Emma Dawson appeared on The Drum to discuss the UN migration compact, new surveillance laws, and women’s economic security with a panel including former NSW Education Minister and now Gonski Institute Education director Adrian Piccoli, CEO of Modest Fashion Australia Aisha Novakovich and Dr Suelette Dreyfus from The University of Melbourne.
Emma expressed disappointment at the government’s decision to pull out of the UN Migration Compact and arbitrarily lower the immigration cap.
“Leadership’s needed here,” she said. “It’s not just about saying, ‘well people think they’re stuck in a traffic jam because of immigration, so let’s pander to that.’ Some of the language that’s being used by Scott Morrison…he said ‘illegally arriving in Australia.’ We know asylum seekers don’t arrive illegally, they have a legal right to arrive. And they can drop the permanent intake by 30,000 a year, it’s not going to make a blind bit of difference to congestion in Sydney and Melbourne.”
She warned that cuts to immigration would impact international students and thus hurt one of Australia’s largest export industries. “You’ve got to be really careful when you start making policies to appeal to what I think is quite a nationalist approach to some far right elements in the party. That can do real economic damage and damage our social cohesion. I think it’s dangerous.”
On new surveillance laws, Emma said “those that have that intentions to do harm to our society and using technology, we need to update laws to allow the police to have the tools to deal with that. But I think Peter Dutton’s comments here are entirely political in nature…This is just more evidence of Peter Dutton’s authoritarian tendency. He wants to jump on a terrorist incident to ram a piece of legislation through Parliament without due process. Our democracy relies on us taking a measured approach to these things.”