Talking on ABC TV News24 about refugees, Afghanistan and some common sense

Last night I again appeared on ABC TV’s News24 The Drum panel alongside the Australian Financial Review’s David Crowe and The Daily Grind’s Joe Stella (vision here for two weeks and here’s info about my August appearance). YouTube video here.

The main topic up for discussion was the asylum seeker crisis at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre and the length of time refugees are locked up while claims are being processed. Mental anguish is almost guaranteed. I urged an examination of the role of private company Serco, the far-too-mysterious corporate running all the country’s centres. Nobody on the panel seemed to believe accountability with the current system was really possible. Who truly knows what Serco does and why? The Labor government is far too keen to give the firm the dirty work and blame them for incompetence. Finally, I urged Australia to release detainees into the community once checks are undertaken. In a country such as New Zealand, there’s far less hysteria over asylum seekers and there aren’t countless missing refugees running wild. Oh, is it too much to ask that a person, like fellow panellist Stella, not continually refer to refugees as “illegal”? They’re not, and have a perfect international right to seek safety and asylum here.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was interviewed and called for an end to mandatory detention and a warning that the nation was descending back into a period of harming citizens in our care. She seemed open to the possibility, based on my question to her, to push for a robust debate in the Australian parliament on the gross human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and the threats faced by Tamils there, meaning we shouldn’t be sending them back from detention.

Finally, the war in Afghanistan was on the agenda following a leaked email detailing the lack of appropriate support for Australian troops in the country. I argued that a majority of Australians oppose the conflict, the West is backing a warlord infected and corrupt regime and simply staying there to “finish the job” – aka fellating Washington – was plainly offensive to our intelligence. We should withdraw immediately while providing reparations for the massive damage we’ve caused since 2001.

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