Friday, December 19, 2003

Island in the Sun

I heard Alexander Downer on AM this morning, hosing down speculation that, in gratitude for the tons of petrified Nauruan bird-shit that Aussie farmers spread over their paddocks in the nineteen fifties and sixties, Nauru's entire population might be granted Australian citizenship:

Senior officials believe Nauru will not be viable after Australian payments to maintain detention camps for asylum seekers finish.

Offering citizenship to more than 12,000 Nauruans is one of the options under consideration. Other options include Nauru being granted an uninhabited Pacific island or a total restructuring of Nauru's finances and increased long-term Australian assistance.

On AM, Mr Downer said:

I think there would be some resistance to that in parts of the community. I think that's less likely than likely that we'd go down that path. The weakness of that proposal, which was the one canvassed back in the late 1960s, I think, is that you can't underestimate the fact that the people of Nauru love Nauru, and want to live in Nauru. So offering them citizenship may not, in any case, be a solution to their problems.

I don't know that the Nauruan's love of Nauru and desire to remain close to it should be too much of an obstacle; most of Nauru was washed into Australia's river systems years ago. Adelaide seems the ideal place for a Nauruan resettlement; it probably has the highest concentration of Nauru on the Austrailian mainland.

And I think Mr Downer might be overstating the problems this precedent might cause for immigration policy; they're more than adequately offset by having a nice empty Pacific island we can ship future illegals to. All up it strikes me as a win-win solution to a difficult problem.

Afterword: naturally someone else posted in this topic before I did. Tim Dunlop in fact.

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