|Nauru - Australia's Detention Outhouse|
Members of the the ALP have been desperate to link Nauru's recent political coup
with Australia's 'Pacific Solution', involving over 1000 asylumseekers on the
small island nation.
The usual weasel words were emanating from the ALP's Kevin
Rudd about the pacific solution being 'controversial', and Australia being responsible
for 'contributing to instability in the Pacific', but beyond that, couldn't
actually link the two. His implication is that Australia's pressuring Nauru to
accept the asylum seekers has caused a leadership spill.
The truth is quite different. Nauru is much like the rest of the Pacific
islands - run by a corrupt
and incompetent government. The difference
is that Nauru used to be rich, and none of the other islands were. Nauru had
reserves of $AU2Billion dollars from its now exhausted phosphate mining
operation. The money has been
squandered by corruption and incompetence, and the mining operations have
stripped the entire island to the point where nothing can now be grown on it.
All of this is rather sad, but not as sad as the fact that even now, the
country's leaders won't tell the people the true state of their financial affairs, so
they just limp from debt repayment to debt repayment. The government has
changed nine times in six years, and each successive administration knows that as
soon as they make the information public they will be thrown out.
So the people put up with being kept in the dark, because maybe it's better not
The arrival of 1050-odd asylum seekers to the island brought a badly needed
$AU30Million in aid, and allowed the government to limp along some more.
It also brought in other money, as Australian government officials, detention
center workers and ever the occasional journalist came to Nauru and spent
And apart from the occasional tantrum from former president Rene Harris who ranted
about the asylum seekers being a 'Pacific Nightmare', things have run pretty
well. The tantrum was basically about the arrangement being open-ended, and
Rene needed to know how long his desperately needed drip-feed was going to
last. So little pork - so many barrels.
But currently, public servants are 4 weeks behind on their pay, there is no
cash on the islasnd, and the asylum seekers are eating better than the Naruans.
Nauruans have gotten restless again, and governments have to look like they
are doing something. The Nauruans thinks that if they continually change
governments they will find one who will make them rich again.
So in fact Australia's pacific solution didn't cause instability at all - it
allowed Rene Harris to keep power longer than he otherwise would have.
But as usual, the ALP never
let the truth stand in the way of their 8 second political sound-byte. They
have no alternative, just a 'non-specific solution'.