Tony Abbott finally says something so obviously against Australia’s interests that media stop covering for him; public turns*

Even if you have little sympathy for the fellow human beings fleeing persecution and asking for our help, even if you’ve internalised ridiculously misleading and flat-out inaccurate phrases like “illegals”, “queue jumpers”, “country shoppers”, and “non-genuine refugees”… if you’re otherwise a rational Australian you’d realise that a few thousand people on boats could never damage our country as much as a significant deterioration in our relationship with Indonesia, our most populous neighbour.

This new PM, Tony Abbott, ranks that relationship BELOW his obsession with persecuting refugees.

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The Oz tries to minimise what that damage might mean, making it sound like just a few meaningless speeches, and the News Ltd tabloids are presently a hotbed of “who do those Indons think they are” macho idiocy – but if you think sensibly for a few moments, you couldn’t possibly dismiss it so cavalierly.

…even if this means enduring significant damage to [our] relationship with Indonesia

As if that’s a pissy second-order issue.

It’s true we’ve done things to piss off the Indonesians before – when we (eventually) stood up for the human rights of the East Timorese (before stabbing them in the back for their precious natural resources); most recently when we tried to prevent animal cruelty to our livestock. But unlike the present case, we were not alone in the former – we were backed by most of the rest of the world. And the latter issue didn’t involve affronts to Indonesian sovereignty. In an Indonesian election year.

This new government we’ve got aren’t “adults”. They’re children playing at being cowboys. And if we let them keep doing it, it’s hard to have confidence it won’t seriously hurt us all.

*Not really, obviously.

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16 responses to “Tony Abbott finally says something so obviously against Australia’s interests that media stop covering for him; public turns*

  1. jordanrastrick

    I read some strategic analyst’s article in what I think was a serious-ish publication recently that was about how: The Australian and Indonesian navies have a good working relationship so a misunderstanding was unlikely to occur; and, even if one did, the Indonesian navy wouldn’t try to start any shit because you know our ships are more technologically advanced and stuff.

    Fan freaking tastic. The good ole “But we’d never be actually stupid enough to go to war” theory in its most reassuring “because our guns are bigger!” form is now apparently what stands between us and total catastrophe.

  2. Tony Abbott may have unknowingly done more for West Papuan independence than any Prime Minister in the last 40 years. The Jakarta lobby will have a hell of a tougher time telling us we have to stay silent to preserve our relationship with Indonesia if there’s no actual relationship to preserve.

  3. I fear it’s more likely that they’ll bend over backwards to help Indonesia in other ways to make up for it. For example, helping them cover up war crimes in East Timor.

    They’ll probably be even quicker to throw the West Papuans under the bus than if we had some political capital to spend. And, you know, than if the Liberals actually gave a shit about human rights.

  4. Splatterbottom

    Abbott seems to be managing the relationship with Indonesia quite well, notwithstanding the ABC’s valiant attempts to foment disharmony. It wasn’t Abbott who authorised spying on the Indonesian PM’s wife and it wasn’t Abbott who insanely and arbitrarily terminated Australia’s supply of an important source of food for Indonesians, screwing Australian farmers and hungry Indonesians in the process.

    The current wave of leftist hysteria is utterly hilarious. There have been no drowning for at least six weeks and the left is apoplectic. Little pointy lefty heads are exploding all over the place.

    Just imagine if Abbott gets it right and the gruesome people smuggling trade is ended. There will be no boats coming and no one in detention. The loony left will then have to find something else to whine about. I suppose they can redouble their efforts to stop any investigation into the (perfectly natural) alliance between corrupt unions and organised crime.

  5. SB, we put armed warships over the the Indonesian border without their consent in the course of an operation they have repeatedly objected to. Indonesian military officials (admittedly of probably limited authority) are on record discussing whether our ships so on fall within the operational range of a (hostile) response from their air force.

    Whatever else you might want to say about Operation Sovereign Borders or the ALPs own diplomatic efforts with out neighbours, its silly to characterize this as “be managing the relationship with Indonesia quite well”.

  6. There have been no drowning for at least six weeks and the left is apoplectic.

    You’re insane if you think that bullying refugees into staying in danger is saving their lives. In fact, here are three deaths in January as a direct result of the Abbott government’s cruel policy.

    Don’t feign concern for the safety of asylum seekers when you don’t give a shit how they die as long as it’s not on a boat in Australian waters. It’s nauseatingly insincere.

  7. Just how safe do you think the Afghans we’re forcing back tomorrow will be when they arrive in an Afghan winter with no supports, SB?

