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Federal Government

LABOR’S PAIN: Party hearts break over Rudd’s Indonesian solution

asylumseekers2 There’s no issue that separates Labor’s inner-city leadership from its outer-suburban base more than how the country deals with immigration generally and asylum seekers in particular.

Labor branch members, staffers, union officials and MPs overwhelmingly feel compassion for asylum seekers. Many have compassion for them in their political DNA, they’re hard-wired to back the underdog, the person in a tough situation. For all their sins, you can’t really fault them for it either.

So their hearts go out to people so desperate, or unwise or whatever to people willing to risk everything to come here to find refuge from the troubles that motivated to abandon their homes and travel a very dangerous route.

The Labor thought-leaders see what the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is doing by encouraging the Indonesian government to accommodate asylum seekers intent on coming to Australia and they don’t like it one bit.

It’s a sentiment that runs very deep in Labor’s ranks. Modern Labor is happy to be tough on crime, tough on rogue unions and tough on everyone from dole bludgers to deadbeat parents. They’ve come a  long way from the social worker policies that infected Labor from the 1970s and on.

But immigration is different.

ONE STANDARD FOR LITTLE JOHNNY
Labor’s thought-leaders were happy to sledge the previous government on Workchoices but they reserved a special moral fury for Howard’s “Pacific Solution”, a policy that did much to deter people smuggling into Australia. And a policy that enjoyed considerable popular support outside of inner-city Melbourne and Sydney. It was also a policy that made Australia look particularly brutish and cruel.

There’s not much latte sipping that goes on here but much of that policy made us deeply uncomfortable. The fact that very many of those who were detained in circumstances clearly calculated to deters others from entering Australia by sea turned out to be entirely legitimate asylum seekers who were ultimately accepted by Australian authorities just adds to the sense many have that the Pacific policy wasn’t right.

But the politics is compelling. Try discussing it with Labor voters, even Labor branch members outside the Latte Curtain in any part of this country. They have little time for queue jumpers and regard the relatively small number of people willing to come to Australia by sea as a very big risk to the country, either in national security or cultural terms or both.

We haven’t seen polling on it for a while but those familiar with it tell VEXNEWS that one of the most strongest resonating things former Prime Minister John Howard ever said was:

“We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.”

ANOTHER FOR K-RUDD
In a democracy our leaders must listen. And act on the public mood. Even if they don’t like it a whole lot. We suspect Rudd and Mrs Rein and the happy young latte sippers of the PMO are actually quite disturbed about the whole business.

The Left/Greens – despite their utter humbug on the issue of immigration – are about to come after Rudd with a baseball bat. The Labor elites won’t be far behind. Some like Julia Irwin – a federal MP with sympathy for Islamist terrorists – are already going the hack.

So you can’t really blame Kevin Rudd for doing everything he can to reflect the prevailing mood and to have – as he said – a “hardline approach” on “illegal immigration” whether it’s illegal or not (there’s nothing illegal about genuinely seeking asylum).

Rudd’s not doing what his Labor elites want him to do, he’s doing what he thinks is in the national interest.

Fair enough, the law should be enforced. And our borders should be patrolled and kept secure. We have a view that we should welcome anyone willing to fully comply with Australian laws and values. We reject the Greens political party’s anti-immigration, small Australia policies.

THINLY VEILED PREJUDICE
The idea – put about by some in our past  and even now – that some nationalities or backgrounds or religions are inherently incapable of doing that is an obscenity that we ought to confront at every turn.

Reading the chilling reports this week on the young wannabe Islamist terrorists who had not been born here, who delighted at the agony of Melbourne’s bushfires, hated this country and planned to attack us from within should be enough to convince even the most hardened lefty that we need to ensure our internal security agencies are equipped with all necessary resources and powers to keep us safe. It does make you wonder also how these loons justified coming to Australia in the first place.

But to assume terrorism is an Islamic phenomenon is pure ignorance. They’ll always be some crazy wanting to blow something up and kill the rest of us. We need to be very vigilant indeed about it. But we cannot

And having a relationship with Indonesia sufficiently close that they will assist us in discouraging people from taking the life-endangering and risky course of coming here by sea is a good thing. And the messiness of the arrangements will probably send a clear message to those planning to follow: the risks are very high. And even if you succeed in travelling thousands of kilometres across treacherous seas you could end up in very grim circumstances.

But people will come anyway.

And the fact they will come anyway – in the face of massive risk of many different kinds – tells us something doesn’t it?

These are desperate people.

Many Australians, comfortable in the assertion that this shouldn’t be our problem just because queue jumpers picked Australia as a soft touch, need to consider that.

AUSTRALIA FOR THE WHITE RIGHT
Some of those keen to be as brutal as possible on asylum seekers, will cite our Judeo-Christian heritage as something worth valuing and protecting.

Fair enough but you don’t need to singing it up at Hillsong to know a very specific instruction Jesus gave those of us who say we are part of His tradition or faith:

‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

A confronting instruction like many of His about loving enemies and other sources of profound occasional confusion.

