Prime Minister Kevin Rudd should be truly grateful to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for giving him a hand to postpone the looming political difficulty in Australia that increasing numbers of boat people are bound to create. There was absolutely no reason for the President to get his navy to intervene to stop the latest attempt at illegal immigration other than to be helpful to Rudd. Returning the boatload to Indonesia simply means that the President’s Indonesian Government has the cost and worry of handling the refugees. As a poorer country than us we can hardly expect the Indonesians to always show such consideration. They don’t want to be flooded with Sri Lankan Tamils and Afghans any more than we do.
Yet, flooded we surely will be while ever there are security problems in those countries causing people to seek safety and adding to those who are on the move for economic reasons as well. Rudd will soon have to face up to the continuing problem that will soon see the Christmas Island facilities hopelessly overcrowded. Australia will soon have to face up to having boat people on the Australian mainland, which is bound to reawaken the resentment that John Howard so skilfully tapped into to ensure his re-election.
For Labor it is the best possible reason to get the next election over with as soon as possible.