But words will never hurt me..?

Australia’s asylum seeker debate and mandatory detention policy are two ugly white stains on our national image, having festered for over a decade.  They have consistently been on the receiving end of criticism from the United Nations, Amnesty International and other prominent international organisations, damaging our reputation as a welcoming and generous nation.

The main weapon of choice by those fighting the battle has not been guns, missiles or tanks, it has been language.  While most modern language succeeds in boring us to death in a kind of Chinese water torture style of repetition and banality, think ‘moving forward’, ‘touch base’ and ‘something different’, this debate has shown the true destructive power of language.  It has shown is that, armed with a few simple phrases, governments, media and sections of the public can do just as much damage to humans and humanity than with bullets or rockets.

By now Australians are all too familiar with the terms ‘illegal immigrants’, ‘boat people’, ‘queue jumpers’, ‘national security’, ‘border protection’, ‘Pacific solution’ and ‘children overboard’, as they have eked their way into our national lingo.  Sadly, many of these terms are based in fiction, lies and untruths, yet they remain largely unchallenged as they are parroted by the media, public and governments.  I have even seen recently, on the supposed leftist ABC, a morning breakfast presenter correct himself when he said asylum seekers instead of boat people.

The most widespread misnomer is ‘illegal immigrants’, an illegal immigrant is someone who overstays their visa, not someone who arrives (undocumented or not) seeking asylum.

Then we have ‘queue jumpers’ – asylum seekers are not waiting in line to buy milk at Coles, they are fleeing for their lives and there is no mythical queue for coming to Australia – arriving by boat is just as legal as flying in on a student / tourist / working visa before claiming asylum.

‘Border protection’ – asylum seekers arriving by boat are not a threat to Australia, we do not require protection from them, they are arriving seeking our protection.

Finally, we all know that children overboard turned out to be ‘truth overboard’ – an opportunistic and outright lie from the Howard government.

Recently the debate has seen some new words and phrases enter.  An Amnesty International report released in February documented the conditions inside detention centres and a parliamentary inquiry last month shed some much needed light and truth on the conditions asylum seekers are placed under upon their arrival in Australia.

Amnesty International’s report told of the terrible conditions inside detention centres, ‘indefinite and prolonged detention’, ‘constant uncertainty, fear and monotony’, ‘confusion and frustration’, ‘little idea about their rights’, ‘behaviour management regime’, ‘remote and isolated’, ‘extremely hot and dusty’, ‘patches of sky’, ‘constantly watched’, ‘confined space’, ‘overly intrusive and unnecessary’ and ‘serious damage to men, women and children’.  This is the reality of life inside an Australian detention centre.

The parliamentary inquiry focused mainly on the length of time asylum seekers spend inside.  I use the term asylum seekers and not detainees, as ‘detainees’ suggests the person may have done something wrong to have been detained in the first place.  The inquiry recommended a maximum of 90 days in detention.  Basically, it stated that anything after that runs the risk of ruining already damaged people and people who are more than likely to end up being granted refugee status anyway.  In other words, future Australians.

'Indefinite and prolonged detention' for those who have committed no crime.

'Indefinite and prolonged detention' for those who have committed no crime.

Mandatory detention has been a bilaterally and publicly supported policy for the last 20 years.  I can think of no other current national policy which enshrines the destructive human effects on people as mandatory detention does.  The NT intervention would probably be closest in 21st century Australia.  Oh wait, I forgot the Carbon Tax, silly me.  Imagine if a report came out about the elderly, disabled or even cattle and was telling of similar conditions.  There would be a national outcry if we treated any other humans or even animals like this.  Yet because of the language and its ability to create the notion that asylum seekers who arrive by boat are somehow a threat to our society, immoral queue jumpers or even undeserving economic opportunists, as some like to paint them (Andrew Bolt – I’m looking at you – Bolt Report 15/04/12, 4:30), the policy continues to receive wide support.

With the real possibility of a civil war in Syria, the continuing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and persecution of ethnic minorities and political dissidents in Iran, ‘boat people’ are going to continue to arrive in Australia – whether we like it or not.  The so called ‘problem’ is not going to go away any time soon.  Australia needs to decide what kind of country we want to be.  Do we want to continue to grow our reputation as racist, islamophobic and cruel or reverse the damage that has been done and once again be the land of the ‘fair go’ where no matter what your colour, religion or history you are welcome.  To start the change we need to alter the language.  We need to send these corrupt and destructive phrases back to where they came from.

Confused much..?

Links

Refugee and Asylum Migration to the OECD: A Short Overview

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Mandatory detention in Australia (Amnesty Australia)

Refugee Council of Australia – Myths about Refugees and Asylum Seekers

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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Multiculturalism, Politics, Law

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56 Comments on “But words will never hurt me..?”

  1. April 23, 2012 at 7:09 am #

    I ask you respectfully:

    Would you advocate flying any asylum seeker into Australia who asks for it to assess their case? If so, how many, or would there be no limit?

    Because there’ll always be a problem when asylum seekers decide to pay anyone (not just people smugglers!) to get on boats.

  2. April 23, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    Short answer: No. Long answer: We already fly in refugees who have been assessed offshore in UN camps, I believe we’ve recently upped our limit to around 22,500 a year. If the concern is about the safety of people coming on boats, then a ‘regional approach’ could be setting up a processing centre / program in Indonesia and or Malaysia. That would ensure peoples claims are heard and if they are found to be refugees they could then be flown over and avoid a risky boat trip. However it is unlikely because neither Indonesia or Malaysia are signatories to the 1951 convention and really there is no political incentive to employ such a program for those governments. Hope that answers your question 🙂

    • April 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

      yes that does answer my question, and it has generated a follow up question.

      i think part of the problem is that the Immigration Dept has a moribund fear of sending failed asylum applicants.
      Case in point being petitioners claiming to be Iranian, “losing” their passport papers well aware that Iran does not take back failed refugee claimants.

      My follow up question is this:

      Should there be a distinction between “economic refugees” and “political refugees”?

      So it would appear to me that the distinction would no longer be necessary, in fact we probably should not be checking passports at airports. A person flying in on an aeroplane should be able to fly in and settle in Australia with no questions asked.

      Unless you have a suggestion or objection to the above? Please correct if so.

      Then the more hairy question… what if travelling to Australia on a ricketty boat is all they can afford, and they die en-route? At whose feet does responsibility for this death lie?

      • April 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

        On the Iran issue many asylum seekers have their ID taken from them by the people smugglers and it can be at any stage of their journey. You are right that Iran does not accept people back, mostly the Kurdish ethnic group, who are persecuted in just about every country you can find them. Nobody wants them – Iran, Iraq, Turkey or anywhere really. Thus they are deemed ‘stateless’ and if nobody wants them we are left with them – which is not bad outcome by the way.

