The lucky country?

March 15, 2016

I’m thinking of retraining, giving up my gilded life as a journalist, and becoming an Australian politician. Mainly because the barriers seem so inexpressibly low. Apparently you can be dumber than a box of rocks, and still get paid by the Australian taxpayer to make horrendous decisions on their behalf. I mean, I’m stupid, have awful table manners and irritate almost everyone I meet. But I’m still a better human being than most Australian politicians today.

If you want proof, just look at the much-vaunted A$55-million refugee deal between Australia and Cambodia, which saw a grand total of five  people sent to live in Cambodia, from the Pacific hellhole of Nauru, where they had been detained on their way to a better life. For A$55 million to the Cambodian government.

A few months ago, a Rohingya, from the most oppressed class in Burma, a country not famous for its even-handed treatment of minorities, decided to go back, as he was ’homesick.’ I have a great deal of difficulty in getting my head wrapped around how unhappy you’d have to be in the Kingdom of Wonder to voluntarily choose to relocate to the most prejudiced place on the planet. But he did.

And now, two Iranian refugees who were transferred to Cambodia have returned to Iran voluntarily. A spokesman for idiot Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed last week that the husband and wife had left Cambodia.

Australian Senator Sarah Hansen Young has called for the country’s auditor-general to investigate millions spent “to grease the wheels of a corrupt regime, so that the government can dump a handful of people in an impoverished country”.

Of the two refugees left in the country, one says he feels abandoned and fears he will die in Cambodia. “I feel unwell, lonely and sad,” Mohammed Rashid, a 26-year-old Rohingya Muslim, told Fairfax Media while lying on the floor of a decrepit house in a Phnom Penh suburb. “I fear that I will die here.”

Rashid said promises made by Australian officials remain unfulfilled, including offers of help setting up a restaurant, accommodation and an $8,000 cash payment. He sleeps alone in an International Organisation for Migration office, despite Australia paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to rent a luxury villa in a Phnom Penh suburb for three years.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said: “It was a classic Phnom Penh sting job on a donor: get the money upfront but don’t concede the operational control over the project – and then stall or obfuscate until you get the outcome you want, which in this case was only a handful of refugees.”

Peter Dutton’s spokesperson said in a statement: “The Government remains committed to supporting the Government of Cambodia to implement settlement arrangements in Cambodia and encourages refugees temporarily in Nauru to explore this settlement option.”

The Mighty Penh’s spokesperson says: “Peter Dutton is one of the stupidest men on the planet. How is it that Australians are satisfied by being represented by these losers? The mind boggles.”






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