Tuesday 8 September 2015
Last night on ABC’s Q&A program, Geoffrey Robertson, Australian human rights lawyer, academic, author and broadcaster was asked to respond to a question about Australia’s intake of Syrian refugees.
THE QUESTION: What I had understood is that we would take more Syrian refugees but then we would take less refugees from other places. So the same number of refugees would come but what happens to them?
TONY JONES [host]: And what do you think about this question about the numbers? Do you think we should increase our refugee intake? Labor is saying 10,000. Mike Baird is saying perhaps even more? Let me go to Geoffrey Robertson. Germany, Angela Merkel sort of stands out like a kind of moral beacon in Europe at the moment.
GEOFFREY ROBERTSON: Yeah. Look at the photographs today which will restore any lack of faith in humanity you might have had by seeing that earlier photograph. The Germans and it’s ironic, isn’t it, these grandchildren of the Gestapo are now the angels of mercy and Angela Merkel is saying, “Look, we have a bill of rights.” The first right is the right to human dignity and this was adopted by the European Union a couple of years ago. I was in the first case.
I was asked by the European court, what are the philosophic basis of the right to human dignity and I said, firstly, the parable of the good Samaritan. We don’t pass by when someone is bleeding to death; secondly, Shakespeare’s Portia’s speech in The Merchant Of Venice about the quality of mercy; and, thirdly, the great German philosopher, Kant, who said basically the categorical imperative, treat others as you would have them treat you.
Eternity thinks someone else might have mentioned “treat others as you would have them treat you” first (Hint: we think it was Jesus – Matt 7:12).
Read the whole transcript, or watch the program online, here.