The Permanent Secretary of the Department of Immigration clasped his hands and put his fingertips delicately to his lower lip.
“Minister,” he said, solemnly, “My department has diligently exercised its collective mind in regard to, and in due consideration of, the conundrum with which you have previously presented us, id est, that relating to the undesirable arrival within the nation’s area of control, of aliens travelling by less than seaworthy maritime transportation, notwithstanding the government’s desires to the contrary.”
“What on earth,” asked the Minister, “Are you talking about?”
“We have been thinking about the question of refugees arriving by boat.”
“Ahh, indeed, Minister. And we have a solution.”
“Indeed, Minister. On the one hand, our international obligations, to say nothing of common decency, require us to hospitably receive refugees, regardless of how they reach our shores.”
“On the other hand, the electorate lives in mortal fear that the annual arrival of some six or seven thousand desperate people, without a, er, collective pot to piss in – if I might be so vulgar – will inevitably lead to the destruction of Australian life as we know it.”
The Permanent Secretary raised his eyebrows. “That accurately reflects the Government’s dilemma?”
The Minister adopted an expression suggestive of a bad smell. “I suppose so.”
“Well, Minister, we propose the American Solution.”
“And that would be?”
“It’s quite brilliant really. We allow the boats to arrive safely, and let the, er, occupants blend into the community and settle down. But – and here’s the brilliant part – we only let them do jobs that Australians don’t want to do, and we insist that they be paid a pittance. Even less, if possible.”
“What sort of jobs?”
“Well, swimming pool cleaning, home gardening, housekeeping and so on. Meanwhile, the Government promises to do something about refugees but it actually never does.”
“But that’s precisely what the Government’s been doing for the last thirty years,” cried the Minister.
“Of course,” replied the Permanent Secretary, “But this is what’s so clever. The money the Government saves by no longer pretending to be doing something, and by getting rid of Concentration… er, Detention Camps, will be used to fund tax cuts for the wealthy who will in turn use the money to hire all the illegal immigr.. er.. refugees to do menial chores around their homes. This will enable the wealthy in turn to spend more time creating real jobs for real Australians, thus reducing our unemployment. It’s a variation of the ‘Trickle Down’ theory.”
A smile spread across the Minister’s face. “It’s brilliant. The wealthy get tax cuts and cheap home help, so they’ll be happy. Real Australians get real jobs, so they’ll be happy. Immigrants get to stay here so they’ll be happy. Everybody will be happy so the PM will be happy, And, with the PM happy, I shall be happy. What could be better?”
“What indeed, Minister?”
Clocks ticked and cogs whirred as the minister thought. “But… but what if too many come?”
“Ah,” said the Permanent Secretary, “Then we invoke the American Solution Part 2.”
“The government leaks a suggestion to deport the lot of them. The wealthy will complain because they’ll lose their servants and the rest of the Australian population will complain because they will have to do jobs they don’t like and for a pittance.”
“And then the government says the leak isn’t true, it was just a thought bubble and then does precisely-”
“Nothing,” finished the political lord and master, beaming.