In a rush to the darkest hole in the murky depths of the political gene pool, Australian Labor have now decreed that any refugee attempting to arrive by boat who are intercepted before reaching the shores of our vast, under-populated and incredibly wealthy country will never be allowed to settle here, but will, instead, be shipped off permanently to Papua New Guinea.
PNG is one of the poorest countries in the world.
Their residency there will be paid for by huge Australian aid grants – theoretically, that is: the PNG infrastructure is woefully inadequate for their existing population, and it is hard to see how they could possibly cope with an influx of thousands of Iranians, Afghanis and Sri Lankans – but the Australian electorate are not even permitted to know what the scale of this financial support might be, as opposed to the cost (or likely benefit, as shown by research paper after research paper), of settling any refugees in Australia.
This is a disgracefully mean-spirited and petty move from our Prime Minister, who so often parades his “Christian” virtue – what a hypocrite. What a nasty little power hungry goblin of a man he really is, to be sure. He has the moral compass of a gang leader trying to take over a rival’s turf – in this case, the ever-strident ratbaggery of Tony Abbott and his radical right cronies.
It is a timely moment for everyone interested in the quality of our governance to remember Martin Luther King’s famous remark:
“Everything Hitler did was legal.”
The “PNG solution” is legal.
It is also wickedly, shamefully and embarrassingly wrong: it is morally unsupportable.
And that it could be considered an aid to the slim prospects of Kevin Rudd being re-elected is a swingeing indictment of the priorities of the Australian electorate, and of the endless campaign of misinformation that has been waged by the Liberal-National Coalition both in and out of office.
A plague on both your houses.
That we are obliged, by law, to exhaust our ballot choices until we inevitably vote for one or the other of you is no longer tenable.
It is time – long overdue – that “None of the above/No further” was an available option on our Alternative Vote ballot papers. A reform that would see many seats left vacant after an election, I am sure. Just the wake up call the hacks in the Australian Government and Opposition – and the commentariat that lets them get away with such appalling policies – deserves and needs.
And while we’re about it, let’s nail two other pieces of public policy bullshit.
This isn’t about stopping asylum seekers from drowning at sea.
If that was our motivation, we would simply send a few chartered cruise ships to Indonesia, scoop up all the refugees, and bring them to Australia safely.
This is because, despite Australia’s legal obligations, we don’t want these people here.
Despite our honourable tradition of welcoming refugees – and of them becoming leading citizens at all levels of our society – we have now officially decided to turn our backs on some of the poorest, weakest, most persecuted people on the planet.
Because remember, these are not “illegal immigrants”. They are not “economic migrants”. Because if they are found to be, then they are repatriated. These are displaced people, refugees.
Why do these people have to try and make their way to Australia?
Because Indonesia and Malaysia are not signatories to the UN Convention on Human Rights. They won’t give these people a “safe haven”. They lock them up. They marginalise them. They persecute them. They won’t let them work, raise a family, make their own way.
So they HAVE to keep going. So tell me, someone, why does Australia support the Governments of these countries with economic aid? Why do we not leverage this aid to insist that they take up their responsibilities too?
No, I am not arguing that Australia should not take up a larger share of the burden – we have the resources, and Lord knows we need the people. But the hypocrisy of the Indonesian and Malaysian leadership is nearly as breathtakingly sickening as that of the Milky Bar Kid and his acolytes in Canberra.
It is time for ordinary people in Australia to become righteously angry about this matter. Sadly, I suspect that apart from a laudable and vocal minority, they will focus their attention on the cricket.