Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

The Boat People, An Issue Since the 70s.

This is good to see:

Australia's High Court has stopped the authorities from deporting a boat-load of asylum seekers to Malaysia.

Lawyers for the group of refugees argued that their transfer to Malaysia would be illegal.

Judges ruled there was a "sufficiently serious question", and ordered a halt to such transfers until a full hearing can be held later this month.

The ruling could jeopardise Australia's deal to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia over the next four years.

Under the deal, which was signed last month, Australia would take 4,000 refugees who have already been processed in Malaysia.

But critics say refugees are often mistreated in Malaysia, which has not signed the UN Refugee Convention.

The unfortunate aspect of this whole issue is how ridiculously blown out of proportion it is. The amount of refugees arriving by boat are a tiny, insignificant number in relation to the country's population (feel free to look at the numbers yourself) and the issue simply doesn't deserve the hysteria that has been blown into it since the late seventies. Personally, I've always taken a cynical approach to how the Government have handled the issue, in that I feel it is often used to obscure more interesting and valid debates within the country. The Child Overboard story fabricated by the Howard government at the time of re-election is just one example of it--and when questions of the economy, the environment, and the unstable nature of the Labor Party itself all very public, a cynical person might look at how the government is mishandling this issue and wonder.

Sadly, I doubt you could argue that they are mishandling it on purpose, but rather that they believe swapping people like this is a valid way to solve the situation. It's a little like watching the War on Drugs, really, in which people run around saying that you have to stop drugs, keep them away, make them illegal to make them safe, rather than to legalise them, educate people, and treat it in the way drugs like alcohol and tobacco are already treated. The debate on illegal migrants is stuck, caught between political opportunism, and a stubborn frame of thought that will not allow the obvious, easy solution to be put into place. Punishing people, making an action illegal, is neither efficient, nor successful in the majority of situations, and the way to deal with the Boat People issue, which is an issue of perception within Australia, and the political fallout of it, rather than any credible threat to Australian borders, is simply to put refugees into the community and process their applications quickly. Give them jobs to work, a place to live and process their claims. There's no need for five year stays in prisons, no need to high jack islands that Australia don't own, no need to separate families, no need to deprive people of a basic life. Just work quickly and efficiently and process it accordingly.

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