Houston, we have a problem

The principle of ‘no advantage,’ is the latest weasel word in the Australian government’s continuing fight against asylum seekers.

Coined by the ‘expert panel’ of Angus Houston, Michael L’Estrange and Paris Aristotle, the vague, elastic and misleading ‘no advantage,’ principle essentially allows Chris Bowen, the Department of Immigration and the ALP to implement punitive policies on vulnerable people and get away with it, under the guise of ‘border protection.’

The expert panel for L’Estrange, Houston and Aristotle

While Australia’s borders have been largely secure since the Late Cretaceous period, when Gondwanaland disintegrated and the continent become an island, it has not stopped a generation of politicians channelling our collective dormant racism, to fear and persecute those who come by boat.

The ALP, not content with removing the entire continent of Australia from the migration zone, reinstituting offshore detention (not ‘processing’ – that is something you do to meat), denying refugees rights to family reunion, restricting asylum seekers income to 89% of poverty levels and raising the ire of Amnesty International, UNHCR and every other humanitarian organisation over its policy towards asylum seekers, is now seeking to further punish those who have done no wrong.

The latest weapon in the ‘no advantage,’ artillery, to be implemented in the coming weeks, will be the removal of work rights for Bridging Visa holders who arrived after the August 13 ‘cut off’ date.  Furthermore, even those asylum seekers who are found to be refugees will be denied work rights and remain on temporary visas, until it is deemed they have waited long enough to pass the rubbery ‘no advantage’ test.  Chris Bowen has set himself and the ALP up as the arbiter of how long refugees must wait to begin their lives again, simply because they arrived by boat.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen flanked by supporters of the ALP’s asylum seeker policy

Meanwhile, in the Liberal corner, opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison is channelling the ghosts of policies past and will this week introduce a private members bill to exhume TPV’s, a visa which essentially states ‘yes, you are a refugee, but we will only offer you three years protection, in case the war ends in that time and we can send you back home – and by the way you cannot bring your family over for protection either.’  TPV’s were an internationally condemned and unnecessarily cruel policy of the Howard government and one of the first overturned by former PM Kevin Rudd.

Liberal leader Tony Abbott also announced on behalf of his party (and without consulting them) that the Coalition was withdrawing its promise of lifting Australia’s humanitarian intake to 20,000.  While it was not a surprising move, to invoke economics as the reason for his backflip Abbott has played on the ignorance of the Australian public’s knowledge of how expensive detention is.  Abbott’s claim that not accepting an extra 6,500 refugees per year will save the country $1.3 billion has been roundly criticised – and rightly so – as inaccurate.

Not wanting to be ‘out toughed,’ Abbott and co fight for the exhumation of Howard’s TPV’s

What would save Australia that amount money (and more) would be ending the government’s contract with Serco, who along with G4S, manage the countries detention centres.  What would also save the country millions of dollars is allowing asylum seekers to work and pay tax, instead of withholding work rights and paying them 89% of Centrelink or introducing a ‘refugee work for welfare,’ as Tony Abbott also announced last week.  In close to ten years working with asylum seekers and refugees I have not met one who has made the journey to Australia simply to receive a welfare payment from Centrelink.

Serco – profiting from misery

The expert panel is said to be dismayed that their ‘no advantage’ principle is being misused.  Apparently the architects of ‘no advantage’ did not envisage asylum seekers languishing for years on Nauru and Manus Island for their cases to be heard, or being denied the right to work if they are released on the mainland and that restriction continuing even after they have been found to be refugees.  However, if you recommend ‘the application of a ‘no advantage’ principle to ensure that no benefit is gained through circumventing regular migration arrangements,’ then any sympathy must be offered cautiously, if at all.

*This is my final article for Intentious.  It has been an interesting experience writing for the site over the past twelve months.  I have found some who share my world view and plenty who do not.  Thanks to everyone who has read and commented on my posts and debated with me on others.  If you are not popping the champagne with the news of my departure then rest assured I will still be publishing regularly on my ‘open fire’ blog and on Future Challenges and you are welcome to follow me there.  Good luck to the Intentious team in 2013 – Stu.

