Saturday, 15 October 2011

Onshore Processing

So, a few weeks ago I wrote a letter to Julia Gillard, with copies to Chris Bowen and my local member Graham Perrett, outlining the reasons they should not only abandon overseas processing of boat arrivals but the whole mandatory detention system.  I'm still waiting for the reply, aside from a brief acknowledgement from a member of Perrett's staff thanking me for saying what I think.  But blow me down if they haven't gone and done something quite like what I suggested.  All arrivals will be processed in Australia, with those deemed likely to be granted refugee status given bridging visas and allowed to live in the community after basic health and security checks.  At last, a move in a more humane direction!

It would be nice to think they listened to me and the thousands of other people advocating a more humane solution.  Sadly, it seems that it's just a stuff up.  The media is even talking about it as the "failure of migration policy".  Both Liberal and Labor parties went into the parliamentary debate intent on reviving offshore processing.  Their inability to agree on the form this should take, however, meant that no legislation got passed.  As a result the High Court ruling against offshore processing stands, and the government has no alternative.

It made me think of that lovely poem by WH Auden, which I think may have been written about Winston Churchill.

Providentially
right for once in his life-time
(his reasons were wrong),
the old sod was permitted
to save civilisation.

It's not exactly Churchillian and it won't save civilisation but it's great when a government accidentally does something right.  May there be many more such stuff-ups!

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