This would be funny if it were not so tragic. The story so far…
- One hundred and fifty seven Tamil asylum seekers travelled to India and then by boat to international waters near Australia
- They were detained and held captive on board an Australian Customs vessel at sea for four weeks.
- They were then taken to the privately run Curtin detention centre in remote Western Australia where they were denied access to legal advice.
- Using cricket-bat diplomacy, Scott Morrison MP arranged to have Indian officials meet with them to examine their status.
- The Tamils refused to see the Indian officials.
What’s the matter with the Tamils? Don’t they trust anyone?
As punishment they’ve been sent to the even more desperate and remote Nauru detention centre out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Now for the story about the cricket bats.
Cricket bats signed by Glen McGrath and Brett Lee were given to Scott Morrison. He in turn gave them as ‘gifts’ to Indian politicians when negotiating to get them to interview the Tamil asylum seekers. The plan was for the Tamils to be returned to India.
Now that all that has fallen through, has Scott Morrison recovered the bats? He might need them when negotiating resettlement of asylum seekers in Pakistan, Bangladesh or Zimbabwe. However the bats might not carry much weight in Cambodia, the front-runner at the moment.
Now let’s get serious.
For me this is a very black day in Australia’s history. I’m deeply saddened by the actions of our government and the failure of the opposition party to take any sort of stand on the matter. They must both feel the current policy is a vote-winner, and that’s even more disturbing and depressing because of what it says about the compassion of Australians for those who have suffered dreadfully both in their homeland and in their journey looking for a safe place to live for them and their children.
The government spin on all this is that they are trying to break the business model of people smugglers. They say it is the people smugglers who are responsible for the deaths of asylum seekers at sea in unsafe vessels. But the truth is the government does not want asylum seekers turning up on Australian shores unannounced. Instead the government wants them to form an orderly gueue somewhere. The government can then cherry-pick asylum seekers who are most beneficial to Australia. So if you’re well-off and educated you might be OK, but if not, go back where you came from.
This cartoon won a Walkley award in 2012 at a time when a number of asylum seekers had tragically perished at see on their journey towards Australia. It reflects the heartless view of both the current government and the previous, and of many Australians. Buy this cartoon here!