What have refugees ever done for us?


In Fiona Katauskas' cartoon 'What have refugees ever done for us?', a politician poses this very question from a pulpit. After initially agreeing angrily with this sentiment, the members of the congregation note one by one the aspects of Australian society to which refugees have contributed, including the arts, business, science and the economy. Eventually, they all depart for some pho.

Fiona KatauskasFiona Katauskas' work has also appeared in ABC's The DrumNew Matilda, The Sydney Morning HeraldThe AgeThe AustralianThe Financial Review and Scribe's Best Australian political cartoon anthologies.

Topic tags: fiona katauskas, Scott Morrison, Indonesia, asylum seekers



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Talking about sport - the future of men's tennis in this country: Tomic, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis!

Pam | 28 January 2014  

Thanks Fiona. So true. Still l think your Tony Abbot restaurant 'Open for Business' is the best.

Annabel | 29 January 2014  

Multicultural Australia !

nick agocs | 29 January 2014  

Shame we still need to point this out - but thank you!

Esta Paschalidis Chilas | 29 January 2014  

Nice way to conflate boat people refugees and immigrants, Fiona, enabling you to accuse those who think allowing boat people uninhibited access to Australia is not a prudent solution of being opposed to ANY refugees or migrants at all coming into Australia. It must be such fun to be a cartoonist.

HH | 30 January 2014  

Hi HH, Just to clarify, I never said anything about "uninhibited access" and I wasn't conflating boat people, immigrants and refugees. The cartoon was about refugees- Many worked the Snowy Mountains Project or (like my grandfather) on nation building projects. Many, like Frank Lowy, The Kaldor Family, Ahn Do, Karl Kruszelnicki, Gustav Nossal, Les Murray, Majak Daw, James Spiegelman, Lily Brett, Alice Pung, Tan Le, etc etc have contributed enormously to our nation. Nor am I conflating refugees with asylum seekers, however there is a connection. Around 80-90% of "boat people" are found (when we actually assess them as per the Convention we signed) to be refugees- with great potential to contribute to our society. Cheers, Fiona PS Yes it is fun to be a cartoonist.

Fiona Katauskas | 30 January 2014  

Brilliant Fiona. Indeed, where we would we be without those wonderful people! They built this great country. We should always open our doors and arms to refugees. Always.

Louw | 31 January 2014  

Thank you the variety and consistently high quality of the articles you publish.

Jim Knight | 31 January 2014  

Well in that case, Fiona, your cartoon is attacking a straw man, and rather pointedly a straw white male at that. While there are legitimate debates on levels of refugee and migrant intakes and the procedures for such, I know of no-one putting it about that refugees have never contributed anything positive to Australia. As to the figure of 80-90% being found to be refugees, this is way above the global rate of 30% as assessed by UNHCR, largely due to the stacking of the RRT and DIAC with refugee advocates, with some absurd examples cropping up over the years.

HH | 31 January 2014  

For goodness sake HH, Fiona is simply making the point, in her cartoon, that "boat people refugees" (my words") of the past few years, have not, in the opinion of a lot of Australians, contributed anything much to this country. Well, they have not been here long enough to achieve what the cartoon uses as examples. Given time, they will. They will do their bit in the fullness of time. I know of one Afghan lad who works three jobs to get enough money.

Louw | 31 January 2014  

If that’s the case, Louw, why did Fiona choose not to have a cartoon of, say, an obviously swarthy woman, asking “What have asylum seekers over the past few years contributed to Australia?”? rather than of a boofy white male cartoon character asking the apparently irrelevant question (twice) “What have refugees EVER done for Australia?”? For my part, as opposed to Fiona and yourself (it seems), I don’t think the refugee question is a matter of crude economics. It’s not for me a question of “what could/did refugees contribute to Australia?” I’m sure there are lots of home-grown Aussies who have failed to contribute much to our nation, economy or otherwise (myself being a pretty good instance I suspect). But let’s not repudiate their right to be here on that ground (to my relief). Rather, in my mind it should come down to: “All other things being equal, is this person here and now in a desperate situation asylum-wise (or even otherwise), regardless as to whether he/she is a potential multi-millionaire/TV star &c, or an ageing long-term totally dependent comatose patient?” I (a Catholic) think both have equal dignity as human beings, and accordingly should be treated equally. I trenchantly disagree with Greens candidate, and Companion of the Order of Australia Professor Peter Singer on this matter. That being said, what those words “all other things being equal” needs to be spelt out in a particular way. Accordingly I would further contend that we can, long term, take on more refugees of ANY ability (including, praise God, none, economically speaking, such as the permanently comatose, especially if they are being routinely hacked for their organs and killed in other regimes, as they now are) if we maximise the preconditions for wealth creation, which has resulted in the brilliant and beneficial achievements of the Frank Lowys etc that Fiona has rightly pointed to. IE, if we maintain a fundamentally Christian free market society. I would add further that knowledgeable supporters of the free market in Australia (including not a few white males) agree readily with Fiona’s observation that a very substantial number of leading business people in Australia since World War II have been refugees or migrants. Several of the former have written books and theses on the topic. Which only supports my contention that her cartoon is poorly constructed.

HH | 01 February 2014  

What a witty and generous cartoon! Of course, you can't please everyone.

Peter | 02 February 2014  

Well done Fiona! you have given image to the way new arrivals are yearning to belong and show what they can give to Australia!? But as long as we keep them on the dole, in institutionalized isolation, we will make us and them victims and strangers. Liellie from Random Acts of Welcome

Liellie McLaughlin | 28 February 2014  

This helped me out a lot, Thank You

Ben Dhover | 04 February 2020  


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