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Feb 15, 2010

Lies, damned lies and asylum seeker statistics

For more than a week, the Coalition has been hawking a story around the press gallery about how UNHCR figures contradict the Government’s figures on asylum seekers. Today, Glenn Milne finally bit.


About the only area where the Government has had its media cycle management together lately has been on border protection. Last week, in a nice one-two, Chris Evans launched a high-profile overhaul of skilled migration to “take back control of our immigration program” and the Prime Minister announced a new set of aviation security measures, the primary impact of which seems to be to make the airport queues of travellers delayed by security checks an even bigger and more tempting target for terrorists.

That’s your Government: vigilant at our borders.

OK, so the whole thing was swamped by the froth-mouthed demands that Peter Garrett, he of the blood-drenched hands, be chucked in prison, but the Government had stolen a march on the Opposition, which has been looking for ways to exploit rising numbers of asylum seekers.  Anne Duffield, former chief of staff to Philip Ruddock, has followed the immigration portfolio from the demoted Sharman Stone to Scott Morrison and is co-ordinating the effort.

So Tony Abbott travelled to Darwin on Saturday to push the issue.  While the ostensible purpose of the trip was to meet ADF personnel involved in border protection, the real point was to lay the groundwork for what the Opposition hopes will be the overflow of the Christmas Island detention facility to Darwin.  As in, oh my God, they’re on the MAINLAND.  That won’t have any impact on the legal status of asylum seekers, but will be an excellent symbol for focusing voter attention on the issue, which has not been quite as obsessive as it was nine years ago.

Inconveniently, Malcolm Turnbull had already committed the coalition to a new type of temporary protection visa last year, despite plentiful evidence that such visas don’t discourage boats and in fact aren’t even temporary.  Abbott has tried to build on that by promising to “turn the boats back”, by what means is not clear, but at least that will make two out of two policies that encourage asylum seekers to endanger themselves.

But just to show that Abbott has learnt from Kevin Rudd’s successful stint as Opposition leader, he didn’t go to Darwin empty handed.  He announced that the coalition was getting to grips with the problem by setting up a committee.  The committee’s membership is Morrison, Julie Bishop, Michael Keenan, Jason Wood and Senators Johnston and Brandis.  The other member is Philip Ruddock, described in the Abbott press release as “ex officio”.  Ex-officio of what is left unsaid, but perhaps it means that if you’re going to have a scare campaign on asylum seekers, then Philip “it” Ruddock is a compulsory presence.

The committee’s strategy will in part focus on “prevention of the problem by minimising the outflows from countries of origin and secondary outflows from countries of first asylum”.  One looks forward to seeing how the coalition, which gleefully joined in the attack on Iraq that sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing that country, will “minimise the outflows” of people driven from their homes by war, persecution and natural calamity.  Assuming we won’t have Julie Bishop becoming the new paragon of shuttle diplomacy and spending her entire time trying to broker ceasefires and peace negotiations around the world, “minimising the outflows” will involve more foreign aid to strife-torn countries and “countries of first asylum”.  That’d be from the foreign aid budget that Barnaby Joyce wants to slash.

Perhaps the committee will give some more oomph to coalition efforts on the issue.  For more than a week the coalition has been hawking a story around the press gallery about how UNHCR figures contradict that Government’s claim that there has been a significant increase in “push” factors driving asylum seekers to Australia.  Today they’ve finally had some luck, because Glenn Milne picked up the story no one else was interested in.

“Figures released at the end of January show there were 279,624 asylum applications in 44 key industrialised countries in the nine months to September, only 5 per cent more than in 2008,” Milne regurgitated. “This undermines the Rudd government’s argument that global “push” factors, such as war and civil unrest, were being experienced by all developed countries, which were also facing increased illegal migration.”

Now doubtless Milne’s very excited about how well Tony Abbott is doing but there’s no excuse for simple innumeracy.  The UNHCR figures actually well demonstrate the push factors at work.  Nearly all of the increased number of asylum seekers coming to Australia in the last year have been from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.  Despite lacking data from several countries for the final quarter of 2009, the figures showed a sharp spike in the number of Sri Lankan asylum seekers in countries within their reach: a 30% jump in France, 14% jump in Germany, increases in Switzerland and Belgium; even Japan had more than double the numbers of Sri Lankan asylum seekers.  Even New Zealand’s numbers went up.  Indeed, New Zealand had a significant overall increase in asylum seekers last year despite the new conservative governments in Wellington.

The figures for asylum seekers from Afghanistan increased by a third (despite several countries missing final quarter data), causing a similar-sized spike all across Europe — Germany faced a five-fold increase and Hungary 10-fold.  Numbers even went up as far afield as the United States.