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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Multiculturalism, Politics, Law

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24 Comments on “Houston, we have a problem”

  1. Give me a Break.
    November 25, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    Perhaps all those who are so vocal in defending the ‘rights’ of illegals aliens to just land in this country could be asked to volunteer to house them, feed them, clothe them and pay for their medical services.

    I have no great objection to immigrants, but I do object to illegal ones. I just do not see why I have to pay for them – and for a very long time too. Most immigrants are self – sufficient very soon after arriving. But those who arrive by illegal boats generally do not even have proof of who they are (having deliberately destroyed any evidence) and many cannot even speak sufficiently well to even get by, let alone get a job.

    If I wish to be charitable, I will be. Indeed, I am, and I have a lifetime’s experience in not only giving monies to charitable causes but my time and skills too. I have even sat alongside Paris Aristotle and others providing first level personal assistance to refugees. Legal ones.

    But that was MY personal decision and at my personal effort. I do not want it to be a Public Policy paid from coerced Taxpayer’s pockets.

    Charity should be a personal matter, otherwise it is not Charity. When the Government decides for us in such matters and commits public monies to their unwanted enterprise it is going well beyond the remit of government. It is a Statist usurpation of a personal virtue.

    Illegal arrivals coming to Australia, especially from/through another country such as Indonesia which is not a persecuting country and by-passing other countries which are not persecuting countries, should be sent back, preferably after putting in a few months work on a manual labouring task under prison conditions. For those that are accepted after offering proofs of identity and origin, Australia as a Nation should be demanding at least One Million dollars per capita refugee from the persecuting country, and any ‘foreign aid’ to such a country should be stopped.

    The alternative, as I started saying above, is for all those who clamour for accepting them to do so personally and be personally responsible for the consequences.

    • November 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

      It’s great to find someone who largely agrees with me, illegal immigrants should be sent back home, however it is important to make the distinction between claiming asylum which is legal, whether you have papers or not, and overstaying a visa,which is an illegal immigrant. Some of the reasons why asylum seekers cannot find work here is because they do not speak good english, however they come from non english speaking countries and many australians will not employ mohammad hussein over john smith. finally, I am also ashamed at the amount of public monies wasted on unwanted policies, such as mandatory detention.

      • Give me a Break.
        November 26, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

        A refugee arriving here without a visa is an illegal. A refugee who walks across a border from an ‘persecutor’ country into another country without a visa can present a case for ‘escape’. He/she can seek asylum and ask for a visa to go to Australia. We are an Island a long way from any other country. But one who by-passes several reasonable countries, after ‘escaping’ his/her own to get to Australia, not stopping first in the country bordering his/hers is prima facie not seeking asylum but attempting to gain entry here illegally. The ‘overstayer’ is another matter, but they too ought to be deported.

        • November 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

          Sorry, but that information is not entirely accurate. An asylum seeker who arrives in Australia, by any means, claiming refugee status is NOT illegal, whether they have papers or not. There is no obligation to seek asylum in the first country someone arrives in, especially if that country is not a signatory to the UN convention and are under no obligation to protect them, eg. a Hazara in Indonesia is not offered protection from the Indonesian government.

          • James Hill
            November 27, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

            For more information about this, you can read this article here:

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2010/sep/21/claim-asylum-uk-legal-position

            • November 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

              Important to remember that state obligations under the convention only apply to those who have signed the convention.

          • Give me a Break.
            November 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

            Not accurate? I guess not entirely. It is MY view and I do not make the laws which determine what is illegal and what isn’t. That is in the hands of the socialist civilisation destroyers, feminist bigots, green wreckers and assorted corrupt buggers currently ‘enjoying’ their time pulling the levers of power – at MY expense.

            • November 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

              and you’re entitled to your view 🙂

              • November 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

                This issue was once again being debated on QandA last night too, and I just want to say the following: To me, this is the smallest fucking problem Australia has. The media and the politicians blow it up like it’s killing our country, like we’re either heroes for saving countless lives or we’re victims to the crazy onslaught of foreigners. We throw billions and billions of dollars away every year on media propaganda and bullshit, when we’re talking about is 4% of total refugees entering the country. When you realise just how utterly small and insignificant it is, why do we give such a shit? How about we tackle a less-sexy asylum seeker issue like the 96% of tourists from suspect countries who just disappear into our cities, never to be heard of again by the immigration department? I eyeroll and refuse to see this issue as election-year fodder.

