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Aust politicians completely amoral

October 18, 2009

The Australian Financial Review : Our duty is to help the persecuted

I can no longer watch in silence as our nation turns its back on asylum seekers.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the nation heard on the radio yesterday from brave Alex and nine-year-old Brindha on board a boat carrying 260 asylum seekers. Passengers on the boat, now moored next to an Indonesian navy vessel in Merak, have refused to disembark.

And as they pleaded for their lives, did they seem remotely concerned about “people smugglers” taking advantage of them?

How shameful is it that both sides of the political divide use men, women and children fleeing persecution as political pawns? If it’s not completely amoral, it’s certainly morally disgraceful.

Rudd has important decisions to make about these people, but he is making them on our behalf. We want that decision made by humanitarian criteria, not by political gamesmanship.

The Opposition’s arguments on this issue reflect the barbarism of Howard-era policies, still essentially failing to differentiate these people from animals, let alone accord them fundamental rights as human beings.

The fate of Alex, Brindha and many others like them rests essentially in your hands. He has shown us what a simple phone call can do – reportedly to the Indonesian president – so now he must use his power as our elected representative to show these people that Australians are concerned about their plight and are willing to treat them with respect and humanity.

It might also help persuade the rest of the world that we’re actually not the bigoted, racist, parochial, red-necked xenophobes that Howard-era policies branded us as.

Kellie Tranter
Maitland, NSW

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