From The Australia Institute, which also gives you Politics in the Pub Wednesday 27 June 2012 -Father Frank Brennan AO -Asylum seeker policy 20 years on (PDF).
Meanwhile we must expect that the boats will keep coming, reminding ourselves that this island nation continent of Australia has far more robust borders than those first world countries with porous land borders. Consider UNCR’s Global Trends 2011 released last week. In Australia, there are 28,676 persons of concern to UNHCR; meanwhile in our two transit countries - in Malaysia, there are 217,618; and in Indonesia only 4,239. Let’s look to Western Europe. In Belgium, there are 42,105 persons of concern to UNHCR; in Denmark, 18,009; in Greece, 45,720; in the Netherlands, 87,023; in France, 260,627; in the UK, 208,885; and in Germany, 658,818. And let’s consider the two other countries who join us in doing most to accept refugees assessed in faraway places by UNHCR: Canada has 206,735 persons within its borders who are of concern to UNHCR, and the US has 276,484. In a globalized twenty-first century world, hermetically sealed borders are figments of delusional or racist imaginations. We need to maintain a commitment to a humanitarian migration program accommodating those who could never afford a people smuggler. But we also need to honour our obligations to those who head our way seeking asylum unless and until we can improve our bilateral arrangements with Indonesia and our regional arrangements for a regional solution to a regional problem.
What Father Brennan says is as always with him first rate, except that the matter I have raised really is not addressed: what IN PRACTICE is the best way NOW to prevent those drownings? That is where Clive Kessler has the edge. Indeed are not those UNHCR figures for Indonesia and Malaysia respectively a powerful incentive to do whatever is needed to work with Malaysia?
On Monday Australian Story tells a related story.
Introduced by Shane Warne
‘I think she was sent to this planet to challenge me’ – Jillian Symons, mother
Next week’s program tells the story of a young woman unsettling her middle class Melbourne family by going out on a limb to ‘adopt’ a fourteen year old Afghan asylum seeker.
Jaffar Ali arrived in Australia two years ago after escaping from Indonesia in a leaky boat subsequently intercepted near Christmas Island.
It wasn’t Jessie Taylor’s first such intervention. In 2008 she dramatically ‘rescued’ an asylum seeking Afghan soccer team during Melbourne’s Homeless World Cup.
Jessie Taylor is a human rights barrister who grew up in a comfortable ‘right wing’ middle class Melbourne family. Her mother Jillian was opposed to asylum seekers who she saw as queue jumpers.
But when Jessie spots fourteen year old Jaffar Ali, unaccompanied and behind bars in an Indonesian detention centre, she offers him her phone number in case he ever makes it to Australia.
What then unfolds changes the lives and attitudes of everyone in unexpected ways…
Shane Warne with former asylum seeker Jaffar Ali, who features on Australian Story.
Photo: Fairfax Media Library (linked to source).
ABC image: Jaffar Ali’s journey was hardly un-Christian, un-Muslim, un-Australian, or un-Anything very much.