        Re: economic refugees vs political refugees. There seems to be an idea floating around in Australia that refugees cannot be wealthy and that if someone has been able to pay thousands of dollars to get here they are somehow ‘less’ of a refugee because they have money. If you read the UN definition of who a refugee is it says nothing about the person’s wealth or income. Having money does not necessarily protect you from persecution. If I can use some basic examples – Rwanda 1994, a rich Tutsi was still a dead Tutsi, Afghanistan anytime in the 20 years, a rich Hazaragi is still a persectued Hazaragi, Germany 1936, a rich Jew was still a walking dead Jew. The term ‘economic refugee’s’ is simply a way to delegitimise people by others who do not like them for whatever reason – really there is no such thing.

        On the flying in point. Many people do not realise that over 90% of asylum seekers in Australia fly in, either on student / tourist / working etc visas, some even on fake visas or fake passports. So to let them settle with no questions asked is taking a big risk, they still need to be checked and identified as who they claim to be.

        On the last question if someone dies en route to Australia I would argue it is the fault of government of the country they are coming from. That government has created the atmosphere which makes the person fear for their life and thus flee. Example, a Kurd fleeing Iran – that is the Iranian government’s fault and so on. If they were not in fear for their life then they would not be fleeing. Some people suggest that Australia has an obligation to accept Iraqis and Afghans because we have been / are helping the US fight a war in those countries, that argument some merit to it, and then by extension they would argue Australia could be partially to blame for any deaths at sea. That view no doubt generates some discomfort from Australians.

        • April 24, 2012 at 9:06 am #

          correction: that should say Hazara, not Hazaragi

        • April 24, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

          Thank you for your answers thusfar, and I am happy to have a civilised discussion. If you ask me questions in return, I am glad to entertain them. Otherwise, I have more questions for you. You’re not a politician, so you may answer freely and honestly without fearing for your chances of re-election.

          I appreciate frankness and honesty. Some of these questions will be gotchas, but you may ask gotcha questions to me in return.

          Thus they are deemed ‘stateless’ and if nobody wants them we are left with them – which is not bad outcome by the way.

          If there is no way of processing a stateless person who fails their application (ie they fall into a black hole), would everyone claim to be stateless to avoid mandatory detention in your framework?

          Having money does not necessarily protect you from persecution…. a rich Jew was still a walking dead Jew. (hence) The term ‘economic refugee’s’ … really there is no such thing.

          Case 1:
          Say you are an Iranian who escapes persecution from Iran. You are now in Indonesia and, while an illegal immigrant, you are not being immediately persecuted by the Iranian government, so your immediate person is not threatened.

          Now, you could use $1000US to stay in Indonesia and eke out a living, or you could pay that money to a people smuggler to sail you on a perilous voyage from Indonesia to Australia, because there are more opportunities in Australia. Even though you were in relative safety in Indonesia, or in one of the signatory countries between Iran and Australia.

          If they were to die on this perilous voyage, God forbid, wouldn’t Australians who are uncomfortable say, “how do we prevent them sailing over and dying?”

          Case 2:
          You are a Pakistani national recently married and living near the border with Iran. Ethincally you can define yourself as Pakistani or Persian. You are living as a farmer, and want a better life for yourself and your family.

          You travel to Malaysia, then to Indonesia, working odd jobs and saving money. You are not persecuted, but have decided that Australia will afford you better opportunities. You can travel to Australia by boat , discard your passport and claim you are Iranian.

          Do either case count as economic refugees?

          Once you are in Australia, you speak very little English, have no housing and no money and no job. How would you determine where you live and how you make money for yourself (i.e. get a job and become self sufficient). To what extent should the state fund your resettlement?

          If the state is funding resettlement, should you tell your friends to sail over by boat and claim refugee status so that they may have a better life in Australia?

          What allocation of Australia’s budget (how many billion dollars) should be set aside to resettle stateless refugees, as per our obligations?

          On the flying in point. Many people do not realise that over 90% of asylum seekers in Australia fly in,

          I acknowledge that the majority of asylum seekers do not come by boat. At the same time, the probability of death from flying in is much lower than sailing across the ocean in a boat that is not seaworthy.

          And when a ship sinks, that is when the headlines roll, yes? I think the Australian voter is rather allergic to scenes like the ship sinking off the coast of Christmas Island.

          they still need to be checked and identified as who they claim to be.

          I would contend there is no point checking. Anyone can claim asylum, to be Iranian and stateless- so they cannot be sent home. Since there is no way of enforcing without leading to indefinite detention, one should let them into Australia without question.

          Example, a Kurd fleeing Iran – that is the Iranian government’s fault and so on. If they were not in fear for their life then they would not be fleeing.

          As per your example. If a Kurd dies enroute to Australia, and the Iranian government does not care, is it a tragedy that we as Australians wash our hands of, like Pontius Pilate? That appears to be the Labor government’s positon at this time. A few boats have sunk off camera, and there was no furore.

          have their ID taken from them by the people smugglers and it can be at any stage of their journey.

          Is there a possiblity that an asylum seeker may decide to throw their passport overboard because it would improve their chances of approval if they did so?

        • April 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

          another interesting one. Burmese asylum seekers got on a boat and paid $3500 USD, with the aim of getting into Australia. The boat did not have enough fuel to get to Australia, and has to stop in East Timor. They have no money to purchase more fuel or supplies.

          Why don’t they stop and settle in Timor? Sure it’s one of the poorest countries on earth, but they are a signatory to the CRSR and would have to assess and honour these Burmese nationals on their plight.

          Why not settle in Timor?
          http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/onairhighlights/burmese-asylum-seekers-stranded-in-east-timor

          Something tells me that Australia is more attractive, for economic reasons.

          • April 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

            You’re welcome, it can be a hard topic for civilised discussion 🙂

            On the stateless point, they don’t necessarily avoid mandatory detention being stateless, it merely ensures they will not return to their country of origin, although that can take years to be formalised. There is that idea that everyone could claim to be stateless, but they would get found out sooner or later, such is the process of proving an asylum claim.

            On case 1:
            Yes, you could use your $1,000 to eke out a living, however once that is gone you have little or no prospect of finding stable, legal work, because you are illegally in Indonesia and they have no obligation to protect you. And while you may not be in immediate danger you would be stuck in a kind of limbo, never being able to sleep at night knowing where you live is 100% secure. You could never have a career, only making do with odd jobs or cash in hand or intermittent labour work.

            Between Iran and Australia the countries which are signatories are nil, here is my reference – http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3b73b0d63.pdf
            …and those in the region are Timor – Leste (still recovering from war), Fiji (military government), Naura, New Zealand, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands (also recovering from civil war), Tuvalu (sinking into the Pacific)
            I can understand Australians questioning why people would get on leaky boats to come here, but I think that is an indication of just how desperate the situation is for these people.

            On case 2:
            If the Pakistani arrived in Australia claiming they were seeking asylum from Iran the process would involve them telling where they are from (city, town, village etc) what language/s they speak, what their ethnic group is, whether they have experienced torture of trauma, what conditions made them fear for their safety, what family they have in Iran and so on. Because they came on a boat this would be done in a detention centre.

            As a farmer I think it would be highly unlikely they had traveled much, so I doubt they could give convincing enough testimony to prove their claims. Eventually they would be found out and deported. Thus they would be shown not to be a refugee, so could therefore neither be an economic refugee.

