Another Dangerous Refugee Post

Yesterday I posted my first, hasty impressions of what I am calling “The Rudd Solution”. The new agreement between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The full text is on this link.

Now that I have had a chance to reflect a little and to look at the objections and approvals people have been voicing, here is a summary of my reaction to these objections. Thank you Robyn, Victoria and “Happy Feet Noely” for helping me think things through, from both sides of the argument.no boats

I wrote at the end of yesterday’s post that I felt I was in favour of it. Today’s reaction is still the same.

This is not a “Fact” post. It is an “Opinion” post. A summary of my opinions which have been informed by some facts as I have come across them. Since we, as a nation, have been taught by our Media that Opinion is more important, and possibly sexier than Fact, what follows is up for discussion.

My method while planning this post was to create headings and dot points. I decided to keep that system in the final product as it will be easier for any commenter to reference their comment. I will ignore anyone who simply says, “You are wrong”. I want information. Show me where I am wrong. Try not to be racist or abusive, please.

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1) How bad is PNG? One of the major arguments I have been hearing about the “Rudd Solution” is that PNG is a cruel, brutal, disease-ridden country. Let us look at the potential problems one by one.

  • ACCOMMODATION:- While the housing on Manus Island is not up to standard at the moment, we are promised that no one will be sent there until the housing is completed and of “family” standard.
  • CLIMATE:– Pretty much the same as Indonesia where most of the People Smugglers’ customers have already been resident. And we willingly pay money to go the Bali. While the southern parts of PNG are swampy and jungly, the North coast, from reports I have heard, is a tropical paradise. Avoiding Port Moresby and settling in Rabaul or Lae seem like good options.
  • SAFETY:– Speaking of Bali, an Australian apparently dies there every nine days. Yes, there are problems with public order and crime in Papua New Guinea but similar in scale to the problems faced in Indonesia where terrorism seems to be endemic. PNG is certainly safer than the countries from which these people have fled in fear of their lives!
  • DISEASE:- This is an interesting one. Dengue Fever has reared its head in Queensland. Malaria can be kept at bay with medication and I have known a number of people who lived in PNG who have never contracted it. Here in Australia we are having severe problems with Ross River Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. There are health risks all over the world
  • EARTHQUAKES:– This may appear to be a little flippant at first but they are a reality in PNG. As they are in many of the Middle-Eastern countries refugees flee.
  • SETTLEMENT:- Most of the rural land is held by clans which will not be eager to give up their traditional rights. However the majority of refugees, from what I have been able to gather, are urban and so will be looking to settle in towns and cities. Many refugees will have the skills needed to improve the knowledge base within PNG. Doctors, teachers, accountants as well as builders,  masons and electricians will all strengthen our nearest Northern Neighbour..

2) How much will it cost? We are already giving $500 Mill/p.a. to PNG. If we assume that all the more than $2 Billion a year being spent on dealing with the “refugee problem” here in Australia will go to our Northern neighbour then there is no extra cost. And the cost will not be increasing year on year.  I do have to question point 8 of the agreement. “Australia will provide support, through a service provider, to any refugees who are resettled in Papua New Guinea or in any other participating regional, including Pacific Island  state.” Does this mean we will be paying more money to Serco? The people who could not prevent the destruction of the Nauru Detention Centre last night?

3) Family reunions:- This is the big problem I see. Will the families of people already here be permitted to come to Australia? Will there be some people who get caught halfway and then permanently denied re-union?

4) Saving lives:- This has been the major cry from everyone. That the loss of life on People Smuggler’s boats is totally unacceptable. The Greens have demanded that we take all who express a wish to come to Australia as a way of stopping those deaths. The ALP has seemed impotent to do anything constructive while the L-NP and those further to the right have not really cared. Except to use the facts of those deaths to berate an already guilty ALP. By removing arrival in Australia as a sales point for the People Smugglers, the Rudd Solution finally saves lives. I have heard reports of a People Smuggler today bemoaning the fact that he will go out of business. Possibly a few will change their tactics and begin moving refugees across the northern side of the Island Chain directly to PNG. This will be a much safer route if it is done.

