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    Theorizing Policy Changes Samples


    This report aims at policy analysis which attempts to reveal that how government try to deal with the policy related problems. The main focus of analysis is to consider some ways to deal with problems. Introduction of policies gives shape to problems. Government is active in creation of policies rather than reacting to the problems. Hence, representation of problems is a very important part of policy making. Hence, how the problem is represented or created is necessary.

    The current study focuses on presenting a highly criticized and politicized issue of increasing arrivals of asylum seekers who have left their home country and is seeking asylum in another country resulting in disastrous events and they received media attention to a greater extent. This policy making episode presents the fact that how the problem is represented and how this have been treated by the government in policy making episode.

    This policy making episode demonstrates and will contain discourse , context, power and influence as well as focuses on policy making process and theorizing policy changes. This essay provides a summary of the entire policy episode of the issue of asylum seekers. This policy episode presents the argument in both the parliament as well as among media which also reveals the policy making processes and theorize the policy changes to resolve the issue of asylum seekers in Australia.

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    Policy Substance

    Until the Tampa incident in the year 2001, asylum seekers were considered as sleeper issues. an expert panel was appointed by the Gilliard government on 28th june 2012 so as to seek advice to resolve the issue of asylum seekers and they were appointed to provide advice on how to best approach the issue of asylum seekers who were arriving by boat in Australia. Since 2008, asylum seekers increased to a larger extent and the political efforts managed the arrival of irregular migrants to the country. This resulted in deaths of more than thousands of people at seasince 2000. Since 2008, approximately 800 people died under the Labor government. Keating government introduced compulsory detension centers for asylum seekers in the year 1992. The political debate arised surrounding ‘boat people’ wwhich helped Howard to win the election in 2001 but another leader Rudd and his ineffective decisions for asylum seekers made him lose the elections and prime ministership in the year 2010. Two leaders were the most influential players in this policy episode of the Labor’s failing asylum policy. In 2012, increasing numbers of boat arrivals, more detention centers and the disastrous events at sea , it became necessary for Gilliard to take necessary steps to support Labor government. Government launched new border force to stop the boat arrivals in the country. The Pacific solution was also introduced by the government of Australia which aimed at transporting asylum seekers to detention centers in the pacific oceans and not allowing them on the Australian land. In 2011, the government announced the ‘Malaysia Agreement’ which was aimed at addressing people smuggling in the Asia pacific region.

    The aim of an expert panel is to set recommendations for asylum seeker policy but the Abott’s government attempted to maintain the policies regarding asylum seekers in Australia. Under the power of Abott, it was confirmed that asylum seekers policy was considered to be successful by saving the lives of hundreds of people who might have drowned at sea. Gilliard accepted all the recommendations given by the expert panel and immediately reopened detention centers for the asylum seekers.

    Policy politics

    This policy episode is greatly affected by the politics which considers mainly the government and the media and asylum seekers attracted media attention. After Labor government came into force in 2007, it attempted to end offshore processing in various other countries but continued mandatory detention. Rudd’s policy changes which occurred in 2013 resulted in decrease of asylum seekers in Australia but after Abott’s government came into force its turn-back policy crushed it down to a trickle.

    When Rudd came into force and grabbed prime ministership in 2013 and introduced a new policy that from now on no asylum seeker will be allowed to settle in Australia that showed a little toughness and resulted in the slow down of the boats. The Gilliard government’s Malaysia swap of approximately 800 asylum seekers was considered to be a workable alternative. Immigration minister Chris Bowen’s idea didn’t worked but his idea aimed at the first 800 who come in Australia would be sent to Malaysia. The important members in this case study involves members of parliament prime minister Gilliard; opposition leader Tony Abott ; current Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor; former Immigration Minister Chris Bowen; and Shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Key members also include the members of the expert panel. The asylum seeker policy discourse was postponed to the expert panel and the government allowed it to directly influence the policy process.

    Policy development process

    Independent MP proposed that the Migration Legislation Amendment Bill that was presented before parliament in June 2012, which included the people swap deal with the government of Malaysia and also allowed the reopening of detention centers at Nauru. Although the bill was passed in the House of Representatives but failed to receive the support of green and also of the opposition parties in the Senate in the next day after the government rejected the opposition’s plea. Then the appointment of expert panel took place to provide advices for the policy formulation and changes. Expert panel had to consult to the stakeholders and to give a final report within a period of 6 weeks and which was managed by prime minister as well as cabinet ministers and the direct involvement of prime minister gave another level of importance to the issue.

    Section 2 Analysis and critiques


    It can be defined as a communication or a debate about how we think of people, things or social organizations of the society that influences how people interpret the problem. Discourse has been analyzed using Bacchi’s subjectivity that ‘what is the problem represented to be?’

    Presented that the boat carrying asylum seekers at Australian offshores attempted to ignite the opinion of public relating to the arrival of asylum seekers. Therefore, other than the people arrived by boats and without visa in relation to asylum seekers everything was left unproblematic. According to the, boat arrivals were the focus of all media and political attention as they were considered as refugees as compared to those who have landed in Australia through air. This has indicated the problem representation as it may be argued that Australia was more worried about the wrong asylum seekers in their country on mainland.

