AMERICAN actor Matt Damon entered into Australia’s asylum seeker debate yesterday while in Sydney to promote the premiere of science fiction film Elysium.
Mr Damon, who has starred in blockbuster films such as Ocean’s 11 and The Bourne Identity, said that immigration was an important issue for him as all four of his grandparents had migrated to the United States of America. He said that he did not have a solution to the issue, claiming that the difficulties of resolving the immigration debate made it difficult for politicians across the world.
Mr Damon said: “When you talk about immigration, everyone is trying to build a bigger fence. It’s totally absurd. I think that’s one of the reasons the issue is so unpopular with the politicians because they don’t have one (solution) either. They are after an election victory. Political rhetoric doesn’t help. These guys just start to out-tough each other.”
While the subject of asylum seekers has become a significant issue in Australian politics, Mr Damon pointed out that it was a global issue faced in countries around the world. He drew several comparisons to illegal immigration in the United States of America, which is home to an estimated 12 million undocumented migrants.
Mr Damon said: “Whether it’s here in Australia or in America, with our history of, not only in Mexico, and people dying in the desert in Arizona, but also people coming from Cuba and the rafts sinking. Or in South Africa, where people, including children, are swimming across the Limpopo river and some of them are getting eaten by crocs, and some of them are getting robbed and raped.”
The A-list actor’s most recent film Elysium focuses on a futuristic scenario in which a group of refugees have fled an Earth that has become starved of resources. The film, which made over $30 million in the US over the weekend, has drawn comparison with the contemporary situation faced by refugees fleeing war-torn regions around the world.
Mr Damon arrived in Australia only hours before the Sydney premiere of Elysium after his Qantas flight was delayed several times due to engine difficulties. He praised the efforts of Qantas staff in dealing with the malfunction, claiming that the Australian airline handled the delays well.
Mr Damon said: “I have never had this happen – we were on the runway and we stared taxi-ing and the pilot aborted the take-off. We got to the end of the runway, he started the take off again and he aborted it again. I don’t know if the engine was actually bad or if it was the computer. But the pilot did the right thing. There’s no break-down lane up there. If you are going to get inconvenienced by 24 hours that’s the airline to do it on.”
Elysium, directed by Neill Blomkamp, will hit cinemas in the United Kingdom on 21 August.