Imagine this scene. A beat up boat chugging into Australian waters. Mechanical condition? Well, lets just say it doesn’t have a 5 star rating and room service. Among the passengers are several children but their parents are not wealthy enough to come too so they are left to their own resources on the vessel. Effectively they are at the mercy of whomever they encounter, the health of their fellow passengers, the limit of the food supply and even the possibility of other vessels who prey on refugee boats.
Such is the lot of these children.
In the Christmas Island boat disaster on December 15, 2010 the risks were highlighted when the SIEV-221 was dashed upon the rocks at Flying Fish Cove costing the lives of at least 30 passengers despite the best efforts of the Aussie patrol boat and the local residents who battled the terrible weather.
Where had they come from? In this case it was mainly Iran and Iraq but some would have us believe that “boat people” are Indonesian. Indeed some of them will be due to the nature of their many races and internal politics but more likely the passengers are many trips down the long path from their country of origin and from much further afield.
The motivations? I’m sure they are many and varied and folk will argue endlessly about the fine detail, but what I am concerned with is the children.
The political arguments drag on but what about the children?
To my horror and disgust when the Aussie Government came up with the Malaysian Solution which is designed to deter unaccompanied minors by returning the passengers by air, the politics kicked in.
The kids became just some “collateral damage”.
I’m sure there are almost as many different ideas about the “best” result as their are contributors but quite simply I don’t care about the subtleties. Compared to the risk of a lonely death of a child, those details come a very distant second.
Most frustrating of all is political folk have been able to deflect the attention away from the kids as they push their own agenda. Sure politics can be a heated business, but do we seriously want to put a party line ahead of kids welfare?
Both The Greens and the Coalition had the numbers to pass the Malaysian Solution by voting with Labor to amend the legislation and cut the High Court out of the game. Both declined. To crudely summarise their positions, The Greens wanted a more generous outcome and the Coalition a solution with their name on it.
By all means I’m happy for them to play for their own aims, but for goodness sake don’t risk the kids in the meantime. Get the solution in place then you can go back to the talkfest.