In short, the global numbers of refugees don’t tell us much.  It’s the numbers from individual trouble spots that are the issue, and two of the biggest, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, are in our region — indeed, we’re one of the few countries in the region that is a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees. Even then, there are sub-regional factors at work — the big 2009 increase in asylum seekers from China would, two decades ago, have probably seen a spike in arrivals in Australia, but numbers of Chinese asylum seekers coming here actually fell. Instead, they rose in Europe and the United States.

If Milne and co want to talk about global numbers, perhaps he should congratulate the Government on keeping out Serbian refugees.  There was a 20% rise in Serbian refugees last year to more than 18,000, but we cut Serbian arrivals by 100%.  Yep, that’s right, they went from five to zero.  Ditto with Russian refugees, who made up about 20,000 last year.  We went from 21 to seven.

Of course we did.  Serb and Russian refugees are on the other side of the globe and don’t come into this region.  Same with the 20,000-plus and rising Somalian refugees, of whom 19 arrived here.  They go to Europe and North America.

When there’s a scare campaign on, there are lies, damned lies and refugee statistics.


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62 thoughts on “Lies, damned lies and asylum seeker statistics

  1. Mark Duffett

    Again I have to ask – how is Afghanistan ‘in our region’? It’s much closer to the UK than it is to Australia. Indeed, parts of Russia are closer to Australia than Afghanistan.

  2. Jenny Haines

    Of course! Scare campaigns rely on lies, damn lies and statistics and it says something about the Federal Opposition and those they influence that they cannot see through the scare campaign or the dodgy statistics. In July 2009, Amnesty International commissioned a Nielsen Poll to assess the Australian people’s understanding and attitudes towards asylum seekers, especially those arriving by boat. In 2008, 3.4% of all asylum seekers arriving in Australia came by boat. 96.6% arrived by plane. The results of the Nielsen Poll showed that of the 1000 participants, only one person answered correctly that around 4% of asylum seekers arrive by boat. Most respondents to the survey guessed that up to 80% of asylum seekers arrive by boat, a figure that no doubt reflects widespread misunderstanding about the means of arrival in this country by refugees and asylum seekers. Surprisingly, 69% of respondents to the poll believed that that all asylum seekers should have the same rights regardless of how they entered. At present in Australia, those asylum seekers processed on Christmas Island do not have access to the same legal rights as those on the mainland. Some facts for you but of course politics is not about facts, but perception!

  3. Simon Rumble

    Mark Duffett: have a look at the number of borders one has to cross and the kinds of countries running them between Afghanistan and Europe vs Afghanistan and Australia. If you get in a boat after crossing the porous border between Afghanistan and head straight to Australia, you’re crossing precisely one border before reaching here. Do that overland to Western Europe and you’d have to cross, what, at least 3 borders to reach Italy. And one of those will be a place like Iran.

  4. surfer

    Who cares where they’re coming from, Rudd needs to slow them down and stop encouraging them.

  5. C@tmomma

    Re Glenn Milne and UNHCR numbers…Maybe they’re “All inumerate now” in the Coalition! I can see Janet A. being tasked with writing the supporting piece now. 🙂

  6. merlot64

    @Surfer – you have obviously missed the point of the article above. 1. How can you expect the government to “slow them down”? Rebuild their societies into model of justice and tolerance? Barnaby wants to eliminate foreign aid.
    and 2, they are not being encouraged, they are the result of “push” factors in their home countries – war, oppression, etc…

  7. Jenny Haines

    Surfer, pull your head out of the sand and take a look at the real world . Australia, and in fact no country can isolate itself from the world. We have legal, ethical, moral, social and political responsibilites. The myth that there is some golden past that we are moving away from, is just that, a myth. There have always been immigrants coming to this country since the days of the First Fleet and we have, since those days been multicultural.

  8. surfer

    Why did they stop making the trip across the ocean in leaky boats when the previous Government were iin office?

  9. CliffG

    In the early 2,000’s the boats didn’t stop. They increased. Under Howard! People fleeing for their lives are prepared to take terrible risks. But there are factors which may direct those who are well informed and they are a distinct minority. Refugees have little access to news and information other than local information about how they can best stayb alive.
    Why have they stopped going to Italy, Surfer? Because the government is so draconian and the people fleeing for their lives are treated so appallingly. So it was too under Howard and Ruddock. The boat arrivals reduced later in the decade as Afghanistan quietened down and Sri Lanka hadn’t erupted. The government of the day simplictically persuaded many it was because of their “hard-line”. But at what human cost to the nation and the refugees? People detained indefinitely. People driven to self harm and madness. People shuffled off to god knows where and forgotten, one with his cat alone on Manus Island for a year at great cost, both personal and financial. And most eventually made their way to Australia anyway. They were used as political pawns by a government which didn’t care at all about them as human beings, but simply as vote catchers.
    But that doesn’t mean the refugees stop fleeing. It just means some vile governments force them to other shores thus totally failing to meet their responsibilities under international agreements they signed. If Australia is to remain true to its international obligations and its humanitarian claims it cannot resume these heinous approaches to dealing with asylum seekers. When 96.6% of asylum seekers coming to Australia arrive by AIR, how big a problem is the remaining 3.4%? Does it really warrant another SIEV X and 435 deaths at sea? Does it warrant brutal and inhumane treatment? Does it warrant a return to international condemnation and disgust?

