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Greens focus on incentives in asylum seeker policy

asylum seekers

The Greens asylum seeker policy, most of which was released this morning, adopts much of the logic of last year’s Houston Panel report — but, crucially, not all of it.

That report, by Angus Houston, Michael L’Estrange and Paris Aristotle, argued for a significant rebalancing of incentives for asylum seekers, away from “irregular” pathways and toward “regular” pathways — the incentive of more opportunities to reach Australia via our humanitarian resettlement program, and the disincentive of no advantage in reaching Australia by boat, courtesy of a re-established Pacific Solution.

At the core of the Greens policy is the belief that disincentives will never work (and what evidence, so far, is there to contradict them?), and we need to massively increase the incentives to use regular pathways, via a dramatic expansion in our humanitarian intake and more Indonesian processing centres. More of the latter in a moment.

The increase in Australia’s humanitarian intake from 20,000 to 30,000 (though 4000 of the additional 10,000 places would be reserved for family reunion) would represent a more-than-doubling in just under two years. The Houston Panel recommended eventually lifting our intake to 27,000 over an extended period, rather than 30,000. But the goal would be the same: to dramatically decrease the supply pressure, particularly by immediately taking 10,000 asylum seekers from the region, 3800 of them from Indonesia. The incentive to get into a boat would be reduced — additionally, because asylum seekers from refugee-producing countries would be allowed to travel to Australia by air as well.

And as the Greens point out, the cost of resettling such a significantly greater number of refugees — costed at an additional $2.5 billion — is far less than the cost of running offshore detention centres.

However, the policy raises a number of questions. It proposes a number of UNHCR-run “safe” asylum seeker processing centres in Indonesia, further increasing the attractiveness of Indonesia for asylum seekers who can reach it (whether the Greens have consulted with the Indonesian government about this isn’t clear).

However, there is no guarantee that reaching such a centre would guarantee you would reach Australia: the humanitarian program is capped at 30,000, including another 4000 for family reunion. What happens if the numbers of asylum seekers exceeds 30,000? If they reach Australia by boat, they won’t be detained beyond an initial period for screening — and they are guaranteed resettlement here.

In short, the Greens are relying on being able to permanently cut the supply of asylum seekers to below 30,000. But there may be those who are not content to wait in an Indonesian processing centre, and who want to get to Australia with their families to get on with their lives and end the uncertainty, or who have the money to fly to Australia. And more asylum seekers will be in Indonesia, and resettlement in Australia will be guaranteed if you can reach here by boat, even if Australia has already taken 30,000 people under its humanitarian program.

So the Greens policy will work well up until the 30,001st asylum seeker and at that point becomes unclear: what will happen to asylum seekers arriving after we’ve taken 30,000? Are they detained? Sent back to an Indonesian processing centre? It’s implicit, but the 30,000, in the absence of any offshore processing or PNG plan, isn’t a hard cap.

Still, it may be enough: in the absence of a major humanitarian crisis, the Greens’ policy may be sufficient. It would be cheaper, too, than running offshore detention centres and bribing less developed countries in our region to take our problem off our hands.

But the complete removal of disincentives — the Greens even propose presumably permanent “community detention” for those found to be a security risk — leaves the effectiveness of the policy in the hands of people smugglers and asylum seekers. Australia would be a more attractive destination than it is currently under the Greens’ policy, and the Greens have no answers for what happens if that drives asylum seeker numbers beyond their 30,000 cap.

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Categories: Federal

66 Responses

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  1. At the core of the Greens policy is the belief that disincentives will never work (and what evidence, so far, is there to contradict them?)”.
     
    Gosh… let me think…  I know!  The Pacific Solution! 
     