            Because they would be found not to be a refugee the other questions about housing, money, jobs etc kind of become irrelevant. Although I do know that the government offers around 500hrs of free English tuition to refugees (not asylum seekers) to help with their settlement (AMES in Victoria) as well as settlement case workers who offers assistance with housing, public transport, general orientation and heaps of others things. I cannot put a figure on how much the government does or should spend, although I do know community detention as opposed to detention centres is a far deal cheaper.

            ‘If a Kurd dies enroute to Australia…’ – we should not wash our hands of it, perhaps the navy could intercept boats who enter Australian waters and ferry them here, perhaps we could process asylum seekers in Indonesia / Malaysia and then fly them here, perhaps we could engage with the Iranian government, build a relationship with them and convince them not to persecute Kurds – we need to think outside the squares, come up with some new ideas…

            Is there a possibility that an asylum seeker may decide to throw their passport overboard because it would improve their chances of approval if they did so? – Anything is possible, however I seriously doubt it would improve their case if they really were as asylum seeker.

            On the Burmese case:
            There is no doubt Australia is more of an attractive option than Timor – Leste and yes they are a signatory to the Convention. However there is nothing in the Convention that states the person must apply for asylum at the first country they enter or the first country they enter who is a signatory. It is important to remember that just because they chose not to claim in Timor – Leste does not make them any less of a refugee, it does not make them any less deserving or any less worthy of our protection, it does not make their suffering any less brutal. I think you hit the nail on the head when you referred to Timor – Leste as one of the poorest nations on Earth. Why would you settle there when a few hundreds kms away is the best country in the world..?

            Also, I have added a diagram in the post outlining the process asylum seekers have to go through in Australia, for any readers interest. It show how confusing the process it. Many ‘boat people’ spend years in detnetion and a mental and legal limbo between the ‘DIAC decision’, ‘No’ and eventual protection visa, the straight yes, yes route in less common.

            • Jimbo
              April 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

              I’m sorry Stublogs I simply do not have the time to go through your posts and reply to each individual point. However some of the things that you say are so fanciful and outrageously illogical that I can not help myself but to comment. Some of the highlights from the above post.

              “I cannot put a figure on how much the government does or should spend, although I do know community detention as opposed to detention centres is a far deal cheaper.”

              Putting aside the notion that being the cheaper solution does not automatically make it the right one.
              You have just contradicted yourself. If it is a far deal cheaper provide some evidence. Just because it makes you feel good to say something does not mean that it is true.

              Regarding the Navy intercepting boats and ferrying them here… This is not purpose of the Navy. The Navy exists for the defence of the nation not to ferry refugees from Indonesia. The massive implications of security, cost and manpower to maintain such an operation would be astronomical!

              Regarding the diagram which seems perfectly simple to me. The fact that there is so many avenues for appeal tells me just how fair the system is. Once the system has rejected them they have 3 further chances to have that decision overturned… Seems perfectly reasonable to me!

              You did have one good point though: ” perhaps we could process asylum seekers in Indonesia / Malaysia and then fly them here” A good idea, perhaps you should explore this realistic solution further.

              • April 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

                Because the cheaper is solution is also the right one – in my opinion, does not contradict anything. Community detention is able to reach the same outcomes as mandatory detention, so I do not see the issue there???

                I am not seriously suggesting the Navy pick people up as a formal government policy, I’m using it in a number of examples illustrating that we need to think of new ideas to stop people dying at sea…

                On the diagram, I am not arguing the process is unfair, I am arguing mandatory detention is. The process in the diagram can still be followed while people are living in the community.

                Finally, I have volunteered at the ASRC on and off since 2003, so I can vouch for their reliability as a source. They are an apoltical organisation who assist asylum seekers and fight to see an end to a cruel ploicy, perhaps if you can provide some figures which contradcit mine it may help your argument..?

                • April 26, 2012 at 11:01 am #

                  I have an even cheaper solution. If they choose to come on leaky, sub-standard, overcrowded boats with inadequate safety precautions.

                  Let them drown. They just won themselves Darwin awards.

                  I don’t see why other people’s stupidity is my problem. Every time you mitigate the negative consequences of somebody’s bad decisions, you encourage others to make those bad decisions.

                  Every tragedy in history and your own life has resulted in people wisening up and changing their behaviour. Preventing these tragedies on the surface appears like a noble cause but it might end up killing more people in the long run because they’re now going to expect the Australian people to mitigate the consequences of their bad decisions and so more of them keep coming and suffering.

                  It’s like a child who mistreats a cat, you could step in every day whenever the cat attempts to scratch the child… but will the child ever learn to stop mistreating the cat? Of course not. So what happens when one day you’re not there to stop the cat from scratching the child? The cat goes ballistic and rips the child to shreds because it finally has the chance to retaliate after being repressed and oppressed for so long.

            • April 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

              Thank you for your answer. I am humbled by our discussion. I am saddened that many discussions by others supporting the asylum seekers and climate change where I am treated as a “heathen” for not agreeing with a politically correct answer. I am not here to provoke a fight nor here to recite dogma, I am here to learn.
              I may have a bias in this issue, but I am actually a fence sitter… I have yet to see convincing arguments otherwise. And, respectfully, I have yet to see a convincing argument from yourself on the matter, so I ask more questions so that I may learn and perhaps find a reason while becoming more informed on the issue.

              Thank you for your willingness to engage. Only by testing our arguments can we grow as people. And test them we should, as adults having a rational discussion. I will ask questions first, then sort points for comment.

              Apologies in advance if some of these questions are repeated; the more often it is repeated, the more important the answer is to me.

              There is that idea that everyone could claim to be stateless, but they would get found out sooner or later, such is the process of proving an asylum claim.

              You have more faith in the Immigration Department and the bureaucracy than I have; the reason that mandatory detention has become indefinite mandatory detention is the inefficacy of the bureaucracy. As a result, I have little confidence in their ability to determine the veracity of claims, or else the detention centres would have mean waiting periods in the order of months, not years.

              If there was no mandatory detention and the claimant waited in the community while their claim was processed, what stops them “disappearing” into the community if they know their claim would be a failure? That is why I consider “community detention” an oxymoron. We have missing persons in this country, and fugitives. We have visa overstayers that the immigration department has not caught, and what happens when the person caught is stateless?

              You could never have a career, only making do with odd jobs or cash in hand or intermittent labour work….
              I can understand Australians questioning why people would get on leaky boats to come here, but I think that is an indication of just how desperate the situation is for these people.

              Is the claim of an Indonesian laborer who wants a better life and a career for themselves equal to a “refugee’s” claim? Or are they “economic refugees”? They also are making do with odd jobs or cash in had or intermittent labour.

              There is no such thing as an “economic refugee”, yes?