  10. David

    Surfer..Why did they stop making the trip across the ocean in leaky boats when the previous Government were iin office?…

    Well thats easy even for a Howard hugger like yourself Surfer…Howard would have let them drown, simple. But then obviously you dont object to lives being lost to justify Abbotts policy of keep the bastards out of here, we dont want them, let them swim back where they came from. Its types like you and your mates in the Coalition that show the world what great big strong uncaring bullies you are.Wonder what ever happened to that Christian ethic, suffer the little children to come unto me, and other quotes that the former seminarian would be more familiar with than most. Feed the hungry, shelter the homeless as long as they are not asian or arabic.
    Incidently its times someone gave that gutter dwelling Milne a few boxing lessons, minus the gloves. What a pathetic nasty little man.

  11. Pamela

    Yes indeed Mark D- it would appear that Afghanistan is not in our region but then you have to look beyond the geographic boundaries. If you are a young Hazara whose father has just been beheaded by the Taliban for refusing to hand over his 15 year old sister in marriage to a 50 yr old mullah (actual story) and the village elders told you to run for it -how would you do it? Cant apply for refugee protection in Afghanistan because you are still in country of origin so not refugee. Cant apply in pakistan becasue both UNHCR and Australian embassy closed to refugee applicants. Cant apply in India-same. Cant go to Iran- get tossed back at border.
    What you can do is if your family put up the money to agents in pakistan is get a passport and ticket to Malaysia where you can enter on a ten day tourist visa being from an Islamic country in same way we can go to NZ. Once in Malaysia – you take aboat/bus to Indo. There you can apply in Jakarta to aUNHCR office for Refugee protection. This is the first office where you can get in the door but even then problems. They are only taking 5 applications on monday and 5 on wednesday for registration. people sleep on the streets to be in the first 5.
    Once registered you wait 6-9 months for an interview then another 9-12months for a decision. If you are recognised then you wait 40 YEARS for re- settlement. Australia takes on average 50 people per year from indo. There are currently 640 Card carrying refugees and another 2509 registered but not yet decided.
    Do the maths – would you wait 40 years in poverty, no work, no education, no nothing OR would you get on aboat and chance it? Do you sit in Indo while your mother and sisters are starving in a camp in pakistan.
    These are the facts.
    Australian Government could change the situation by acknowledging these facts or they can try to mange the redneck response to a few boats.

  12. Pamela

    PS That wonderfully successful campaign in Marjah- bombing the bejesus out of anything that moves- taliban or innocent civilian – will contribute in amonth or two to more people fleeing on boats. Already we hear in the community people are running for their lives- well you would wouldn’t you if the yanks dropped leaflets telling you to get out before the bombing starts.
    So where are these folk to go- Kabul and join the starving, jobless masses there: Pakistan where the taliban are hiding out and shooting Hazaras on the streets, Iran where they toss you back at the border
    Make the big move which you have heard about from Family?
    What choice do you have caught between the Taliban who hate you and the western forces who after they have bombed your country out of existence look like doing adeal with the taliban in the name of “peace”. I bet no one is talkkiing about what happens to the Hazara minority during these peace talks.
    Where is your heart- these folk are heroes to the survival of the human spirit against every odd put up- give them abreak.

  13. Pamela

    Last one promise- Before we scare ourselves to daeth about this FLOOD OF BOATS -lets look at the numbers
    1 July2008 – 9 February 2010 = 3494 people arrived by boat

    AFGHANS 1966
    SriLankans 801
    Iraqis 284
    Kurds 151
    Iranians 121

    plus 11 other nationalities
    Somalis who are number 3 in global terms amongst asylum seekers – only 2 came by boat.

    3949 is not exactly unmanageable and nothing compared to the 169 countries who receive more people than we do.


  14. Sancho

    OMG! 3494 people!

    Can the drown-them-for-our-satisfaction mob tell us how many asylum seekers arrive safely by plane each year? It’s a lovely question, because it reveals that opposing refugee intake requires either vast ignorance of the issue or the sort of hypocrisy that makes Ted Haggard look like Snow White.