5) Is it more humane? Australia will be accepting more people  from the UNHCR processing centres in Indonesia. This is precisely what the Greens have been demanding. Once the Smugglers find their income drying up as refugees reject paying for useless trips to Christmas Island, the “Boat People” problem will almost disappear.

6) Is it a Political Solution. I’m sorry people. I have news for you. Of course it is political. So is your $18,000 income tax threshold. So is the GST you pay every day. So are the promises being made about the Roads and Rails around Australia. The questions which need to be asked is, “Will it work?” and “Will it save lives?”. The answers are so much more important than “Will it help one politician or another?”

7) What about Visas to Australia:- With the PNG detention time likely to be much less than Australia’s, refugees coming off Manus Island and into mainstream PNG society they will have options. By becoming PNG citizens they will gain passports and the ability to legally move to international destinations. It may even be possible for them to migrate to Australia either as economic migrants or as 457 visa holders. Now THAT is a karmic prospect which attracts me!

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COULD IT BE THAT Kevin Rudd and Tony Burke have found a way, not to “turn the boats back” but to Stop The Boats before they sail? News Ltd seems to think so –  “Rudd’s decision will stop the boats, Afghan asylum seekers declare

John Menadue OA has also given the Rudd Solution limited approval as it seems to tick all the boxes the High Court found were not ticked by the Malaysia Solution. He concludes, “The RSA has been obviously negotiated quickly. As PM Rudd said ‘many other steps lie ahead’. But this arrangement with PNG based on burden-sharing is a much more promising approach than the recent nonsense about amending the Refugee Convention and describing increasing number of refugees as really only ‘economic migrants’. A key test for the RSA must be – does it provide effective protection?”

54 responses to “Another Dangerous Refugee Post

  1. Well put togethe my friend, but I am yet to be convinced.

    I am more than happy to be convinced, I might add. I would love a solution that works.

    What concerns me is I don’t yet see movement/action toward a global solution. I see the numbers swelling globally. An increase from 6.6 million to 9.9 million took how long?

    The problem of man’s inhumanity to man may never be solved. Sadly.

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    • I know. However, if we can stop the needless drownings caused by greedy criminals, it must be a good thing.

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      • I am probably more willing to see the good in this than most people having had personal experience of living on the North Coast of New Guinea (Madang & Wewak, with stays in Lae) as a child. Sure, it’s different now .. so are we since the early 1960’s and sure, there are problems with crimes (ever been to the Cross in Sydney on a Saturday night??) but there are some aspects to PNG losing our paternalistic attitude and our charitable perspective on “helping” them and becoming a flourishing country in its own rights. As you say, most of these refugees are educated people who have had money to hire these purveyors of death on leaky boats so they will be an asset to their new country. Good luck to them, I say.

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      • They are not criminals, they are just other refugees helping each other escape death. What is wrong with you fools.

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        • They believe whatever the media and politicians tell them without researching the facts. That’s what’s wrong with them!

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    • I agree with you Robyn, I also would like to see a movement towards a global solution. The number of refugees is ever increasing due to stupid regimes who deliberately go out of their way to destroy whatever meager lives that the citizens of their countries – no housing, no infrastructure, education or health. It is no wonder that people are just wanting to get away to somewhere that they perceive just might offer them a better existence.
      So, in the mean time, those refugees are stuck in camps waiting for someone to find a solution. They won’t find it here, because our stupid opposition were the ones that put the fear of God up us all so that it is now near impossible for people to act rationally and be accepting of what KR & the gov. he lead, tried to do, then doing the same thing & worse to anything Julia Gillard’s gov. tried to come up with. The Greens might be well meaning, but idealism doesn’t solve the problem either.
      This problem is one of Humanity and needs all sides of governments to work together on.
      Those of us that care, should keep well informed, keep our governments accountable & keep pressing for a universal solution to helping our fellow human beings.

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      • Thank you Sandra. Archie’s heart is in the right place, I know this for sure. And certainly I am not unfollowing just because he hopes this will work and sees positives.

        Mind you, today’s article in The Age was not encouraging.

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  2. It’s interesting seeing you work out your thoughts – I find it strange if people unfollow immediately they disagree!

    Just some points of my own in random order.

