So Tony, where do you go from here?
With K Rudd’s new, hard line, asylum seeker policy still ringing in his ears, the Abbott must be spitting chips, as all he can claim now is that his airy fairy “Turn back the boats” alleged policy, and TPV’s are a better option than a policy that might actually work, or that we can’t trust Rudd to implement it.
Now I can already hear some screaming FOUL, and I’m sure that Abbott will be seething.
The problem that he has is that his “policy” is based on “We did it before, so we can do it again!”, completely ignoring the facts:
- Howard tried to turn around approximately 11 boats, and was “successful on 4 occasions, at a time when the numbers of refugees around the world were falling, to very low levels.
- Since then, there has been a large number of major conflicts, including Iraq, which Howard and the coalition of the willing were responsible for, all of which have added millions of displaced people to the numbers seeking asylum.
- As we saw only a few days ago, even with two vessels in close proximity, these overloaded fishing boats can easily capsize, with the resultant loss of life.
- We have also seen boats set on fire, scuttled, and disabled, as well as women and children in the water and needing to be rescued.
- Even supposing that he can get a boat back near Indonesian territorial waters, the “Out of sight out of mind” mentality won’t wash, as if the asylum seekers or the crew head back towards Australia, or just sit there refusing to use the fuel provided to take them back, how long do we tie up an Australian vessel to watch one small boat in a vast ocean? And how much will that cost?
- And if said boat does slip back out into international waters and then runs out of fuel, or starts to sink, aren’t we back to square one, where we have an obligation to go to help a boat in distress
- How many Naval and Customs boats do we tie up looking for, chasing and trying to turn around the myriad of potential asylum seeker boats?
Then there are the TPV’s, which most experts agree were an abject failure, due to the fact that they encourage women and children to get on boats as a result of the no family reunion clause attached to them.
So now we come to Rudd’s PNG solution, which in many ways is a bigger, better version of the Malaysian Solution, with no swap arrangement to criticise, and no restriction on the number to be taken by PNG.
The one thing that it does have, is a major deterrent factor for those considering the people smugglers option, as there is no option now for settlement in Australia if you come via the Indonesian people smugglers.
The greens are already outraged, which was always going to be the case, but IMHO they failed the test of being a responsible and conciliatory mainstream party, when they voted with Abbott to deny the Malaysian Solution a chance, and in so doing, became complicit and culpable along with Abbott in causing the extreme situation that we now find ourselves in.
Their outrage now smacks of immense hypocrisy, and crocodile tears, as they voted to be a part of the current problem instead of trying to be a part of the solution.
Now in a perfect world, it would be all love, peace and mung beans, with no wars, and no need for anyone to seek asylum, but sadly that’s not the case.
Likewise, if there was a dirty big bridge from the top end of Aus to Indonesia, I would say fine, form an orderly cue, and we can look to on-shore processing.
But there isn’t!
We are an island, and without a bridge, the only options to get “ON SHORE” is to fly, swim or come by boat.
And the truth is that as long as there are people who want to find a better life in this
great country, there will be people who are prepared to profit from that situation, and if it means risking lives for the sake of profits, then so be it.
The LNP playing politics with the lives of these people, by spouting their slogans, without any intention of allowing the government to try to fix the problem, is an appalling display of gutter politics, and should be roundly condemned.
And likewise, the greens refusing to compromise their ideological stand for the sake of trying to save lives is truly despicable and should also be roundly condemned.
With Australia having one of the strongest and best performing economies in the developed world, and so many displaced people looking for safe refuge, it is only natural that a proportion of those displaced would try for a better life here.
So, is Rudd’s PNG solution perfect?
No, it’ far from a perfect solution, but IMHO it’s the best option available to;
- Slow down, and eventually stop the trade in people smuggling.
- Curb the number of men, women and children drowning at sea.
- Stop unscrupulous and self interested politicians (LNP I’m looking at you!) from using the plight of refugees and particularly those dying, as a political football.
- In the longer term, return the debate from slogans and fear mongering to one of finding real solutions for a very real problem.
- Return the Australian psyche to one of care and compassion for our fellow man, instead of the hysterical red neck rhetoric that has so pervaded our thinking, since the reign of “Little” Johnny Howard.
- Increase our intake of genuine refugees, in a safe, orderly and HUMANE fashion.
So I believe that we should all “Stop the hysteria”, and get behind this plan.
The issue of people dying at sea, as a result of people smuggling, will always be an emotive one, and draw out the worst of gutter politics, but as we try to move to address that issue, the focus hopefully will move back to dealing with the real issues of asylum seekers, and over time, redirect the funds available, to better resettlement programs for Australia and our region.
So Mr Abbott, do you really want to stop the boats?
Do you really give a crap about stopping people dying at sea?
Or is it still all about the politics?
And the big question for Abbott is;
“So Tony, where do you go from here?”
- Asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat to be resettled in Papua New Guinea (abc.net.au)
- PNG solution: Rudd slams door on refugees (theage.com.au)
- Abbott says PNG plan ‘won’t stop boats’ (bigpondnews.com)