The Coalition is trying to address the source of people-smuggling

Wow! when I saw this sub heading (before I read the main headline Oz 16/01/14 ) Opaque policy gets results a sudden rush of fantasy let me think that maybe the Australian government had at last decided to try and get countries like Sri Lanka, Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar etc to stop persecuting their own citizens so there would be no need for them to flee the torment.

But no!  it merely meant Australia drawing up its portcullis and deepening its moat so that  no matter what drove these poor suffering boat people to leave their homes and take the perilous journey would n’t worry us complacent crapwits.  Just don’t let them anywhere near us with our fatty degeneration of the conscience and free and fair go for ourselves only – “people like us” as little Johnny Horrid might (and probably did) say.

The day before the Oz had published a really sensible letter from Dr Andreas Chai:

A truly Liberal approach would prefer boat people

LET’S face it: There is competition among asylum-seekers and economic migrants around the world to enter developed countries that offer freedom from repression and economic prosperity.

We all accept that Australia, a nation historically built on immigration, has a moral obligation to accept refugees, like every other developed nation. The real question is therefore not “should we accept refugees”, but rather “which refugees should we accept?”

Here rational choice theory suggests a clear answer: those who try the hardest. As the influential American jurist and economist Richard Posner so eloquently argued, social welfare will be at its best when government policies simulate free-market outcomes and reward those who make the greatest effort.

Refugees arriving by boat clearly spend considerable financial resources and undertake great personal risks to arrive in Australia. In doing so, they are effectively beating the competition – other refugees who do not have the willingness or the means to undertake such journeys.

Such effort deserves to be recognised, just as our existing immigration policy for non-refugees prefers those who are entrepreneurial, healthy, skilled and/or wealthy.

Detaining boat people and forcing them to the “back of the queue” effectively punishes those who have tried the hardest to migrate to Australia. This punishment of individual effort contradicts the basic philosophy of Australian Liberalism, which recognises that it is the individual whose energies produce progress, and that all social benefits derive from his efforts.

A truly Liberal Abbott government would seek to increase social welfare by deregulating the market for international migration and supplying migration opportunities to those who make the greatest effort: boat people.

Dr Andreas Chai, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Griffith University

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