    I don’t understand the favourable points about PNG – if they’re to be re-settled there, it means they’ve tried to come here by boat – and are equally in danger of drowning.

    That is unless people think PNG will now solely be a desirable direct destination. The travel warnings for Australians are pretty scary and it seems these people will be very vulnerable. Unemployment is already very high and they also already have a refugee problem.

    The indefinite detention in poor conditions hasn’t deterred people – will the prospect of being able to work and move around there be more attractive?

    I don’t see how the logistics can work for an immediate start – Manus hasn’t been made acceptable in the time since it was re-opened even for much smaller numbers. The same promises about conditions were made at that time. If they’re big numbers, it feels like re-colonising another country with a much smaller population than ours.

    There are so many weasel words in the statement about 27,000 I don’t rely on that at all.

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    • The objective of this agreement between Australia & PNG is to try & STOP the very dangerous attempts by asylum seekers to come to Australia by undertaking very risky passages on rickety boats foisted on them by the avaricious people smugglers.

      It has already starting to take effect with Hazara Afghans spoken to in Indonesia by the ABC saying they would now wait to try & get processed by the very slow & understaffed UNHCR in Indonesia. They are now pleading for the Australia government to provide more processing staff.

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      • Joy, my thoughts exactly regarding getting more Australians involved with the UNHCR in view of becoming processing staff.
        Wish I was about 40 years younger I’d be there like a shot.
        How worth while would that time be in helping people to get resettled somewhere in the world that would be a whole lot safer than the countries they have fled from.

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  3. James McKnight

    Are you payed by the government ?

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  4. Pingback: A Post of Writing Dangerously About Refugees | Ærchies Archive - Digital Detritus

  5. 1a) People are already being sent there.

    1b) Swampy means that “Malaria is a risk throughout Papua New Guinea. However, the risk to short-term visitors to Port Moresby remains relatively low.” Pity they will be there for many years, then.

    1c) Approximately 70% of women in PNG have been the victims of sexual violence.
    “Crime is random and particularly prevalent in urban areas such as Port Moresby, Lae and Mt Hagen. Settlement areas of towns and cities are particularly dangerous.”
    “Tension between ethnic, communal or clan groups can happen without warning and may occasionally lead to outbreaks of fighting, often involving the use of firearms, rioting and looting.”

    1d) The australian government recommends that people without travel insurance do not travel to PNG due to the high risk of disease. They do not make the same assertions about Queensland.
    Cholera is endemic. Malaria is a risk throughout PNG, as mentioned above.
    “The mosquito-borne disease Japanese encephalitis is found throughout many regions of North, South and South-East Asia and Papua New Guinea.”
    The health conditions, overall, are poor at best.

    1e) Earthquakes are not a risk in Australia. Sure would be good to process them here.

    1f) if they would strengthen PNG then they would also strengthen Australia.

    2) It is cheaper, and more humane, to process asylum seekers onshore. It also would employ a great many Australian medical staff, teachers, etc. Moreover by processing them onshore, and allowing them to work and build a life in Australia, we can actually recoup our investment through taxation and job creation.

    3) People who have families already in Australia, who arrive by boat without a visa, will be resettled to PNG. This applies even to minors. We would send unaccompanied female minors to a place where “There has been an increase in reported incidents of sexual assault, including gang rape, and foreigners have been targeted. These crimes are primarily opportunistic and occur without warning.”

    4) People will come regardless of what barriers we put in their way. Exposing people to awful health conditions in concentration camp environments will just mean those who don’t drown stand a very good chance of dying of disease.

    5) People will come regardless of what barriers we put in their way. This will do little, if anything, to affect the business model of the people smugglers.

    6) The issue is not whether it is a political solution – which of course it is – it is whether it is an ethical solution, which it is not.

    7) Why not just give them visas in the first place?

    In short – your analysis reeks of pseudo-pragmatic realpolitik that ignores the very humanity of asylum seekers. Our country is far better off with people like Les Murray, Dr Karl, or our current young australian of the year – all of whom were asylum seekers. It makes the most ethical sense to ease the transition of asylum seekers to Australia – which also has the added bonus of making the most economic sense.

