By Steve Laing
When it comes to people arriving in Australia by boat, for some reason (best known to Rupert Murdoch and members of the LNP), many Australians become utterly apoplectic.
In a highly convincing strategy, the LNP – with a little help from their friends in the media – have persuaded a significant number of Australians that without strong border protection, our country and all that its stands for will be overrun by foreigners only here for economic gain and/or to commit atrocities on the local population. Given that this is what occurred from 1788 onwards, I suspect one could argue that there is good evidence to go on.
However, it doesn’t take much to recognize that this isn’t what this issue is really about at all. If we were so worried about people being here illegally, surely more would be getting done about the various backpackers et al who have overstayed their visas, particularly as there are so many more of them. But no, not so much.
Is it because of the economic impact that these people will have on our social services? Given how much we are spending on housing them off-shore, or through attempts to relocate them to Cambodia, this can’t be the case either.
Nope, the reality is that the only reason that this is an issue at all is because of votes. LNP strategists have decided that fear (with more than a hint of xenophobia, and I daresay, though never mentioned in public, a smidge of racism) is a very useful emotion to sway the minds and votes of a large subsection of the community, and Labor have subserviently recognised it’s an argument that they haven’t got the persuasive power to win, so they have simply become complicit. The much-publicized myth is that people arriving by boats, with no identification could be terrorists. And we can’t have that! The current European situation (which is, of course, entirely different in size and complexity to our own current boat people ‘problem’) is supplying much evidence of the problems of refugees (when arriving in large numbers with no clear plan of how to deal with such in evidence, but that is by-the-by). The fact that Australia has taken in significant numbers of refugees who have arrived by boat over time, and there doesn’t appear to be much of a terrorism issue from them, is of course conveniently ignored. Until a dark-skinned person shoots someone, of course, and you can bet it’s the first thing the media check.
And if they aren’t terrorists, then they are almost undoubtedly Freddie Freeloaders using their money to jump the queue. Again, the fact that evidence shows that such persons, with their high levels of motivation and risk taking, are more likely to open up businesses and employ Australians than the born and bred natives is also, conveniently, ignored.
But it is the behavior of politicians that truly gives the game away, with Scott and Tony being the biggest culprits. When Scott became Minister for Immigration, one of the first things he did was stopped providing information about “on water matters”. No mention of the number of boats arriving, boats intercepted, boats turned back. Nothing. Because that kind of information, the numbers of boats actually arriving, would only encourage people smugglers, and Scotty and chums will not do that. So remind me again what the LNP doing when they were in opposition?
By their own logic, Tony and co were apparently quite happy to advertise the porosity of Australia’s seaboard to people smugglers whilst in opposition. Quite happy, of course, to help further build a problem that only they could come in and “clean up”. And since it is apparently the encouragment of people smugglers that results in deaths by drowning, then unfortunately the blame for those 1000 lives lost at sea must equally be the responsibility of those who encouraged those same people smugglers. But no, those deaths were only Labor and The Greens’ fault. Well of course!
Since we are talking about people smugglers, and Malcolm was more than happy to discuss them yesterday morning on Insiders, can anybody please explain to me how the LNP policy of paying people smugglers to not bring refugees to Australian waters is intended to either dissuade their trade, or indeed how that has stopped drownings at sea? Clearly there are still people smuggling boats at sea, so unless the Australian Navy are busy carrying out Health and Safety checks, drownings must still be happening. But secondly, how does financially rewarding people for an activity actually dissuade them from doing it? Maybe they keep track, and if they try and score a second time, something worse happens, but what is to stop the people smugglers telling their mates to get a slice of the pie?
I don’t even want to think of the fate of the refugees travelling on the boats of those people smugglers bribed to go away. I guess that we aren’t tracking their fate.
However, the additional fact that we know that there have been boat turnarounds, and that payments have been made to people smugglers, kills the logic that drownings of sea have stopped. No boats arriving cannot be used as a means of stating that drownings of sea have stopped. Only no boats leaving in the first place could do that, and we know that this isn’t what is happening.
Finally, we have the woeful issue of children in detention. Yes, says Malcolm, we have a number of children in detention, but hang on, it’s now a lot less than when Labor were in power. Wait a minute though Malcolm. Didn’t you also say that no person arriving by boat would ever be settled in Australia? That this was a huge part of the deterrence effect of your policy? A policy that purports to save life, but at a cost of turning a blind eye to rape, brutality, mental and physical health issues at a cost that is beyond extreme when we are staring down the barrels of a recession. So just where have all those children that Labor let in, but the LNP have now got out of detention, gone to? They haven’t gone to Cambodia, and if we don’t admit those who arrive by boat, then they haven’t come to Australia. So just where the bloody hell are they? Somebody is being a little bit tight with the truth, but its fooling nobody.
The reality is that people arriving by boat into Australia could have become an opportunity. A chance to help populate those dying towns in the outback with people proven to be resilient risk takers, undoubtedly prepared to do the hard yakka to build a new safer lives for themselves in our boundless plains to share. Integrating refugees isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either, if you don’t scare the population into believing that they will slit their throats in the night. But because we’ve turned this issue into a cause celebre, a political football, politicians (and the MSM) have painted themselves into a corner where child rape is no more than an unfortunate side-effect of a brutally stupid solution to try to get votes from the fearful.
There are times when I get angry about politics, but this issue is beyond that. However, until the opportunity is presented to shine a light into the dark corners, fear will win out. Don’t expect any revelations whilst the Coalition are in charge and our MSM has been beaten into submission. In the meantime, thanks to the actions of many of our state premiers, I hope that our common humanity might, for once, prevail.