Book Launches 2017
Asylum by Boat: Origins of Australia's Refugee Policy
Friday 15 September 2017
5pm - 7pm
In the late 1970s, 2000 Vietnamese arrived in Australia by boat, fleeing persecution. Their arrival presented a challenge to politicians, but the way the Fraser government handled it, and the resettlement of tens of thousands more Indochinese refugees, marked a turning point in Australia's immigration history. Turn-backs and detention were proposed, and rejected.
Claire Higgins’ important book recounts these extraordinary events. It is driven by the question of how we moved from a humanitarian approach to policies of mandatory detention - including on remote islands - and boat turn-backs. Like now, the politicians of the time wanted to control entry. Unlike now, they also wanted to respect Australia's obligations under international law. It's about how governments and policy-makers have dealt with the confluence of issues emerging from the end of the 'White Australia' policy, a recognition of international responsibilities and shifting public opinion. Strikingly, it also shows the extent to which the attitudes and statements of politicians and policy-makers can shape the mood of the country, for better and worse.
To be launched by Dr Lisa Gordon
Saturday 16 September 2017
Session 2: 11.15-12.40pm
Kate Middleton's third poetry collection continues her preoccupation with terrestrial and other landscapes, both real and imagined. The poems haunt, and are haunted by, the legacies of literature and history: whether inhabiting the scientific laboratory, the exploratory voyage, the layered history of landscape, or the voices of past authors, they are interested in the border-zones of understanding, in both the ‘the riddle of untrodden land’ and the buried history of lost empires. Formally, the poems move between traditional lyric and collage-style forms of quotation and erasure. Others take a speculative turn away from the book's historical grounding, such as in the sequence of poems titled ‘Watching Science Fiction’ that are scattered throughout the book. Passage traces an imaginative path through orientation and disorientation, where a god in the form of a lion and rabbits with eyes 'fantastically in bloom' surprise and enchant at every turn. It observes the world under a watchful gaze, ‘Patient as an avalanche.’
Kate Middleton’s previous collections with Giramondo are Fire Season, which won the Western Australian Premier’s Award for Poetry in 2009, and Ephemeral Waters, which was shortlisted for the 2014 NSW Premier’s award for Poetry.
“Middleton reintroduces the reader to the world, to the strange and familiar, in ways that stay on, dwelling in the imagination with a sense of something akin to obsessive reverence”. Jo Langdon, Mascara Literary Review