  15. steeleye

    Pamela’s last post on the sctual numbers coming in by boat beat me to the punch. 3494 people in approximately 18 months works out at about one asylum seeker for every 6000 people living in Australia. That is, an average city suburb or regional town has to cope with less than one asylum seeker every year in their community. Before some bright spark leaps in to tell me that they are not evenly spread – of course they are not, but a simple analysis says that the ‘problem’ is trivial in comparison to far more significant issues facing Australia. Our politicians – of most persuasions – have a lot to answer for in letting this ‘flood of asylum seekers over-running us’ nonsense not to be put to bed

    “Let’s get a collective grip on reality” is an excellent summation of the issue.

  16. Venise Alstergren

    MARK DUFFETT: Gosh! golly! gee! You are so slow today! Afghanistan is in our region because George W Bush told us so. And we always do what America tells us to do. 🙂

  17. Venise Alstergren

    SIMON RUMBLE: Sorry to rain on your hypothesis, but it is much simpler than that.

    When England had an empire, of which we were a part of. Afghanistan figured largely as a desirable, if it could ever be conquered, addition. When we became our own country we merely absorbed British beliefs and hopes and cock-ups.

  18. Venise Alstergren

    PS: It took George W Bush to remind us of our responsibilities. We Australians love being told what to do.

  19. uberin

    1 July2008 – 9 February 2010 = 3494 ,thats not even 3 days worth of illegals apprehended crossing the southern border into the USA.Abbott can scare and spin as much as he likes,wont change my view on how bad the problem is.

  20. Venise Alstergren

    Doesn’t anyone else get furious at the endless committees being called for? The thought of Philip Ruddock on any sort of committee to do with asylum seekers is akin to asking the Klu Klux Klan to head up a committee to look into aboriginal child abuse in the Northern Territory.

  21. jenauthor

    @ David
    ‘Incidently its times someone gave that gutter dwelling Milne a few boxing lessons, minus the gloves. What a pathetic nasty little man’

    Indeed, many of the ‘gutter’ umm, sorry, I mean ‘daily’ press are of a similar ilk unfortunately. And as the journalistic ranks keep contracting those who are left MUST toe the line to keep their jobs. Thus they simply ignore the complete story in favour of what will sell the paper or attract the viewer … biased or not.

    I do wonder how many of them sleep at night with the lack of journalistic integrity they display nowadays. It shows a distinct lack of investigative skill (if one is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt) or a blatant disregard for the facts (if one isn’t). But then again, why let the truth get in the way of a good story?

  22. John james

    “.. the government stole a march on the opposition.”

    Bernard, I understand the need to keep the spirits up but, common!
    Are you telling us that Rudd will confront Abbott on border protection???
    I see Geoff Kitney’s article in the AFR detailing Rudd’s need to calm his nervous backbench.
    The troops on the battlefield can sniff the wind.
    The stench of fear, and political death, is all around.
    You need to ’embed’ yourself a little more with the Labor foot soldiers, Bernard, ‘stead of writing while seated at your nearest bar, with Crikey picking up the tab.

  23. Most Peculiar Mama




    So tell me, how many of your quoted number of 3494 were women and children?

    And yes, it IS relevant.

    “…In the early 2,000’s the boats didn’t stop. They increased. Under Howard! People fleeing for their lives are prepared to take terrible risks…”

    Mostly 1999-mid-2001.

    And why was that?

    No wars were going on.

  24. AR

    Thhe Cadaver’s infamous use of “it” should be chiselled on his tomb stone (assuming that he’d stay down, perhaps a stake or three would help) but my personal favourite was when he warned,in Parliament, that “..entire villages in Iraq are packing up ready to come here..”.
    And that was before we, the toadies in the Koalition of the Killing, officially attacked. And it was much fun enduring the decade of sanctions imposed after GWI they were just being ungrateful to want to leave.

  25. John Bennetts

    So MPM has joined this thread, with “her” usual unsightful analysis.

    So, 1999/2000 or some other cherry-picked period of choice appears, at first glance, to be a standout. So effin’ what? The flow of refugees takes time. Time. The fourth dimension, remember? Flows on for years and years.

    A couple of months back in our beloved Crikey! the flows of refugees were presented, analysed and the statistical thruth was stripped bare for us to see… and it was clear.

    Somebody else can provide a link, if need be. I have a tool known as a MEMORY. I read and absorbed that article. MPM was then, as now, as contributor.

    However, “her” tools are not in order. Whether perceptual or memory it is not for me to hazard a guess – perhaps both.

    Time to sharpen up, dear contributor.

  26. shepherdmarilyn

    0.0001% of the worlds refugees come here yet we spend hundreds of millions trying to stop them.

  27. Most Peculiar Mama

    @John Bennetts

    Glutton for punishment aren’t you.

