06 June 2013

Voices that won't be heard

Labor MP Laurie Ferguson has warned the Gillard government that it needs to tell people there are "no easy options" when it comes to asylum seekers arriving by boat.

One of the most respected researchers on global migration movements, Dr Khalid Koser, in an article published by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, put it simply: "If I were running for office in Australia this September, I certainly wouldn't be raising false hopes about stopping boats any time soon."

Meanwhile, the 457 debate rattles on in the background with the government promising "sweeping reforms" to a program it has had six years to reform already, while the real problem turns out to be not Australian workers losing their jobs but the exploitation built into any temporary visa model which is dependent on employer sponsorship.

I suppose it's hard to be heard from the tumbrel as you're being carted off to the guillotine, but the Gillard government isn't even trying to shout above the noise of the mob. Laurie's admonition will not be heeded, nor will Dr Koser's. Instead, the Labor aristos seem to be amongst the loudest calling for their own destruction. If the only idea you can come up with for dealing with asylum seekers is stopping the boats, and the only way you can think of for stopping the boats is cranking up the inhumanity shown to their occupants, then the government's failure is undeniable on the statistics (not that we can expect any better from Tony "Robespierre" Abbott). Ditto if you think the answer to abuses in a visa system riddled with mostly ineffective bureaucracy can be eradicated by "sweeping reforms", particularly if those reforms are just more ineffective bureaucracy.

No one is listening to the voices that are saying it's not how the asylum seekers are coming, it's why, or that there will always be abuse of the 457 visa because it is structured to bring together the desperate with the unscrupulous.

So we roll on towards the 14th (of September, not July).

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