The light on the hill

You’ve got to hand it to the PM, she’s bloody determined to destroy the people smugglers’ business model at any cost, presumably on the grounds that the war on drugs has so effectively destroyed the drug smugglers’ business model. Oh, hang on.

Hey, what would I know? I’m not the one running the place and thus charged with the sacred duty of keeping the voters of Lindsay from frothing at the mouth. That can’t be easy.

Anyway, if I were running the place, my first decree would be that any person uttering the words “people smugglers’ business model” would be immediately smacked in the face with a large cold wet fish, though that would be a bit rough on the fish.

Update: due to singular demand, now available as a t-shirt on redbubble.

Posted in political cartoons, The Australian.


  1. So you’d prefer people to die at sea than for govt to try and set up a workable & safe Asylum Seeker program? And for others to profit from this misery? How kind-hearted of you.

  2. No Victoria, I wouldn’t prefer people die at sea, obviously. What a ridiculous thing to say. I would however love to see a genuine attempt at setting up a workable and safe asylum seeker program.

  3. I agree with Victoria. Easy to claim the moral high ground. A lot more difficult to come up with a ‘sustainable’ and workable solution. There are no perfect answers here.

  4. I wouldn’t say the cartoon itself necessarily takes a side. Just acknowledging that if your primary goal is deter people from coming here, then you’re necessarily going to have to act in a heartless manner. Perhaps I’m just too squeamish for it, but the cure seems worse than the disease.

  5. Whatever happened to the old deterrent model, of talking up a land of venomous snakes & spiders surrounded by killer sharks & crocodiles?

    Nearly all boat people are eventually proven to be genuine asylum seekers, the insignificant number that are not are hardly worth the effort of offshore processing.

    “People smugglers” is an invented argument to propel an artificial crisis. It’s a classic trick by the right to destroy the centre in politics – see Hitler vs Chamberlain over Europe, TeaParty vs Obama over debt ceiling.

  6. Whose to say her primary goal IS “to stop people coming here”?

    It’s sure as hell not my goal. If anything, my goal is for Australia to encourage a greater number of REFUGEE’s to come here.

    I am sick of people with money coming from oversees and buying up our land, forcing house prices beyond the reach of average Australians.

    I am much happier to take on people who have nothing, who want to work and build something for themselves, rather than coming here and taking a piece for themselves without having earned it.

    Refugees aren’t coming with hundreds of thousands, they aren’t taking our skilled jobs either because their qualifications aren’t recognised.

    They ARE far more likely to become constructive, loyal members of our society than someone who comes here with money, expecting privilege.

  7. It’s all a bit NIMBY isn’t it. Always better in someone else’s backyard. Like maybe Pakistan that has millions of refugees with nowhere to go.

  8. So tell me Jon Kudelka, how would you then stop the boats? I’m all for onshore processing but the political reality is (thanks to Howard), stopping the boats is an issue. We process them onshore and we stop the boats how exactly?

  9. Well Henry Whateveryournameis, here is my three step plan. Firstly I wouldn’t attempt to fight persecution with persecution. Secondly, I wouldn’t allow “political reality” to overcome common decency. Thirdly, I would stop obsessing about stopping boats and attempt to work out some sort of admittedly incredibly long term and difficult plan that at least attempted to stop people NEEDING to get on boats. Thanks for asking.

  10. We already have a proper asylum seeker process: we signed up for it in the UN declarations. It should involve people being housed while their claims are processed. The problems are not the asylum seekers (in which Australia is very low among western nations at accepting – even Greece exceeds us) but the lack of police work prosecuting and preventing the people smugglers at source. We would be well advised to go to those countries and assist in this. It’s harder than making political grandstands though.

  11. Yes all very nice head in the clouds stuff Jon. Meanwhile, the reactionary MSM and tea party opposition will have a field day with their “Armada of Boats” etc. You would be enjoying opposition for about a decade with that approach.
    The only way that approach would work is if it was bi-partisan. Not bloody likely eh.
    It’s Henry Johns if you must know.

  12. So you’re trying to tell me the Daily Tele and Herald Sun are bastions of reasonableness and factual reporting when it comes to reporting on asylum seekers?
    Come on, is that your News Ltd slip showing?

  13. Quick question: what is the evidence for the $10,000 figure on the cost per person to come to Australia by paying a ‘people smuggler’. For comparison, an airfare from Sri Lanka to Australia costs around $1000. You can still claim asylum if you arrive by plane.

