I caught the tail end of Triple J’s Hack, a current affair program and was disappointed to hear Australia’s latest refugee stunt. Apparently, we are considering exchanging refugees with America. Refugees will be ‘processed’ in each country’s off-shore facility, and then potentially traded. I can imagine it now. The phone rings.
“Good morning George! What will it be today? ”
“I’ve got thirty Cubans on offer. What can you give me?”
“How about a handful of Sri Lankans, and er, lets see – I’ve got a dozen Chinese.”
Since when do we play “swaps” with people? Ok, I understand the student exchange idea – one of mutual benefit. House exchanges – I visit your country and you visit mine and we stay in each other’s houses. One vital difference here. Choice. Refugees suffer enough, fleeing living situations that are incomprehensible to us here in Australia. They finally make it to safer waters, end up in our cozy detention centres, and then get traded like some kind of commodity. I like fair trade. As in coffee. Not people. Not happy John.