  8. Splatterbottom

    Jordan: “Whatever else you might want to say about Operation Sovereign Borders or the ALPs own diplomatic efforts with out neighbours, its silly to characterize this as “be managing the relationship with Indonesia quite well”.”

    Abbott is managing to stop people drowning while still keeping the relationship with in bounds. Much to the chagrin of the ABC and other rancid leftists the Indonesians have sent boats to the area, not to confront Australia but to help stop boats. That to me is a diplomatic success even if Abbott and SBY aren’t quite frottaging each other yet.

    Jeremy: “Don’t feign concern for the safety of asylum seekers when you don’t give a shit how they die as long as it’s not on a boat in Australian waters. It’s nauseatingly insincere.”

    More projection. It was Senator Rancid-Dung who gave the “shit happens” shrug to refugee deaths. It was the idiot left calling for Indonesia to respond to Abbott by sending more boats, content in the knowledge that that would mean more deaths. No doubt they consider that that is a price worth paying for smug leftists to be able to feel good about themselves.

    “You’re insane if you think that bullying refugees into staying in danger is saving their lives. “

    Staying in Indonesia is not staying in danger, is it? Maybe they should spend the $10k per head they spend flying into Indonesia and paying smugglers on some other plan.

  9. In fact, here are three deaths in January as a direct result of the Abbott government’s cruel policy.

    Not really a ‘fact’ though, is it? It’s just a completely unverified claim that isn’t even attributed to a source. And I’ll take an unverified allegation of 3 deaths over 48 actual dead people washing up on the shores of Christmas Island, or 44 people (including 18 children) drowning off Java, any day of the week.

    Abbott and the Liberals are in the process of reversing an appalling error of judgement by Labor/the Greens, and in doing so are cleaning a gigantic stain from Australia’s collective conscience. Instead of spitting increasingly intemperate and offensive abuse at those of us who inhabit the opposite side of this debate, Lefty, perhaps it’s time you just accepted that a safe, well managed and offshore refugee program is by far the best of the imperfect set of alternatives realistically available to us.

    And happy new year to you all.

  10. I don’t even know where to begin.

    FIRST. Your entire “save lives” idea is dependent on “deterrence”, right? It’s about being so awful to fellow human beings here that they will choose to stay in danger in the places from which they’re fleeing, places so dangerous that they are prepared to take the risk on boats which sometimes sink.

    So what makes you think you’re “saving lives” by bullying them into staying in those places? What makes you think you’re “saving lives” by denying them medical treatment in Nauru? What makes you think you’re “saving lives” by supporting the government dragging boats back across the ocean and dumping them in random bits of jungle? What makes you think you’re “saving lives” by putting them on planes back to Iran, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka?

    It’s unbelievable bullshit. If you actually cared about the danger to the refugees’ lives from flimsy boats, you’d demand the government stop preventing refugees from getting on planes. You wouldn’t support the government putting them in danger in other ways.

    SECOND what makes you suddenly believe Morrison just because he’s massively upped the secrecy and is hiding from us what is actually going on? The boats are clearly still coming and risking their passengers’ lives – the dangerous voyage doesn’t stop being a dangerous voyage just bc Morrison didn’t let them land at this end. Dragging them back across the sea makes it two dangerous voyages instead of one. Or, in the case of those ridiculously expensive vomit-cell “lifeboats”, two dangerous voyages plus an extra dangerous landing in a remote jungle.

    I can’t tell you how revolting this concern trolling is, where you pretend to care for the refugees’ lives only insofar as it’s on boats in Australian waters. What happens to them in our care in Nauru? Not a squeak. What happens to them back in Iran, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka? Not our problem! What happens to them when we push their boats back across the sea? As long as they die on their side of the line, it’s fine!

    Hideous. Monstrous.

    The only appalling conduct here is by the people who want to treat refugees badly rather than with compassion.

    PS The refugees dying in the jungle detail was from News Ltd. Not a trustworthy source, true, but it’s an admission against interest.

  11. Staying in Indonesia is not staying in danger, is it? Maybe they should spend the $10k per head they spend flying into Indonesia and paying smugglers on some other plan.

    Given they have no rights there, yes, it bloody well is staying in danger. (It would be an interesting experiment to remove emergency services like police, ambulances etc from the voters of Western Sydney and see how safe they are.)

    And what “other plan” do you propose they take instead?

  12. Your entire “save lives” idea is . . . about being so awful to fellow human beings here that they will choose to stay in danger.

