This is to my register my concern that Labor is mismanaging the response to the Papuan asylum seeker crisis.
Successive Australian governments are complicit in turning their backs on serious human rights violations in West Papua. The 1969 UN- sponsored act of free choice was a sham. Indonesian hegemony over West Papua is nothing more than a repressive neo-colonial grab for land and resources at the expense of the traditional owners.
Rather then talking up more 'gun boats' to repel genuine asylum seekers, for a change it would be uplifting to see Labor take a principled approach based on human rights and stand up for our Melanesian neighbours. Labor has a history of doing this in PNG - many Australians would applaud a more forthright approach to getting the message to Jakarta that this rabid exploitation must cease and Papuans given an opportunity to express a free and fair act of self-determination.
If managed wisely this may well be a win-win situation within existing sovereignty arrangements through a genuine autonomy package. Continuance of the current systematic abuse will put increasing pressure on Indonesia and the bilateral relationship, as the refugee situation will deteriorate, violence in Papua will increase and the world community will be forced to engage this issue more actively.
Australia should be a facilitator of practical solutions rather than a partisan player actively denying Papuans the rights we consider fundamental. Short term expedient political posturing is no substitute for long term strategic management of difficult situations that impact directly on our national security. The Howard government is now discovering this.