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.