Sunday, January 18, 2004

Tide Turning?

Australia’s last federal election was a nasty affair where John Howard grubbed votes by telling porkies about refugees throwing their babies into the sea and the two main political parties competed to see who could be nastier to refugees. In a welcome return to sanity, new Labor Party leader Mark Latham has signalled a change of direction.

Whilst Labor is still keen on mandatory detention for adult prisoners it has obviously recognised the fact that Australia’s refugee policy is damaging the country’s image overseas (making them look like a bunch of fuckwits basically) and has promised a number of changes that should result in fewer people going on hunger strikes or sewing their lips together.

Labor is keen to process refugees quickly promising that 90% of them will be possessed within 90 days. The sinister sounding “Pacific Solution” where refugees were sent to Nauru for processing (where coincidently not allowing them access to the Australian legal system) is also being abandoned. Latham indicated that it was “a very, very expensive commitment” and that it was “hard to see what benefits are coming out of it.” They’ve also promised to end private sector management of detention centres.

Most importantly they are planning on stopping the barbaric practice of imprisoning child refugees. "In a civilised society, we shouldn't have children growing up behind barbed wire," remarked Latham.

This is great…now all they have to do is win the election.