The policy race to “fuck off, we’re full”

This morning’s astounding announcement from Opposition Immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison on asylum seekers policy affirms we’re the land of “fuck off we’re full”, not the land of compassionate treatment of those in need with “boundless plains to share”.

This is not my Australia. These are not my beliefs. I despair for my nation and the state of our polity, as we descend ever further into this unpleasant, adolescent approach to empty policy designed to appeal to an ignorant, uninformed minority. Labor is little better, and I often wonder how sick to the stomach many of the people in parliament across the political spectrum must feel as this race continues to descend ever lower. Surely this was not why they entered politics? Surely it’s only a matter of a little time before the camel’s back breaks and a revolt among parliamentarians occurs.

Back when I did refugee work for the Department of Immigration, there was a model (based on the then Canadian approach, and similar to that currently proposed by The Greens) that was known to work, encouraged people to be compassionate, quickly identified genuine refugees, and kept us to our Convention and Protocol obligations. Then, the government at the time introduced mandatory detention and things went downhill from there, driving me and many others from the department.

We could have a working, compassionate refugee program, but successive governments have chosen not to in order to appeal to a deliberately uninformed, scared minority of mostly white people in socioeconomically depressed marginal electorates.

Current refugee policy in this country, and many others (NZ, UK, US and a lot of Europe) is no longer about managing refugees, and is entirely about politics and power.

If the LNP Coalition comes to power on September 7, we will get at least three years of hateful government beholden to focus groups and big business who will govern for power not for the good of the nation.

The temptation to leave the country of my birth behind and take my family somewhere that hate is not the norm is strong. The right thing to do, of course, is stand up against this and other policies that are awful. I now quite regret not acting on my instinct to stand in the current election.

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