Dear Prime Minister Rudd and Tony Abbott,
I am writing as a foreigner (who came her legally and NOT on a boat, before anyone gets excited and books me a flight to PNG) living in this great land, Australia. I have made Australia my home for the past 9 years and I’m proudly a permanent resident who hopes to have Australian citizenship in the near future. I love Australia, I have made it my home and I and my husband are raising our young family in this blessed country. I hope one day to be able to vote here and teach my children about the privilege and responsibility it is. However as I look around and see the state of both main political parties, I can’t say I would vote for either party or its’ leader with confidence. The longer I am here, the more I see Australia turning into the country of my birth (the USA) and in all the wrong ways. I see both parties making deals and promises, “playing the game”, while those in need are having to pay more and more for basic needs and essential civil rights are treated as an afterthought.
One of the biggest issues I see reflecting poorly on the character and reputation of the Australian people, is the way we treat those who want to come into our country and have to do so by any means necessary. The latest decision by you Prime Minister Rudd, to have all people seeking asylum by boat, to be sent to PNG, is heartbreaking. Australia is fast becoming a country that is as racially diverse as some of our other western counterparts. With that diversity, you would assume it would mean our government is becoming more “in tune” with the different stories of struggle and desperation that have brought many to Australia. You would think that, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Instead both the Liberals and Labour appear more concerned with protecting Australia’s assets and affluence, rather than digging deep and creating policies that have the priority of protection and care for all who seek to be here, regardless of how they are able to get into the country.
I was able to get into Australia by “waiting in line” and going through the visa process. Luckily I had the finances and all the time in the world to wait patiently for the paper-work to go through. While I waited, I had a supportive family, a paying job, food to eat and a stable government not sending soldiers to my home in the middle of the night to take me away for criticizing our government on any given day, while working at the coffee shop. I was safe; I did not live in fear. I looked forward to coming to Australia for a new beginning with my (then) new husband. I was not fleeing my homeland in terror because I had no other choice to survive, but to leave.
That is my story, but for most who would try to come to our country by boat or other “illegal” means, that is not their story. I have worked with students who literally had to flee their country of origin with only what they could carry. Some of them will wait for more than two years, while their family members languish in dangerous, despairing situations, waiting for paperwork to process and for someone to sign something that says they can now enter Australia. How can we as a nation, do this to our fellow man?
Prime Minister Rudd and Mr Abbott, I do not know what the solution is to protecting our boarders and ensuring the people coming into our country are not coming with ill-intent. I am pretty certain though, putting them in a detention centre in another country that does not have the best human rights record (to put it lightly), is not the answer. When protecting one’s wealth and prosperity means more to the leaders of a country than actual real lives, lives that might be lost if we get this wrong, then those leaders really need to examine what their motivation for being in power is.
As for me, I am waiting to see which one of you really has what it takes to do the right thing. I am waiting to see which one of you maybe even put your reputation and career at risk, to do the right thing by those who truly have you as their last hope of reaching freedom and safety.
Give me something that makes me proud to become an Australian. Do something that will make it easy for me to rush out and vote confidently for one of you, one day!
With Sceptical Hope,