Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Greens take the high road by walking the walk

It's an unmitigated disaster for Labor and a PR coup for the Coalition. The High Court's ruling in favour of refugees who want to be processed for asylum in Australia is quite clear: Malaysia cannot offer adequate protection for asylum seekers sent there, and it does not have adequate provision for access to effective procedures for gauging asylum claims. Australia's international obligations have trumped political expedience and Immigration Minister Bowen is left holding the can. He must be very unhappy right at this point in time, despite assertions that he is seeking legal advice.

Pleasing sectors of the electorate who harbour their racism behind objections to those who make a business out of trafficking people from overseas to Australia via points in Southeast Asia is something the Coalition are very good at. Conservatism almost demands that you take a xenophobic view of the world, and is more closely aligned in its values with the lower strata of society. Progressives aspire to improve the world, conservatives merely claim validity for the status quo on the grounds that it's better for business. It costs less to do things if you are stingy both emotionally and financially. Don't give 'em a farthing, is the mantra from the Right. But for Labor to align its immigration policy so closely with that of the Coalition is a behaviour that should not surprise us. Since the 1980s, Labor has been drifting Rightwards with alarming consistency. Hence the rise of the Greens.

The High Court's decision will be seen as a vindication by those who vote on their side of politics. It's a reminder that there are higher goals to which Australia should aspire, having taken on the responsibility - as well as the cachet - of progressive decisions designed to protect the weakest and most vulnerable, wherever they reside. The Greens have been saying for a long time that Malaysia is not a "fit and proper" country under the terms of our obligations, just as they aim to prove through an enquiry into the media that News Limited is not a "fit and proper" guardian of our democratic interests in the form of control of a substantial segment of Australia's media. There are real principles involved here, not just economic reasons for doing this or that. The Greens prove, again, that they are the real guardians of Australia's collective conscience, not either of the two major parties.


Anonymous said...

Great post Matt. The whole saga has been so disappointing from the major parties.

Matthew da Silva said...

Thanks for your comment. Yeah, a big downer for those guys.