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A modest solution to Morrison's asylum seeker woes

  • 26 April 2013

Scott Morrison, the Shadow Minister for Immigration, missed a golden opportunity during the recent controversy about what he called 'behaviour protocols'.

Morrison's idea was that neighbourhoods should be told if any asylum seekers were about to live in their vicinity so that residents might be warned of the potential for rapine and social degradation that such incursions might engender. Though this plan worryingly echoed limitations placed on the movements of known pedophiles, Senator Eric Abetz gave assurance that asylum seekers were not being compared to pedophiles — 'necessarily'.

But if Morrison had read Jonathan Swift's 'A Modest Proposal', a whole new front in his asylum seeker campaign would have opened up. The aim of Swift's proposal was to prevent the children of poor people in Ireland 'from being a burden to their parents or country, and [to make them] beneficial to the public', just as Morrison's aim is to prevent asylum seekers from being a burden on and a threat to law abiding residents of our towns and cities.

Swift's solution was, to put it briefly, cook and eat the children, thus solving a number of social and economic problems in the one hit. Morrison would benefit by reading the works of Swift whose account of the travels of that famous asylum seeker, Lemuel Gulliver, would be instructive. But more pointedly, the proposal's fearless confrontation with a festering problem would surely stand as a useful model.

Morrison is an indefatigable stalker of asylum seekers. He turns his wintry gaze on them and, like Yeats' spectral horseman, casts 'a cold eye on life, on death'. But he doesn't 'pass by'. He sticks around.

When the boat wreck occurred at Christmas Island, killing more than 30 asylum seekers — enough death for any cold eye — Morrison said that the Government's paying for relatives to fly to Sydney for the funerals demonstrated its failure to 'understand the value of the taxpayer's money'. Relatives of the dead could 'have paid for themselves to get on a plane'. He later apologised — not for the sentiment, only for its timing.

If only Morrison had been aware of Swift's 'A Modest Proposal' he could have sharpened his 'Behaviour Protocols' with a modest proposal of his own that would have thoroughly deflated critics and enthused supporters. All he needed to do was take notice of the curious machinations of the Premier of New South Wales, Barry O'Farrell.

To the delight of the Shooters