Quick Post: Acknowledging feelings of horror while forming policy positions #asylumseekers #auspol

Humble brag time!  If you like the deep, smooth sounds of me forming patient (by which I mean ‘slow’) opinions about news events, you can hear me in discussion on ABC Radio National in conversation with Chris Berg, Van Badham, and Jonathan Green.  The conversation took a sharp turn when I found myself trying to find the rhetorical footing for a question about the recent tragedy in Java.

As many as 50 people are feared dead after a boat loaded with asylum seekers sank off the south coast of west Java.

Indonesian rescue authorities, speaking on the basis of information provided by local police, say 22 bodies and 25 survivors have been found.

As many as 30 are still feared missing and without the capability to search at night, or in big seas, there was little hope of them being found before day break. [Source]

Van Badham — understandably, justifiably, entirely reasonably (I don’t want to suggest otherwise) — was upset about the loss of life, particularly of children.  What becomes difficult is the transformation of this understandable, justifiable, and entirely reasonable response to a disaster into political language.

Here’s the CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, for example:

The puzzle is how we construct the event in terms of what we expect of our Government and the international community, and in terms of what responsibility people have for themselves.  In the process of analysing the issue clinically and methodically, there is a fear that we lose that authentic human response to the disaster.

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