The UN recently officially pointed out that Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers is inhumane and horrific, and qualifies as torture and a mass human rights violation. Which, of course, it is. I’d add racist, ineffective and expensive to that list just for starters. Our PM, as is his custom, had a massive whinge about it, saying “Australians are sick of being lectured to” on the subject. Today a human rights lawyer at the UN hit back at Mr Abbott.
Abbott has tried in the past to paint his “stopping the boats” policy as humanitarian. The idea, as far as I can gather there is one, is that if we make the conditions on places like Manus Island so deplorable that people would rather stay in places where they risk torture or execution, they’ll stop coming. Even if it did work (Abbott says the boats have stopped, but isn’t exactly to be trusted), no ends justify means which involve torture, epidemic sexual abuse, indefinite detention of children and any of a dozen other horrifying things that happen in our detention centres.
But carry this policy through to its logical conclusion and you can start to see that it informs all Abbott’s other policies. He talks big about providing jobs and strengthening the economy and balancing the budget, but his policies hurt those who can least bear it. Moreover, they demonstrably don’t help in the areas he talks about — the unemployment rate, which had been trending down under the previous government, has risen steadily since he took office and shows no sign of slowing, while the budget deficit has ballooned from $18 billion to $30 billion, despite a global economic recovery, in just one year.
Consider, then, this hypothesis. Abbott thinks the best thing he can do for Australia is to keep the brown people out. If that means ruining it for the rest of us (or at least those of us in the bottom 99%), that’s an acceptable price to pay. He’s running the country into the ground in the best way he knows how, because if he can make the very prospect of living in Australia unappealing enough, even people fleeing despotic persecution will stop coming.
Just a thought.