That was a defining sentence within John Howard’s speech which undoubtedly had the biggest influence on turning his certain defeat into a resounding election win in 2001. Don’t you just love how he spoke about terrorism and refugees so seamlessly? What about protecting our boarders – sound familiar? In the years that followed it has also been frowned upon by anyone with an inkling of humanity, and damned by the UN, other countries & authorities.
Now Kevin Rudd, after regaining office and looking down the barrel of certain defeat, has had to make changes. Big changes, in order to swing public opinion – so he’s doing away with the Carbon Tax, rejecting all boat people, etc… Almost any policy that’s important to voters, he’s changing – on a daily basis. But shouldn’t policies be thoroughly thought through and scrutinized in order for them to be efficient and effective, thus benefiting the countries people – not just thrown together to suit the popular consensus of the day?
Not only has Labor excised Australia from the migration zone, but it has now boldly stated that no boat arrivals will be resettled in Australia (is that an oxymoron?). Instead, their fate is to lie with Papua New Guinea (PNG) – a country not fully signed up to the refugee convention, where 2 in 3 women suffer from domestic violence and 1 in 6 on Manus Island contract malaria. Rod St George (whom used to work at the Manus centre) has said that “in Australia, the facility couldn’t even serve as a dog kennel. The owners would be jailed.”
In fact, the idea of resettling refugees in PNG is an obvious political band-aid, rather than a humane solution because in the past, “…Australia has been very helpful in actually receiving resettlement refugees from PNG, precisely because of the impossibility of integration there… There are many socio-economic and cultural issues in PNG that are particular to that country, and people from the outside, particularly non-Melanesians, would find it enormously difficult to find a sustainable integration.” (Ricard Towle – UNHCR)
But hey, as long as our boarders are protected right? What an interesting choice of word – protect. The dictionary defines it as “to defend or guard from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult… injury or danger”. I guess we should feel scared, as our leaders are inferring that we (our boarders and therefore the Australian people) are in harm’s way and in need of protection. Honestly, do people really want to leave their family, friends, country of birth and risk their lives at sea just to get the ‘generous’ dole payment? Let me get this straight – refugees with want to attack us, take over the country, take advantage of our generous welfare payments and take our jobs (that’s definitely an oxymoron!)? These views look right past the facts that they’re not even able to work until being fully processed and accepted or that push factors (persecution and personal danger for example) are the reason for people fleeing their homeland, not the pull factors (for instance, our jobs or welfare system).
So with all this fear for national sovereignty… lets look at some facts – Australia currently ranks;
– 49th for total refugees
– 62nd for refugees by population
– 87th for refugees by GDP
A few more facts can be found here.
Shouldn’t we try to learn from mistakes made in the past?