The Australian’s editorial “All compassion, no solutions” (5/3) and Chris Kenny’s follow-up piece “Racism rant won’t wash with the public” (9/3) both attempt to apologise for Scott Morrison’s recent grubby dog-whistling, with misleading claims that “issues of identity, security and refugee status remain” for asylum seekers released into the community. In fact, normal identity, health and security checks are always done before moving people into community detention; any found to be a security risk are not released.
Morrison’s latest blunder has little to do with community policing, and even less with immigration, “border protection” or deaths at sea. “Behavioural protocols” and “tracking” for asylum-seekers, among other “commonsense” proposals conveniently omitted from Kenny’s list, trample democratic principles – including equality before the law, which applies regardless of residency status.
Kenny denies any racial element in Morrison’s position. But can anyone recall such radical suggestions during the influx of white refugees from the Balkan wars?
Kenny may regard these concerns as “moral posturing”, but even Morrison’s colleagues share them, and several have already wisely distanced themselves from his remarks. Kenny should do the same.
The Australian’s news report that our “border protection regime was dealt another blow” (“High Court blow as judges sideline ASIO on asylum”, 6/10) is sensational and inaccurate. The ruling merely allows security assessments to be reviewed, avoiding repeats of the Haneef case, and puts the government back in charge of ASIO, as it should be. The decision does not entail the release of anyone with a negative assessment, and has no impact on “border protection”. It is, however, a victory for transparency and human rights.
It should be clear by now that the offshore “processing” regime has failed to stop a single boat and thus amounts to nothing more than pointless additional cruelty, that “pull factors” were always a parochial fantasy, and that an international effort to empty the camps is the only real way to help refugees. To those who so vociferously insisted upon it: as someone once said, “there are days when you just have to…man up, say you got it wrong”.
Of all the uninformed drivel published in The Australian on refugees in recent days, the prize must go to Leif Nielsen (Talking Point, July 2): “There are two groups in Afghanistan, you either support the government or the Taliban…so we can assume that many of these boatpeople are Taliban supporters”. No we can’t. The majority of people, including Afghans, are not involved in political battles and wish only to live their lives in safety. Cartoonish pronouncements from bush sociologists only exacerbate the difficulties of those who do not enjoy this basic right.
How is it possible to claim that “the government rejected bipartisan support” on refugee policy (The Australian, Editorial , 28/6) in the face of the obvious fact that despite profound compromises from others, the Opposition refused to budge on the policy they have clung to since Howard?
To The Australian’s several correspondents who so wittily demand that opponents of mandatory detention now accept asylum seekers into their homes (Last Post, 4/5): your sarcasm backfires, as the altruism you can’t even imagine is already gladly being offered by those who can.
A few old fishing boats full of refugees do not justify the term “border security”, which properly refers to military defence, or at a stretch, customs and excise. Please spare us the melodrama.
I was a rare joy to read Dennis Glover’s “ALP must atone for asylum-seeker sins” (The Australian, 12/9), which exposed the dark free-market fantasy driving the ruthless refugee policies of the major parties: that “working Australians are an agglomeration of reaction, hard-heartedness and greed”.
Opponents of this view may be in the minority for now, but that doesn’t mean we are “elitist” or “taking the moral high ground”, as our critics would have it. Nor is that even relevant. Throughout history, whether war, slavery or universal suffrage was at stake, the Right has mocked idealism and argued from pragmatic, narcissistic concepts like “common sense” and “the real world”, failing to make the crucial distinction between what is, and what ought to be. This is what enables human progress, a notion the Right rejects and uses as an epithet.
Glover reminds us that we must remain committed to doing the right thing as a nation, leaving the moral low ground to those who claim it so enthusiastically.
The Australian’s editorial (“Boats crisis is a challenge for both sides of politics”, 12/9) advises the PM to “ignore the howls from the Greens and the Left of her own party” in order to show that “she understands the centre is the sacred ground of politics”. If the forced deportation of refugees to third-world prisons is now regarded as a centrist policy, what, pray tell, would be a right-wing one?
For an ex-lawyer, The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen has an astonishingly poor understanding of judicial process if she really believes the High Court is “imposing their own preferred reading…contrary to clear words of the section” (“High Court gets on its high horse, flexing its interventionist muscle”, 7/9). The words were not clear; in fact they were not even there: the Court was asked to decide if the Malaysia “solution” breached the Migration Act precisely because that scenario is not mentioned in the Act. Laws can’t mention everything, that’s why we have judges.
Although Albrechtsen blithely approves Eisenhower’s Machiavellian advice that “in appointing judges, one needed to pay more attention to ideology”, it is simply lazy to reject their findings as “activism” because it doesn’t match her own ideology. She must show why it is bad law, and in this she has failed.