Indonesia: the last place on Earth for the boatpeople.

You have to feel sorry for the Indonesians and I can’t blame them for being annoyed. There are thousands of asylum seekers who would rather die than end up living in Indonesia. Take the Tamils, for example. They are apparently in fear for their lives. They are being tortured and raped in Sri Lanka and can’t wait to get away from all that misery there.

And yet, even after reaching Indonesia and spending some time there, they want to come to Australia. In fact, they will threaten to hurt themselves or go on hunger strikes rather than continue to dwell in Indonesia.

Now Indonesia has a huge population and it even has a democracy. It also has a thriving tourist industry which enjoys the benefits of Australian tourists who think it is a great place to visit. Bali is one of our favourite destinations, after all, and that is in spite of a couple of terrorist attacks.

I am surprised that people who are escaping the violence in their own country feel that they can call the shots on where they go. And yet this is the case with the 78 Sri Lankan Tamils who are refusing to disembark in Indonesia.

No wonder the Indonesians are fed up with this intransigence. How awful must it be for Indonesians to be told that their country is a dump unfit for the likes of the Sri Lankans. Imagine how we in Australia would feel if some asylum seekers refused to come here on account of it’s not their favourite place on Earth. Imagine if they announced that they would rather die than disembark in our wide brown land.

Wouldn’t we be tempted to respond in a manner something like this? If you don’t like it here then go…go…do not stop….just go.

There’s a stench of blackmail here and I hope that the government of Australia will not allow itself to be pushed around by this boatload. Otherwise it will not only continue to offend Indonesia but it will also make a rod for its own back.

I would go so far as to announce publically that if asylum seekers come illegally to Australia then they will be assessed after all the legal asylum seekers have had their turn. Not quickly, as they have been promised, but slowly and in the fullness of time.

This seems eminently fair to me and to the poorer souls who don’t have the money to buy a passage Downunder. After all, don’t we Australians respect a fair go for all?

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