The Depths of Indecency

across the seasOn Monday evening, the Senate of the Australian Federal Parliament voted to scrap Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) for the asylum seekers already living in the community awaiting the outcome of their claims, in favour of issuing Permanent Protection Visas.  This was based on the following:

  • TPVs break international law by disallowing family reunification for asylum seekers
  • TPVs break international law by disallowing protection of guardians for unaccompanied minors
  • TPVs enforce statelessness on individuals as they never allow for permanent residency
  • People may be sent back to their homelands, at the end of three years of protection, to face punishment, persecution, torture or execution

Furious with the vote to block their policy, Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, announced that no asylum seekers, who are already living in the community, will be granted permanent protection before July 2014 (when the new Senate takes office).  Instead, they will be placed on indefinite Bridging Visas.  As Bridging Visas do not provide asylum seekers access to work or education, yet more international laws will be broken.

Tony Abbott stated, “Temporary Protection Visas are an essential part of any effective plan to stop the boats.”.

However, this statement makes no sense in the light (or should I say the darkness?) of the Coalition Government’s current off-shore processing policy and practice.   Abbott and Morrison have made it clear, time and time again, that all people arriving on boats during the Coalition’s time in government will be detained indefinitely on Nauru or Manus Island.  The best that these people can hope for is resettlement there, or some other country.  They will never be resettled in Australia.  Therefore, TPVs (or Bridging Visas for that matter) have absolutely NOTHING to do with any boat arrivals that have occurred since the Coalition came into power, or any which might occur in the future.  They are about preventing the people who are already here from gaining permanent residency.

This is confirmed in Scott Morrison’s statement, “Temporary Protection Visas deny the promise of permanent residency that was made to the 33,000 people that are already on shore that turned up on Labor’s watch and are part of that appalling legacy caseload that have been left behind for this government to clean up.”.

Make no mistake; this is not about saving lives at sea.

Nor is it about economics.  As people are not allowed to work on Bridging Visas, they are forcibly held on ongoing government welfare payments.

Nor it seems, is this about people.  Morrison’s use of the word ‘that’ instead of ‘who’ in relation to asylum seekers, strengthens his resolve to see them as nameless, faceless “illegal arrivals” which form an “appalling legacy caseload” to be “cleaned up”, rather than as fellow human beings.

What this is really about, is punishment and revenge.  It’s an attempt to punish the people who are already on Australian soil because they came here requesting protection and safety from war and persecution.  It’s an attempt to use innocent, already traumatised people as an implement of political revenge on the Senators who voted in favour of compassion, decency, humanity and the upholding of international law.

I want to say that Abbott and Morrison could not possibly sink any lower in the depths of indecency.  However, Abbott has already raised the idea of Australia leaving the UN Refugee Convention and said that he will “have more to say on this in the days and weeks ahead”.  No doubt, so will the Senate.

1 thought on “The Depths of Indecency

  1. I cannot begin to understand how an Australian government could treat people so shamefully. I’m embarrassed & ashamed to be an Australian Tony Abbott you call yourself a Christian Is this honestly what you think Jesus would do?

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