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A phone call? Are you serious?


Episode two of ‘Go Back To Where You Came From’ aired last night on SBS. It was always going to be a much anticipated episode as it focused on Malaysia and by so doing the current governments asylum seeker swap plan.

There are 80,000 refugees in Malaysia. That is an 8 and, as Alan Jones likes to say, zero, zero, zero, zero. Many of us may be aware of this now as facts of the size of the asylum seeker problem finally makes its way to the media. The other easily accessible fact is Malaysia has a population of 27.5 million.

So while Australia, a nation of 22 million, are agitated into a state of chaos about 9,000 asylum seekers, Malaysia, a country a little larger then ours population wise, is dealing with a huge huge problem.

Ironically, the temporary protection visas option of the coalition, which basically denies the refugees certain human rights, appears to be based on the Malaysian model.

This has made the long wait for relocation a tough one in Malaysia and one where refugees feel unprotected and in danger. This in turn drives them to consider the journey to Australia, where under Howard, we relocated them to Nauru. But unlike the limbo world in Malaysia and No-Where in Kenya, Nauru detainees had no access to a way off the island. They had, for all intents and purposes, vanished into a bottomless well.

These people who are pushed out of their country and then pushed out of humanity should not be the ones we punish.

At the same time, I am uncomfortable, as aiding those that come here fleeing will only make the people smuggling option attractive.

The government then offers this. That we reach out to Malaysia and rescue 4000 people who should not be treated as illegal and bring them here. A sign to those 80,000 that we want to help relocate you. You do not need to make the trip. But we also have to let refugees know that the trip by boat will not get them to Australia.

This can work. But it will require us to make more then a gesture of 4000. We have to give hope. And Malaysia too must step forward. They are refugees. Not illegals. Allow them their dignity. Do not drive them into the arms of people smugglers.

We should also be increasing funding to the UN to help them better the lot of those still waiting.

However, the government can not finish there. The other thing it must address is mandatory detention of people who have been found to be genuine refugees. Surely it is time to welcome them back to humanity. Locate them in the communities where we must warmly welcome them and let them know:

Be at peace. You are safe here.

I am still infuriated by the spite and anger in this debate. The reason I joined twitter and started blogging was I was so fucking disgusted with the way the opposition had turned this complex decades long problem into a three word slogan. I am still disgusted when they goad the government that it is taking them 8 weeks to fix the ‘problem’ as if we are not talking about men, women, and children and instead talking about profit and loss sheets.

And still, Abbott and Morrison play their game of filth. Pick up the phone they say. Call the president of Nauru they say.

A phone call? Are you serious?

A. Ghebranious   2011   (All Rights Reserved)

  1. Jennifer Baratta permalink

    They are serious. call other reps too

  2. Mr. Morrison had no answer to the question on Lateline this week, to whether he was informed or not before taking the stance he has on Malaysia.

    He was asked why he would have such a strong opinion on Malaysia if he was not informed. He seemed to say no matter what he found in Malaysia he was not open to changing his mind.

    He said that the trip was privately funded and mumbled something about the PM. Not too sure that he was complaining that funding for the trip had been rejected.

  3. JDM permalink

    So Malaysia might work; stop the boats and increase our refugee intake. Gotta be pissing Morrison and Abbott right off. Sadly this government is so inept at selling any policy, that even if it is a success the ALP will find a way to make is seem like a giant fuck up.

  4. Bianca permalink

    It is offensive that Abbott tries to sell a phone call and a 3 word slogan as a solution. It is offensive that he pretends to be able to solve these issues so ridiculously. It is offensive that he then tries to sell himself as compassionate to refugees! It is a lie! He knows it would not solve anything – he is being dishonest with the Australian people and his stunts in regard to this issue are a sign of his disgusting lack of moral compass and his disregard for the people in this situation.

    I am not advocating Labors Malaysian solution, I don’t know what the details are yet. I don’t know if it has a chance of being humane and not harmful or hurtful to refugees and yet be effective against people smugglers. I don’t know if it will work. But I will wait for the details from the government and judge then. I hope that it will, I hope with all my heart it will be the answer because Nauru isn’t – it is a proven failure. I don’t want australia to go back to that horrific period of time under the Howard Government and temporary visas.

    In the mean time Abbott should take stock of himself, properly research these issues and come back to the Australian people with sensible, informed ideas (NOT cheap political slogans or pathetic stunts) and until he has done so he should shut the hell up!

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