‘What sort of country are we?‘ The Conversation, 29 September 2015
Article based on the Hamer Oration, delivered 28 September. Examines incidents in Australia’s treatment of refugees over the last decade and a half, considering Tampa, the Pacific Solution, 9/11, the Hamidi case, the case of an un-named Iranian girl, the 2013 election, how Christmas Island confronts asylum seekers, the Pacific Solution Mark II, Manus Island, Reza Barati, international attitudes to Australian practice, the lies politicians tell, and, finally, the reaction of Melbourne citizens to the Border Force monitoring exercise.
Burnside suggests that
by our response to boat people since August 2001, we may have redefined our national character … Just as a person’s character is judged by their conduct, so a country’s character is judged by its conduct. Australia is now judged overseas by its behaviour as cruel and selfish. We treat frightened, innocent people as criminals. It is a profound injustice.