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Foolish language undermining Liberals boats policy

January 11, 2014

11 January 2014

“We want them to go back to the country from which they came, that’s what we want. Every single one of the recent arrivals has come to Australia through a series of other countries where they could easily have claimed asylum.” That was Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier in the week on Channel 10’s Wake Up program. Wake Up is aptly the title of the show, as language like “We want them to go back to the country from which they came” is where the right side of politics falls apart. That expression was a catch-cry back in the days when there was a general resentment to widespread immigration in general, usually as a result of the associated social problems at the slow pace of integration by some migrants. These days is far different, with almost all Australians recognising the value of the nation’s immigration policies and are patient that integration might take a generation or two, and that many of the problems were just by a few and usually less than that from the existing population. The issue of asylum seekers by illegal boats is a fundamentally different proposition.

The LNP were elected at the September 2013 election clearly with a mandate to fix the problem of illegal boats arrivals. They should go about their business doing it, explain it more appropriately, and let the results speak for themselves. The other side of politics, which has no credibility on the subject, often does the opposite. Full of glossy, idealistic language; rubbish on solutions and policies. As identified by the inquiry under the preceding Gillard/Rudd government, there should not be an advantage gained by arriving in Australia by an unauthorised by boat. Attempting to stay after arriving by plane, you get tracked down and tossed out.

There are over 40 million legitimate refugees waiting in camps for relocation, some of them been there decades, including generations of families. The essence of the argument is Australia’s priorities should be to them, not the 1% elitist wealthy that can afford to use smugglers and cheat the system. Remember the “We are the 99%” campaign and Occupy Movement against the concentration of wealth of the top 1%? Strange how the same activists there, when it comes to asylum seekers now, direct their help to the 1% (or even less) of concentrated wealth. Second, there’s the danger involved of drowning at sea – currently reported at 4% of those attempt to come. Those are the boats known to sink; there’s no doubt others. The wreck on Christmas Island was the clincher. Long have Australians been treated to sympathetic images of wretched-looking people arriving on flimsy boats, now they saw the true tragedy of Australia’s lax border controls, of which Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young flippantly belched about drowning people tossed onto rocks, “Tragedies Happen”. While some on that side of politics might seem accepting of such a sacrifice of life for the benefit of those that do arrive, most Australians won’t, nor is it appropriate for a national government to offer such a lure.

Ideally, any arriving illegally get two choices: go to a UNHCR refugee camp, or return home. The asylum aspect is already covered by virtue of being out of their home countries. If they legitimately are fleeing persecution, then they should have no problem being validated as legitimate asylum seekers and waiting their turn in a refugee centre. Australia should also contribute to the UNHCR to help fund the process, and maybe take two awaiting resettlement for each one dropped off. The extra one taken would be beyond any national refugee quota. Julia Gillard attempted to start a similar scheme, except hers was to Malaysia, a nation non-binding to the refugee convention, and the scheme was only temporary. Here you deal with the UNHCR or associated countries direct, and make it permanent. Otherwise Gillard’s idea had merit. You spell this policy out clearly, use sensible language, and let it work.


-Tony Abbott’s response was to a question about conditions in detention centres. Full answer:

Let’s remember that everyone in these centres is there because he or she has come illegally by boat. They have done something that they must have known was wrong. We don’t apologise for the fact that they are not 5-star or even 3-star hotels. Nevertheless, we are confident that we are well and truly discharging our humanitarian obligations. People are housed, they are clothed, they are fed, they are given medical attention, they are kept as safe as we can make it for them. But we want them to go back to the country from which they came, that’s what we want. Every single one of the recent arrivals has come to Australia through a series of other countries where they could easily have claimed asylum.

-Asked about those that are genuine asylum seekers:

The vast majority of these people, as former foreign minister Bob Carr said, are economic migrants. Let’s remember that ever single one of these recent arrivals have come to Australia through a series of other countries where they could have easily claimed asylum. They choose not to do that because they are seeking a migration outcome here in Australia. Now I can understand, I can absolutely understand, why people living in a pretty tough place would want to come to a country like Australia. We have an immigration program. We have a humanitarian and refugee program precisely because we do accept our obligations as an international citizen. But people have got to come the right way, not the wrong way. They’ve got to come through the front door, not the back door My message to people, try to come in through the back door, you will find it close, you will find it closed. My message to anyone trying to get on a boat, in Indonesia or any other country, is you won’t get to Australia.

-He was also asked about lack of transparency from the government, specifically the lack of updates:

The public want the boats stopped and in the end that’s what they really want. That’s my determination to stop the boats. If stopping the boats means being criticised because I am not giving information that is of use to people smugglers, so be it. In the end we are in a fierce contest with these people smugglers and if we were at war we wouldn’t be giving out information that is of use to the enemy just because we might have an idle curiosity about it ourselves. In these situations I am not going to release information which will be exploited by people smugglers to the peril of their customers and to the tremendous disadvantage to our country.

I’ll be accountable to the Australian public at the next election, my ministers will be accountable to the Aus public at the next election – they expect us to stop the boats and that’s what we are doing. We are stopping the boats. We haven’t won. There’s a long way to go yet. It’s several weeks since a boat has successfully arrived in Australia, and I want to keep it that way.



From → Politics

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