    Let’s see:

    No evidence…CHECK
    No supporting links….CHECK
    No argument…CHECK
    Default stupid ad-hom attack…CHECK

    Instead of pointing out to us all (again) what you CAN’T do, focus on that which you can.

    You are nothing if not 110% predictable.

  28. Mark Duffett

    @Simon Rumble, I see your topological point, but on those grounds Somalia is closer still.

    Note I’m not trying to make a pro- or anti- point here. I just don’t like Bernard saying odd things about geography to suit his thesis.

  29. Pamela

    It is true Mark that Somali is on an “as the crow flies” straight trajectory to Australia by sea however Yemen is closer still and there are hundreds of thousands of Somalis there because of the on going violence in Somali.
    Yemen although dirt poor has been a welcoming place for refugees and many have families there.
    Getting past the pirates has proved problematical for huge tankers and yachts so it is likely that a refugee boat would not make it. Most Somalis are not experienced seafolk whereas the Sri lankans could sail a bathtub to Australia.

  30. SBH

    So MPM are you saying that ‘push’ factors like war are more important than ‘pull’ factors like Australian Government policy?

  31. SBH

    Asurfer, can you expand on why asylum seekers should stop coming here?

  32. Pamela

    Guess its natural to think that your own country is Gods Own but fact is most people think that also. So the Iraqis did not want to leave until they had no choice- same with the Afghans . They do not want to leave their homes, land, shops, trucks, businesses no matter how small behind- would we?
    The problem is that while the Hazaras try to keep their heads down and stay below the radar of corrupt government, local warlords and Taliban – sometimes they just cant and then there is no nchoice but to run.
    The Iraqis comming now waited it out hoping for better times in their beloved Iraq but when they are targetted by the multiple groups now slugging it out in Iraq, no one can defend them from murder and kidnapping- they just have to go.
    It is a fact that a significant danger factor is to have relatives in the west becasue you are then atarget for kidnapping to get a ransom. The ways in which your life can be at risk are many and varied when there is no law and no order.
    A long winded way of saying that PUSH factor over-rules PULL factor .

  33. Most Peculiar Mama


    “…So MPM are you saying that ‘push’ factors like war are more important than ‘pull’ factors like Australian Government policy?…”

    Instead of playing musical chairs with the Third World, how about we assist the dispossessed and disenfranchised ‘fleeing’ their ‘homeland’ in restoring their country to a habitable state.

    Do you agree that if desperate citizens are leaving in their tens of thousands there must be a problem?

    If so then let’s identify what it is and fix-it.

    But wait, you’re not happy with that outcome either.

    What strikes me as hilarious is that before the wanton bureacratic jokefest that was Copenhagen, some people seriously believed that “The World” would “Unite As One” and tackle the “Great Moral Challenge” of ‘Climate Global Change Warming’ “together” as “One Global Family”.

    Unanimous agreement from all corners of the globe was expected; and in some quarters demanded.

    So let’s parlay that demand for unity to those who wage war against their own citizens who, in turn, see little alternative but to flee for their lives.

    That these poor souls preferentially choose destinations with soft ‘immigration’ policy mandates is moot and largely irrelevant.

    Be really brave and humanist…fix the cause, not the effect.

  34. James McDonald


    Maybe it’s the old bank loan principle. The golden rule for a loan officer is never to lend money to anyone who really needs it. Similarly, don’t grant Australian residency to anyone who really needs it.

    How else to explain the disproportionate obsession with small numbers? Here are some immigration statistics from July 2008 – June 2009

    158,021 “new settlers“, that is arrivals from overseas who became permanent residents
    14,000 visa overstayers
    50,000 maximum number of visa overstayers estimated to be within Australia
    320,368 student visas granted
    39,768 permanent departures of overseas born persons
    13,507 total humanitarian intake http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/60refugee.htm
    11,010 offshore humanitarian intake (these are included in the 158,021 new settlers, above)
    2,497 onshore humanitarian intake (not included in 158,021 new settlers, above)

    What intrigues me is, if 320,368 students came in, and a total of 39,768 overseas born persons departed, what figure is not being published of overseas students becoming residents without falling into the above categories of intake? There may be a simple explanation, but I’d love it if someone would explain that to me.

  35. James McDonald

    @MPM – “Be really brave and humanist…fix the cause, not the effect.”

    I applaud the sentiment, but how do you suggest we do this?

