Tony Abbott is in Europe with his single stringed ukulele singing “I stopped the boats” to anyone who is prepared to listen.
In an address to the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists in Prague on Saturday night, Mr Abbott said that while it was a “decent and humane impulse” to give people from “wretched places” a better life, but not to would-be economic migrants”.
Tony Abbott is still trying to justify his asylum seeker policies to anyone who will listen
“…A million people coming by boat and almost a million people coming by land last year has the look of a peaceful invasion,” he said.
“Some of Turkey’s leaders have even urged Muslims to take back parts of Europe and among the would-be migrants are soldiers of the caliphate bent on mayhem.
“Many of those taking boats across the Mediterranean or clamouring at Europe’s gates look set to join an angry underclass.
“Too many are coming, not with gratitude but with grievance and with the insistence that Europe should make way for them.
Mr Abbott said those escaping the Middle East and Africa seeking a better life “have no right to demand that Europe should provide it to them”.
“So long as people think that arriving in Europe means staying in Europe, they will keep coming,” he said.
“People intercepted in the Mediterranean have to be returned to their starting point.
“This crisis can’t be managed, it has to be resolved. That’s what Australia did, under my government; we stopped illegal boats at sea and escorted them back to Indonesian waters.
“The truly compassionate thing to do is stop the boats and stop the deaths, and for more than two years now, here have been no illegal arrivals by boat in Australia and the drownings have stopped.”
He is wrong and he is wrong on a number of counts.
His comparison of the European situation with Australia is a dangerously wrong oversimplification. Australia is an island contrary to Pauline Hanson who apparently thinks Australia is “landlocked”.
It is relatively easy to control access to Australia, at least by sea, especially now that the option of landing on Christmas Island has been closed off. The situation is not so simple in the Mediterranean, both physically and politically, where refugees are coming from northern Africa as well as from Turkey and coming in numbers not seen in Australia. Italy alone has had 400,000 arrive.
Abbott is also wrong in his highly selective presentation of the situation. He is right that his government did “stop the boats”and he credits his success of the policy to the boat turn backs. What he does not explain is that the draconian incarceration of asylum seekers (not as he would suggest “illegal immigrants”) has served as a massive deterrent to other people seeking asylum.
Nor does he detail the inhumane conditions under which numbers of women and children are forced to endure on Nauru and Manus Island.
He is also wrong when he justifies these policies by saying they saved people drowning at sea. They certainly did that. But they also denied many more people the opportunity to settle in Australia. Providing safer and quicker passage to Australia would have avoided the deaths at sea and also avoided the suffering of many thousands of people in Indonesia.
It’s interesting that Abbott’s statements appeared one day before Turnbull appeared United Nations and urged world leaders to look a Australia’s uncompromising border protection policies as a model for holding their own political systems together while regaining control of irregular international refugee flows.
Abbott effectively upstaged Turnbull who made a statement very similar to Abbott’s. You can’t help thinking that everything Tony Abbott does is aimed at only one thing: portraying himself as a viable alternative to Malcolm Turnbull and ultimately replacing him.
Footnote: Why is it that my spellchecker always writes Malcolm terminal instead of Malcolm Turnbull.
The problem being a Christian and a politician
The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670)
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.