Let’s fight poverty not poor people

To all our politicians,

Let’s fight poverty not poor people.

My colleague came up with a great update to a parable of Jesus –

There was once a man who had a wide, brown country. In the 1850’s he threw open its doors and invited people to come in and share in the good gold there was. In the 1960’s he again threw open the doors and invited people from all over Europe to come and settle in this lucky country. In the 2010’s many more people came to that land, mostly by boat, and those who were there already said, “We’ve been here for years and these new comers want the same things as us, it’s just not fair.”

And the Traditional owners of that land just shook their heads.

I don’t think our Prime Minister has sung the second verse of our national anthem. I had to learn it for my citizenship ceremony, the government made me. Maybe he should take a little time to familiarise himself with it and then sing it to all his little politician friends instead of making up silly laws that go against the human spirit let alone human rights.

Mr. Rudd it goes like this –

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Now Mr. Rudd, may I politely suggest you sing lines 5 & 6 again –

For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share.

Unless I’m reading it wrong, there is no mention of Papua New Guinea. Not a hint of detention camps. Those boundless plains are Australian soil and i’m pretty sure they have room for a few Asylum Seekers.

Now before you go and label me naive or a soft, lefty, liberal do-gooder who doesn’t know what’s going on in the world let me say I know that not everyone who tries to get here by boat is a genuine political refugee. Some are just people looking to find a better life for themselves and their families, and if that is a crime then most of us who have immigrated here should be shipped over to P.N.G. and locked up.

Many of them, though, are genuinely seeking political asylum and as a welcome they get shipped off to P.N.G. and treated like prisoners.

The rest of the world is branding Australia as racist; the United Nations are saying we are in breech of many and various conventions on Human Rights; many Australians think we are just being selfish and are pretty sure the government can find a better way to spend $1.1 billion.

As many people see it, me included, the problem is not solely the Asylum Seekers. They are just people seeking to better themselves, economically or politically. We should be asking ourselves why do they want to come here?

Why? Because we have a better life. 100’s, if not 1000’s, of them are willing to pay all they have to known people smugglers and risk their very lives for the chance of settling on our ‘boundless plains”.

Why? To escape poverty and helplessness. To try and give their families some hope for the future. If we want to do something we should be trying to tackle the reasons for the boats not the boats themselves.

Instead of spending millions on new or expanded camps funnel those funds into international aid or overseas development – give people a reason to stay, a hope for their future. Then, maybe, the boats will go from here to there and we’ll see how they treat us.

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