The major election concern at the last Federal election, after the economy, was the asylum seeker issue. It was the main reason Labor lost the election. The nonsensical view, propounded by social romantics who treat Australia as common property owned by the international community, was that relaxing the constraints on illegal entry that John Howard had imposed would not lead to huge levels of entry. This has been thoroughly and irrefutably discredited as could have been guessed – decrease the cost of illegal entry and, guess what, it will increase. What started off as an irritation under the strict policies of the Howard government had become a major crisis because of the policy-ineptitude of Labor.
As Bob Carr pointed out almost all of the so-called “asylum seekers” are economic migrants seeking a better life in Australia. If you talk to specific groups – such as the Iranians in Australia – the estimate is that close to 100% of the so-called “asylum seekers” are economic migrants. They don’t want to move to Indonesia or Malaysia because it does not meet their living standard requirements. They are not refugees seeking asylum but economic migrants who want to get to the head of the migration queue. There are established policies for assessing the case for economic migrants wanting to enter Australia – we do not want them all because there are potentially tens of millions of people in this category.
We have immigration restrictions for a host of good economic, social and political reasons. Free movement of Labor around the worlds ended 100 years ago. Those who argue it should be reintroduced – the muddle-headed ninnies who say we should accept every migrant legal or not provided they describe themselves as a “refugee” – would gain close to zero community support. Australia has a generous immigration program and most of the population increase in our country since WW2 has been based on immigration. Illegal entry threatens that program because it undermines the selective principles of the program. We are perfectly entitled as a sovereign nation to determine who comprise our population and to select those who match our national self-interest.
I am not generally a fan of Tony Abbott but the Abbott policy of restricting illegal immigration has so far been an outstanding success. No boats have made it through the Border Protection Command cordon to Australian waters in the past 5 weeks which is the longest period without boat arrivals since March 2009. The number of asylum-seekers detained on Christmas Island is now below that of 2000.
Labor has been relatively quiet on the Coalition policy partly because they recognise the ineptitude of their own policy approach. The critics of Coalition policy (and the fear-mongers who believe we should never offend Indonesia) might think about displaying sillier restraint. Indonesia too if it wants continued Australian foreign aid should recognise the serious intent behind the Abbott policy. Instead of sending naval vessels to inspect its border use the same vessels to stop the illegal migrants from leaving Indonesia to come to Australia. As none of them want to reside in Indonesia that will permanently end migration policy problems for both Indonesia and Australia. Indonesia should stop being a transhipment point for illegal migrants seeking to settle in Australia. Indonesia is acting irrationally in the current situation – the Coalition is not.