    I call bulls**t on the $10,000 statistic. If anyone can prove the figure, I’m all ears.

  14. Dear Jon,I guess when a cartoon accurately depicts a truly Shakespearian tragedy…..
    Your work here is done.
    Congrats on cartoon of the year.

  15. Excellent cartoon Jon, Thought provoking, hard hitting, funny, sad, tragic, topical and historical well done

  16. C’mon, admit the truth. It’s obvious you’re just a Liberal stooge trying to get your mate Tony elected (like everyone else at News).

  17. Rumbled indeed Mr Kudelka. Now that was the funniest thing I’ve seen all day. Great cartoon and great to see the sentiments behind it. I agree that some effort into solving the problem at the source would be the ideal but you gotta remember you are dealing with people.

  18. First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  19. Brilliant cartoon Jon, genuinely historic as has been mentioned by others.

    Not sure why some seem to insist that recognisng flaws in current policy means you need to the architect of the fully formed alternative.

    But it shouldn’t take a Rhodes scholar to know that explicitly carving out international treaties and natural justice principles is a massive red flag.

    That light on the hill being extinguished could the remnants of Chifley’s or it could be the Australian sense of fair go and quality of life. Both are being trampled in this debate.

    My tip for the Walkley.

  20. Love this cartoon… very funny and sadly Oh so true. You are so right….The light has gone out. RIP social justice and decency.

  21. What if we had a chat with Jakarta and set up an initial processing facility there. Prospective refugees could voluntarily come in and commence their assessment – the incentive being access to legitimate transport (offered at a cost designed to undercut the smugglers’ operation). Until we can solve the push issue of refugees (war/famine/persecution in their home countries), there can be no fix to the pull side (the attraction of safe haven). If breaking the smugglers’ “business model” is our goal, the best way to do that is with market forces – cheaper, safer transport.

  22. Jon, I don’t mean to push my nose too firmly into the lower end of your digestive tract but this is a bloody masterpiece of political cartooning. It’s funny and has a sense of history whilst sad and full of heart. Well done.

  23. Superb stuff, Jon. Thank you.
    As for those fearmongers suddenly showing their abiding concern for the lives and health of refugees venturing forth in leaky boats: I’m as moved by your humanity and sincerity as I was by the recent Bush administration when it said the US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003 to free her people from tyranny.
    So moved I’m not sure I can make the toilet…….Aaaaaargh!

  24. In my humble opinion Kudelka is by far the most talented Cartoonist around these days. This cartoon is significant, it seems that most peeps’ just don’t get it.
    *The light on the hill* The speech, delivered near the end of Chifley’s term as Prime Minister, pays tribute to the people who make up Australia’s labour movement and, lacking specific policy detail, has resonance for every strand of opinion within the party. “The light on the hill” is often referenced in Australian popular culture. Notable instances include: “The Light On The Hill” from the musical Keating! is a country-influenced ballad in which Keating laments the trends in the 1996 election, concludes that he is doomed electorally, and sings of his unachieved dreams and with some bitterness at what he seems as the backward-looking message of his opponent.
    “Neighbourhood Watch” from My Friend the Chocolate Cake’s self-titled first album refers to the light on the hill as a dream that is no longer even dreamt. AND of course “The light on the hill” is a phrase used to describe the objective of the Australian Labor Party. The phrase was coined in a 1949 conference speech by then Prime Minister Ben Chifley.

  25. Without doubt, the best cartoon of 2011. It really exposes the hard reality of political survival.

    Despite what a politician may want us to believe, they will do whatever it takes to survive.

    Luke Skinner, I’d love to believe all refugees would become constructive, beneficial and contributors to the country.

    That could be possible, if they worked to be Australians first and put that, before their religious beliefs.

    Look what is happening around the world, with Nigeria now being held to ransom to adopt Sharia Law. How long before this scenario raises its head in Australia. It is already being discussed to introduce certain aspects of this Dark Ages mentality.

    I know you will cry that this is just hysteria – I hope for my daughters sake that you are correct.

  26. HEY! great cartoon! I like the whole ‘light on the hill’ policy from Chifley and how attitudes to Immigration have shifted throughout the century. :)

  27. Pingback: The lonely progressive | AusVotes 2013

Leave a Reply