Discover more from Christopher Titmuss - The Buddha Wallah
Australia is just about the least populated country on Earth. With a brutal immigration policy….
Australia is just about the least populated country on Earth.
I have been flying to Australia regularly to serve the Dharma since 1976. As you look down from the plane on the Australian landscape, you get a sense of the vast scale of the country and how few people actually live in Australia.
Not surprisingly, after Mongolia, Australia is the world’s least populated population with 6.4 people per square mile compared to 134 per square mile in Europe. (A square mile is 2.58 square kilometres). The vast majority of citizens regard around 60% of Australia as inhabitable although the Aboriginal community would say that percentage figure is much higher in terms of areas to live in.
Australia is the world’s sixth largest country yet operates a brutal system of immigration control.
With all that land available, you would think that Australia with a population of a mere 23 million privileged people would wish to share some of its vast land with some of the four billion people living in Asia, its neighbour to the north.Successive Australian governments remain determined to minimise the number of refugees allowed to enter the country.
Last month, the Australian government issued a rather repulsive advertisement of a boat out to sea in a huge storm with the title: NO WAY. YOU WILL NOT MAKE AUSTRALIA HOME.
“If you get on a boat without a visa, you will not end up in Australia. Any vessel seeking to illegally enter Australia will be intercepted and safely removed beyond Australian waters.
The Australian government states: “It is the policy and practice of the Australian government to intercept any vessel that is seeking to illegally enter Australia and safely remove it beyond their waters.
“The rules apply to everyone: families, children, unaccompanied children, educated and skilled. there are no exceptions.”
The treatment of asylum seekers in Australia and seekers held in detention camps on islands has brought widespread condemnation. An Australian senate inquiry into the riots in the Manus Island detention centre revealed that asylum seekers lived in cramped and inhumane conditions and endured much violence.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees and other refugee advocacy groups have repeatedly criticized the Australian government and called on authorities to treat asylum-seekers humanely.
A Red Cross social worker, who works with asylum seekers, told me that asylum seekers in camps in Australia suffer a kind of interrogation from immigration officers. Many of the asylum seekers have endured war, torture, rape, natural disasters and terrible hardships. Traumatised, they have to face interrogation.
She told me when the same asylum seekers return for further questioning and fail to relate exactly down to the smallest details the same report as before, they are told they are liars and face deportation.
“How can people facing so much fear of rejection from the authorities here, as well as a history of trauma, be expected to have the peace of mind to remember painful events from their past with precision?” my friend responded.
Non-profit Refugee Action Coalition Sydney said that “almost all the deaths at sea have been caused by the appalling response of Australia’s search and rescue services, who have been told to prioritise stopping boats, not saving lives.”
The United Nations Human Rights Council has expressed its “profound concern” regarding reports that Australia is intercepting at sea “individuals who may be seeking Australia’s protection.
“Handing back victims to their persecutor and collective expulsions are strictly prohibited,” the UN said.
I commented in a Dharma talk in Australia that Australia could easily allow 100 million people to come to live in this huge country with its immense resources. I reminded listeners that the UK has a population of 60 million on a small island and there are still plenty of green and pleasant fields.
As Australians take leisure this summer on their long sandy beaches stretching mile after mile, they might reflect on the anguish and dangers of people trying to reach Australia by boat. As these people travel on risky ships in stormy seas, they do not realise they will never see Australia.
They will only face a heartless Australian government policy.