A blog by a Papua New Guinean TV journalist living in Morobe Province
Saturday, August 3, 2013
FR. GEORGIO LICINI: ASYLUM DEAL A BLUFF
conflict over the Rudd-O’Neill deal on refugees escalated today as UPNG
students burned copy of the agreement at the end of peaceful
demonstration. The Prime Minister from Tabubil rebuked them for
underestimating the financial benefits the arrangement brings to their
It is probably time the government looks beyond
the pure financial component of this issue. There are much more
relevant implications: ethical, legal, cultural and religious. The
government cannot just tell everybody to shut their mouth, get the money
and help Australia after they have helped us so many times.
possible violation of the national Constitution, as claimed by certain
quarters, is an issue that cannot be swept under the carpet. We are
obliged by national treaties to help refugees, but strictly speaking
only when they come to our shores or walk through our borders. Those
arriving at Christmas Island are Australia’s concern. They depart from
Indonesia. Therefore, it is with the
Indonesian government that Kevin Rudd needs to strike a deal. It’s their
police that have to run after people smugglers.
gives the refugees non chance of settling in the country. The only hope
will be PNG. It’s a bluff. Canberra just hopes that the boats will no
longer come. In truth, in fact, the boats should not come. The UN has in
place offices and procedures, though inferior to the needs, to process
asylum seeker requests. The fact, however, is that people get at sea and
gamble on their lives, especially from Indonesia to Australia and from
North Africa to Southern Europe.
Large communities cannot be
settled in PNG. The reasons are well known: non public land, no proper
education and health facilities, no jobs. Asylum seekers have never been
resettled in developing countries. Ours would be the first case.
Australia and PNG governments know. But it’s part of the bluff.
It’s all bluff. Australia hopes to stop the boats. PNG wants a few
billion kina to renovate a few university, hospitals and roads. Both are
showing an appalling lack of respect for the most unfortunate on the
world. They are not helping the boat people. They are helping each
True! The issue is huge, complex and difficult to
address. Countries in the Pacific Region must help each other and nobody
should be so selfish as to close eyes. But the two prime ministers are
just asking to swallow the deal and refuse to discuss any detail with
the parliament, the public opinion, the landowners, the NGOs and the
churches. No wonder the students run out of patience!