A Violent Dream: Importing the ‘Australian Solution’ to the United Kingdom

Monish Bhatia*, Scott Poynting

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In March 2023 British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressed a press conference, standing before a podium emblazoned with the red-background slogan, ‘Stop the Boats’. He was setting out his party’s list of priorities in advance of the 2024 election and ‘to stop small boats’ (of asylum-seekers crossing the English Channel) was fifth on the list, in a nation beset by economic woes, health-care crisis and Brexit backwash. For Australian viewers, this was déjà vu. From 2018, a brushed metal trophy in the form of a silhouette of an Asian fishing boat (dis)graced a desk in the office of then Australian Prime Minister (and sometime Immigration Minister) Scott Morrison. An inscription on its hull infamously boasted, ‘I stopped these’, referring to the so-called ‘suspected illegal entry vessels’ of asylum-seekers that the ideologues of xenophobia just called ‘the boats’. In all the talk of ‘turning back the boats’ from Australia and the United Kingdom, there is not much focus on the actual people in them. This is deliberate and consequential. The Howard government developed this approach at around the time of the ‘Tampa Crisis’ in 2001 and the Australian resort to what became known as ‘the Pacific Solution’. In this chapter, we argue that Australia’s ‘Pacific Solution’, along with Britain’s current ‘Australian Solution’, as it might be called, constitute state violence deliberately designed to harm asylum seekers, mostly unlawfully and certainly without regard for international law, to deter them from exercising their rights to claim asylum. The respective state policies and their implementation are a cynical deterrent to irregular maritime arrivals, structured in racism, without respect for the humanity of the victims or the international humanitarian principles to which both the nations are professedly committed. They are instituted in response to populist panic over (certain, racialised) asylum seekers that is marketed by mass media and manipulated irresponsibly for political gain.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRacism, Violence and Harm
Subtitle of host publicationIdeology, Media and Resistance
EditorsMonish Bhatia, Scott Poynting, Waqas Tufail
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-37879-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-37878-2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2023

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Crime, Media and Culture

Bibliographical note

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2023. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

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