An activist colleagues pointed out about the odds that are facing by refugee rights movement in Australia. Note the point he made, "MPs are not going to lose their seats over asylum-seeker issues", which probably is true. To my observation, the support for refugees isn't defined along partisan line, i.e. neither Labor nor Liberal specific thing. So too on the curtailing of the rights of refugees -- a certain section of population from both sides of politics think that is a good idea.
Electorally Unimportant ?
We can then ask a question if the refugee rights issue can impact only marginally on the voting patterns of general public, who exactly are benefiting from these "get tough on refugee" policies ? We would then reach a conclusion that the refugee rights issue is indeed electorally important one, regardless of how the individual Labor/Liberal traditional voters may react to it.
Regardless of being Labor or Liberal voter, the Australian people in general are not comfortable with the government's inhuman treatment on refugees. Whilst the government may continue to justify the lawfulness of its indefinite, mandatory and offshore detention regimes, the decent Australian public has recognised these practices are indeed unjust and inhuman. In this context, the public reactions to recent events such as the case of Baby Asha wasn't just "a storm in the tea cup", which were to have been whipped up by the mass media. Neither should the political parties to ignore the Church groups announcing sanctuary for 267 asylum-seekers who had been threatened to return back to Nauru. These are the genuine reflection of Australian public sentiment against government's inhuman refugee policies.
No Alternative Policy ?
Another myth being propagated by our politicians is that there are 'no alternatives' to current policies of offshore detentions and boat turn backs. The humane and alternative policies, no doubt, would exist. However, none of our politicians are ready to seek and to promote them. To serving politicians, promoting alternative refugee policy is risky undertakings and will have no visible rewards to them. And take my word for this: our politicians do have adequate professional capacity to find alternative solutions. What's lacking in them is not the political intellect, but the generosity.
Most disturbing aspect with regards to refugee rights issues, globally, is the political groups are just too eager to exploit about it; but never attempting to find a viable solution.
Are current border policies foolproof ?
Probably not. If the border forces are able to turn back "every" refugee boats to Indonesia, the government wouldn't have used such offshore mandatory detention regimes for deterrent. The government is very nervous, even, about disclosing their "over the water" procedures for its boat turn back operations. Neither would the government be admitting the bribery payments to Indonesian boat crews.
These government secrecies are, in fact, creating the myths about the boat arrivals and given impetus to offshore detention of asylum-seekers. To my view, such myths on the success of current 'border control regime' is favouring the Liberal party. We must seek an end to these secrecies.
-- In Solidarity, U Ne Oo, Sydney.