People smugglers will find it harder to ply their trade after parliament approved tough new laws. The Federal Government’s Bill, supported by the opposition, creates two new people smuggling crimes. Smuggling ventures to Australia that involve exploitation or the danger of serious harm or death will carry a maximum jail term of 20 years. The other new offence, with a maximum 10 year jail term, targets people who provide material support for smuggling activities.That will include assistance such as cash, false documents and transport, but won’t apply to people who pay a smuggler for their or a relative’s passage.
Not waving, drowning
Asylum-seekers did drown pre-Labor, Clive Bond (Letters, 13/05). Remember the SIEV-X? Howard’s “humane solution” also caused tenfold increase in mental illness among imprisoned children, who witnessed disemboweling, mutilations, and attempted suicides. As for “queue jumping”, as asylum applications are independent of formal refugee quotas, what queue is jumped? There are 10-20 million refugees worldwide who typically wait 10-20 years in camps, with countries like Australia often accepting fewer than 12 from one particular country. Australian and international law guarantees equal treatment of asylum-seekers, irrespective of how they arrive. Most arrive by plane, many are Chinese.The actual “illegals” are mainly British who overstay visas. Yet there is no demonisation, no hysteria about “economic refugees”, “national crisis”, or Australia being flooded by “unlawful non-citizens” (Philip Ruddock’s phrase). Nor are there calls for their incarceration offshore, lengthy processing, or denial of due process. It is hard to escape the conclusion that such measures are deemed necessary only for the dark-skinned.Peter Kenyon, Gisborne, Vic