    No, not at all. It’s about sending the message that our fellow human beings are welcome to apply for refugee status in Australia via established refugee intake programs, but that they will not be successful in any attempt to circumvent those programs by electing to take a dangerous people smuggling route.

    It has nothing at all to do with ‘being awful’ to refugees – this is a persistent strawman that you seem unable or unwilling to let go of.

    The boats are clearly still coming and risking their passengers’ lives

    Absolutely they are, but not for much longer. Soon the boat journeys will stop – do you not understand that this is the aim of the policy?

    Hideous. Monstrous.

    Sigh. You still view this issue through a prism constructed entirely of your own moral superiority. I disagree with you so I am a hideous monster. I disagree with you so I am a racist. It’s so sad.

    Lefty you are clinging to pie-in-the-sky policy ideals. You seriously propose that Australia throws open its borders to anyone with the money for a flight here? It’s as crazy as it is totally unrealistic – although I suppose it’s a slight improvement on your previous plan for a government-run ferry service for anyone who can make it to Indonesia.

    Your position is bereft of logic, realism or practical application. You are clinging to an undergraduate utopian vision that prevents you from recognising real-world progress when you see it. I suppose I am a fool for arguing with you under such conditions, but the truth is that I still hold out hope for you.

    (PS – regardless of who reported the claims of the three asylum deaths, they were quite obviously based on the heresay of an Indonesian couple who had been told a story by three (now missing) Iranian refugees. For you to characterise this claim as being akin to a ‘fact’ should tell you just how far you have strayed from the path of reason.)

  13. Splatterbottom

    Happy New Year, Mondo. I don’t want to detract from your very moderate and well reasoned response to Jeremy’s hysterical, illogical rant, so I won’t reply to him in kind.

    It is very sad to watch the closing of a once astute and open mind.

  14. No, not at all. It’s about sending the message that our fellow human beings are welcome to apply for refugee status in Australia via established refugee intake programs,

    Jesus, Mondo – what do you imagine a refugee in danger is supposed to do? Where are these “programs” for them to join? Where in Jakarta do they stay safely while they wait? PEOPLE DIE IN INDONESIAN CAMPS. Women die in childbirth bc there’s no maternity care.

    Do you know how you can tell their lives are in danger before they get on the boats, and after we send them back? BECAUSE THEY ARE WILLING TO GET ON THE BOATS IN THE FIRST PLACE. They know the boats are dangerous. They know there’s a chance they’ll sink. But staying where they are is even more dangerous.

    Or maybe you think that the refugees are just too dumb to know how dangerous the boats are. In which case the government has been insanely wasteful setting up “deterrent” detention centres – it could save millions just running massive information campaigns in Indonesia so there’s no way any refugee wouldn’t know how dangerous the boats are.

    I doubt very much you believe that would work, and the reason is that you know as well as I do that refugees will make the choice to flee danger on unseaworthy boats because the danger they’re fleeing is even worse. They have a pretty good idea of the dangers of the journey already.

    It has nothing at all to do with ‘being awful’ to refugees – this is a persistent strawman that you seem unable or unwilling to let go of.

    What the hell do you think “deterrence” is? How do you think “deterrence” works?

    Absolutely they are, but not for much longer. Soon the boat journeys will stop – do you not understand that this is the aim of the policy?

    What makes you think they’ll stop? Scott Morrison concealing their arrivals?

    Sigh. You still view this issue through a prism constructed entirely of your own moral superiority. I disagree with you so I am a hideous monster. I disagree with you so I am a racist. It’s so sad.

    You shoved the word “racist” in there. I’m sure you fundamentally oppose our visa system that lets people from some countries get here on planes and apply for asylum once they’re safely here, and flat-out refuses to give visas to those from countries with refugees so they have to come on boats. That policy is outrageously racist, but I’m sure you oppose it.

    Don’t you?

    I don’t think you’re a “hideous monster”, I think you’ve bought the misinformation and lies behind a hideously monstrous policy and I’m hoping to help you see why what you’re supporting is so vicious and indefensible.

    You seriously propose that Australia throws open its borders to anyone with the money for a flight here?

    We already do, provided they’re from countries we like…

    This “fortress Australia” idea is redundant anyway. We have oceans keeping all but the most determined away. Most refugees don’t want to come here – they want to go to Europe, Canada or the US. We take a pathetically small number of refugees given our resources. We managed without a need for this sort of frantic “border protection” for most of our history, and we’ve grown as a nation because of it.

    What do you fear? A Pauline Hanson-type “swamping” of foreigners?

