Tuesday, 19 October 2010

If you suddenly put more than

four hundred people into a small community you are going to have problems - but the government is planning to just that. No, this is not an emergency. What is more the four hundred people they plan to put in place will not integrate. Most do not even speak English. No, this is not an emergency. It is an attempt to deal with a problem largely of their own making. They want to house 'low risk' asylum seekers 'in the community'. They should not do it.

I sympathise with refugees. There can be few things worse than to spend your life in squalid conditions in a refugee camp fearing for your life inside the camp as well as out of it. To try and bring children up in that setting must be terrifying. Even in a well run camp (and they are by no means well run) there is never enough food or water. Sanitation is vile. Disease is rife. There are always security issues. You can trust nobody. I understand why people want to bypass camps and come straight to the country of their choice. I also understand why they do not want to live in detention centres once they get here.

There have been more than one hundred SIEVs this year - Suspected Illegal Entry Vessels or boats carrying people who want to enter Australia. For reasons of health, safety and security we need to reduce the number of SIEVs. It is unlikely that we will halt them completely. Someone is always going to be stupid enough or desperate enough or criminal enough to risk this means of entry. There will always be someone prepared to profit from this trade - and it is a trade. These people are illegal migration agents.

Wanting to migrate and seeking asylum are two different things. We need to provide a safe haven for people who are genuinely in fear of their lives. That is the right and proper thing to do. There is however a difference between fear of direct persecution and fleeing the living circumstances of your country. Asylum claims are supposed to cover the former, not the latter. We may well need to give permanant residency to people in the former category. We should not necessarily be giving permanant residency to people in the latter category. Yes it would be nice to welcome them all to Australia but it may not be the right thing to do. Not everyone wants to integrate. They simply want to live somewhere different. There is a difference and it can make a huge difference to the social fabric of a country. It also encourages people to undertake dangerous journeys in SIEVs and, worse, others to make money out of providing those SIEVs.

Current government policy is encouraging people to risk their lives in order to migrate but not integrate. That is simply wrong. It has to be discouraged. That alone is reason enough to resist the temptation to place people in large groups in the community. It will not offer a safe haven to those who need it most.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if the federal government has considered the impact of possibly doubling the number of children in a small school, designed to cater for about 150 Australian born, English speaking students, and how much funding will be required for extra facilities, and staff, many of them with special skills to cope with children from a variety of different cultures.
All of this needs to fit on a very limited pocket of land in the middle of the town.
Another though ..... would the same federal government spend millions of dollars on the Inverbrackie village if the army was moving families back into the houses?

Judy B

catdownunder said...

Of course they haven't Judy. They are pandering to their coalition partners, the Greens. It is designed to get some pressure off themselves. (That said, I do not approve of children being held in detention centres.)
I know it is a complex problem but there really is a desperate need to stop the flow of SIEVs. They just do not want to be seen to do anything that might look like a renewed Coalition policy - and that was bad enough.