Saturday, 10 April 2010
So now amongst much chest-beating and agro posturing, the Rudd government has suspended processing of boat arrivals from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
The reason given is that these countries are now "safe".
This has to be the most blatant example of political opportunism witnessed in this country since the Tampa saga, and follows the grubby precedent set by the Howard government of employing the dog-whistle apparently hanging around the neck of Australian political leaders.
Any new Australian dictionary will need to have an alternative meaning for asylum seeker. Look under "political football" for clarification.
I have never doubted for a minute this national neurosis that lies just below the surface in this country. It runs in a rich vein through our history, from the anti-Chinese riots in the 1850s through the years of the White Australia Policy and most recently, the Cronulla riots. I had naively believed that this phenomenon had moved offshore with the unlamented Pauline Hanson.
No doubt it's good politics, although atrocious policy. The ethics of this behaviour obviously don't compute. It must be difficult for those caught on Christmas Island or in transit to understand how they're different from those already processed, especially those who arrived here during Howard's time.
What is even more cynical is the coalition describing it as the application of a wet lettuce. I guess they've run out of Macho metaphors.
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