3 May 2021

Sean Kelly: “I was shocked, initially, by the announcement of the India flight ban. But once the government announced the accompanying prison terms, the shock, for me, wore off. What had seemed odd was made suddenly familiar. Banning citizens from returning to Australia sounded new – but imprisoning desperate people for years at a time for the supposed crime of fleeing desperate circumstances? That is the oldest trick in the Australian political playbook. … The task Morrison’s government too often appears engaged in is … deciding who counts as ‘Australian’, and the circumstances in which our government will accept them as such. Thus Australian citizens in India can be treated as non-citizens. Chinese Australians can be treated as potentially disloyal citizens. Indigenous Australians can be treated as citizens whose lives are worth not quite as much as those of white Australians. In two recent speeches, Scott Morrison has attacked identity politics. … If there is a form of identity politics dividing this country, it is this: the idea that a white suburban bloke is a typical Australian, while the ‘Australianness’ of every other Australian is always doubtful, on the brink of being undermined. For many Australians, most of the time, such fears will seem abstract. The disregard our government showed this week for citizenship itself makes that danger concrete. Concern about it should unite us all.”