              …and those in the region are Timor – Leste (still recovering from war)

              East Timor is still a signatory. Europe and Yemen and Africa contain signatories. I understand that these refugees want a better life for their families, but one could argue that that is a distinctly different objective than escaping immediate persecution. A refugee can live in Indonesia for ten years before taking the perilous boat ride to Australia… if they have a level of comfort for ten years, why don’t they stay in Indonesia or, even more pertinently, why is their plight greater than an Indonesian living in comparable squalor or an immigrant that is going through Australia’s formal skilled migration / permanent residency process?

              That, to me, is why refugees are perjoratively called “queue-jumpers”, if they do experience community detention instead of mandatory detention, because they can bypass the normal rigourous tests and requirements that other immigrants must be checked for the qualify for permanent residency. Why apply for residenancy when one can apply for Asylum and get into the community faster and have access to welfare faster?

              I am happy to accept correction on the above, but politely ask you to consider and comment.

              If the Pakistani arrived in Australia claiming they were seeking asylum from Iran the process would involve them telling where they are from (city, town, village etc) what language/s they speak, what their ethnic group is, whether they have experienced torture of trauma, what conditions made them fear for their safety,

              What stops them from lying to game the system? Already we are seeing an influx of men claiming to be “under 16” so that there are more favourable processing conditions for themselves and the families they want to bring across. The funny part is that they get the jitters in the “children’s detention” because, as “minors”, they cannot smoke cigarettes.

              If the refugees have a script they can give the best proscribed answers to these questions and, if the quoted city / town is in a warzone, how would one detect this?

              As a farmer I think it would be highly unlikely they had traveled much, so I doubt they could give convincing enough testimony to prove their claims.

              Is it possible that you are underestimating these claimants, their determination, their resourcefulness and their ability to give form answers that best exploit the system?

              Eventually they would be found out and deported.

              If they are stateless, where would you deport them too? What if the foreign government does not accept them?

              I cannot put a figure on how much the government does or should spend,

              How many asylum seekers should the government budget for? What happens if this budget is exceeded? Should the number of refugees that Australia accepts be limitless?
              This money question is an important question. This is the question that moves the debate from “free compassion” to “practical implementation”. There has been a cost blowout in the cost of mandatory detention, and in the influx of refugees. The three appeal paths for refugees are paid for by the Australian taxpayer, as well, is that equitable?

              Is it possible that , even with community detention, resettlement in the Australian community provides encouragement to refugees considering taking the perilous journey by boat?

              perhaps the navy could intercept boats who enter Australian waters and ferry them here, perhaps …
              I am not seriously suggesting the Navy pick people up as a formal government policy,

              Formal or informal, doesn’t the Navy now act as an informal ferry service for boats who sail into Australian waters then use an mobile phone with an Australian sim card to call for pickup?

              Anything is possible, however I seriously doubt it would improve their case if they really were as asylum seeker.

              Explain this doubt. I think it increases their chances of acceptance because it becomes impossible to verify their age or their country of origin, so they may nominate these qualities based on what would be most likely to get them asylum, wouldn’t you agree?

              there is nothing in the Convention that states the person must apply for asylum at the first country they enter or the first country they enter who is a signatory. It is important to remember that just because they chose not to claim in Timor – Leste does not make them any less of a refugee, it does not make them any less deserving or any less worthy of our protection

              To many voters, this would call into question the reasons for nominating Australia as the country they wish to apply asylum for. By default, wouldn’t one choose the best country to resettle in, where legal representation is paid for?

              it does not make their suffering any less brutal.

              Is an Iranian national considering the boat journey, having lived in Indonesia for ten years still subject to brutal suffering? Is his suffering any more or less than an Indonesian national who lives by similar parameters?

              Why would you settle there when a few hundreds kms away is the best country in the world..?

              Does the best country in the world have a bottomless pit of money with which to settle as many refugees as possible? Is there a point when Australia has too many refugees to process or is spending disproportionately on resettling refugees?

              If there are finite resources for the Australian Government to spend on its initiatives, should it prioritize refugees over funding community housing for homeless Australian citizens?

              Also, I have added a diagram in the post outlining the process asylum seekers have to go through in Australia, for any readers interest. It show how confusing the process it. Many ‘boat people’ spend years in detnetion and a mental and legal limbo between the ‘DIAC decision’, ‘No’ and eventual protection visa, the straight yes, yes route in less common.

              Thanks for the graph. Again, if they are a stateless person and they exhaust their appeals process, where would they be deported to? Or would they either simply be let into the community as a permanent resident, or face indefinite mandatory detention?

              perhaps we could engage with the Iranian government, build a relationship with them and convince them not to persecute Kurds

              How convincing and successfuly do you think that the Australian diplomats would be in convincing Iranians and Turks not to persecute Kurds?

              • April 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

                Wow, so many questions. These discussions are difficult online, much easier in person 🙂 I have tried to answer as much as possible, trying to address the main points…

                On the ‘disappearing’ claimants – that situation has to my knowledge never happened in Australia and is about as good a justification for mandatory detention as the ticking time bomb is for torture. How someone could be so sure of rejection I do not know and why would they travel all the way to Australia to live a fugitives life. It just makes no sense. I would also have confidence in our police that they would eventually be caught. If they were stateless my guess is that they would stay but who knows…

                On the Indonesian labourer – no, their situation is nowhere near a refugees, their life, while maybe not great is not in danger, they do not fear for their safety on a daily basis, they are not being persecuted for being a member of a social, religious, ethnic group etc. They have all the rights that come with Indonesian citizenship, whereas an Iranian Kurd does not have any rights. Yes, I believe there is no such thing as an economic refugee.

                On the ‘queue jumpers’ paragraphs – the essential difference for me between asylum seekers plight vs a poor Indonesian vs an immigrant is that they are in fear for their life (and most likely their family in some capacity). While in Indonesia they still face the prospect of return, incarceration and discrimination. A poor Indonesian may still face dangers and their plight is no less deserving of help. I believe they are called queue jumpers because Australia is essentially a conservative country at heart, with many British values still present, one is queues, they are also dreadfully lied to my a media who refuses to pick up on the fact that arriving in Australia by boat seeking asylum is perfect legal.
                A simple answer as to why apply for residency vs asylum – an asylum claim must be proved and in the process there are numerous restrictions on your movements and life. If you are not a refugee there is no use applying for asylum because you will get rejected!

                Essentially nothing can stop the Pakistani from lying, however if he does he will be found out and deported. I do not underestimate asylum seekers’ determination or resourcefulness because of the simple fact that they have been able to make it here and along the way survive all sorts of hardships, however to imply they are here to exploit the system is a terrible thing to say. They are here because their lives are in danger and they want Australia to help them. There is absolutely nothing for them to gain by lying. If they were stateless they would not be deported, the chances of someone being stateless and not being part of a persecuted ethnic group is pretty low I think.
                The Herald Sun link you have provided is talking mainly on mandatory detention and supports my argument that it is expensive waste of tax payer’s money – community detention is far cheaper. The so called influx of refugee is ridiculous; the amount of boat people who arrive in Australia is so pathetically small.

