Paris Aristotle in this article throws down the challenge to all sides and parties in our current and next Parliament. The arrival of asylum seeker boats is not going to be addressed without a more organised solution to which there is bipartisan commitment. The Malaysia Deal is not that solution. The recent Malaysian elections exposed some of the tensions along the lines of race, class and religion in an already overpopulated society. To send asylum seekers back to Malaysia from Australia is not only Australia shrugging off its responsibilities but putting those asylum seekers into a society that does not want them, will not welcome them and will marginalise and discriminate against them.
More organisation in Indonesia and Malaysia to identify refugees and then flying them to Australia would stop the boats. This has been done before in the 1970s and 1980s with the Orderly Departure Program that saw up to 250,000 Vietnamese boat people brought to Australia on Hercules Aircraft. The Orderly Departure Program was organised by the UN and the US and Australian Governments in co-operation with the Vietnamese Government of the time to stop Vietnamese Boat People taking to boats and being attacked on the high seas by pirates or pushed back to sea by the Malaysian military. We can do this again. Nothing stops us except our ability to get it organised. We can absorb tens of thousands of people a year in this country quite successfully. We have done it with the Vietnamese and other ethnicities that are now part of our daily lives in one of the world’s most successful multicultural countries. We can do this again. All that is required is the political will and political leadership. We need to stop catering to the lowest common denominator in this debate and start acting to save lives.