Friday, 22 June 2012

I had other plans for

this blog today but I am going to put them to one side and do a little pot stirring instead.
Yesterday another boat, reportedly carrying around 200 people, capsized in Indonesian waters. The occupants were apparently heading for Christmas Island from where they hope to move to Australia. They will have paid a large sum of money, more than an airfare to Australia, to come this way.
The arguments around this issue are many and various. There are extreme views and there are moderate views. There people who have no views at all and others who express their views passionately. In the media the debate has been taken over by people who claim to have the moral high ground. Many of them are self-styled "experts" whose demands are sometimes downright dangerous to our national security. Others are more reasonable but their voices are unlikely to be heard above the clamour.
Our present Federal Government did away with a policy that seemed to be working fairly well - at least in terms of the number of people who were risking their lives endeavouring to get to Australia by these boats - in favour of a policy that has caused a surge in people attempting to come this way. Their stated reasons for doing it are, of course, not the actual reasons for doing it. What they hoped to do was introduce a policy that would make them appear different and more humane than their opponents. It did not work.
They then proposed another solution. They would, with the "cooperation" of Malaysia, taken in a certain number of people the UN had declared to be refugees. These people would come from detention centres or camps in Malaysia. In return the Malaysians would take a much smaller number of people attempting to arrive by boat in Australia. 
The idea is flawed in many ways but not least because as soon as those numbers had been reached the number of people arriving by boat would swell again. It would be a very short term measure but it is not a "solution". Despite this our Federal Government is still trying to insist that it is a solution and that the fault lies with those in opposition for not accepting it. In an attempt to score political points both sides are blaming each other for the drownings. That is pointless.
The problems are so complex that they will likely never be completely overcome. However there are some answers to the problems which keep arising. The difficulty is that governments, and the present government in particular, are reluctant to accept any of them. They need to keep to the present course in order to maintain power. In Australia this means, among other things, the need to maintain the support of the Greens, on whom they depend to remain in power.
It seems our government will pay any price to remain in power, even the unnecessary loss of life at sea.

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