    6 years of evidence from late 2001-2008, and all of it ignored by the Greens and Bernard. Fascinating.

    by Tamas Calderwood on Jul 31, 2013 at 1:25 pm

  2. Good to see some detailed coverage in Crikey of Greens Policy on this…its the only alternative to an auction of focus group/ tabloid/ shock jock driven cruelty we are in with the majors. The points are fair enough. The Greens policy may not stop all drownings. But neither has the Howard,Gillard or Rudd policy,and presumably suffers from the same critique…what happens when the detention camps are full? Maybe we have to face up that they can’t all be stopped, and maybe if they aren’t occurring between Indonesia and here, they’ll simply occur elsewhere in the world, somehow out of the sight or moral radar of our media. Seems to me the policy is not perfect, but has just as much chance of succeeding as the majors…without the cruelty and degradation involved. The dip in refugees under Howard mirrored a worldwide dip…this policy is a valid practical response to a cruel situation.

    by Bo Gainsbourg on Jul 31, 2013 at 1:50 pm

  3. TC. - 6 years of evidence from late 2001-2008 clearly shows The Pacific Solution will not work.

    by dazza on Jul 31, 2013 at 2:10 pm

  4. All major parties miss the point but Bernard, you are just an ignorant man without a clue.

    Tamas, the Pacific Solution is in play now you dimwit, has it stopped one person from seeking asylum here?

    Bernard, you don’t seem to understand do you?

    EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO SEEK ASYLUM.

    That is the law, get over yourself because you are more and more peddling DIAC and government lines.

    by shepherdmarilyn on Jul 31, 2013 at 2:52 pm

  5. Great to see an attempt at objective analysis on this. Much appreciated.

    The question is, what do you mean by the policy “working”?

    Do you mean Australia controlling who comes here?

    Do you mean stopping boats and drownings?

    Or do you mean what we should all be concerned about first and foremost, namely ensuring persecuted people have safety and security? After all, why do you or I deserve it any more than them?

    by Elvis on Jul 31, 2013 at 3:34 pm

  6. Even if the Greens policy didn’t work we’d be in exactly the same position that we are in now, but with policy changes that didn’t traumatise people who in the long run are likely to stay here as refugees and then who’s health care we will also have to pay for. We’ll also avoid the moral abuse that is such an essential ingredient of both ALP and coalition polices.

    by Professor Tournesol on Jul 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm

  7. Marilyn - You may well be right that “everyone has the right to seek asylum”. But what happens when there are 30,000, 50,000 or 100,000+ per/year, every year? Australia simply cannot afford, either economically or socially, to settle that number of people + their families.
    You will end up with significant social upheaval if that happens. Perhaps attitudes should be different, but they are not. It would take a lot of years to prepare the majority of Australians to accept such a policy. What you are suggesting is a recipe for disaster.
    If you (and others) keep pushing this issue, you will find that more and more people will demand complete withdrawal from the Refugee Convention, or other more damaging alternatives. You cannot simply override democracy, however much you think that should happen.
    While many people on these blogs are fond of bashing the major parties/leaders at the moment, they are doing what the electorate wants. If you think about it, we elect our parliamentarians to represent our views, and introduce policies which reflect the will of the people. I do NOT understand why The Greens, who represent around 10% of voters, think their policies should be foisted on to the other 90% of us. That is NOT democracy.

    by CML on Jul 31, 2013 at 4:02 pm

  8. Bernard is utterly ignorant on this, he is pandering to the same hate the Greens bullshit as the major parties.

    Last year 6.5 extra people were displaced, only we punish the few who get here.

    by shepherdmarilyn on Jul 31, 2013 at 4:16 pm

  9. CML, you ask: “But what happens when there are 30,000, 50,000 or 100,000+ per/year, every year?” What answer will you get if you ask that question of Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott. Both are building tent camps for thousands. Neither has any idea how many thousands - that is, no more idea than the Greens or Ms Shepherd. Every policy risks “social upheaval” because every policy has the potential for overflow - that is, if the boats keep coming in larger and larger numbers then there will have to be people processed on shore in Australia.

    by Hugh (Charlie) McColl on Jul 31, 2013 at 4:47 pm

  10. The writer is “just an ignorant man without a clue”. Later he “doesn’t seem to understand”. Later still he is “utterly ignorant”. Meanwhile, Tamas is a “dimwit”.

    Shepherdmarilyn, I’m inclined to agree with you and am actively involved in helping refugees. But you make your opinions seem extreme when you so regularly insult your opponents, here and elsewhere.

