Just when you thought the Government’s “stop-the-boats” rhetoric couldn’t get more tasteless, they decide to turn the misguided message into a telemovie.
The Federal Government is spending more than $4 million to fund a telemovie aimed at deterring asylum seekers from travelling to Australia by boat.
Now, it’s not exactly the budget of a Hollywood blockbuster — it’s certainly less than the $21.6 million they forked out to have the fifth instalment of Pirates of the Carribean filmed in Queensland — but for a government insisting they’re in the midst of a budget crisis, it does seem a little over-the-top.
The drama, which will be screened in countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, has been touted as a tool to highlight the dangers of seeking asylum by boat, ABC’s Lateline program revealed last night.
Sydney-based production company Put It Out There Pictures has been given the $4.1 million contract for the project, which will include storylines about the Australian Navy and asylum seekers drowning at sea.
“Television soap operas and telemovies are proven media to reach the target audience when seeking to deliver complex messages,” a spokesperson for the Immigration Department told Lateline.
“Each broadcast will be accompanied by a major awareness campaign across television and social media.”
In other words? The project is as a straight-up piece of propaganda.
It is essentially the telemovie equivalent of the Rudd government’s 2013 advertising campaign: a heavy-handed message to dissuade asylum seekers — delivered, rather ridiculously, via a medium many displaced people are unlikely to be able to consume.
Stop The Boats: A Telemovie has unsurprisingly been slammed by refugee advocates, who quite sensibly say it’s a terrible idea and will do little to solve the problem of deaths at sea.
“The target audience for this telemovie is already traumatised communities,” Welcome to Australia national director Brad Chilcott told Mamamia.
Related content: Brad Chilcott on the future of refugee policy in Australia.
“To spend $4 million to further traumatise these people with images of people drowning at sea or suffering while fleeing from the terror they experience on a daily basis is insensitive to say the least.”
Mr Chilcott added that tomorrow, Hazara people in Australia will hold protest vigils for 31 people kidnapped from a bus in their home country of Afghanistan – and that “not many people in that community would be untouched by the regular violence, including bombings and assassinations against their family and friends”.
These are the people our government is targeting with the film.