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  6. There are those who cutely say that Howard’s way worked. That was all very well during the dog whistling Howard’s era when the numbers of refugees were far less than they are now. It has been quoted that there are now 30 million more asylum seekers & refugees than there were back in the days of Howard. Many of which are a result of the wars Howard endorsed.

    Things have changed. Young Sri Lankans are reportedly still determined to leave Sri Lanka for economic & other reasons (no work, etc) ,but, it has been reported that due to the changes, announced on Friday, they will no longer be heading for Australia. So it does appear to be already working. With the internet word gets around fast.

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    • http://i.imgur.com/rG7NLd2.jpg and http://i.imgur.com/akuD01u.jpg sum things up quite readily.

      Refugee numbers coming to Australia only correlate with refugee numbers worldwide. There is no border protection strategy that works to reduce their numbers short of gaming the statistics.

      On that note you will see the flatline in boat arrivals during the Howard years, which ceased in 2007. This is, essentially, statistical trickery. The boats never technically arrived in Australia, and so aren’t counted – yet they still attempted to come to our shores during that time. We just chose to offshore and ignore them.

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      • Very true. The media & the Coalition are full aware of this but choose to take advantage of less aware populace lack of knowledge spruiking their misinformation. Wasn’t it Vanstone who offshored them? The refugees used to be off-loaded at the dreadful Ashmore Reef by people smugglers & left there to die. Disgraceful.

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    • What gets me is that the number of refugees coming to Australia is a pittance compared to other countries. The whole asylumseeker issue has been a beat up that started with Howard and has been turned into a political football and Aussies love a good footy match! Statistically, in 2012, Australia accepted 1 refugee for every 997 citizens. Canada accepted 1:203. Germany 1:144. Sweden 1:107. Australia needs to be putting the money it is wasting on offshore processing/PNG into processing in Indonesia/Malaysia and fufiling its moral obligation by settling large numbers of refugees from camps in Indonesia and Malaysia in Australia. If the so-called ‘queues’ were actually moving there would be far less ‘push’ for refugees to resort to the people smugglers. Australia needs to take responsibility for its share of this global refugee crisis. Statistical source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_refugee_population

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    • Scott Morrison of the Liberal Zoo
      Keeps quoting what Howard would do
      About Refugee prevention
      But forgetting to mention
      Was responsible for Soldiers deaths too

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    • Scott Morrison of the Liberal Zoo
      Keeps quoting what Howard would do
      About Refugee prevention
      But forgetting to mention
      Was responsible for Soldiers deaths too

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  7. James McKnight

    You haven’t answered my question directly. I repeat :
    Are you paid by the government to support this decision and its devious explanations ?

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  8. Francois Rochecuste

    The real problem is over population. Life on our planet is not sustainable with the current population. I read that it takes our globe 18 months to recover from what we consume in 12 months. Merely shifting people from one continent/country to the next is like moving the chairs on the Titanic. We urgently need to find a way to curb the ever growing population. The first important step is to provide education to women, as well we MUST get the Churches on side. Contraception can assist in saving humanity. I am not an expert, just a concerned citizen of the Earth, so please feel free to add to this.

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  9. You seem to be inviting challenge. I’ll do my best 😉

    You are wrong @ point 3 but covered it @ point 7 – there’s nothing in the agreement with PNG about any Australian Visa except (by inference) the Refugee ones.
    Our Migration Act gives the minister a kind of veto power so the “you will never settle in Australia” ads could have real meaning right now, but as times and governments change “never” could go away just as easily. It seems very unlikely to me that we’d maintain any kind of database on which future PNG nationals applying for Australian visas originally entered PNG as part of this arrangement.

    You are wrong @ point 1 but covered it @ point 2 – various aspects of life in PNG make it a less desirable destination than Australia but the agreement includes lots of dollars to help improve the situation there.
    People might object to settling refugees in a poor country, or they might object to giving money to a poor country, but they can’t object to both.

    Hmmm. I don’t do the devil’s advocate thing very well, do I?

