Waleed Aly Rips Our “Poisonous” Asylum Seeker Policy In Scathing NYT Op-Ed

With The New York Times ramping up its local Australian hires and looking to move deeper into the local news market, it’s unsurprising that its beginning to seek out more content from our writers. They’ve long held a strong editorial stance against our incredibly harsh border policies, and the latest writer to take to the pages of the NYT to argue against them is Waleed Aly.

Aly has a take on our policy towards refugees that has growing support – Australia’s uncommonly immiserating laws are basically inspiring nationalist movements in Europe and beyond to brutalise refugees in order to stop them crossing borders. 
It’s here we confront Amnesty’s most arresting finding: Australia’s policy is a kind of contagion, lowering global standards on refugee policy, shifting the boundaries of what nations now find acceptable.

The most direct example is Indonesia, which, partly at Australia’s urging, has sharply increased its own use of detention centers, criminalized the act of providing accommodations for anyone without a visa, and attempted to return boats headed for Indonesia back to the countries they had left.

He also discusses how the banality and distance of our detention centres allow the average Australian to avoid even thinking about what is being done to refugees in their name:

So Australia’s detention regime becomes virtuous, brutality repackaged as compassion. Those languishing in detention centers, even the people who die there thanks to violence or woefully inadequate medical care for simple afflictions, they’re just a warning to others who might be tempted onto a boat. It’s true the journey is deadly, but it’s also true that Australia is using the more than 1,200 other people stuck in limbo in Nauru and Papua New Guinea as a deterrent. These are the starkly utilitarian terms of the policy: We sacrifice the lives of innocent people to dissuade others from risking theirs.

It’s a good summary worth reading in full – not least because it represents the growing global acknowledgement that the increasingly harsh measures taken against refugees across the world are spurred and inspired by us.

But we’re also seeing a procession of European far-right nationalist parties — the U.K. Independence Party in Britain, the National Democratic Party of Germany and the Danish People’s Party — expressly hold Australia up as an inspiration. There are even individual voices of support from within mainstream conservative parties, like Britain’s Tories. It’s clear that Australia would like its policy to be adopted more broadly.
Photo: Channel Ten / The Project.