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“Rudd’s professed Christianity”

October 17, 2009

Dug out from the archives –
ABC Unleashed : The need to be popular saps courage and compassion

As a former diplomat Kevin Rudd should know better. People smugglers fulfill a desperate need. If the need was not there people smugglers would have to turn their hand to some other trade. By slamming the people smugglers, Rudd is denying that need. By implication he is saying that the people smugglers tout for business and that without their active spruiking, refugees and their needs would fade away.

Malcolm Turnbull jumped on the bandwagon, looking for a few cheap political points and seeking to please and appease the unelectable troglodytes of his right wing. Pulled into line by the more mature members of his backbench and party, his thoughtless foray into populism has only served to highlight the opposition’s lack of a refugee policy.

Thoughtful and informed swinging voters must be appalled at this crude appeal to populism. The silliness of Rudd’s statement that, ”People smugglers are the vilest form of human life, they trade on the tragedy of others, and that is why they should rot in jail and, in my own view, rot in hell,” puts the lie to any understanding of the role of people smugglers. Rudd has compounded the impression of a hollow man, by more recently stating that, “The reality is we are facing huge additional numbers across the archipelago, coming off global factors. The question of calibrating the country’s response to the assets that we need in the air-sea gap to our north – that is where the critical business lies.”

Where does Rudd place the role people smugglers had in helping the Jews of Europe to escape from the terror of the Nazi’s? More

Bruce Haigh is a retired diplomat who has worked in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran and Saudi Arabia. When on posting in South Africa during the apartheid years (1976/79) he helped a number of people, in fear of the authorities, escape the country.

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  1. Australians for Tamil Justice permalink*
    October 19, 2009 12:22 am

    ABC Unleashed : The need to be popular saps courage and compassion

    As a former diplomat Kevin Rudd should know better. People smugglers fulfill a desperate need. If the need was not there people smugglers would have to turn their hand to some other trade. By slamming the people smugglers, Rudd is denying that need. By implication he is saying that the people smugglers tout for business and that without their active spruiking, refugees and their needs would fade away.

    Malcolm Turnbull jumped on the bandwagon, looking for a few cheap political points and seeking to please and appease the unelectable troglodytes of his right wing. Pulled into line by the more mature members of his backbench and party, his thoughtless foray into populism has only served to highlight the opposition’s lack of a refugee policy.

    Thoughtful and informed swinging voters must be appalled at this crude appeal to populism. The silliness of Rudd’s statement that, ”People smugglers are the vilest form of human life, they trade on the tragedy of others, and that is why they should rot in jail and, in my own view, rot in hell,” puts the lie to any understanding of the role of people smugglers. Rudd has compounded the impression of a hollow man, by more recently stating that, “The reality is we are facing huge additional numbers across the archipelago, coming off global factors. The question of calibrating the country’s response to the assets that we need in the air-sea gap to our north – that is where the critical business lies.”

    Where does Rudd place the role people smugglers had in helping the Jews of Europe to escape from the terror of the Nazi’s?

    What would Rudd’s hero, Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, make of his confected people smuggler dummy spit? In May 1942, Bonhoeffer, a committed plotter against Hitler, travelled to Stockholm on forged papers and via an underground network to meet with Dr George Bell, the Anglican Bishop of Chichester. He sought the Bishop’s good offices to pass a message to the British government on the seriousness of the plotters intentions and seeking an assurance that the Allies would make peace with an anti Hitler government once the latter had been overthrown. Bonhoeffer availed himself of people smugglers in order to accomplish his mission.

    The AFP is aware that members of the Indonesian army and police take a cut from people smugglers. They are in a position to stop the boats, but as the AFP is aware, money talks more loudly in Indonesia than either proper procedure or compassion for refugees.

    In taking on people smugglers Rudd is taking on elements in the Indonesian army and police, some of them very highly placed. Indonesia is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention, it is not subject to international scrutiny; Indonesia can, and does do what it likes with refugees. That is one area where Rudd might concentrate his energies. He might deploy diplomatic resources to bring Indonesia into line on international accountability and scrutiny with respect to refugees, rather than the leaky backdoor deals Australia has so far engaged in.

    The refugees involved in the recent offshore tragedy were all from Afghanistan. Rudd is aware that the reason for their flight is the deteriorating security situation inside Afghanistan. That is the reason he is currently considering whether to increase the number of Australian troops in Afghanistan. Australia has done nothing to address this growing humanitarian problem. As with Vietnam, Australia’s military involvement gives it an obligation. The longer the war rolls on in Afghanistan the greater the number of refugees.

    In what appears to be a cynical policy decision to reduce the number of visa applications, persons wishing to obtain visas in Pakistan and Afghanistan to come to Australia must now apply to the Australian Immigration office in Dubai. With all avenues closed is it any wonder desperate people in Afghanistan would seek the assistance of people smugglers.

    Just by co-incidence I had two Hazara men, former refugees, who we had helped in the past staying on the farm with several of their children. Naturally enough they were deeply upset at the fate of the refugees burnt in the boat explosion. I asked them what they thought of people smugglers and they said they had performed an essential service.

    Without the smugglers they would not have been able to escape the terror of their lives in Afghanistan and provide a new life for their children. One has a son at university. He has obtained distinctions in maths and physics, whilst working to support himself. None of the Hazara men known to me have been without work. They are prepared to turn their hand to anything. They are industrious, sober, hard working and devoted parents. They also said that Hazara refugees living in Quetta, Pakistan, were being increasingly subjected to violent attacks by the Taliban

    Rudd cannot criticise people smugglers when he has done nothing to provide an alternative to meet the needs of the minority groups in Afghanistan.

    The option of travel to Australia on alternative visas, student and business, is not available to people in Afghanistan. Rudd should put in place a program allowing settlement in Australia of Hazara refugees trapped in Pakistan and Indonesia.

    Bruce Haigh is a retired diplomat who has worked in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran and Saudi Arabia. When on posting in South Africa during the apartheid years (1976/79) he helped a number of people, in fear of the authorities, escape the country.

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