The Australian government’s decision to divert all refugee boats to Papua New Guinea is just another crime of capitalism, a crime against the global South and a crime against humanity. The refugees, who are a mixture of economic migrants and asylum seekers, first arrive in Indonesia, where they are normally left in a state of limbo, unable to work, or claim social support from the Indonesian government. In order to alleviate Australia’s “social problem,” instead of attempting to reform their own laws, have instead chosen to dump the problem on one of the world’s poorest countries.
Australia which has already been criticized for its treatment of refugees held at Manus Island Immigration Detention Centre in PNG, which one whistle-blower claims refugees have been raped and abused, will now shift full responsibility to PNG. Kevin Rudd’s claims that somehow the decision is an act of humanitarianism, showing genuine concern for their safety and a desire to stop their exploitation at the hands of people smugglers, is instead just capitalist greed, right wing rhetoric and a failure of their international obligations.
Private companies, along with the Australian government are guaranteed to profit, as the demand for new and enlarged detention centres will grow. The Australian government already outsources the majority of refugee processing to large multinationals such as British companies Serco and G4S, will soon be signing more contracts to further extend the detention centres.
On the other hand, PNG a former Australian colony, has no welfare system and crumbling health and education system and now faces the prospect of thousands of asylum seekers. PNG is a stark contrast compared to its developed neighbour with 37 percent of people below the poverty line, only 40 percent of PNG’s enrolling in school, 5.5 percent of babies born dying before they are two years old and the average life expectancy being just 57 years of age. Despite the social issues there is also the human rights problem, especially as the purpose of asylum is to provide safety and security for the refugees. PNG which has been accused of major abuses of human rights, especially towards women and homosexual’s is hardly a suitable place for person escaping victimization.
If Australia truly cares about the wellbeing of refugees, they would allow refugee processing in Indonesia, instead of leaving them to an uncertain fate. Instead Australia has chosen to place the burden on PNG, its third world developing neighbour with numerous problems of its own, while insuring asylum selectivity and profiteering from the refugee processing. This truly is an crime of capitalism!