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Is the concept of a country obsolete?
Responding to a huge volume of questions on borders, refugees and migration, Geraldine Brooks, Tom Elliott, Voranai Vanijaka and Mark Colvin search for insight and progress on this charged and crucial subject.
'I've had a lot of experience in places where people squander a great deal of human life fighting over five metres of sand. For me, the less borders, the better.'
As a nation composed mostly of migrants, modern Australia’s relationship with refugees and asylum seekers runs deep: through regional and global wars, famine and disaster, and economic and political upheavals. In recent years, that discussion has become increasingly polarised and fearful. Meanwhile, asylum seekers continue to suffer in conditions that most people agree are unacceptable, cruel.
Throughout all this, Australia’s challenge and policy response has made world news. Now, with Europe’s dramatic influx of refugees mostly from Syria, the question has renewed urgency – of a kind that demands answers beyond the obfuscation of politics.
Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in Sydney's western suburbs.
In 1982 she won a scholarship to the journalism master's program at Columbia University in New York. Later, she worked for the Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.
In 2006, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her novel March. Her novels Caleb's Crossing and People of the Book were both New York Times bestsellers, and Year of Wonders and People of the Book are international bestsellers, translated into more than 25 languages. She is also the author of the acclaimed non-fiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence.
In 2011, she presented Australia's prestigious Boyer Lectures, later published as The Idea of Home.
Tom Elliott is the host of 3AW's Drive program. He is also a director of Melbourne-based wealth management firm Beulah Capital. Tom writes a weekly opinion column for Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper and appears regularly on the Nine Network’s Today and ABC TV’s Agony Uncles series.
Mark Colvin is an Australian journalist, filmmaker and broadcaster. He has been the presenter of PM, one of the flagship Australian radio current affairs programs on the ABC Radio network, since 1997.