Saturday, November 07, 2009

Kevin Rudd plays politics with asylum seekers lives

Kevin Rudd's recent stance on refusing entry to Australia for asylum seekers from Sri Lanka is a disgusting political debacle. He is looking at the polls and positioning his actions to try and neutralize the Oppositions attacks on him and appeal to people on Australia who regard incoming asylum seekers as a bad thing.

The treatment of asylum seekers is a weak spot of Labor. Adopting a "small target me too approach" on this issue was one of the factors that cost Kim Beazley and Labor the 2004 Federal Election.

So Kevin Rudd is trying to tread a line where he is:

"Tough on people smugglers" , "Tough on border protection" and "Sending a message to asylum seekers that Australia is not an easy place to get into".

Sounds a lot like John Howard doesn't it? Rudd has now adopted Howard's position and tactics on this issue in attempt to neutralise the issue politically.

However, this has not stopped the opposition criticising him for "being too weak", "encouraging illegal immigrants" and even "allowing terrorists into Australia" (this last from Wilson Tuckey).

The glee in the oppositions approach is tangible - they know they get some political traction and support on their outrageous statements. They too are poll driven, and some of them are clearly racist and guilty of spreading misinformation on this matter.

The problems with the Government's approach on this are:
  • Human rights are being breached - people and children in distress are being interned
  • Forcing them to stay in Indonesia potentially puts them in a worse situation than being interned in Australia
  • UN conventions on treatment of refugees that Australia is a signatory are being contravened
  • The "get tough" approach is really not deterring desperate people fleeing civil wars and persecution
  • The issue is wasting a lot of government time which would be better directed towards some of the real crises we face such as ensuring a safe climate future
  • Border protection is not the issue - we are not being invaded or at war with these people. The impact of climate change in the near future could see a huge increase of "climate refugees" from swamped Pacific islands.

Kevin Rudd and Labor should do the right thing and just accept and process asylum seekers. People smugglers should be deterred by jail terms. Playing politics with people lives and trampling over human rights is just not acceptable.

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