Wednesday, December 31, 2014


A while ago Thornleigh Baptist Church, if my memory serves me correctly, held a seminar on refugees. I almost went along, but didn't, both because there were two people on the panel who I'd known many decades ago, and while I would be unlikely to be remembered, didn't really want to re-spin those circles and because of the tension I set out below.

The topic itself was counter-interesting to me. That is, I'm not particularly interested in 'refugees', although I see the need to provide for them, and have responded when in contact with refugees personally, but, knowing some of those who would attend, I had the inkling that we would not only be discussing services and support to refugees, but it would extend to boosting for the opportunists who attempt to boat in to Australia from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other places. Different tale there.

The UNHCR tells us that there are about 50 million refugees and similar in the world today. We invite all those into Australia, and we no longer have an Australia. The role of government is not only to extend compassion to those in need, but to defend us so that we do not by virtue of our 'compassion' (which may be misplaced on occasion) turn into those marginalised, disadvantaged and in need by virtue of social changes thrust upon us by failed cultures becoming ascendent. Then, no longer able to help anyone, we would be undone.

I don't argue that the churches have a place in arguing for particular policies, although one would hope that the politics would be a little more considered than is often the case.

Governments on the other hand have to make tough decisions. Paul refers to that in Romans 13. The government is responsible to make decisions as a good government, it doesn't make decisions as though it were a private individual and is not called to make decisions that will destroy a country. That is not responsible.

So, In my work as a public official I make decisions that respond to need according to the dictates of the government, and not as a private individual. I have to, on behalf of the government, balance my decisions against the global responsibilities that government has for fair and equitable, not to say balanced and economically sustainable use of its funds for the benefit of, if not all, then as many as possible.

There are limits everywhere, and governments cannot accept all, particularly those who decide that their case for an economically better life is more important that the millions of others who are in refugee camps and face far more than economic problems, but problems that in some cases are produced by cultural settings that exacerbate rather than ameliorate those very problems.

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