Hinch Says

Define Illegal

Photo Courtesy of: Graeme Gibbons, The Daily Telegraph
If I jumped on a plane to Los Angeles or New York without a business visa or an online ESTA registration form - or, as a journo, an I visa - I would be stopped at the airport on arrival and probably turned back. The way, from memory, Molly Meldrum's feet hardly hit the ground at LA Airport before being sent home once for having insufficient landing papers. You are turned away because your arrival was illegal. You had no legal right to enter that country. The same would happen in Britain. You'd hope the same would happen here. Countries have, or should have, control of their own borders.

Since 9/11, countries also need border protection against the possible infiltration by terrorists. Against illegal arrivals. Does that word offend you? Illegal. That's what Tony Abbott recently called asylum seekers and so-called legal experts attacked him for it. It's also a no-no with the Press Council.
This august (?) body advises journalists not to use it. Listen to this autocratic tosh:
' In these circumstances, great care must be taken to avoid describing people who arrived by boat without a visa in terms that are likely to be inaccurate or unfair in relation to at least some of them. This can arise, for example, if the terms can reasonably be interpreted as implying criminality or other serious misbehaviour on the part of all or many people who arrive in this manner.

Depending on the specific context, therefore, terms such as "illegal immigrants" or "illegals" may constitute a breach of the Council's Standards of Practice on these grounds. The risk of breach can usually be avoided by using a term such as "asylum seekers" although in some cases, of course, the context may require reference to their unlawful or unauthorised entry or their status as unlawful non-citizens pending determination of their claims (if they do not have bridging visas)'.

Let's take this instruction to a ludicrous degree. That boatload of illegals who sauntered into Geraldton, blithely undetected, the other day. Despite what the Press Council advises, you surely can't call them asylum seekers. They were carrying a sign pleading for help to get to New Zealand. Surely they'd qualify as tourists or ' passengers in transit'.

I'm not trying to be smart-arse here. I agree with Australia taking in legitimate refugees fleeing despotic countries for their lives. We must honour our commitment under United Nations' obligations to give safe haven to genuine refugees.

But let's take them from over-crowded refugee camps where processed applicants have been waiting and suffering for years. The illegals are queue-jumpers. Many have by-passed three or four other countries on the way here.

For many, Australia is the goal. Indonesia a mere stepping stone en route. And for the latest lot of Sri Lankans, surely India is a much closer democracy.

Tony Abbott today raises another good question about the Geraldton boat - as a staggering 21 boats arrive in our waters in the past two weeks. Abbott says new Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor 'plans to spend $100,000 transferring these mainland boat arrivals by air to Christmas Island for health checks and other procedures that should have been done in facilities where they are already accommodated'.

And he is right. Why couldn't they be processed on the mainland? And if, as they claim, Australia wasn't their preferred destination, why not 'do an Indonesia' and just let them pass through?

The Australian Lawyers Alliance is now bleating about this latest boatload. National President, Tony Kerin, said: 'Words, such as that of the Opposition immigration spokesman in relation to the issue, stating that the west coast of Australia is now effectively 'open game' for people smugglers are not helpful'.

What is not helpful is the do-gooder playing with words. There are genuine refugees and then there are illegal boat people. Queue jumpers who pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers to jump the queue and hope to buy their new life in Australia ahead of many other equally worthy, if not more so, who have been in United Nations sanctioned camps for years.
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