Today Crikey spoke with Joseph Jagadeeswaran, a Sri Lankan currently in Indonesia, who is waiting for the opportunity to board a vessel heading for Australia.
Crikey: Joseph, why do you want to come to Australia?
Jagadeeswaran: Well, I had a very comfortable middle-class life in Sri Lanka, but whenever our cricket team plays in Australia, the television shows how good life is in Australia. I decided I wanted to live there instead.
Crikey: What about the war in your homeland?
Jagadeeswaran: Oh, yes, that too.
Crikey: And why now?
Jagadeeswaran: Well, when I first heard that John Howard had lost office, I was very excited. But I was cautious. I was careful to examine how my claims for asylum would be assessed. Also, I had enough money to fly to Australia on a tourist visa, but I thought it would look better if I arrived on a tiny, overcrowded and highly dangerous boat that might carry me to the bottom of the Indian Ocean at any moment. So I had to wait for a people smuggler to get me on a boat.
Crikey: So did the Rudd government’s changes to the process for assessing asylum claims influence your decision?
Jagadeeswaran: Absolutely. If you read the Migration Amendment (Immigration Detention Reform) Bill 2009, it makes clear that getting into Australia has never been easier.
Crikey: Is that what people smugglers are saying?
Jagadeeswaran: Yes, although a number of us are engaged in a dispute over a meaning in the Acts Interpretation Act about what a non-compellable power is.
Crikey: But that Bill hasn’t actually become law yet. Everyone who comes to Australia at the moment will be processed under the old Howard-era arrangements.
Jagadeeswaran: Don’t spoil my story of being a lazy economic refugee out to exploit Labor’s bleeding heart immigration laxity, mate.