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An open letter to Tony Abbott

Dear Tony,

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (16)
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (16) (Photo credit: Troy Constable Photography™)

I realise that you’re in the midst of a very busy election campaign, however I feel like I need to bring some things to your attention that need your swift and decisive action.

Now I know you’re a man who likes to be portrayed as Australia’s next action hero, what with the bike riding, budgie smugglers, and running in the city 2 surf, so I’m sure you’ll be able to take the quick and decisive action needed on this issue.

The issue at hand is your language. Now, many will say that perhaps I’m overreacting, but as a voter who hasn’t completely made up his mind yet, I feel like you need to know this information.

Firstly, calling asylum seekers “illegals” is incorrect, you know this, and have been pulled up on it many times. Stop it.

Secondly, and probably the most important thing, please engage your brain before you open your mouth. I have to assume that you are, in fact, quite smart, or you wouldn’t have got as far in politics as you have. However, in recent days, your brain seems to have been on holiday when you’ve been making comments to the media.

For example, your “suppository of wisdom” comment. Now, I know you meant to say “repository” and everyone has little slips of the tongue now and then, but if we are too consider you to be a serious prime ministerial candidate, then we’re need to hold you to a higher level, otherwise we’ll end up with a George W. Bush style leader, whose gaffes are remembered more than what he actually did while in office.

Another example is saying that one of your female candidates has “sex appeal.” Tony, we live in a modern age, where women are seen to have the same opportunities as men, however there are many times when discriminatory remarks are made that while thought to put women up, they actually drag them down. Saying that a female has sex appeal says that we should vote for them based on looks, rather than any of the values that we would hold out male politicians to – hard work, telling the truth, fighting for the values we hold dear. It puts in a discriminatory wedge that devalues all female politicians. In order to get away with this, I have a brilliant idea. Before you make a comment about any female candidate, think, “would I say this about Joe Hockey?” If not, then keep it in your head.

You may think it petty, but your language is very important, as it shows what sort of prime minister you will be – one who builds up our great country, or one who drags it through the mud of derision and being the butt of all jokes for the next three years.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Clapton

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Advance Australia Fair? (part 3)

In the little sung second verse of the Australian National Anthem, we find the words, For those who come across the seas, we’ve boundless plains to share. However, despite this being part of our national anthem, part of the words that we claim to aspire towards, there is significant evidence that as a nation we are not willing to share the boundless plains that we have. Thankfully, there are also significant programs that are helping to share what we have with those that are new to our nation. Today we’re looking at some of the issues that Asylum Seekers and Refugees face in the area of Language.

Language

Language is a major issue that affects how refugees and asylum seekers are able to integrate into a community. One journal article wrote that “English language proficiency has a direct and obvious impact on the ability of women to settle in Australia and on the length of time that process takes.” The authors of this article found that the majority of participants in a study attributed many of their problems as arising due to their language difficulties. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship does fund an Adult Migrant English Program, providing 510 hours of ESL tuition within the first five years of arrival. However, many have found that these programs are filled with cultural problems, such as mixed classes which make it uncomfortable for those who have come from countries where segregation was the norm.

Another difficulty is that the children often pick up English quicker than the parents. This forms more difficulties between children and parents, where the children know words in English, but are unable to explain it to their parents. This puts further strain on their parents, as they are unable to fully communicate with their children.

As indicated in the last post, the Australian Government’s new “no benefit” policy allows for asylum seekers to be placed in community detention, but they are unable to take part in employment, volunteer work, or to take part in ESL classes. As stated above, this means that those in this situation are unlikely to integrate into the community at any stage. It is a very disturbing policy, that makes the life for those in this situation very difficult.