    (a) make war on governments that oppress their citizens
    (b) use diplomacy to discourage governments from oppressing their citizens
    (c) give aid money to impoverished peoples
    (d) exert trade sanctions on countries where citizens are oppressed
    (e) encourage free trade in order to eventually enrich most countries and make oppressive regimes redundant
    (f) set a internal example of civil liberties and prosperity which will inspire other countries to emulate it

  36. SBH

    So it’s the ‘push’. I agree. Ok that deals with most of the critique of Australian Government (labor and LNP) policy which I agree is ‘largely irrelevant’ to how many people come here. Now Can you elucidate how we would ‘fix’ other people’s countries or where the resources to do so would come from? Don’t get me wrong, I think that there maybe something admirable and indeed brave in your suggestion but unilateral attempts have usually proved unsuccessful. Perhaps if so much of the last 15 years had not been spent traducing the UN in particular and multilateralism in general we’d have a viable model to affect change.

  37. SBH

    James Mac! You’re back! How I’ve missed you’re right of centre reasonableness.

  38. shepherdmarilyn

    Here is a newsflash for MPM, everyone on earth has the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries.

    What on earth is the morality of stopping them? We did that in 1938 and it was a roaring success for Hitler who had plenty of fodder for Mengele, Goebbels, the gas chambers and firing squads not to mention the starvation and working to death of jewish refugees along with Serbs, Poles and millions of others.

    In 1948 the world wrote the declaration of human rights. In 1951 Article 14: everyone has the right to seek asylum in other countries” became the binding humanitarian treaty called the refugee convention.

    Now we ratified it in 1954 and it has been law ever since, it is even enshrined in the Migration Act.

    So why do we keep killing f……….g trees and wasting words maundering on and on about a law engraved in concrete by 147 nations of the world?

    Just get over it.

    Now as the record shows that 6,174 people claimed refugee status here from 1 Jan – 31 December and only 2093 of them were “boat people” why is it that we never have a whine about the other 4,000+ just because they fly here?

    They are China 1186 with a 14.6% success rate.
    India 364 – 1.6% success

    But Afghans who make up 1996 of the 3494 “boat people” have a 100% success rate.

    Iranians – 84% success
    Iraqis – none have been sent home
    Pakistan – 70% success
    Sri Lanka – 80% success

  39. SBH

    MPM you spit and spin and carry on but when confronted by real numbers and facts you go all quiet like.

  40. James McDonald

    Here are the rest of the immigration statistics: http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/immigration-update/update-jun09.pdf
    – see the table on page 8.

    Total onshore skilled migration in 2008-9 was 48,959. That’s foreign students most of whom have lots of money, who stayed on to become permanent residents (draining wealth from overseas and bringing it here – yeehaa.)

    Offshore skilled migration in 2008-9 was 69,456. That’s overseas people with both money and skills in key vocational areas.

    The problem with importing existing wealth and skills is that it undermines options (e) and (f) that I mentioned above for helping solve geopolitical problems at their source.

    Free trade – option (e) above – helped liberalise South Korea and China (the latter still in transition) in a way that trade sanctions have never achieved anywhere. While showcasing an example of liberty and capitalism – option (f) above – was what brought down the USSR: millions of people said we want our country to be more like what we see over there.

    Skilled migration works out nicely for us. We get to poach the most valuable workers from broken countries, skimming labour on the cheap without having to fix up our own education system. And contrary to what Pauline Hanson said, most of those immigrants do fit in very well here. It’s easy for us to poach them – after all we’ve got nice beaches and running water instead of shanty towns. But where does that leave the poor countries? We talk about the Australian brain drain to America, but what about the third world’s brain drain to Australia?

    If we left the skilled people where they are, and instead took in desperate refugees, we could make a tangible demonstration of uplifting hopeless people into successful lives. Like, make documentaries about how successful they became here and broadcast it overseas. Not because we have beaches and can poach easily, but because we have civil liberties and free markets. Then the poor countries, not stripped of their best workers, would have a chance of becoming our trading partners of the future. And the former refugees would write back home saying: this system really works, you should give it a try.


    Well ! I for one am getting pretty fed up with Kevin Rudd’s lies !
    He said he will turn the boats back and so far he has not . He lied to the Australian people !
    We have had over 80 boats come to our shores X whatever amount to sponge on the taxpayers of Australia , we all know that most of these people are and will be unemployable !

    No proper health or security checks are being done , processing is being done faster to free up the beds on Christmas Island to allow more boats arrivals , after all how could they be checked out properly ? when these boat people destroy their papers ???

    He said he’d be tougher on border control , can anyone tell me where ? The Muslims refuse to go through body scans in case someone might spot something .

    I dont like Liars and I have had enough of Rudd’s lies ! He thinks people are stupid and perhaps he is correct , the lower class probably don’t even read a newspaper or watch the news so they remain his loyal Labor voters anyway !

  42. Most Peculiar Mama


    “…MPM you spit and spin and carry on but when confronted by real numbers and facts you go all quiet like…”

    Gawd. Have the “numbers” changed the political climate in Sri Lanka? In Afghanistan?

    Have the “facts” stopped people fleeing their homelands in their thousands?

