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Can we get back to what we were talking about? - Article by Angela Curry

You are deep in an enjoyable conversation when suddenly a loud blustering person arrives, diverting all the attention of your group to her. She shows no curiosity as to what you were discussing before she arrived, relating a story about herself as though assuming everyone had been waiting for her arrival to come alive ..

Has this ever happened to you? It’s a summer Saturday afternoon and you are sitting restfully in the backyard with friends, enjoying a conversation roaming from cinema, music, the local park, and local to international politics. One of your friends is in the midst of relating something exciting, when in bursts another person to the group. He is already talking loudly as he approaches. He turns everyone’s attention to himself, drowning out the previous conversation and taking over with a description of his perilous trip across town which hindered his progress,making him late. He offers a bottle of wine, apologizing fulsomely and flamboyantly for not bringing what he intended because he was held up with work prior to his traffic woes. He then notes aloud that things look as though they need some livening up and requests some loud music. The mood is broken.

Alternatively, it is a winter evening and everyone is seated around a table deep in conversation about the pressures of work and house payments and explorations as to why we never got our universal 3 day week. Suddenly a woman blusters in the front door, her penetrating voice, complaining of the cold echoes up the hallway to the dining area. The conversation at the table has reached a certain level of interest and consensus but with a jolt it is brought back to the mundane as this woman inserts herself, with the aid of the weather and her inability to predict it in order to dress adequately for the temperature. Suddenly all the attention is on this latecomer. She takes over. The conversation now revolves around the way this woman looks, her clothes , her hair, her life. It turns out that she is a last minute invitee and an extra chair and setting is brought in to accommodate her. Everybody moves up closer to their neighbour and the main course is served. The conversation never returns to where it was.

It occurred to me today that this is how I feel on a national scale about the way migration is treated by the media and by migrant advocacy groups in Australia . The reason I feel like this is that I cannot listen to any media without hearing about migrants to Australia. There seems to be nothing else to talk about except perhaps gay marriage. The airwaves are stuffed full of the migrant experience of Australia, be it a refugee experience a skilled migrant experience, be it a recent experience or one dating back to the 1950s. Nothing else seems to matter now in this country apart from migration. There is no other ongoing conversation .

I really don’t mind if people want to come and live here, but I am irritated with hearing about what they think of me and my compatriots day in and day out and how their expectations, somehow have not been met. Every interview with visiting luminaries on the ABC seems to light on the well -worn subject of immigration. It’s as though we had nothing to talk about before they started coming. Anyone who has just tuned to local media would think that this IS the only topic- that this is IT!

I’m also tired of hearing that we were not “vibrant” before the tide of migrants (I actually can’t remember a time when there were not migrants but their numbers have grown enormously in the last 10 years). The imposition of "vibrancy" is like the man who asks for loud music when people are enjoying a quiet conversation.

Come in if you wish but please just take a vacant seat and listen for a while to the conversation you have just joined.


Perhaps its because the new migrants are coming to assist with some economic plan, and that this population in necessary because industry, or the Chamber of Commerce, or the real estate industry rely on it as a crutch.

So this message is played repeatedly, to ensure you view the Australian population as a resource to be used, rather than as a nation.

Yes, when your national conversation is constantly interrupted, in the end you are not citizens but as stated by Assembly Line Human, a resource that is being constantly topped up. You cannot progress anything from a grass roots level, you lose your autonomy and are just manipulated. You end up manipulating one another too as you repeat to one another the "sage" cliches of the main stream media in an attempt to comprehend, justify and rationalise the undermining of your well-being.

This emphasis on migrants, and how they benefit us and our economy, assumes that our own home-grown culture and ideals are less than ideal, inferior, "boring" and inadequate. Migrants must be applauded and celebrated for their "diversity" as there's no other way of keeping up the growth-machine from running out of fuel! There's migrants who maintain the "economic and social health" of our nation (Peter Dutton) and other migrants who've been through trauma and pain on the way here (asylum seekers). Anything home-grown is seen as second-rate, and Australia before the great Migration intake of the Howard and Rudd eras is seen to put Australia on the World Stage! Bigger is Better, and more "diversity" is a sign of progress and achievement? It undermines the First Owners of this land, the Aborigines, and the original Anglo settlers who battled harsh weathers, extreme conditions, depression, isolation and managed by Federation to create a booming Australia. Australians had initiative, and innovation. A small nation contributed bravely to the World War, the Anzacs, and showed their strength. Australia was a wealthy nation in the past, and proudly had some of the highest living standards in the world - full employment and housing for all!
We of course have benefited from non-British migration, and have been enriched by the food and culture of Europe and Asia. But there are limits to any growth, and now the benefits of Australia are being marketed wholesale overseas, and overloading the Ponzi growth scheme so that corporate elites can continue raking in profits form housing/consumption/mortgages!

This morning , twice before 7.15 am I heard the announcement that the refugee intake was being increased by about 5000. Pity they never announce the increases of all other categories of immigrants which, permanent and onshore number about 500,000. Will we be discussing an extra 5000 all day in the ABC?