‘Effective immediately any person attempting to enter Australia by sea without a visa will never by settled here.”
It cant get any clearer than that and with this simple sentence (and the support of our very own
penal colony regional refugee resettlement partner), Mr Rudd has on paper very possibly solved two of three problems. Coincidentally, those two problems happened also to be election problems.
Let’s have a look at them.
Problem 1: Breaking the business model of people smugglers from transit countries to Australia and hence reducing the numbers of desperate people risking their lives on dangerous sea journeys to Australia (but not to any other country in the region). Bonus points if the solution doesn’t contravene any pesky UN conventions.
Chances are, if you happen to be contemplating paying a people smuggler for a ricketty boat to Australia because you can no longer put up with the conditions of living in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand etc while waiting for processing or resettlement, you’ll probably no longer be fronting up with the cash. So yes, it looks like a tick for Mr Rudd.
Problem 2: Maintaining control of sovereign borders and being able to confidently state that we and we alone have a say as to who gets to come into our house. Bonus points if the solution doesn’t actually break international law (ie: shooting or towing back said intruders) or increase our refugee intake numbers.
As a bone to the kind of Australians who like to punish desperate vulnerable people needing our help, the threat of placing them in a country that is even poorer and possibly more dangerous than the one they are fleeing from must certainly be very satisfying. Even Towboat Tony had to applaud the PNG agreement once he’d picked his jaw off the floor. So yes, it looks like several ticks will accumulate in the Vote Rudd box.
Problem 3: If you’re the kind of person who is thinking problem 3, what problem 3, then congratulations, you’re probably within the majority of Australians and you’re part of Problem 3. Problem 3 is creating the kind of society where people will help those in need because they are in need and because it is the right thing to do. Problem 3 is being a country that will work with our neighbours honestly and fairly to solve a regional problem. Problem 3 is having leaders that will work in a bipartisan fashion for a true humane and responsible solution.
The solution to problem 3 is not easy, it may well jeopardise our standards of living, it may push our multiculturalism to its brink but it will make us proud to be Australian.
Mr Rudd has not solved probem 3 and I doubt that Australia will ever solve it because for most Australians there is no problem 3 and there never will be.