Macquarie University
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The limits of control: state control and the admission of refugee[s] in Australia and Britain

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posted on 2022-03-28, 18:48 authored by Adele Garnier
Since the 1980s, industrialised countries have increasingly attempted to prevent the arrival to their territories of asylum seekers and refugees. Such policies have, however, generally proven ineffective and dangerous for refugees, as well as being politically highly charged. Despite the failings, popular support for less restrictive policies has not grown significantly, if at all. -- This thesis adopts a historical institutionalist research design to investigate these issues. It examines the consequences of conflicts between policy-makers, the deficiencies of enforcement mechanisms, and increasing institutional complexity for the effectiveness and legitimacy of refugee admission policies. It does so through the lens of a comparative study of refugee admission in Britain and Australia from the end of the Second World War to the end of Tony Blair's and John Howard' s Prime Ministerships in 2007. Although their immigration history is very different, Britain and Australia have, since the 2000s, developed preventive policies that have failed to achieve expected results. This has seldom been discussed, much less explained, in existing scholarship, which is why these two cases are the focus of this thesis. -- The thesis shows that Australia and Britain present similar trajectories in regards to the evolution of discrepancies between policy objectives and outcomes in refugee admission. These discrepancies dramatically expanded from the 1980s, and have become increasingly complex during the 2000s. The thesis points to a clear correlation between increasing institutional complexity and decreasing policy effectiveness and legitimacy; in contrast, the significance of conflicts between policy-makers, and of the deficiencies of enforcement mechanisms, varies over time and across cases. This finding has significant implications for the identification of institutional settings conducive to more effective, legitimate and equitable refugee policies.


Alternative Title

State control and the admission of refugees in Australia and Britain

Table of Contents

Introduction -- The limits of state control in refugee admission policies: literature review -- Explaining unintended policy outcomes in refugee admission policies: a historical institutionalist approach -- Post-war refugee admission: the slow demise of a dual institutional setting -- Refugee admission policies under the Thatcher and Major governments: rise of asylum claims, contested policy objectives and increasing institutional complexity -- Refugee admission policies under Tony Blair: Peak and decline of asylum claims, political opportunism and permanent reformism -- Refugee admission policies until the early 1980s: selective openness -- Refugee admission under the Hawke and Keating governments: whom to select and how? -- Refugee admission policies under John Howard: opportunistic restrictiveness and global institutional activism -- Conclusion.


9 November 2011 Bibliography: p. 319-350

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Dept. of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Geoffrey Hawker

Additional Supervisor 1

Lloyd Cox


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Adele Garnier 2012.




Australia Great Britain


1 online resource (350 p.)

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