Sunday, November 25, 2012

Asylum Seekers

This week I am absolutely livid. Firstly because it's been hot and I've had to sit on my male staff's lap in the evenings while he's wearing only his underpants, and believe me, that is something that nobody should have to endure. I even read the Geneva convention, but there was no mention of it in that particular document. All I can say is that there bloody well should be. So, I apologise now for my bad mood, but who wouldn't be a little cranky if they keep getting dragged away from their dinner and forced to sit on an almost naked middle aged man's lap?

The other thing that has made my blood boil this week are the things that Australian politicians will do and say if they think it'll win them a couple of extra votes. It was while I was suffering the unpleasantness of my male staff's scantily clad lap that I witnessed an ugly scene on television. It was Australia's two main political parties in a race to the bottom of the sewer. Both the Labor Party government and Liberal/National party coalition are trying to outdo each other in trying to deter potential asylum seekers and to stigmatise asylum seekers who have already arrived on these shores.

What is particularly galling is that Australia was made the great nation that it is today by refugees, mostly white European ones - forced British convicts, people from Ireland seeking a better life, Italians and Greeks after the Second World War and quite a few Vietnamese who arrived by boats in the nineteen seventies and eighties. All hard working men and women willing to make a go of things and not asking anything from their new country but the opportunity for a new start and a safer life. How sad it is then that many Australians are so rabidly against accepting more refugees. They have been conned by politicians into believing that Australia is being swamped with "illegal" boat arrivals as the Liberal opposition leader and utter buffoon Tony Abbott incorrectly calls asylum seekers. He must know that it is not illegal to arrive in Australia by boat without papers and seek asylum, so his only reason for calling these people "illegal arrivals" must be political expediency.

Australia is far from being swamped with refugees. We currently stand 46th on the league table of nations who accept refugees. We have a little over twenty thousand refugees. That is just .2% of the global total, so lets get a little perspective happening here for once. Recently there have been several tragedies at sea involving boatloads of asylum seekers. Their leaky, unseaworthy vessels have sunk with severe loss of life. Many of them paid their life savings to people smugglers for a place on one of these Australia bound rust buckets. So, with much feigned wailing, gnashing of teeth and crocodile tears the Australian government decided to try to stem this loss of life by reintroducing offshore processing in the naive and unrealistic belief that it would stop asylum seekers paying people smugglers for danger fraught sea journeys to Australia because their asylum claims would be processed in hot, humid hell holes like Nauru and Manaus Island and so would not necessarily be granted refugee status in Australia.

It is already perfectly obvious even to a guinea pig that this so called deterrence does not work and since it's introduction boat arrivals have increased. This has to mean that the Australian government is either hopelessly out of touch with the reality of the terrifying, desperate situations that exist in nations like Sri Lanka, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan or they are pandering to the redneck minority in Australia, panicked into doing so by rabid right wingers in the Liberal party. Either way, it's not a good look. Tony Abbott was one of the worst teeth gnashers at the boat tragedies. It's a wonder that he has any teeth left to gnash. He virtually accused the Labor government of murdering the poor sods who drown trying to reach Australia. Now he's say that he'll cut Australia's refugee intake from other countries, meaning that even more people will be tempted to pay people smugglers to get them to Australia by boat because they'll have even less chance to get here by other means.

It's time Aussie humans put themselves in the shoes of someone fleeing war and persecution. Here's a scenario for you to ponder.

It is the year 2032 and climate change is really starting to kick in. Years of drought in southern Australia have had a huge impact on the food crops and cattle and sheep have been dying in their thousands, while in the north rain has been far heavier than it used to be, causing widespread flooding year after year. Cyclones have been more frequent and more severe causing more damage to crops and infrastructure. Governments can no longer afford to repair roads or maintain a reliable power grid. Unemployment has risen to 39% and crime is rampant as desperate people strive to keep their families fed. To deal with the crime wave several state governments have introduced curfews to keep people off the streets after dark. City populations are swollen by people pouring into them from the worst hit regional areas, people desperate for work, but there are too few jobs to go around and many of the great parks in cities around the nation have become squalid squatter camps of toiletless ramshackle corrugated iron dwellings. The Austalian government has appealed for aid but few nations can afford to help and in any case there is little sympathy for a nation who were one of the worst per capita offenders in the cause of climate change. In fact in November 2013 the new Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterated his opinion that the idea of  climate change was "A load of crap."

Desperate families flock to northern coastal towns. town like Mackay, Gladstone, Townsville, Cairns, Broome and Darwin where unscrupulous people smugglers are selling places on rusty, unseaworthy boats on voyages to India and Indonesia who have been spared the worst ravages of climate change. Their economies have been less affected than most by the global climate induced recession and rumour has it that there are jobs to be had there and a better, safer life. Thousands of Australians sell their now almost worthless homes in order to purchase a place on a boat. Most prefer the more dangerous and longer passage to India because along with China they have become the leading world economy.  However, the Indian government is under pressure from the populace not to accept refugees from such an alien culture as Australia and boatloads of Aussies are towed out of Indian territorial waters by the Indian navy. Many die as boats sink in storms or simply perish from thirst and hunger as they boats run out of provisions and don't have enough fuel to make landfall elsewhere.  This is ironic, because it is exactly the same policy advocated by Tony Abbott when he became Prime Minister of Australia.

There's no way I'd ever get on one of those leaky boats. I might get my feet wet.


1 comment:

  1. NO WORRIES! According to Neil DeGrasse Tyson, of New York's Hayden Planetarium, (and stopper of keeping Pluto a real planet!) we will be enjoying the asteroid Apophis (named for Egyptian god for Death and Darkness) because its trajectory is headed directly towards Earth! Yum. It will in the year 2029, on Friday the 13th oF April, Apophis will come so close to earth it will dip below our satellites, the closest, biggest thing to come so close to earth. Being hard to measure, we don't know exactly where that trajectory will be, but - THIS GETS BETTER - if the asteroid goes in the middle of a "keyhole" it WILL HIT THE EARTH a few years later, SMACK into the Pacific Ocean, EXPLODING THE PACIFIC IN A HOLE THREE MILES WIDE AND THREE MILES DEEP SENDING A FIFTY FOOT TSUNAMI wall of water backwards into the bathroom plumbing of all BlowHard Politicians...who will then be seeking asylum on Mars. Yeah, Karma!