In a speech I almost completely agree with, former Australia prime minister Tony Abbott chastised the EU in an address at the Second Annual Margaret Thatcher Lecture in London on October 27, 2015.
Tony Abbott told the EU to shut its borders because “a country that cannot control its borders starts to lose control of itself“.
The Sydney Morning Herald has the Transcript of Tony Abbott’s Controversial Speech at the Margaret Thatcher Lecture. Here are a few select passages, emphasis mine.
All countries that say “anyone who gets here can stay here” are now in peril, given the scale of the population movements that are starting to be seen. There are tens – perhaps hundreds – of millions of people, living in poverty and danger who might readily seek to enter a Western country if the opportunity is there.
Who could blame them? Yet no country or continent can open its borders to all comers without fundamentally weakening itself. This is the risk that the countries of Europe now run through misguided altruism.
On a somewhat smaller scale, Australia has faced the same predicament and overcome it. The first wave of illegal arrivals to Australia peaked at 4000 people a year, back in 2001, before the Howard government first stopped the boats: by processing illegal arrivals offshore; by denying them permanent residency; and in a handful of cases, by turning illegal immigrant boats back to Indonesia.
The second wave of illegal boat people was running at the rate of 50,000 a year – and rising fast – by July 2013, when the Rudd government belatedly reversed its opposition to offshore processing; and then my government started turning boats around, even using orange lifeboats when people smugglers deliberately scuttled their vessels.
It’s now 18 months since a single illegal boat has made it to Australia. The immigration detention centres have-all-but-closed; budget costs peaking at $4 billion a year have ended; and – best of all – there are no more deaths at sea. That’s why stopping the boats and restoring border security is the only truly compassionate thing to do.
Now, while prime minister, I was loath to give public advice to other countries whose situations are different; but because people smuggling is a global problem, and because Australia is the only country that has successfully defeated it – twice, under conservative governments – our experience should be studied.
In Europe, as with Australia, people claiming asylum – invariably – have crossed not one border but many; and are no longer fleeing in fear but are contracting in hope with people smugglers. However desperate, almost by definition, they are economic migrants because they had already escaped persecution when they decided to move again.
Our moral obligation is to receive people fleeing for their lives. It’s not to provide permanent residency to anyone and everyone who would rather live in a prosperous Western country than their own. That’s why the countries of Europe, while absolutely obliged to support the countries neighbouring the Syrian conflict, are more-than-entitled to control their borders against those who are no longer fleeing a conflict but seeking a better life.
This means turning boats around, for people coming by sea. It means denying entry at the border, for people with no legal right to come; and it means establishing camps for people who currently have nowhere to go.
It will require some force; it will require massive logistics and expense; it will gnaw at our consciences – yet it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever.
We are rediscovering the hard way that justice tempered by mercy is an exacting ideal as too much mercy for some necessarily undermines justice for all.
The Australian experience proves that the only way to dissuade people seeking to come from afar is not to let them in. Working with other countries and with international agencies is important but the only way to stop people trying to gain entry is firmly and unambiguously to deny it – out of the moral duty to protect one’s own people and to stamp out people smuggling.
Rock Solid Speech
There are parts of Abbott’s speech I disagree with, but everything above is rock solid.
The selected text of Abbott’s speech is remarkably similar to my own proposal made on Wednesday in Austria Announces Fence With Slovenia; Irony of German Whine; Cascading Fences; Mish Proposed Strategy.
Origin of the Crisis
The origin of this mess is two-fold.
- The US overthrow of Saddam Hussein that directly led to the power vacuum and the creation of ISIS
- US support for Al Qaeda rebels in the Syrian civil war also destabilized Syria creating millions of refugees in the war-torn country.
The free handouts from Germany, Sweden and others bought the crisis to where we are now. It would help if Syria was stable, even under a leader we do not like. But Obama will have no part of that.
Mish Proposed Strategy
- Block the border between Greece and Turkey
- Stabilize Syria, even under Assad, but also seek promises of free Syrian elections
- Eliminate or greatly reduce the free handouts
- Return economic refugees to point of entry
- Give Turkey some aid for US/UK role in this mess
US and EU bureaucrats have done none of the above.
Abbot made his speech on October 27. I made my proposal on October 28, but I was not aware of the lecture or Abbott’s speech when I wrote my proposal.
After hearing Abbott’s speech would I change anything? Yes. I would change point 3 to “Eliminate the free handouts entirely.”
Unrelated to Abbott’s speech is a point I intended to make, but didn’t.
I now offer point 6: Halt all US support for alleged “moderate” Al Qaeda rebels. Instead, arm the Kurds now fighting ISIS.
The Kurds are the only ones doing a reasonable job against ISIS. US backed “moderates” have handed their weapons over to ISIS and in some cases joined ISIS outright.
Point 6, in conjunction with point 2 will help stabilize both Iraq and Syria, and that is something that is desperately needed.
Mish for President Review
With that six point foreign policy proposal, I once again throw my hat into the Republican debate.
For the rest of my proposals, please see Mish for President: Officially Throwing My Hat Into the Ring; 11 Questions, 11 Answers.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock