It seems strange that a tiny number of people arriving by boat to claim asylum in Australia should have such a dramatic impact on Australians' view of our government and our own capacity to determine the nation's course. That a government will rise or fall on this one issue is indeed odd, but if there is one saving grace it is a new cohesion in Australian attitudes.
That cohesion has been measured by Monash University in the fourth annual survey commission by the Scanlon Foundation, which seeks to measure the impact of immigration on social cohesion. The survey of 2000 people found that 73 per cent of Australians have a positive attitude towards people who apply for asylum from overseas and that 74 per cent of Australians have a negative attitude to people who arrive by boat to apply for asylum.
Some people, me among them, argue that we should deter asylum seekers putting their lives at risk by travelling in rickety boats to Australia, and some argue that we should not stand in their way in any way, and both groups are in a minority. It appears that most resent those people making the journey by boat, and common explanations are that those people are lifestyle refugees or seeking to jump the queue. But the major reason for resentment seems to be that Australians are losing, or have lost, the capacity to manage our borders. And we are losing confidence in government as representing the will of the people when its decisions are overturned by the courts and publicly funded lawyers.
Do you resent Australia's inability to thwart people smugglers? Why, and who or what do you blame?