Much has been written, both in your paper and others, about Manus Island detention, the unfortunate death of Mr Reza Berati and ‘offshore processing’ in general. I am sure that those who are looking for a more humane approach consider themselves enlightened but I would put the case that they are in fact confusing emotion with reason and that they lack a worldview, or if they do possess a worldview then they see Australia in completely different terms than I and, thankfully, the vast majority of Australians do.
The ‘boat people’ for want of a better description are simply the rough end of the immigration trade but if you can’t stop illegal immigration (and anyone without a visa is illegal) and the boat people represent only a fraction of that, then what hope have you of running any kind of rational immigration program?
There is no question that one of the main platforms that the Abbott government took into the last election was a commitment to stop the boats. It would appear they have accomplished that but, as you would expect, it is an ongoing battle. Deep down in his psyche your average Aussie is well aware that his living standard and lifestyle can be put down to a very simple mathematical formula: Australian resources in the broad perspective divided by the population. The ratio is not as good as it was in the 60s but it is still pretty good.
Australia and New Zealand are the only advanced world economies that have any hope of stemming the tide of illegal immigration. All right, there are a few island states such as Singapore but most other countries of any size have common borders and, basically, can do little to stop the flow. You only have to read the international press to understand the scope of this problem.
Los Angeles, for instance, has a greater number of illegal Mexican nationals than any other city on Earth outside of Mexico City itself has Mexicans. Illegal immigration is the foundation for America’s extraordinarily low basic pay rates and is a big issue in American politics.
In our case, UNHCR declarations about who is a genuine refugee as opposed to an economic refugee are laughable because that body is under immense political pressure to find homes for the vast sea of dispossessed rotting in camps around the globe. Is it really being suggested that we can do anything about this? Or that we should offer more than the token lottery we do at present?
Australia, as one of the few countries that can maintain a secure border, should do so. Your average Aussie is demanding it and doesn’t give a stuff about world opinion, which is hypocritical anyway. Abbott cannot be too tough as far as the bulk of the Australian electorate is concerned and I predict that he will rise in the polls in direct proportion to the attacks on him on this issue.
Lester Brien, Byron Bay