Sometimes you have wade through the mud to get to the daylight.
Julia Gillard and the troops are suggesting that we have to have a soft policy and this does not affect the number of boats arriving as the problems lies in the political unrest the the places from whence these persons come.
Tony Abbot says that the clear evidence is that once the policy was softened the boats began to arrive in far greater numbers, and the empirical evidence would tend to support that claim.
The masters of these vessels are happy to make a hefty profit for bringing people illegally to Australia in vessels that would probably not be certified seaworthy in any Australian port.
Under our current policy anyone claiming asylum is then processed off shore (typically on Christmas Island) and then either approved and granted Australian Citizenship or declined and returned to their country of origin.
The problems are many including
- How do we ascertain the veracity of claims for asylum being made by person without valid papers.
- How do we return people to places where their very return may place them in harms way.
- How do we stop the People Smuggling trade that the current systems empowers.
- How do we ensure that undesirable aliens are not circumventing protocol to gain access to Australia for reasons directly against the well-being of our nation and it’s citizens.
- How do we shoulder our fair share of the burden or looking after refugees and not more than our fair share.
Martin Luther King urged people to be hard headed and tender hearted. The current policy appears to be a little soft headed and hard hearted. The deaths of the boat people this month underlines the clear truth that a policy which encourages the vulnerable and the greedy to take unreasonable risks, is a policy in urgent need of review.
It is easy to say that there is no easy answer, but that does not mean that we must turn our backs, rther it means that we must struggle harder to find answers that may be more complex and more difficult.
Turn the boats Around
Part of me says this is a good answer as I no longer want to see anybody taking these needless risks. How you do that is of course a harder question as it means you have to know how to do that. The Howard policy seemed effective in reducing the numbers. It may not have been an all good policy, however it had some merit.
Harsher Penalties for Masters and Crew
I suspect that if the masters and crew where aware that being apprehended in Australian Waters would result in the loss of the boat and significant incarceration an fines this may reduce the number willing to engage in the trade.
Better Outcomes in Harsher Places
For those coming to Australia a look at the places from whence they come, the lifestyle, the standard of living, and the limited value placed on human dignity, suggests that if we (the world community) did more to improve the conditions in these places there wuld be less need to flee.
Better Alternative Methods of Processing
One wonders if there could not be a better way of processing applicants closer to their country of origin, and then those approved get flown here at our expense, or theirs, providing safe passage and and a reduction in the valueless cost of processing these people through the detention centres. This would also reduce the market which the People Smugglers exploit.
Arriving without Papers is a NO NO.
We need some clear statements abroad so that everyone knows arriving at Christmas Island without papers is likely to extend the period on you incarceration significantly.
We do have a Right
We do have a right to secure our borders, and that includes the right to grant or deny access to anyone, save for those who validly are Australian Citizens. We also have a right not to assume that everyone who knocks on the door is telling the truth, and the Government of our Nation has an obligation within reason to protect us from unreasonable persons being admitted. It is one thing to fear for your freedom because of you opinion, but if that fear is because you have broken the law (I mean a moral law such as murder) in your own land then maybe you are not a refugee and maybe we do not want you.
They are both right
In a way both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbot are right. It is the conditions in the homelands, not the Australian Policy that has the bigger impact on the number of people seeking asylum. However as Tony Abbot maintains it is the soft policy that means that Australia by leaky boat is the best choice. As usual, they are at opposite ends of the candle. I believe that this problem needs a two pronged approach, and some of this will need to be through the UN and it’s agencies.
We Do Not Need More Politics
This is a deeply human issue, and whilst the answers will be hammered out in the political arena, it is to be hoped that those answer will not be politically driven, but rather driven by the need to resolve an intensely human problemwhich has been part of the human condition for at least 4000 years.