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We should be better than this

By 2353NM

In The Guardian’s detailed history of the ‘Tampa affair’ which occurred twenty years ago, you will notice a number of similarities with the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Sadly, you will also notice that the response by current Prime Minister Morrison is worse than then Prime Minister Howard’s response twenty years ago.

As David Marr discusses in another article from The Guardian

The Tampa affair was about votes. John Howard was facing his second re-election, one he was almost certainly going to win even without the Twin Towers coming down. But stopping the Tampa made victory more certain. The lives of 438 people crammed on the Palapa were, in effect, put at risk to give Howard a bit of an edge at the polls.

That ruthlessness is part of our politics today. The Coalition is still pressing those buttons. Labor is still hopelessly wedged. And the country is still using the language invented – brilliantly – to make a grubby operation blocking refugees sound like an act of national salvation.

Not refugees, but asylum seekers. Not indefinite imprisonment on a barren tropical island, but the Pacific solution. Not slamming the gates shut on helpless people, but border protection. Not violating our treaty obligations, but saving lives at sea.

With what can only be really described as a complete lack of human decency, the Australian Government wrote to more than 100 Afghan nationals that worked for the Australian Government in Afghanistan either as direct employees or contractors. This group of people, who were out of a job because the Australian Embassy and troops were withdrawn, probably have valid concerns about their future should the Taliban discover their past employment. The letter advised them that special humanitarian visas to enter Australia would not be given and they should ‘try the usual channels’ where there was an allocation of 3,000 Visas for Afghan refugees carved out of the already inadequate refugee intake.

A day later, the decision was apparently reversed. Don’t for a minute think there was any sense of compassion as Defence Minister Dutton warned

that an unspecified number could pose a security threat, and said he would be criticised “if one person was brought in that committed an atrocity in our country”.

Dutton also told ABC TV some of the applicants may be hiding their true identity or “forum shopping” by seeking visas from multiple countries, and he said some family groups included “males of fighting age” and “we don’t know enough about those individuals”.

Morrison was just as bad suggesting at a Press Conference

that only people who came through “official channels” would be settled in Australia.

He indicated at least 3,000 Afghan nationals would be allowed to come to Australia this year under the existing humanitarian program.

But the prime minister said more than 4,200 Afghans currently in Australia on temporary visas would not be permanently settled, signalling that there would be no softening of the government’s stance on people who arrive on boats.

It’s probably a good bet that the Taliban in Afghanistan will not be kind to either group should they not be given Australian residency.

For twenty years or so after the end of World War 2, both sides of Australian politics welcomed refugees from Europe to Australia. For most of that time the founder of the Liberal Party, Sir Robert Menzies was Prime Minister. At the fall of Vietnam, Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser welcomed thousands of Vietnamese refugees to Australia. ALP Prime Minister Bob Hawke gave any Chinese students who wanted to stay here a permanent visa to do so after the crackdown of a democracy movement in China that most of us remember because of the Tiananmen Square massacre. These refugees and their descendants have made enormous contributions to Australia’s prosperity, culture and way of life. Hell, even Tony Abbott let those affected by a change of regime in Syria and Iran stay in Australia.

It’s not hard to assume that Bob Menzies would be ashamed of Morrison’s Liberal Party. Malcolm Fraser would be horrified – but don’t take our word for it, his granddaughter says so in this opinion article that ran in Nine’s Newspapers recently.

In a world where developed democracies such as Canada, the US and Europe are opening their arms and creating paths to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees (after all we all helped to create the current situation) – Australia says ‘not our problem’ apart from a token airlift. It beggars belief. We can and should be doing much better than this.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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    I see several references to coaches arriving at distant locations to pluck Australians away from the Taliban.I also read aircraft waiting for a couple of extra Aussies(the last ones out). All great stuff, yet nowhere does it mention if those who drove the coaches or flew the aircraft were, in fact, Australians. I ask because I see the Americans have evacuated some amazing numbers, I forget how many, whilst we have seemed to take a modest number so as to look like one of the ‘boys’ in this debacle. It is assumed that the crews involved in the last flight and coaches were Aussies; but I did read in the New York Times that Americans have taken Australians out of Kabul also. All very confusing and of course this SCATMO fool will put his hand up for anything which may paint him in a good light. Christ, the buffoon would turn up for the opening of an envelope if his personal entourage of photographers was with him, as they always are.