The message is clear enough. But no less easy to process for that.

LEST WE FORGET
We dare not forget the story of the St Louis. A ship full of Jewish refugees who wisely fled Germany in 1939. They intended to stop in Cuba temporarily before waiting for approval to enter the United States.

After politics and corruption and heartlessness shown by far too many,  the 900+ passengers had to go back to Europe and were fortunately settled elsewhere, most of them avoiding the horrors of the Holocaust.

POLITICIANS STRADDLE THE FENCE ON IMMIGRATION
Among the secular left, like the Greens political party who want to shut Australia’s door as tightly as possible because they reckon our abundant land doesn’t have enough to share.

It’s easy to take cheap shots at Kevin Rudd about how he’s handled this issue. But this isn’t the time for that. It’s easy to second guess him. And easy to score political points in the way the Opposition have been keen to do. That’s their core business.

But politicising the issue doesn’t help the nation’s interest and nor does it help those seeking asylum.

RECONCILING GREAT COMPLEXITY
Labor’s leaders and led need to reach an understanding about how they’ll tackle this perplexing issue that respects those who’ve waited and waited for a bureaucratic answer from the Immigration Department, that honours the community sentiment that our borders should be secure, that keeps in mind that people willing to risk everything to flee a place by sea most probably had very good reason for doing so and that there’s nothing more important than the country feeling good about itself, comfortable in its own skin that it’s doing the right thing.

The joys of sitting on the cheap seats is that we don’t have to offer a solution, just complain that the Pacific and Indonesian solutions aren’t good enough. There’s nothing about those ‘solutions’ that can make any Australian feel good about who we are.

We can propose many different policies on immigration that sit well with our world-view. But none of them are politically viable. An auction on places to come here would be honest and open than the bizarre education-linked immigration rackets that require people to jump through a constantly-moving set of hoops in order to get permanent residency. It’d show the rest of what Australian citizenship is worth and we might be surprised to see how high that number would be. Either way, we’d like to see many more people welcomed to Australia, chosen on merit, not on the faith of the parents or the colour of their skin.

There’s a reason why so many Australian companies relocate offshore. Our domestic market can throw up brilliant ideas, great people but the market here is small. And being an export-focused company in Australia outside of resources and agriculture is a huge challenge that most companies cannot meet.

But whenever you hear a Greens political party pusher talk about this issue, ask them what they really think about immigration. And whether they think Australia can support a significantly enhanced population.

They might have different reasons for arriving at the same conclusion as Pauline Hanson, but that’s exactly where they are.

Discussion

Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Good post on a tough issue. Minor quibble about the St Louis, which only makes your argument stronger – about 250 of the passengers perished during the Holocaust – the actual figures are on your ushmm link.

    Posted by Les Patterson | October 29, 2009, 12:23
  2. Paul Howes – a ‘thought leader’? He’s packin his dacks is all, just like Fi fi in Northcote

    Posted by c u on the tram | October 29, 2009, 12:39
  3. Great article, very well thought out.

    Posted by Spud | October 29, 2009, 13:33
  4. The fact is the current regime of the LaborParty are racist the recent argument about purging ethnics out of the party is one example and there are many more. What a joke Paul Howes is i suppose Cesar Melham couldnt make a comment so they put you up..Have you been promised a Federal Seat Paul?? your a disgrace go and fight for jobs idiot!!

    Posted by Political Stunt by the Paul Howes & his mates | October 29, 2009, 13:39
  5. I don’t get the greens. One minute they’re saying there are too many people living in Australia and that we should reduce our population to limit environmental damage.

    Then the next minute they pouring their hearts our for the illegals and wanting open borders immigration.

    How do they reconcile these two policies?

    Posted by Confused | October 29, 2009, 13:49
  6. Paul Howes “the thought leader” surely he must be bi-polar? The AWU is in free-fall, Victorian branch is a laughable disgrace with the Lebanese “Christian” Melhem leading, membership rapidly declining and dodgy employer deals everywhere . Poor old Bill Ludwig doesn’t have the pull anymore and with Howes flip-flopping right, left, right, far left. Showing his true colours on boat-people, but what do expect from someone who lived in a bin? Hurry up and merge with the AMWU or Bill Shorten please come back and save us…..

    Posted by Laurie Short - Pray For Us | October 29, 2009, 14:32
  7. Why do we worry about the boat people? Of those taken to Christmas Island, 90% are later granted visas and let into Australia.

    So lets say 2,000 boat people turn up each year, 1,800 will be let into Australia legally by the government, 200 will be sent home.

    How many billions are we spending on border security to keep 200 people out of the country?

    Its a farce.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009, 15:30
  8. 2 wongs dont make a white.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009, 15:33
  9. Are these people genuine refugees? Not unless immigration queue jumping by benefit of financial advantage is the new criterion for judging refugee status.

    Our first line of defence should be termites. Get a flight of drones to shower them over all the boats north of Indonesia. Wait six months, and the boats will dissolve well away from our shores, and we’ll drown the bloody lot like unwanted kittens.

