Monday, September 19, 2011

Racism fails in Australia

Two weeks ago, the Australian High Court ruled that the Gillard government's proposed "Malaysian solution" to refugees was illegal. There was no power to send refugees to countries which were not parties to the UN Refugee Convention, and no power to transfer any claimant before their claim was determined. On Friday, Gillard released her response to this problem: repudiating the Refugee Convention. Oh, not formally, but in practice, by stripping out any reference to it in Australian law, making it unenforceable and allowing the government to ignore its obligations.

The good news is that this has not gone down well. Gillard's backbench are horrified, and even the Coalition (who don't give a toss for refugees except as punching bags for their racism, but want to see Gillard fail) are refusing to back it. Which means that it has no chance of passing. Which in turn means that Australia will have to grow up, accept its legal obligations, and process claimants who arrive by sea just as it does quietly for those who arrive by air.