  2. Williambtm

    Excellent commentary Roy Edwards, rule number one, do not trust the spoutings and burblings emanating from an L/NP Prime Minister, post the late Malcolm Fraser.
    No, he wasn’t perfect, there ain’t no beast known to be perfect.
    Even today I marvel at the number of prominent Vietnam-origin people now Australians in our society, and the same can be said of Turkish-born Australians, along with the number of Middle-East-born persons that are yet to be provided with their Australian citizenship certificates.

    Notwithstanding that a great many of the overseas arrived persons have excelled in their academic studies and now provide Australia with the valuable fruit of their academic achievements.
    Best not to ask for Scatmo’s nor Dutto’s opinion about my comment.

  3. RosemaryJ36

    I think the current Australian government completely lacks even a shred of decency!

  4. GL

    The LNP is, by hook or by crook, focused solely on keeping themselves in power and nothing else. If they could find some way to get of elections along the way then that would a wonderful bonus.

  5. wam

    It must be clear, to almost all Australians, that Afghanis in our temporary visa system are refugees and deserve permanent status. But is albo game to say so?

  6. Michael Taylor

    Sadly, the prime minister will no doubt be declaring what a wonderful job his government has done in handling this situation.

  7. GL

    “Sadly, the prime minister will no doubt be declaring what a wonderful job his government has done in handling this situation.”

    Yep, and everything else will be Dictator Dan’s fault.

  8. Max Gross

    Welcome to Monstralia. And if you think successive LNP governments have been cruel, petty and inhuman, just ask yourself this. Who voted for them?

  9. DrakeN

    That, Max Gross, is the nub of it.

  10. Alasdair

    Time and again we have seen the PM’s utter lack of compassion – for example actually turning his back and walking away from people in dire need at the time of the bushfires. And these were Australian citizens. Why would we expect his treatment of Afghans to be any different? Not only is he by every conceivable metric the worst PM in Australian history, he’s one of the most soulless, grubby, inhumane people ever to set foot on the national stage. We’ve had bad PMs before, and we will again, but we’ve never had a PM so utterly devoid of common humanity as this one.

    My mother was a Holocaust survivor: she and her mother arrived in Australia in the late 1930’s from their home country of Germany from which they had been lucky to escape with their lives. She was thus a citizen of an enemy country: Australia was formally by then at war with Germany. Nonetheless, she and mother found a home, a new life, and were ever grateful to the country that had sheltered them. To the end of her long life she was furious at the actions and inactions of Howard and his band of nasty little men.

    Australia was once seen internationally as the land of the fair go; a good-minded, helping sort of place. Not any more. Successive LNP governments have trashed our reputation, and made us ashamed of ourselves.

  11. wam

    Max Goss, that question deserves an answer but why the workers voted for scummo deserves action? It is almost impossible to talk to LNP, PHN or PALMER voters on the topic but over a beer and a laugh at the loonies, they will reveal their fears. Sadly the sincerity of their beliefs in bulls,,t will stun you. The way to lnp losing is by labor allaying the lies on the economy and debt.

  12. B Sullivan

    Max Gross, everyone turns a blind eye, but the only reason this Morrison Government was elected is because five percent of the electors voted for the National Party and won ten votes in parliament while ten per cent of the electors voted Greens and only won one vote in parliament.

    No matter what the political values are that people hold it makes no difference if the electoral system is so obscenely skewed from representing electors fairly and democratically. Morrison’s support base is a minority. The will of the majority simply cannot prevail under the current electoral system.

    It is pointless arguing about policies whilst ignoring this fundamental structural problem. Albanese has abandoned sound Labor policies that were popular with the electorate as a whole that were none-the-less blamed for Labor’s electoral defeat all because no one will admit that the Australian Federal electoral system does not deliver a fair democratic result.

  13. wam

    Love it B Sullivan even the loonies themselves know comparing the nationals to the 151 greens is disingenuous claptrap but they don’t mind plugs.

    Why not pick any national party seat and compare apples with apples( although he denies it, in 2013 even royal gala himself needed liberal preferences)

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