The wrong question


The question is not “How should we deter asylum seekers from taking risky boat journeys to Australia?”, the question is “How can we get asylum seekers safely into Australia so that they can be quickly and safely processed and resettled?”

If we start asking that question, then several other questions immediately appear.

But won’t they still get on dangerous people smuggler boats? No. Not if we transport them using our boats to Australia from transit countries.

But doesn’t that mean we’ll end up being the processing centre for the region? Yes. We are also the wealthiest and supposedly most progressive country in the region.

Why can’t they be processed overseas as they currently are? If when you say “processed” you mean “stuck forever in terrible conditions while waiting to be resettled” then you’ve just answered your own question.

But where will they go if they turn out to be genuine refugees? Well, obviously Australia. Or if we are smart, we agree on a resettlement plan with our neighbours so that the whole region takes in refugees with the aim of quickly resettling them once they are found genuine (and not languishing forever in camps while waiting).

What about all the other refugees waiting in the region for resettlement? See above.

What about our standards of living, the stability of our country, jobs, health, crime, racial and cultural make-up of Australia, etc? Ah, that is the real question isn’t it? How is this going to affect you? Will you be as rich, as safe and as comfortable as you are now if our society starts acting like it’s made up of decent concerned human beings instead of rich, safe, comfortable selfish individuals.

The short answer is “No, very likely not – not if we do this properly.”

Doesn’t sound very appealing does it? Which is why I get to ask you a question now: How much do you value your principles?

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