Why the Malaysia Solution could be a lose lose for Gillard

25 Jul

For a government phobic about “queue jumpers”, and a Prime Minister who said only a few weeks ago that the Malaysian solution would send boat arrivals to the “back of the queue,” they’ve certainly done a serious back flip today.

The 800 asylum seekers Australia is sending to Malaysia will be entitled to work, to health care and to education. None of these benefits are available to the almost 100,000 refugees already in that country, many of whom have been there for years.

Far from being sent to the back of a mythical queue, the 800 will be in a highly privileged position in the Malaysian system. Indeed, in theory they will be better off than the refugees held in indefinite mandatory detention in Australia as they will be allowed to live and work in the community while awaiting re-settlement.

There is of course no way of guaranteeing that the 800 will receive the preferential treatment both governments assure us will be afforded them. Once they are in the community they are at the mercy of a vigilante system that has demonstrated its hostility and aggression towards even those who carry the UNHCR cards that identify them as refugees. The 800 will be taking their chances on the streets, just like the other refugees. Singled out for preferential treatment, they may be even more vulnerable, and neither government has yet come up with a concrete plan to protect them.

Desperate people might well consider it’s worth the risk and get on boats anyway, especially if they believe they will be eligible for benefits like work, health care and education in Malaysia.

Even knowing that mandatory detention awaited them has not deterred asylum seekers from making the dangerous voyage to Australia: why then should they be deterred from persisting in their efforts to find a new life by the comparatively benign prospect of spending a few years in Malaysia, where they believe they’ll live a relatively normal existence while awaiting re-settlement?

The government’s efforts to “stop the boats” have today become farcical. Not that we needed one, but here’s another reason to mistrust the Gillard government’s judgement and integrity. If the 800 asylum seekers are treated badly in Malaysia, the deal will be like an albatross around the government’s neck, and place the opposition on fairly unassailable high moral ground. The “at least we know they wouldn’t be caned in Nauru,” sort of moral ground.

And if things go well for the 800 asylum seekers transported to Malaysia, there’s every reason to expect the boats will continue to arrive. After all, living in the community in Malaysia with health care, education and work sounds a whole lot better than war, terror, and persecution, or indefinite detention in an Australian hell hole far away from anywhere. Then the opposition will occupy the political high ground because “she hasn’t stopped the boats, has she and look how much it’s costing the taxpayer.”

Whichever way you look at it, there’s a strong possibility it’s going to be a lose lose situation for the Gillard government.






7 Responses to “Why the Malaysia Solution could be a lose lose for Gillard”

  1. Marilyn July 26, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    I do get tired of these human rights issue being brought down to good for Gillard or bad for Gillard.

    I don’t give a flying fuck about Gillard.

    She is breaking the law, full stop.


    • Jennifer Wilson July 26, 2011 at 7:22 am #

      I see it as another way of talking about the issues and keeping them buoyant – I don’t care about her political fate either


  2. Marilyn July 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Everyone prattles about the politics, almost no-one talks about the human beings and the journos in this country are beyond repair.

    They are already calling people “transferees” as if calling them that stops them being humans.


  3. gerard oosterman July 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    Even so, with the whiff of association between the Norwegian killer and his Australian extreme right wing heroes including bonzai J.Howard as glorified in his manifesto, I think that this will impact on Abbott’s stance and his admiration for Howard and all things foreign far more than Julia’s slipping and sliding on the boat people issue.


  4. Marilyn July 26, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    Don’t dare to call them boat people.


  5. paul walter July 26, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    Gerard’s insight is the one positive thing for the gov, the rest comes across on the level of the notorious “spaghetti diagram” of the early two thousands. The Bowen attempt to further explain it today didn’t help, to look at Bowen, with him approximating “the message”, the “message looks bad, if there were good features (eg the long wait of 4000 people perhaps at last over), these will slip under the radar of people who are rightly sceptical of Bowen himself, given some “shaky” recent performances.


  6. Marilyn July 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    Trouble is that Gillard and co. are arousing the same hate, but worse.


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