Constructed Realities : Framing an inclusive, multicultural Australia’s exclusion of people seeking asylum

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Institutionen för samhälls- och välfärdsstudier

Abstract: Since 2001, Australia’s increasingly securitised and exclusionary asylum policy has been legitimated through a damaging discourse surrounding people who seek asylum. This discourse, reinforced by successive Australian Prime Ministers, has been instrumental in shaping policies which have a devastating human impact. While political elites across the West are distancing themselves from a discourse of inclusive multiculturalism, Australia continues to celebrate its multicultural success despite the ongoing tension between a rhetoric of inclusion and one justifying exclusion. Since discourse is both productive and reflective of the social world, shaping discourse can be understood as a means to shape reality. This thesis explores how discourse is constructed and reproduced through framing; a discursive practice that influences how certain issues are understood. The texts analysed are those in which Australian Prime Ministers and senior political figures defend policies of exclusion against people who seek asylum by boat as part of a broader policy vision for a Safe, Secure & Free Australia. In order to contrast the frames, narratives and discourses associated with exclusion, communications promoting the policy vision of an inclusive Multicultural Australia have also been analysed. The frames identified in the material reproduce particular narratives which help to maintain the hegemonic position of discourses which present Australia as a humanitarian, welcoming and inclusive multicultural society and situate people who seek asylum by boat as illegal, seeking an unfair advantage, and as a threat to national security. By identifying frames that consistently appear in the messaging of Australian political elites, we can understand how certain narratives have come to be accepted as truth.

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