The Di Gribble Argument returns for a third year, pushing us into constructive disagreement in efforts to break a conversational deadlock. This year we’re taking on one of the most intractable conversations in Australian public life: stopping the boats.
We are – proudly – a flourishing multicultural society. Most of us carry family histories of migration, seeking safety and prosperity in this vast and varied continent. But something is broken. We spend billions imprisoning asylum seekers on remote Pacific Islands. Whenever this offshore regime hits the headlines, we reach a dead end before we even start. The solution is not ideal, chorus politicians and pundits, but there simply is no other way.
Only a country that hides from its migrant past and present could accept such a fiction – but that is Australia today. From Pauline Hanson’s return to 457 visas, we continue to leave immigration policy and practice to fear-mongering politicians and disingenuous shock-jocks.
It’s time for a proper argument. One that lays out the stunning changes to our social contract on immigration that quietly took place behind the mantra of Stop The Boats. One that looks at the system in its entirety, that replaces publicity-snatching catchphrases with a broader, deeper perspective. And an argument that actually proposes solutions. As she did in her work on the No Business in Abuse and #LetThemStay campaigns, human rights campaigner Shen Narayanasamy will bring together business, government and social threads to detonate the dead end nature of this debate. #argument16
Shen Narayanasamy is GetUp!'s Human Rights Campaign Director. She founded the No Business in Abuse project, targeting corporate involvement in offshore detention of asylum seekers, and led #LetThemStay, which prevented the deportation of hundreds of asylum seekers to Nauru.
Recently, she led GetUp's response to the Federal Government's attempts to change the Racial Discrimination Act, and ongoing attempts to change citizenship requirements. Shen's background is as a human rights lawyer and advocate, working in Australia and across the Asia Pacific on issues of economic justice and land rights.
Dave Noonan is the National Secretary of Australia’s largest construction union, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Construction and General Division.
Allan Fels is an economist, lawyer and public servant, best known for his eight year tenure as the inaugural chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
George Megalogenis is an author and journalist with three decades' experience in the media. The Australian Moment won the 2013 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Non-fiction and the 2012 Walkley Award for Non-fiction, and formed the basis for his ABC documentary series Making Australia Great.
Anna Burke was the elected representative for the Victorian electoral division of Chisholm in the Australian Parliament from 1998 until 2016; she served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives during the 43rd Parliament from 2012 to 2103.
Prior to becoming Speaker, Anna served as Deputy Speaker in the both the 42nd and 43rd Parliaments as well as on a number of Parliamentary Committees including Climate Change, Environment and the Arts, Petitions, and Privileges.
Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre.