‘Those people’

Most nations have some shame in their history, Australia no less.  The treatment of our indigenous people and the abuse of ‘orphans’ brought to Australia after the Second World War were shameful, and have only recently evoked an official national apology from our Prime Minister.  Will the way ‘boat people’ have been demonized evoke a similar apology?  That will occur only if and when that part of our history is seen as shameful.

Why is it that asylum seekers arriving by boat off our north-west coast have been cast in such a black light?  Why do those seeking refuge in Australia by air or commercial vessel not attract the same condemnation?  The thesis of this piece is that the dislike of refugees arriving by leaky boats is the direct outcome of dog-whistling to a nation that harbours racist elements ready to react to the whistle they, and often they alone, hear so loudly.  It concludes with a plea for some statesmanship to counter this.

Racism seems to be an embedded characteristic in the human race, one that has been obvious for eons.  Is it part of the evolutionary process of survival of the fittest?  Is it based on the view that one’s clan, one’s tribe, is the best, the safest, the most secure, and that others are not just less worthy but to be feared lest they take what belongs to one’s own?  Whatever it is, it seems possible, with good leadership, to keep it quiescent, under control.  Conversely, with careless leadership or with deliberated intent, it is easy to inflame it, to allow it to get out of control.  In this country overt racism from our leaders is seldom seen; instead dog-whistling is allowed to do its subtle and damaging work.

In Australia racist attitudes go back a long way.  During the gold rush days the flood of Chinese as diggers or cooks evoked racial feelings.  Europeans arriving post World War II from Italy, Greece and Yugoslavia in turn were berated as ‘wogs’, a term not heard much now.  More recently arrivals from Vietnam were subject to racial taunts, and migrants from China, Africa and particularly India have been the focus of racial comment in very recent times.  The White Australia policy, which cast such a shadow over our nation, was eventually repealed when the Fraser Government let more than 100,000 Indochinese refugees to immigrate at a quick pace.  Notwithstanding the efforts of government, there remained though a residue of opponents to other than British immigration that fomented antagonism towards wave after new wave of migrants.  The problem is not peculiar to this country.  Britain has had damaging racial conflict with the migration of many coloured people there, and so have several European countries.

If it is our natural tendency to be antagonistic to immigrants, how should our leaders handle this to achieve a harmonious society? 

This piece maintains that strong, courageous, visionary leadership can create harmony among people of all races.  The reverse is true.  Leaders can quickly excite racial passion with the subtle techniques they have mastered in recent years.  And when one leader does that, it takes great courage for others to stand up against the racial feelings so evoked.

It was not all that long ago that Pauline Hansen began her campaign against both old and new arrivals.  John Howard saw how much angst could be stirred up with racial talk.  He saw the million or so voters who went along with Hanson, particularly in Queensland where her One Nation party won a swag of seats in the state parliament, as easy pickings for himself if only he played his cards correctly.  Although she had been ejected from the Liberal Party because of outlandish remarks, he refrained from condemning her racist remarks, particularly about boat people.  Was this because he shared her views, or simply because not contradicting them would leave the impression that he did, and thereby attract her voters to him?  A million votes is a lot – Howard was never going to sneeze at them.

So in the 2001 election Howard used his oft-quoted phrase “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.” and thereby secured in that instant the votes of a large number of Hansonites.

Then the boats came in increasing number.  Having uttered his threat to boat people, Howard believed he had to be seen by the public as the strong man who would stop the flood of boats.  So we saw the Tampa affair, the excision from Australia of Christmas Island and other islands, the Pacific Solution, mandatory detention in remote camps complete with razor wire, and temporary protection visas.  The flow slowed and Howard and his Chief Boat People Basher Philip Ruddock were lauded to the extent that Ruddock received a standing ovation at a Liberal Party Convention.  He and Howard were heroes to their party faithful, and seemingly also to many in the electorate.  ‘Border protection’ as it was tagged, became a catch-phrase for toughness in keeping out ‘the invasion of boat people that so threatened our shores and our way of life’.  Isn’t that laughable?  Yet it was so potent politically.

The Pacific Solution successfully reduced the amount of asylum seekers arriving in the Australian waters by boat. Arrivals dropped from a total of 5516 people in 2001 to only 1 arrival in all of 2002 after implementation of the policy. The low level of boat arrivals continued all the way through the Pacific Solution period. Since the abolition of the policy there has been an increase in boatpeople arrivals with over 2700 boatpeople arriving in 2009, and the hundredth boat since the election has just arrived.

Recourse to hard data about immigration to this country over the last several decades seems to have had little influence on the emotion evoked by the boat people debate.  Although only 22,000 people have arrived in the past 35 years, amounting to just 0.1% of Australia's population, the emotion generated by these arrivals has been intense.  Only 4500 have attempted to seek asylum via small boats in Australia since the Rudd Government was elected in 2007.  But people seem to be not so concerned about the actual number, but about the manner of their arrival, unannounced and certainly not from an orderly queue. 

Now if there was a queue, anywhere, and if those patiently waiting their turn for admission to this country were being turned away, held back because a boat person had jumped the queue, there might be a cogent reason for resentment by those so frustrated, even by some in the electorate.  But there is no queue, none at all.  If anyone believes there is one, please tell us all where it is.  On Lateline last night Scott Morrison had an anecdote about three refugee journalists supposedly kept out because Australia’s quota was ‘full’ due to the arrival of boat people.  That’s three; how many others are there?  Nobody will be precise; vague innuendo will do.  But, as Grog points out in his fine piece on Grog's Gamut: Big Australia, small minds, “...the term ‘queue jumper’ is now so deeply entrenched in our nation’s vernacular that some Australian politicians use it interchangeably with the term asylum seeker’.”

So we are not up against a logistic problem of accommodating the small number of boat arrivals; we are up against stark prejudice and hard attitudes entrenched by politician after politician telling us that ‘these people’, these ‘illegals’, these ‘queue jumpers’ are unworthy of a place in our fair country and should be dissuaded from coming unheralded in boats by whatever punishment or threat can be conjured up.  The Howard Government was successful in developing these punishments, these threats, with its Pacific Solution and its TPVs. Yet despite the anguish these punishments created, despite the efforts to intimidate boat arrivals, most of those who did arrive were considered legitimate refugees and admitted.  TPVs are widely acknowledged as being ineffective in stemming the flow of boats, but very effective in causing great anguish to those granted them because of the uncertainty about permanent residence they created.

The MSM has made a meal of boat people.  It would take too much space to document all the adverse publicity it has promulgated.  One example will suffice.  The March 30 print edition of the Melbourne Herald Sun carried a front page headline Boat Bill Fury by Ben Packham and Steve Lewis (of Grech fake email fame) with a subhead: This is the hundredth boat to arrive since Kevin Rudd became PM – costing you $80,000 per refugee.  I won’t torment you with the rest of the piece, but you can guess it was all negative.  If you want to read the online version it is here.

It is refreshing that recently there have been some articles that take a very different view of boat people: Peter van Onselen’s article in the April 3-4 Weekend Australian: Who’s afraid of 4500 boatpeople?, Susie O’Brein’s A boatload of rubbish in the Herald Sun on April 6, Mirko Bagaric's article in today's SMH: Migration can end worldwide poverty and the editorial in today’s SMH: Red herrings and island fever.  (Scroll down the page to see this, the second editorial).  If only our politicians could be as upfront as this!

Do you have the impression that despite the continuous inflammatory headlines in print and the electronic media, the people may be getting tired of all the simulated drama?  It’s only an impression, but there seems to be less attention given on radio and TV news items to the details of boat arrivals, as if they are ‘old hat’.

It is not the purpose of this piece to document all the facts and figures related to this matter that show how spurious is the demonization of the tiny number of boat people actually arriving, or to catalogue all the articles that are now in print on this and the subject of population to which it has been so inappropriately linked, as if stopping the arrival of boat people dead in their tracks would make a significant dent on immigration numbers.  Read what Possum has said in his Pollytics piece: Net Arrivals - Cheap Populism and Export Destruction and what Crikey said yesterday morning about the linking of population growth and boat people by the MSM in The population debate goes boom. 

No, the purpose of this piece is to urge our politicians to stand up as statesmen and take a humanitarian stance on the boat people issue, to tell the electorate that we ought to welcome these unfortunate people fleeing from persecution and danger, and not demonize them as ‘those people’, people who are ‘invading’ our shores, ‘queue jumping’ and depriving those in the imaginary queue their rightful place.  There are adequate checks to keep out those with a bad record and return home those who are not genuine refugees. 

The trouble is that the dog-whistling which the Opposition has used for a decade has persuaded such a large portion of the electorate that boat people are ‘illegal’ and therefore evil arrivals, that taking a contrary view takes great political courage.  Kevin Rudd seemed to lack this when he condemned people smugglers as the ‘vilest form of human life’ and took a tough-guy stance, when he could have extended the more humanitarian welcoming approach he took in getting rid of the Pacific Solution and TPVs.  By taking a more enlightened approach he could have exposed the inhumanity of the Opposition’s hard-nosed approach. 

Possum's analysis on Crikey of this week’s Essential Research Report: Essential Report – House Prices Edition however will give Rudd little encouragement, revealing as it does that 65% of those polled believe the Government is ‘too soft’ on asylum seekers .   

So will Rudd, will any member of the Government, have the courage to call the Opposition’s dog whistling for what it is, to counter the overt wedge the Opposition is trying to insert between the electorate and the Government?

Will he become the statesman we look for, and hope for in a leader?  If he did so, he might be surprised how much support the electorate would give him.

What do you think?

 

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Bushfire Bill

7/04/2010The conundrum in all this is that many see making it less onerous for boat people to arrive as the thin end of the wedge. Invite them in, soften the stance too much and there could well be a big increase in irregular arrivals (trying to find a suitable euphemism there). On the other hand the maritime nature of our borders means that once a dotted line somewhere out in the Indian Ocean is crossed boat people are "here". Unlike European countries, which have mostly land-locked borders (and for which, after WW-II the "rules" were designed to handle displaced persons and refugess from Communist countries), ours are porous. You can put a fence up along a land-locked border to prevent the line being crossed. You can't do that in the open sea. So we have to do something about the people who make it. As I said above, a conundrum. But there's more. Can we seriously lump responsibility on Indonesia for looking after would-be irregular immigrants, for feeding and housing them? If they want to come here as a final destination, why shouldn't Indonesia send them on their way ASAP? Then again, Indonesia lets them in, so there is some contributary blame there too. Indonesia has its own "irregular immigration" problem. What the Rudd government is doing is a combination of discouragement (or perhaps a lack of [i]en[/i]couragement) to boat people (we don't go out of our way to make it easy for them to come here), but once here we treat them humanely and in an orderly fashion. Abbott can posture all he likes about turning the boats back. That may have (sort of) worked once (as Downer boasted), but I don't think the Indonesians are going to be fooled twice. They have demonstrated that they are not impressed with our view of ourselves that we are somehow special and that the rules the Indonesians are obliged to play by don't apply to us. I agree, therefore, that Rudd needs to do more than rabbit on about "being tough" on people smugglers, while at the same time being humane to their clients (to coin a phrase). It really [i]is[/i] confusing. We don't want to encourage a flood of boat people - because, like it or not, we [i]do[/i] have to control our borders - but once they get here we can't in conscience treat them harshly. I find Abbott's contention that Jesus would have turned them away appalling. Jesus fed the multitude. He only turned the money lenders out of God's house. And there we have the problem: Abbott is likening Australia to God's house, not to a place of hope for the downtrodden. Howard's policy was based on not one refugee placing a foot upon our sacred soil. He even changed the borders to enable that. This attitude may run well here, but in other counrties, especially Indonesia, it's taken with a grain of salt. The only way to really stop boat people is to take the Howard hard line, to make life so unpleasant for new arrivals that they decide to pass on the opportunity. But in doing so we diminish ourselves morally and in the eyes of others. Solving this conundrum is what leadership is all about. Rudd can't remain in denial for ever. I agree he should step up to the plate and state his case in unequivocal terms. whether he has the courage to do this is another matter altogether.

thewetmale

7/04/2010I think there are many reasons to not get too down about this. For one thing, while the latest essential research did show that a majority of people thought the Rudd government was "too soft" on asylum seekers, that didn't translate into thinking the coalition would be better on the issue. Also, and i can't remember where i got this from, but i recall some survey taken in the past that showed that, on average, people were just as likely to be amused by screaming tabloid headlines as they were to take them seriously. While there probably always will be a segment of the population that fears the unknown, i think overall there is the potential for a better standard of debate in this country. I just wish that Rudd would take his government's considerable ability to spin the media and frame the issues, and put it to use by injecting a few basic truths into this debate; e.g. Possum's post on perspective: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/03/11/perspective/ But then again, maybe that's exactly what he's doing by making Tony Burke minister for population. That would indicate a medium to long term approach which is right up Rudd's alley in some respects. I thought i'd also just take a moment to mention that Leigh Sales did well with Scott Morrison last night on Lateline - she had obviously done her homework on the 300K net migration figure and, as is her style, she took apart the baloney while keeping the interview reasonably civil. http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2010/s2865711.htm

lyn

7/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] In a big country, dreams stay with you, Andrew Elder, Politically Homeless http://andrewelder.blogspot.com/2010/04/in-big-country-dreams-stay-with-you-i.html Turnbull : Hatred Does More Damage To The Hater Than To the Hated, Darryl Mason, The Orstrahyun http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com/ Rip Malcolm, Media Wrap, Crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/04/07/rip-malcolm/ Rubbery figures on migrant flood Peter Mcdonald, National Times http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/rubbery-figures-on-migrant-flood-20100406-rpbq.html This, that and the other ,Peter Brent, Mumble http://mumble.com.au/?p=2032 So Turnbull called it quits. By Mac, Ramblings of a Political Tragic http://moderatelyleft.blogspot.com/ What goes with Turnbull, andrew Elder, politically Homeless http://andrewelder.blogspot.com/2010/04/what-goes-with-turnbull-plenty-has-been.html Migration can end worldwide poverty, Mirko Bagaric, National Times http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/migration-can-end-worldwide-poverty-20100406-rpaf.html Compare and contrast, Scott bridges, GroupThink http://www.groupthink.com.au/2010/04/07/compare-and-contrast/ Abbott’s mate on Q&A … are Age readers big prudes? Crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/04/06/media-briefs-abbotts-mate-on-qa-smh-readers-the-most-prudish-the-first-ipad-reviews/ Turnbull out, John Quiggen http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2010/04/07/turnbull-out/ Turnbull leaves Libs on talent hunt, Danielle Cronin, Canberra Times http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/turnbull-leaves-libs-on-talent-hunt/1796181.aspx Letter to Malcolm Turnbull, Bernard Keane, The Stump http://blogs.crikey.com.au/thestump/2010/04/06/letter-to-malcolm-turnbull/

Ad astra reply

7/04/2010BB You describe the conundrum clearly. Like you, I do hope Rudd steps up to his proverbial plate and calls the Opposition’s dog-whistling and disingenuous representation of immigration and population growth for what it is. thewetmale Thank you for drawing attention to Possum's [i]Perspective[/i] visuals http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/03/11/perspective/ They really do tell the real story. You're right, Leigh Sales was right onto Scott Morrison's obfuscuataion about the 300,000. He tried to bluster his way out of that, but astute observers would have picked his disingenuousness. How much longer can Coalition members bluster their way through every awkward question, every curly question, before the people wake up to their spin? Lyn Another great set of links – all posted on LYN’S DAILY LINKS.

