Sunday, August 4, 2013

Desperately Seeking Clarity

This is me.

What the hell is going on in this country when it comes to Asylum Seekers?  

Please.  Can somebody explain it to me?  Because I have lost the thread of coherence.

And somewhere along the way human rights, international convention and basic moral decency is being thrown out like the proverbial baby with the bath water.

I try and keep abreast of this issue because it's important to me.  I'm keen on it you see.  Pretty keen to see that Australia's staunchly held views of "mateship" and "a fair go for all" are upheld in this great nation of ours.

And what does a a fair go for all mean exactly, if in this vast and wealthy country we cannot offer hospitality to vulnerable people who seek to join us.

No, I don't really understand it.  We have taken the sound bites fed to us like pudding and unquestioningly, blindly swallowed, followed and nodded along to phrases like Stop the Boats, Queue Jumpers, Illegals, Boat People.

They have become so much a part of the political lexicon that once heralded by the right and howled at from the left they are now being bandied about by both parties with equal parts flourish and lack of detail.

Yes, Howard sowed the seed of fear that has grown and blossomed so much so that no major party feels it can win an election without a convincingly tough stance on border protection.

Which is fine for the right, because that maybe is where they should be.  Conservative voters perhaps would expect, demand nothing less.

But it leaves the left exposed and precariously straddling the fence - needing to win the hearts, minds and votes of the undecided while trying to maintain those once loyal.

But where are those once loyal to the left?  Still on the left where they always were, shivering and cold while the party has moved on way, way over there - see the lights of Jay Gatsby's place twinkling in the distance?  

At least the left has the Greens to keep them warm, but it will only be with blankets and body heat lest they expend too many fossil fuels turning on the central heating.

You only have to look to Malcolm Fraser as the litmus test for how far Australia has drifted starboard.  Australia's Prime Minister from 1975-1983 was aligned with the right of the Liberals and yet to listen to him now you'd be forgiven for thinking him a bleeding heart such is his long standing compassionate and commonsense approach to refugee resettlement in Australia.

So now we have a Prime Minister who despite promising never to lurch to the right on Asylum Seekers has done just that (then, he was never going to be leader of the Labour Party again either so comme ci, comme ça), an opposition leader who has been forced to bring out the guns on his journey right, and a vast gaping chasm between the political hyperbole and the human reality of the issue.

What is a voter to do?

If only we had some political leaders who would take their heads out of their own polling figures long enough to work out what they stand for and actually lead on this issue.

Someone who was prepared to stand up and say loud and clear and often there is nothing to fear from people seeking asylum.  Indeed we have an international and legal obligation to allow people fleeing persecution to seek asylum at any shore they can reach.

We also have a human obligation to treat these people with respect and humanity when they get here.  By releasing them into the community once health and security checks have been completed and by allowing them to work and educate their kids while they wait for their applications to be processed.

And you know what?  I'm no economist but it doesn't take a great maths brain to work out that rehoming these people in Australian communities where they can contribute personally, financially and culturally is going to cost a hell of a lot less than the hundreds of thousands of dollar per person per year it currently costs to detain them.

It just doesn't seem to me such a hard argument to sell.  Voters hate taxes.  Let Treasury propose an Asylum Seeker Off Shore Processing Centre Tax and see how quickly we come up with an alternative, community based programme off our own bat.

What a shame we can't vote for Julian Burnside.

Yes I am confused, confused at how something so supposedly fundamental to Australians as mateship and a fair go for all can be so hard for voters and our alleged leaders to grasp.

What is your view on Asylum Seeker policy?

Listen To Lenny Kravitz Confused

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