May 06, 2003
Slave Trade in Australia

The Guardian reports that while the Australian government is spending billions constructing and maintaining maximum security facilities in which to store refugees, officials are overlooking a whole other set of immigrant workers who are essentially enslaved. Non-white people who arrive in boats and ask for asylum are locked up in facilities like Woomera and deported, but young women from the Phillipines and Thailand who are forced into prostitution, and workers from South Africa who are paid $100 for three months work are overlooked.

This seems to be a side effect of the horrible conditions that await people who officially request asylum: people who work as slaves, or those who are in a position to testify about it, are so afraid to be caught that there is little possibility for legal recourse. The privileges of white people in Australia are protected, both by ensuring that non-white immigrants can't work legally, and by delegating the worst work and the worst working conditions to those who manage to avoid places like Woomera. Selective, racist enforcement of fascistic immigration policies doesn't only keep people out, it keeps the people who are in quiet and unwilling to resist abuse or exploitation.

According to the report, though, the use of pseudo-slave labour is being used by right wing officials to weaken the construction unions, among others. So while white Australians may benefit from the influx of labourers who will accept any conditions not to get caught, it is undoubtedly the rich Australians who benefit disproportionately. David Fickerling, the Guardian reporter who wrote the story, puts it even less delicately than I do:

Let us be charitable. Perhaps, just perhaps, someone might have recognised that - were it not for the cruel conditions under which they are living - a decent population of hard-working, committed immigrants might even be good for the country.

And without them, what would people do when they needed a bathroom tiled on the cheap, a shonky watertower built, or fancied screwing a heroin addict with the body of a child?

posted by dru in race