Holden Back

7/04/2010Thanks for the Lateline link thewetmale - well done that woman! I do hope your feeling about the potential for a higher standard of debate in this country are borne out. I'm old-fashioned enough to feel an obligation to inform myself about the debates being had in Australia, but find the level of reporting execrable - statistically illiterate, wilfully misunderstanding for the effect of a screaming headline, nakedly partisan - even outside opinion pieces. As for the blogosphere, it would be frightening if much of it didn't read like a parody. The question remains about where the mainstream media might allow this debate to occur.

BH

7/04/2010Morrison is again today reiterating his 300,000 mantra and says he will explain this is too high to the business community. If he continues with this, without breaking the figures down properly, will he damage his credibility with the business community. Obviously it is risk he thinks worth taking because of the votes he may pick up elsewhere. It was good to see Sales deliberately seeking answers on LL and pointing out to Morrison that he was misrepresenting the figures. It's made no difference to him - he's following his leader with the 'whatever it takes' school of thought.

Ad astra reply

7/04/2010Folks Since Malcolm Turnbull’s exit competed for headlines today with the subject of this piece – asylum seekers and population – and before Sir Ian Crisp points you all to what [i]TPS[/i] has had to say about Turnbull ever since his election as Leader of the Opposition until his removal from that position, you might be interested to read a piece written in [i]TPS[/i] on the eve of Turnbull’s defeat in his party room, titled [i] He did it his way[/i]. http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2009/11/30/He-did-it-his-way.aspx It gathers together eleven [i]TPS[/i] pieces, together with their links, from September 2008 to October 2009. It predicts the coming train wreck, at times seen in slow motion, at other times racing inexorably to its catastrophic ending. Yesterday’s event was the inevitable outcome of a chequered journey in which Turnbull crashed over the Grech affair; collided head-on over the ETS legislation with his party’s hard-core conservative base, which then ejected him; rebelled over his rebuff by the man that outed him, and finally rejected his party as not worthy of his talent. Peter Hartched summed up Turnbull best [i]” Turnbull has turned out to be a political skyrocket, the firework that zooms to a great height in a great hurry then flares out and falls back to earth charred and burnt.”[/i]

Ad astra reply

7/04/2010BH Scott Morrison has learned well from his leader that truth is irrelevant – just say whatever you think will attract a few votes, even if it cannot stand up to scrutiny. This is based on the probability that most people won’t scrutinize what is said but will accept it so long as it sounds plausible. So the key attribute of an effective statement is plausibility, not truth. Coupled with a fervent hope no one will examine it too carefully, they think they can get away with it. There is a problem though – disingenuous statements have a habit of coming home to roost as journalists, bloggers and eventually the people call them for what they are.

Michael Cusack

7/04/2010There seems to be one large elephant in the room nobody wants to recognise when attention turns to asylum seekers. There is nothing to be done to deter them. Nothing. The circumstances which cause their flight are always more dangerous/terrifying/injurious than what can be done to them on arrival to make them go home. They can't be treated like canetoads or parasitic plants and subjected to extermination campaigns. They can't be continuously be towed back to sea, as BB says they can't be fenced out (and isn't that working a treat in the USA!). Theyre coming whether we like it or not, and if the direr effects of rising sea levels come to pass there a nearly a billion candidates living in the great Asian river deltas to boost the numbers. So bearing the realpolitic in mind, why not make a virtue out of necessity. Why not use the power of government to relentlessly hammer into the heads of the people the real statistics and drivers of refugee numbers. Why not point out the real benefits that refugees past have brought to Australia. Why not point out that the determination and fortitude required to be a sucessfull boat person is exactly the characteristics required to be a sucessfull citizen. I don't mean become a welcoming mat for all asylum seekers regardless of merit, but a voice loudly speaking against the poisionous views spouted by the shock jocks and filth of the gutter press.

lyn

7/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS PART 2[/b] To populate or not to populate? Crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/04/07/to-populate-or-not-to-populate/ Do we or do we not need migrants? by immlawaust,Immigration Lawyers Association of Australia http://ilaaustralasia.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/do-we-or-do-we-not-need-migrants/ Australia Population Growth Migration and Regional Development Coalition to reduce migration, AIEC Quest Australian International Education http://aiecquest.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/australia-population-growth-migration-and-regional-development/ Businesss slams Coalition, Downunder Immigration http://downunderimmigration.blogspot.com/2010/04/business-slams-coalition-plan-to-cut.html Business slams Coalition plan to cut migration numbers,Patrick Stafford , Smart Company http://www.smartcompany.com.au/economy/20100407-business-slams-coalition-plan-to-cut-migration-numbers.html

lyn

7/04/2010Hi Ad Sorry missing link from above. http://aiecquest.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/australia-population-growth-migration-and-regional-development/

bilgedigger

7/04/2010Cannot agree with you Ad Astra that it is possible that racism may be an embedded characteristic. If you take the view that it is embedded or innate, then it would appear that nothing can be done to change the individual's worldview. It seems to me that calling for the Government to do something, anything, whatever is necessary in the view of those who oppose racist attitudes, that to a large extent we are absolving ourselves from the responsibility to do something. We'd all love the particular political group we follow to be the most honourable, the leaders, the most moral, the most politically courageous but life isn't very often like that as history shows and perhaps not ceding the power of incumbancy to a worse outcome might be a lesser choice of evil. I am not arguing for Government to cave into bigots but I don't see much virtue in sounding the drums and urging a Government to do something in this instance if we are not prepared to do something ourselves. Seeking to change worldviews takes time and effort and while a large scale Government advertising campaign could be undertaken there is a personal aspect which should be undertaken individually. We all need to get off our collective bums and deluge the mainstream media, the airwaves and all politicians with wave after wave of emails, letters, phone calls in addition to verbally challenging people we meet who espouse racist attitudes. I'd rather spend my spare time and whatever money I can spare in targetting all politicians directly as well as all other measures that I can take. I'm also not intending to take deliberate aim at any posters here but in my view this is another big issue that we need to confront personally wherever we see it.

mick smetafor

7/04/2010"So the key attribute of an effective statement is plausibility, not truth." there is a technical term for this AA, it is called "truthiness" on the subject of turnbull, i reckon he will be as busy as a one armed bricklayer filling buckets to drop on his erstwhile comrades as we speak

Kim

7/04/2010One thing often ignored is that by my understanding, Australia has a quota of asylum seekers that it takes from the UNHCR (as do many other nations), and each one that arrives here by irregular means displaces someone else who would have otherwise been taken from a refugee camp through the UN, as the quota will be adjusted to compensate for other arrivals. If you doubt this, it's discussed on the UNHCR website: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/news/opendoc.htm?id=44a3c13b4&tbl=NEWS Therefore the term 'queue jumper' for those arriving here may have some merit. Further, one could argue that the number of third countries that those coming here by boat have skipped over, and their ability to pay to do it, means that they are actually less needy than many taken from refugee camps who have nothing at all. So to my mind, all the screeches of 'racism' achieve nothing. If being too soft and letting boat-people in means that we just end up with a group of moneyed (compared to the poorest refugees) asylum seekers who skipped several countries to get here, then being soft is not a good option. It's bad overall for asylum seekers, it rewards people smugglers, and it's bad for us because we lose some border control. Remember, the majority of asylum seekers reaching Australia from our direct North are not actually from our direct North. As for those arriving by air or commercial vessels, they are generally treated similarly to those arriving by boat to my knowledge. They just don't get reported because it's not as newsworthy according to the MSM. Those arriving by commercial vessels or aircraft always have their papers (otherwise they don't let them on) and are easy to process; those arriving by boat often do not. Screeching 'racist' has become the new version of screeching 'Nazi'. It simply doesn't mean anything anymore, and I find discussion in the 'Australians are racist' vein to be a counterproductive waste of time. We should focus on the issues instead.

Kim

7/04/2010In the interests of honesty and clarity on my above post, the UNHCR site discusses the quotas. It doesn't discuss adjustments to the quotas. However, my understanding is that adjustments do occur and that other arrivals are taken into account. I have no references for this though.

Bushfire Bill

7/04/2010Kim, perhaps the question ought to be: [i]"Is there a queue in [/i]Afghanistan?[i]"[/i]. I certainly don't know the answer to that. What I am getting at is that if there is indeed some kind of orderly process for accepting Afghani refugees, and that it is based in Afghanistan or next door in Pakistan camps, then the boat people are much better fitted to the "queue jumper" tag. If there is not an Afghani program, then the refugees from Afghanistan are at best jumping a queue that applies to [i]other[/i] nations, not their own. But you could look at this another way and say the boat people [i]are[/i] the Afghani queue, constituting 100% (or near enough) of it. If this is the case they can hardly be said to be jumping their own queue! Then we have Sri Lankans. Is there a queue in Sri Lanka? I doubt it. We would be running a political refugee filtering program inside the country of Sri Lanka... hardly something the Sri Lankan government would be keen on or (most likely) approve of. I guess my point is that we cannot be expected to have immigration offices in all countries subject to political oppression, or next door, in the adjoining countries that operate refugee camps. Then there is the question of quotas. Do we really know for sure that every successful boat person displaces an applicant waiting patiently in some camp somewhere, in particular in their own country? Perhaps the anitcipated number of refugees is [i]part of[/i] the quota, in which case there is no queue jumping involved, as the boat people numbers are accounted for in the overall quota. The truth about this would be hard to advertise, as it would only encourage more boat people. If it became known that boat people were accounted for, or would be above and beyond any quota for arrivals by more normal means, then it might lead to an influx in boat people. The question always comes back to a full and frank discussion of the exact thinking of the government on these matters. But the act of revealing our policy might operate against it. Maybe we have to keep our exact policy deliberately vague in order for it to work? So we fall back on first principles: do what we can to make the process orderly, even if it means setting up offices in Indonesia (as we have done). In the meantime try to nobble the people smugglers and prosecute them severely when they arrive (as we do). Thirdly, treat the successful boat people humanely and deport the unsuiccessful ones according to law (which is what is happening)... all of which seems to [i]be[/i] the actual policy. We must not forget that many of the people "in the queue", say in Somalia (as an example third party country with an orderly process applying), are not [i]political[/i] refugees, but economic immigrants. So they don't count in the refugee "queue jumper" scenario. Whatever the ins and outs, "they" are coming here. It is an irresistable tide which will almost certainly grow as poverty and Climate Change take effect. We cannot leave "them" to drown. We cannot treat "them" inhumanely when they arrive. Our policies should take these inconvenient truths into account and must be debated maturely. Lastly, there is the question of where we will deport them to if we just institute a blanket ban on all boat people. We can't send them back to Indonesia, and we can't send genuine refugees back to a place where they will be persecuted. Even Abbott, even [i]Howard[/i] realised that. It all boils down to changing the mindset among many Australians that we can shut the world out, that somehow the world's problems do not affect us here. It always comes back to mature debate and discussion, which is sadly lacking at the moment.

Acerbic Conehead

7/04/2010AA, it hasn’t hit the news-stands yet, but Kev has just appointed Mal to be a key advisor to his delegation to the upcoming Mexico City summit on climate change. After their recent traumatic events, however, Mal and Lucy reckon they need a holiday, so, as the luxury yacht is in the dry-dock for a service, they head off to Broome and hire one of those trendy cabin-cruisers that, on the outside, looks like a rickety Indonesian fishing boat, but, below deck, has all the mods and cons. Mal and Lucy are throwing a party on-board and, to temporarily escape the ruckus below, they go up on deck for a bit of fresh air. It is a fancy-dress party and Mal and Lucy are garbed as Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Mal: Jeeze...it was a bit hot down there...especially when that character dressed as Guy Fawkes set off his firecrackers... Lucy: Yeah...good job the guy who came as Red Adair remembered to bring his fire extinguisher... [their hired boat is moored off idyllic Cable Beach, but, even so, some clown has managed to invade their space by noisily doing wheelies and doughnuts on the sand right in front of them] Mal: You know, that idiot is breaking one of the Ten Commandments... Lucy: Aren’t you taking this Jesus persona a bit too seriously, dear...hee...hee...But, now you mention it, what an unusual vehicle it is...I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before... [up until recently, Lucy had been NASA’s guest on their manned expedition to Alpha Centauri, so had missed the news about Tones’ famous four-humped camel muster] Lucy: And which commandment would he be breaking anyway, dear? Mal: Why, the one about not having strange quads before me...heh...heh... [they both have a chuckle at Mal’s lame joke, until Mal suddenly remembers something] Mal: Lucy, darling, I just noticed downstairs we are running out of Bolinger and truffles – I think I’ll just nip into town and get some more... [Lucy thinks it’s a spiffing idea and heads off below deck to see if the greedy buggers have left anything for her. Meanwhile, close to the boat, Mal notices a section of reef, centimetres below the waterline, which stretches all the way to the shore. He steps out and begins his walk to fetch more grog and sweetmeats. As he’s had more than a few already, he forgets he still has his Jesus cassock, long wig, false beard and tash on. For his part, on the beach, Tones hasn’t failed to notice what looks like a suspicious Indonesian ‘fishing’ vessel] Tones (to himself): Huh...bloody reffos...you’d think those towel-heads would go back home and take up their old jobs as human mine-field clearers... [as Mal approaches the shore he recognises Tones and decides he’s going to have a bit of fun with him. Tones, meanwhile, sees this Christ-like figure walking on the water towards him and falls down on his knees, trembling with fear] Tones: Master! Master! Is it really you? Is the Second Coming truly upon us? I thought it was only a non-core promise when you said in the Gospel that when we saw a needy refugee, we really saw you...I am truly sorry for my mean-spiritness...How can I show contrition for my lack of charity? Mal: Do not be alarmed, my son...just go back to your Pharisee Party and tell them ETernal Salvation is theirs after the election... Tones: Master – that is truly good news – they will indeed be in raptures... Mal (to himself): Yeah, especially when they work out what ETernal Salvation stands for...heh...heh...

Ad astra reply

7/04/2010Michael Cusak Like you, I wish the Government’s media people would put out information that would refute the disinformation coming from the Coalition, which seems to be able to say what it likes with little fear of contradiction. It has been pleasing to see thought that the current falsehoods perpetuated, particularly by Scott Morrison, have drawn criticism and refutation for some journalists, print and TV. If journalists did their job, researched the statements politicians make, and showed them to be untruthful or misleading when they are, there would be less disingenuous talk. bilgedigger Where we do agree is when you say [i]” We all need to get off our collective bums and deluge the mainstream media, the airwaves and all politicians with wave after wave of emails, letters, phone calls in addition to verbally challenging people we meet who espouse racist attitudes. I'd rather spend my spare time and whatever money I can spare in targeting all politicians directly as well as all other measures that I can take.[/i] Racism, or anything approaching it, need addressing before it gets out of hand. Politicians are too often guilty of inflaming it with subtle dog-whistling. mick That is what some are predicting – that Turnbull will be unable to resist dropping a bucket on his colleagues. What has he got to lose, that is more than he’s already lost? He still holds strongly to his climate change views; he is likely to express those views in the articulate way to which he is accustomed. Kim I read your link but could not conclude that there is a queue somewhere which is being monitored. There is a quota that seems to be country specific, and no doubt there is an overall quota, but where can it be shown that the relatively small number of boat people arriving on our shores actually reduce the numbers coming from elsewhere? The concept of a queue is simple enough, like queuing for a bus, but applying it to refugees coming from multiple sources seems to me to be problematic and serves only to confuse what is a very complex situation. Australia could afford to take all the boat people as well as the others, supposedly in a queue or queues somewhere. BB seems to have summed up the situation well with [i]” So we fall back on first principles: do what we can to make the process orderly, even if it means setting up offices in Indonesia (as we have done). In the meantime try to nobble the people smugglers and prosecute them severely when they arrive (as we do). Thirdly, treat the successful boat people humanely and deport the unsuccessful ones according to law (which is what is happening)... all of which seems to be the actual policy.”[/i]

Ad astra reply

7/04/2010AC Another delightful piece of satire.

lyn

8/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] What went wrong? Norman Abjorensen, The Drum Unleashed http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2865429.htm?WT.mc_id=newsmail Rudd Now Spoiling For A Fight, By Hamish Quinn, New Matilda http://newmatilda.com/ How the Iron Monk slips the bonds of normal life,by Margot Saville,Crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/04/07/how-the-iron-monk-slips-the-bonds-of-normal-life/ Ex-Goldman Banker Turnbull Quits Australian Politics,By Marion Rae,Bloomberg http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=aono4wApXvcU&pid=20601087 Coalition could lose an additional 8 seats, Southern Courier http://southern-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/coalition-could-lose-an-additional-8-seats/ Coalition hoses down concerns about immigration policy,Trading Room http://www.tradingroom.com.au/apps/view_breaking_news_article.ac?page=/data/news_research/published/2010/4/97/catf_100407_201400_3623.html Malcolm Turnbull: A political life, Ben Atherton, ABC News http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/06/2865284.htm Suck it summiteers, Pure poison. http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/

Ad astra reply

8/04/2010LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated

Sir Ian Crisp

8/04/2010Ad Astra, many thanks for Lyn's Daily Links. It is frustrating for me to skim Lyn's Links because you haven't given me permission to read anything other than ALP press releases or literature approved by the ALP. What on earth is going on in TPS Research Department? It might be time for you to gather the team in your office and deliver a few well aimed kicks. COPS aka Sir Ian Crisp.

Ad astra reply

8/04/2010Sir Ian, COPS I hereby give you permission to read the MSM, but you are authorized to do so only if you take what you read with a large grain of salt.

Rewi Lyall

8/04/2010From what I can make of it, a person who arrives in Australia and seeks a visa has no greater entitlement to one than a person anywhere else in the world. Their claim is entirely merit based. Therefore it's simply impossible to jump a queue - if they don't measure up, they don't get in. Furthermore, it's arguably the case that they actually delay the processing of their application by waiting until they get here, when at any given point in their journey they could make an application online. Perhaps it's the case that people believe that upon seeing their misery, Australians couldn't possibly turn them away. In which case, perhaps the best policy an anti-immigration party could pursue is an international advertising campaign portraying the way we have historically treated Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders. That should disabuse them of such romantic notions.

Ostermann

8/04/2010Hi all Rudd needs to tell Abbott and Morrison to pull there heads in, I found this article from 2003 about the social and economic impacts of Afghan refugees in young NSW http://www.young.nsw.gov.au/images/Afghans%20in%20Young.pdf

Ostermann

8/04/2010I'll try that again http://www.young.nsw.gov.au/images/Afghans%20in%20Young.pdf

Ostermann

8/04/2010Sorry you will have to cut and paste in the search bar

Sir Ian Crisp

8/04/20100% credit cards @ 11:38am, That's easy for you to say. Any chance of putting it in English?

Ad astra reply

8/04/2010Rewi Lyall You make some good points about the fictitious queue. I’m not sure we need an overt anti-immigration party when the MSM has assumed that role by giving refugees no cause for optimism; almost every article is anti-boat people, but of course that is really a proxy for anti-Rudd sentiment. Ostermann What an interesting story about the Afghans in Young, but just when assimilation seemed possible their TPVs expired and the Howard Government’s attitude was to return ‘those people’ to their own country. What actually happened to them? Is this what Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison mean when they say they're ‘tough on border control’? It’s fascinating to see what difficulties Morrison has created by shooting off his mouth about restricting immigration. Business and industry are appalled; Abbott doesn’t know which way to jump (he’s probably glad he’s on his bike and not so exposed to the media); Wilson Tuckey is protesting that Morrison’s ideas have never been discussed in the party room (and apparently not in Shadow Cabinet either); and today Morrison says the ideas he floated in the media are not Coalition policy. So are they just his thought bubbles? What a disorganized mess! Sir Ian You don’t have to read the spam! It’s now deleted. If I can work out how to be online while driving, I’ll delete it as it comes in, but until then it will have to wait until I’m stationary.

HillbillySkeleton

8/04/2010Heads Up: Jack the Insider has said today that his next blog, due in tomorrow, will be about Scott Morrison and the Opposition's Immigration policies. As for my own contribution to this blog, I can only use the School Holidays as my first line of defence. However, I have been mulling the subject over, and for what it's worth under the circumstances, my little thought bubble will be hoist aloft ASAP. :)

Ad astra reply

8/04/2010HillbillySkeleton I'm very much looking forward to reading your 'thought bubble'. I'll look at JTI tomorrow with interest. Scott Morrison has done an 'Abbott' – shooting off his mouth without checking with his party - I hope he can extract some Abbottesque forgiveness from his colleagues.

lyn

8/04/2010[b]TODAY' LINKS PART 2[/b] Hockey Talks, By Reb,The Gutter trash http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/hockey-talks/ There is no excuse, by [b]TIM DUNLOP[/b], ABC The Drum Unleashed - http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2866395.htm Political leaders in same leaky boat ,[b]Mungo MacCallum [/b],Northern Rivers Echo http://www.echonews.com.au/story/2010/04/08/political-leaders-in-the-same-leaky-boat/ Abbott Facts Labor Party, new site launched at midnight last night http://abbottfacts.com.au/ The Liberals’ problem: population’s popular, Bernard Keane, Crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/04/08/the-liberals-problem-populations-popular-with-their-core-constituency/ Morrison migration remarks 'not Coalition policy' Emma Rodgers, ABC NEWS http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/08/2867310.htm?WT.mc_id=newsmail The Miss=Steps ofr a young romeo named Tony, by Andrew Carr, Chasing the Norm http://andrewcarr.org/ About the Mule Stable, About the Mule Stable This is interesting Ad http://www.stubbornmule.net/about-stable/ The ‘populate or peril’ humbug,Population, migration et al: wrap, Crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/04/08/the-populate-or-peril-humbug/ Presenting… Shannon Ponton and Michelle Bridges. The new Tony Abbot and Julie Bishop Kim Crow from Back Page Lead opines in Crikey http://alexwhite.org/2010/04/iron-men-ideal-to-lead-australia-more-great-news-for-tony-abbott/ The Significance of Malcolm Yurnbull, by Kim Larvatus Prodeo http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/04/08/the-significance-of-malcolm-turnbull/ The rich get richer, Leon Delaney http://leondelaney.blogspot.com/ Hey Tasmanian's, Jeremy Sear, Anonymouslefty http://anonymouslefty.wordpress.com/

Ad astra reply

8/04/2010LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated.

thewetmale

8/04/2010Ad Astra says "So are they just [Scott Morrison's] thought bubbles? What a disorganized mess!" Which is precisely the point i was going to make - i think this is a perfect example of the coalition making everything up as they go, running on fumes. What a pleasure it was too to see Julia Gillard on lateline last night making this point too. I think this is one issue that the MSM may even pick up on; that like every other issue, the coalition has at various stages had multiple policies at once, often in complete contradiction of each other. As for the policy, BB nails it just as well as i could too... "So we fall back on first principles: do what we can to make the process orderly, even if it means setting up offices in Indonesia (as we have done). In the meantime try to nobble the people smugglers and prosecute them severely when they arrive (as we do). Thirdly, treat the successful boat people humanely and deport the unsuiccessful ones according to law (which is what is happening)... all of which seems to be the actual policy." and "It all boils down to changing the mindset among many Australians that we can shut the world out, that somehow the world's problems do not affect us here. It always comes back to mature debate and discussion, which is sadly lacking at the moment." I think Rudd has got a reasonable policy, what's worse is how he answers these questions i.e. by accepting the framing of the issue that the coalition promotes instead of advocating for a more humanitarian mindset. The coalition of course don't even have a policy, only dog whistle sound bites about reducing immigration as a whole, even if it would be disastrous for the economy. To put this in some context, Chris Berg at the IPA wrote a pretty good paper on the liberal argument for immigration the other day: http://www.cis.org.au/Policy/autumn10/links/berg.pdf (108KB) While i wouldn't expect everyone here to necessarily agree with Chris's views, i think it's worth reading because a) it sets out the issue in a much more positive way, and indeed i found myself agreeing with much of the principals his argument was based on and b) what it does make clear is just how bereft of policy and sense the Liberal party is these days. Also, thanks to HillbillySkeleton for the heads up about the Jack the Insider piece as well, i reckon he'll be drawing on some of the themes that have been discussed here. PS, i hit the "notify me when new comments are added" box here but i haven't been getting any notifications. Has anyone had an issue with this before? Is there any known fix?

lyn

8/04/2010Hi thewetmale You write a very enjoyable comment thankyou. I have added your blog to my files so that your work can be included in daily links. Yes Scott Morrison has messed up real bad, David Spears on Sky News, is upset too trying his hardest to spin the gaffe away, Leonore taylor today wasn't going to have a bar of it. Thankyou for the link to Chris Berg.

thewetmale

8/04/2010No worries Lyn, it's a great community here, thanks!

Ad astra reply

8/04/2010thewetmale Thank you for your comments and the link to Chris Berg's interesting paper. I liked his concluding paragraphs: [i]” Borders will not be open anytime soon. But the free movement of people should be recognised as one of the central goals of classical liberalism as much as free trade is. After all, a philosophy that believes goods and capital can go wherever they want but people cannot is an incoherent one. “As the Canadian political scientist Joseph H. Carens writes: Borders have guards and the guards have guns. This is an obvious fact of political life but one that is easily hidden from view—at least from the view of those of us who are citizens of affluent Western democracies … Perhaps borders and guards can be justified as a way of keeping out criminals, subversives, or armed invaders. But most of those trying to get in are not like that. They are ordinary, peaceful people, seeking only the opportunity to build decent, secure lives for themselves and their families. On what moral grounds can these sorts of people be kept out? What gives anyone the right to point guns at them?”[/i] Indeed!

lyn

8/04/2010Hi Rewi Lyall I have filed your blog also, and will be checking often on your columns so that all our friends on The Political Sword can enjoy your excellent pieces.

Sir Ian Crisp

9/04/2010Number of refugees resettled from Nepal passes 25,000 mark 11 December 2009 KATHMANDU, Nepal, December 9 (UNHCR) – The number of refugees from Bhutan resettled in the United States and other receiving countries from camps in eastern Nepal has reached the 25,000 mark. The milestone was reached on Wednesday, with 48-year-old Jagu Maya Khatiwada named as the 25,000th refugee to be resettled. She boarded a flight to the United States with her husband and two sons and will eventually settle in North Carolina. The United States, with 22,060, has accepted the majority of the refugees originating from Bhutan since the resettlement programme was launched by UNHCR in November 2007 with the cooperation of the government of Nepal and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The other countries to accept refugees are Australia (1,006), Canada (892), Norway (316), Denmark (305), New Zealand (299) and the Netherlands (122). "We have been receiving regular feedback from those resettled. They have written to us about their lives; they are learning new languages, their children are in school and they are happy with their new homes. Of course, they miss family and friends; the start of a new life in a new country is never easy," said Diane Goodman, UNHCR's acting representative in Nepal. Many of the tens of thousands of refugees in seven camps in eastern Nepal have been living in exile for almost 20 years. They arrived in Nepal after fleeing ethnic tensions in Bhutan in the early 1990s. http://www.unhcr.org/4b22462e6.html Ad Astra, I think the above is what people understand as a queue; people waiting for resettlement in other countries. And camps like the one mentioned above are located in various countries around the world. I have never worked in any UN sponsored or NGO sponsored camp but I think I can imagine how the system works. People flee to a camp seeking refuge from war, persecution or some other upheaval in their lives. They make themselves known to those in charge and they get to detail their reasons for seeking refuge. If they are fleeing war it may be possible to return the refugees after hostilities have ceased. If a government has been installed in their homeland that is intolerant of certain religions or cultural groups it may never be possible to return families to their homelands. An effort is then undertaken to resettle those families or individuals in other countries. Those people are on a waiting list, waiting for resettlement. Ad Astra, ask yourself this: if we accept about 13,000 refugees each year, and for the sake of the argument let’s say 2,000 illegal arrivals are part of that number, where do the other 11,000 come from? Are people yanked off the street and told they are being sent to Australia? Is it possible that people waiting in refugee camps are offered resettlement in Australia? Ad Astra, you need to assemble your TPS Research Department in your office and upbraid all of them except the team leader. You should then call the team leader out, and in front of the team tell him to bend over and grab his ankles. You should then deliver a brutal, powerful and painful kick up the team leader’s arse. Before you allow the TPS Research Department back into its office I strongly advise you to check its office for gas leaks or ill-fitting lids on liquid paper bottles. Something is preventing clear thinking in your TPS Research Department and you are duty bound to nullify its harmful effects. Ad Astra, you should always base your argument on facts not velleities. Also, I have adequately demonstrated that there is a queue which you and your TPS Research Department failed to find. It pains me to put an 'F' on the quality of the material coming out of TPS Research Department.

Ostermann

9/04/2010AA I can only hope the goverment of the day saw, and today see the benefit to rural communities and Australia's economy, but sadly it doesn't win elections if you trying to paint them as a negative to Australia, as Morrison and Abbott are trying to dog whistle at present. From all I have read about Hazara Afghans is they are a bonus to this country, like all refugees are, it doesn't matter how they get here, there here and they are welcomed. Tony Abbotts stupid comment on Q&A last monday that Jesus would turn them away as well just goes to show that politics surpasses human rights, and Kevin Rudd should be taking Abbott to task on that, Human Rights is a bipartisan issue and should be treated that way and not as means of posturing for "POWER". What did amuse me was one of Morrisons excuses for reducing immigration was due to Australias crumbling infrastructure, well excuse me but who was actually governing the country for 13 years only 2 years ago. With any luck Abbott and Morrison are going to savaged over this one, I will be watching intently. vented

janice

9/04/2010SIC (COPS) Okay, so there are millions? of people awaiting resettlement in refugee camps around the world, and you say this is the "queue" people are referring to. However, I put it to you that the "queue" those who are anti-boatpeople refer to is a word conjured up by the Howardites to excuse their grubby actions to set up detention camps in poor neighbouring island countries as well as Christmas Island. We know now, because Alexander Downer sniggered and boasted about how clever they were, that the Howard Government also used the Navy to tow boats back to Indonesian waters. Oh yes, Howard was so tough on these "queue jumpers" but the majority of Australians were ashamed and had it become general knowledge that our Navy were busy towing boats back to Indonesian waters and left there pretty well helpless, then Howard would have turfed out of government at the next election rather than in 2007. I would also ask you how on earth you can expect Indonesia to trust us enough to co-operate with the problem when these sorts of dirty tactics were the done thing in the recent past. Millions of refugees arrive in Indonesia as they flee from land-locked countries seeking a safe haven. They probably pass through many crowded camps on their journey and just keep on moving and discover the camps are even more crowded in Indonesia. They don't have visas or papers mostly and come to learn that if they can part with every cent they've managed to keep in their socks they can board a leaky, unsafe boat and try their luck in Australia. The boats are intercepted as they enter Australian waters and they are taken to Christmas Island. The Government has changed and there is more compassion now but in at least one instance this was obviously not known by the assylum seekers and they foolishly panicked and blew up their boat so as to be sure they would not be towed back to Indonesia. So SIC, if you were 'the government' what would you do to stop the boats from coming? Take them to detention in Nauru where they'd be out of sight, out of mind? Tow them back out to sea and leave them to perish? Or would you accept them for processing on Christmas Island with a view to granting them assylum if they pass the criteria? BTW, I have no idea what it is that drives your criticism of Ad astra but it seems that you are jealous of his expertise and the respect he enjoys from the rest of us who like to read and comment on TPS. You can keep your "F" rating and put it where it hurts most because I give TPS a triple A rating which I am sure will be backed by the rest of the TPS community.

HillbillySkeleton

9/04/2010'Populate or perish'. 'Damned if we do, damned if we don't'. That must be the conflicting feelings that the government must be experiencing at the moment over the twin issues of population and immigration policy. What I do find interesting is that, with the appointment of the new Population Minister, this area of government activity is being steered again by a pragmatic Roman Catholic, Tony Bourke, as was post-WW2 overseen by the equally devout Labor RC, Arthur Calwell, in the Ben Chifley government. Then, as now, it was a matter of framing the debate to counter the resistance of the self-interested, in order to argue the benefits that an artificially-expanded Australian population could provide. There were those of us alive back then who were the first to see these new Australians filter into our classrooms. It's interesting to reflect that Calwell, under the aegis of the 'White Australia Policy', deemed that migrants should only come from those countries in Europe & England where Caucasians were the dominant 'White' race. So we saw British, Italians, Greeks & Christian Lebanese, in the main. Calwell even deported Malayan % Chinese refugees conflict, after WW2, only allowing them back in on behalf of The Colombo Plan. However, after their studies were over they had to go home again. It is interesting to note DFAT's own characterisation of this era: 'Other documents (from that era) show how Australian officials believed that increased personal contact with Asians would temper growing resentment of Australian Immigration policy.' So it can be seen that self-interest of the Australian natives will always be at the core of manging perceptions in the Immigration, Border Protection and Population debate, and what the government will need to do, and I believe that in Tony Bourke they have the effective communicator to do it, is to get out and explain the whys and wherefores of where our population is going, needs to go, and why it needs to go there. Chapter and verse on Australia's inexorable rise in population, as a result of natural trending, expansion to accomodate the expected Climate Change refugees on the horizon, business' need for a constant flow of skilled workers, if we are to keep businesses in Australia flourishing and innovating, so as not to see our Intellectual Property diminished as a result of keeping out potential innovators from the numbers of those who want to come and settle here, such that other countries profit at our expense, because we were too xenophobic and inward-looking to realise the potential of these people to benefit us all in the long run. The government also needs to explicate the fact that, since the Fraser-era and on, influx of migrants and refugees, our national complexion has changed forever. That is, the 'White Australia' behind the picket fence, that the Coalition so loves to play up, is a thing of the past, never to return. And so, especially those of us who are nominally 'White', should just get used to the idea that, in the global era of the free flow of people, either following business opportunities or fleeing conflict, we must be as open as is sensibly possible to these realities, and we, the population of Australia, must be made to see the potential for good that this unfolding reality will present to us. We cannot institute a 'Fortress Australia' mentality, even the latter-day xenophobe, John Howard, realised that, as he covertly ramped up immigration levels to this country despite the overt villification of refugee boat arrivals, in order to play to the Hansonites. The Rudd government, thus, must not run scared from the Opposition's manipulation of the valid fears of the electorate of the latest group of arrivals to our shores, for I imagine that Abbott & Co. will only ramp up the unseemly rhetoric in the run-up to the federal election, in order to play to the more unseemly side of the national consciousness. Which means that the Rudd government are going to have to be deft, because, yet again, they will be fighting both the far Left and the far Right, as led by Abbott. The environmentalists of the Left will mount a staunch defence of the status quo, on behalf of the environment and Australia's perceived 'carrying capacity'; and the Right will sing the siren song of the racial purist(I've even heard someone from that side of the political spectrum say recently that if we are to have immigration then it should be weighted in favour of White South Africans!) Anyway, I have faith that the government will be able to make the case around the positives of maintaining a robust but not unsustainable level of population for this country(if only to serve to beat back those marauding hordes from the North that the Right likes to conjure up when it suits them :) ), because, our demography WILL be our destiny.

Bushfire Bill

9/04/2010 Sir Ian wrote: [i]if we accept about 13,000 refugees each year, and for the sake of the argument let’s say 2,000 illegal arrivals are part of that number, where do the other 11,000 come from?[/i] Sir Ian, the point is that there aren't queues [i]in Afghanistan or Sri Lanka[/i] which are where the bulk of the boat people are coming from at the moment. So the boat people form their own queues, in the absence of official ones. Most, if not all of the countries they pass through (and which facilitate their chartering of boats and the criminal infrastructure required to do so) are not signatories of the appropriate UN refugee conventions. This applies especially to Indonesia. So, whether we like it or not, we're lumped with the responsibility for anyone that manages to arrive. You can be on the wrong side a landlocked frontier wall looking in, but crossing a maritime frontier is binary: you're either outside or you're inside. Once the boat people are inside, we need to live up to our obligations. We can either treat them humanely and decently (as we are obliged to do) or we can lock them up in gulags (it's a Russian word that means "island"... most appropriate in the circumstances) to rot, go mad or otherwise sink into despair. Oh and yes, and spend a billion or so dollars in the process. Turning boats back was a one-day wonder. As soon as the Indonesians found out about it they started playing hardball. It worked for a short while, but the Indos won't get fooled again. It's all very well to rabbit on about queues and queue jumpers, but the queues being jumped (if we want to use that term) are on the other side of the stadium, Gate "N" (for Nepal), Gate "S" (for Somalia). There is no Gate "A" for Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka isn't on the radar. So people from these countries head for Gate "I" for Indonesia. The only thing is that it's standing room only in those parts, and no protection from the scalpers.

Rewi Lyall

9/04/2010The only other points I'd make are points of distinction from the position as outlined from Bushfire Bill. I think that it's a matter of contestation as to whether or not Australia's treatment of asylum seekers constitutes a 'humane'approach. Sure, we could point to the circumstances from which people come and say that their detention on Christmas Island is preferable by comparison. But is that the true measure of what is really 'humane'? I wonder if we don't sell ourselves short a bit on what is really the best representation of Australian values in this regard. It's also (and I'm hesitant to open wounds that stretch back nearly two decades) arguably the case that Australia acted against the spirit of the refugee convention by purporting to 'excise'bits of our country to create a legal fiction (in my view) that thesé are not parts of Australia, purely for the purpose of creating greater flexibility in how we treat refugees.

Rewi Lyall

9/04/2010Also, a relatively interesting story on this in The Age today: http://www.theage.com.au/national/un-warns-of-surge-in-indon-boats-20100408-rv3d.html

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010Sir Ian I can see your research department has been hard at work. You make some superficially cogent points. Our disagreement about queues and queue jumpers seems to be largely semantic. You choose to regard the Bhutan refugees in camps in Nepal as being in a queue. Extending that definition, all people displaced from their homeland, internally or externally, because of war, persecution or fear of it, are in a queue. How many fall into that category? The entire resources of the TPS Research Department were asked to answer that question. What I came up with was a great variation in estimates. According to UNHCR, there were about 9.9 million refugees and 12.8 million IDPs (internally displaced persons) worldwide at the end of 2006 (2006 Global Trends report, UNHCR). The US Committee for Refugees estimates that there were more than 13.9 million refugees and asylum seekers worldwide at the end of 2006 (World Refugee Survey 2007, US Committee for Refugees). WikiAnswers put the figure at 9.2 million refugees and 25 million more IDPs. So let’s settle for a figure between 14 and 35 million, but whatever the actual number, using your definition, there is a very, very long queue. Wikipedia gives what would be an acceptable definition of a queue: [i]“A queue in British English refers to a line, usually of people, cars, etc., assembled in the order they arrived and waiting for some event or service. New arrivals begin their wait at the back of the queue. As people are served, they move forward in the queue until they reach the front and are served, thereby assuring that ‘first come, first served.’ The person at the front of the queue is referred to as ‘Next’.”[/i] Putting that definition against the total number of refugees scattered across dozens of countries, is the notion of an orderly queue with people figuratively waiting in line, and some others pushing their way in ahead of others, one that serves any useful purpose? Further, are these so-called ‘queue jumpers’ ones that have forced themselves to the front without having ever been in the queue? Do we know how long those arriving by boat have been in this hypothetical queue? A year, five years, longer? No, and we probably have no way of knowing. So my point is that using the pejorative term ‘queue jumper’ has no logical basis in the ill-defined ‘reality’ of refugee queues, scattered as they are all over the world. Why then is it used? We all know that it is used as a political truncheon to flail the other party. That is its only function, and it is because of that that I classify it as political jargon, a political lever to wedge an opponent, and therefore to be condemned as disingenuous politically and unfair and inhumane to those so labelled. I won’t indulge myself by upbraiding your Research Department, which at least has done some digging for facts. What I will do though is challenge the logic that you have applied to those facts, and to express surprise that one as erudite as you clearly are, has been hoodwinked by the Coalition’s spinmeisters coining the phrase ‘queue jumper’ for purely political purposes, with not one genuine skerrick of humanitarian justification to make it look respectable. By the way, the [i]TPS[/i] Research Department comprises the two authors and the many people who comment here. I’m not sure that we, they, appreciate your giving an ‘F’ for quality.

lyn

9/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] Turnbull Dumps The Political Class,The Piping Shrike http://www.pipingshrike.com/ NANCY‘S PICKS OF THE WEEK Alan Ramsey - Some Fun Intended, NANCY‘S PICKS OF THE WEEK ,Gerard Henderson's Media Watch Dog http://www.thesydneyinstitute.com.au/wordpress/ Betting Market, Possum, Pollytics http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/04/09/betting-market-friday-9/ Coalition 'won't block' parental scheme,Danielle Cronin, Canberra Times http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/coalition-wont-block-parental-scheme/1798435.aspx On population and productivity ,Christopher Joye, Business Spectator http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/On-population-and-productivity-pd20100408-4B88Q?opendocument&src=rss On Innocence Lost, by Rewi Lyall,Oqurum http://oqurum.com/ The Battle for Wentworth, Brett Evans,Inside Story http://inside.org.au/the-battle-for-wentworth/ Kevin on Kevin violence prompts Labor’s Right and Left to pick Rudd over dud, Vex News http://www.vexnews.com/news/8832/adios-kevin-on-kevin-violence-prompts-labors-right-and-left-to-pick-rudd-over-dud/ Kevin Rudd's health plan needs more work,By Rachel Siewert, On Line Opinion http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10283

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010Ostermann, janice, HillbillySkeleton, BB, Rewi Lyall Thank you all for your contributions to this complicated debate, and thank you janice for your supportive remarks. Sir Ian does present a challenge, but one that I feel needs a response. In fact I had posted my response to him before I pressed F5 to refresh the page, and then down came the responses posted while I was composing a reply to Sir Ian. HBSK, I was thinking of writing a piece on the population issue, but as you have opened up the debate so well, let’s continue it in this post, as the Coalition has chosen, for political purposes, to link the population issue to boat people aspects of immigration. I’ll be away from my computer for a couple of hours but will get back to you later.

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated.

HillbillySkeleton

9/04/2010Too right, AA. It's all of a piece to my mind, Population and Immigration. Also, it was the Coalition who made the direct link. Thus I thought that, as most of the pertinent aspects of Boat people issue had been addressed by the time I got around to making my remarks, I did indeed decide to look at a related facet. If the Coalition want to link the two, then I will rationally try and counter their misinformation.

Ostermann

9/04/2010Hi all here is an interesting article by Graig Emerson written in 2003 on wedge politics http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/21/1069027269752.html

Bushfire Bill

9/04/2010The government has suspended irregular immigration intake from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, effective immediately. People who have arrived before today will be processed as normal. Dennis Shanahan sounds right pissed off. [i]THE Rudd Government has massively shifted the policy and politics of illegal boat arrivals. Reacting to public pressure, Coalition attacks and the simple fact Christmas Island has reached saturation point the Government has dramatically ditched pre-election undertakings, pounced on an UNHCR review of conditions in Sri Lanka and effectively introduced indefinite detention for asylum-seekers from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. In a move designed to assuage public concern about Australia's border protection being “out of control” and head off political and practical problems the Rudd Government has suspended processing of any refugee claims for between three to six months by Sir Lankans and Afghans with the expectation it will cut the number of illegal boat arrivals and refugee claims.[/i] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/rudd-bows-to-pressure-on-boatpeople/story-e6frg75f-1225851807690 In other words, they have done what he and his Coalition allies have been saying they would do, and Dennis deosn't like it one bit. Now he's accusing the government of being back-flippers! Rudd really can't win in Dennis' eyes. But now, for Afghans and Sri Lankans, there is definitely not a queue. How this will play out, from a humanitarian point of view, is anybody's guess. Shanahan reckons it is de facto indefinite detention, as he assumes the boats will not stop. In the short term, I think he is right. But this is clearly a move to slow down what to some would appear to be a flood. Politically, it'll probably defuse the issue. What the Indonesians will think of it all is anyone's guess, but perhaps they'll need to curb their tendencies to just letting anyone into their country, as long as they intend to move on to Australia eventually. I certainly wouldn't like to be a pilot in charge of a 747 ferrying several boatloads worth of asylum seekers back to where they started from. In the meantime it might get people thinking about just what our policy ought to be and (in the words of Dorothy Dix) "whether there are any alternative policies".

lyn

9/04/2010Hi Osterman Thankyou for your link to Craig Emerson's piece, excellent, highlights exactly what Tony Abbott and the Liberal party are trying to do right now.

Sir Ian Crisp

9/04/2010Janice, I would stop the boats by suspending our membership of the United Nations. I would then direct our energies, efforts and finances at curing some of our own woes. The list below is just a start: Headspace Headspace is Australia's National Youth Mental Health Foundation. The Headspace mission is to deliver improvements in the mental health, social wellbeing and economic participation of young Australians aged 12-25. http://www.headspace.org.au/ Reachout Is an initiative of the Inspire Foundation. It is a web-based service that inspires young people to help themselves through tough times. http://www.reachout.com.au/ Brain and Mind Institute - BMRI Diseases of the brain and mind, including substance abuse, clinical depression and dementia now account for more than 40 percent of all illness. www.brmi.org.au Carers Australia Carers contribute services and support worth over $30 billion each year. There are over 2.6 million Carers across Australia, with over 43,000 in the ACT alone. It is important that the community acknowledges and applauds the voluntary contributions that Carers make. The caring role is often a 24 hours, 7 days a week role that requires many personal sacrifices. This is often done out of love but is a contribution that needs to be celebrated. http://www.carersact.asn.au/media.html SIDS, Daffodil Day……and there are others. You might want to help out Ron Barr who runs Youth in Crisis. You could assist him I’m sure. The next day you could offer to do the shopping for elderly people in your neighbourhood. In the afternoon you could visit a nursing home and read a few articles out of the newspaper to an aged resident who is losing the gift of sight. You could set aside one weekend each month to provide respite care for any carer who just wants to take a weekend break from caring for a 16-year-old ‘child’ who dribbles, screams, cries and needs his nappy changed every 3 hours or so. Parenthetically Janice, if the carers of Australia decided that enough is enough and left the person/s in their care at the local hospital we would have to come up with about AUD$30 billion. There wouldn’t be much spare change to look after illegal arrivals then. Janice, providing adequate funding and assistance to Australians in need is a worthwhile endeavour. There are many worthwhile causes here in Australia but I guess you don't care enough.

HillbillySkeleton

9/04/2010Sir Ian Crisp, Your sanctimonious piffle is not appreciated by this Carer. Can I stay at your place one weekend a month?

lyn

9/04/2010Hi Hillbilly Skeleton Good one.

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010Folks [i]Morgan[/i] comes in with headline: [i] Voters deliver their verdict on Rudd v Abbott Health Debate: ALP (58%, up 1.5%) gains and holds big lead over L-NP (42%, down 1.5%)[/i] http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2010/4484/ Also see Possum’s analysis on [i]Crikey[/i] of [i]Morgan’s[/i] questions related to immigration:[i] Morgan Polls – Migration and Partisan Stereotypes[/i] http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/04/09/morgan-polls-%e2%80%93-migration-and-partisan-stereotypes/ Very interesting reading.

lyn

9/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS PART 2[/b] Morgan Polls – Migration and Partisan Stereotypes, Morgan Polls – Migration and Partisan Stereotypes http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/ Gov shuts the door on Boat People by Reb, Guttertrash http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/govt-shuts-door-on-boat-people/ sins and sacrifice, weekly wrap. Ben Pobjie, ABC The Drum Unleashed http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2868453.htm Re-election reality hits asylum seekers, benard Kean, Crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/04/09/re-election-reality-hits-afghan-and-sri-lankan-asylum-seekers/ oh-dear-afghan-and-sri-lankan-asylum-claims-suspended, Ozsoapbox http://ozsoapbox.com/rest-of-australia/oh-dear-afghan-and-sri-lankan-asylum-claims-suspended/ Two alternative hypotheses, by robert Merkel,at Larvatus Prodeo http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/04/09/two-alternative-hypothese/ UPDATE 2pm: Tony Abbott mocks government suspension of asylum seeker claims, saying it's a failure of original immigration policy | Staff Writers Herald Sun http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/united-nations-warns-australia-about-indoneisan-people-smuggling/story-e6frf7l6-1225851645243 Celebrations break out across Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Or, huh?,Sharkira Hussein The Stump http://blogs.crikey.com.au/thestump/2010/04/09/celebrations-break-out-across-sri-landa-and-afghanistan-or-huh/ At last the government sees some sense on a By Iain hall http://iainhall.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/at-last-the-government-sees-some-sense-on-asylum-seekers/ at Larvatus Prodeo

janice

9/04/2010SIC (COPS) [quote]Janice, providing adequate funding and assistance to Australians in need is a worthwhile endeavour. There are many worthwhile causes here in Australia but I guess you don't care enough. [/quote] If we all took the view that charity begins at home and shut our eyes to others in need this country would not be a nice place to live in SIC. Of course we have worthwhile causes here in Australia. Of course we have people in dire need of help and we also have an army of volunteers who give their time and effort and even money they cannot really spare because they CARE enough. We also have those who take rather than give, who cheat the system at the expense of those in need and scream blue murder if they're asked to pay a cent extra in taxes in order to help those less fortunate than themselves. People who are unable to find employment and front up for benefits are seen as "dole bludgers". People who seek assylum and come to this country in unsafe sea vessels are "queue jumpers". Governments which increase aged pension, disabled and carer's benefits are "creating a nanny state" and when they set out to reform the health system to provide better services for those very "causes" you list, they come up against the obstacles of politics and partisan bullshit. [quote]You might want to help out Ron Barr who runs Youth in Crisis. You could assist him I’m sure. The next day you could offer to do the shopping for elderly people in your neighbourhood. In the afternoon you could visit a nursing home and read a few articles out of the newspaper to an aged resident who is losing the gift of sight. You could set aside one weekend each month to provide respite care for any carer who just wants to take a weekend break from caring for a 16-year-old ‘child’ who dribbles, screams, cries and needs his nappy changed every 3 hours or so. [/quote] I trust this is your personal help schedule which, if it is, is admirable. I've been a carer and visited nursing homes and given time to help aged people stay in their homes. I have a relative with a child nearing 50 years old now who has been her loving burden since birth and who worries what will happen to her child when she kicks the bucket. I live in a rural area where there is no public transport and have reached the age when I find I am increasingly having to rely on my family to do the things I used to do for myself and others. As for the assylum seeker issue, in my view no matter how bad the need is in our own country, there are still many people outside our shores who are suffering as much, if not worse than the poorest and neediest of our own people. It is not going to hurt us all that much to do our bit to give these people the chance to make a safer, better home for themselves and their families, yet still be able to provide for the needy here in Australia.

Sir Ian Crisp

9/04/2010Ad Astra, if we suspend our membership of the UN we are no longer bound to the conventions, charters etc. We would no longer be obliged to receive illegal arrivals.

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated.

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010Sir Ian In answering janice’s question [i] “...what would you do to stop the boats from coming?”[/i] all you offer is [i]”... I would stop the boats by suspending our membership of the United Nations.”[/i] But you don’t explain how that would actually stop the boats. Please inform our simple minds how suspending membership of the UN would achieve that. Do they really come here because of our UN membership? You then list a number of worthy endeavours, suggesting we spend the nation’s money in this way rather than admitting refugees. That would be your priority, and as we all know setting priorities is what politics is all about. I suspect that very few of even the most hard-nosed in our community would agree with your priorities – we should help our own and admit refugees. But when you conclude by saying to janice [i]” There are many worthwhile causes here in Australia but I guess you don't care enough.”[/i], that is going too far. How can you possibly conclude that janice doesn’t care enough? You should think twice before making such statements. You owe her an apology. You get an ‘F’ for courtesy and fair play.

Sir Ian Crisp

9/04/2010HillbillySkeleton, you may not stay at my place one weekend each month. I currently have a role as a volunteer for a charity which takes up one day each week and when my colleague leaves in about a fortnight I'll be doing two days each week volunteering at the charity. I think that's enough, don't you.

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010Sir Ian The boats are still coming, some are already on the water, some preparing to come. You say that by suspending Australia's membership of the UN we would not be obliged to take refugees, but you still don't explain how not being obliged to take them would stop them coming. They would know that if they appear near our shores our humitarian approach would oblige us to take them in. Even the latest move to suspend processing arrivals from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan for the time being is not expected to stop the boats in their track. I had hoped you might apologize to janice, all the more so after her courteous reply to you. Hope springs eternal.

Colen

9/04/2010Janice, There are people out there who are incapable of working and we are all willing to support them. Yet they are the one's who wish to be treated the same as others. There are those who are too damn lazy to get off their backsides and do some work. The 3rd generation bludgers and this is where I support work for the dole. They are also the first to squeal when they have their dole reduced when they work or have to contribute to the tax coffers. They are some of the shrewdest at working the system, working for cash doing cleaning in domestic premises and not declaring this income. There are no checks and balances. Relying on the good faith principle has unfortunately has fallen by the wayside. People don't like to dob others in. It is a case of It's non of my business.

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010Ostermann I've just got round to reading the Craig Emerson speech [i]Wedge Watch[/i] for which you kindly provided the link. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/21/1069027269752.html Anyone interested in the contemporary debate on refugees and the wedge politics that surround it, should read it. I suspect that Dennis Shanahan’s chagrin and Tony Abbott’s annoyance today after the announcement that processing of Afghan and Sri Lankan refugees will be suspended for a period, is based on the fact that this will blunt the Coalition’s boat people wedge, which worked so well for John Howard in 2001 and thereafter.

janice

9/04/2010Colen, as I said "We also have those who take rather than give, who cheat the system at the expense of those in need and scream blue murder if they're asked to pay a cent extra in taxes in order to help those less fortunate than themselves." but they are not all among the unemployed. These cheats come in all colours across the whole of society and we see them at play as they rort the government's stimulus programmes and cause untold havoc but guess who gets the blame. Why the Government of course!

janice

9/04/2010Ad astra, I won't hold my breath waiting for an apology from SIC. He has obviously read me as being young, able and too selfish to care about those less fortunate than myself but that is his problem.

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010HillbillySkeleton Your analysis of the population/immigration issue is perceptive. What a pity it is that the debate is already contaminated by the linking of population growth to boat people used as a proxy for immigration. The inane suggestion that you can’t control population growth if you can’t control the country’s borders, while superficially plausible to the non-thinking, stretches credulity, as if most of our immigration comes in leaky boats. Scott Morrison’s use of what he likes to call ‘net migration’ and his calculation that this amounts to 300,000 per annum is misleading as Possum has pointed out, deliberately misleading. [i]Net Arrivals – Cheap Populism and Export Destruction.[/i] http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/04/06/net-arrivals-cheap-populism-and-export-destruction/ As it includes students and temporary residents, it does not represent the net annual increase in our population. Surely Morrison must know this. If not, he should be in another job; if so, he is being deliberately deceptive. His inflated figure does nothing more that heighten the fear in the electorate of being swamped with immigrants, which I suspect is what it’s designed to do. The Government has gone to great pains to insist that 36 million is a Treasury [b][i]projection[/i][/b] based on what has occurred in the last 40 years, not a [i][b]target[/b][/i]. It has never been a target. Perhaps it’s a pity that Kevin Rudd expressed a view that he was attracted to, and had ‘no apology’ about a ‘big Australia’, as the Coalition is now representing this as his advocating 36 million as a target, which it never was. It shows how careful politicians need to be with every word they utter. If we can’t get a clean debate on the crucial topic of Australia’s population growth and how to plan for it, what should the Government do? I believe it should focus on Tony Burke’s assignment and give regular reports as he progresses through the very complex task of examining all aspects of Australia’s growth. It should keep feeding to the people the parameters being examined and what various groups think. The Government should also identify dog-whistling and political wedges and call them loudly for what they are, as Craig Emerson suggests in his 2003 paper speech [i]Wedge Watch[/i]. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/21/1069027269752.html Aggressive proactivity is needed counter what will be an unremitting programme of negativity, wedge politics, and deliberately misleading utterances from the Opposition, especially as it now sees one of its wedges blunted by today’s announcements of the suspension of the processing of Afghan and Sri Lankan refugees for the time being. As time goes by we will be in a position to debate each aspect of this complex issue. TPS looks forward to visitors’ contributions to what will be an absorbing debate.

Sir Ian Crisp

9/04/2010Ad Astra, the boats may well keep on coming but I would have a passenger jet on the airstrip at Xmas Island with engines idling. The illegal arrivals would be unloaded from the boats and escorted to the plane. They would be returned to their countries. The message would soon get out. Janice, you won't be getting any apology and you know why.

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010Sir Ian You are a hard man. What you suggest would make great headlines and great vision as struggling, protesting men, women and children are manhandled onto aircraft and despatched. It would destroy any pretence that Australia is a humane nation willing to take its share of the world’s refugees escaping trauma and persecution. Even John Howard would scarcely suggest such a ‘solution’.

Ostermann

9/04/2010Ah Abbott you've done it again The Afghan Wedge 4 Large Potatoes 3 tablespoons Black peppercorns 1 tablespoons Ground cardamom 3 tablespoons Cumin seed 1 tablespoons Ground coriander 2 tablespoons Tumeric cut potatoes into wedge shapes, coat with olive oil and cover with seasoning and cook in oven until done. Serve with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. or try our Sri Lankan Wedge 4 Large Potatoes 1 tablespoons turmeric 1/2 tablespoons cumin powder 3 tablespoons ginger 3 tablespoons garlic 1 tablespoons chilli powder 1 tablespoons Garam masala or curry powder salt cut potatoes into wedge shapes, coat with olive oil and cover with seasoning and cook in oven until done. Serve with yoghurt and finely chopped cucumber. these are the only wedges I'm interested in and in fact I am going to try them, if not so much as a political statement but they will taste damn good.

lyn

9/04/2010Hi Ostermann Thankyou for the wedge recipes with unique names, I'm going to try them too.

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010Ostermann My mouth is watering!

Ostermann

9/04/2010Well we did have Vindaloo for victims so why not wedges for asylum seekers

lyn

9/04/2010[b]Hi Ad and everybody [/b] [b]HERE IS GROG BEING BRILLIANT STILL[/b] [b]The Real Numbers on Asylum Seekers [/b] http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/2010/04/real-numbers-on-asylum-seekers-64-and.html

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated

lyn

9/04/2010Hi Ad Ad I now you will enjoy reading this Mungo MacCallum In Overland 198, Mungo MacCallum examines Labor's policies towards refugees http://web.overland.org.au/2010/04/08/overland-extract-mungo-maccallum-on-rudd-and-the-boat-people/

Ostermann

9/04/2010Thanks for the link lyn, I always enjoy Mungo's pieces and how true, so enjoy those wedge recipes I know I will. cheers mate

Ostermann

9/04/2010Lyn you might like to add these to your links list http://alpineopinion.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/how-abbott-os-being-outflanked/ and this one http://australianconservative.com/2010/04/the-abcs-raspberry-for-abbott-%e2%80%93-qas-easter-monday-timeslot/

Ad astra reply

9/04/2010LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated again.

Sir Ian Crisp

10/04/2010I’m not a hard man Ad Astra. If we redirected the millions of dollars spent on the current harlequinade of the illegal arrivals issue we might achieve other worthwhile outcomes. Think of how much our international standing would be enhanced if our PM was to hold a press conference at which he said: “Today is an exceptional day. Through the use of taxpayers’ money and some private donations and a team of dedicated medical researchers, a cure has been found for all forms of cancer. We have defeated the pernicious malady of cancer in all its forms.” That breakthrough might concern AIDS or cystic fibrosis or malaria or maybe even childhood leukaemia. Ad Astra, imagine the day when six people don’t have to manhandle the coffin of a child who has died of childhood leukaemia (I can use emotional buttons just like others here at TPS). The above might one day be possible if medical research is properly funded. Any success would surely draw positive headlines around the world. Do you think there are many ways of saving people? Wouldn’t ridding mankind of disease and suffering be a worthwhile pursuit?

lyn

10/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] How Abott is being outflanked ,by Ray Dixon , Alpine Opinion http://alpineopinion.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/how-abbott-os-being-outflanked/ Human trafficking 'getting worse everywhere',ABC NEWS http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/09/2868766.htm The ABC’s raspberry for Abbott – Q&A’s Easter Monday timeslot,Australian Conservative http://australianconservative.com/2010/04/the-abcs-raspberry-for-abbott-–-qas-easter-monday-timeslot/ You cannot tell Ali to go home and join the queue: there ain't one,by Frank Brennan, Eurekastreet http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=20465 Rudd moves to turn poll tide Laurie Oakes From: Herald Sun http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/rudd-moves-to-turn-poll-tide/story-e6frfhqf-1225852003304 there-is-a-difference-between-engaging-in-moderate-sporting-activity-and-engaging-in-an-obsession, Sportolotics http://sportowens.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/there-is-a-difference-between-engaging-in-moderate-sporting-activity-and-engaging-in-an-obsession/ Migration to Australia is a key election issue, Australia and New Zealand http://www.australiamagazine.co.uk/?p=569 Don't Call It A Swansong,By Tim Roberts, New Matilda http://newmatilda.com/2010/04/09/dont-call-it-swansong Spinning the wheels,by MathewJones, Great Work that Works http://www.ogilvypr.com.au/2010/04/spinning-wheels/ Abbott ignorant on boat arrivals, JULIAN BURNSIDE, National Times http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/abbott-ignorant-on-boat-arrivals-20100408-ruyl.html In tight formation , KATHARINE MURPHY,National Times http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/in-tight-formation-20100409-ryl3.html Growing pains trouble Rudd in Big Australia, PETER HARTCHER ,National Times http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/growing-pains-trouble-rudd-in-big-australia-20100409-rynu.html

lyn

10/04/2010Hi Ostermann Thankyou for the 2 links, you will see they are included in today's links.

Ad astra reply

10/04/2010Sir Ian Having spent all of my working life in health care I would not disagree with one word you have said about the value of medical research, addressing as it does the many diseases that afflict and kill our people. But I don’t see addressing health issues and refugee issues as either/or. Surely an affluent country can afford to address both. You seem to be saying that we should divert the money being spent on refugees to health. That is where our opinions diverge. One could argue that apart from the humanitarian aspect of concern for refugees, there is an economic aspect whereby ‘those people’, once admitted, become productive citizens that add to the prosperity of our nation, thereby increasing its capacity to fund medical research. We live in a complex world, a complex society, where each part affects each other, where abandoning one responsibility, concern for refugees, does not translate into boosting another, health care. As I so often point out, politics is about establishing priorities among competing demands for funding. The difference between us is that I believe our country should take our fair share of genuine refugees despite the cost; you seem not to share that view. Maybe we have to leave it at that.

Paul of Berwick

10/04/2010Sir Ian A better way to spend those dollars would be on education for the people of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and all the other countries whose residents are fleeing to our shores. To wit: A country's education is seems to be a good indicator regarding health, population growth rates, and the scale of internal conflict (this "conflict scale" could be democracy, repression, to all out civil war). So, if we get the education levels up then: internal strife reduces, population growth is lowered, people are healthier. Thus, lower refugee head counts and less xenophobia (simple really!). Some references: - education and birth rates - http://www.uni-protokolle.de/nachrichten/id/39996/ - http://www.answers.com/topic/population-and-education - poverty and strife - http://hubpages.com/hub/Povery-Causes-and-Effects - http://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/fednrp/9737.html - http://www.jstor.org/pss/1187362

Ad astra reply

10/04/2010LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated - another set of fascinating articles.

lyn

10/04/2010Hi Paul of Berwick The five links you have posted are excellent. Thankyou very much.

Ad astra reply

10/04/2010Paul of Berwick Thank you for the references to articles that link education, health, population growth and political stability. It has been known for a long while too that improved health and lower mortality to age five leads to a lower birth rate. In impoverished countries, as poverty lessens, as nutrition improves, as the burden of disease declines, so does the birth rate. These examples illustrate the complexity of the debate about population growth. Instead of opportunistic point scoring, fear-mongering for political advantage, and disingenuous presentation of the facts to obscure the issues, we need evidence-based, balanced discussion by those who want to find their way through this extraordinarily complex issue. I wonder what hope there is of that among our political leaders heading for an election. Kevin Rudd was wise to schedule Tony Burke’s report on population for twelve months hence, well after the election, because until it’s over, we will not get a balanced appraisal. That is the living tragedy of adversarial politics laid bare for us all to see.

Ad astra reply

10/04/2010Refugee advocates Dennis Shanahan and Andrew Bolt are fuming at Kevin Rudd’s temporary suspension of processing of Afghan and Sri Lankan refugees. How dare he do such a thing! How dare he hold up the proper and speedy processing of deserving people fleeing terror and persecution? How dare he do what these advocates have been pressing him to do all along? How dare he blunt the Coalition’s attempts at wedging? How dare he counter its dog-whistling? How dare he foil the Coalition’s attempt to make this a ‘we will decide who comes to this country’ election issue? The hide of the man. ‘Craven opportunism’ thunders Bolt; ‘an admission of failure on asylum’ says Shanahan. Is it reasonable to conclude that if Shanahan and Bolt are incensed, Rudd must have pulled a telling election rabbit out of his hat? Just like Johnny did so often.

HillbillySkeleton

10/04/2010I know the article is not entirely about Boat People and Immigration, he mentions it only tangentially, but Peter Van Onselen is speaking uncommon good sense at the moment, and so I believe his piece today should be required reading for us all: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/one-issue-at-a-time-keeps-rudd-ahead-of-the-liberals/story-e6frg6zo-1225852009041

HillbillySkeleton

10/04/2010Also, I don't think I missed it in lyn's links, so I'll also include Lenore Taylor's perceptive article from today's smh on the apparent contradictions in Tony Abbott's pronouncements wrt population and immigration. Attempting to walk both sides of the street is how I think they put it in political parlance: http://www.smh.com.au/national/abbott-wants-more-babies-fewer-people-20100409-ryu6.html

Ad astra reply

10/04/2010HillbillySkeleton Both are good articles. Perhaps Peter van Onselen can see the writing on the wall for the Coalition and is declining to align himself too closely with it. Lenore Taylor is a sound columnist who has recently left [i]The Oz[/i] for the [i]SMH[/i]. I don’t know why she transferred there; I wonder if she will feel more comfortable among journalists that are not so rabidly anti-Government. Her piece displays the differing views in the Coalition on the population issue. If only it could put aside political points scoring, we might get the sensible debate the country needs.

Sir Ian Crisp

10/04/2010Paul of Berwick, with about 120 different nationalities/cultural groups in Australia the word is xenomania not xenophobia. Let's get the terminology right. Mamdouh Habib disagrees with you regarding the education standards in Afghanistan. Having shunned the Australian school system, he scoured Afghanistan looking for a suitable school for his kids.

HillbillySkeleton

10/04/2010It's a sad indication of the realpolitik of the Asylum Seeker situation that, in this election year, and with the Coalition unwilling to behave like adults and maintain a sensible approach, that the PM has been cornered into making a pragmatic decision wrt to the increasing number of boat arrivals. However, it seems to have worked because The Australian has given him the headline he has been seeking: 'Rudd Shuts Refugee Door'. Sigh.

David Rees

10/04/2010The Rudd government is the worst government ever, worse than Whitlam. The papers that don't tell how stupid this government are are showing off how politicly bias to the left they are.

sawdustmick

10/04/2010David Rees, you must have been working your two little typing fingers to the bone copying and pasting this brilliant analysis on every little blogg site you could find. Now that you have had your ten cents worth of fame, off you go back to the Acker Dackers Death Star and please give him our regards.

HillbillySkeleton

10/04/2010Jeez, what did david Rees put on his Weeties this morning? Bile? :)

kerry

10/04/2010Hi All, Just back from OS (well, Phillip Island -'tis our little joke here in Victoria) I was wondering about the reaction to Rudd's tightening of our refugee policy, so I'm surprised at your remarks Ad Astra - April 10. 2010 11:29 AM - that Rudd's redeeming feature is that he has done a 'John Howard'. Is that really OK by you? I guess this is the great disappointment about this blog - while not as rabidly partisan as Bolts, there is no logical dissection, nor commentary on decisions made by the Labor Party. I mean, the main reason I voted Labor in the lower house was their more humane attitude to asylum seekers. My member, Russell Broadbent (MacMillan, Victoria) crossed the floor on this issue; I know him personally, yet I didn't vote for him because of Howard's other crap plus I don't like what the Liberal's stand for, yet Russell is looking a better bet for me because this issue means a lot to me. Convince me otherwise, instead of playing politics - or am I in the wrong forum?

kerry

10/04/2010Hillbilly Skeleton (April 10. 2010 03:06 PM) you say "the PM has been cornered into making a pragmatic decision wrt to the increasing number of boat arrivals" - I say, Bullshit. Rudd had the perfect opportunity to make a concerted stand re refugees, yet he has taken the coward's way out - and appealed to the lowest common denominator. I want a strong, morally-convicted leader - not a political opportunist! What say you?

sawdustmick

10/04/2010I am with you Kerry, I am rusted on Laborite and most likely will be till the day I die. I think Rudd has definitely gone to water on this issue, it may cost him votes, only time will tell. I still hope that you will vote of Rudd next time I believe that they have done more good than bad and deserve another term. Please don't forget the apology to the the stolen generation both indigenous and whites. I dread to think of Abbott winning, anyone but this bastard.

lyn

10/04/2010Hi Kerry Have you read Ad Astra's piece at the top of this page, called [b]Those people[/b]. It seems clear to me that you haven't, so in that light, I suggest you go and read properly what Ad Astra has written. [b]In particular the last paragraph.[/b] [quote]So will Rudd, will any member of the Government, have the courage to call the Opposition’s dog whistling for what it is, to counter the overt wedge the Opposition is trying to insert between the electorate and the Government? Will he become the statesman we look for, and hope for in a leader? If he did so, he might be surprised how much support the electorate would give him. What do you think? [/quote]

HillbillySkeleton

10/04/2010Kerry, You want dispassionate analysis? Even though you may vote for the individual, Russell Broadbent, and I have a lot of respect for the man, you will be getting the policies of the Coalition, should they form government. This will mean: 1. Forcibly turning around Asylum Seeker boats at sea. 2. Reintroduction of the Temporary Protection Visas. 3. Reintroduction of 'Universal Offshore Processing', or as many would have known it as during Howard's era, 'The Pacific Solution'. 4. Repatriation of refugees to their homeland once the government has deemed that conditions in their country have 'normalised'. 5. Repatriation of 'Non-Citizens', who may have been in the country most of their lives, to their country of birth, should they be deemed by the government to be 'Persons of Bad Character'. Thus, while it may be regretable that Asylum Seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have been put on hold for 3 and 6 months respectively, it is only for so long as the government will conduct their review and recalibration of policy towards them. I do not believe that, if conditions are proven to be still in a degenerative state in either of these countries, the Rudd government will still refuse them asylum. There is certainly a case to be made that the Rudd government may have made their decision with one eye on the upcoming poll, however, it can also be said that there was credible evidence that People Smugglers were about to significantly ramp up their efforts to transport asylum seekers to our area. I can also put credence in the reporting which has said that Indonesia is not happy with the number of UNHCR refugees that we have been taking from their refugee camps, so I believe that the Prime Minister, who still counts Dietrich Boenhoeffer as his inspiration, will work on a new policy stance with all of this in mind in the interim. I hope so anyway, otherwise I'll have to reconsider my own support! Though it would never go to the Coalition, rather to the Greens.

kerry

10/04/2010Thanks lyn1 - you are absolutely correct I was being lazy, I must admit, and just speed-reading through the comments. However, AA's comment at April 9. 2010 05:31 PM "I suspect that Dennis Shanahan’s chagrin and Tony Abbott’s annoyance today after the announcement that processing of Afghan and Sri Lankan refugees will be suspended for a period, is based on the fact that this will blunt the Coalition’s boat people wedge, which worked so well for John Howard in 2001 and thereafter." caught my eye - and I thought, what the !! To me it doesn't matter what the argument is, it is not good enough to parrot political oneupmanship for one's argument; this is too serious an issue to say that "we win" because we are just playing howard's game. Correct me if I'm wrong. The thing that shit's me, HillbillySkeleton about our system of politics, it that we are still voting, presidential-style, for a particular party. And, much as I like Russell Broadbent, I just simply cannot abide the individualism of the Libs. Guess, it's Green for me in the Uppper House, and god knows what in the lower.

lyn

10/04/2010Hi again Kerry, We have excellent commenters on The Political Sword, I have never seen any evidence on this blog of anyone trying to influence anyone's vote. Ad Astra was merely doing a comparison when he mentioned John Howard in the comment you are referring to. I was a bit disappointed when you said [quote]I guess this is the great disappointment about this blog - while not as rabidly partisan as Bolts, there is no logical dissection, nor commentary on decisions made by the Labor Party[/quote] Janice told me once, common sense will prevail. We mostly get upset on here, with the MSM and the distorted reporting, that happens day after day. Keep in mind that Kevin Rudd and the Labor party out foxed John Howard and the Coalition in the 2007 election. John Howard even loosing his own seat. The Coalition threw the kitchen sink at Kevin Rudd, they were downright nasty. [quote]As Alan Ramsay said Kevin Rudd got rid of the Nastiest Meanest Government to ever blight this country.[/quote]

Ad astra reply

10/04/2010Kerry Welcome to [i]TPS[/i]. Do come again, but if you do, please read carefully what people write before you jump to conclusions. The comment to which you refer I believe was made today by me at 11.43 am, not 11.29 as you state. It was a satirical comment that mused about Dennis Shanahan’s and Andrew Bolt’s indignation at Kevin Rudd’s move to suspend processing of Afghan and Sri Lankan refugees, indignation not based on any concern for refugees, but because they saw Rudd as blunting the boat people wedge the Coalition was using to good effect until Rudd suspended processing. What I actually wrote in conclusion was [i]”Is it reasonable to conclude that if Shanahan and Bolt are incensed, Rudd must have pulled a telling election rabbit out of his hat? Just like Johnny did so often.”[/i] Did I applaud Rudd’s action? No, I simply reflected with some wry amusement that Rudd, having done what Johnny did so often, was being castigated by two of Howard’s most fervent supporters, two journalists who applauded Howard’s ability to always pull electoral rabbits out of the hat. I did not say, or indicate, that [i]”...that Rudd's redeeming feature is that he has done a 'John Howard'.”[/i] as you assert. If you had read my original piece you would have read my concluding paragraphs: [i]“So will Rudd, will any member of the Government, have the courage to call the Opposition’s dog whistling for what it is, to counter the overt wedge the Opposition is trying to insert between the electorate and the Government? Will he become the statesman we look for, and hope for in a leader? If he did so, he might be surprised how much support the electorate would give him.”[/i] Like you, I admire politicians who take an ethical stance, who have the courage of their convictions, like Russell Broadbent, in whose electorate I also live. But it is a far cry from a backbencher who in taking a principled stand does not place his party’s electoral chances in jeopardy, to a PM whose every action has electoral consequences. You say you want [i] “... a strong, morally-convicted leader - not a political opportunist!”[/i] You would have many who would agree with you. But the options are not that simple. Do you want Rudd to exhibit these characteristics even if that exposes him and Labour to losing the next election to Tony Abbott and the Coalition who show not the slightest sign of having those characteristics? From what you say, I think not. So before criticizing so vehemently please think about the alternatives. In the 11.29 am comment I referred to [i]”...the living tragedy of adversarial politics”[/i]. One of the tragedies is that it places opposing political forces into positions they would prefer not to occupy. I suspect Rudd would have preferred to walk the high road, but faced with a repeat of Tampa and 2001, chose to close that possibility as quickly as he could, even if that upset folks like yourself and sawdustmick, and I suspect many others. Politics is a dirty business; I believe it can clean up its act only if both sides are prepared to fight under Marquees of Queensberry Rules, not the contemporary rules that resemble a cold-blooded fight-to-the-death cock fight more than anything else. It’s saddening that we are unlikely to see any change for the better while the contemporary political leaders hold sway. Finally Kerry, I think you will find that while many contributors to [i]TPS[/i] share a political orientation, they largely attempt to underpin their comments and opinions with factual evidence and well reasoned arguments. We have none of the repetitive mindless rants that infect Bolt’s blogs, and we don’t want them.

kerry

10/04/2010lyn1 - oops just realised my mistake, you are now lyn (you must have changed whilst I was away) - I hope you're including me in that sweeping statement! Nevertheless, allow me to correct you, I am not trying to influence anyone's vote Nor am I accusing anyone of trying to influence mine or anyone else's. I came to this blog, hoping to find some decent arguments, including illuminating the warts-and-all, not just another partisan site. But, I guess, I can see your point, the MSM is particularly stoopid in my opinion, and if this blog started stating the bleeding obvious on occasion, then the Andrew Bolts of this world would just try to use it against the "lefties" (what a piece that was against Christine Nixon...shudder) Still, I do like this place - and it's the first site I access when online. (i've just talked my (Labor-voting sister on Phillip Island) into broadband. Maybe I'll tell her about thepoliticalsword. She's much more articulate and succinct than I. Viva la republica!

kerry

10/04/2010lyn - and she has much better grammar too. That 2nd last sentence should have read ..... than me. Ciao

lyn

10/04/2010Hi Kerry Thankyou for your reply. Yes Ad changed me back to Lyn because in the beginning there was another Lyn, but she or he doesn't come here anymore. I have enjoyed talking to you and appreciate your opinion, please keep coming back, yes I did include you in the excellent commenters here, I have read your comments before. Sorry I didn't put the influence vote sentence properly, I certainly did not mean you were trying to influence voters. I would just hate anyone to think of us in the same bigot basket as Andrew Bolt. I hope your sister visits here.

kerry

10/04/2010Gee, thanks AA - I have already been here before, and I have already apologised for not reading this closely - I was skimming quickly and even though you have pedantically noted the time, I think you knew which post I was referring to. Having said that, I don't care whether Rudd has played the political wedge as well as Howard or not or whether that's upset Shanahan and co. I'd rather he went out with integrity, than stoop to the lowest common denominator. But power is power. Having been involved with the Labor Party in the 1980s, the year Barry Cunningham was elected in Macmillan, I know a little bit about said Party. Still, just for a moment there, I thought I knew who you were. But then you said Marquees, instead of Marquis, and I'm just so glad you're not from the Pakenham branch. Because, as I said to lyn, I like this blog. I think you're doing a great job. Cheers

Ad astra reply

10/04/2010Kerry I saw you had apologized for skimming, but only after I posted my reply to you. I should have pressed F5 and refreshed the page before I posted. So now it’s my turn to apologize. At the risk of confirming your view that I am a pedant, I too thought that ‘Marquis’ was the correct spelling but if you look at Google at http://www.google.com/search?q=Marquis+of+Queensbury+Rules&hl=en&sourceid=gd&rlz=1D2DDAU_en-GBAU355AU355 you may be as surprised as I was to see that both spellings are used; I just chose the Wikipedia spelling. I guess we are both idealistic enough to hope for the finest behaviour in politicians. I’m afraid we will sometimes/often be disappointed. I’m not a member of any political party, so I expect you would be more familiar with party shenanigans that I could hope to be. Thank you for your complimentary comments about [i]TPS[/i]. I hope that our exchange of comments has squared the ledger and that you will return

lyn

10/04/2010Hi Ad I have found I cannot press F5 or refresh, while posting a comment. Sometimes I hold the comments box up on my computer for an hour, when I am posting the links, so you see, I cannot refresh because the system will take away all that I have entered and then I need to start again. That is why sometimes comments cross over, it is not your fault you missed Kerry's comment to me, you would have crossed over, while posting your comment, it has happened to me many times . Keep up the good work in providing us with The Political Sword, the best blog of all.

HillbillySkeleton

11/04/2010Why is it that senior political journalists, like Michelle Grattan in the link below, feel the need to repair Tony Abbott's image, which has been rightly faltering since the Health Debate? http://www.theage.com.au/national/pragmatic-pugilist-20100409-rywa.html

HillbillySkeleton

11/04/2010Another very good article on the issue today from Tony Wright: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/strangers-to-our-shores-20100409-ryn3.html

janice

11/04/2010For what it is worth, here is my take on the asylum seeker issue. We have in this country a solid block of people who oppose immigration from certain countries and especially are antagonistic towards asylum seekers coming on leaking boats. There is no way this block will ever change their attitude. We also have a fairly strong block of people who oppose boat people and want the government to find a way to stop the boats coming. I suspect the reason they are against the boat people is the simple one that they feel these people are 'forcing' us to accept them; that they are using a form of blackmail and are preying on our compassion; that people smugglers are growing rich and actively touting for business. This anti-boat people block do not want the country to return to the hard line of the Howard Government. Then there is the last block of people who want the government to accept the boat people, process their claims of asylum quickly and get them out into the community. We all expect our government to govern for all of us and to do this a good government has to compromise. Our PM has stated emphatically that the Labor Government intends to take a hard line stance on the growing people smuggling business but treat asylum seekers with respect and compassion. The right wingers in the Coalition and their supporters poo-poo this idea as bullshit and accuse Rudd and Labor as being "soft" and causing more and more boat people to come. They are delighted to see each boat turn up in our waters as they see that as proof that the Rudd Government has simply opened our borders to everyone and his dog who wishes to come here. For me, I see the dilemma this issue poses for the government and solving the problem of the boats is made so much more difficult by past actions taken by the Howard government which made it such a divisive issue at home, as well as causing a sense of deep distrust in the minds of those countries from whom we seek co-operation. Then there is the problem of attempting to distinguish between those seeking asylum as refugees from persecution and those who may simply be seeking a better life on economic grounds. I am reserving judgement on the Government's latest announcement to suspend processing of claims of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. I do not believe the government has taken this decision purely as a political tactic but in order to give itself time to stand back and review the situation rather than sticking bandaids on scratches willy nilly as the dog whistles become louder and more strident. For the moment I am willing to trust the Government to do what is right for the nation.

lyn

11/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS [/b] The biggest game in town In the meantime the opposition needs to guard its mouth , Paul Kelly, Editor-at-large From: The Australian http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/the-biggest-game-in-town/story-e6frg6zo-1225852009335 Refugees: Labor leads the race to the bottoM By JohnPassant, En Passant http://enpassant.com.au/?p=6964 Australia’s Population and Immigration Debate Hots Up, Lisa Valentine Embrace Australia http://www.embraceaustralia.com/australia-immigration-population-debate-6807-6807.htm Australians: These Fake Refugees Will Murder You & Your Children!,by sheikyermami,Winds of Jihad http://sheikyermami.com/2010/04/10/australians-these-fake-refugees-will-murder-you-your-children/ Amateur hour in non-Labor parties,By Scott Prasser,On Line Opinion http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10266&page=1 Cynical ploy denies refugee obligations,The Canberra Times http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/opinion/editorial/general/cynical-ploy-denies-refugee-obligations/1799292.aspx The Bridge To Employment, By Greg Foyster, New Matilda http://newmatilda.com/2010/04/09/bridge-employment

Bilko

11/04/2010Nicely put Janice, I feel a return to the pacific solution is not a good look, however the Murdoch media and shock jocks were gearing up for a field day/week whatever. The world situation is of no concern to them if they can bash the Government, pink batts, boat people, schools stimulus whatever anything that could see a return to the status quo ie a "coalition government. After all Kevin Rudd caught the voters sleep walking and just sneaked into power.

Ad astra reply

11/04/2010Lyn Thank you for your remarks about the technical issue of refreshing pages on [i]TPS[/i]. You’re right, if you refresh after your comments have been typed into the [i]TPS[/i] comments box, they are erased. What I usually do is to prepare my comments in MS Word (so I can do a spell check), then paste them into the [i]TPS[/i] comments box. So the trick is to refresh the page first, then paste the text into comments box, then post the comments. Last night I did it the wrong way round.

Ad astra reply

11/04/2010HillbillySkeleton Interesting articles both. Michelle Grattan’s was quite long, almost like something one might expect in a feature magazine. I wonder how she came to write such an article, so different from her usual style and content. It’s good that Tony Wright has reminded us of the prejudices we harboured about earlier migrant groups, that have now evaporated with familiarity.

Ad astra reply

11/04/2010janice Like Bilko, I agree with your sentiments. Your last paragraph sums your feelings well: [i]” I am reserving judgement on the Government's latest announcement to suspend processing of claims of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. I do not believe the government has taken this decision purely as a political tactic but in order to give itself time to stand back and review the situation rather than sticking bandaids on scratches willy nilly as the dog whistles become louder and more strident. For the moment I am willing to trust the Government to do what is right for the nation.”[/i] Me too.

Ad astra reply

11/04/2010LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated.

Ad astra reply

11/04/2010Folks I'll be away from my computer most of the day. I look forward to reading your comments when I return. Please ignore any spam that arrives during the day - I'll kill it as soon as I return.

HillbillySkeleton

11/04/2010janice, Well put. I agree with you. Might I also add that I am a person that believes that we should do our bit to help genuine refugees, however, it is becoming increasingly obvious to my eyes that People Smugglers are touting for business in order to make a profit out of shepherding refugees to sympathetic countries such as ours. Playing us for mugs. And I don't like it. The refugees are willing pawns. That doesn't gel with the traditional impression one has of refugees organising to flee immediate persecution in fear of their lives. Instead what we are seeing are not exactly Economic Refugees, but those from certain populations taking advantage of turmoil in their country, and the threat of persecution as a general thing, to flee to a better place. That is, fleeing not as a result of a clear and present danger, but as a result of an overbearing force, eg, the Taliban or the Sri Lankan Sinhalese government, having a discriminatory effect on their lives because they are members of a contradictory national group that has been exploited, generally but not specifically. For this reason I agree with you janice, we should give the government the benefit of the doubt at this time so that they may make an attempt to dismantle or disrupt the People Smuggling networks, reassess the true nature of the situation in the countries concerned, and come back with a recalibrated response that will satisfy us that they are still more humane towards refugees than the Coalition, and to show that they are also smart enough to have avoided the ratcheting up of the asylum seeker issue by the Coalition, to the ultimate detriment of these people. I also hope that they can figure out a way of discerning between the opportunists and those genuinely fleeing persecution.

macca

11/04/2010Of course you cant not feel sympathy for the refugees, asylum seekers or whatever else we call them. Being fifth generation Australian, I could not begin to imagine the despair or even how to summon the courage to leave all that is in my blood and soul, and embark on a journey to a new land,that while being free and safe, will never be the place of my birth. .I agree with HSB. I, too, loathe the fact that the people smugglers are trading on our obligations as a wealthy and compassionate people. The only way to stop the people smugglers is quite simple. Stop their customers! So, like most on this blog I reluctantly agree with the Govts. decision Like most I am so, so, very sad that the criminals organising the boats, the lickspittle Murdoch hacks, and the politicians they support have made it necessary. If their is to be a benefit from this decision; let's hope it will negate the Bolts, Ackermans and Jones' and others of their ilk in their demonisation of frightened, desperate and courageous individuals.