    When Robert Manne, Julian Burnside, and now Bernard Keane all say it’s a complicated issue, for you to simply scream at people undermines your argument.

    by pretorius3 on Jul 31, 2013 at 4:53 pm

  11. we’re still talking about it. This from before Christmas last year. http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/12/11/rintoul-challenging-bipartisan-myths-on-asylum-seekers/

    by dazza on Jul 31, 2013 at 5:37 pm

  12. Well put CML.

    dazza: Fewer than 300 people arrived by boat between 2002-2007. Since Labor dismantled the previous government’s policies in 2008 almost 50,000 people have arrived.

    The Pacific Solution worked. Maybe, just maybe Rudd’s PNG solution can work. This flow of people (most of whom discard all their papers before arriving - why?) is undermining our immigration program and it must be stopped.

    by Tamas Calderwood on Jul 31, 2013 at 5:52 pm

  13. CML: I do NOT understand why The Greens, who represent around 10% of voters, think their policies should be foisted on to the other 90% of us. That is NOT democracy.

    First, the Greens are simply enumerating clearly their policy. Voters can make their choice.
    Second, your view of democracy is simplistic in the extreme. In polls only about 40% support K Rudd’s approach with 38% supporting Abbott. But the awful reality is that the only thing driving these policies is a small fraction of voters in a small number of swing seats: on this issue it is mostly Western Sydney where the swings are less than 10%. So with less than 10% of voters in less than 5% of seats, it is very roughly 66,000 voters. The Greens got 1.55 million votes last election and, though I don’t have poll info at my fingertips, I think we can be pretty sure the fraction of these that support their policy on asylum seekers (along with many ALP & Libs) is a heck of a lot more than 66,000 bogan xenophobes in Western Sydney that are hijacking policy.

    It is THIS that is not democratic and I for one am fed up with so many important things (eg. building nothing but roads instead of PT) being dictated by these ignorant bogans. It is a non-democratic quirk of our electoral system and it would disappear if we had a PR or MultiMember system. The bogans would get a few of their ilk elected but they wouldn’t have control over policy, which is the way it should be.

    by michael r james on Jul 31, 2013 at 6:03 pm

  14. For all this analysis of the successful people “moving” business there aught to be a lot of people now able to write a good small business plan.
    Like the asylum seekers all they need is the finance.

    by Hamis Hill on Jul 31, 2013 at 6:25 pm

  15. Tamas, when you say a government program “works”…

    There’s a lot in that, isn’t there?

    I mean, Hitler’s Final Solution “worked” in the sense of murdering millions of people.

    Stalin and Mao’s similar programs also “worked” by giving more people to the policy-makers.

    Do you think they were good things too?

    by pretorius3 on Jul 31, 2013 at 7:36 pm

  16. We seem to have invoked Godwin’s Law at #15.

    by el tel on Jul 31, 2013 at 8:08 pm

  17. This scrutiny of the Greens policy seems to be more thorough than that of Rudd’s recent announcement. I think it also hints at the real question of what any of these asylum seeker policies are intended to achieve - are we really trying to stop people drowning at sea, or just to stop people getting here at all.

    I think the flaw in all of the so-called policies and surrounding discussion is that it is premised on the idea that boats can in fact be stopped (and that if we don’t believe in adopting an inhumane solution we are either bleeding hearts who want to take everyone or don’t care about deaths at sea). Boats won’t be stopped, at least until the world is a slightly better place than it is right now.

    by Bronwyn on Jul 31, 2013 at 8:33 pm

  18. Tamas, you said that, “Fewer than 300 people arrived by boat between 2002-2007. Since Labor dismantled the previous government’s policies in 2008 almost 50,000 people have arrived.”

    CML also expressed concern with the comment, “But what happens when there are 30,000, 50,000 or 100,000+ per/year, every year? Australia simply cannot afford, either economically or socially, to settle that number of people + their families.”

    I think it’s important to remember that the Australian population naturally grows at a rate of approximately 7000 people per week. Therefore, 20 000 asylum seekers arriving on our shores only adds a few extra weeks population growth per year.

    Essentially, it’s not a question of how many asylum seekers arrive in Australia - it’s what we do when they get here. Off shore processing centres cost Australia between 150-350k per person, per year. Whereas, if they were allowed to settle in Australia and obtain benefits such as the dole, it would only cost 10-20k per person, per year - with the majority of the money going back into our economy. You do the math.

    by Karly Rubins on Jul 31, 2013 at 9:53 pm

  19. So why isn’t anyone seriously talking about Fraser’s proposal? Processing centre in Indonesia with successful refugees being resettled in Australia (more than current limit but not significantly more), and other countries (Canada, US in particular).

    by Hamish Moffatt on Jul 31, 2013 at 10:19 pm

  20. @Hamish Moffatt at 10:19

    Pay attention.
    That IS the Greens policy. Why do you think Fraser is campaigning for Sarah Hanson-Young?

    by michael r james on Jul 31, 2013 at 10:29 pm

  21. Goes to show what happens when a protest party tries to do policy. Surprised they didn’t learn their lesson after the carbon tax.

    by Patriot on Jul 31, 2013 at 11:52 pm

  22. MRJ @ #13. - It is not only the hogans of western Sydney who agree with stopping the boats. If you look at any poll which asks whether people want the boat loads of asylum-seekers to keep on coming, the negative response is 60 - 70%. There are many reasons why this is so, and I believe xenophobia/rac+sm is only a very small component of that.
    And when I went to school, a majority was 50%+1!! I do not think that the Green vote of 1.55 million comes anywhere near that. It doesn’t matter how many ‘others’ you think agree with Green policy on this issue, it’s the vote that counts. You have completely missed my point about the moral philosophy of political representation. Labor and Liberal parties believe they are doing what their constituents demand. If they are wrong, then the Greens will win the forthcoming election.
    Gawd help us all, if that happens!!!!

    by CML on Aug 1, 2013 at 12:18 am

  23. The biggest problem is the corrupt Indonesians who make a good living from the time they are bribed on entry at the airports to the day they leave on a $5000 trip to Christmas Island. The Indo government allows their people to make money by any means they can, no questions asked and a cut of the fee collected on the way. The corruption in Indo is the normal way of living from the top down.

    by gapot on Aug 1, 2013 at 7:59 am

  24. I do NOT understand why The Greens, who represent around 10% of voters, think their policies should be foisted on to the other 90% of us. That is NOT democracy.

    I’m sure the people who used to own slaves and think only property-owning white men should vote said the same thing.

    by drsmithy on Aug 1, 2013 at 9:32 am

  25. Michael R James, not according to Keane’s article it isn’t. And Fraser has pointed out he is not campaigning for SHY, only appearing at that one forum.

    by Hamish Moffatt on Aug 1, 2013 at 10:09 am

  26. If you look at any poll which asks whether people want the boat loads of asylum-seekers to keep on coming, the negative response is 60 - 70%.
    What’s it look like if it’s phrased “should genuine refugees be accepted into Australia” ?

    Because the 10+ years of demonising boat people by both political parties and pretty much all major media outlets, have largely ingrained the idea (as intended) that they are somehow “less refugee-ey” and thus don’t need help.

    If they are wrong, then the Greens will win the forthcoming election.
    Gawd help us all, if that happens!!!!

    Indeed. How would the country function without the major vested interests easily influencing policy to suit their agendas ?!

    Incidentally, the Greens vote is ~10% of the population, but the Greens presence in the house of Reps is substantially less than that. From a numbers perspective, Greens voters are _under_ represented.

    by drsmithy on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:05 am

  27. @ drsmithy - That is a ridiculous statement. Slaves were not allowed to vote. Today, in this country, EVERYONE has the right to vote. In fact, voting is compulsory. Therefore, the end result of the voting process is as close to democracy as you can get.
    Some will argue that the ‘system’ of voting could be fairer - multi-member electorates etc., but then you have the other extreme of ‘first past the post’. It seems to be that our system sits in the middle of these extremes. If Greens voters want to change the system, go for it. With 10% of the vote at present, I think it could take you quite awhile!!
    It seems some people just do not want to accept that the end result of our federal election process, usually produces a government formed by one of the major party groups. For goodness sake - that means the the vast majority of people vote for both, and choose one of the two. Presumably that is what the people want. If you are going to argue against that, then what do you want to put in it’s place? Dictatorship by the Greens??????

