ABCwatch

Tim Blair

Ombudsgod

New Criterion

 

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2002
 
EBRAHIM SAMMAKI is an Iranian who left Iran ('escaped" is the word RN Breakfast prefers) some years ago and travelled to Indonesia as an illegal immigrant.

He appears to have found refuge there, since he was able to marry a local woman and now has two children, the older seven years and the younger now three years old.

It seems (and we get all this from his lawyer Danny Hyams) the Iranian government is quite happy to have him back, with no suggestion that he would be in jeopardy, but will not give permission for his foreign family to enter.

Last April he decided to enter Australia illegally by the usual route, via Ashmore Reef, and has been in detention in Woomera ever since.

Not even the communards can call this fellow an "asylum seeker". Instead they call him a "detainee", which, of course, locates the cause of his incarceration with the action of his Australian hosts, not with his own decision to flout Australian law deliberately. The correct term is "illegal entrant".

What brings him to Auntie's attention (apart from his lawyer and activists)? His wife was killed in the Kuta bombings, and his kids now depend on the support of their Indonesian relatives, and the money he earns in Woomera's kitchen, which would be enough to keep them in comfort in Bali.

Quite reasonably, Ebrahim wants to be re-united with his children. The Indonesians refuse to give him an entry visa. I presume the Australian government is refusing to give his kids entry visas. What's the answer.

That's right; compassion, according to our Vivian Schenker, who gets so much attention from Uncle because, as the morning mouthpiece, she has unlimited rights of serial commentary.

The government officials can not comment without breaching Ebrahim's right to confidentiality, but I am prepared to believe they are looking for a policy. Pure "legalism" according to Schenker.

The dumb listener is not supposed to guess that by just letting the kids in we are creating a licence for thousands of others to play the same game. While thousands of real refugees wait for visas in circumstances far worse than the Sammaki kids.

Any government that decided individual cases by some compassion index that the communards might approve of would be no government at all. It would be a disgrace, and the results of its irresponsibility would soon see it out of office.

Should our national broadcaster understand that? Should air-heads who haven't learnt it despite half a life in "journalism" be given a licence to comment on a national broadcaster?

Auntie gives us her answer every day of the week. It comprises two fingers raised in front of our collective faces.

The communards think that substituting compassion for policy puts them on the higher moral ground. It doesn't. It shows they have no political morality at all.