Can Australia sink any further in its treatment of asylum seekers


Each time Australian governments, of both stripes, have lowered the bar on treating asylum seekers as less than human, I have thought, "They can't stoop any lower. We have reached the nadir". Time after time I have been proven wrong. Now it seems Australia may have entered the people-smuggling trade, paying crews to cart their human cargo elsewhere ("PM refuses to deny allegations", June 13-14). People smuggling, according to a parade of politicians over many years, is an evil activity, so wicked, in fact, that its elimination justifies many men, women and children suffering humiliating and brutal treatment at our hands. What then will be the fate of politicians who will stop the boats "by hook or by crook", as our Prime Minister has promised? Their legacies will be forever tainted. 

By incrementally rewarding politicians for stoking our fears and prejudices and by accepting "the right not to know", we now find ourselves a long way down a slippery slope. I fear our nation will come to pay a high price for our selfishness, arrogance and cruelty in ways we cannot yet imagine.

Chris McGregor Cabarita


Labor's immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, expresses a disingenuous concern that the government, in continuing to make our borders secure and saving lives, may in the process be engaging in some form of reverse ransom. Thousands of dollars are alleged to be involved. No other information is available. 

All this does is remind us of the appalling decisions of the former Labor government and prime minister Rudd, in particular, which resulted in the loss of more than a thousand lives. Labor's mismanagement of this issue has generated a huge and continuing drain on the budget, all sorts of social issues here and elsewhere, and political problems with our neighbours. 

Marles would have some credibility if he came forward with a coherent and viable plan for how Labor would better deal with the situation and until he does will simply be known as one of the "Malaysian Solution" mob.

Marshall Phillips Mosman


Apart from opening up the possibility that the federal government is now actively engaged in funding human trafficking, this story demonstrates that, as we already surely knew, the boats have not stopped.

They and their desperate human "cargoes" are being diverted "by hook or by crook" from reaching Australian shores, no doubt to appease our xenophobic attitudes and to avoid offending our delicate sensibilities. Shame, Australia, shame. 

Tony Ilott Riverwood


The Prime Minister will not rule out paying people smugglers to forego their "trade". This is akin to not ruling out cash payments to organised crime to tackle the ice epidemic, or financial incentives to encourage lenders to cease predatory financial schemes. Forget about "lifters" and "leaners". Prudent stewardship apparently dictates we financially support grifters and schemers. 

David Jordan Dee Why


It would be grossly naive not to believe that the constant stream of illegal immigrants entering Indonesia and then being exported by a highly lucrative people-smuggling industry from the same country is not underpinned by endemic corruption. For the Indonesian government to be "shocked" by claims of bribery by Australian officials is true hypocrisy ("Indonesia to investigate claims of bribery", June 12) .

Chris Dockrill Crescent Head


I read a stray line somewhere that the boat carrying a load of asylum seekers and crew the Abbott government is alleged to have paid to return to Indonesia foundered on a reef at the end of the return journey and the people aboard had to swim ashore. 

Not one commentator or journalist has raised the matter since. Not even to wonder out loud whether there is a policy to turn back boats with infants and young children on board? Do we provide them with life-jackets in children's sizes, perhaps? And older folk who cannot swim?

It seems the Australian people get het up about how it looks to be paying people smugglers but couldn't care less about whether the operation itself puts lives in mortal danger. 

Peter Cain  Kingswood


Looking for a well-paid job? Try people smuggling – the Australian government is paying handsomely

Penelope Coleing Scotts Head 


I hear the Abbott government is now refusing to deny it has begun paying renewable energy companies to turn back the wind turbines.