                The doubt question. Why would someone who is a genuine asylum seeker want to make their case as a refugee harder to prove? That goes against all logical thought. If they are confident in their claims there is no need to pretend they are something or someone else.
                “Does the best country in the world have a bottomless pit of money with which to settle as many refugees as possible?”

                No, but we do have a lot more money than neighbouring countries. If we can afford $1 billion dollars to fund detention centres then we can fund community detention ten times over. I do not think homeless or asylum seekers of any other community spending should take precedence over another, they are all important problems and all need to be allocated the money needed to fix them.

                “How convincing and successfully do you think that the Australian diplomats would be in convincing Iranians and Turks not to persecute Kurds?” – not very to be honest, but you never know if you never try…

                One site I would recommend highly for information is asrc.org.au, they are based in Melbourne and have been operating for just over ten years. They would have much more info on the economics of asylum than I can provide, also lots of fact sheets, links and blogs.

    • April 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

      A few side points to further put this into perspective.

      Australia limits asylum seekers to 22,500 per year?

      With 4 of our capital cities growing at a healthy 1000 people per week (208,000), this is a pretty pathetically small cap.

      Australia’s population is 22 million. The UK is 3 times our population, the USA is 15 times our population, and we won’t even come close to being able to compete on a global scale by 2051 unless we double the size of our cities and grow our satellite cities into proper cities.

      We’re drastically, drastically underpopulated. Our GDP is a pathetic 0.9 Trillion? Come on. Germany and France are 3.2 and 2.5 trillion. Even Italy is 2 Trillion. We seem like a stifled nation of people with learning difficulties because we can’t seem to grow at the pace of the rest of the world, thanks to our ridiculously tight immigration laws and the tiny number of Australians already here.

      Add this to your destructive language phrases Stu: “Australia is full”.

      That’s so far from the truth it’s dangerous.

      Thirdly, and this is merely to provoke the racists: You don’t like other races coming here? Well immigrants and asylum seekers aside, 99% of our economy (mining) is being sold and controlled over the next 30 years by India and China single-handedly. Wouldn’t you rather a multicultural Australia than one dominated by one or two nations only? Then open the doors.

      • April 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

        Here is the link to Australia’s refugee intake, I do believe it has been raised to around 22,500 now, http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/60refugee.htm.

        Yes, it is a small cap and given that around 20,000 boat people have arrived in the last ten years – well, what an outrageous response to such a small ‘problem’. I’m not sure Australia needs to be on a population scale of other countries, however that is a whole different issue 🙂

        ‘Australia is full’ – yes, definitely another destructive phrase. Lucky we do not take our foreign policy from racist T shirts.

        • April 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

          I wonder how much Australia is spending per refugee on their legal fees, with threee appeals, accomodation and resettlement. That would be a very interesting number to compare with other countries based on

          money spent per refugee x refugee cap = total spent

          • April 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

            well, once the case reaches the Federal Magistrates Court the cost to the tax payer is quite small because the asylum seeker must either pay a lawyer or find one to work pro bono… and you can see in my responses to Jimbo, links to references which outline just how small the costs of community detnention are compared to the destructive mandatory detention, in which we actually incur extra costs when we have to then spend money to mentally rehabilitate the refugees…

  3. Jimbo
    April 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    ” I use the term asylum seekers and not detainees, as ‘detainees’ suggests the person may have done something wrong to have been detained in the first place”

    I think you will find arriving in Australia uninvited and unannounced without a valid visa is a crime under the immigration act… Laws you will find in say… Every country on earth!

    This whole article seems to be nothing but highly charged emotional nonsense.
    “racist” “islamaphobia” “white stains” All of these words for example do not apply to the situation! All nations on earth control the flow of people across their borders by air, sea and land… Why would Australia be any different? The process while it may need streamlining is a necessary evil.

    • April 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

      You are half correct Jimbo. Arriving without a valid visa is a crime, however if you applying for asylum it is not. Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees 1951, by which we have agreed to and are obliged to assist those who come to Australia seeking asylum – whether they are invited or not and no matter how they arrive here.

      On your second point, if I can quote my contemporary Jason, you are living in a ‘fantasy world’ if you think nations control the flow of people across their borders, no doubt they would like to, but they do not – a simple example is the US Mexican border, also the amount of human trafficking that occurs throughout the world is huge, Italy, Greece and Spain are constantly seeing boatloads of asylum seekers turn up from North Africa and the amount of refugees moving across borders in the Middle East and Africa in particular is in the tens of millions.

      I am guessing that the ‘necessary evil’ you allude to is mandatory detention? You are quite correct in that it is evil, however it is not necessary. Community detention is far cheaper, does not mentally destroy people and works at integrating people into Australian society.

      • Jimbo
        April 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

        Stublogs, it seems we disagree on the very basic fundamentals of the situation.

        “by which we have agreed to and are obliged to assist those who come to Australia seeking asylum – whether they are invited or not and no matter how they arrive here.”

        Agreed, however we also have the right to look after our own interests. This means we must do background checks on people entering Australia. This process takes time. Mandatory detention is a must in these situations because for every 9 legitimate refugees there is the one who is trying to manipulate the system. These people may very well be criminals. Your solution would have them free and clear and on the streets within hours of arrival and you say that I am living in a fantasy world…

        Not to mention the economic factors of the situation:
        “Community detention is far cheaper” How do you work that one out champ? Give them money, a place to live, education and health care… Just because you feel like something should be true, it doesn’t mean it is!

        In your perfect world the mere utterance of the word “Asylum” would instantly give a free pass into Australia. Do you not think that there will be consequences to such a policy? Such a a dramatic increase in unlawful arrivals into Australia by both sea and air…

        I’m unsure of what point you are trying to make when citing Europe and the US? They have massive problems with refugees and people trafficking, yes. So because their efforts to try and control the situation are not entirely successful, they should just give up and open their borders for all to cross? This is of course absurd and I’m sure this is not what you trying to say. When it comes to Australia’s situation, we too have many holes in our net, however this does not mean that we should not try co control the flow of people!

        • April 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

          Jimbo, I do agree with you that we have to do background checks on people and I also agree that process takes time. However, I think 90 days is enough time to at least establish whether someone is a serious threat to the community or not. If they are not then I believe they should be allowed to live in the community. I do not think that is unreasonable. Also, I would like to know where get your figure that 1 of every 9 refugees is trying to manipulate the system???

          On the economic point, it is estimated that the government will spend $709 million dollars on mandatory detention in the financial year 2011-12 (ref: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/2693018.html) and since 2000 $2.4 billion has been spend on ‘boat people’, (ref: http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/08/17/detention-centre-cost-of-asylum-seekers/) where as community detention costs around $15.7 million a year (ref: http://www.asrc.org.au/resources/statistics/) – so you do the maths and tell me – $709 million or 15.7 million dollars, which one is less???

          On the Europe / US point, you said “All nations on earth control the flow of people across their borders…” I was merely pointing that is untrue. I agree they would like to and there should be controls and that they should not give up just because it is difficult – so hey, we can agree on something 🙂

          • Jimbo
            April 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

            All the figures listed in the links above are not consistent with one another for a start. Also forgive me if the $15.7 million dollar figure seems completely unrealistic to me. The site seems like such an impartial reference to cite.