Michael

11/04/2010Written in the Howard era. Let's not go back. What does it take? To face fear, to defy desperation, To leave a home of hundreds of years and more, To cross wasteland and sea, To trust as far as money can buy the untrustworthy, The calculating, the callous; To gather family and loved ones And leave family and loved ones, To pass the watermarks and landmarks of a whole life For the last time, never to see again The familiar, the known, the certain, To set out completely blind and unhinged From everything that held you in place, In knowledge, however fearful and desperate, That you were somewhere you knew where you were? You have to get out, but every fibre of you Is in this place and is this place; But this place is no longer home, It is prison, it is torture cell, It is a site of victims' wails, And you are a breath, a whisper, a pointed finger From death or worse, and all your loved ones with you - What does it take? What does it take To fabricate fear, to deny desperation, To malign and to decry, to spurn And watch the doubly-unhinged burn? What does it take to stand up in the public places And call the bravely terrified, the terrifiedly brave "liars" and "cheats", "malingerers" and "spongers", "fakers" and "false", "connivers" and "criminals"? What does it take to separate families With barbed wire and even crueler ordinances, To strut before the cameras and spout a doublespeak So doubled over and turned in on and around Itself that the language screams "blood", "horror" - Because of its blandness, its callow reasonableness. Such language can only be the soft sell of harshness; The screams undeniable encased within official denial Louder and louder as denying officials deny softer and softer, Who call on language so denatured by its official use It has become useless for anything but official use Used officially to make truth a casualty as wounded As only truth can be when lies are smoothed to shape As truth's official stand-in on those public podiums Where our guardians stand and protect only themselves - What does it take? What does it take From a country once renowned as the home of fellowship The wide brown land of wide open arms And disarming smiles, the land of broad welcome And long into the night talk and laughter and cheer, The land that looked outwards to find itself And saw that where it was and who it was was fine, And good, a place to live, a place to thrive, A place to stand in as our own people from wherever we came, A place shaped by arrivals, successive and enriching, From 60,000 years on till the latest plane and boat Arriving, and within them, new arrivals, bringing Hope and love and courage and desire and skill and will And family and history and promise and future and bright Bright expectations to rise, to exceed, to find a place As placed as they had been in the places they had been, A new place, a fresh place, a place to set down soft roots Torn from the hard ground of older places now denied them Or left behind with sorrow, but left behind because the leaving, The leaving is a making, a making... What does it take, What does it take from us, if we deny, If we band behind the deniers, denying that we are, But denying all the same? Inside, the denial shrivels and shrinks us through and through, Squeezes out our open-heartedness, and we die as we deny, We fade as we deny, we are left alive with spite alone to drive us Further into denial, until we become anyone's fools, And the professional deniers have made us their instruments Of pettiness and self-interest, that has nothing to do with us Except that they can point, the famous men and women, When the biographers come, to a greater will they did no more Than serve. If we do no more, the lie thrives, it blossoms, Its fetid blooms intoxicate and befuddle us, till we, Inhabiting a land of freedom and openness and care and concern Have been made a camp of jailers and torturers, Our names embossed as Citizen This, Citizen That, Sponsoring each tearing barb, each slicing edge of wire, Each tossing thrust of water cannon, Every clip around an ear, laugh in the face, spurning of aid, Queue kept waiting, door kept closed, gate made electrified. That is not us, and that is not this land, Unless we let ourselves be made this way, trooping deniers, Unblinded eyes turned away, ears pummelled to insensitivity By denial, plausible and righteous, easy and comforting. What does it take? Do you live here? Has your family always lived here? Do you know this place? Have you any idea what lies out your door? Of course you do. You've lived here long enough. You know this place of all the places you've ever been, Been around the world and never happier than come home. That is this land, that was this land, a place of making And remaking and renewal and unexpected coinings of the familiar, Where change has come and made us all changed and broader And new and bright with expectation of the next 'new', The brighter tomorrow, the times to come of love And courage and hope and the everyday expectations, The breath of every day, family and friends and loved ones And new of all of them, the expected unexpected Across colour, culture, gender, belief, the thousand differences That are all the same because difference is the engine That makes the unfamiliar familiar, Makes frightening novel and then, as regular As pizza and felafel and kung fu and bocce and strudel... And you know exactly what I mean, and how it is, And how it was, and never really was because was is always, Always becoming the new is, that is the is that will become Was, and then is, and doesn't stop, because we are all Human's being, and the being is us and the being makes us And the being is enriched by the new us being around And being new to us and familiar to us and then, us; And we are all what we are because of what we are, And the are we are is made by all those who join us To become, 'sun bronzed we', 'wide brown land we', 'Sweeping plains we', 'tall towering cities we', The we we all know and know as us and recognise In every unknown face becoming we by joining us. Then we are What we were and will be, welcoming we - "join us, Settle in although at first it will all be unfamiliar, Frightening, there will be desperate days, unhinging times, Times when even the horror and fear and imminent shock Of left-behind home will seem preferable to what you have found: We've all been there, the great wide land of people we are". We, us, we must remember how it was and can be, So that when those new faces, frightened, desperate, appear, We see ourselves, our selves in a thousand unknown faces, And in them and in us find the same things, Love, courage, hope, belief, and desperate trust That we have all come home. What little this much takes of us.

Sir Ian Crisp

11/04/2010Given that the government has said push factors are driving illegal arrivals to our shores it will be interesting to see how many boats arrive in our waters loaded with Thai nationals. COPS.

Bilko

11/04/2010Michael that is one hell of a statement,whoever wrote it and it needs a wider audience. thank you for sharing it, and it now resides in my docs folder. It had the same effect as "If" by Rudyard Kipling.

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11/04/2010Michael What a poignant poem. Thank you. What a pity it is that over the last decade there has been such denigration of genuine refugees arriving by small boats on our shores, so much so that many Australians have the ‘scourge’ of boat people embedded in their psyche. Like a hypersensitivity, it takes just a small exposure to boat arrivals to flare up the aversion to boat people. What a heritage successive governments have inflicted on the Australian people.

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11/04/2010Sir Ian How many Thai nationals are seeking to flee persecution? It seems that it is the Thai Government that might be looking for refuge.

Colen

11/04/2010From my reading and understanding of the situation in Sri Lanka there is very little need for them to seek asylum in Oz. The war is over and if they are peaceful they can go back and be settled without any problem. I immigrated to Oz several years ago myself, for security reasons, going through regular channels without any assistance and waited my time in the que. I have been able to maintain my family and I hope contribute to this Society. I don't see any need for que jumpers to come through. If they can afford to pay people smugglers they should be able to afford waiting their turn. They would have a greater affinity and acceptance with the countries they travel through en route to Australia. What are they doing coming here, other than seeing us as a softer touch. A solution to the problem may be that they are only accepted on the basis they maintain themselves and their families. They would not be entitled to any benefit's that are available to Australian Citizens for 10 years or becoming taxpaying residents at with a minimum level of income.

Sir Ian Crisp

12/04/2010Colen, there is no such thing as a queue of people waiting for people to come to Australia. Many people here at TPS, including TPS Research Department, will tell you that you're dreaming.

Sir Ian Crisp

12/04/2010From the Oz this morning.... "Shaheen Khaksar says the news is a blow to him and his family. He applied seven years ago to the UNHCR to be considered for refugee status in either Australia or Canada and is still waiting for news." http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/afghan-refugees-in-no-mood-for-turning/story-e6frg6n6-1225852510283 Seems like there is a queue after all.

HillbillySkeleton

12/04/2010Sir Ian Crisp, I think if you closely scrutinise that article it actually reinforces the impression I have of the questionable nature of the bona fides of some of these people attempting to come to Australia. Also I would make the general comment that it is funny(peculiar) how The Australian suddenly has sympathy for the plight of these people, intimating that they have every right to attempt to come here. Nevertheless, to the substance. * '...Pakistan-born Rahim...' Age 25. Tends to suggest to me this man has never set foot in Afghanistan, let alone been personally subject to persecution by the Taliban. * "This is not a good decision. There is no peace in Afghanistan, and here in Pakistan there are many problems. We have no money to bring up our children. Economically, we are weak and uneducated." 'There is no peace in Afghanistan...' I think the fact that Afghanistan has just successfully conducted elections(corruptly but successfully), suggests to me that it is not exactly in the teeth of war either. There is no peace in Kyrgystan or Thailand, there is no peace, particularly, in Pakistan, where most of these people are residing, but they are not seeking to leave there for that reason. In fact, Rahim and his family have grown up there, and he has lived there for 25 years! 'We have no money to bring up our children. ECONOMICALLY we are weak and uneducated.' Sounds like one of those egregious Economic Migrants, that the Coalition loves to rail against with their confected rage, to me. * 'There's peace in Kabul and other big cities but all the people living here come from villages and rural areas."' So he admits to peace in large swathes of Afghanistan, the capital and big cities, where the majority of its population lives, but seeks to claim special exemption for himself because he, or his parents(!) came from a rural area or village over 30 years ago!?! A village which he no longer has direct contact with. And we should give him refugee status? Also, where can it be shown that every village and rural area is not quiescant and is war-ravaged? * 'While three million Afghans have returned home from Pakistan since the Taliban overthrow in late 2001, more than 1.7 million remain.' So, the majority of Afghan refugees to Pakistan have returned home to Afghanistan. Can't say as I have heard of any mass slaughter of refugees returning home to Afghanistan lately. They must therefore have safely returned home, I would surmise. * 'Many who returned did so only to contend with violent struggles over land, an increasing scarcity of resources and finally a Taliban insurgency that now threatens to topple the state if the US and NATO military surge fails to halt its advance.' So, it appears what they are having to contend with, when they return home after 25 to 30 years, are economic problems, such as struggles over land and resources. Also, a very big 'If' is posited that, IF the Nato and US surge fails, THEN the Taliban will advance. So, such a scenario enables an Afghan refugee who has lived in Pakistan all his life to claim a clear and present danger to their lives, how? * 'So concerned is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees about the situation for returning Afghan refugees it has cautioned not only against forced returns, but also warned that voluntary repatriation should be slowed until the country is able to feed and accommodate those who have already returned.' This assessment by the UNHCR tends to suggest to me voluntary repatriation back to Afghanistan is OK but should only be SLOWED to allow the country to feed and accomodate those returning. No suggestion of mortal danger to the returning refugees there. * 'The vast majority of Afghans who remain in Pakistan live in squalid refugee camps or slums on the edge of the country's major cities. They struggle to find jobs and educate their children.' Maybe they should go home then? * 'John Dempsey, a Kabul-based worker with the US Institute of Peace,...' His evidence is then presented that, because of the sporadic effect of the Taliban here and there, and the lack of resources for returning refugees that the rest of the world should take them instead. A nice altruistic position, but unrealistic. * 'Rahim, for one, is not prepared to sit around and wait for his country of birth to push him back to a country he has never known.' To my mind this is the money quote. Mr Rahim doesn't want to go to Afghanistan. He WANTS to come to Australia, for essentially lifestyle and econommic reasons. That sort of reasoning from potential asylum seekers in this country does not sit well with me. For goodness sake, his father was killed in a RUSSIAN bombardment. His story has nothing to do with the present Afghan War, or the actions of the Taliban before they were overthrown by NATO or the US. He is not seeking to flee to Australia because he is in fear for his and his family's life, but because: '"I wanted to go to Australia because the agent said it would be easy and the government there was flexible," said the father of four.' Doesn't that just say it all? So, I feel sorry for Rahim and his family and the squalid conditions of the refugee camp that they must live in. I don't think that qualifies them for resettlement in our country as genuine refugees though.

lyn

12/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] LAURIE OAKES INTERVIEW with FOREIGN MINISTER STEPHEN SMITH http://australia.to/2010/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2094:laurie-oakes-interview-with-foreign-minister-stephen-smith&catid=101:australian-news&Itemid=167 Reading the tea-leaves on a double dissolution, Club Troppo http://clubtroppo.com.au/2010/04/11/reading-the-tea-leaves-on-a-double-dissolution/ Why Ali fled Afghanistan,By Frank Brennan, On Line Opinion http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10282 Christians on the Left by John Muscat, Quadrant online http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/qed/2010/04/christians-on-the-left It’s time we had an actual discussion about population, by Susannah Eliot The Punch http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/its-time-we-had-an-actual-discussion-about-population/desc/ Rudd accused of abandoning refugees , TVNZ http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/rudd-accused-abandoning-refugees-3457003 What if we raise the plank. The Temasek Review http://www.temasekreview.com/2010/04/11/what-if-we-raise-the-plank/ Immigration Australia;s favorite scapegoat Blind Carbon Copy http://bccwords.blogspot.com/2010/04/immigration-australias-favourite.html Shameful policy on Asylum Seekers, Australian Observer http://aussieobserver.blogspot.com/2010/04/shameful-policy-on-asylum-seekers.html Push me, Pull me, The Asylum Seeker Story by Tory Maguire, The Punch http://www.thepunch.com.au/ Migrants being denied by Australia says Amnesty, Bangkok News.Net http://www.bangkoknews.net/story/622323 Australian Government Says No to Boat People, New Tang Dynasty Television http://english.ntdtv.com/ntdtv_en/ns_asia/2010-04-10/954972801044.html Asylum seeker policy causing distress ABC NEWS http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/11/2869590.htm

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12/04/2010Folks I have just posted [i] Resolving the boat people dilemma – did pragmatism trump principle?[/i] It arose naturally out of the recent dialogue among [i]TPS[/i] contributors on this issue, particularly among kerry, sawdustmick, HillbillySkeleton, lyn, janice, macca, Michael, Bilko, Sir Ian, Colen and me. It seemed such a useful debate that it was worth pursuing more formally with a piece devoted specifically to the issue. So once I’ve posted lyn’s links for today, I’ll close comments here and invite you to comment on the new post.

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12/04/2010LYN's DAILY LINKS posted. Comments on this piece are now closed. Please comment on the next post [i] Resolving the boat people dilemma – did pragmatism trump principle?[/i]
How many oranges do I have if I have 3 oranges and take ONE away?