It’s time to understand why people embark on a hazardous journeyAustralia truly perplexes me.
Since the Liberal Government of John Howard took office in 1996 refugees have been condemned as queue jumping criminals.
While many people anticipated a softening on this stance when Kevin Rudd swept Labor into power in 2007 little has changed.
We think that a hardline stance of sending refugees to remote detention camps on third world pacific islands will act as a deterrent.
We have no sympathy for refugees. We care little about the conditions they are forced to endure in detention centres or the length of time they have to wait before their applications are processed.
But now that a tragedy has occurred and many refuges have died when the boat they were travelling in sank, we want blood.
On one hand we condemn these people but now we shed crocodile tears when they drowned.
The likes of Andrew Bolt and many in the media will use this incident to target Julian Gillard and the Labor Government for the deaths of these unfortunates. Could have these deaths been prevented? Of course, if we lived in a utopian society, but we don’t.
We live in a world where there is war, famine, drought, death, poverty, rape, violence, persecution and destruction.
If you live in African, Asia and parts of the Middle East you will experience some if not all of the above.
Australians no longer have the ability to imagine themselves in these kind of conditions. We are obsessed with interest rates, home renovations and who Shane Warne is fucking. We can’t imagine what it would be like to have bombs dropping in your neighbourhood. We can’t imagine what it would be like to watch a your child starve to death or what it would be like to watch your mother and sister gang raped.
Maybe if we could actually imagine what it is like to live in shit we would understand a refugees desperation. We would understand that willingness to risk their lives in a hazardous journey to find a better life.
Until we find utopian refugees will continue to travel in crappy little boats across the Indian Ocean in an attempt to reach Australia. Many more will die, there are probably hundreds that die that we don’t know about.
If we cared about refugees we would process them on the Australian mainland in urban areas like Townsville, Cains, Darwin and Perth. We would work hard to ensure applications for permanent residency are processed in an expectable time frame. And we would stop bitching about refugees queue jumping.
Neither side of politics will change the heavy handed approach taken with refugees. To do so would invite criticisms of going soft and be seen as an invitation for more refugees to come to Australia.
Australians are deluded if they believe people who are thinking of entering a country illegally are going to be deterred by news reports of Australia’s hard line stance on illegal immigrants. Australian politicians don’t make headlines in London why on earth do we think they would make headlines in Dhaka, Ramadi, Kutu or Al Khurtum.
If we are not going to change our stance on refugees let’s not shed crocodile tears when a few die on route.