  4. April 24, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    hmm, the picture doesn’t seem to be showing up, it’s here also… http://stublogs.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/but-words-will-never-hurt-me/

  5. April 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    “white stains”? Interesting metaphor. It never occured to me that the saying, “this puts a dark stain on your reputation,” was referring to race. Here I was thinking it was a metaphor about light and darkness which is shared by all human beings in all cultures. The light of the sun being life giving and the darkness bringing danger, cold and death. But now you’ve found a racial slur where none existed, I’m now going to stare in the mirror and cry for my white skin. The shame, the shame!

    In other words, no one is being racist when they say ‘dark stains’ but you are being racist when you say, ‘white stains.’

    You know, whenever I hear that the UN criticises something these days, I immediately think this must be a worthwhile cause. The UN is run by the scum of the Earth, because if you hadn’t noticed 80% of countries are run brutal power hungry dictatorships. That’s 80% of the UN’s members. Any organisation that treats people the likes of Gadaffi, Ahmadinejad, Bashar Hafez al-Assad and Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz as honoured members ought to be considered a vile and corrupt entity.

    “damaging our reputation as a welcoming and generous nation”

    You know, Japan has a reputation as a generous nation, but they have a zero immigration policy. Why don’t the asylum seekers go to Japan? Oh that’s right, the Japanese aren’t Europeans so we can’t criticise them. But check this out: http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/asylum-seekers-find-little-refuge-in-japan

    508 refugees accepted since 1982! Wow! I know what, if Australia had the same policy as Japan (zero immigration) we’d have no refugees. It is only because Australia has a reputation as a welcoming and generous nation that we have so many refugees. Frankly. We need to take a leaf out of Japan’s book. Over population in other countries is not our problem. Nor are political problems in other countries. If you’re going to make a case that we should care about political problems in other countries you’re advocating for an endless string of wars. Fuck that shit, if other people can’t govern themselves properly, that’s their problem, not mine, I’m going to say this a lot by the way.

    I am saddened that bad people are doing bad things in other countries, but it is not my problem. It is as simple as that. Also, if you’re a moral relativist, and I’m guessing you are, I’m expecting you’d understand that because in their culture they shoot infidels, political prisoners and ethnically impure citizens we have no moral right to demand that they stop doing these things. It would be as cruel as demanding they renounce their religion and culture once they are allowed to stay in Australia.

    So… either we accept that it is perfectly fine for them to be murdered in their home countries for trivial offences, or we decide no, our culture and way of life is better, so if we decide to let them in the condition is that they must conform to our culture. If they don’t, send them straight home. If you’ve going to have a double standard, that’s fine, but know I won’t take you seriously.

    Actually, in the name of respecting other people’s cultures, we should treat them like Australians would be treated if they attempted a mass migration illegally into their countries of origin: shoot them on sight.

    The thing is, if some stranger walks off the street and walks into your home and demands that you feed and shelter them you have every right to kick them out. Every country has this right. Every country that has given up this right or failed to enforce it, has ceased to exist. We call this phenomenon an invasion. It happens a lot in history and it’s never pretty.

    This is no laughing matter and you can cry rivers of tears, but if you open up our borders to anyone then you expose this country to civil war, bloodshed, urban violence and bloody unrest on a scale you can only experience in countries who don’t secure their borders. And after you’ve unleashed this maelstrom on us all, what was it for? Here in the West we have one tiny pocket of civilisation, and you allowed it to be washed away by barbarians because it ‘felt right’, well stop using your heart and start using your brain. You’re not the only one with a point of view, and you’re not the only one who would be affected by these decisions. Just because most people disagree with you doesn’t mean we’re all evil, but it suggests that maybe you should listen to their points of view before dismissing them as unimportant because they’re ignorant, stupid or evil in your opinion.

    • April 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

      I am quite happy to engage in a mature discussion about the topics in the articles and comments section as I have with Richard and Jimbo, however if you are going to speak for me, draw you own conclusions and assumptions and quite frankly be hysterical then there is really no point in even trying to engage with you.

      • April 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

        Alright, please explain to me what you mean by “mature” and point out where I have been “immature.”

        • April 26, 2012 at 10:45 am #

          I agree largely with your comments Jason, but, in your beligerance, have failed to connect with Stu and hence he cannot appreciate your argument. You have inspired me to write an article on the importance of being influential and persusasive.

          • April 26, 2012 at 11:05 am #

            😀 Glad to hear it!

            Although, beligerance? I’m still a kitten compared to some.

    • April 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      Japan’s population is also 127 million, almost six times Australias, and they’re densly packed into a land mass 1/20th the size of ours. Even if you consider Australia to be 90% uninhabitable, the Japanese still have 336 people per km2. That’s also why their economy is so huge, 5.4 trillion coming out of a tiny island nation the size of New Zealand. Where are we? Oh that’s right, underpopulated, under-producing 0.9 trillion GDP blip on the world’s radar. We’re so insignificant that if our country were to default we’d barely affect global stock prices.

      • Jimbo
        April 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

        So I’m guessing Andrew that you have never heard the term “per head of population” i.e GDP per head of population… If you take into account all the countries you have listed in both this post and above and compare it to their GDP’s to the size of their population and I think you may find that very basic arithmetic will reveal Australia sitting either on par of well above the others! If you have “learning difficulties” I can explain it for you further.

        Per person in Australia we have more money than say France and Germany have per person… This means while yes their GDP may be bigger we actually have more money to go around.

        Yes the mining boom will slow down, but as you said we have 30 years to diversify and sustain natural growth in our population. We can still maintain our high GDP per person and continue with the high standard of living we all enjoy.
        During that time if we are careful not to artificially bloat our population with mass immigration as you would have us do. We can start to take in more and more refugees as our infrastructure and our population grows naturally. More and more people get to enjoy the prosperity!

      • April 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

        Andrew, I think the concern is that you have a problem like in France, where a signficicant immigrant population that does not integrate well forms into gangs and starts rioting because they feel apart from the society that is meant to be home. The Japanese, for an overpopulated island, are a very integrated, very insular society, and (I hate these words) very racially common with almost no multiculturalism. It is very difficult for a gaijin to attain Japanese citizenship, it has been so for 100s of years.

        So we either have to have 10 babies per couple to get that sort of density, or to face the integration problems that France is facing now.

  6. May 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    An interesting development and an illustration of how the desperate seek to game the system for their own advantage:

    Despite the majority having had asylum claims rejected twice, most are asking for multiple appeals and several have taken their cases unsuccessfully to the High Court. Immigration reports tabled in parliament by the ombudsman show 11 cases where asylum seekers have come by boat twice and had their cases reviewed because of the length of time spent in detention.

    The number is almost certainly higher but the government does not keep statistics on people who arrive by boat multiple times.

