Another Australia Day has come and gone amid the normal fanfare of “Isn’t it great to be an Aussie” and celebration of all things Australian.
and a Citizenship Ceremony attended by Govenor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove
Yet it is this last picture that should give us all a course reflection. Many of us, me included, have made a choice to live in Australia for one very good reason: it’s a wonderful place to live and the smiles of the faces of the people in the Citizenship Ceremony photo are testimony to this.
Yet there is a small but significant number of people (around 30,000) who wish to live in Australia but are being denied the right to refugee status in an unnecessarily cruel and repressive fashion.
The only crime that these people have committed is choosing the wrong way of coming to Australia.
Yet on the day when we celebrate the enormous benefits of being Australian, we appear to have lost sight of the plight of these people.
Our Asylum Seeker policy was designed to protect Australia from the flood of refugees that politicians feared would come from Indonesia. This policy came in two parts: stopping the boats and punishing the people who came on them. This second policy element was designed as a deterrent to future refugees.
The “Stop the Boats” policy appears to have been extremely successful, in and of itself, and with the money and energy that Australia devotes to border security, it would appear that it will continue to be successful.
So why not abandon the second part of the policy and grant the 30,000 people who are languishing in conditions that are an international disgrace, refugee status in Australia?
And what better time for our mellifluous Prime Minister to announce such a move than Australia Day?
Yet, while we all celebrate the joys of being Australian, we continue to deny that privilege to people who so desperately want it.