I AM sick of the way the refugee issue is positioned in Australia.
It is disingenuous for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to claim that he chooses not to act humanely to asylum seekers because it benefits people smugglers and because some asylum boats sink, killing those aboard.
The whole ‘sovereign borders’ and national security argument for denying people their human rights is bogus.
And when the Prime Minister continues to deny that humans are causing climate change, a danger that is likely to do far more serious harm to our country, his credibility is diminished.
I believe the only shred of truth that the PM utters is that, with the ability for medical professionals to have more say over refugee transfers from offshore detention centres, more asylum seekers will now travel to Australia by boat.
I say to the PM that I would rather spend the money on detention centres in Australia, properly check the backgrounds of asylum seekers and admit those who can demonstrate reasonable fear of persecution than spend an equal amount of money on offshore detention centres and be an international recalcitrant on human rights.
I have been ashamed of my country since John Howard used the Tampa incident to malign the powerless and for his own political gain; just as Mr Morrison is now attempting to do. Xenophobic, narrow-minded, racist: our worst side.
There are challenges in being a fair and reasonable international citizen. Extreme weather, civil war, despotic autocracies, discrimination in many forms all make Australia, by contrast, a desirable destination.
Asylum seekers often come with nothing, and take at least a generation to come through the difficulties of the radical transition of moving countries and cultures.
But the risks are worth it if we are to look at ourselves as a nation and be proud.
I was proud when Hakeem al-Araibi was released from a Thai prison. I was proud of individuals like Craig Foster who appears to get that it doesn’t matter how good you are (or were) at something, your ethics are what really count.
I was proud of the human rights organisations such as the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network for their activism. And I was proud of Australia’s diplomatic service, of our government and, yes, of you, Mr Morrison.
I want to be proud of my country, for what it stands for, for what it does for those who can do it no immediate good.
When we act according to high ideals, stemming from our private conscience, and as reflected by the way we want our close friends and family to view us, we gain far more than we give.