RUDD GIVES BOAT PEOPLE PRIZE THEY WANT
Posted on Friday, 13 November 2009
How’s this for a deal? You get a guarantee of swift re-settlement in Australia provided you get off the Oceanic Viking in Indonesia and don’t further embarrass Prime Minister Rudd. It seems that the objective of Australian policy is no longer to prevent unauthorised arrivals; it’s to avoid humiliating Kevin Rudd.
This is the deal that Australian officials have offered in writing to the Sri Lankans who have effectively taken over the Oceanic Viking: people whom the UN High Commission has already found to be refugees will be re-settled in Australia within six weeks; and people not yet processed by the UNHCR but found to be refugees will be resettled here within 12 weeks. All they have to do in return is get off the boat in Indonesia so the Prime Minister’s political nightmare ends. The UNHCR typically finds that a big majority of boat people are refugees. The issue is how quickly they can be re-settled. By promising to resettle people in Australia within three months, Kevin Rudd has given the boat people the prize they want. It’s actually a much better deal than they would have had at Christmas Island where large numbers now mean that processing can take up to 12 months. He gets the issue out of the headlines but only by surrendering.
If poor people in war-torn countries think that arriving in Australia means permanent residency, access to welfare and the ability to bring their families to join them, they will keep coming, quite possibly in much larger numbers. The only way to deter boat people is to avoid any suggestion of an “if you can get here, you can stay here” policy. Australians are not naturally comfortable with boat people spending years in detention centres but it’s probably necessary if people are to be deterred from taking to the sea in leaky boats. Hundreds of thousands of people in camps around Asia are following the saga of the Oceanic Viking weighing what it means for their prospects of a new life in Australia. If these boat people can stare down the prime minister, that all-but-guarantees a boom in people smuggling.
By a combination of temporary visas, off-shore processing, and turning boats around where possible, John Howard stopped the flow. By boasting about how “humane” he was, scrapping temporary visas and closing the centres in Nauru and PNG, Kevin Rudd has renewed this threat to the integrity of our immigration programme and to the security of our borders. Giving in to the people who are effectively holding hostage the Oceanic Viking means the situation is going from bad to worse.
Source: THE DAILY TELEGRAPH