    And what happens if they do get here? Well, they’ve shown such skills at scamming they’ll be naturals for the Melbourne taxi fleet.

    Posted by SnakeHead | October 29, 2009, 16:30
  10. Less immigration should be enacted if for nothing else but to give our children a chance of owning a house which at current price spirals due to rising population is impossible to them.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009, 18:42
  11. “Howard’s “Pacific Solution”, a policy that did much to deter people smuggling into Australia.”

    If you look at the figures, it didn’t.

    Posted by Biggie | October 29, 2009, 20:49
  12. This country is at capacity. Natural population growth will be difficult enough to deal with, let alone boatloads who turn up with nothing and expect to be provided with all.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009, 21:02
  13. We can’t let them all in, there won’t be enough tasty treats for my morning tea.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009, 22:20
  14. The asian invasion continues.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009, 22:51
  15. The Age loved that obama received a nobel prize. But these crazed lefty nobel scumbags in 1949 awarded a nobel in medicine to Antonio Moniz “for his discovery of the therapeutic value of lobotomy in certain psychoses”

    Yep, a nobel prize for inventing lobotomy. Now thats fu*ked up.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009, 23:13
  16. The Age loved that obama received a nobel prize. But these crazed lefty nobel scumbags in 1949 awarded a nobel in medicine to Antonio Moniz “for his discovery of the therapeutic value of lobotomy in certain psychoses”

    Yep, a nobel prize for inventing lobotomy. Now thats fooked up.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 29, 2009, 23:13
  17. Go home, we dont want you here. Do you want white christians in Kabul or Tehran? Of course you dont.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 30, 2009, 0:25
  18. Uts nut nice to be rusust to rufugees frum other countries or to make fun uf their uccents. Whut about those bros who floated over to uzzie in the giant chully bun a few months ago. Choice hey bro!

    Posted by Murray from New Zealand | October 30, 2009, 0:41
  19. I dont mind immigration, but the simple fact is we don’t have the water capacity to properly nourish the population, the houses to shelter them adequately, or the food reserves (and lower prices to match), for immigrants to have a good quality fo life, without stretching the already stretched resources between the people that are already here.

    Posted by Dark Horse | October 30, 2009, 8:42
  20. The 15-year-old boy was allegedly punched to the ground and kicked in a frenzied attack at Macleod College about 1.30pm on Monday.

    The gang, believed to be of Somali and Asian descent, allegedly arrived at the school in a van before running through the grounds and setting upon the boy.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 30, 2009, 12:01
  21. Many hundreds arrive illegally via airports in Australia every year..boat people are discriminated against because they are a soft target…Rudd’s policy is not working and Australian island detention will be the only solution to boat refugees….wonder if Europe would take Aussie boat people when we get overrun by the hordes?…NOT

    Posted by Pierre | October 30, 2009, 12:40
  22. Boat people could be allowed in if the agree to be sterilzed.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 30, 2009, 13:41
  23. @Anonymous 12:01. Two girls allegedly imprisoned and pack raped at Phillip Island by 13 young males from Montmorency Football club. The men are believed to be of white anglo-saxon descent and born in Australia.

    Posted by Anonymous | October 30, 2009, 14:00
  24. The same false debates to let off some of our ‘red neck’ impulses.

    For a million dollars you can buy a house and gain Australia citizenship.

    Boat people are the easy target – a Rudd knows that neither India nor China will rock the boat if he bullies some Tamils.

    Meanwhile let’s not talk about the 45,000 student visa applicants on our shores who look set to never get their PR after the skills list was changed and their expensive dodgy cooking course rendered worthless.

    What about 457 visas….how long until they are back to 70,000 a year again.

    Australia will reach 35 million sooner than any of us think….and the boat people will have precious little to do with it..

    Bullying refugees arriving by boat has become a proxy fight about immigration….

    Why dont’ the pollies drop the ‘reffo bashing’ games and have a mature debate about the scale of immigration we need instead?

    Posted by boat people are easy target | November 2, 2009, 8:15
  25. stop the policy of allowing overseas students to get both an education and citizenship.
    Save the spots for genuine asylum seekers–NOT overseas students.
    We have a mounting population; and Chinese that can now buy property even if they are not living here (simply for investment purposes–meanwhile, we cannot do the same in China etc etc).
    This government is sleep walking into a population problem and housing crisis…and instead of giving genuine refugees a chance, it is turning them back and allowing too many overseas students to “buy” citizenship and an education.
    wrong, wrong wrong!

    Posted by geena | November 3, 2009, 18:48
  26. I agree with the posting by “boat people are easy targets”.
    If one really thinks about why that section of Australia is so opposed to refugee intake, it is because they are probably fed up with the mass migration intake from the overseas student pool.
    Give those who have a genuine need for a home here for protection a go, and let those who are well off enough to study here, go back to their well off lives in their respective countries after their studies.
    Australia cannot support the world! Priorities need to be made. Refugees are deserving.

    Posted by Stop overseas students using that status for PR --let in refugees | November 3, 2009, 20:47

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