John Menadue | Our Muddy Refugee Debate

John Menadue offers his perspective on the enduring refugee debate; voicing his opposition to ‘dubious‘ statistics and imploring the Australian public to refrain from armchair activism and empathise with the plight of these desperate individuals.

Governments need to be concerned when asylum-seekers use people smugglers to take them on dangerous and possibly fatal journeys. But where there is persecution and violence and no legitimate or obvious way to escape, asylum-seekers will probably turn to people smugglers, if they have the money. Hundreds of thousands of Jews who came to Australia and other countries after WWII paid people smugglers or agents or brokers to escape. And why wouldn’t they? If there is a market need and opportunity, someone will provide the service.

If I were an Hazara husband and father, particularly of daughters in Afghanistan, I would sell my farm and pay a people smuggler to help get them to safety and away from the Taliban. Armchair critics should try to put themselves in the position of threatened people and families.

Read John Menadue’s opinion piece in The Canberra Times here.

John Menadue is founding chair of the Center for Policy Development, and has worked with CPD to produce a new report evaluating the state of refugee policy in Australia.  You can find A New Approach: Breaking the Stalemate on Refugee & Asylum Seekers here.