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In defence of people smugglers

Could K-Rudd have been talking about Neo-Nazis? Al-Qaeda members? Suicide bombers? Hutu rebels? The Janjaweed malitia? The Nobel Peace Prize jury?

Nope, he thinks 'people smugglers' are the 'vilest form of people on the planet'. Prime Minister Rudd would have us believe these are opportunistic criminals taking advantage of the vulnerable and desperate to make a quick buck. This is a more considered view than that of the Howard Government which classed them as facilitators of evil queue jumping by people prepared to throw their children overboard to gain entry into the lucky country.

What a life it must be for these scum — living on the southern coast of one of the most remote parts of Indonesia's archipelago trying to attract uber rich Sri Lankan or Afghani refugees to board your 30 foot luxury motor yacht for an afternoon cruise across the Timor Sea.

You don't get rich by people smuggling. Refugees typically have little or no money and when they do it's in currencies that are worthless or hard to exchange. Even if they had managed to escape their countries of origin with any money, it's hardly an inexpensive stroll from the Tora Bora Mountains to Cikelet.

There is almost no chance of reaching the mainland or Christmas Island without being intercepted and even if you did, what then? Just unload your cargo at the immigration-processing centre, give a wave and head off to grab another load?

The journey is perilous and uncomfortable, and that's without considering the massive penalties heaped upon the crews of the ships that do survive long enough to be intercepted by the Australian Tourism Commission's welcoming party.

Why have all our recent immigration policies been about deterring people smugglers? Sharman Stone, the Opposition's immigration spokeswoman, says people smugglers would have taken note of last month's Lower House vote on a bill that abolishes detention debts for asylum seekers. Just picture the people smugglers calling their marketing directors to work out the best way to sell the 'new deal' to prospective clients. Gee, free detention behind razor wire — imagine how many more refugees are going to be rushing to the people smugglers now.

The fact that any refugee is prepared to part with the last of their life savings for a ride in a leaky boat across some of the most turbulent waters in Asia suggests there is something wrong with the official immigration processes that should be their first port of call. What would Kevin Rudd have these people do, if they weren't to seek out a people smuggler? Why would people be risking their lives if there was an easier, fairer way?

The reason why the official queue is long enough to drive people to these desperate measures lies in Australia's stubbornly minuscule refugee quotas. Leaving aside the moral obligation that rich nations should feel to those in need of assistance, what do we really have to fear from asylum seekers? They might ruin 'Australian culture', by failing to integrate. After all, they are damaged people who have completely different values to us.

Who are we kidding? Does Australia even have a culture? What is it? We value a 'fair go'. We like a pie and beer at the footy. We enjoy a Sunday afternoon BBQ with lamb chops and lately a few 'shrimps'. Imagine what a flood of darkies would do to these venerable Australia institutions!

Even if we had a culture worth protecting, asylum seekers pose no threat to the things we've come to love. In our patent self-interest we sentence people to drown in a leaky boat or to death by stoning rather than accommodate them in Australia.

We were a country started by petty criminals. The first Australian police force was made up of the 12 most well behaved convicts. This country represented a haven for those too poor or too desperate to survive the draconian Victorian era or the 'let them eat cake' attitude. We are a country founded on the principle of providing a fresh hope to those shunned in their homeland. How can we now turn away those desperately in need of help?

If we are content to let the queue grow longer while we enjoy our pies and footy, we shouldn't be surprised when refugees turn to the only ones left that can help. Even if their motives aren't purely humanitarian, these 'vile people' have still done more to help refugees than any Australian citizen or government.

But still, how dare these impoverished, yet slightly entrepreneurial fishermen let their social consciousness blind them from considering the interests of white Australians first and foremost?

Refugee hysteria breeding Pacific Solution 2.0

Chris Bisset is a student in biomedicine at the University of Melbourne. 

Topic tags: chris bisset, people smugglers, vile, kevin rudd, christmas island, tpvs, sharmon stone, detention debt



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Existing comments

Bloody well said! Love thy neighbour, Kevvy, love thy neighbour. Whatsoever you shall do etc.

Jeremy Wilson | 16 October 2009  

Thank you for your article, Chris. It is in this time of great need that we must do all in our power to let Kevin Rudd know that many Australians (dare I say, the majority of Australians) are more than willing to share their ‘lucky’ country. When Mr Rudd was first elected he was full of promise regarding social reforms. Now, it seems, he is allowing politics and the views of influential business people to lead him astray from the moral and just path he planned on walking.
What does it mean to take a ‘hard line’ anyway? Locking up the vulnerable and desperate in detention centres for far too many years, treating them as criminals before one research is conducted into their past? Even criminals are only convicted after they have been found guilty.

People who give up everything to seek a new life in a strange country often become the backbone of that country – so determined are they to make it work that they tend to put in twice as much effort as those who don’t know any different. We have enough country to share and, with the new climate change industry emerging, new job prospects. Perhaps some of the money being spent on the military can be diverted to this cause? The number of refugees is increasing all over the world, not just due to persecution but also due to rising sea levels.

Let us inundate our Prime Minister with letters letting him know that we will continue supporting him in his support for the most vulnerable.

Emmy Silvius | 16 October 2009  

About time someone put this matter in a true light, well done, Chris. I suppose if Dietrich Bonhoeffer could have been spirited away from the clutches of the Fuhrer, Kevin Rudd would have approved of this, or would he(?), given that this might have been done by a people smuggler.

David Wall | 16 October 2009  

I would like to distance myself from parts of this article. - Obviously the piece features a large amount of sarcasm and should be read in that light and not taken out of context because that would misrepresent my views. The language choice, in parts is not ideal. - My comments on people smugglers more appropriately apply to those actually operating the boats, rather than those members of the criminal syndicates who profit from cost cutting that puts people in danger. Obviously some people smugglers are putting people's lives in danger in a callous attempt to profit and they ought be condemned. - My references to Australia's culture ought to be interpreted as saying that our culture is not so homogenous as to be vulnerable to an increasing degree of multiculturalism. - There are, in fact many Australian citizens that have done more to help asylum seekers than people smugglers. - My contemporary views are better represented by this article: https://www.facebook.com/notes/chris-bisset/why-not-take-the-plane/10150491203053817

Chris Bisset | 31 July 2012  

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