Have I got a pitch for you.
Australia. It is very big. It has a population that is pretty small compared to relative land mass. It enjoys every climate you can think of – some of it is inhospitable it’s true. Every inch of the coast is very impressive and is mostly very supportive of life. You pay a lot of tax to live there, and a lot of tax is justified by governments due to the ‘geographical and topographical challenges’ of maintaining infrastructure in a country so diverse and challenging. Think of it like a massive ring road that has some political roundabouts (in Canberra), but with some good opportunities in the middle too.
Like anything growing-up, Australia deals with angst. Australia was settled once by boat people, creating challenges between the indigenous populations and the settlers, many of which are still present today. Geopolitically, Australia believes itself to be in a high-risk position; that in turn dictates foreign policy decisions and strategic relationships. Short-crust pies must not be knocked off the shelves by laksa. The country is broad physically, and being broad it’s natural for cracks to appear sometimes in structure, jurisdiction and application of policy.
We must maintain a ‘deterrent’ because – god forbid – some bright person in Sri Lanka looks at Australia on the map, and sees how big it is and thinks, “gee I wonder how much coal and uranium is under there…”
Australia has sun, snow, sand, reef, river, desert, mountain, field, city, town, rural, suburb, village, settlement, islands, inlets, rainforest, peninsula, beach, trail, eleven billion Westfield shopping centers, a map of Tasmania, a Big Banana, an opera house – and multiple refugee detention centers (please note spelling anachronisms for a global audience here has been dictated by my current confusion).
So are you getting the pitch idea yet? We run a reality show that allows certain people entry into the country that enables them to “bypass” the detention center part of it. The part of it that over the years has attracted pointed criticism from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The United Nations, and the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. No-one deserves to get automatically put into a detention center, do they? So finding contestants for this show is going to be a piece of cake!
So what is the pitch? Most reality show concepts tend to whittle down the contestants until a winner walks away with everything. It makes for compelling television, but it’s a concept that encourages the contestants to be mean to each other, often lying, cheating, backstabbing – but all those things…being mean…that’s Un-Australianisn’t it? So we need to do this differently. We need to go outside the television box and think about a bigger audience, an audience like…the world.
So what about a boat race? We know that thousands of refugees arrive by boat and that every year we have a really expensive Sydney to Hobart yacht race sponsored by companies like Rolex and Oracle and many other super-rich companies. Why don’t we let the refugee boats enter that race? Sport is very Australian. It would encourage refugees to understand our standards and attitudes towards fair play; and if they reach Tasmania they get entry. We could even cancel the Sydney to Hobart Boat Race for just one year, and use the money and donations to work out better ways to process the really unfortunate people who arrive to Australia by boat…which is how the white part of Australia began in the first place…maybe it’s time to broaden the colour palette; or at least move to one that is a little less austere.
Ok ,ok, you’re a producer, and this pitch might be a bit radical, too expensive, and stupid. I just wanted to show you the blue-sky potential, but let’s bring it back to a reality show that we could really run.
Immigration worldwide is a super touchy subject; not touchy-feely though, because any display of sympathy might be construed as ‘regional weakness’ so let’s not get feely. We must maintain a ‘deterrent’ because – god forbid – some bright person in Sri Lanka looks at Australia on the map, and sees how big it is and thinks, “gee I wonder how much coal and uranium is under there, I am going to take my family of 3 kids away from the fighting in Sri Lanka, and I am going to open a multi-billion dollar mining firm with some invisible money I just made up, and I’ll let China buy into it so that they secure a resource pipeline for the next fifty years”.
Imagine the same poor man days later; “Oh Shit, the Australian Security Service has fully nixed this plan before I could get started, which is weird because I don’t have Internet, and I have no mobile phone so how did they intercept my communications? Oh wait…the Australian government can READ MY INTENTIONS” (mind-blown!). “And now, they have taken my plan and done it themselves? Arseholes…how am I going to feed my hungry family now, my plan to destabilize the whole country is in ruins.”
So what’s the pitch? The pitch is this…Government should invest some money in educating our own people to understand more and fear less the people who turn up on our shores with nothing except hope. The Australian government should not be so hypocritical when it talks about the dangers of having people arrive by boat, when the real geopolitical strategy is ensuring Australia always remains relevant to everybody by being as good a citizen as it can possibly be. Then, please – can we just be more humane?
There is no open door strategy here, use a little bit of the taxpayer money that we all pay (disclosure – I am NY based now, but have a good 12 years under my belt in Australia still paying tax), to give ‘refugees to be determined’ a much better chance at recovering from their experience so that whatever happens next in their lives they get a chance. I’ve never been a refugee – except of the 80’s; and yeah it took me a long time to move on from Three Feet High and Rising, and then I discovered Jurassic Five, before then discovering Danger Doom. Change is good. Changes in government, on some issues, do not represent enough change – this one is crucial. Short-crust pies and laksa can co-exist even in the same dish.
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