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Rudd’s Indonsian solution is craven

October 24, 2009

Australian Financial Review : Where are we at?
Bruce Haigh, 23 October, 2009

Kevin Rudd’s Indonesia solution is craven. It is an abrogation of the ideals which built this nation. It is mean spirited. If we cannot offer protection to desperate people within the terms of International Treaties to which we are a signatory and which have been incorporated into Australian Law, we have fallen a long way.

Rudd’s decision will come to haunt him. He led us to believe that we could expect better, that this nation could be better. He has disappointed the people whose support he needs most – decent, fair-minded and balanced Australians.

He and the rest of us will rue the day he handed our near neighbour a club with which to beat us over the head when the relationship descends into one of its periodic lows.

As a young Australian officer serving in Greece in 1941, Jo Gullett observed, “Next morning Greek civilian refugees began to pass through our lines, heading south. Refugees is an impersonal word. These were people. It was the first time we had seen the direct effect of war on a civilian population. We had heard and read about it but that is not the same thing at all…Almost without exception they were exhausted…and we could not help wondering how they would survive away from their few olive and fruit trees, their goats, and their vegetable patches, on all of which they depended for subsistence. Yet they never reproached us…”

Jo Gullett went on to win the Military Cross in 1943. He became a member of The House of Representatives in 1946 and Ambassador to Greece in 1965. His father Sir Henry Gullett, former AIF Gunner and war correspondent became Minister for External Affairs in 1939 and was killed in an air crash in 1940.

Could we not see with Gullett’s eyes when we look upon Tamil’s, Afghans and other refugees seeking our compassion, understanding and support. They are appealing to our better nature or is it lost, have we become too selfish to notice, as Gullett did, their plight?

Bruce Haigh is a retired diplomat who has served in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He was a Member of the RRT.
02 63 733455

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