Refugee deal hits the skids

THE Australian government, looking to cater to the wishes of the redneck element of the population, drafted a refugee swap deal some months ago, whereby it would send 800 asylum-seekers to Malaysia to be processed.

In return, the government would accept 4000 refugees – people who had been processed through the system – from Malaysia.

The High Court has now struck down this deal after a challenge was launched by a lawyer.

Both sides of politics in Australia use the fear factor to try and drum up votes. Poor foreigners, who are looking to escape tyrannical regimes, are fodder for the spinmeisters in political ranks and few people try to remove the misconceptions that surround this issue.

Boatpeople are what Australia is made up of to a large extent. Everyone here, apart from the Aborigines, is a migrant. Nobody beats up on the people who come here by plane and seek asylum. Nobody beats up on overstaying backpackers, mostly Britons, who come here and then end up as part and parcel of the country, No, it is only the boatpeople who suffer the abuse of shock jocks on radio and pontificators in the redneck media.

It is not that the government cannot try to educate people about migration. The prime minister, herself, is a migrant from Wales. No, the poor of the world who try to gain admission to Australia via the refugee process are excellent fodder to feed the fear factor that exists among the ignorant.

Politicians conjure up a picture of masses invading this fair land and changing the way of life that the white man enjoys – that is enough to lead to an outcry on the airwaves, a cry of insecure borders. It is a cruel joke but, apart from the Greens, no politician will speak the truth.

The number looking for refuge in Australia is pathetically few compared to the numbers that are seen in Europe. And if Australia does not want them coming here, then it just has to withdraw its signature from the UN Convention on Refugees – it’s that simple.

Since Australia is a signatory, any person from any corner of the world is entitled to rock up here by land, sea or air and ask for asylum. Australia, as a signatory, has to process those claims.

No country would sign up if doing so were not to its advantage. There are innumerable tales of refugees who have made it good and contributed a great deal to their adopted country. But no government is going to tell you those tales – no, fear, uncertainty and doubt are the tools by which political parties gain votes. And tactics are not going to change overnight.

It’s good that Australian judges and lawyers have more principles than politicians.


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