    One objection you haven’t covered is the idea this arrangement breaches Articles 31 (method of arrival) and 34 (naturalization) of the Refugee Convention. Here I would have been on firmer ground.
    Firstly, ‘boat people’ are not ‘refugees’ as defined by the Convention – they still need to be processed first. Since this arrangement requires the processing to be done by PNG it means PNG, not Australia, has the obligations of the Contracting State.
    Secondly, rather than breaching the Convention, we are actually consolidating it. Included in the arrangement with PNG is our requirement they look at withdrawing their reservations to the Convention. We are using our deep pockets to entice Regional players into a Regional problem and helping our neighbours be good global citizens.
    Finally (and most importantly in my view): Good. It needs some serious scrutiny by 21st Century eyes.
    We are no longer dealing with a finite group of people fleeing a single event in a world unconcerned with environmental degradation, climate change and aging populations. If the 1951 Convention is to be of any use in 2051 it needs leaders who’ll work to keep it relevant.
    And since Australia, like it or not, appears to have found itself at the centre of a ‘refugee processing industry’, those leaders might as well be us.

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    • Thank you for a thoughtful response. Yes, there are so many areas of gray in this situation it is hard to come to a black and white position. Yet it is a new approach and certainly better than “turning leaky boats back into a hostile ocean”. I just hope it works. Otherwise it will be back to an impossible drawing board.

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    • Australia does not find itself at the centre of a “refugee processing industry”. That would be Pakistan.

      We process a disproportionately small segment of the world’s refugees.

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      • This is true. Yet we, as a nation, have been dragged into the gutter by a section of Australian society and by those who would make political capital out of it. The “Rudd Solution” at least provides a circuit-breaker and after it works (if it is allowed to work) Australia can begin to heal. Then there will be a chance to build a better, more compassionate society through consensus, not through a loud right-wing shouty-fest.

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        • Yeah, that worked so well after Hanson, and after Tampa.

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          • Neither were circuit-breakers. Both were triggers for hatred from the racist sector of our society.

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            • So, your argument is this –
              We have thousands of already downtrodden and dispossessed people who have absolutely no power to fight back at all.
              We allow them to be used as political playthings in order to win the votes of marginal seats, potentially winning an election.
              An election in a country that has steadily worsened every year in its perception and attitudes toward of outsiders.

              You’re saying that this time, totally this time, it’ll be the last time. Because it will provide a “circuit breaker” and will not in any way normalise the ever more degrading treatment of these ‘others’ in a society well known for its casual xenophobia.

              Well you’re certainly an optimist, I guess.

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      • By “industry” I sought to imply a thing that makes money. Developing economies in our region have the opportunity to benefit both directly and indirectly by processing refugee applications that would otherwise have been done by Australia.
        Consider Nauru: its main sources of income are fishing rights, phosphate mining and the Australian aid given in exchange for hosting asylum seekers.

        By “refugee” I specifically meant those seeking permanent resettlement, which is the subject of the PNG arrangement and this post.
        Pakistan is not a resettlement state. It offers only temporary asylum on the understanding refugees will either go home or move elsewhere.
        The main countries taking resettlements (in order of total numbers resettled) are USA, Canada and Australia. Per capita the country that resettles the most refugees in the world is Australia.

        It would be appropriate to look at Pakistan if we were discussing TPVs. But in terms of resettlement they don’t rate a mention.

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        • Okay, how about this – out of 1.6 million asylum seekers worldwide, we receive about 10,000.

          We are not the centre of a “refugee industry”. Unless you consider other “products” that have less than 1% market share to be the centre of their industry.

          But I guess props to you for suggesting that PNG should expand its industries to include “The Peddling of Human Misery to Appease (predominantly) White Australians”.

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          • Apples and oranges. Only about 1% of those 1.6 million are seeking resettlement. The majority are taking temporary refuge in a nearby place of asylum until they can go home. As we’re surrounded by dangerous seas we’re unlikely to ever be a country of first asylum.

            Of the refugees for whom the UN considers resettlement the only option, 90% are taken by the USA, Canada or Australia. Resettlement is not a right. We are under no obligation to do this. And yet, as a proportion of our total population, we resettle more refugees than anyone.
            And we do it well. We provide income support, English lessons, torture and trauma counseling, employment assistance, subsidised housing, return visas, opportunity for citizenship, everything they need to begin a new life. We are a destination of choice for a reason.
            On a global scale we have no cause for shame.

            On a regional scale however (which is the topic under discussion) we do have cause for shame. The deaths off Christmas Island are on our hands. These people are victims of an “industry” that takes advantage of their desperation and operates under the trickiness of Australian-Indonesian relations.
            Undermining the people smuggling industry with an aid-for-processing industry of our own seems a perfectly pragmatic solution to me, and one that benefits those nations in our region prepared to work with us.
            If there are practical issues I haven’t considered I’m happy to be corrected.
            But you will not convince me this is wrong simply by crying “shame shame shame.”

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            • So, to take your position –
              The deaths at sea are on our hands.
              There is an industry of people smugglers we should undermine.
              Pragmatic solutions are acceptable.

              Add to that the fact that pull factors are meaningless, and that we are a country of choice because we are a signatory to the convention when very few (if any) other countries on the asylum seeker’s path are.

              Why not just fly them over? It’s cheaper, more humane, and even allows us to recoup the costs via taxation after resettlement.

              Stops the drowning. Smashes the industry. Super pragmatic.

              Why is the expensive and cruel pragmatic option better than the cheap and humane one?

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            • Seriously – if only 1-5% require resettlement, that is only 80,000 people. Why not just take them all, distribute them across the country, and be done with it? It would be less than a 0.5% increase in population.

              Smash the industry all to pieces.

              We could create jobs in the building of additional housing facilities, it’d employ more teachers and lecturers, food service industry jobs would be created to support the expansion of consumers. In the long run it would help establish an expanded tax base to support the coming pressure of retiring Baby Boomers.

              If pragmatic approaches that smash the industry are the goal – why must we go with the more expensive one which is cruel to disaffected people?

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              • We do fly them over.
                We do increase our intake, set up local infrastructure, make clever win-win arrangements with small towns who need the population boost etc etc .. we do all of that.
                But we don’t do it fast enough to make the risk of a sea voyage unattractive. People are jumping on those awful boats in ever increasing numbers. Significant numbers. Last year more of our humanitarian places were taken by boat arrivals than not. This was despite the much more brutal ‘no advantage’ policy of sending them to Nauru to wait as long as they would have waited elsewhere.

                The idea of taking all 80,000 and being done with it seems attractive. With only a little planning we could settle that many. While many of these people will not be fit for work for some time (if ever) and need a lot of support as they adjust to their new community, it could be done.
                Although I doubt very much we’d be able to do this once and ‘be done with it’ – people are not going to stop seeking asylum.

                And it would only help that 80,000 or so already approved for resettlement. It wouldn’t stop people trying to get here by boat to have their applications processed here with all the appeal rights and Australian Residence this implies. People smugglers would still have a product to sell.

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                • And this is my worry. That unfettered access WILL flood Australia. After all, there are more refugees in the world than there are Australians. Some form of orderly acceptance needs to be created. Leaving people in camps in Indonesia is just the same as leaving them on Manus Island without the chance that they will drown at sea. Not that many will choose to get onto boats in future so Manus Island will not become overcrowded.

                  It also means we can increase our intake from Indonesia and this MUST be a good thing.

                  Of course, with more airtime than the PM, the LOTO could quite easily undermine this whole project. He is already giving hope to the refugees looking at using boats and giving comfort to the criminal smugglers. But then, that is what the L-NP does!

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                • Asylum seekers do not take anybody else’s “place”.

                  But you’re also agreeing with your opening statement that clearly “brutal” approaches don’t work. If they did we would not have seen the increase we did.

                  Instead, we saw the increase we saw because we’re at a 20 year high for refugee numbers. Meaning that we were being cruel just so we could be cruel.

                  People smugglers may still have a product to sell, regardless of what we do, but the prospect is to price them out of the market, remove them as middle-men, and steal as much share as possible. Ultimately making it ineffective to even me in the market.

                  Again – if our goal is to break their business model, reduce drownings, with pragmatic options on the table and an understanding that hardline approaches don’t reduce the numbers coming in… why go for the cruel solution instead of a kind ones?

