Detention centres are monuments to Gillard Govt’s failure
In empires past, leaders have sought to perpetuate their wisdom and greatness by building monuments to themselves.
From Roman times, the Colosseum remains a striking example to the singular desire of successive emperors to appease their demands for recognition and the desire to entertain the public through ‘bread and circuses’.
This phrase stems from the political belief that if you can distract the punters from their daily worries with superficial appeasment, they will spend less time thinking how their government has failed them.
It worked well for the Roman empire for centuries.
Unfortunately for the current Australian Government, they haven’t yet realised that the bread and circuses routine lost all credibility with the closure of the Roman Colosseum in the 6th century.
The Rudd – Gillard Governments have sought to replicate the failed experiment of the Roman empire on both fronts. The bread was the distribution of billions of dollars via gifts and grants to the living, the dead, non-residents and even a few locals – whether they needed it or not.
Of course, just like the Roman empire, this generosity ultimately has to be repaid by taxpayers who are only starting to realise the true cost of this government beneficence. Those that live overseas or in the afterlife can only be laughing at the generosity of the Labor-created welfare state.
Naturally, in true empiric tradition, Labor have also sought to build monuments to their legacy – lest their ‘greatness’ be lost in the tomes of history.
Just as the Greeks left the Pantheon, the Romans the Colosseum and the Egyptians the Pyramids, the Gillard Government has spent scarce resources on monuments of their own.
They are called ‘detention centres’.
These are the multi-million dollar complexes that process those that pay people smugglers to jump the queue in a quest to gain residency in our great nation.
Rather than seek to deter these wealthy law-breakers, the Gillard Government have steadfastly refused to repeal the changes they made to the Migration Act that have acted as such a magnet for unauthorised arrivals.
This has resulted in the need for the Government to spend over one billion dollars per year processing a group of people prepared to break the law to enter and remain in Australia. In some cases, even when these individuals are clothed, housed, fed, given money and treated for any medical conditions at Australian taxpayers’ expense, it is not enough.
There have been many incidents of violent confrontations amongst detainees, some have rioted and government property has been destroyed and others have entered into hunger strikes.
Yet the Gillard Government continues to do nothing except build more monuments to their catastrophic policy failure.
Rather than accept that their policy decisions are drawing people to the greatest modern day welfare state, Labor are actually increasing the benefits to the lawbreakers.
Among the rioters, some have been convicted of offences and then still offered residency in Australia. Some media reports maintain that refugees receive free dental care whilst long serving and taxpaying Australian pensioners have to pay for theirs. And there are many more examples.
Something is clearly wrong.
Offering benefits to migrants, whether their arrival is authorised or unauthorised, that do not apply to the regular citizen does not pass the common sense test of most Australians. It is not that we are not charitable or welcoming to others – in fact it is quite the opposite – but most of us hate being taken advantage of.
Unfortunately that is exactly what some of the modern day welfare squatters are doing, taking advantage of our freedoms, our kindness, our generosity and our democracy.
Such a ‘liberal’ attitude toward immigration and asylum have proved an unmitigated disaster for Europe. The Roman empire collapsed under the demands of the bread and circuses requirements of the welfare state. Modern day European nations are experiencing similar pressures.
Despite the Romans’ failing, at the very least they left a legacy of monuments that can be appreciated two millennia later. Somehow, I don’t think the Gillard Government’s detention centres will have the same enduring legacy.
Cory Bernardi is a South Australian Liberal senator. His columns and essays are available at his website.