Today’s Moir cartoon is what one may well suspect…
See, for later contemplation, Respecting fears, moving forward with the facts.
…I have no truck with constraining debate on the big questions. I am for frank, open, honest national conversations, so let’s have a frank, open, honest national conversation on the issues of border protection and asylum seekers.
Today I am announcing steps to strengthen Australia’s border protection arrangements. I am setting out the long-term approach we will take to dealing with the pressure of unauthorised arrivals.
We are taking these steps in response to the increase in unauthorised people movements in our region and around the world.
I am also making the government’s policy goal clear: it is to wreck the people smuggling trade by removing the incentive for boats to leave their port of origin in the first place; to remove both the profitability of the trade and the danger of the voyage.
I will return to these steps in a moment, but let me turn first to some remarks made in the last few days by a prominent Australian, Julian Burnside QC, an eminent lawyer, much respected in our community. Mr Burnside said: "I challenge Julia Gillard to point out to the public that at the current rate of arrivals it would take about 20 years to fill the MCG with boat people."
He went on to refer to certain Australians as: "Rednecks in marginal seats".
On the first point Mr Burnside is very, very right and I’m happy to oblige. He is right because in the context of our migration program, the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat to Australia is very, very minor. It is less than 1.5 per cent of permanent migrants each year; and indeed it would take about 20 years to fill the MCG with asylum seekers at present rates of arrival. This is a point well made.
On the second point he is very, very wrong. It is wrong to label people who have concerns about unauthorised arrivals as "rednecks"…