Sunday, 12 June 2011

What does it mean?-The Nauru Solution

My real problem with the so-called "Nauru Solution" is that to think of Nauru as a country almost beggars belief.
With a population of 9,300 it is smaller than Port Augusta; with an area of 21 square kilometres it would fit into Kangaroo Island more than two hundred times. Perhaps Granite Island is a better comparison. It does not have its own unique currency
I had a friend who spent an interesting couple of years in Nauru in the 80s. By and large he was bored out of his mind. He used to crudely (but perhaps accurately) refer to it as a pile of bird sh*t. Referring to the fact that it is essentially a block of phosphate rock in the near Pacific...or I should say was.(see what the CIA tells us about Nauru here)
We might call it a country, but it is really a small Pacific Island which exists at the grace and favour of our own sovereign nation, Australia.
It is in excuse for a country....a small country town really.
And so when Mr Abbot suggests that we should farm out our national responsibility to Nauru he is either saying:
  1. That the sovereign nation of Australia should allow the tiniest of Pacific states to shoulder the responsibility for refugees, or
  2. He is playing a game; because Nauru is a de facto part of Australia. Totally dependent upon our largesse and subject to our whim and will
There are questions (as so often with foreign aid to small nations) about whether Australian aid has actually benefited the 'nation' as a whole or been a means by which the powerful few have been able to line their pockets.

In reality, the 'Nauru Solution' is no solution at all. It is a sidestepping of our responsibility as a nation. A facade. The 'Malaysian solution'?....not much better. Christmas Island? Exposed as a fiasco too.

What to do? Clearly we cannot just drop all our guard, but (as I have suggested earlier)...make the rules clearer, act consistently, and....I would suggest, generously.

But don't play cruel games like Nauru.