Local children caught up in the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
Local children caught up in the humanitarian crisis in Syria. SUPPLIED

GEN Y: Sharrouf children deserve our help

I THINK it would be hard for anyone who watched ABC's Four Corners on Monday night, documenting the attempts by an Australian woman, Karen Nettleton, to get her grandchildren out of Syria, not to sympathise with her plight.

However Scott Morrison's handling of the situation in which the children of terrorist Khaled Sharrouf find themselves, has been sadly predictable.

Mr Morrison immediately ruled out helping because he did not want to "put one Australian life at risk to extract people from these dangerous situations" and conflated their situation with the sins of their father.

Sure, what their parents did was a horrific act, but surely it is now irrelevant because it is not them who are sitting in squalid conditions in a refugee camp in Syria.

Mr Morrison's "softened" stance is to now help the children if they can get to an Australian embassy or consulate which would most likely be in Turkey.

This is a hypocritical position given the history of his party's stance on people smugglers. How is he proposing they get to the consulate?

The Australian director of Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, has said it is unlikely the children will be able to leave the camp and get to an embassy.

Not to play down the security concerns the government has, but as we all saw on Monday night, an Australian grandmother was able to make it in to the Al-Hawl camp and reunite with her grandchildren.

Perhaps the situation of Zaynab, Hoda and Humzeh will lead to a wake-up call for the major parties, along with the many supporters of our harsh refugee policy, and force a re-evaluation of how we view refugees.

For years the narrative has been people who travel on boats are "queue jumpers" who have reached our shore unfairly, in front of genuine refugees who come through the "proper channels".

There are some 70,000 people in that one refugee camp and Ms Nettleton has tried multiple times to smuggle the children out of the country.

The reality is that if you make it out of a camp like that and on to Australia, you are supremely lucky.

Perhaps the risk for the Liberal Party is an existential one, if the government steps in and helps the children, they are effectively conceding that years of its "queue jumper" claims have been a fallacy.

It is in fact almost impossible for a large majority of those in the refugee camps to gain access to the so called "proper channels".

The response is also highly hypocritical coming from a government who think that it is justified in sending criminals, some who have lived in Australia all their lives, to the place of their birth if they commit a serious crime.

One man was sent back to Chile in 2015 after he lived in Australia since the age of one, had only "limited Spanish".

It speaks volumes of what the Government is prepared to do to shift responsibility.

The policy was labelled as "corrosive" to the Australia and New Zealand relationship by NZ Prime minister Jacinda Ardern in February as their country bore the brunt of it.

In some ways this is a philosophical discussion about the role of the state in "creating" a citizen. If we are prepared to praise Australians when they do good, taking pride in the fact they are "ours", then by the same token we have to accept them when they do things we don't like.

We should not simply cut state ties with a citizen simply because we do not like what they have or have not done.

I think we can all say that if we were caught up in some unimaginable horror overseas, through no fault of our own, our elected representatives would not simply cut us adrift.



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