Brendan Browning, lived in Australia writes
It hasn't. The only thing that makes Australia seem anti-immigration is our boat turn back policy. Meaning that when horribly overloaded, poorly maintained boats set off from Indonesia we turn them back instead of letting them reach Australia where they have legal rights as asylum seekers. I agree that it seems very sketchy and is a bad deal for the poor buggers paying for the chance at a better life. But we do it because they were dying in droves.
In 2007 the Rudd government revoked the previous policy against asylum seekers who come here by boat. Since then over 1000 people died out of the 40,000 who came by boat. There were terrible scenes where boats were wrecked on the coast of Christmas Island as Australians looked on in horror.
After Abbott started turning them back again, although Rudd (in his second go as PM) did change the policy a few months before he lost the election, not one refugee has died coming to Australia.
So now no one is dying on our shore but what about the poor refugees living in their awfully overcrowded camps? Well Australia takes in about 13,000 refugees per year through approved governmentally run programs. Meaning everyone has been taken from a refugee camp and has been vetted. This eliminates the economic migrant factor as we only take those in need. That was a very high number considering our GDP, population and a bunch of other factors compared to just about every other country.
Then ‘Mama’ Merkel opened the flood gates and our standing dropped significantly in comparison to many European nations. But considering the political mood towards refugees in many European countries that was probably a mistake. What gets me is that she started that as a knee jerk reaction to a picture of a dead Syrian child named Aylan, who washed up on a European beach. Well how many other children have died getting to Europe because of that policy? It was hundreds of people every week! Instead of doing it in a sustainable, safe way she put untold millions of dollars into the hands of people smuggler gangs and caused the deaths of thousands of innocent people.
I view Australia’s current policy as the more humane. As to why we resettle some refugees in Papua New Guinea, it was just to show that asylum seekers coming by boat will not be coming to Australia no matter what. While it's not ideal its better than having thousands more drown on our beaches.
Finally, yes Australia is a big country and largely empty, but unlike America it has few mountain ranges, few rivers and a lot more desert. Unfortunately the second driest country on Earth (next to Antarctica) didn't have a massive populati explosion like the US so we just don't have the GDP to sustain a large refugee intake.
Thats my view anyway. I don't think xenophobic concerns come into the equation at all.
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