Crikey readers have their say on refugees in Papua New Guinea and the importance of native languages.
When good people do nothing …
Les Heimann writes: Re. “Rundle: the inconvenient truth about our PNG ‘solution’” (Friday).Guy Rundle calls for the dismantling of refugee camps in PNG, and he is so correct. How long will the vast majority of Australian’s squirm and rationalise PNG refugee camps as acceptable? I bet that at every dinner party or social gathering when the question of refugees raises its “inconvenient” head people furiously set aside their shame concerning the “PNG solution”.
Well, we can’t — when good people do nothing, evil triumphs. There is no justification for treating people the way we are in PNG — hot, crowded, humid, dirty, brutalised, demonised, locked away and without a future.
I was born Australian from refugee parents, and I am ashamed; I am deeply ashamed that my country is instigating what amounts to a pogrom against fellow human beings.
I do believe the proper way to seek asylum is to wait your turn, and yes, many of these people don’t want to wait. Although improper, who can blame them? I also am concerned about an unregulated population explosion with all the tensions that would bring if we simply opened our borders.
Like most I reluctantly acquiesced to political actions under the Howard regime, the Rudd regime and now the Abbott/Morrison regime, all of which brutalised and demonised people for being opportunistic.
I can’t justify this treatment anymore. I am grateful to Guy Rundle (someone whose views on other subjects I often find disagreeable) for the final stab of my conscience that makes me say stop!
I have no solution except that what we do now with boat people in PNG must not be a solution unless it degenerates into a final solution. For the sake of Australia, bring them all home to us.
Ken Lambert writes: Spare us, Guy Rundle, the author of cruelty and death? Seriously?
The line you are running is a leftist version of social Darwinism. You know — if the smugglees are smart and motivated enough to get $10,000 and hire a corrupt official and smuggler then they will make great immigrants.
The poor bastards left in camps who don’t have a razoo can dip out on a refugee place, or if not we will then have an unlimited refugee intake for all comers. Which country can afford that?
Rundle’s line is the moral equivalent of having two windows at our embassy in Jakarta — one has a sign that says “Those with $10000 line up here and you will get permanent residency in Oz after a short boat trip” and the other says “Those without a razoo can wait and see how many $10,000 refugees make it to Oz and we’ll see if there are any places left for you poor bastards after”.
And for those in tents in steamy PNG — our forbears had a pretty steamy time with malaria and Japs in 1942-45 in PNG and our army had a pretty steamy time in tents in Bouganville and East Timor, and what is good enough for our volunteer troops is good enough for a self-selected refugee.
And finally in two, five and 10 years’ time the $10,000 mob will all have decided to accept an offer they can’t refuse — go back to Jakarta or further and try the legal route.
Greg Williams writes: Whoa, Guy! Probably leaving myself open to accusations of pedantry, yes, Boigu Island (Australia) is close enough to (just) be able to make out the figure of a person walking along the beach in the Western Province of PNG, but to suggest one can walk between these two, closest, inhabited landfalls between Australia and PNG really is gilding the lily, mate.
With some judicious island hopping, with a longest hop being, maybe, a four or five kilometre (absolutely ill-advised) swim would be technically feasible … but a “walk” it ain’t — no matter what the tide is doing.
We should not tolerate diversity — we should celebrate it
Vincent Burke writes: Re. “On a mother of a day, bureaucrats dither, native languages wither” (Friday). Having been born, brought up and educated in the UK, it was second nature for me to try to speak at least one European language. Most of us managed the basics in French, which we studied in school. I was lucky to have also studied German and subsequently I lived in Italy and learned to speak the language fluently.
While some Australians have made a point of learning the basics of at least one Asian language, most have no idea of the empowering feeling of communicating with others in their language. It is so embarrassing to be travelling overseas and to hear compatriots complaining loudly that the locals don’t speak English.
My greatest surprise when I came to live in Australia was the extent to which the children of migrant families lose or never learn their mother tongue, especially Italians and Greeks. I fear it goes back to the days when they or their parents were derided as wogs, and they sought to become assimilated. The inability to speak any other language is symptomatic of an underlying racism and/or xenophobia in our society. I greatly regret the Howard government’s determination to move away from multiculturalism as the basis of our society. We are often urged to “tolerate” cultural minorities, when we should, by contrast, be positively rejoicing in the fact that people from so many different backgrounds can live together in relative harmony.