Both sides race to the bottom on asylum seekers
It’s Friday, so we all say ‘Thank God’ because we have things we enjoy doing more than work; the weekend beckons with the appeal of sleep-ins and parties and pottering around.
We love to bitch about work, moan about how stressed we are, but despite that cry of ‘busy busy busy’ this busy-ness makes us feel important. For most of us, despite the Sunday night remorse that the weekend flew by and we’re heading back to the hamster wheel, work gives us a sense of worth.
Not working can kick off a cycle of despair, isolating people, paralysing them in poverty, and that is often passed on to the next generation and before you know it becomes entrenched.
So to bring asylum seekers into the community and not let them work is one of the most arse-backward petty little cockamamie ideas this government has concocted.
Australia’s cruel detention centres are full, including the offshore ones that were supposed to act as a deterrent. This deterrence thing really doesn’t seem to be working; the boats keep coming.
The Government will now release thousands of asylum seekers into the community on bridging visas. They’ll get a meagre $220-odd a week, have the threat that they could be whisked off to Nauru or Manus Island at any moment hanging over their head, and they can’t work.
Labor Senator Doug Cameron said the asylum seeker conversation had reached its “lowest ebb”.
‘‘I don’t want people to come here and starve… I don’t want an underclass to be created in Australia,” he said.
He was right to be worried, but wrong to think the lowest ebb had been reached.
For a brief flicker of time Opposition Leader Tony Abbott appeared to be the slightly more human politician by saying it was important for asylum seekers to work - but he lost that when he declared it was just to break the “something for nothing mentality”. And that was just the beginning of his latest attempt to dehumanise asylum seekers.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott wants to reduce the humanitarian intake by 6000 people to save some cash. That’s not just people who come by boat; that’s people “in the queue”, too.
As he spoke about the Opposition’s new policy, it was as though Pauline Hanson was speaking through his mouth.
He started off talking about a “peaceful invasion”, moved swiftly to declaring the borders “out of control”, and bleating on again about “illegal” arrivals with some sort of pathetic excuse that if you got on a plane to the US without a visa you’d be treated as “well and truly illegal”. Well, that settles that, then.
It’s clear our policies aren’t working. It’s not clear what will work. But the national conversation seems to have stopped even pretending to be about stopping people dying in dodgy boats and has shifted to a more sinister fear mongering. With an added poisonous dose of economics over human lives.
The Government’s plan to force asylum seekers to subsist in one of the richest countries on Earth without any sense of purpose through working was only outclassed by the Opposition’s plan to demonise all of them in the eyes of Australia, which ultimately will contribute to the woeful employment rates among refugees.
Every time you think we’ve reached the “lowest ebb” in this conversation, one side or the other pulls us deeper.
Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDST.
NB: Points for first commenter with a variant of they tirrrkk errrr jeeerrrrrbs.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…