No doubt we will soon be hearing repeats of the ‘Jesus was a refugee‘ motto, with the implication that anyone who questions the instant acceptance into Australian society of anyone who turns up must therefore be unchristian and uncaring. Because if you turn anyone away, then you would have turned Jesus away.
It’s all very well wanting to appear compassionate. And if appearance is all you care about, then sure, let’s just take anyone who has the money or other means to push their way to our shores.
But the fact is we cannot take everyone who would like to come. We don’t have the water, we don’t have the infrastructure to take a large proportion of all the refugees in the world, certainly not in a short period of time, and equally certainly not without careful planning.
And the wish of others to come has to be balanced against the right of those already here to be protected from people would would bring to Australia the violence or intolerance or whatever it is they want to escape from in their homeland.
In other words, we have to be selective. We should be generous. If we want to continue to be able to be generous, we must also be careful about how many, and who, come to Australia.
Those who appear in Australian waters uninvited may not be, and probably are not, the most needy or deserving. They are simply those who have the money or other means to try to shortcut a system of review that is designed to find and help those most in need of help. In the case of the last few boats, the people on them had already travelled half way around the world, and through at least half a dozen countries to get here.
A truly compassionate approach will do everything reasonably possible to discourage illegal immigration, because the need to shelter, feed and process illegal immigrants, and to provide them and their children with medical care and education, all takes money and resources that could be spent finding and welcoming people who do not have the resources to push their way to the head of the queue.
As I have noted before, the result of the Labor government’s wanting to appear compassionate is actually more suffering, both for those who come expecting a softer welcome and are turned away, and for those who wait in refugee camps around the world, and will have to wait longer because resources that could have gone to preparing them to come to Australia must instead be utilised supervising queue jumpers.