    I’m sure you don’t.

    You are clinging to an undergraduate utopian vision that prevents you from recognising real-world progress when you see it.

    What “progress”? If Abbott managed to “stop the boats”, thereby leaving all those people in danger in Jakarta or worse, how exactly is that “progress”? How has that saved their lives? On what basis do you assert that the odds of survival in Jakarta for a refugee with no rights or protections is better than that for a refugee on a boat?

    regardless of who reported the claims of the three asylum deaths, they were quite obviously based on the heresay of an Indonesian couple who had been told a story by three (now missing) Iranian refugees. For you to characterise this claim as being akin to a ‘fact’ should tell you just how far you have strayed from the path of reason.

    Are you telling me you think the refugees dumped on a remote jungle island are perfectly safe?

    Do you think that the government can be trusted to run refugee camps humanely with no oversight? Cos that’s what they’re insisting on. Do you think that the government can be trusted to treat refugees humanely on the seas – refugees they demonise as “illegals” threatening our VERY SOVEREIGNTY – without any oversight?

    Please tell me you don’t just accept that the people who have every motive to try to bully refugees into giving up and going home can be trusted to respect their humanity without any oversight whatsoever.

  15. It is very sad to watch the closing of a once astute and open mind.

    Concern trolling is really a way of life for some people, isn’t it?

  16. There’s so much to respond to that a complete rebuttal of every point you’ve raised would be excessively long Lefty, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I restrict my post to what I consider to be the most important parts.

    Where in Jakarta do they stay safely while they wait? PEOPLE DIE IN INDONESIAN CAMPS. Women die in childbirth bc there’s no maternity care.

    There is a critical difference between people who are in imminent danger because of their ethnic, religious or political beliefs (i.e. ‘refugees’, as defined) and people who are simply in danger due to living in poverty or being born into a country with limited social services. Thousands of women die in childbirth the world over due to improper (or non-existent) medical care – but that’s fundamentally not relevant to the refugee question.

    People living in rural Africa are not entitled to migrate to Australia merely because they are poor and have no access to medical care. People living in Indonesian slums are equally not so entitled merely because they are not safe at night.

    The reality is that the ‘dangers’ you are pointing to as the basis of an immediate migration right are a non sequitur to the refugee debate. You are, in effect, inventing an entirely new category of ‘refugee’ – completely outside the established UNHCR norms – based on a sort of generic ‘life danger’. Of course its sad that people live under such conditions but it cannot possibly form the basis of an immediate migration right.

    What the hell do you think “deterrence” is? How do you think “deterrence” works?

    I’m going to try this one more time – I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve tried to answer this question and you’ve ignored my answer – but deterrence in the current context merely means convincing asylum seekers that any attempt to come to Australia through a people smuggling route will be unsuccessful. They are ‘deterred’ from making the journey because they become convinced that it will not be successful.

    It’s not a particularly difficult concept and I’m not sure how much clearer I can make it. Perhaps you will understand it better as you watch it actually work in the real world?

    I’m sure you fundamentally oppose our visa system that lets people from some countries get here on planes and apply for asylum once they’re safely here, and flat-out refuses to give visas to those from countries with refugees so they have to come on boats.

    This is not the way our visa system works Lefty – you have been misinformed. My best friend is Iranian and his family is able to obtain Australian visas, although admittedly they need to jump through a lot more hoops than the family of my Colombian wife, who in turn need to jump through more hoops than the family of my English brother-in-law. Anyone can get an Australian visa if our Dept of Immigration is convinced that they are a low likelihood of applying for asylum once they get here.

    It has nothing to do with race. It has nothing to do with racism. It has everything to do with a controlled border policy that seeks to prevent excessive numbers of asylum seekers showing up. And no, I do not oppose it, because I don’t oppose the concept of a controlled humanitarian intake that is limited by democratically selected quotas – why would I?

    Are you telling me you think the refugees dumped on a remote jungle island are perfectly safe?

    No I don’t – and you’re deliberately changing the subject to avoid admitting your error.

    Do you think that the government can be trusted to run refugee camps humanely with no oversight?

    Aha – some common ground at last!

    No I don’t think this, and the more I learn about Nauru and PNG the more appalled I am. These camps should either be transparent and deliver a reasonable standard of decent and humane care, or should be closed down immediately.

    I’m prepared to admit that my previous support for offshore camps was perhaps naive and foolish – I still support the concept of offshore detention in principle, but if we can’t guarantee that those detained there will receive a reasonable standard of care then it’s obviously not something we should pursue in practice.

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