♫ You’ve got to know when to hold ’em ♫

Fortnight post by Jordan Fay
Topic: That used to be legal.

There are estimated to be close to 50,000 people classified as illegal immigrants in Australia at any one time (Section: Myth 7). How do you imagine these people, how they entered the country and how they conduct their lives? (If they have any control over how they conduct themselves at all). Immigration in Australia – its complicated laws, numerous reforms and historical controversies – has always been a hot topic. It seems to have its own gravitational pull while having a state of classification more elusive and debated than that of Pluto. It’s bounced around the walls of Parliament House and the idiot box so much so that I’m starting to believe that it’s a subtlety-disguised form of renewable energy. How else can we explain the repetitious narrow-mindedness and excessive fear mongering that surrounds the so-called-debate of who can come to Australia and who can’t? Oh yeah, and who is the face of illegal immigration issues in Australia? Turns out it’s mostly people from the US and UK who are overstaying their visas (Section: Myth 7). Of course people still say:

“But what about… boat people/queue jumpers/those people who aren’t genuine refugees/those potential terrorists? Aren’t they illegal? Aren’t they the real problem?”

Is the White Australia Act still in place? While those who flee the state of war in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and Sri Lanka somewhere in a dusty draw and in the mental library of a knowledgable human rights-activist there sits the Australian Migration Act of 1958 which states that people are legally allowed to seek asylum in Australia with or without visas. And those people that arrive by boat? Well in 2009 less than 2,000 asylum seekers arrived by boat, a number that pales against the 36,000 that arrived in Italy (Italy is 301,230 sq km while Australia is 7,686,830 sq km). And in 2010 Australia only received 2% overall of refugees thats fled to industrialised nations.

Just to clarify, the previous figures don’t include the population of Venice.

Despite all of this the inhumane system of indefinite detention is still classed as legal in Australia. And off-shore processing, reminiscent of the John Howard era, grows ever brighter for the Labor Party as Nauru has become reinstated as an island of exile for refugees (or as we call them in the industry: the people who weren’t there). Isn’t there a contradiction of rights here? I guess it’s hard to say really, I mean, we are talking about politics. Immigration laws in Australia are like a processed meat patty being flipped over and over from legal to illegal while becoming increasingly burnt and inedible (if at all edible in the first place).

“You’ve fled your home and crumbled community, risked your life and taken a rickety boat all the way here just to gain basic human rights? Well, I sure hope you like navigating tesseracts because that’s how we do things down here.”


Amphetamine Assholes and Cocaine Casts

Written by Zoe Blain
Week 7: Smuggling/Import Laws
Fortnightly post 

A few weeks ago I rediscovered a treasured computer game from my childhood. Drug Lord 2.2. It is like the share market, but instead of BHP, CBA, Telstra and Rio Tinto you can invest in Heroin, Cocaine, Ice and LSD. When you are ranked “wannabe” or “small distributor” you must purchase cans of “no scent” to fly your goods overseas. At $1000 a can, no scent is a mythical substance that fools sniffer dogs with a 100% guarantee if you use enough…

As an “area distributer” or “drug lord” shipping is necessary, because hundreds of thousands of cocaine ‘units’ need hundreds of thousands of no scent cans to slip through customs. If you ship with the most expensive company “International Couriers” your goods will arrive without a hitch. Even if it is going to cost a little…

Unfortunately for those idealistic souls who attempt to smuggle illicit substances out of the world of drug lord, such guarantees are scarce.

This week, I was hoping to find a topic other than drugs to write about. However, after punching “weird smuggling stories” into Google, it seemed as though I had no choice. Amidst sites boasting smuggling tips, lay the handcuffed wrists and inflamed assholes of those who had failed.

The most popular techniques appeared to be…
Up the asshole and/or vagina
Swallowed (drugs packed into ‘pellets’, balloons or condoms)
Strapped to the body
Stitched into wigs
Under/ or dissolved into a plaster cast
Stuffed into corpses
In containers of Holy water

Naturally, the successful techniques weren’t discussed.
Anyway, this got me thinking: why do people keep repeatedly risking these methods?
I blame the media. Australians appear to love a good smuggling story. It is like killing two birds (the war on drugs and illegal immigrants) with one stone. News readers flatten shy grins and sparkling eyes as they introduce new airport security tactics. Hit television series “Border Control” is up to its eleventh season, with audiences barracking for regular Aussie blokes to bust nasty foreign criminals.

I once was lucky enough to witness the filming of this program at Sydney airport. I was on my way back from Hawaii and customs officers were putting on an extra tough show for the cameras. I was held up for twenty minutes as an overweight man in a fluorescent vest shook and glared at a wooden ukulele I had purchased. He let me go after confiscating several “suspicious” souvenir necklaces.

In my opinion, all of this exposure works to broadly publicize drug smuggling techniques, with mothers, lawyers and even children privy to the tactics of the ‘mule.’ And I reckon criminals and dealers probably watch television too. For all we know, these reports and programs could be a rich source of research for such types! And there’s always going to be the guy who scoffs and thinks he can do it better…

Playing drug lord this morning, I imagined how much more entertaining it would be if you could chose between stuffing heroin up your ass or under a plaster cast instead of using “no scent.” Then I imagined the potential outrage this could cause. I pictured Anna Coren gravely warning parents about Drug Lord; a game which familiarized kids with the drug trade and smuggling methods. Cue: Today Tonight outro tune. “Coming up next: customs questions suspicious looking Mexican woman at Sydney airport on BORDER CONTROL AUSTRALIA.”