Do-gooders congregated in the inner cities feel that Australia must house large, unstated, numbers of the world’s dispossessed. Where do they think these refugees will live? Well certainly not in their backyards. One hundred refugees dumped in each of their streets might be salutary.
Competing with the inner-city do-gooders in the bleeding-heart stakes are many conservative commentators. Desperate to establish their empathetic credentials, they use the avoidance of deaths at sea as their moral rationale for stopping boats. It is disingenuous. It won’t do.
Sarah Hanson-Young was exactly right some years ago when she said ‘accidents happen’ after a refugee boat foundered and sank. If refugees are willing to risk their lives on rickety boats, that is up to them.
It is up to them! Clearly, they think the risks are worthwhile.
The rationale for stopping boats has nothing at all to with protecting refugees from their own folly. It is to uphold our national right to control our borders. “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come,” John Howard rightly said. He didn’t add, “in case they drown”. He placed Australia’s interests ahead of refugees; as he should. Putting Australia first appears to be remote from the thinking of the Labor-Greens left.
It surely must be clear, even to the most rusted-on Labor voters, that if Albanese, Plibersek or Wong were ever again in government, we might as well open the shutters and put ‘all-comers welcome’ mats around the foreshores. Shorten may have won a face-saving victory at his party’s national conference by doing quid pro quo deals with union heavies, but to actually turn a boat around? Give us all a break. It simply won’t happen.
The true believers would be in the Parliament, in halls, in corridors, in the media and on the streets rending their garments. And if Shorten thinks his damaging, and reckless beyond words, proposal to double the refugee intake would help, he should thing again. Enough will never be enough.
Albanese was reported to have said that he couldn’t support boat turn-backs because he wouldn’t ask our service personnel to do something he knew he couldn’t do himself. There go our jails, I suppose, if Albanese would not keep prisoners locked up at the bottom of his garden. When it comes to national security and border protection, things have to be done that ordinary people in their daily lives would find personally confronting. Societies have to weigh the costs of doing unpleasant things against the costs and consequences of doing nothing.
Weighing consequences is the sine qua non of good policy. Unfortunately, this does not sit easily among those on the left. It interferes with their quest to fix the world.
It is not hard to trace relevant consequences in this case.
- Letting one boat in encourages others and still others. Unmanageable increases in the need for off-shore processing and accommodation result.
- Severe budgetary and humanitarian repercussions follow.
- Eventually, many refugees are settled in Australia, requiring a concomitant and unaffordable need for public housing, welfare and medical support. Has anyone noticed that we are not paying our way as it is?
- Social disharmony (and worse) grows, as many of the refugees – notably Muslims who bulk large among refugee populations — bring intolerant and backward cultural and religious values and practices along with them.
But to Albanese and his cohorts, a boat comes in, refugees land, someone takes care of them. Good feelings are generated. That’s it. All of the subsequent consequences are kept out of mind. Absent consequences, whatever seems right is right. Whatever is right is doable. They are children in grown-up bodies.
Those who find the policy of securing our borders morally repugnant don’t give a tinker’s cuss about preserving and protecting our way of life. They are concerned only with their own precious consciences and hang the interests of the nation.