Clive Palmer has recently hit the headlines with an abundance of false hope and promises that seemed illogical from the outset. Despite his unreasonable headline grabbing claims to putt $2,500 annually back into the pockets or workers from tax breaks and a guarantee to raise the pension by $150.00 a fortnight it was, his apparent lack of education of refugees that set my pulse racing as I encountered his Palmer United Party press conference on the BBC world news service last week.
According to Clive Palmer the solution is a simple one to counter the refugees who arrive by boat into Australian waters seeking asylum. Speaking to local media Palmer endorsed his right wing views on the topic by stating that….
“We are wasting the money we are spending on refugees; we should be processing refugees at airports to stop the need for a naval blockade. When they arrive in the country we need to determine if they are genuine refugees.with a legitimate claim to stay in this country.”
Seriously? This, from a man who has aspirations to lead the way in politics on the world stage. The only outcome of this bullshit propaganda from a bigot like Palmer is to add fuel to a fire of racist and further uneducated views taken with popular Australian culture!
At this juncture I would like to put forward some hard and factual information regarding the media led misconception of money spent on helping refugees in need. Last year there was, what some could label money well spent, $3.6 BILLION on helping asylum seekers who arrived into Australian waters. That is a lot of money by anyones standards you would agree yes?
Well, during the same period the Australian government spend $119 BILLION on welfare in this great land of ours. That is an extra $115.4 BILLION spent on those looking for work, single mums, pensioners and those on disability payments to name a few. Then we have those with no intention to work or the perennial “professional” stay at home mothers who decide to produce numerous children with the intention of not working and getting paid for it. Before you question this I must add that I have spent a good deal of time working in hospitals and seen first hand these kind of welfare mums. It isn’t pretty and more common than you think.
So why does the Australian media fail to concentrate their energies on the ridiculous sums of welfare money handed out each and every year? Why do every day Australian’s pull out the lines of “helping our own homeless first” or the vulgar opinions that refugees get “a golden platter gifted to them” once they arrive on Australian shores? Perhaps you may change your tune when I recount this story from my time working first hand with refugees in 2012 at a private hospital clinic.
One morning I had three beautiful children arrive at reception with their career. All three seemed shy and nervous as they had never seen needles, hospital rooms or first class medical equipment and medicines before. The eldest, a girl of 13, her 11 year old sister and 7 year old brother had all arrived only a few weeks before to Australian shores. Why were these three beautiful children in Australia to begin with? They had all come via boat from Indonesia so why did I have these “queue jumpers” or “illegal immigrants” or “shady boat people” or whatever else some Australian’s prefer to call them in front of me?
Six months before hand in the Peoples Republic of Congo these children had watched their parents murdered by child soldiers with machetes! Yep, child soldiers, not adults. Murdering their parents. Thanks to the kind gestures and good will of others these children had spent a six month journey being smuggled through various countries where they found themselves on a boat in Indonesia, bound for Australia in hope of a new life. A safe life.
Can you imagine how scared they must have been? How much heart ache they would have gone through? Fears and thoughts that you or I could never dream of. What were you doing when you were 13, 11 or 7 years old? Ask yourself this and think hard about it. Did child soldiers invade your house and murder your parents?
Reading the files of these beautiful young children was one of the saddest moments in my life. Only through the kindness of others had they been given the chance to lead a safe and less violent upbringing here in Australia. Where they had come from there was no Centrelink down the road. There were no foreign embassies to escape to. There were no relatives to rescue them. There were no, as Clive Palmers states, planes to jump on and fly into Australia to be processed.
There were numerous other files I read in my short stint within my role. Many, many, many stories similar to this one. All just as sad to read over. Heartbreaking at times. So why are we as a nation so ignorant and uneducated with our views on refugees? Part of the blame lays with the scare campaigns led by the Australian media and politicians. More often than not lies and twisted views. Here are some cold hard facts that you should take in and perhaps, just maybe they may help you understand the reality of asylum seekers in our world.
* 493,000 claims for asylum were lodged worldwide in 2012. Of these only 3% arrived in Australia.
* More than 90% of asylum seekers arriving in Australia during the first half of 2013 were legitimately seeking asylum.
* Asylum seekers receive $220 per week in Australian government financial support. As they wait for their bridging visa’s to be processed they are not allowed to work under Australian law.
* Irish and British citizens provided the highest numbers of visa overstays in Australia between 2005 and 20012.
* In 2011, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide exceeded 42 million. That is twice the population of Australia!
So where do we go from here? Do we continue to let a conservative government and tabloid media outlets control our views or do we find out the facts before denying others basic human rights? We are dealing with human being people, not “queue jumpers” and “illegals”. It’s time Australia rid herself of the disgraceful racist views held by ignorant bigots. It’s high time Australia began to help those in need and stopped with the vile hatred and open racism towards refugees. And it is high time business leaders such as Clive Palmer started learning the facts before they shoot their disgusting racist views into the media.
It’s time Australia, as a nation grew up and moved into the 21st century.