To use a very Australian expression, I copped a serve today at work. I mentioned I was helping out some refugees who had arrived by boat. My colleague then gave me an animated explanation of why boat people are illegal queue jumpers who are burdening the Australian tax payer and preventing the resettlement of genuine refugees. They are all, apparently, economic migrants rather than genuine refugees, because they must very rich to afford to come here in the manner in which they did.
Sadly, I did not say something smooth and impressive on the spot but stood there much like a stunned mullet and thought of my replies about 20 minutes later. There are lots of statistics I could quote and elements of the UN Refugee Convention that I could point out. But this is all I really wanted to say:
Their immigration status is not up to me. It’s going to be decided by the government according to whatever rules and tests they are applying on that day. However, regardless of how they got here, these people are my ‘neighbour’. There are two little girls who need school books and shoes and uniforms. That is my business and I’m just going to go about it as best I can.