FR John Murphy was spot on to call the proposed asylum legislation “complicated and silly” (Page 1, CL 25/6/06).
It is silly because it can cost us the gullible taxpayer roughly $200,000 each asylum seeker per year to “process” them in an isolated location, as it has already on Nauru.
In Baxter on the mainland, the cost may be about $38,000.
It is silly because we Australians have a long proud record of protecting vulnerable people from the wickedness of others. We stand now to lose this admiration of the international community.
It is silly because wherever the dignity of human beings has been abandoned, as in Pinochet’s Chile or Bosnia or Sudan, we have watched horrified at “unintended consequences”.
It is silly because when a country tries to bully another and capitulation follows, the bully is encouraged.
It is silly because we have signed obligations to offer asylum. Eroding well-crafted international law is never sensible.
It is silly because if we were allowed to meet these people personally, we could find that they bring to this country from Iraq or Afghanistan or Sudan or Ethiopia, for example, wonderful human skills beneficial to our society. “Offshore” we can’t engage with them, nor can lawyers or advocates or watchers of human rights.
It is silly – but not if you treat people like things or objects, treatment that may appeal to fear at the next election.
Thank you for your editorial and thank you to our bishops who act as enlightened leaders on this issue. The country needs their wisdom and courage.
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