Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Re-Visiting Asylum Seekers

How does the rest of the world perceive Australia’s response to asylum seekers (if the rest of the world notices at all)? Our current ‘liberal’ (for which read ‘ultra-conservative’ and ‘right wing’) government won the election based (or so they claim) on their determination to ‘stop the boats’. There seem to be only three elements to this government’s policy towards asylum seekers: (1) stop the boats; (2) process these ‘illegal’ asylum seekers off shore (in another country); and (3) never permit them to settle in Australia.

Let’s assume that stopping the boats was the best way to put an end to people smuggling (which I don’t concede—there were and are numerous other approaches); let’s assume, also, that the policy of turning back boats and off-shore processing has actually put an end to this illegal trade (both of which are contentious issues, if for no other reason than the secrecy in which the government shrouds all of this) ... Assuming both of these things for the sake of argument, surely this should only ever have been the starting point for developing a positive and constructive policy for dealing with the vast and catastrophic wave of migration that the current refugee crisis represents.

We in Australia, together with other western nations, have contributed significantly to the destabilisation of the Middle East which has resulted in this growing catastrophe. Surely as a nation we have a responsibility to do more to address this disaster than to demonise these refugees, make this someone else’s problem and add more bombs to the mix in the Middle East.

Do we really think that this government’s policies have ‘saved lives’ (or were ever intended to)? Even if this were the case, it is only a (very poor) beginning.

It’s time that this government stepped up to the plate and did much more to help address this worldwide crisis. I fear that it lacks both the capacity and the will to do so.

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