What should we do with Manus?

From http://www.afr.com/rw/2009-2014/AFR/2013/07/18/Photos/6aeab51a-efd4-11e2-941b-d2a63b7fb48b_indonesia--646x363.jpg

With the reports of the poor conditions at the Manus Island Detention Centre, and this week’s resulting violence, our nation should be deeply concerned with the way that many legitimate refugees are being treated.

As a nation that “abounds in nature’s gifts” and prides ourselves as having “boundless plains to share” with “those who’ve come across the seas”, we should be moved to open our gates to welcome more people who are fleeing violent regimes.

People smuggling is an abhorrent crime, and we are right to do all we can to stop this crime.

But the problem, as Waleed Aly noted in the Fairfax newspapers on Friday, is that our nation has chosen to tolerate having the embarrassment of offshore processing because “it is the very logic of our asylum seeker policy – which is built on the sole rationality of deterrence – to create horror.”

Maybe Malcolm Fraser is right to suggest that the problem could be solved by increasing the number of humanitarian places we take directly from Indonesia.

Let us pray that our politicians act out of love and not selfishness, and that our immigration policies are humane and not cruel.