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Welcome to Australia!  0

Surely, after 20 days of trial by fire, the Australians must now realise that God never really intended this enormous tinderbox to be used for human habitation. Plainly it has created as a giant dustbin, a place far from civilisation where all His failed experiments could be left to their own terrifying devices. “Oh no,” said God on the fourth day, “I’ve gone and made a spider which can kill a man just by looking at him. I need somewhere to put it.” So on the fifth day He created Australia.

This then became home for all the horrid snakes and the bitey crocodiles and the baby-eating dingoes. And to make sure that man stayed away, He made the land itself completely infertile and filled the sea around its shores with deadly sharks and killer jellyfish. He even built an enormous barrier reef. Frankly, He did everything possible to ensure that humans never went there, short of putting up a sign saying “Trespassers will be eaten”.

Nobody knows what drew the Aborigines but we do know that the first white man to sail this way was the world’s most useless explorer, a Dutchman called Abel Tasman. In a three-year voyage he found Fiji, New Zealand and Tasmania, but in one of the most inept pieces of navigation ever he completely missed the big bit in the middle. That was discovered by Captain James Cook who stepped off his ship, sniffed the air and declared, “Yes. This would make a fantastic prison.”

He was right, of course. For millions of years Australia had harboured all the world’s dangerous animals so why not use it as a waste disposal unit for dangerous people? And even when the transportation of convicts stopped, it was still a good place for people who couldn’t get on anywhere else.

Think about it. Nobody ever went to live in Australia because of the success they’d made of things at home. “I have thousands of friends, endless party invitations, a wonderful, happy family, a great job and even better prospects. So I’m off.” All Australians are descended from Billy No Mates.

You’d expect them to have some sympathy with the refugees from central Asia. But no. They’ve turned their former prison into a fortress and the doors are now firmly closed.

Australians stand on their porches with flames licking at their back door, telling us that life over there is peachy. “It’s always warm enough for a barbecue,” they say. Never mind that the most recent barbie was so enormous and so hot that it had to be extinguished by a fleet of helicopters.

They’re even using the wildlife as a scare campaign, telling the world what we already know: that the 10 most deadly snakes found anywhere in the world are all Australian. They run PR campaigns throughout Asia, showing pictures of boats used by refugees marooned on beaches with big fat crocodiles lolling nearby.

However, the reception from the indigenous wildlife is as nothing compared to the reception you’ll get from the locals.

It’s bad enough for a British person who’s only there on holiday. Every time you walk into a pub, you get the same reaction. “Backs to the wall everyone: there’s a Pom in the bar,” followed by: “Hide your wallet under the soap. He won’t find it there.”

Not desperately imaginative but then what do you expect from a people who named a blue spotted ray that lives in lagoons “the blue spotted lagoon ray”, or a range of mountains with snow on them “The Snowy Mountains”. And that’s before we get to “The Great Barrier Reef”.

Anyway, if we have a hard time, imagine what it’s like for Abdul. In a recent poll, 96% of Australians said they wanted the refugees out, dead, buried, eaten, anything. Last summer an advertisement appeared in one of the newspapers there asking people with a military background to join vigilante-style patrols.

Refugees who get caught by the proper authorities are sent to a fantastically remote detention centre near Woomera, where the British did their atomic tests in the 1950s. They can get out easily but it’s an 18-day walk to the nearest telephone box and that’s doubly hard when you’ve grown two heads.

So what sort of volume are we talking about here? Well, last year the number of people who arrived in Australia illegally from the usual refugee hot spots was 4,500. That works out at one for every 666 square miles. You could put the downtrodden masses from all over the world in the Northern Territories and not even know they were there.

Australia says that it took in thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodian boat people in the 1970s and 1980s, along with most of Britain’s displaced trade union leaders who were no longer welcome at No. 10 for tea and buns. It won’t now fulfil the legal and moral obligations of other nations.

Well, Europe has a falling birth-rate and can take a few refugees. The Americans are dropping food parcels on their heads. Africa is hopeless and Asia is the problem, which leaves either Antarctica, which seems a bit anti-social, or the very place that was specifically designed to be home for misfits: Australia.