Bring the people to the dongas
By HAL DUELL
If we think carefully about the implications of climate change and wars, Fortress Australia is in for some nation-altering changes. I suggest that the world in on the cusp of an epochal time of human migration. People are starting to slosh around this globe of ours, and we in Australia are not immune to the consequences.
Consider the world of Asia and Southeast Asia just to our north. What percentage of humanity lives there? And how many of them eat rice as their staple? And if the Himalayan glaciers melt, the annual floods will cease, and then what happens to the rice paddies that feed them all?
Or the seas might rise and flood the low-lying coastal plains, or cyclones might flood them before the seas get a chance to do it. Didn’t Burma just lose a significant percentage of its rice paddies to a cyclone?
And then consider the wars currently raging across the length of the Islamic Crescent. This stretches from the Atlantic Ocean south of the Mediterranean Sea through the Middle East and on to Indonesia. Wars dispossess. They destroy water and food sources. They make people homeless and place them in real and immediate danger of being killed.
Hungry, homeless and frightened people take to their heels in search of somewhere they too can have a life. Australia is known to have vast empty spaces and is a magnet to people in dire straits. Australia holds out the chance of something better than dieing of thirst or starvation. Or of being killed.
I suggest it is a given that “boat people” have only just begun to arrive. And what will we do about it? Send them home to death or nothing? Ask Indonesia, a nation that I understand is the fourth largest nation in the world in terms of population, to look after them for us? Or do we get ready to grow?
If it is to be the latter, an orderly process must be put in place now before we get caught with our pants down and swamped. We won’t be able to cull them as we seem to be about to do with the feral camels, another population growth for which we have failed to make adequate provision.
And an orderly process includes a processing centre or centres where these “illegal” immigrants can be processed for health and security reasons.
We have started to do that on Christmas Island, but already that facility is bursting at the seams. We need another processing facility.
So here’s an idea. Instead of taking the unused dongas to Christmas Island, why not bring the overflow from Christmas Island to the dongas? Why not build a big (huge?) processing centre right here in the Centre?