SANITY WARNING: If you want to be appalled by the really interesting "facts" and rhetoric of this debate try this site or this one, there are many more out there. Sometimes I am ashamed to be Australian.
The problem with this stereotype
This is a stereotype that depicts the scary, evil foreigners who come here by illegal means and are taking the food from our mouths. Over the last decade it is becoming more common for this to be followed by rhetoric around Muslim beliefs and wanting to turn our country into an Islamic state, just adding to the hype.
It is an awful argument that creates a culture of fear and loathing around all refugees in this country. And the big problem is, how do we distinguish people who have immigrated here through the "legal" channels when they are of the same ethnic background as the evil "illegal immigrants"? Well quite frankly we don't do we!
It feeds on the fear and concern that people might already have about the "other"; the different cultures, religions and ethnicities that are coming into our country. This is nothing new, the same thing happened when we turned away from the "White Australia" policy and again when we took Vietnamese refugees in the 70-80s.
The main problem is that it doesn't allow people to consider the individual situations of the human beings that are involved. They are all judged to be the same, and that judgement is of criminals who are out to suck our country dry and take over our way of life. It's particularly dangerous because it spreads insidious lies and half-truths to a population that is already concerned about not having enough for the future.
The left-wing asylum seekers
To the left-wing commentators, the boat people are all asylum seekers. They are all people who are fleeing from situations that are impossible to exist within, and they all deserve our sympathy and support. Every one of the asylum seekers is a legitimate refugee who is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and risk their lives to make it to Australia; to have a better life.
For this group there is no legitimate reason to keep these asylum seekers in detention, and they should all be brought into the community and processed in quick time so they have a level of certainty about their future here. Moreover, keeping them detained leads to mental illness, suicide attempts and riots, that will cause all of them further harm.
This rhetoric makes a big deal of the right-wing hatred and paints anyone not in their corner as being nasty people who have no concern for other human lives. At this far left side of the scale you are either totally in or inhumane, there is no middle ground.
The problems with this stereotype
A major problem about this stereotype is that it generally becomes more about the people promoting the stereotype and less about the people who they are trying to protect with it. This is probably due to the mainstream media depictions of the left-wing group - you know the commentary "tree hugging hippies" and the like. This means that the arguments that they might put forward are usually circumvented into personal attacks on their naivety and questioning their patriotism, the standard right-wing arguments it would seem.
There is a real problem with the stereotype though, it does not allow for any discussion or possibility that the asylum seekers might not what they claim to be. This stereotype promotes the single story that all asylum seekers are nice, honest people who are fleeing persecution, and there needs to be an acknowledgement that this might not always be the case.
What this stereotype fails to take into account are the two minority groups of asylum seekers. These are the people that may not actually be seeking refuge from persecution (those subsequently not found to be legitimate refugees); and more importantly the refugees who aren't necessarily nice, honest people, or aren't of the right "character". And as long as this group fails to acknowledge the fears of the right-wing, there can never be a middle ground.
What does all of this mean?
The left-wing accuse the right of promoting inhumane treatment (UNHCR do much the same I should add) and the right-wing accuse the left of being naive tree huggers who are blind to the reality that we are being overrun by criminals and terrorists.
What is still missing?