                • November 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

                  How about we tackle a less-sexy asylum seeker issue like the 96% of tourists from suspect countries who just disappear into our cities, never to be heard of again by the immigration department? I eyeroll and refuse to see this issue as election-year fodder.

                  The key distinction is that the overstayers do not get in ricketty boats and die in full view of the media

                  it can also be argued that they are neither attempting to game the system nor trying to morally blackmail the government of the day into giving them permanent residency in our prosperous land

                  there are “genuine” refugees on the boats, but “seeking a better economic outlook” is not grounds for a refugee claim

                  • November 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

                    You are correct that their invisibility is important and some boat arrivals are trying to game the system, however moral blackmail is a bit hysterical. No problems with sending non refugees home, however as long as they are provided a fair hearing of their claims.

  2. November 26, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    I humbly submit some observations to frame this discussion:

    Some questions to those who damn “no advantage and TPVs”…

    … would you sell everything you own and divert all of your income to charity? If not , what is the limit on that you can spend welcoming new arrivals?

    … would you give up your dwelling for your brother who comes across the sea by boat, vacate your own house and live in destitution, so that your guest and visitor may have a chance at a “normal” life?

    … if you lived in a community of one hundred such arrivals, and they decided that you could not swim in a public pool with their women, or could not kiss in public, would you call these values “Australian” values?

    … is pointing out any of the above “racist”?

    • November 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

      In answer to your questions, for the first 3 – no and for the last one, no, but I’m sure many racists would support you raising those questions… And my reasons why is because Australia has the financial capacity to provide those services.

      The Andrew bolt article you have cited it too ridiculous for words, he has deliberately left out many so many important points, but I would expect nothing less from someone of his standard…

      • Give me a Break.
        November 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

        Calling people with reasonable concerns, ‘Racist’, is a disgraceful thing to do.

      • November 28, 2012 at 9:17 am #

        Australia has the financial capacity to provide those services.

        I would have to respectfully disagree. Australia is in debt and spending by our socialist government is outstripping revenue growth. Already there is a $1.2 Billion Dollar blowout since May, and Nauru and Manus Island have not even been opened yet.

        Putting a blank cheque on the credit card is imprudent.

        You may counter by saying that “mandatory detention is expensive” but, at this point, we would go into hypotheticals, as our last debate. Which leads to more questions:

        • If anyone can say “I’m a refugee” and get instant community settlement into this country, on what grounds can you refuse a person permanent residency?
        • If they say “I want to come to Australia because the economic prospects are better”, does that qualify them for refugee status?
        • If they are not from a “refugee” country (e.g. Greece, Mongolia, Samoa) who determines which countries are “refugee countries” and which ones are not?
        • If the person seeking refugee status is destitute and does not speek English, the lingua franca of Australia,
          • How much welfare should the government pay per refugee to resettle them? Current estimates are $40,000 per refugee (I don’t have a quote, but am happy to write to various departments to arrive at a figure, even if they may stonewall because it is politically damaging to admit a budget blowout)
          • how will they find gainful employment to support themselves?
          • How would they integrate into the wider Australian community?
          • What if aspects of their culture (e.g. Shariah) are not compatible with Australian culture? Do we move to accomodate by having a parallel legal system, with all the complications that entails?
        • Do you believe it is racist to point out that immigrants may have issues with integration and compatibility into Australian society?

        Andrew bolt article you have cited it too ridiculous for words,

        What points has Mr Bolt left out? The statistics are what is important, and those would have been researched. Would you like me to send him a letter querying how he came about with those figures, so that we can trace back and verify their accuracy? If those figures are accurate, it doesn’t matter if Pol Pot or Ghandi came up with them.

        Perhaps rather than smearing the messenger, please address the statistics presented. Mathematics in its purest form is the true determinent. If you have reservations on the accuracy, state those objections specifically and I will put the question Andrew to audit them for confidence.

