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Politics

Oct 3, 2008

Faris: Boat people put Rudd to the test

This is Australia’s version of the US Green card lottery, writes Peter Faris.

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It seems likely that Rudd’s boat refugee policy will be tested by the 14 people now on Christmas Island. None of this will be a surprise to the Government. What will be interesting is how well the matter is handled.

Labor’s policies are clear and they should be implemented swiftly and decisively. The refugees must spend as little time in detention as possible, be given permanent visas and then flown to Australia to be resettled at the taxpayer’s expense. The Government cannot afford to refuse visas and then have any of them remain in custody while it drags through the courts for four or five years.

Reports suggest that some of this group are from Iraq and Iran. This means that Indonesian people smuggling has recommenced. If earlier smuggling is a guide, these refugees will have destroyed their papers in Indonesia where they would have been provided training in how to answer the questions of Australian officials.

Given Rudd’s policies, this test should be a success for the Indonesian smuggling entrepreneurs. We can expect more boats and more refugees. This is Australia’s version of the US Green card lottery. Boats will not even have to reach Australian territory. Once they are in distress, Customs or the Navy must rescue them and they will automatically be given a permanent visa.

Europe is experiencing flood of boat immigration from Africa and the Middle-East. Australia is even easier because the boat trip is shorter and therefore safer. Time will tell how many refugees can arrive before the public has had enough.

No doubt the Government will attempt to shut down smuggling at the Indonesian end but this will be difficult given our bad relations with that corrupt and dysfunctional country.

The people smugglers will win this test and the Left will be overjoyed. They will rightly see this as a major victory over the hated John Howard. For my part, I reject these queue jumpers.

Australia should send a message to the smugglers by refusing any visas. There are refugee camps all over the world where desperate people wait patiently to go to Australia or anywhere.

I would much rather double the number of the legal refugees than let one of these commercially smuggled people in. These people are not refugees — they are people from the Middle-East who are sufficiently wealthy to fly to Indonesia and then pay the people smugglers. They should be sent back. 

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