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/rejected-refugees-get-back-on-boats-for-another-go/story-e6freuzr-1226359362035

    • May 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

      Also interesting that despite claiming ‘the number is almost certainly higher’ the journalist provides no evidence to back his claim. Sadly just another ‘let’s shit on asylum seekers and refugees’ article the tabloid (Murdoch) Australian media is so fond of.

      • June 7, 2012 at 11:31 am #

        More fun with Captain Emad…

        Ninety-seven passengers had boarded the boat in Jakarta in November and none had been heard from since.
        The most influential people in Sport

        The people-smugglers who had organised the trip told the relatives that the boat and the passengers had arrived safely in Australia and demanded their final payments, hundreds of thousands of dollars, in return for the good news.

        http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/hunting-a-kingpin/story-e6frg6z6-1226386764371

        We have some very intelligent conmen in the shady ends of society gaming and exploiting our immigration system. I am very happy to have Syrian dissidents who have had their houses levelled flown into Australia as refugees. But I object to my tax dollars somehow ending in the pockets of a man like Captain Emad.

    • May 19, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      I think the key word Richard used is “desperate”. Think on that…

    • Anonymous
      June 5, 2012 at 11:41 am #

      Despite not having evidence to back the claim “the number is almost certainly higher”, I would say that if you don’t look for mess, you do not find it… even if the mess is actually there. Ignoring the fact that the mess exists does not change the fact that it does. It’s like how, in Victoria, they fiddle with the definition of “assault” to massage the data to show how “crime has dropped” before an election. The best recourse is to insist on all raw data to be put in the public domain to make our own conclusions.

      I have another illustration of why it’s not a great idea to trust our bureacracy to run a milk bar, let alone an immigration policy. Observe, “Captain Emad”, who has made a business of smuggling people to Australia. He has allegedly sent his wife and children here on refugee status, while running a freight and perfume business out of Malaysia. With a honeyed tongue, he has managed to get himself refugee status… despite being a “people smuggler”. He then has allegedly set up business continuing continuing his people smuggling operation from Sydney…
      http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/05/31/3515475.htm

      And that expose is NOT done by everyone’s favourite kicking post, the Murdochs… is it upsetting that there are those that understand the immigration policy better than the government who wrote it, with the intent on exploiting it? Is it upsetting that the Australian taxpayer is paying the bills of these conmen?

  7. June 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    I’ve now watched the 4 corners Captain Emad report, I was away when it aired, in Indonesia funnily enough. The most important point for me was how asylum seekers continue to be victims throughout their whole process, even by their countrymen – abused, exploited, taken advantage of and disempowered on their journey and then again when they arrive.
    It’s an impressive con job by Emad no doubt, however I don’t think it justifies mandatory detention or the treatment asylum seekers receive in Australia. Captain Emad is certainly not representative of your typical ‘boat person’.
    I would loved to be a fly on the wall of Chris Bowen’s loungeroom when that program aired!
    Kerry’s point at the end about how 4 Corners could expose that and the combined resources of DIAC, AFP and the government could not is a pertinent one!

    • July 12, 2012 at 8:03 am #

      It looks like now the rescue is costing $1m per boat, just for the operations. It would seem that boats that are not in distress are putting out distress calls, to ensure that the Navy picks them up like a taxi service. This is safer than trying to make the whole journey on a ricketty boat, but Australian taxpayers are picking up the tab.

      Since the last election in June 2010, a total of 210 boats have arrived carrying 13, 825 people.

      http://www.news.com.au/national/m-a-rescue-for-asylum-seeker-boats-in-distress/story-fndo4bst-1226423925675

      For all saying that “a trivial amount arrive by boat, most arrive by air”, it looks like the boat Arrivals are soon set to exhaust the 14,000 refugee quota. The issue is, if we fly them instead of boating them (which is safer), those who “fail” the screening to fly as a refugee will try their luck on a boat anyway. And they are willing to “try” doing so multiple times, so that, even with flights, there will still be drownings at sea. In the face of this, there should be unlimited quota and it should be an open chequebook… not great for a govt trying to bring the budget back into surplus.

      One thing that does not sit well with me… if people making the journey by boat can afford to pay a people smuggler, what about refugees stranded without the money to pay the smugglers to get on a boat? Are they somehow less deserving? I would say they are more deserving because they are poorer and more destitute than their seafaring cousins…

  8. July 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    The articled you have linked to makes me ask the question of what exactly our problem is with asylum seekers coming by boat. I mean two weeks ago we (Australian public, government, media) said there must be action because people are dying, now an article like this appears and the question seems more around the financial burden of rescues… if you want to talk about wasting money, then scrap mandatory detention, it is such a huge waste of money, not to mention all the other problems with it, which I and many others have written about…

    Re the numbers, the quota is an annual quota, not an election cycle quota, so there is no need to panic about boat arrivals exceeding it – what the numbers do show is the seriousness of the problem, the desperation of asylum seekers and the need for a solution to whatever our problem is – losing lives or losing money…

    These two websites give a good breakdown on the numbers…

    http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/2011-2012/BoatArrivals#AppendB

    http://www.safecom.org.au/pdfs/boat-arrivals-stats.pdf

    On the point of wealth, it does not matter how rich or poor you are in consideration of whether you are a refugee. Who’s to say those who paid people smugglers have not sold everything they have to afford the price?

    • July 14, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

      Can anybody tell me what the numbers are of illegal immigrants who disappear into society here after arriving by plane? 10 times more? 200 times more? Why does no one care about that issue and only care about “stopping the boats”? Not that I’m xenophobic, I welcome immigration, but if you’re really concerned about “queue jumpers” wouldn’t the bigger problem being stopping the planes?

      • July 18, 2012 at 7:31 am #

        now an article like this appears and the question seems more around the financial burden of rescues

        The financial burden is an important sub-topic, because someone has to pay for settling refugees from foreign nations and with foreign customs, especially when people smugglers are “gaming” our Navy to provide a taxi service at considerable taxpayer’s expense. The federal government has a budget to balance. If we have an open border where anyone can claim to be a “refugee” and get instant access to Australia, what is the point of having a skilled migration program? What is the point of attempting to screen, when claiming to be a “refugee” automatically would bypass all screening in the absense of mandatory detention? Not only that, this will serve as an enormous magnet for economic migration to Australia from all over the region.

        It is a complex topic with many caveats. No answer will satisfy all parties. I’m concerned by who is picking up the tab, and whether there is importation of social problems from the countries that refugees are fleeing from (they may also be fleeing from a poor life in Pakistan, rather than any war). That’s why there is a nominal English speaking test for foreign migrants seeking Australian PR. This test, and all others, is moot if claiming to be a refugee allows you to bypass it.

        no need to panic about boat arrivals exceeding it – what the numbers do show is the seriousness of the problem, the desperation of asylum seekers and the need for a solution to whatever our problem is – losing lives or losing money…

        No panic at all. I think the quota should be raised, yet I fear that the “poor” of Pakistan are displacing “genuine” refugees from Uruzgan province in Afghanistan who are fleeing violence in the quota intake. At some point one has to say, “we can only help so many because we only have X dollars to do so.” There are a lot of desperate people in the world, sadly, and not enough money in Australia to help every one of them. We should give more, yes, but not an open chequebook; it should be on our terms and the nation’s capacity to give, not on the terms of blackmail amiable to people smugglers and their customers.
        Not everyone can pay a people smuggler to travel to Australia. I think it’s better to help those poorer than to draw and encourage those who can afford to pay for an illegal and dangerous journey.