    by CML on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:08 am

  28. That is a ridiculous statement. Slaves were not allowed to vote. Today, in this country, EVERYONE has the right to vote. In fact, voting is compulsory. Therefore, the end result of the voting process is as close to democracy as you can get.
    Some will argue that the ‘system’ of voting could be fairer - multi-member electorates etc., but then you have the other extreme of ‘first past the post’. It seems to be that our system sits in the middle of these extremes. If Greens voters want to change the system, go for it. With 10% of the vote at present, I think it could take you quite awhile!!

    A weak attempt at misdirection.

    The point, which you are studiously ignoring, is that back when slaves could be owned, and back when women and other groups couldn’t vote, there were a minority of people who disagreed with those views. That didn’t make their views wrong, nor did it make slavery and disenfranchisement right. Eventually their views were “foisted” on society.

    It seems some people just do not want to accept that the end result of our federal election process, usually produces a government formed by one of the major party groups.
    Agreeing with the democratic process in principle, does not you to agree with the policies enacted by the Government in power.

    For goodness sake - that means the the vast majority of people vote for both, and choose one of the two. Presumably that is what the people want. If you are going to argue against that, then what do you want to put in it’s place? Dictatorship by the Greens??????
    I’d argue what people want is more fine-grained input than “everything party X says”. I think getting rid of the formal party structure would help immensely.

    A move away from Government by one of the two major parties, whose policy platforms are largely indistinguishable, is not “dictatorship”, it’s “democracy”. YOur reasoning is backwards.

    by drsmithy on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:22 am

  29. On a slightly different topic, why are the Immigration Department running their “the rules have changed (and you will be sent to PNG” ads on Crikey?
    Can anyone tell me the Crikey readership numbers in Indonesia and refugee source countries?
    These ads are all over Facebook as well, AND IT’S VERY EASY TO TARGET SPECIFIC COUNTRIES FOR FACEBOOK ADS. Are these tax payer-funded ads actually being run in Indonesia?
    Not only are the new policies abhorrent, it certainly looks like the ad campaign is deliberately targeting wavering voters rather than those thinking of jumping on a boat.

    by Sharkie on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:35 am

  30. Karly - the point is that it’s not just 20,000 people per year. It’s growing very quickly and could easily reach 100,000 people per year. You only need a few years like that and suddenly Australia has a US or European style underclass - and we need to avoid that.

    And why do they all throw their passports overboard? Why?!!

    by Tamas Calderwood on Aug 1, 2013 at 12:03 pm

  31. @CML at 11:08 am

    Others have responded to you. But seriously, it is you who does not understand the fundamentals behind democracy. Instead you appear to be a simple-minded majoritarian. We have just seen the consequences of such a deeply flawed and immature view of that approach in the catastrophic rule of Mursi in his first 12 months in Egypt. He, and the Muslim Brotherhood, sincerely believed winning at least 50.1% of the vote gave them the right to impose their narrow view on the rest of the country. This is precisely the politics you are proposing. To be expected in a country where the mentality of a football game, with its clear outcome, is so important. And it’s nice and “simple”, yes?

    But you are correct in one awful regard: many mainline politicians (and dumb voters) increasingly believe this. Especially from the Right (glance at our cousins across the Pacific who have rendered their country almost ungovernable). Abbott tried it when Minister of Health by blocking RU486, and one shudders to think what he might do with his “majority” if he were to reach the top.

    As Dr Smithy says, our society is very complex. And as I have written (and sincerely I hope you read this) the electoral systems, and thus democracy, of the Anglophone countries is failing because of this inability to cope with the actual diversity:

    ((crikey.com.au/2010/09/03/the-crisis-in-governance-in-two-party-systems/))
    The crisis in governance in two-party systems
    by Michael R James, Friday, 3 September 2010

    by michael r james on Aug 1, 2013 at 12:32 pm

  32. When was the last time either major party achieved 50(+1)% of the primary vote?
    We have “government’s by second choice”.

    by klewso on Aug 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm

  33. No Pretorious, the others who pretend it is complicated are wrong. It is not complicated in fact, it is only complicated by liars who refuse to uphold the facts.

    That everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution in other countries and other obligations and rights.

    It is only complicated because the Australian government and most of the media have been lying for the past 40 years about the law.

    WE alone in the world pretend we can set silly little quotas but then make it impossible to access the quota in the first place.

    WE alone in the world pretend that voluntary resettlement of a few thousand people is an obligation when it is not.

    by shepherdmarilyn on Aug 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm

  34. To all above - We currently have a system of preferential voting in this country. I am a realist. You work with what you have. If the system changes in the future, that is fine by me, except that we should still have ‘democracy’. My entire point is based on the premise that at present our election outcomes are based on the preferential system, which throws up government by majority, usually involving rule by one of the major parties. This has been the case for over 100 years, with only minor changes. You can argue the ‘rights or wrongs’of that system, but I don’t see it changing in the near future. Nor am I prepared to accept that minorities have the right to dictate to the majority.
    As far as Egypt is concerned - the people voted in the Muslim Brotherhood. If they don’t like the outcome, then the people should have been allowed to change it (and still may) at another election. What happens if they have another election, and the Muslim Brotherhood wins again? Why is it our ‘right’ to dictate to another country what party/ideology they should elect? Ditto Gaza and their government. It has nothing to do with us. You may see their governments as illegitimate, but thereby hangs the moral philosophy question that many experts are having trouble answering.
    As for the US - yes, their government does sometimes appear to be in deadlock. Fortunately, our ‘founding fathers’ were wise men who gave us a way out of that situation. It’s called the double dissolution, and the few times in our history that it has been used, the problem has been solved. Our system is quite different to that of the US.
    As for getting rid of the two party structure - so you want to end up like Italy until recently, where on average, each ‘government’ lasted around 9 months, and caused great instability. You are on your own with that suggestion!
    And Michael - Your description of the Australian electorate as ‘dumb voters’ is elitist in the extreme. Everyone here is permitted to vote however they like in a secret ballot. Regardless of what you think, the customer/voter is always right. You can’t seriously argue with what people think!!!
    As for the possibility of an Abbott government - I do agree with you about that. But if that is what people vote for, so be it!

    by CML on Aug 1, 2013 at 5:37 pm

  35. I mean to say, what is so complicated about deciding that an Hazara or Palestinian is a refugee? Seriously?

    by shepherdmarilyn on Aug 1, 2013 at 5:37 pm

  36. Tamas they do not throw their bloody passports overboard, they don’t have any passports that are legal tender because they are frigging stateless.

    Fair dinkum, stop putting first world standards on things and confusing easy migration from one safe country to another with seeking asylum.

    by shepherdmarilyn on Aug 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm

  37. Tamas, I agree with Marilyn - they aren’t throwing their passports overboard, they simply don’t have any! The fact of the matter is, is that over 90% of ‘boat people’ are genuine asylum seekers. While we ignore all of the people that arrive via plane and overstay their Visa (only approximately 20% of these people are genuine asylum seekers).

    Secondly, the fact that you are worried that an influx of 100 000 asylum seekers will create an ‘underclass’ completely ignores the fact that many of these people may actually have skills that will allow them to gain employment in Australia. Why not locate them in rural and regional centres in Australia to help them boost the economy in those smaller towns?

    by Karly Rubins on Aug 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm

  38. Marilyn and Karly. - There is an international airline agreement which prohibits ANYONE from boarding a plane, anywhere in the world, without a passport and relevant papers to ensure the passenger can disembark when the plane arrives at it’s destination. Since almost 100% of asylum seekers who arrive in Malaysia or Indonesia come in on a plane,perhaps you could enlighten us all how they achieve this without said passport/ documents? Since we know these people MUST have passports etc., it is a legitimate question to ask why they destroy them.
    That is the problem with asylum seeker advocates - they are either poorly informed, or just tell fibs to enhance their stories.

