I’ll put my hand up
Andrew Bolt asks: Where are t
Oct 24, 2009
Andrew Bolt asks: Where are t
Where are the Howard haters now?
Gee, Kevin Rudd’s Indonesian Solution is such an improvement on John Howard’s Pacific Solution, which he so damned and then closed
Julian Burnside, legal veteran of asylum seeker battles in the Howard years, condemns as ”really regrettable that Rudd feels the need to appear to take a tough line” on boat arrivals. Rudd knows the numbers are trivial and Australia has the capacity to deal with them, Burnside says. But his policy is appealing to the lowest common denominator and ”heading to the Pacific solution in another form”.
”It’s irrelevant to complain about people smugglers,” he says. ”What matters is that people are asking for our help and we should not push them back to Indonesia.”
Burnside regards the Indonesian solution as only slightly better than Howard’s ”Pacific Solution” – unless the Government has ”cast iron guarantees that the people will be treated decently and processed quickly and properly”. It is hard to be confident of that, he says, bearing in mind that Indonesia is not a signatory to the international convention on refugees, and ”warehousing” people is reprehensible and ”totally unacceptable”.
Despite a stratospheric approval rating, and a crushing two-party-preferred vote that could see the ALP gain as many as 20 new seats at the election, Kevin Rudd has adopted the tough rhetoric of his predecessor- even an Opposition MP has branded him “John Howard-lite”.
But having the Indonesian President intervene on a specific boat is hardly routine. And it is a long way removed from the focus of supporting policing and intelligence gathering in the fight against people smuggling. Indeed, using Indonesia in this way is dangerously similar in its practical impact to the old third country approach. Indonesia, like those other countries, has not signed up to the UN Convention on Refugees.
Immigration Minister Chris Evans bridled this week at the suggestion that the so-called Indonesian solution of persuading our neighbour to take boatloads of refugees was akin to the Howard government’s Pacific solution.
The latter, he told the ABC’s The 7.30 Report, was about punishing refugees and maintaining the myth they would never be allowed into Australia, although many subsequently were. That, he argued, was different from reaching an agreement with Indonesia for them to be processed as refugees there.
There is no real distinction. In both cases, we palmed off our obligations to another country not bound by the refugee convention. The government says the UNHCR will process the asylum-seekers in Indonesia.
Perhaps the Rudd government will be more co-operative. But if Indonesia is a political solution to Australia’s boatpeople problem, then it is a second-class humanitarian one.
"Mr Rudd has been keen to talk about our brave new world of co-operation with Indonesia, but his emphasis has only been on intelligence-sharing, and assistance with training and equipment between our neighbouring countries,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
"The focus, clearly, is on how best to track down and stop asylum seekers on leaky boats from getting to Australia, but there doesn’t seem to be much interest in what happens to them once they’ve been palmed off to Indonesia.
"What guarantees does Mr Rudd have from Indonesia – who are not signatories to the UN Refugee Convention – that asylum seekers, particularly children, will be treated appropriately and not placed in arbitrary detention indefinitely?”
The price for Australia’s financial and other aid should be a commitment from Indonesia to sign up to the convention, and a guarantee that they will act to protect rather than punish these vulnerable people.
Is Andrew Bolt truly so ignorant of the backlash against Kevin Rudd’s approach to asylum seekers in recent weeks, or does it just suit his “It’s OK if you are in Labor” claims of Liberal persecution to appear so ignorant?
UPDATE: More from Chris Uhlmann of Your (Biased) ABC.