A query from a friend this morning prompted me to think again on the immigration and refugee situation in Australia. He thought I might have written the following letter, printed in The Age today:
Some good points I will get to shortly, but this Richard Read was a prominent Melbourne Crown Prosecutor. Me? Just a lowly police prosecutor once-upon-a-time.
A funny story before I proceed though.
One day a few years ago, mum came into town to have lunch with me and visit my office. Our meeting time passed and I wondered where on earth she was… mum is not one for being too late. I rang her and she immediately replied that she was in my office. “Why can’t I see you?” I said.
We soon discovered that she was standing in the office of the Crown Prosecutor Richard Read (also on Lonsdale Street where my office was) and it became clear to mum why she had been met with an amused look from Richard’s secretary when mum informed her that she was, “Richard’s mum and I’m here to have lunch with my son.” (he’s actually older than mum is!).
Whilst on the subject, I’m also not this man:
Nor this man:
Sorry. Back on topic.
It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote this piece after the Jordanian cyclone devastation. More recently – and as I type – I’ve been holidaying in Thailand, a beautiful part of the world but also a place where there is plenty of palpable poverty and generally low socio-economic surroundings. It certainly drives home how lucky we are and helps you understand why there are millions of people in the world trying to get to Australia.
I get more and more frustrated though, when I see people such as Richard Read (above) make critical comment about Australia’s immigrant and refugee policy without ever once offering an alternative solution. My social media feeds and the main-stream media I read are frequented by people who are very happy to provide their opinion on how horrible Australia’s policies are, how very compassionate people they are, and how disgusted they are by the treatment of refugees off-shore.
Yet nobody EVER offers an alternative solution.
(Neither do I, I might add. I have no solution at all… zip, zero, zilch – but I support the current policies in as much as they are the only solution being put forward at present).
There are some people doing great things to further the discussion, such as Troy Bailey who is riding around Australia in 180 days on as much dirt as possible or Peter Drew who is posting art all over the place to get people talking. I haven’t seen a solution on either of their web-sites though.
I particularly admire Troy, whose journey I have followed since he was so impacted by the refugee plight, that he decided to sell up everything he owned and hit the road to seriously talk-the-talk and get people thinking… about a solution.
Troy will shortly visit my mum and dad in Porepunkah (if it all comes together) where he will see the amazing work they have done welcoming and supporting Burmese refugees into Australia. They’re the ones I admire the most. Mum and dad don’t have a solution either (although dad might like to think he does!). They work hard helping legal refugees who have come here through the proper process and now work their guts out contributing to their new home. Mum and dad have views on detention centres, but they don’t have a solution.
Richard Read (the other one); albeit learned (most of the time), further expresses the view that transparency is restricted by penalising professionals from speaking out, as has been expressed in many main-stream stories I’ve read as well as commentary in social media. I suspect most of those people who make that statement have not read the legislation. I have, and I don’t interpret it that way. I believe that incorrect interpretation is just a beast now out of control… people just accept what they read and hear.
So is it the old, “Don’t come to me with a problem… come to me with a solution.” ?
Well – not quite, because we know how hard it is coming up with a solution to this one. But don’t whinge and moan and complain about a situation when you have absolutely no hint of a suggestion as to what Australia might do about it.
Rather, do something like Troy or Paul and make people talk. At least then we might have some chance of progress rather than simply listening to a bunch of sooks without an answer (most of whom I agree with btw!).