We’ve watched the hand-wringing, the crocodile tears, the political uncompromising opportunism related to dealing with asylum seekers who chance their luck at sea. Their intent, to reach a place that they consider safe and will provide a better life and opportunities for them and their children. Basically the performance by all of our politicians, whatever their politics, has been thoroughly disgusting with their main purpose being entirely political and callously regardless of the loss of life. The Coalition and the Green’s shoulder the bulk of the responsibility here. We’ve heard all of the pathetic arguments as to why they won’t accept one or another’s solutions – and they just don’t wash! So here’s a ‘put yourself in another’s shoes’ hypothetical which may explain why so much of the political puffery is just so much bullsh*t! Especially when you are dealing with other sovereign nations, and other competing interests.
Question 1 Backgrounder : You and your government lead a country of over 238 million people, predominately Muslim and of wide ethnic diversity. Actually, you are the world’s fourth most populous country spread across 3 time zones, over 9,000 kilometres from one end to the other, close to the Equator and containing countless islands. Your GDP is around US$4,700 per person with many of your people living in abject poverty. You find it difficult to protect such a large border area and lack the people, facilities (Naval and Customs) and financials to do so effectively.
Your problem is that many from other countries in the region take advantage of transit through your country on their way to another country as refugees. They pass easily into your country taking advantage of extensive and poorly secured borders and an endemic tendency for some of your countrymen (including officials) to ease their passage for a small consideration, generally provided in US dollars. There are also countrymen, who for a substantial US$ fee, will also quietly facilitate their passage out of your country on fishing boats of dubious quality. This practice serves to diminish the problems associated with the capture and detention of these people in your country. Another end result is that useful US dollars are injected into, and circulate around, your economy.
You know that the other countries government can’t put a solution (called the Malaysia solution) in place due to the obduracy of the political opposition who want only their solution (the Nauru solution). You know that the opposition solution isn’t a solution over the long term because most of the refugees end up in the other country anyhow. You also know that a ‘Green’s Party’ who supports the minority government with a vote and also has the numbers to influence votes in the other countries Senate wants to accept all who come to their country and use the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to facilitate this. The Greens won’t help the other countries government with the Malaysia solution but are happy to sit down and discuss the Greens solution, for however long it takes to agree to it. You also know that the current opposition is making statements that when it becomes the other countries government it will ‘turn back the boats’ and/or bring back the Nauru solution. To date you have not been consulted with regard to this policy which, if effected, will return those in transit, through your sea borders and back to your country, where they will have to be housed and cared for until the UNHRC relocates them – this could take years given their abysmal performance to date and the reluctance of the other country to accept these refugees.
Your strategy is (select the answers appropriate to your preferred actions):
Immediately act to increase you policing forces, strengthen border security, arrest and detain people in your country illegally, build more detention centres for those arrested, return illegal’s back to their country of origin;
arrest and act to stop the activities of people smugglers;
assign more of your countries rather tight budget towards all of the above;
continue discussing the issue at a diplomatic level, continue negotiations to reach a ‘mutually acceptable solution’, ensure that the UNHCR is involved fully;
quietly allow the current situation to continue thereby reducing the transients’ problem in your country;
quietly (but nevertheless regretfully) accept the influx of US$’s as a useful boost to your economy;
when the other countries current opposition finally contacts you officially to advise you that they intend to ‘turn back the boats’, returning them to your country, and leaving you with the refugees, smile obsequiously at the colonial imperialists and agree to undertake negotiations until a ‘mutually acceptable solution’ is reached, encourage the involvement of the UNHCR and the Greens;
alternatively, on the issue of ‘turning back the boats’ advise these ignoramuses behaving with Empirical colonialist arrogance who have the temerity to tell a sovereign country what they are going to do to it without the courtesy of discussing the matter first, to; ‘Try it and see just how ‘p*ssed off’ we can really get!’, remind them that you have a standing defence force of 476,000 compared to their countries 59,000, and that you are prepared to use it should your sovereignty be breached.
Question 2 Backgrounder: You make a large amount of US$ facilitating the movement of people, by boat, from your country to another or its islands which lie close to the coast of your country. The more people you can fit on a cheaper boat, the less provisions provided and the less ‘small considerations’ you pay to interested parties the greater your profits. Business is booming. You are wary of returning customers, complaining about not getting to their destination and also wanting their money back. Truly an anathema and an embarrassment to your business.
You are aware that the other countries government can’t get a solution (called the Malaysia solution) in place due to the obduracy of the political opposition who want only their solution (the Nauru solution). You know that the opposition solution won’t really work over the long term because most of the refugees end up in the other country anyhow. You also know that the opposition is making statements that when it is the other countries government it will ‘turn back the boats’ and/or bring back the Nauru solution.
Your strategy is (select the answers appropriate to your preferred actions):
Act immediately to stop the illegal activities that put people’s lives at risk, find a new job in an economy where your skills are probably unwanted and the pay abysmal, return to being a law abiding citizen and feel really good about yourself;
purchase more boats and increase your transport activities to take opportunity from the current state of confusion and the other countries inability to act;
maximise the carrying capacity of the boats on the assumption that a solution may be found when you least expect it;
Assuage the transients concerns in the event that the Nauru solution or the ‘turn back the boats’ strategies are implemented that ‘Nauru is fine, you’ll get to the other country eventually’ (You’ll guarantee it!);
Should the other countries Navy try to ‘turn back the boats’ advise the transients that for a small extra payment they will be supplied with lifejackets and at the moment that a Navy vessel is noticed coming towards them they will be told to jump into the ocean and their boat will immediately be scuttled;
alternatively, once well clear of the coast of origin (and its patrol boats), place a distress call to the other country and once they turn up scuttle the boat thereby delivering the same effect as previously. You’ll all go to the other country;
make sure that you are not on any of the boats.
Question 3: Discuss in not more than 1,000 words the following statement; ‘You may think you have the answers for others, but you would do well to walk in their shoes before opening your mouth and making an idiot of yourself!’
To pass the test you must answer all questions sufficiently well enough to obtain 75% (or better). You will obtain extra marks if you can identify additional strategies that have been missed in the questions. Coming up with a workable solution to the problem of boat arrivals could lead to a future Prime Ministership.
You have one hour to complete the hypothetical. However if you are a Green’s parliamentarian you have until the turn of the century to complete! Over to you.
- Indonesians impatient on asylum seeker backlog (theage.com.au)
- Let asylum seekers fly to Australia: Palmer (abc.net.au)
- Oppn boat policy exposed as a sham – PM (bigpondnews.com)
- Abbott criticises asylum seeker committee (news.theage.com.au)
- Government shifts asylum focus to Greens (news.theage.com.au)
- Hopes for asylum seeker deal fade (bigpondnews.com)
- Australia lawmakers deadlock on sending asylum-seekers elsewhere – Los Angeles Times (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Abbott to bring in bill on asylum seekers (news.theage.com.au)
- Asylum debate highlights MP blame game (bigpondnews.com)