Photo courtesy Refugee Action Committee
"The conservative government of John Howard came and went - by the end of 2007. The new Rudd government seems more human and we can talk to them - but even while the Baxter detention is now closed, and the Nauru detention centre and the "Pacific Solution" has come to an end, Australia still has refugee jails."
This site gives a lot of background information about our situation with detention centres. I blogged about it again just recently here because we have had an ongoing crisis with detention and detention centres and it came about as a precursor to our involvement in the invasion of Iraq and the belief we needed to protect ourselves from terrorists and increase border protection. That goes back as far as 2002 when Baxter was built by the Howard government. We have never managed this well because, in many ways, it is an unmanageable situation. The Pacific Solution was deemed to be inapproapriate because detainees were lost in the middle of nowhere as they were at Woomera. It is important we keep track of how we have changed our minds because we have and at the time we have had good reasons and then it all comes unglued and it doesn't matter who is in charge of the country. If we want open boarders and to deal with whoever comes in , then we need do no more than try to identify and authorise peole who have no papers and maybe even no identity. Do we want open borders? The East Timor solution might have been the best one for us because we have a long history of working with East Timor. The Nauru solution wasn't satifactory as you can see form the first site but it did help the people of Nauru. The Malaysian solution may well work if we lock in the guarantees of people being treated respectfully and there was a long radio programme on this on Radio National a few weeks back and that discussed a number of the issues very thoroughly and sensibly with people who ought to know and the belief was if the respect towards detainees was maintained and sustained, then we would have a good solution because the people we would be taking in would have been properly processed. We are stumbling on the respect for detainees in Malaysia. There is a lot of misinformation out here again so we need to look at the facts, the same as we need to look at what was happening with the Pacific Solution. We do have very uppermost in our minds and hearts that a lot of Australians are here because they have been through refugee camps in different parts of the world, suffered considerably and then become Australians. We do care about how these people might be hurt and offended should we just accept anyone. From the outside that might look harsh, but from the inside of Australia it is the right and proper thing to do because we know their stories. We have to keep talking about this. We have to stick to facts, we have to keep historical perspective and we just have to do the best we can knowing we do not have a history of getting it right. In the end we shall sort something out but that won't happen if we keep getting lost in tin pot discussion.