Tony Abbott’s policy a failure as boats keep coming, says Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa
The turn-back of two groups of asylum seekers on Monday has put further strain on the Australia-Indonesia relationship after Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa launched another stinging criticism of the Abbott government’s boats policy.
The Mc prefix has crept into modern vernacular to mean an imitation of the real thing. Australia’s pseudo ever-so-erudite Foreign Minister, Bob Carr alias Bob McCarr-McDonald, imposter as Immigration Minister and you know who, has weighed into the delicate asylum seeker debate with the claim that Australia is being duped by imposters – McRefugees – claiming that recent arrivals were not fleeing persecution at all but, rather, were economic migrants.
Fancy that! Refugees duping Australia. Fancy that! Our Foreign Minister duping Australia with hostility-breeding political opportunism based on McBigotry, which is electorally popular in McOz.
Ironic isn’t it? The ultimate McSymbol, Ronald McDonald more than any other single figure epitomises western culture – a clown with no heart … or brain!
Aptly dressed in his Ronald McDonald suit, Bob McCarr-McDonald appeared on Sydney’s 2GB for some McClarification. ”Just to clarify what I said,” he told Sydney radio, ”I said that, in recent boat arrivals, 100 per cent appeared to be economic refugees.”
2GB’s Chris Smith alluded to one of the problems with Carr’s argument: the fact that none of the 22,600 asylum seekers who have arrived since the government announced its ”no advantage” principle last August have been processed. Would it not be an idea to test his claims by actually processing these people, Smith suggested.
Carr had no answer.
* This piece was partly sourced from a recent column by Michael Gordon, The Age 6 July 2013: No advantage in allowing Carr to fan asylum flames
Predictably, the backlash has been severe from many quarters. Refugee advocate Julian Burnside told Fairfax Media that he thought ”Senator Carr is talking through his hat”. The Age heads this article by Jonathon Swan:
Foreign Minister ‘being a bigot’ over asylum seekers
Foreign Minister Bob Carr has been described as behaving like a ”bigot” by a leading human rights lawyer for portraying asylum seekers as economic opportunists.
Refugee advocate Julian Burnside told Fairfax Media on Wednesday that he thought ”Senator Carr is talking through his hat”.
”I think he’s just being a bigot . . . It sounds very much like dog whistle politics in order to make community attitudes harden against people who risk their lives to get here,” he said.
Mr Burnside pointed out that for the past 15 years, 90 per cent of asylum seekers who arrived by boat had turned out to be genuine refugees, and that since August last year no asylum claims had been processed. He said Senator Carr’s claims of a flood of economic migrants, therefore, had no statistical foundation.
”It’s disgraceful that the Minister of the Crown should let fly with ideas like that when he has absolutely no facts at all to support his view,” Mr Burnside said.
In an interview on ABC television on Tuesday night, Senator Carr repeated his argument that an overwhelming number of boat people, mainly from Iran, were faking their claims and coming to Australia to seek economic advantage.
”I think people who burn their passports and repeat what very often is a well-rehearsed story, really ought to be put on the defensive,” Senator Carr said.
”If you’ve got an argument for persecution, there’s no case for burning your passport. There’s no case for being rehearsed in a story of persecution so that everyone on a vessel tells the same story word for word.”
These new boat migrants, overwhelmingly from Iran, were coming to Australia to seek economic advantage, Senator Carr said. It was an ”assault on Australia’s territory”.
But Mr Burnside said he had seen no evidence that this trend was happening.
”Most of the people who come from Iran . . . have been unable to get papers,” he said. ”They’re not allowed to leave Iran and they leave illegally because they are enemies, typically, of the theocracy that runs the place. Those people leave Iran at great risk.”
”They can’t get papers because what happens in repressive states – and maybe Senator Carr hasn’t noticed this – is that the state does not allow its enemy to have papers.”
Mr Burnside said Australians should be reminded of the ”reality . . . that people risk their lives trying to get here”.
