As the media demand that politicians PUT ASIDE POLITICS and SAVE LIVES but are vague on the specifics of how exactly to do that, the parliament wrestles with legislation that will SAVE LIVES whilst simultaneously PUTTING LIVES IN DANGER and if only people on the other side to me would put politics aside for a minute and vote with my party then nobody would drown again. Why don’t the people who disagree with me on the specifics of which country to send them to so that they hopefully give up on coming here and instead try to survive in dangerous camps care about refugees AND THEIR PRECIOUS WOMEN AND CHILDREN as much as I do?

I WOULD NEVER SEND REFUGEES TO A COUNTRY THAT HAS NO REFUGEE PROTECTIONS except when I voted with the rest of the Howard government to do just that.

If you want more than the media’s fatuous “if only they’d put aside politics” politicking and repeated declarations that only offshore processing to avoid our obligations is a realistic option, you’ll have to look online. Such as at The Conversation, where Sharon Pickering describes Six Issues Missing From The Asylum Seeker Debate. (Don’t look for the contribution elsewhere by her namesake Larry – he’s telling gullible people on Facebook that they basically win Sale of the Century when they arrive.)

Among the points Sharon highlights that we’re missing:

  • No one is talking about the UNHCR having such a small number of officers processing asylum claims in Indonesia. It is impossible for this tiny cohort to process any reasonable number of applications. According to the International Organisation for Migration, from January 1 to May 31 this year, 24 refugees were resettled from Indonesia to Australia. That’s from a pool of 5732 asylum seekers and refugees.
  • No one is talking about the relationship of people smuggling (as an illicit activity) to the licit regulation of entry into Australia. Australia’s universal visa system deems entire groups “high-risk”. For example, those from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka are routinely denied visas that would enable them to arrive legitimately by air. These groups are not considered risky because they represent a significant security threat (for, say, terrorism or serious crime), but because they may engage Australia’s protection obligations. No one is talking about changing these risk profiles and visa issuing practices.
  • No one is talking about what happens to those who are prevented from coming to Australia (subject to disruption or deterrence regimes) or whether this is a desirable objective for a nation such as Australia. Preventing or deterring people from coming to Australia does not mean persecution stops. Instead, those being persecuted become some other country’s problem. This surely is an unsustainable contribution to regional (let alone) global relations.
  • No one is talking about decoupling the zero-sum game between refugees settled from offshore, and onshore arrival numbers (in which as arrivals increase, offshore resettlement places go down). This is a policy change that could end the mindless pitching of one group of refugees against another.

She has another two, to which I’d add the one I’ve mentioned several times before: STOPPING POLICIES THAT MAKE THE BOATS MORE DANGEROUS.

We tell those running boats that we’re going to destroy their boats, so what do they do? Send unseaworthy disposable ones. We tell them we’ll lock up their crews, so what do they do? Round up villagers with no training who don’t realise what’s going to happen to them.

What could we do instead? Return seaworthy vessels. Return competent crew. Destroy dangerous boats and work with Indonesia to find the people running them (aided by informants from groups running safe boats who are happy to rat on their competitors). Lock up incompetent crew. If safe boats and crews are returning to Indonesia, then the boats will increasingly have experienced crew, and the message of what’s happening to those running dangerous vessels will go straight back to the ports from which the vessels are leaving. Refugees will have a choice, and there will be pressure for the vessels to be safer.

And the upshot would be more people arriving safely.

Which is what I want. It’s what those weeping genuine tears for drowned refugees want too, isn’t it?

Or is their real fear the refugees who aren’t drowning and who are getting here safely? Are they actually glad the journey is dangerous because they want it to be a deterrent?

Because that would explain how they’re voting. But it makes their tears incredibly fake.

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