Wow hasn’t Rudd changed his stated views since he attacked John Howard’s approach to successfully dealing with illegal entry to Australia. What a total disaster Labor’s policies have been. Even given Rudd’s well-known electoral awareness (the full page ads in today’s newspapers warning that illegal arrivals will not gain Australian residency are directed entirely at local voters) is such a breath-taking change of heart that one wonders how stable it will be, how long it will last. Will Kevvie change his mind again when the inevitable “humanitarian” outcry against his policy surfaces? When legal challenges force a “reconsideration” of the policy? The press report I read states that queue-jumpers who arrive in Australian waters by boat will never be permitted to settle in Australia. I assume the never here means literally never – that achieving the status of Papuan citizen will not give them another bite at the cherry – the route South Sea islanders take when gaining entry to Australia by first becoming New Zealand citizens.
The necessity for this obviously draconian policy (it disadvantages the small proportion of genuine refugees in the mix of current illegal arrivals) stems from past “humanitarian outcries” which led to the the failure of Labor to address the illegal entrant issue. it reflects the need for an emphatic signal that those who are mainly economic migrants but who arrive here without a visa are unwelcome. In short, that Australia does take seriously the decision as to who its citizens shall be. Obviously a reasonable stance for any independent nation state. It will take some time for the policy to influence the expectations of those seeking to achieve entry by illegal means and the past flip-flopping will make gaining credibility difficult. But Tony Abbott seems to welcome the policy so finally this past Labor policy disaster may be put to rest..
The statistics on the level of displaced people around the world are staggering. Australian needs firm border-protection policies. If you disagree because it seems tough then the specific onus is on you to specify what should Australia should do. Admit all of the 4 million displaced people being created each year? Give priority to those who have visas (my choice)? Put those who arrive by boat at the front of the queue? Wring your hands, grind your teeth and say its all too sad – that is often helpful!
Increasing the refugee and humanitarian intake to 27,000 discourages attempts at illegal entry by fostering increased belief in the possibility of gaining legal entry. But it is generating a larger cohort of immigrants (it is about half the current US intake for a population 12X that of Australia) who might not suit Australian interests. It would have been better to keep the intake at around 12,000 and to maintain the tough “never be permitted” settlement policy. It is now widely accepted that we should also withdraw from, or require modification to, the UN Refugee Convention – if legal challenges are raised on the basis of this Convention then we should withdraw from it. Also the advice of our military should be followed – to turn the boats back where this can be safely done.
The Australian parliament should determine who becomes an Australian citizen. Not an ineffective UN Convention and not those who “humanitarians” who seek to promote Australian society as a type of “open borders” social experiment. The death toll they have already caused at sea through their stupidity has been atrocity attributable to them even if it was unintended. The Rudd policy is tough but only unnecessary in the sense that with better past Labor policies it could have been avoided. Immigration policies cannot run too far ahead of the Australian electorate’s views. If this is attempted the whole basis for any active immigration policy will be destroyed.