    by CML on Aug 1, 2013 at 10:43 pm

  39. And Karly. While you are busy giving jobs to an asylum seeker/ refugee, that is one less job for an Australian citizen who is unemployed.
    And you don’t think that this will cause friction in the community? Wake up to yourself!

    by CML on Aug 1, 2013 at 10:49 pm

  40. @CML at 5:37 pm

    You said Nor am I prepared to accept that minorities have the right to dictate to the majority. But as DrSmithy said, you have it completely backwards. Because, in fact it is the majority who are terrorized by the minority on these issues. And it is this minority that I am calling “dumb voters”.

    Take action on Global Warming. For a long time more than 70% (I recall 74%) of people polled, wanted to see action such as a ETS. The reason Rudd panicked and etc was because of a quite small minority of voters who reacted to the usual ignorant loudmouths (those Western Sydney bogans who listen to Bolt, Hadley & Jones) and The Daily Tele and The Australian (did you see they printed an appalling amateur-hour piece by Joanne “Nova” yesterday?). Even after years of relentless negative campaigning by Abbott support was still above 50%.

    As it happens it is the same ignorant minority that blocks Sydney’s second airport. And insists on endless expensive roads rather than public transport. And of course what do we get from Abbott on all these things?

    I think you are like too many Australians, fooled by our current prosperity into believing everything is hunk dory. Didn’t you read the article by Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton (The prosperity paradox: who’ll lead when times are so good?) in yesterday’s Crikey? It’s really just another iteration of the Lucky Country syndrome. Our prosperity is more fragile than most people realize and our polity is paralyzed/terrorized by ignorant minorities who wield an outsized and undemocratic entirely malign influence.

    by michael r james on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:08 pm

  41. As for getting rid of the two party structure - so you want to end up like Italy until recently, where on average, each ‘government’ lasted around 9 months, and caused great instability.
    Actually I’d rather end up like Switzerland. Or Germany. Or New Zealand.

    Regardless of what you think, the customer/voter is always right. You can’t seriously argue with what people think!!!
    So if people thought Aboriginals shouldn’t be able to vote any more, and voted to take that right away from them, you wouldn’t have a problem with that ?

    by drsmithy on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:24 pm

  42. And Karly. While you are busy giving jobs to an asylum seeker/ refugee, that is one less job for an Australian citizen who is unemployed.
    And you don’t think that this will cause friction in the community? Wake up to yourself!

    Whether we subsequently want the Government to pursue proper full-employment policies is an entirely separate issue.

    by drsmithy on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:35 pm

  43. CML, presumably you are talking about carrier sanctions, whereby a State can fine a carrier who brings in someone without a valid visa - a large part of the reason that asylum seekers are forced onto the leaky boats our politicians now claim to be so concerned about.

    If you want to be enlightened as to how asylum seekers get to Malaysia or Indonesia, read this - http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/07/11/get-fact-how-many-asylum-seekers-turn-up-without-id/?wpmp_switcher=mobile.

    by Bronwyn on Aug 1, 2013 at 11:36 pm

  44. CML, I was not suggesting that asylum seekers who arrive via plane have no passport. I was suggesting that there are asylum seekers that arrive via plane, with a valid visa and apply for asylum at a later date whilst living in community. However, this is ignored by the media who seem to target ‘boat people’ as being criminals.

    by Karly Rubins on Aug 2, 2013 at 12:45 am

  45. The fact of the matter is Rudd’s PNG solution is crap - dumping refugees in a country with a poor human rights record and poor protection mechanisms for political opportunism?! Here are the reasons why it won’t work: PNG is a predominantly Christian country, and it passed a motion to ban non-Christian faiths through its Parliament. Many of the asylum seekers travelling by boat to Australia are Muslims fleeing religious persecution -not being able to practise your religion in the country of asylum is a breach of the UN Refugee convention. Violence against women in PNG is so high it puts the country on an almost equal levels with Afghanistan e.g. 50% of PNG’s women have been raped and 68 per cent have experienced physical violence. PNG has never been a resettlement country and does not have the infrastructure for refugees, or the legal resources to assess applications and communicate with asylum-seeking groups.

