TUMBY BAY – Australia’s torpedo-headed Minister for Xenophobia, Mutton Dutton, doesn’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a migrant and an asylum seeker.
He doesn’t understand that some people have the time and relative security to apply to migrate to Australia while others who are faced with an immediate threat to their health and well-being need to escape their countries quickly and in any way they can, including in leaky boats.
The walloper in Dutton believes that seeking asylum is tantamount to a criminal act and, as such, deserves punishment.
It is a familiar meme, particularly among conservative politicians who believe that people under stress, such as welfare recipients, are to blame for their circumstances and need to be dealt with harshly for their own good.
Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist from Iran who has been imprisoned on Manus Island for the last five years, makes the point in an article in ‘The Saturday Paper’ that there is a danger that the cruelty overseen by Dutton on Manus and Nauru is “in the process of replicating itself throughout Australian society”.
It is a good point but I suspect that it might be the other way round; that the cruelty already inherent in our welfare systems was simply applied by our government to asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru.
Boochani has recently published a book about his experiences on Manus called ‘No Friend But the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison’ and I am looking forward to reading it.
That he has managed to write the book in secret using nothing but his mobile telephone is a remarkable achievement.
That he has survived punitive imprisonment on Manus for five years and retained his sanity is also remarkable.
He is not alone of course. All of the asylum seekers who have survived on Manus and Nauru must be remarkably tough and resilient people.
I was watching our fake farmer and prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in a photo-op on television with some real drought stricken farmers recently and it struck me how uncomfortable he looked.
A while later I saw a similar photo-op featuring the leader of the opposition trying to work out how to operate a four-wheel-drive with real gears.
The two images made me wonder what had happened to all our red-blooded politicians. Compared to the asylum seekers these two examples of Australian manhood seemed decidedly flaccid.
Sensible people have been calling on our government to bring the asylum seekers to Australia on compassionate grounds for a long time.
I’ve developed a slightly different view. We don’t need to bring them here because we feel sorry for them. We need to bring them here to inject a bit of grit and backbone into our society.
We need people like Behrouz Boochani in Australia. We need people like him much more than we need people like Dutton, Turnbull and Shorten and the rest of the limp-wristed brigade in Canberra and elsewhere who purport to be our leaders.
Those people imprisoned on Manus and Nauru are heroes. We should celebrate them, not punish them.