        Even the “enemy” can have a point if that point is mathematically sound.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think Australia should be accepting more refugees. At the same time, it should be on this country’s terms, and not on the terms of emotional blackmail to write a blank cheque.

      • November 28, 2012 at 9:26 am #

        The Andrew bolt article you have cited it too ridiculous for words

        Final note. If Andrew Bolt is “racist”, why did he point out that African refugees selected from camps still have a higher employment rate than boat arrivals?

        A policy should not be judged on its good intentions, but on the consequence: people dead at sea and a large number of people who would use irregular immigration channels as soon as the restrictions are relaxed

        I have an acquaintence here on a study visa from another country. He isn’t “studying” as much as working for minimum wages for a cafe in Sydney as well as two other jobs, and sleeps in a room with six other countrymen. This is in contravention of his student visa, which only allows him to work limited hours per week. He intends to “study” as long as possible, work for a minimum wage as long as possible because, when he goes back to his home country with Australian Dollars and converts to local currency, he can buy a house and start a business.

        In this way, I think you underestimate how attractive it is to be in Australia from the standpoint of working here and earning money, and how much visitors are willing to “game” the immigration system to stay here. Our dole is more than many immigrants earn in a year in their home country; obviously compelling enough to get on a boat and die at sea.

      • November 28, 2012 at 9:43 am #

        Sorry for the wall of text. I know I present many questions but, as our previous encounters have suggested, they are at the heart of why, in my good conscience, cannot support the contention of your article.

        One final point

        In answer to your questions, for the first 3 – no and for the last one, no

        From your first two “nos”, I think you would accept that there are limits to charity, and that you would not bankrupt yourself to support a guest; that you would responsibly support with what you could spare.

        I would contend that you putting that limit on your personal support is the same as the Australian Government putting a limit on the number of refugees it is willing to accept below “infinite refugees” and has to find ways of enforcing that limit

        How would you enforce a limit on spending for your guests if they come in an unstoppable tide and then you had to pay welfare to resettle each one? I do not say the above because I am racist or hysterical, but merely because I am interested in how you would enforce a limit on spending on your guests, stublogs?

        I have no doubt that, should the immigration laws be relaxed in the way you are suggesting, we would have many more irregular arrivals claiming refugee status. How much would you budget to resettle them?

        And then we would consequently have more women and children drowning at sea.

        The arrivals will have a script knowing what to say to be acknowledged as refugees to ensure they get permanent residency, whether they are refugees or not. That script, provided by the people smugglers, will contain a booklet containing all their legal options paid for courtesy of the Australian taxpayer.

        Those taxpayers, whose monies the government spend, will vote for your first two “nos” on the grounds that the government should manage the economy prudently. Some will vote no for racist reasons, but I will vote “no” because I don’t like unfunded, open-ended commitments. Heaven knows we already pay too much tax in Australia for the government to squander it in their stupidity.

        • Give me a Break.
          November 28, 2012 at 9:47 am #

          “And then we would consequently have more women and children drowning at sea. ”

          Not to mention men.

          No, let us not mention men. After all men always come first. The patriarchy sees to that. Men are Privileged !! ™.

  3. November 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    We agree again!

    • James Hill
      November 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

      On an unrelated note, I’m very sad to see you go, Stu. We disagree on a few things, but I found your articles to be informative and a good counterpoint to many of the other writers that write here. I hope our impassioned debate in your comments section wasn’t construed as insult, I’d hate for that to be the reason you’re leaving.

      • November 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

        I second that Stu. Sad to see you go. Be well.

      • November 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

        thanks James, I enjoyed the debates and that’s not the reason for my finishing, I have other writing projects for 2013. I will still be a keen follower of Intentious and I’m sure I’ll pop up with some more comments along the way 🙂

        • November 30, 2012 at 10:04 am #

          Thirded. This was a brilliant piece to bow out on, Stu. You’re a talent, and I’m sure whatever your next projects are you will excel at them. Intentious is sad to see you go, thanks for all the great submissions — please stick around as a reader/commenter for sure 🙂

          • November 30, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

            cheers 🙂 i’ll be around the traps for sure 🙂

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