It’s not easy being PM

Tony Abbott is having a tough time. The Indonesians are not doing what they are told, the people smugglers are not doing what they are told and the weather is not doing what it is told.

The president of Indonesia, has been tweeting his disappointment with Tony Abbott.

International relations with Indonesia are not looking good.

With regards to asylum seekers, Tony Abbott has been very secretive. Perhaps the government is hoping that out of sight means out of mind. The NYTimes magazine this week features a harrowing account of the boat trip from Indonesia to Australia that is made by asylum seekers. It is the work of undercover journalist, Luke Mogelson and undercover photographer, Joel Van Houdt. It’s definitely worth reading: The Dream Boat.

According to Mogelson, the Australian government has paid for large billboard advertising in Afghanistan warning would-be asylum seekers against making the desperate journey to Australia by boat. These billboards say, “All illegal routes to Australia are closed to Afghans”. There is also a tv advertisement featuring an asylum seeker warning people not to go. But this does not stop the boats. Why do they still attempt what must be a dreadful journey when they know they’ll never make it to Australia? According to Mogelson, they don’t believe it. They think they will end up in Australia.

The Australian government ascribes their persistence partly to misinformation propagated by the smugglers. But every asylum seeker who believes those lies believes them because he chooses to. Their doing so, and continuing to brave the Indian Ocean, and continuing to die, only illustrates their desperation in a new, disturbing kind of light. This is the subtext to the plight of every refugee: Whatever hardship he endures, he endures because it beats the hardship he escaped. Every story of exile implies the sadder story of a homeland.

How do you tell that to someone who has severed himself utterly from his country, in order to reach another? It was impossible. They wouldn’t believe it.

At the end of his article, Mogelson tries to warn one asylum seeker about the futility of trying to get to Australia by boat. Here’s the conversation:

I felt obligated to tell him he was wrong. “You won’t get to Australia,” I said.

Qais didn’t seem to hear. The words simply didn’t register. “Australia, Europe, America,” he said. “They’re not like here. You have a chance.”

Then we have climate change, something which Tony Abbott thinks is crap. This is despite Australia having recently had its hottest day, hottest week, hottest month and hottest summer on record. Tony Abbott did not send a minster to the recent climate change talks in Warsaw and Australia is way down the bottom of the Climate Change Performance Index at 57 out of 61 countries. It’s all very depressing but not particularly surprising.

12 thoughts on “It’s not easy being PM”

  1. All very troubling. Thank you for highlighting Australia’s PM’s stand on these issues, I am better educated about these pressing issues after I read your posts Rachel. The situation with the asylum seekers coming from Afghanistan is very troubling indeed and really highlights the desperation of these people. I wonder what the PM’s stand really is?

    1. I wasn’t very clear on what his stance is but it’s basically that Australia should keep the boats away at all costs. They are not to come to Australia at all; they are to go to the pacific island of Nauru. This was also the stance of the previous government and seems to be what the Australian public want.

      The media make out that this is a huge problem when actually there are only about 25,000 asylum seekers arriving by boat each year. And compared with other countries, Australia doesn’t take all that many refugees. It ranked 69th in the world for per capita refugee intake.

      I’m not sure what the solution is but sending them to a tent camp on a desolate pacific island does not sound very fair to me. I also can’t help but think of how my own ancestors arrived by boat to Australia and how it wasn’t actually their country at the time.

  2. Smuggling people to more prosperous countries is a lucrative business. Some of my countrymen had perfected many schemes to get around the system.
    I guess poor people will always be victims because they wish for a better life abroad. Or, in some cases, they leave because they are persecuted at home. This is really sad.

    1. Belsbror,
      Is there much people smuggling going on in the Philippines?
      After reading about the conditions on board the asylum seeker boat as revealed by the two undercover journalists, I think the boat journey my own ancestors made was better, albeit longer. At least my ancestors sailed on a proper boat!

      1. Smuggling is not the term used here. We use the more legal term, recruitment.
        Migration is a hot issue especially to developed countries. I cannot blame people in poor countries wanting to live and work abroad. For them, they needed more opportunities other than presented to them locally. How to get abroad is the problem. Some fell victims to bad people.

