While anything that anyone does to ease the burden of refugees or at risk if they remain where they are can be nothing but helpful, it’s difficult to applaud such actions when one knows that it is being done for such blatantly transparent ulterior motives.
Yesterday the Abbott government announced that 500 Syrian refugees currently being handled by the UNHCR will be settled in Australia. Today the Abbott government also announced that some 800 Afghans who had worked for the allies in Afghanistan will also be offered places in Australia. All of these people, however, are being admitted into Australia not as part of some special extra humanitarian allocation, but as part of the existing already reduced allocation of 13,750 – reduced, that is, from 20,000 places.
So, while the number of refugees across the planet is drastically increasing – due mainly to wars started or supported by the West, including Australia – Australia is actually reducing its commitment to the refugee problem. But in order to make it look good for the government the Immigration Department is making a song and dance about helping the Syrian refugees and Afghan asylum seekers and they are going to great pains to tell Australians that these people are coming in through ‘legal’ channels while those that attempt to arrive by boat are, as Immigration Minister Scott Morrison refers to them; ‘illegal’ and will never be allowed to settle in Australia.
It’s quite clear that Morrison is using the plight of one set of people to demonise the plight of others who the government has developed, it would seem, nothing but contempt for. No doubt when the folk around the world talk of the way Australia treats its refugees, the Abbott government will be responding loudly and clearly by saying how good they are by helping just 1300 refugees and asylum seekers. That, they hope, will detract from the reality of Australia’s cruelty to boatpeople.