Compassion, caution and asylum seekers

By Rod Benson

There was a time when humanitarian concern guaranteed that the tensions generated by an influx of asylum seekers was not politicized by our leaders. Those days are gone. 

In a speech last week, federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott claimed that “millions of Australians feel less secure in their own country” due to rising numbers of asylum seekers, and that people smugglers were selecting migrants for us.

But the Refugee Council of Australia said recent concerns over immigration had been stoked by fear-mongering, not by the 5400 people who had arrived here since 2007.

It’s hard to get the balance right between compassion and caution in debates over immigration, asylum seekers, and population policy in general. What we must not lose sight of is the fact that every so-called “boat person” is a living, breathing human being not unlike you and me.  How we treat such people speaks volumes about the kind of community we call home.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, Sunday 9 May 2010.

One Reply to “Compassion, caution and asylum seekers”

  1. In reference to your final sentence I would like to propose an alternative question – How does the treatment of asylum seekers who come to Australia in boats reflect on refugees in UN operated immigration camps who are unable to pay considerable sums to board boats to travel to Australia?

    Furthermore is it ‘just’ to delay the access of poor refugees to refugee status because wealthy refugees break the rules?

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