I have decided that it is morally unacceptable to vote for either of the major political parties in this election because of their basically identical policies on asylum seekers arriving by boat. Because, under our voting system, it is impossible to cast a valid vote without at some stage preferencing one of the major parties over the other, I therefore will not vote at all, nor will I pay the fine which will result from this protest.
Over 90 per cent of those who set sail in unsafe boats for our shores have been determined by Australian authorities to be genuine refugees.
This means that they do have a well-founded fear of being persecuted, tortured or killed in their home countries. Some actually have been abused or tortured and many are quite severely traumatised when they arrive here.
It is completely morally and ethically indefensible for a country as wealthy as Australia to decide, as a matter of policy, to treat such people so badly that other equally desperate people who hear of our treatment of them decide not to try to come here, but rather to stay in under-resourced refugee camps where they will have for many years, in some cases for generations, no employment or opportunity for education for their children.
To aim for the result that those who do arrive here decide that they would be better off going back to the country that they originally fled from, is worse.
To say that this is being done in the interests of those we are abusing, as it will prevent them from drowning at sea, is sickeningly hypocritical.
If prevention of drownings was really what this is about, there is an easy and obvious way of totally preventing this: fly them here and process them when they get here. This would also be cheaper than what we now do.
What has happened in Australia to our leaders and aspiring leaders that they can take helpless wretched people, portray them to us as a threat, compete on how badly they can treat them, and ask us to vote for them on the basis of these vicious policies?
And what has happened to the Australian people that this reprehensible vote mongering works well enough for the politicians to persist?
The end result is that I and others I have discussed this with are now ashamed to be Australian. I hope that my stand will in some small measure help to change this.
Jonathan Chance, Lismore