When asylum seekers arrive by boat without papers they should be detained as a precaution for health and security checks, Mr Burnside conceded. But if he was in charge of the system he would cap that detention at one month.
After that the government should release the asylum seekers into the community, let them work, and give them access to Centrelink and Medicare benefits.
Then, Mr Burnside argued, until their claims are processed the government should require that the asylum seekers live in specified rural and regional towns, taking their Centrelink money into these towns and be spent on rent, food and clothing.
Their money would be injected into these communities and create jobs, he said.
This is Captain Chris Bowen, Immigration Minister speaking. We have made serious navigational errors and it seems to be internal polling that has wrecked our moral compass. The party engine room is philosophically defunct – it could not cope with the force of our sudden shift to the right.
Here we are, drifting aimlessly, lurching from side to side as the backlashes from our political opportunism rock us to our core.
Here we are, just a hull of our former glory.
Here we are, trying to heed polling, trying to be seen as trying to be tough in trying to stop refugees from trying to reach our shores. It’s a trying exercise.
Polling indicates that Australians don’t want us to be soft. They are afraid that the whole country will be overrun by hordes of asylum seekers who could threaten their way of life. Even worse – there could be terrorists amongst them. It’s all about fear (and racism, but we cannot ever admit that!)
Trouble is, the Coalition stirred up all this fear, and it’s us who have to deal with it. We have to look as if we’re more right wing than they are.
As you would expect, Amnesty International and refugee advocacy groups – even Malcolm Fraser – call us inhumane.
We know that most of these asylum seekers are desperate men, women and children fleeing persecution, torture, murder and war. But if we soften, we’re sunk.
We can’t go back on our policy of off-shore processing – that would make us the laughing stock of the nation.
Trouble is, we already are the laughing stock of the nation.
Talk about being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea!
It seems that nothing will deter asylum seekers from trying to get to Australia.
Would-be refugees won’t buy our propaganda that we don’t want them to drown by taking risky voyages in leaky boats at the hands of people smugglers. They know we don’t care about them. They see the way we treat them if they don’t drown. Many detainees wish they had drowned rather than be treated like animals.
And they know that this rhetoric is mainly intended for the ears of the Australian electorate. Unfortunately for us, they are not stupid and they are desperate.
We thought that the Houston Report would be the silver bullet. But that hasn’t worked, even with the ‘no advantage rule’. Fortunately, Mr Houston dismissed on-shore processing because that encourages people to get into boats. Bravo!
Now that we have moved to the ‘Pacific Solution Mark Two’, re-opened Nauru and opened Manus Island, we still can’t cope with the growing numbers. Sure, we are impressing the electorate by sending ‘economic refugees’ back, but they are the tip of the iceberg.
Now that the facilities are overflowing and we can’t cope, we have been forced to introduce on-shore processing using bridging visas, which are embarrassingly like Howard’s Temporary Protection Visas. What a back-down!
Now that we are being accused of creating a poverty stricken underclass in our own society, we are really looking vulnerable. We are locked into Houston’s ‘no advantage rule’ and there is no way out.
Now that emotive poll-changing terms are creeping into the media – terms like women and children, self-harm, hunger strikes, psychological disorders, inhumane conditions, suicide – we could be expected to soften. But we can’t. That would make us look poll-driven – even hypocritical.
This is a humanitarian disaster, which is a public relations disaster for us. Poor us!
Uhh ohh! We are lurching to the left. It’s our dissident Left convenor Doug Cameron who is asking what steps have been taken to implement a regional framework and “how we can fashion processing to ensure those without genuine claims are quickly sent home and those with genuine claims are treated with humanity.” He reckons, “Our policies are being determined on the basis of narrow domestic considerations, when this is a huge geopolitical issue” and “With the number of people that are looking to move around the world seeking refuge, you’re always going to have a situation that boats will come to Australia. I don’t think you can stop the boats. I think that’s rhetorical nonsense.”