    So we have a choice between that, or keeping asylum seekers in immigration detention? There is a large amount of evidence showing that prolonged detention has detrimental effects on psychological and physical health - 100% of asylum seekers in detention for 12 months experience some form of mental illness, there have been 5 suicides in Australia’s detention centres and more than 1100 incidents of threatened or actual self-harm occurred. Not to mention the outrageous costs of such a scheme. I don’t think either of these options is worth considering.

    As of 2011, Australia was hosting just 0.23% of the world’s refugees. Less than 1%! CML, the only way I can see this causing friction in our communities is if these communities are full of intolerant and racist people. The world is laughing at us

    by Karly Rubins on Aug 2, 2013 at 12:51 am

  46. Karly, you entirely missed my point. I am NOT talking about asylum seekers who enter this country by plane. I am talking about those who come by boat from Indonesia, but who got on a plane somewhere in the middle east/sub-continent to fly to Malaysia or Indonesia BEFORE getting on a boat.
    In order to fly from the middle-east, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq (or anywhere else)and arrive in Malaysia or Indonesia, EVERY PASSENGER must have a passport at the very least. So what happens to the passports of those who arrive by plane into Indonesia, and then get on boats?
    If you do not believe what I am saying, try getting on an international flight from Australia to ANYWHERE without a passport. Good luck!!
    Or perhaps you think that the ‘boat-people’ walk from their home countries to Indonesia?
    And drsmithy, you don’t think that giving jobs away (or for that matter, housing, welfare etc.etc.) to refugees rather than our unemployed citizenry is part of the demonisation of refugees? What planet have you been living on? I even heard a radio talk-back caller in Adelaide yesterday complaining that the government gives out cigarettes to asylum seekers free of charge, while planning to raise the price of this stuff by $5/pack to the local citizenry. He didn’t sound very happy about it either.
    Still think all this “assistance” to boat people is “a separate issue”? It is the major cause of resentment towards refugees in this country, and if unchecked, will lead to events like we have seen in Europe. No one is thinking 5, 10, 20 years down the track, and the repercussions for this society could be diabolical.

    by CML on Aug 2, 2013 at 4:23 am

  47. Exactly right CML - they get to Indonesia by plane with a passport and then discard it so they can lie about their circumstances.
    We can’t just ignore these facts.

    by Tamas Calderwood on Aug 2, 2013 at 7:39 am

  48. CML, maybe try getting your ‘facts’ from somewhere other than talk- back radio.

    by Bronwyn on Aug 2, 2013 at 7:55 am

  49. CML, if you are going to talk to me about costs, lets look at the bigger picture. Immigration detention costs Australia between $150 000 and $350 000, per immigrant per year. Say we send 5000 asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Islands over the next 5 years. That will cost something along the lines of $15 BILLION dollars. Can you comprehend how much money that is? It could cancel every single HECS debt in the country.

    So while Australia is wasting money on this, we are losing out on receiving funding for other services that could create these jobs we desperately need.

    by Karly Rubins on Aug 2, 2013 at 8:18 am

  50. Karly - You still have not addressed the issue of “missing” passports. It is a security question, NOT an economic one. Why do these people NOT want to be identified? Seems to me, without some means of identifying someone, it makes it easier for them to spin a yarn about their need for asylum. What other reason could they have for destroying these documents? At the very least, it is somewhat suspicious.
    Bronwyn - I neglected to say that the broadcaster to whom this story was told, did verify the fact that cigarettes were given out free of charge to refugees. That being the case, are you saying that you can’t see why it would cause friction? I use that incident only as an example. It would be just as valid to speak of refugees who are given public housing ahead of people who have waited for years.
    THIS TYPE OF BEHAVIOUR, DOES MAKE AUSSIE CITIZENS VERY ANGRY AND RESENTFUL, whether you like it or not!

    by CML on Aug 2, 2013 at 11:53 am

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