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What Do Londoners Think 'Get Australian' Actually Means?

In the lead up to the British general election, anti-immigrationists are calling on the nation to "get Australian" with border policy. We asked some people in the street what they think this means.

by VICE Staff
22 April 2015, 2:30am

This week, Katie Hopkins came under fire for suggesting it was time for the UK to "get Australian" on immigration. According to her column, published in The Sun, this means treating asylum seekers with the complete lack of passion and understanding and "threatening them with violence until they bugger off". Sadly, her appraisal is truer than many of us in Australia want it to be.

And Hopkins isn't alone in this either. With the British general election looming, and xenophobes and racists coming out of their shells, our country's divisive policies have been also heralded by UKIP leader Nigel Farrage. "Australians are like British people but with balls of steel, can-do brains, tiny hearts and whacking great gunships," he wrote in an article also for The Sun.

How does Tony Abbott feel about being the poster boy for tiny-heartedness? Great, seemingly. A few days after Hopkins wrote her column (and following the sinking of a refugee boat in the Mediterranean which killed over 700 souls), Tony Abbott lectured the entire European continent on border control and how easy everything becomes when you complete ignore the UN and human rights. "The only way you can stop the deaths is in fact to stop the boats," he said, missing one of the major points of the refugee discussion.

But what does the average Brit think about all this? Are we a bunch of animals who lob beer cans at asylum seekers (what Hopkins described in her column as the "Aussie version of sharia stoning") or is there more to the story? To find out, we got our UK office to ask some Londoners about what they think "getting Australian" really means.

Frederika: "Getting Australian" means creating hilarious adverts where they show things like "Do you want to come to Australia? First, you have to get 24 foot waves, gigantic sharks, coral reefs, then there's the desert and the snakes." That's serious - they did actually make that. So maybe we should make some adverts like that but ours would be "Do you want to come to England? First, you have to get past grassy fields with pigs and then you'll have to fight through chavs and UKIP supporters, and then all you'll find is our crumbling NHS."

Eleanor: Isn't she racist? So is she saying that Australians are racist as she supports them? But isn't it a racist comment to say that Australians are racist? Stereotypes are everywhere. I don't know why. I feel like immigration is good.

Stuart: A lot of people come into this country because it's a really easy ride when you get here. In Australia, you have to have money and you have to have some sort of skill. They won't just accept anybody. I've been thinking that we should be 'getting Australian' for years and years and years. I think it would definitely make more sense.

Andreas: I think that in Australia, they've actively made commercials and one movie against immigration and I think that's a bit hateful. So maybe it means becoming less welcoming. That is the positive way to put it. It's different in Britain compared to, for example Germany or Australia. The language is more welcoming and I personally feel very welcomed here.

Luay: Who said that? Katie Hopkins? Fuck that hoe, man. In terms of immigration in Britain, there's been a big number of young British males leaving, but in terms of the people we're letting in, it's pretty much remained similar. Fuck that bitch. We don't want to be like Australia. I've heard that they can be racist but anybody can be racist. I don't like to generalise. Australia's pretty cool, though. I'm actually going to move there soon. Wish me luck. I'll be an immigrant.

Johanna: I have no idea what is meant by "getting more Australian". Maybe Australians are more open-minded? Or more racist? But does that make no sense? What are Australians like? I actually have no idea.

Sophie: I don't think Katie Hopkins is a very nice person but by "getting Australian" I think she means that we need to be stricter about who we allow in the country and allow people that are going to pay their taxes instead of people who are going to claim benefits and take the piss. Australians don't let people take the piss, am I right?

Joshua: Australians only allow in people that they want, so they want white doctors or very qualified people. They work on a point system and I don't agree with that. Yes, you want people who are qualified but at the same time, they can come over here and train and then they would be qualified. It's about opportunity.