Boat people: the problem that’s not our problem

AMAZING really, that we can pay people to make such a cock-up of things.

I don’t mean Phil or Kim or John. They’re politicians. We don’t really expect them to have brains. What we expect is for them to employ people who have brains.

The kind of people who can look at a sinking shipload of people, rescued by a Good Samaritan, near an island named after the man who told us about the Good Samaritan, and with an unerring instinct for getting it wrong can advise our leaders to say: “Sod off!”

Were there really political advisers out there who thought this was a good idea?

I don’t mean giving the flick to 460 fellow human beings who have already gone through more than your average Aussie goes through in a whole lifetime – and that includes fighting your way through the January sales.

I mean giving the flick to international maritime law regarding those in peril on the seas, and to a merchant vessel in distress (and if you think being on a ship built for 27 with 438 extra passengers and nowhere to go is not ‘in distress’, you’ve never been on the Stuart Highway with no fuel, no chewing gum, six hours to go to the nearest petrol station, and four whingeing kids).

Oh, but come on, I hear someone say… we had reasons. Well, that’s true. Summarised, I think they were: it’s not our problem.

Good one Phil, Kim, John. Just explain to me, though, why it is we now have a problem, if it’s not our problem?

Phil, bless him, didn’t even know we were closer to the problem (or our port was) than Indonesia. When it was pointed out to him he postured: “Well, I didn’t have a ruler!”

I’ll let you into a secret, Phil. You know what explorers, sailors, and children have been using for hundreds of years to measure distance from one place to another on the high seas?

A ruler.

You could have used a Satnav electronic position indicator (and you didn’t) but a little wooden stick would have done the trick.

I have to ask: what did you use? Don’t answer.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should necessarily be taking these boat people as permanent citizens. I’d just like to think that if people find me beaten senseless in the gutter and robbed of all my possessions, that they won’t fight for the right to ignore me. From the other side of the street, as it were.

A chair and a cup of tea would do. They don’t have to invite me in to live with them forever.

I mean, I might be a villain. There’s bound to be one or two villains among 438 boat people, although there’s no proof.

Shame. Once upon a time if you could prove villainy you were guaranteed a place in Australia.

But we’ve grown a lot more civilised since then.