    Are we offering a solution or simply a band-aid to make YOU feel better?

    I’ll let you choose which you think it is.

  43. Pamela

    Oh spotter- such venom.
    Where did you hear that rubbish about Muslims refusing to go through scans? Clearly you have not been to Christmas Island Detention centre- I have and have read the architectural and enginerring drawings on which the i/2 billion dollar construction was signed off. I can assure that there is more surveillance, cameras, movement detectors. scanners, bars and wire than you will see in the highest security prison in Australia.
    It is Boys Own John Howard at play so rest assured when they arrive they are first searched thoroughly, all phones are confiscated as are most possessions. They are interrogated by AFP and ASIO agents then DIAC officers and only then a few weeks later- sometimes 6 weeks later do they see anyone offering legal advice about the process. Up until the time they have been interviewed by cops and DIAC they are kept in what is called SEPARATION DETENTION. This means only kept with the group with whom they arrived- no talking to anyone else- no mixing- no phones, radio TV newspapers. They are now allowed one call to family through a phone system which allows no call back so even if you get to leave a message – no one can call back.
    As for security checks being rushed- rubbish. Some folks wait months for this great mysterious check.
    The only ones coming early to Australia are under age unaccompanied minors- kids without families, who cannot be cared for on Christmas Island and who are dead certs for a visa- why well most have backgrounds where their dads brothers and sisters have been beheaded or blown up . You might not think that they deserve to live but the international conventions over rule you.
    As for not working- these guys come off Christmas island hungry for a job even if they dont speak English because they are desperate to send money home to their families. I guess you would rather they gambled and drank them selves insensible like good Aussie blokes but sorry they put their families first.
    Spotter i guess we believe what we want to and where our prejudices lead us but I am trying to open your eyes- have i?

  44. SBH

    Well Mum, I’ll indulge you a bit longer.


    now seeing as we all agree that its push factors and wouldn’t it be lovely if those naughty foreign types stopped causeing trouble, just how are you going to make them stop?

    And next, ok lets say I accept the contention that accepting refugees is a bandaid that doesn’t alter the circumstances which caused them to flee. Are you arguing that we should not accept them and that would somehow be a better solution for them?

  45. David

    Spotter one word in the ignorant rubbish you wrote sums up your contribution…stupid. Have you not bothered to read anything written here, the figures, the numbers, the facts or did you guzzle down another scotch and decide to convince most here (MPM excepted) what a complete dork you are, you succeeded. Now be off with you silly person.

  46. SBH

    Hey Spotty, seeing as how you don’t like liars, can you tell me which muslims refuse to go through body scanners?

  47. Jenny Haines

    Go Pamela, Marilyn Shepherd and SBH. I like the reasoned approach you both take to these issues. It is always interesting when people get emotional and hysterical in the face of such reason. It seems to me to indicate that they are trying to hang on to their prejudices in the face of a disappearing evidence basis for them.
    Most Peculiar Mama – there may be some merit in your proposal that we assist those who are fleeing their country in their own country, but don’t you think that is what is being tried already? Troops in Afghanistan don’t just fight, they help re-build infrastructure. But helping other countries is fraught with problems – nationalism in that country, fear of imperialism by western powers, corruption, that country’s sovereignty, local politics, violence, hunger, poor co-ordination by the United Nations and NGOs, just to name a few. If you have the solution to all of these problems you may be able to help people in their own country.

  48. James McDonald

    Spotter, don’t believe everything you hear in the pub. Kevin Rudd is not the only liar around.

    Every time you repeat something that “everybody knows” about “these people”, it reminds me of the quiz-show episode in The Goodies when Tom Brooke-Taylor gets asked: “What is the population of China … and name them”

  49. Venise Alstergren

    SPOTTER: It’s obviously fun to you to make wild assertions and outrageous lies-are you Andrew Bolt using a nom de plume? However, please tell us which particular Muslims refuse to go through security/body scans? Muslim plumbers, medicos, jock inspectors, models, actors? Or do you arrive at your astonishing conclusions by country of origin. Malaysian Muslims yes, Indonesian Muslims no, British Muslims yes, Muslims from Patagonia no?

    Hatred and fear, the twin sisters of evil.

  50. AR

    JenH – What is it with the Js trolling here? There are 23 other letters in the alphabet, other the P or M.
    Troops in Afghanistan don’t just fight, they help re-build infrastructure. … which they, and/or their proxies, destroyed over the last 30yrs. Perhaps it’s work experience?

  51. SBH

    sorry Venise but that would be triplets

  52. Venise Alstergren

    SBH: ‘Hatred and fear’ are twins whereas evil is an older sister. How can this be looked at as triplets?