  3. Abbott, while at CHOGM practically endorsed torture in reference to the crushing of the Tamil’s in Sri Lanka. Their human rights abuses are well-documented and known and then he topped it off by giving them two patrol boats with no caveats on how they are to be used. Essentially it means the Sri Lankans can now subject Tamil refugees to more human rights abuses courtesy of the torture endorsing Prime Minister of my country.

    Meanwhile, our parliament has become a fascist joke with changes to standing orders by the government making debate all but impossible. Any “points of order” raised by the opposition in relation to the non-answering or dishonest answering of questions by government ministers are being ruled as “no point of order” by the most biased and inexperienced speaker in the history of our parliament. This has resulted in Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Christopher Pyne and Scott Morrison misleading the parliament (a censurable offence) on numerous occasions with complete impunity. It has become a farce. Unfortunately a large number of my fellow countrymen have no idea what is going on under their noses because they are stuck with the compliant MSM not reporting anything accurately. I can only hope that after three years, their poor economic performance starts to really hurt the apathetic voters and makes them question why? Climate change of course will continue to throw up devastating bushfires, extreme weather etc and it will become more focused ion the front of people’s minds too.

    Anyway, Tony Abbott is not my PM. I didn’t vote for his party and he certainly does NOT represent me. He is a shameless sociopath beheld by his wealthy donors. He writes letters of recommendation for pedofile priests, defends Cardinal George Pell’s inaction over the sexual abuse of children in the catholic church, claims travel expenses for charity bike rides, stops firefighting efforts to stage photographs, removes disaster relief funding for some categories of those affected by the same fires, lies pathologically in parliament, sends unaccompanied minors back to Sri Lanka, never to be seen again, intimidates female opponents by punching walls next to their heads, separates refugee mothers from their hospitalised babies and so much more. The mind boggles how anybody could have voted for him.

    What is interesting to me, and this is in no way scientific at all, for so many reasons, but I have asked more than 50 people in my circle of friends and aquaintences who they voted for in the previous election and NOT ONE would admit they voted for the LNP. It seems to be everybody’s dirty little secret.

    1. I echo everything stated here by uknowispeaksense. Everything.

      It is a shame and an embarrassment that people around the world and in Australia believe that what is happening “seems to be what the Australian public want”, because that is just not correct (pardon me for quoting you there, Rachel, I’m not being contrarian!). At the same time, it is completely understandable why people think this. After all, ‘we’ voted for it…

      The shame…

    2. Thank you both for your comments. I agree with all that you’ve said too, ukiss. I don’t think Tony Abbott won by the huge margin everyone was expecting. It was only 30,000 votes apparently.

      I can remember being bemused when he was elected leader of his party a few years ago and thinking at the time that this was a sure way to lose the federal election. How wrong was I? All I can say is that now I’m dismayed that he actually won even if the margin was small.

      I also don’t mean to imply that all Australians agree with the current treatment of refugees and so I’m sorry AsGrayAsGray about phrasing it that way. A great majority of Australians do though and I think this is because of the over-hyping of the issue by media.

      1. No apology necessary Rachel! That’s exactly what I meant – that even though the majority, generally, disagree strongly with a lot of what is going on, it is very easy to perceive that Australians in general are in agreement.

        Yep, the media here have been like a pied piper, with the voting public expected to play the rats, and many do just that, because they are quite mindless about it all.

        The narrow election victory that looked like a landslide – because that’s how certain elements wanted it to look so that they could use the word ‘mandate’ – is another component of all that. Many of the mindless mindlessly accept that the mandate is real, that the majority think (or not) just like them. We’ve been suckered.

        What do they say? You get what you vote for.

        Seems most of us chose to join in the lynching of the former government, and in return we got to give up any concern for the reality of the future.

        Also, you’re not alone in thinking that Abbott had no shot at winning a popular election. I would have bet money that it was impossible. He is the Australian version of GW Bush – selected by someone as a stooge PM, and guided and helped along the path to that position, incapable of independent action. A scary soulless automaton.

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