Thursday, 29 May 2014

Abbott’s Safe Place

I was watching Insiders which mostly makes me scream at the television I don’t know why I watch it. Anyway, after the horrendous post budget press coverage one of the journalists mentioned that the government occasionally likes to retreat to its “safe place”. This so-called safe place is of course that famous three word slogan “Stop The Boats”, or as it is now “We Stopped The Boats” (Chris that is four words).

I do have to hand it to the government they did manage to come through on at least one of their promises. This is a difficult issue for me as I feel for refugees who are fleeing war or persecution, but hundreds of people dashed to death against razor-sharp rocks is just as horrible. Hundreds of people have suffered this fate and hundreds more have drowned. Maybe, in this case, the ends really do justify the means. But this stopping the boats thing raises some very awkward questions.

When the Abbott government was in opposition they supposedly had this answer for a while before it won the election and came to power. They didn’t think to share this idea with the government of the day in an effort to save lives? Did they put politics and the lust for power ahead of the lives of refugees? Or was it the Gillard government that refused to listen putting pride ahead of people? Why couldn’t these two parties talk about fixing this issue together? Either way, both governments share some of the blame for deaths that didn’t need to happen - and that is disgusting.

Having stopped the boats it now may be time to deal humanely with some of the legitimate refugees who are already in the system. There are children in Australia who were unaccompanied by adults on their boat trip to Australia. When these children turn 18 they are not citizens and almost all of them refuse to go back even when offered generous benefits to do so. Remember asylum seekers come from places you would not want to visit let alone live there. They are not eligible for unemployment benefits and they are not allowed to work. They are in a bizarre limbo where they have nothing to look forward to. They are dependent on charities to live. It is worse than for people who leave jail after being imprisoned for years - and these people have done nothing wrong.

There aren’t many of these people in limbo and I think they could be slowly integrated into society. Keep it on the down low, institute a media blackout, whatever. I just think that we may be able to get the same results with being a little less cruel. Having stopped the boats this solution would only have to be a onetime thing. So why not do it?

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