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Passing the Buck and the Boat People keep coming to Australia

July 5, 2012

Passing the Buck and the Boat People keep coming to Australia


The oddity of the Australian media news landscape is how polluted it is with political correctness and neo-moralists. If we were to call someone an ‘illegal migrant’ (even if they are) is a mortal sin. Hence we are barraged with a collection of lame inoffensive phrases that are designed to soften the reality of what is happening. Instead they are ‘asylum seekers’ or ‘unexpected boat arrivals’ and the apologetically termed ‘irregular maritime arrivals’. I am not sure how many ‘maritime arrivals’ are required to have them defined as ‘regular’.


The reality is far different from the image that is overwhelmingly being portrayed by the noisy elements of the media and selected refugee advocates. They would have us believe that every single person arriving was in immediate danger before they climbed aboard the boat. They would like us all to believe that Australia was the only safe haven where they could go. In terms of fairness, if this was true few people would be so cruel as to reject them. However the image and the reality are very much at odds.


Common sense dictates that if someone is in immediate danger that they would seek the first place of safe refuge. There would be no delay, no hesitation and certainly no time to shop around for the most comfortable conditions that they can find. Common sense would also dictate that real refugees would increase in times of crisis then decrease after the danger has reduced. Taking Sri Lanka for example shows that push factors are not the cause of the surge of boat people. In the last six months alone 1346 asylum seekers have arrived in Australia via boat. This is three times the number of the previous year. It should also be noted that civil war in Sri Lanka has been over for more than 3 years.

In practice many of the boat arrivals have already made a journey to Indonesia, where they were safe, and then pay a people smuggler to take them to Australian waters. Even a generous assessment would have to admit that there is something inherently unfair when someone who can pay $10,000 or more to a people is granted refugee status in Australia over someone who cannot afford it. Yet for the Australian Greens their policy is let as many people smugglers operate as possible. They do not see a problem even when people inevitable die as a result of this dangerous practice. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young went so far as to ask for the people smugglers boats to be escorted safely to Australian waters. ‘They asked Australia to work directly with their officials towards safer options and safe pathways for people seeking asylum,’ Senator Hanson-Young said in a statement to the press.


Last week saw the urgent introduction of legislation to solve the people smuggling crisis. One by the Liberals to reopen the Nauru detention centre; One by Labour to send 800 illegal arrivals to Malaysia in exchange for 4000; and third form of legislation that was compromise somewhere between. All the legislation was eventually defeated either in the House of Representative or in the Senate within days. No side in politics was able to convince the others of the validity of their proposal despite days of pleading, chest beating speeches and speakers from all sides who freely shed tears.


Despite the emotional release from the crying parliamentarians there was no solution and as a result the asylum seeker boats have been arriving at a steady pace as if there is no deterrent for their illegal trade. Making matters worse is knowledge that the number of boats only started to increase after the Howard era ‘Pacific Solution’ and Temporary protection Visas were abolished by the Labour Government that now in power. Why the current government refuses to return to what worked may have more to do with saving face than good policy. It would, after all, mean that they would have to admit that they made huge and deadly mistake.

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