It has now been some months since a boat has arrived on Australian shores with people travelling from Indonesia seeking asylum. This is an incredibly important achievement of the Abbott/Truss Government because it flies in the face of all of those on the extreme left who said that it could not be done.
No boats have arrived, and this greatly decreases the risk of deaths at sea. The people smuggling business is an offensive and cruel industry which profits from the misery of others. People smuggling does pose a significant threat to Australian sovereignty and security.
Threats to Australia in this modern age are less likely to be of a military nature but are more likely to be from an organised criminal or terrorist network. We see tragedies daily in other areas of the world and while Australia must play its part in global security we must also be mindful of the need for caution domestically.
Australia is a compassionate nation. This is apparent nowhere as much as in our country towns where refugees have been accepted with open arms. The community oriented nature of our smaller centres can provide a great support network for individuals and families who are dealing with a turbulent past.
As the UNHCR says, the most durable solution for an asylum seeker or a displaced person is for them to be able to return safely to their country of origin. Sadly too often this is impossible because of instability and the threat of further persecution. The number of refugees, asylums seekers and displaced persons globally is nearly twice Australia’s population. We must do our part to alleviate global tensions and help those that need our help. It is important that we do this in an orderly way.
I understand the concern expressed by some people about children living in detention. In an ideal world this simply wouldn’t occur. There is some culpability on the part of the Labor party and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will have to face this at some time. In 2007, the year that I was first elected and when Kevin Rudd became the Prime Minister, there were only a handful of people in detention seeking asylum. The changes that Prime Minister Rudd made to the immigration legislation opened the flood gates and resulted in many deaths at sea as vulnerable people made the journey across the sea to Christmas Island. This is to be avoided if at all possible.
In 2013 I hosted the Young Australian of the Year Akram Azimi in the Parkes Electorate and we visited several High Schools whose students were extremely interested in Akram’s journey to Australia. As we can see from Akram’s example not only do we have a lot to offer refugees, we also have a lot to gain from them.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has worked hard to restore order to our borders. This is in the best interest of Australia and those refugees who continue to be settled here under our refugee program.