Just today the Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd announced that new migrants reaching Australia’s shores by boat would no longer stand a chance of being resettled in Australia as refugees.
Instead, an agreement with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea will see migrants resettled there.
Australia is effectively ‘outsourcing’ migrants.
Most of Australia’s boat migrants try to reach Christmas Island, which is Australian territory despite being much closer to Indonesia – it is 500km south of Indonesia and 2,748km west of Darwin, at the top end of Australia.
Many of the boats start their tumultuous journeys in Indonesia.
Kevin Rudd’s plan is to stop the boats before they leave the shores. Julia Gillard, until recently PM of Australia herself before being defeated in an internal election by Kevin Rudd, has also repeated that the boats must be stopped before they leave. Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott is of the same opinion.
Christmas Island can be said to be the Indian Ocean equivalent of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean Sea – a first port of call for people escaping their home countries by boat.
The Australian Government has released this policy.
Frankly I am still undecided whether the logo on the top right is intimidating or childish. I also wonder why they needed to specify ‘without a visa’.
Of course boat migrants would be entering ‘without a visa’. I can’t imagine people fleeing persecution having the time, the resources, the state of mind or perhaps even the possibility of going through the legal avenues to obtain visas.
A program called ‘Go back to where you came from’ was aired on Australian television channel SBS last year. It is a social experiment dealing with 6 Australians living with, and as, refugees for a number of weeks. The first program of the series can be viewed here.
A version with Australian celebrities was also aired later. The first part can be watched here.