        Why does no one care about that issue and only care about “stopping the boats”?

        You are offering a red herring because it is an independent issue of boats that also needs to be addressed. “We shouldn’t fix the leak in the bathroom because the kitchen is leaking” is not a valid argument.

        In addition, those travelling in by aeroplane do not capsize and drown at sea in front of the Australian media. The price of our compassion, at current, is that people are drowning at sea. For all the accusations of conservatives / Liberals being heartless, this is a conservative’s primary concern and responsibility, the secondary being upholding the rule of law, the third being managing the state’s limited resources.

        Unfortunately the socialists do not appear to comprehend the last two points, and Labor are now working on reactionary policy in response to public outcry on the issue. It is probably better to leave the pacific solution in place to discourage boat journeys, then triple the refugee intake and budget for that. I’d say that would have been fairest, if hindsight were perfect.

        • July 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

          Using the kitchen is leaking analogy, the real way to “stop the boats” (4% immigrants)… and the planes (ie: 96% immigrants), is by pouring money into foreign aid / foreign development programs so as to make the country a better place to live, not via legislating our borders. The former is the “renovate the bathroom” argument. The latter is “use some duck tape on the leak as the leak gets worse”.

          • July 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

            (4% immigrants)… and the planes (ie: 96% immigrants)

            Irrelevant point is still irrelevant. When a plane full of illegal immigrants crashes into the sea, your point will be relevant.

            is by pouring money into foreign aid / foreign development programs so as to make the country a better place to live

            Unfortunately this is false logic as well.

            Check out this list:
            http://www.worldaudit.org/corruption.htm

            Throwing money at problems does not solve problems. There is a reason that Mohamed Farrah Hassan Aidid confiscated UN aid to starve his own people in Somalia. There is a reason that the AWB is complicit in kickbacks to help Saddam Hussein build his palaces. There is a reason that people flee the Taliban and Afghanistan. And there is a reason that people don’t pour “foreign aid” into Australia to make it a better place to live.

            The people getting on these boats have a bad deal, to be sure, but they are running away from societies raft with graft, corruption, nepotism. And throwing money at it will entrench, not fix the problems. Sure send a mission to Africa where they can distribute aid, but know that more money in aid suffers from diminishing returns unless we can address the underlying root cause. Often those root causes, like Iraq and Darfur, will require military solutions to depose. Otherwise you are flushing money down the drain.

            Australia doesn’t have an unlimited funds. I am happy for the Government to increase aid and the refugee intake, but it is myopic to believe that this will stop people getting on boats and dying in full view of the Australian media.

            Your “duck tape” is invalid because, if they don’t get on boats in the first place, the death would not occur. Your “renovate the bathroom” is incongruous because it will cost unlimited money spent on a corrupt and uncertain outcome. We need to both duck tape and renovate the bathroom (in a smart way).

  9. July 23, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    An amusing aside that puts the boat issue into perspective:


    Apparently a sailor recently was admonished by an asylum-seeker who wanted more care taken with his bag because it contained a laptop. Another sailor lamented; “Last I checked, I was not a baggage handler at the airport, but a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy.”

    A poor, impoverished asylum seeker… with a laptop? Abusing a sailor as if they were abusing a bellhop?

    • July 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Mmm, crack journalism from Chris Kenny there – amusing? perspective? I think not.

      • July 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

        Probably trashy tabloid journalism hence the “amusing” comment, but if there was any truth an merit in the claim, that “poor” asylum seekers are demanding that Navy sailors treat their baggage with care because there is a “laptop” inside, would that provide perspective at all?

        • July 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

          I think this article (which appears on the same page, right next to the other article) gives more perspective…

          http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/pregnant-asylum-seeker-rushed-to-land/story-fn9hm1gu-1226432232197

          …and why the quotations marks on poor? It’s not a requirement to be poor if you are an asylum seeker, if I had managed to keep my laptop in tact across the ocean I would want it treated carefully too…

          • July 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

            That’s a fair point about the “why can’t they have laptops”, I suppose the reason conservatives are concerned with helping the poor, the destitute and the genuinely needy, rather than those who conservatives see as attempting to defraud the system. Taxpayers paying for someone else to commit fraud is a pet peeve… Similar to several claimants of welfare benefits not based on disadvantage or poverty, but based on their “Aboriginality.”

            It would be seen that giving money to an asylum seeker with a laptop would be the equivalent of giving money to a “homeless” man who actually chose to live on the street while owning a penthouse appartment. (I am looking an article for the man in Japan who was homeless and deranged, but actually had a million dollar appartment at the time of death). Nevertheless, I see how there are holes in this argument which you point out.

            I think we can agree, however, that there must be a better way than pregnant women on leaky boats.

            • July 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

              I can understand that concern of the conservatives, however they should remember the rich can also be asylum seekers, wealth does not exclude anyone from being a refugee… and they should be treatly fairly and justly whether they come with a laptop and Armani suit or raggy clothes and no shoes… we can agree on your last point, but I will defend her right to take the journey if she chooses

              • July 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

                If she were to die on such a journey, wouldn’t it be wiser to, rather than defend her right to make that journey…

                … instead to dissuade her from risking her life and that of her unborn child, and making alternative arrangements?

                what if she has been “refused entry” because her case was deemed “not genuine” by our bureaucrats based on evidence, so she decides illegally to take the boat journey anyway?

                wouldn’t the Australian public rightly weep over her death at see and the death of her child, and seek to prevent it, rather than defending that right?

                the last questions is why the Pacific Solution and deterrent was implemented in the first place, not out of unnecessary cruelty but to dissuade young pregnant mothers from making that journey

                a complex topic this is.

                • July 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

                  I’m all for making ‘alternative arrangements’ as long as they fit within our responsibilities under the convention… if she had been denied entry and chose to make the journey anyway that would be her choice and of course I would not want her to drown, but desperate people will do what they can to reach what they believe is safer than where they are leaving and I am not one to say ‘don’t get on a boat’ when I cannot begin to imagine what she is fleeing from…

                  and the Pacific Solution was a political solution and not a humanitarian solution, domestic policy has been shown in many studies to have little or no effect on boat arrivals…

              • July 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

                I want to ask you a sincere question, I may have asked it before but I will ask it again in a different way.

                A Hazari from Pakistan who wants to live a better life in Australia (although he is not suffering persecution or an immediate threat to his life in Pakistan). If he was to get onto a boat from Indonesia to Australia, and he claims to be an Afghan refugee fleeing Afghanistan…

                … is he a refugee or not?

                • July 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

                  It’s a pretty brief example, but if he is not suffering persecution or immediate threat to his life then I would say on the face of it, no, he is not a refugee…

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