    Context and the political influence of the community

    To understand the political influence and the policy changes in this issue, history of asylum seekers policies should be taken into consideration over the past 20 years. Policy can be influenced by various factors like social, economic, political and cultural aspects. Most of the asylum seekers arriving by boat resulted in public disapproval. Government of Australia made policies related to asylum seekers and the two most leading political parties supported tough asylum policies. The government said that their policies have helped decreasing the arrival of asylum seekers and helped preventing deaths at sea. When asylum seekers reach Australia by boat, Australian government did not held them in their country instead they were sent to an offshore processing center. Although the asylum seekers were found to be refugees then also they were not allowed to settle in Australia. Policy makers are considered to be heirs before choosers that is the government which comes in force inherits the policies and reforms as well as legacies of the previous government. These policy reforms concerns and focuses on how policy issues should be resolved.

    Section 3 Argument


    One of the discourses that have escaped scrutiny when Gilliard government announced the appointment of expert panel on asylum seekers which provided a great evidence for asylum seekers policy reforms. Appointment of expert panel is a form of evidence which is used by the policy makers to shape the information and provide advice for the effective decision making by the government. The main aim to produce evidence is that it is a rational process and provides a transparent and objective results that can be converted into the policies. Various evidences varies with each other which leads to number of outcomes. For example, Houston panel reported some recommendations for the asylum seekers and reinstitution for pacific solution. The focus of this is to distinguish between different options of policies. Gilliard use the expert panel as a strategic tool for influencing the public and persuade them that the policy reforms are based on the knowledge of the experts and therefore they are important to be appointed.

    Policy making is all about telling stories

    People mostly agree on the basic facts in politics. It involves telling narratives to construct the meaning about the issues prevailing in the society. people form an understanding of the truth and what is right through communication and policies. Through debate , policy makers communicate their own understanding according to the ideas related to the isuues and also reveals how they should be addressed and resolved. Gilliard government discourse of deaths at sea’ problematized the issue as a need to protect asylum seekers in Australia by protecting them from losing their lives at sea by making mandatory policies for the asylum seekers for coming by boat to the country. It is because of the politicians who introduce casual stories that focused on some major issues and help the government in taking strict actions to eradicate the problem.

    Therefore, policy making is all about telling stories and narratives to construct the problems so as to influence the public that a decision which is taken by the government is valid and proper.

    Policy making is reactive and incremental

    Majority of the politicians do not change the policies on a significant basis but they remain with the older policies and make some incremental changes over the period of time. Therefore, it is a very slow process and is reactive. Changing the entire policy model becomes difficult for the politicians rather they make some of the changes in the policy reforms.

    There have been incremental amendments in the policies of government in respect of asylum seekers such as political leader Rudd replaced temporary protection visas to the permanent protection visas. Therefore, policy making is said to be reactive and incremental as it is a process of incremental changes.

    Policy making is not a rational process

    Policy making is not a rational process as impartial analysis of the issue leads to the decision making. When the reinstatement of offshore processing in 2010 by the Gillard government failed to act as a deterrent and stem the flow of boats to Australia, all appearances of rationality buckled with the introduction of the ‘no advantage’ principle. While the Expert Panel recommended the principle as part of an integrated solution, the government immediately endorsed the mantra of ‘no advantage’ without clearly defining what it meant or detailing how it would be practically implemented. Despite the vague nature of ‘no advantage’, Gillard and Bowen insisted it was a fair and necessary approach to dealing with asylum seekers. Therefore, policy making is not a rational process.

    Policy making is all about words and power

    Power is involved at every stage of policy making which leads to decision making so as to problematize the issue which included discourse leaded to decision making. Gilliard government appointed expert panel and they recommended considering the humanitarian concerns and focused on deaths at sea. Thus, politics and power is involved in determining the validity of policy decisions. Hence, language and words play an important part in policy making as ideas are used to know what is included and what is excluded in discourse of the issue.


    As per the above study on asylum seekers, the policy discourse, context and politics and its influence on the past legacies are the most important factors in theorizing policy changes. This essay also presents that policy making is considered to be narrative and it is all about power and it is not a rational process but reactive and incremental according to the given issue of asylum seekers. This essay argued that what are the changes made by the successive governments in the policies related to asylum seekers who have been arriving by boats in Australia which were considered dangerous and a very major issue by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation(ABC).


    • ABC. (2012). Tampa enters Australian waters with 433 asylum seekers on board. Retrieved May 7, 2014 from http://www.abc.net.au/archives/80days/stories/2012/01/19/3412121.htm
    • Bacchi, C. (2012a). Introducing the ‘What’s the problem represented to be?’ approach. In Bletsas, A & Beasley, C (Eds), Engaging with Carol Bacchi: Strategic Interventions and Exchanges. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Press
    • http://www.adelaide.edu.au/press/titles/engaging/engaging-ebook.pdf
    • Bacchi, C. (2012b). Why study problematizations? Making politics visible. Open Journal of Political Science, 2, pp. 1-8.
    • Cavill, A. (2012). Key changes to Australia's asylum seeker policy in 2012 have their roots in recent political history. SBS News. Retrieved May 14, 2014 from http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2012/12/21/factbox-recent-history-asylum-seeker-policy
    • Bowen, C. (2012). Houston Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers: Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Canberra. Retrieved 20 March, 2013, from http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/cb/2012/cb189223.htm
    • Bulkeley, H. (2000). Discourse coalitions and the Australian climate change policy. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 18(6), 727-748.
    • Clement, M. (2012). Asylum seeker bridging visas: experts respond. The Conversation. Retrieved 20 March, 2013, from http://theconversation.com/asylum-seeker-bridging-visas-experts-respond-10935

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