15 December, 2013


Joining the grown-ups

Following the Guardian's recent bid to recolonize Australia and to bring intellectual succour to the beleaguered minority of decent metroliberals there, drowning as they are in a sea of couthless bogans, I have been following, with the requisite morbid fascination, the recurring CiF-Au threads about how jolly nasty the Aussies are to all those desperate folk from central and south Asia who brave the lethal seas in rickety boats to make the crossing from Indonesia to Christmas Island.

Actually the ritual exchange of calumnies, addictive as I may find it, is repetitively tedious and cumulatively uninformative, and I find this bit of news,

People smugglers struggle as demand dives

rather more telling in divining the drivers and motivations of the boat people.  Put simply, are these folks seeking refuge from mortal terror or are they more interested in achieving the mythical Eldorado of Oz  and "a better life™"?  The dramatic fall in boat traffic following the Australian government's decision to accommodate refugees indefinitely in camps in PNG (much as happens elsewhere in the world) is, as they say, interesting.

But something else puzzles me, particularly after reading

As a refugee lawyer, the last few weeks have been heart-wrenching

The author, Sharara Attai, has an intriguing history.

As someone who came to Australia as a refugee, I find TPVs [temporary protection visas] troubling. My parents are originally from Afghanistan and fled the country in the early 1980s following the Soviet invasion.


My parents fled to India where my two brothers and I were conceived. From there, they sought asylum in Australia and were eventually resettled here.

Hmm.  India may be a bit of dump, full of resentful wogs eager to blame the British for every failing, injustice, misfortune or mild inconvenience that has ever befallen India since time out of mind, but as corrupt, hypocritical oligocracies go, it is a reasonably safe corrupt, hypocritical oligocracy.  Certainly so for middle-class Afghan professionals like Sharara's parents seem to be.  And yet they felt the need to apply for, and were bizarrely granted, a more comfortable class of protection in Australia.

Of course, India is not a signatory to the UN refugee conventions, which is the point I am laboriously groping towards.  Nor for that matter is Indonesia, the final staging point in the journey to the Lucky Country.

I have a simple question: Why not?

India and Indonesia are not failed states.  They are successful middle-rank economies. They demand to sit at the top table, to be accepted as modern, developed economies and political entities. But curiously, when they are expected to take on board the concomitant responsibilities expected of the "developed world", it's

"Oh no, Sahib, we are but poor starving peasants trying to scratch a living from the parched earth. We cannot afford to help these people.

"And, Sahib, please understand, these people, they are not of our tribe — they will cause trouble."

XX "And, Sahib, please understand, these people, they are not of our tribe — they will cause trouble.XX

In this point, they are entirely correct.

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