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.