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                  • We have a set number of humanitarian places. Every boat arrival who takes one robs it from, say, that mum somewhere in the Sudan whose son’s been in Australia without her for 10 years never really sure if she’s still alive. If you insist on making the ‘boat people’ about more than boats at least try to extend your humanity to all the other humans affected.
                    The PNG idea was not brutal. It was merely firm: “come by boat and you won’t settle here; if settling anywhere else doesn’t suit you then don’t come by boat.”
                    It might have worked if we’d stayed firm, but hand wringing Greens and point scoring L-NP are doing a great job telling the people smugglers to ignore it.
                    And now it seems the general public is waking up to just how much money we would have pumped into the PNG economy. They don’t seem to see the long range value in that, funnily enough.
                    I suppose the issue’s been a political game for so long nobody can be objective anymore.

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                    • Llew Stevens

                      That’s not “their” place, or else they would be refugees. Those places are for special humanitarian circumstances, as you mentioned, and asylum seekers. Besides, if it was their mother, they wouldn’t qualify – SHP places are for non-immediate family members. But anyway.

                      We now have the situation that if a 10 year old comes to Australia by boat she will be resettled in PNG without her family? Resettled into a country where more than half the women have been the victim of sexualised violence.

                      Not cruel at all. Just firm. Yep.

                      And, I am not making this about “boat people”. I am merely discussing them primarily as that is the focus of a) the policy, and b) this awful blog post. I do have the ability to care about more than one thing at a time, and I do happen to consider that linking SHPs in the way they do to be inhumane! Fancy that!

                      And I will say again – Being firm doesn’t work. It does not dissuade people. We are being firm for the sake of being firm. We are punishing these people just so we can punish them. Doing serious, and measurable, psychological and physical harm to these people.

                      That is cruel. Particularly when doing the non-cruel option is more effective, and also has the added bonus of being cheaper.

                      If you want to be objective, how about this. We have two options.

                      One doesn’t work, is expensive, none of the money gets reinvested in Australia, and it hurts a lot of people.
                      The other works, is cheaper, money comes back to Australia, and it helps a lot of people.

                      Why is option one preferable? You seem unable to answer that.

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  10. James McKnight

    you still didn’t answer my question, strangely enough… i rest my case. the australian greens are the only ones with a human policy. libs and labs are just after the votes and the power/money. i predict mass departing from lab voters to the greens. 1.6 millions australians voted greens at the last elections. what’s your bet for the next ? be honest if you dare.

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  11. Llew & Roni, why don’t we start a new thread here – that last one is getting a bit narrow 🙂

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  12. Good day! Interesting site, many infomation, good decor,thanks.
    www

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  13. @Liew
    “We have two options.
    One doesn’t work, is expensive, none of the money gets reinvested in Australia, and it hurts a lot of people.
    The other works, is cheaper, money comes back to Australia, and it helps a lot of people.
    Why is option one preferable?”

    Re option one: it’s far too early to be claiming ‘it doesn’t work’ – I’d say we’d need to be firm for a good 12 months before we could make claims either way about effectiveness.
    That Australian money is invested in PNG actually appeals to my personal politics (in terms of positive diplomacy, international citizenship and so forth). I accept many people have different politics behind their view of this. Let’s agree to disagree on this point.
    I dispute that it hurts “a lot of people” or that it’s inherently cruel. Firstly, if PNG is such a hellhole we’d expect to see fewer people get on a boat in the first place – that’s the stated point of this arrangement. Secondly, since the arrangement includes expectations around PNG’s commitment to the Refugee Convention plus a blank cheque from Australia for improving conditions, Australia just bought itself a very big voice to assist PNG to become less hellish in time, not just for asylum seekers originally aiming for Australia but also for West Papuan refugees seeking asylum in PNG directly and the PNG nationals themselves.
    Perhaps you could argue it’s “cruel” to send boat people to a country with no welfare system. In that case I’m guilty as charged.

    Re option two: I don’t know what you mean. There are alternative refugee channels already in place and absolutely I prefer asylum seekers use these. That’s the point. I don’t understand why refugee advocates aren’t already in Indonesia helping asylum seekers get a tourist visa to fly here to make their claims. It would even be cheaper for them than engaging a dodgy people smuggler and his dodgy boat.
    Maybe it’s “cruel” to deny individual boat people the thing a dodgy people smuggler promised them but if that stops other people believing con men it’s a good thing in the long run.

