There was consternation this morning amongst refugees drifting into the many water front cafes dotting the shoreline of this idyllic refuge when bad news arrived with their latte and croissants.
“Have you seen The Australian this morning?" asked one voice over the rattle of bone china and the sizzle of eggs and bacon.
“Never touch it,” another replied in a distinctive Kurdish accent. “I’m Fairfax man. My father was a Fairfax reader, and his father before him. Until they had their daily dose of Gittins and Ramsay they simply could not set off into the foothills to herd the goats though mountain passes above our little village where it always rained and nobody ever had enough to eat.”
But no matter where these starving, illiterate refugees chose to read their news over banana and blueberry pancakes, washed down with lashings of genuine French vanilla tea, the news was bad.
All of the weekend papers, express couriered to the charming little refugee settlement, carried large, full page advertisements warning the would-be asylum seekers that if the vast sums of money they had saved while being tortured and occasionally beheaded by the Taliban, or the Iranian government, or you know, whatevs, were spent on passage by boat, they would be sent to Papua New Guinea and probably eaten.
“Oh dear,” said a Tamil gentleman whose village had been destroyed by Sri Lankan air strikes. “I had so been looking forward to that long, hazardous voyage and high chance of drowning or being dashed to pieces on the rocks of Christmas Island. It’s why I chose to go by boat and not just fly in which would have been much more comfortable now I think about it.”
He folded his copy of The Sydney Morning Herald and wandered off to see if anyone knew of rumours the Australian Government was also no longer handing out cheques for eighty thousand dollars on arrival and a guarantee of full time employment as soon as a local worker could be displaced from their job.
There were mutterings amongst the émigrés about the reaction to the news in Australia, but wiser counsel cautioned against expecting any support from that quarter.
“The government has obviously spent a very great deal of money advertising this new regime in every paper in the land,” said a withered old Hazari man whose eyes had been put out for reading to his daughters, “and then even more money airlifting all the millions of copies here so that we might be informed of this policy change. It’s quite likely nobody in Australia even knows of it this. After all, the information is of no concern to them.”