You Might Get Snakes, You Might Get Ladders


Just what is to be done about asylum seekers? It is a vexing and knotty problem with no obvious answer, but the urgency of finding a solution is starkly obvious: all ordinary Australians realise that if the asylum seeker issue is not sorted ASAP, there is a very real danger that it might in some way affect their lives at some point in the future.

For one of the problems with finding ways around this crisis is that very few of us have ever met an asylum seeker, and so we don’t really know what they are like, or why they are so desperate to lavish their vast fortunes on attempting to destroy our way of life. What would motivate a seemingly normal Afghan or Tamil or other dusky individual to throw away their comfortable foreign existence just for the cheap thrill of sailing across choppy seas to leech off decent people’s taxes and set fire to their precious detention centres? It seems bizarre behaviour, but then again, if foreigners acted rationally all the time we’d call them Australians, am I right? Yeah!

Anyway, the Gillard government (official motto: "Compassion through Bewilderment") has come up with a creative new way to deal with the refugee menace that threatens to slit our throats in the night — metaphorically, that is. And also literally.

The plan is that when more boat people arrive in Australia, we will send 800 of them to Malaysia, in return for which Malaysia will send us 4000 of their genuine refugees, suitably cowed and tenderised beforehand. Many people have been confused by this plan, but it is easily understandable by means of a simple analogy.

Imagine the world as a huge Monopoly board.

The asylum seekers are attempting to pass Go and collect $200, but they end up landing on Chance, and so they take the risk — either they go straight to jail (Malaysia), or win second prize in a beauty contest (Certificate III in Hospitality at Berwick TAFE). If they go to jail, they go directly and they do NOT collect $200 (Centrelink). Meanwhile, the 4000 refugees in Malaysia, having been processed, roll doubles and are therefore allowed to come to Australia and build a hotel on Mayfair.

Simple really, isn’t it?

Simplicity is this government’s great strength, of course, which is why hopefully all immigration policy will in future follow the "board-game" template for ease of explanation to the general inbred public. Of course, the citizenship process is already based on Trivial Pursuit, but if we can move on to the point where detention centres replicate Mousetrap, and all boat people making landfall are forced to climb ladders and fight off snakes, then we’ll really be cooking with gas. Hopefully someday we can move it on to the next level: electrifying illegal immigrants’ internal organs.

Of course, simplicity isn’t the only thing to look for in an immigration policy. It must also be tough, yet fair, yet tough, yet cruel. The important thing is to deter asylum seekers from seeking asylum, so that they will stop risking their lives on dangerous sea journeys, and instead risk their lives by staying where they are and getting shot. It’s all about being "compassionate", but at the same time staying at "arm’s length" from other "people" who might be "dangerous" or "brown". The government’s new plan is excellent for the purposes of deterrence, because asylum seekers will know that if they try it on, they may well end up in Malaysia, where sinister Malaysians will do Malaysian things to them.

Now, some people will say that the plan is too tough. I think we know who these people are: they are Bob Brown and Sarah Hanson-Young and probably Malcolm Fraser if he hasn’t yet died or gone into exile or turned into a limestone formation or something. They are the same people who always complain when the government refuses to let terrorists stay in the Park Hyatt or cuts funding to Sudanese knife-crime. They are the same people who think we should donate more taxpayers’ money to the Niqab Rebate Scheme. They are the same people who want you to drive sissy little cars and marry lesbians. Should we listen to them? Only as long as it takes to get our hands on a good weighty hammer. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a point. To discover why they don’t have a point, let’s explore further.

First of all, let’s just remember that these people (yes, "these people" is the official term) have jumped the queue. Now, you may ask "What queue?" Which just proves you’re a bleeding-heart wet-brained child pornographer, and you need to shut up. Never you mind what queue, you mouthy pantstain. This debate is about facts, not emotion. And the FACTS are they’ve jumped the queue. They jumped the queue because they have money. More money than the poor refugees who do the decent thing and stay where they belong, poor little devils. They miss out on places because of the billionaires’ club clogging up our shores. So instead of opening our arms to desperate, broken, terrified people, we are opening our arms to the Real Housewives of Kandahar. Makes you think, doesn’t it? It really shatters your preconceptions when you hear it put in those stark, uncompromising, kind of weird and confusing terms, doesn’t it? You feel pretty stupid, now, don’t you, and slightly disoriented?

So, bearing in mind that these people are wealthy gadabouts looking for a good time, should we show them any mercy at all? Well, it’d be perfectly understandable if we didn’t, obviously, but we are a magnanimous people, as shown by the way we have all forgiven Kyle Sandilands, and that’s why we are doing what is best for them by ensuring they are not abandoned to the viciousness of people smugglers and keeping them free of any false hope of a better life. We’re really just taking the stress out of their lives.

Now, one objection to Gillard’s cleverness is that her proposal is just a rehash of the Pacific Solution, which was so reviled under the Howard government, or as it was called at the time, "the Ton Ton Macoute". It’s a ridiculous assertion, for several reasons:

1. The Pacific Solution was a Howard government policy, and the Howard government was a wicked gang of uber-fascists, and everyone knows the Gillard government is better.

2. The Pacific Solution took place in the Pacific, whereas Malaysia is totally not in the Pacific. Hey civil libertarians, get a freaking map!

3. The Pacific Solution involved Nauru, a small insignificant country who we can push around, whereas Labor’s policy involves Malaysia, a large important country who can push us around, so the current plan is far more self-effacing and pleasant to be around.

4. Nauru is made of bird poo, and Malaysia isn’t, so Gillard’s plan is much less gross.

5. The current policy is taking place in a completely different year.

So we’ve put that to rest. But wait, some of you might say, because apparently you were sick the day they taught Shutting The Hell Up at school, "wait — don’t we have an obligation to our fellow human beings, to do what we can to help them in circumstances so horrific we can hardly imagine what they’ve gone through, especially given our own enormous prosperity and the really quite minor impact their arrival has on our country and way of life?"

Oh yes? And would you like strangers to just barge into your home and demand to be allowed to stay? To ask for food and clothing and shelter and education and money? To put their dirty feet up on your upholstery and hang their turbans on your Hills Hoist? To set fire to your garage when you asked them to leave? It’d be awful, wouldn’t it? Now imagine how much MORE awful it would be if instead of your house, it was your whole COUNTRY, and instead of your upholstery, they were putting their feet up on your WELFARE SYSTEM, and instead of setting FIRE to your GARAGE, they did some OTHER things that had nothing to DO with you? Are you back in your box yet? Good. So let’s hear no more of this "hooray for home invasion" Funny Games-esque hooha.

In fact, let’s hear no more hooha whatsoever. We all know you have to be cruel to be kind, and this means you have to be even more cruel to be cruel. And the Gillard regime is nothing if not committed to tautologies.

Our way of life is at risk from other ways of life that are not anywhere near as way-of-lifey as ours. If we are to preserve it, it will require hard decisions and tough action and steely determination and strong, leathery skin. It’s time to face up to those boats and say, "Enough! We are a sovereign nation with rights, and we will not tolerate this intrusion! Any more of these shenanigans, and so help us god, we will put some of you on a plane for a bit until we think of something else!"

And then maybe, finally, we can have some bloody peace on this island.


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Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.