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    • I can (and do) claim it doesn’t/won’t work because –
      a) the asylum seekers will have measurable physical and psychological harm done to them by their detention, and;
      b) historically similar schemes have not reduced the numbers of asylum seekers seeking asylum via boat

      It is inherently cruel to send desperate and disaffected people to what amounts to a prison camp where they will experience harm. And, no, we will not see a decrease in numbers due to this measure, as I mentioned above. I suggest you do some reading on push factors.

      Although this point “There are alternative refugee channels already in place and absolutely I prefer asylum seekers use these.” seems to reveal what you know, and who you are, as a person. Seeking asylum is perfectly legitimate. They are not taking anyone’s spot, they are not jumping a queue – they are seeking asylum.

      They are engaging in a basic human right to seek freedom from fear and oppression. You are proposing to respond to this by locking them away in a country that is already housing more refugees per head of capita than Australia. Locking them away in a place where they will suffer serious psychological and potentially physical harm. Places like those on Manus Island, where handlers allegedly (allegedly because nobody has been convicted of anything) knowingly let underage boys be raped and did nothing. Locking them away in a country where 70% of women have experienced domestic violence, and where the gang rapes of foreigners are so common the Australian government deems fit to point it out on their smart traveler website.

      There is no evidence to suggest that these sorts of programs will “stem the tide”. They are irrelevant to the considerations of those who come across the seas. They merely want to live free from fear and oppression.

      So again we are left with the option between something that doesn’t work, costs a shitload more, and harms people. As compared with something that is humane and helps people.

      Why don’t you wan’t to help people? Are these not your international citizens?

      But, perhaps, you are as you admit – a cruel person.

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  14. “..what amounts to a prison camp ..these sorts of programs .. locking them away..”
    You are speaking of indefinite detention, the brutality of which, as you pointed out earlier, I’ve already acknowledged. You are quoting histrionic objections to the ‘no advantage principle’ and not the topic at hand.
    The PNG arrangement is NOT the same program. It does not taunt asylum seekers with an eventual goal of Australian Residence. Quite the opposite.

    “.. compared with something that is humane and helps people”
    What exactly is this wonderful alternative of yours? You still haven’t stated it. I can hardly prefer it if it doesn’t exist.

    “Why don’t you want to help people?”
    Oh please. You’ve employed equivocation, appeal to emotion, false dilemma and now the loaded question. Do you have anything of substance to add to the debate or just a string of fallacious arguments challenging my character?

    You seem to be regurgitating the rhetoric of a certain advocacy group I very strongly suspect are surreptitiously campaigning to get their hands on the Asylum Assistance Scheme funds. Some of their tactics are obscenely cruel. If you wish to claim the moral high ground I strongly suggest you think a bit more critically about some of the things you read.

    Until then, I’m done. I’m not going to engage in a game of character assassination. Feel free to consider me whatever kind of person suits your strawman arguments the best. I don’t care.

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    • I am a member of no political organisation, nor any advocacy group. I do not disguise who I am. I am merely a son of immigrants who believes others deserve a fair chance in this world.

      I am, similarly, not quoting anything – barring specifics surrounding the law, statistics, or the Australian government’s assessment of PNG. My quarrel is most certainly with the matter at hand.

      What I have read to come to these points of view are: official statements from the department of immigration regarding the status of asylum seekers, as well as a myriad of ethics based texts. I am quite fond of Rawls’ approach to justice and equality, but honestly we could discuss this in anything from deontological, to teleological, to pragmatic terms of reference and the PNG solution would still be unethical. The closest one could come to defending it is through pure utilitarianism – but even then you would have to bound the frame of discussion so tightly so as to not be unethical because you’re spending money on an internet connection instead of donating it.

      Thinking critically isn’t really a weak area for me.

      As for the solution you claim I haven’t put forward, I suppose I will admit I didn’t explicitly state it but I certainly put my preference behind it in the discussion above – fly them over, give them a fast turnaround on initial processing, and engage them with the community whilst the apparently endless bureaucracy of visa approval goes through.

      Finally – if merely stating facts constitutes an attack on your character, then perhaps the issue lies with your character rather than the facts.

      All the best. Have a nice weekend. 🙂

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