.
Last year only 206 visas were granted to asylum seekers who came to Australia by boat. 206?!? Aren’t there supposed to be endless waves of boat people covering our shores like the beaches at Normandy?
In total, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported only 6,510 applications for asylum in 2009 in both Australia and New Zealand combined. Hardly any of those applicants arrived in boats. The vast majority came on planes, after completing a lengthy application process in their own country.
To put that in perspective, in 2008–09, according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship:
- More than 171,000 migrants were granted visas under the Skill and Family Streams of Australia’s Migration Program.
- Nearly 670,000 people received temporary entry visas to Australia to undertake specific work or business, or to entertain, play sport, have a working holiday or study.
- 13,507 humanitarian entrants were granted visas to enable them to live in Australia to rebuild their lives, having fled persecution or suffering.
- Meanwhile, the population of Australia is nearing 22.5 million people.
So, to summarise those figures: as a demographic category, ‘boat people’ make no statistical impact on anything at all.
The real population issue facing our country is age. If there’s any sort of population wave threatening to swamp our economy, it’s a wave of impending retirees. We actually need more young families in this country to support our GDP growth.
Unfortunately, neither of the contestants in this election are going to say what I want to hear so I, like so many others, will end up voting based on who I don’t want to be PM.