The fourth issue in examining this contentious matter is the quality of governance. About 6 years ago, a new government dispensed with temporary asylum. What was the rationale? This was effectively an invitation to the ‘snake heads’ in Indonesia to send more boats to Australia, receiving up to about $10,000 per head placed on rickety boats. The undocumented passengers were expected to be saved (euphemistically termed ‘intercepted’) by Australia’s naval border patrol.
This open door policy has reportedly led to the establishment of ‘travel agency’ arrangements in certain countries of departure. Indonesia’s practice of issuing entry visas on arrival for some, and visa-free entry for Muslim visitors must surely be a part of this open door. The availability of lawyers (all pro bono?) who are interested in finding more entry doors through appeals to the courts, by supporting what they consider to be arguable cases, would be of considerable advantage to the boat arrivals. Repeated access to the courts by these (mainly) economic migrants is a wondrous part of the process. How so?
In my view, Australia is not known to display necessary strength in dealing with powerful corporate or other interests. What is worse is that, when border protection, or the stability of inter-communal relations, or budgetary consequences require a bipartisan approach, what we see is political sniping, associated with a degree of puffery.
When a respected media commentator quoted (in The Australian) officials previously involved in the assessment of asylum seekers about the challengeable and ineffective practices currently being followed, and which now permit almost every asylum seeker to be accepted, there was nothing said by relevant politicians about temporary protection. Why not? Allowing for family reunion, the 44,000 who arrived through the ‘open door’ will most likely result in more than 120,000 economic migrants, most unemployable for years.
What sort of governance is this? With budgetary deficits expected to last many years, rising recorded and hidden unemployment (and welfare costs) in an economy slowing into recession, how could anyone responsible justify keeping the door open for unskilled unselected immigrants? Slogans like ‘Stopping the boats’ and ‘No one will be re-settled in Australia’ will have no impact on the 44,000 ‘open-door’ arrivals already in the country. Their ‘glee club’ should be pleased. Purely in passing, I do wonder if the members of this open entry support group work for the betterment of their fellow Australians, the Aborigines.
Having lived a highly interactive and contributory life, as an adult, for more than 6 decades in Australia, I believe that I am quite capable of observing my nation of adoption honestly, and to speak on behalf of the interests of my grandchildren and their successors. Refer Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society (Recommended by the US Review of Books; and endorsed pre-publication by a renowned senior academic in history and politics).