Thursday, March 23, 2023

Does Australia’s harsh asylum-seeking policy matter to the average Australian? It Depends on Whether They Have to Get Off the Couch

The Albany government’s return of a Sri Lankan asylum-seeking ship just a day after the swearing-in shows that it is business as usual for Australia’s treatment of arrival by boat.

Since the 2001 Tampa Incident – ​​when a freighter rescued several hundred refugees from a dilapidated fishing boat but was prevented from bringing them to Australian shores – “boat arrival” has featured prominently in public debate.

Despite attracting widespread criticism abroad, Australia’s harsh refugee policies receive bipartisan support and high public approval.

In new research, we asked Australians what they thought of the country’s boat arrival policy – ​​and studied whether their views changed when they were told that the policies violated international law, were unethical, or were in Australia. damage to its international reputation.

international criticism

The United Nations has repeatedly told Australia that its boat arrival policies violate international law, including a major anti-torture treaty. They also violate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Doctors Without Borders says mental health is one of the worst in detention facilities. Others describe the facilities as cruel and inhumane.

Still others argue that Australia’s policy damages its international reputation, reinforcing the country’s par position on the issue.

our study

Our recent research included a survey using a nationally representative sample of over 2,000 Australians.

We found that more than 56% of them agreed or strongly agreed with the policy. Only 37% disapproved or vehemently disapproved. This is generally in line with other surveys, although those views may shift.

We were also particularly interested in whether it mattered how Australia’s policy is formulated.

After dividing our respondents into four groups, we then told one group that Australia’s policy violated international law, one group said it was unethical, and one group said it damaged Australia’s international reputation. The fourth group did not receive any additional information.

Read more: Australia’s temporary visa system is unfair, expensive, impractical and inconsistent. Here’s How the New Government Can Fix It

Everyone who received negative information was more critical of current policy. It is not entirely surprising that negative information makes people more negative. But given how strong Australia’s policy has become, it is interesting that the attitude still holds.

Even more interestingly, we found that describing current policy as a violation of international law is far more effective than describing support as morally serious or detrimental to our international reputation.

Of the three frames, the international reputation argument got the least traction. This gives some credence to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s claim that Australians are “sick of being lectured by the United Nations”.

It’s very difficult to take action from people

We found that emphasizing international law or ethics made people more willing to organize (than damage reputation).

But overall, most people are not motivated to take political action – even if they dislike the policy very much.

Our study found that less than 30% of respondents were willing to sign a petition against the current policy, and less than 10% were interested in protesting or donating.

Read more: The ‘Billoella family’ is going home – but what will Labor do with thousands of other asylum seekers in Australia?

These findings are consistent with a long-running body of research showing that people are less willing to mobilize as the cost of action rises.

They also affirm an age-old challenge to activists. Most forms of political activism involve some cost in terms of time or money. Especially when your own rights or interests aren’t at stake, turning that resentment into action rarely feels as tempting as being on the couch.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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