Freed asylum seekers look small from the air in Knight’s cartoon
It was a tough choice between home and away for PM Anthony Albanese this week as the release of 80 long-term detainees from detention coincided with a seat at the APEC summit in the US
READING LEVEL: RED
This week, the High Court of Australia* brought down its decision on the rights of long-term detainees* in Australia’s immigration detention centres*. It ruled that it was illegal to hold people in custody with no determined release date.
So 80 asylum seekers* were released into the community. The problem was that some of the asylum seekers had serious criminal convictions* and might pose a danger to the Australian public if released.
The High Court’s ruling must be obeyed by the Government, and despite the Court not yet providing its reasons for the decision, it had to be carried out. So it was check-out time.
The immigration detention laws were created 20 years ago by the then Howard* Government, when thousands of asylum seekers in boats were arriving on our northern shores and islands and the “War on Terror*” was at its zenith* following 9/11* and the Bali bombing*.
Border protection* was a major issue and a tough stance* was popular with the electorate*, hence immigration* laws were designed along those strict lines.
I thought I would draw a cartoon on this week’s High Court decision, and I had this image in my head of detention centre gates being thrown open.
I was drawing cartoons 20 years ago about our detention centres in Australia and the Howard Government’s tough border protection policies and now the High Court is ruling against it. How things change. I liked the image of drawing a detention centre with its high security wire fencing, coils of razor wire, detention cells in the background, but the gates are wide open, signifying the change in law.
When I had sketched that, I felt I had to show detainees and their joy at being released, with a few glimpses of feet and arms raised in jubilation* as they hotfooted it out of there. To show that a large number of people had exited, around 80, footprints in the dust are a great illustrative tool that I used here.
The other political issue this week was that our PM Anthony Albanese was heading off to APEC* in California. He had just returned from the US, China and the Pacific forum in the Cook Islands. That is on top of his busy overseas schedule since becoming Prime Minister, which has become a talking point in itself.
Leaders do need to travel and nurture* relationships with our allies* and trading partners, but the Opposition* claimed that the High Court decision to release immigration detainees demanded immediate action from the PM and he should send the foreign minister to APEC instead, while he stays home and fixes the problems here. Cost of living and a national housing crisis were other domestic problems that required attention.
I wondered how to add the Prime Minister into the 'toon? I recalled the cruel nickname that the PM’s detractors* had given him, “Airbus Albo”. Catchy, I thought. So I created a jet for him with “AIR ALBO” on the side and it is jetting off to APEC in the cartoon.
As it departs, I drew it flying over an immigration detention centre. I always enjoy looking down on cities when flying and trying to spot things from above. Everything seems much smaller, and I figured that the PM might see some of his domestic problems appear much smaller from his international flights.
The cartoon illustrates the difficult decision the PM has to make here: whether to stay in Australia and sort out domestic issues or represent Australia on the world stage. Both are important issues, and he has chosen to attend APEC. From the air the domestic problems do look smaller, but of course we know they are not.
It’s a tough job being Prime Minister.
- High Court of Australia: the highest court in Australia’s judicial system
- detainees: someone held prisoner by a government because of political views or activities
- detention centres: a type of prison holding people who have entered a county illegally
- convictions: past crimes for which someone has been found guilty
- Howard: conservative Liberal leader John Howard was the 25th prime minister of Australia between 1996 and 2007
- War on Terror: US-led global military response announced by then President George W. Bush to seek out terrorists after 9/11
- zenith: peak, highest point
- 9/11: on September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists flew hijacked commercial planes into the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington – another plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after civilian passengers heroically overcame the hijackers and prevented the plane reaching its target; nearly 3000 people died in the attack
- Bali bombing: on October 12, 2002, three jihadist bombs on the Indonesian island of Bali killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, in the single largest loss of Australian life due to an act of terror
- border protection: the Australian Border Force is a federal law enforcement agency that works to control the movement of people and goods across the Australian border
- stance: position, a way of thinking about something, where someone stands
- electorate: all the people who are allowed to vote in an election
- immigration: people coming into a country in order to live and work there
- jubilation: feelings of great happiness and pleasure because of success or triumph
- APEC: the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit works to promote free trade throughout the region
- nurture: giving care and attention to something or someone so they can grow and develop
- allies: friends, more specifically friendly nations that trust each other and are on the same side in war and peace
- Opposition: the largest party – or coalition of parties – in the House of Representatives that is not in government
- detractors: people who criticise someone or something, sometimes unfairly
- How many asylum seekers were released into the community after the High Court decision?
- The government under which former Australian prime minister created the immigration laws and when?
- Which two international terrorists attack during the Howard era fuelled border security concerns in Australia?
- The Opposition has criticised Mr Albanese for travelling again instead of staying here to sort out which major domestic issues?
- In his cartoon, how did Mark Knight represent the large number of released detainees?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. What happens next?
Imagine this cartoon is part of a story that is made up of three cartoons. The three cartoons tell a complete story, and Mark’s cartoon is the start of the story. Think about what the story could be and draw the next two cartoons that tell the story.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design, Critical and Creative Thinking
Being able to draw is only one of the skills needed to be a great cartoonist. Write a list of all of the other skills that you think cartoonists like Mark need to do their job.
Next to each skill, write a sentence that explains why that skill is important or helps them to do a great job.
Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Media Arts, Visual Communication Design
Stretch your sentence
Find a “who” in the cartoon. Write them down.
Add three adjectives to describe them better.
Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?
Add an adverb about how they are doing the action.
Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.