Editor in Chief
Yesterday an asylum seeker boat travelling from Lampedusa, (a small island in North Africa) to Italy sank. Of the nearly 500 people on board, 111 have been confirmed dead, and 155 rescued, leaving roughly 250 unaccounted for and feared dead. Approximately 8,400 refugees reached Italy and Malta in the first half of this year, according to the UNHCR, putting Italy and its smaller neighbour roughly on par with Australian asylum seeker numbers. Italy’s Prime Minister is a balding man who controls a coalition of centrist and right wing parties. He’s also a roman catholic. His name contains the letters T and A. So we can all see the similarities here.
Here’s where they end. In the aftermath of this tragedy the Italian PM, whose name is Enrico Letta in case anyone was wondering, ordered a day of mourning, with flags at half-mast and a minute’s silence. While he has called for the North African point of origin island to tighten security, which will be reassuringly familiar to many Australian readers, this was within the context of wide-ranging pledges from Italy and other European nations to expand their legal refugee intakes. They say this is to take pressure off North African refugee camps and remove the time incentive that drives so many people fleeing persecution and tired of living in camps waiting years to be processed or accepted to their destination state to take risky journeys in leaky boats, but I think we all know it’s because Europe has no idea how to stop the boats.
If they were even half serious they’d take some of the no-nonsense, getting down to business, sleeves up, straight talking measures that have been implemented by the Abbott government.
- It starts with overreaching on mostly rhetorical, completely absurd and not just a little condescending rhetoric about asylum seekers during an election campaign. Call them illegal to appeal to the latent xenophobia of elements of society that you need to get elected. Don’t worry that this will infuriate people who know better; if they try to explain anything they’re being intellectual snobs.
- Then you really want to announce some policies that presume your country’s complete control of a smaller regional neighbour. In Italy’s case you can really take your pick in North Africa but the smaller the better. It helps if your own nation has an insultingly poor understanding of this second country. In Australia we like to presume we can shit all over Indonesia. Local politicians in this country are going to get pissed off about this. Don’t worry. What are they going to do? Go on Q&A and make you look like an ass?
- This is probably the most important step, because once you get elected you’re going to want to make it as difficult as possible to discern any information about asylum seekers. You want to stop telling anyone the numbers that are arriving, or commenting on any deaths at sea that might appear not to have been stopped by your policies. If anyone asks you about any of this information, literally run out of the room. Just get out of there. Haul ass.
Once you’ve implemented these strategies, there should be a pervasive sense that you’re somehow tough on asylum seekers, which is probably a good thing because you said so, but no one will actually be able to differentiate anything you’re doing from anything that’s happened before except that they know a lot less about it. Which is a good thing. Hopefully you did a really good job of leading a race to the bottom during a recent election, which really won’t leave any opposition with much of a leg to stand on.
In the end you’ll be like a dog farting in its sleep. Some people might not like what you’re doing, but lets face it, they’re not much better than you and there’s not a lot of evidence you’re doing it anyway.