I wrote earlier that the trade-off between deaths at sea and possible trauma in detention at Nauru could potentially be justified. That’s predicated on a pretty big assumption, the assumption that there are only two options to choose between. Rather than a policy that may encourage people to come by borderline unseaworthy boat, or a policy of deterrence, how about a policy where safe transport from Indonesia to Australia is provided by the Australian government? This policy is often mentioned, but usually with scorn: “what are we supposed to do, just charter a plane to bring them here?” I am interested in actual reasons not to do this.
The Houston Report doesn’t really answer my question, although it provides a hint. Buried in the document, deep within the sweaty groin of Attachment 6: “Australia’s International and Regional Engagement on Irregular Movement and International Protection”, is this note about practical arrangements developed under the Regional Cooperation Framework of the Bali Process on People Smuggling (etc etc): “Any arrangements should avoid creating pull factors to, or within, the region.” Creating a safe and effective mechanism for people who would otherwise be Irregular Migrant Arrivals would create a big-ol’ pull factor to Indonesia, and Indonesia doesn’t want that.
That’s all reading between the lines. The report doesn’t really talk about the possibility. But – should my reading be accurate – Indonesia’s distaste for the notion would probably not be absolute. Could they be persuaded?