Today is Ash Wednesday, and begins the season of Lent for Christians around the world. For most, the thought of Lent brings back memories of giving up something for six weeks until Easter. Perhaps this year, instead of something trivial like chocolate or sugar, our politicians would considering giving up their race to the bottom, even if only for a few weeks.
For years now, the major Australian political parties have been engaged in a race to the bottom, and no policy area has shown that more than the handling of refugees and asylum seekers. Nothing is too ridiculous or too inhumane for politicians to promise, justified in their minds by the thought that Australians are egging them on, waiting to see just how low they can go.
The past few years have had no shortage of disgusting immigration policies. From keeping Christmas Island running at well over capacity, to sending some of the world’s most vulnerable people to Nauru and Manus Island, where other people can do our dirty work for us. And more recently, threatening to deport incredibly vulnerable children and adults who had settled into Australian society, and giving medication to refugees that is known to exacerbate mental health conditions even more than their surroundings.
So perhaps in this season of reflection and giving, we can join together to help all those in need, and maybe then our politicians will be inspired to do the same.