Chris Bowen outdoes Philip Ruddock: who would have thought?

3 Jun

The opposition is quite within its rights to call for marching in the streets as a reaction to the Gillard government’s deal in progress with Malaysia to send boat arrivals to camps in that country.

What we know, however, is that the opposition doesn’t give anymore of a stuff about the well-being of boat arrivals than does the government. It’s just an opportunity to score points. The calls for demonstrations against the Malaysia plans are hollow and hypocritical. I can’t imagine why any one of the opposition would think the punters actually believe they care, except perhaps those who’ve forgotten the children overboard saga, and Woomera, and the sinking of the Siev X.

I’m not sure how much more sickening this whole thing can get. The human capacity for vile behaviour never ceases to amaze me, and that’s probably more a comment on my inability to to acknowledge that the triumph of hope over experience is far more common than the other way round.

What has to be accepted, it seems, is the reality that fear and xenophobia are setting the political agenda in this country. Emotion and irrationality have won the day.

Emotion and irrationality are never a good foundation for deciding anything. Yet the whole asylum seeker debate is driven and dominated by nothing more substantial than the xenophobic emotions of focus groups. People who’ve never seen an asylum seeker  and likely never will, are in charge of making refugee policy.

When they’ve managed to stop the boats, these people will begin to notice that their lives are no better for it. It wasn’t the asylum seekers that were causing their misery after all. Their misery comes from the inside, and nothing is going to make it go away.

Focus Groups

The policies of both major parties are held hostage by a demographic that lift its leg and pisses on the UN Conventions to which we are signatory. This demographic doesn’t give  a flying f**ck about Australia as part of a global community, and the responsibilities that come with that. They have no awareness of the origins of white settlement in this country and could care less, or of how our presence here counts for less than a nanosecond in deep time. They just don’t want boat people here. They just don’t like them.

It would have been quite something to have a government that was capable of standing up to these bullies,  instead taking a principled stand on boat arrivals in keeping with the Conventions to which we are signatories, and our domestic laws. But that ship has long since sailed.

It remains to be seen how much Chris Bowen will capitulate to Malaysian demands. We are quite likely already the laughing stock in our region. Our neighbours must be enjoying having us by the short and curlies. Rudd’s farcical “solution” with Indonesia and the Oceanic Viking. Gillard’s premature announcement of her plans for a detention centre in East Timor. Nauru just begging us to come back. And now, Malaysia having us dance to their tune. If we aren’t ashamed of the government’s treatment of asylum seekers, we ought to be cringing at how demeaned we are by our humiliating begging for someone, anyone (except Nauru) to make this all go away.

8 Responses to “Chris Bowen outdoes Philip Ruddock: who would have thought?”

  1. gerard oosterman June 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    We should ban all cruelty. Disgusting the way we now send live human animals to the refugee slaughter houses of Malaysia. Young ones too, children no exception, no signing up by Malaysia to the the UNHCR, just allow whipping and caning them into submission. It just not Halal, it’s Austral.


    • Catching up June 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

      What would happen if we did the right thing and held the refugees onshore to ensure they are not ill or a danger to society and released into the community as quickly as possible. That is treat the people that come by the same as those who come by air.

      This immediately stop the wasteful , costly and cruel situation we have today.

      Is it anymore cruel to have them stagnate on some Pacific island for a couple of years, then bring them to Australia.

      At least the Malaysian will offer some hope for four thousand that are stranded in Malaysia. It is unlikely that the refugees will get on a boat for a destination that makes their situation hopeless.

      While we are a racist and uncaring country, no government has the choice to do the right thing.

      I do not like the Malaysian solution but I do think it will work. We need to offer some fairness to these people by taking our refugee intake from our own region.

      Maybe we could also look to these people for the intake of skilled workers that we need.

      We need to extend the policy to other countries in the region.

      The sad fact is that most in this country will not complain as long as they are not allowed into the country.

      The children, I am afraid have to be in the mix. Mr. Bowen is correct, if they are not, we will have coming to our shores, boat loads of children. These refugees are desperate.


      • Jennifer Wilson June 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

        Catching up, I don’t know if Australia will get to choose which refugees to take from Malaysia or whether we will have to accept the Malaysian decision about who they’ll send.
        I agree that there won’t be much complaint, except from those of us who’ve been complaining for years anyway without making the slightest bit of difference, in fact it’s got worse. We live in a democracy, and the majority rules. If the majority doesn’t care about the fate of boat arrivals, and neither major party does either, then there’s nothing to be done. The only way anything can change is with political leadership, and probably, as Arved pointed out, the best people to become leaders aren’t given the opportunity.

        Very gloomy outlook – I can’t find anything to be hopeful about in this situation. I’ll be interested to see how the government justifies accepting 4,000 refugees from Malaysia if we only send 100 boat arrivals. I read that the Malaysians insist on the 4,000 even if we send less than 800.


    • Jennifer Wilson June 3, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

      I’m probably rather despondent today, Gerard, but human beings can be vile, and we’ll never ban cruelty –


  2. Steve at the Pub June 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Time to get out of the UN convention on refugees.


    • Jennifer Wilson June 3, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

      I’ve been saying that for a long time. It’s not going to happen.


  3. gerard oosterman June 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Just when we thought our standing about treatment of refugees could not get any lower, we get another rebuke.


  4. Sam Jandwich June 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    If I were New Zealand, I would be volunteering to have the asylum seekers housed within communities within the country, and/or be able to be employed in the Christchurch rebuilding industry, all paid for by the Australian government!


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