  53. James McDonald

    AR – disagreeing with your sour naivete is not the same as trolling. Criticize the choice of strategies if you will, but of all the wars in which we’ve accompanied the US since requesting a mutual defence pact with them in 1942, Afghanistan is the first one to be really required by that pact. Not only did the Taliban government so terrorize its people as to make the East German Stasi look like the Rotary Club, it also harboured an organisation that attacked New York and Washington DC. The same organisation two days earlier assassinated the greatest hope for peace in the country, Ahmad Shar Massoud. Imagine Nelson Mandela being killed in 1994 or Charles de Gaul being killed in 1945. In a simple world your jibe about “work experience” and MPM’s throwaway line about “band aids” might be clever. But what do you really suggest could have been done better in the last decade?

    Anyway back to the subject of asylum seekers. The question is should the first priority be to deter them from coming — by all means possible, humane or otherwise — or to honour the 1951 convention we signed and at the same time set an example of civil liberties and compassion that shames harsher countries into reforming themselves?

  54. shepherdmarilyn

    Deterrence is totally illegal. That is the whole point of the convention.

    We deterred them in 1938 and look how well that worked for the jews.

  55. AR

    JMcD – what do you really suggest could have been done better in the last decade? Not financed, trained, armed & politically supported the islamists since 1979, purely as a Cold War strategy against the Soviets, Afghanistan (at the time) being just the venue, as was Vietnam and most of Central & South America – ie they didn’t want it but, like the dog in the manger, wanted to exclude anyone else, and yer akshal inhabitants were of no account.
    Amerika didn’t give a rat’s what the Taliban were doing to the women of Afghanistan until they baulked at allowing them to garrison the oil pipeline builders across the relatively flat western region from Uzbekistan via Herat to Pakistan.

  56. Pamela

    Lest we forget the brutal Taliban morphed out of the Western back mighty Mujahideen fighting those evil communists. They owe their equipment and fighting skills to training from the west before they superimposed their own brand of cruel fundamentalism.

    Now as was said before back to the asylum seekers. Right now 35% of boat arriovals are from Afghanistan and 60% are coming out of Ghazni and almost 100% are Hazaras. What does this say about our mighty military intervention?

    So whats the answer?
    well we could increase our paltry 6000 refugees intake per year and bring 2000 down from indonesia. I can hear the screams PULL FACTOR- well so be it.
    Whats important – human lives or some nasty political games.
    Whats the worst that can happen?

    That Australia is luckey enough to have some of the hardest workers, most decent people in the world come here and who are prepared to tile our bathrooms, concrete and lay brricks , slaughter the meat we love to eat and do all the hard unpleasant work that Australians dont want to do.
    All they ask is peace for themselves and their children – Is that tooo much to ask?

  57. James McDonald

    Well “the islamists” is a bit of a broad brush. Even the Taliban first came to popularity as protectors of women and children from being raped by militia, the weird stuff came later. Personally I think it’s a pity the Soviet Russians were isolated from the start of their revolution so they still felt a need for imperialism even in 1979. You can grow old counting the mistakes of the past, you really can.

  58. AR

    JMcD – not sure if you’re just uninformed or pretending, “(Russians)still felt a need for imperialism even in 1979”.
    That was the whole point of Zig Breszinsky’s intent “to drag the Russians into a Vietnam like quagmire” to try to boost the failing, flailing Carter administration’s cred.
    The various governments after 1972 were trying build rural schools (incl -gasp – for GIRLS), medical centres and institute land reform (being evil lefties) which threatened the power of mullahs & feudal landowners (usually one & the same).By funding, training and supplying modern weapons (AK47s [sic!] to replace their gazals & LeeEnfields) the country rapidly descended into chaos, as planned. (see the worn blue prints used for any of Latin American coups).
    The Russians did everything they c0uld to avoid sending in their own troops but the prospect of a US client state on their southern border formenting islamic troubles across the sandy shores of the Amudarya was the last straw.
    I offer the above in the (naive) hope that you’re not trolling.

  59. James McDonald

    Interesting. It seems that story traces to just one source, an interview inLe Nouvel Observateur, Jan 15-21, 1998, p76, translated in http://www.counterpunch.org/brzezinski.html

    Funnily enough, no one seems to have any luck finding the original article. I can’t find it online in the http://www.nouvelobs.com website, even though their online index goes back to the 70s. A Japanese academic had trouble finding the article in his university library. Most online citations mention in a footnote that the whole interview was omitted from the American issue. Why, if it contained only the subjects own words and defamed no one? And why can’t I find any references in the major newpapers? They’re not all secret propaganda fronts for the CIA.

    Not that the intention would be in any way surprising. The problem with the story is being able to foresee how it would all turn out, and to convince Carter. According to David Ignatius, Muslim Central Asia was a cold war no-go zone in US foreign policy. The supposed reason is that the potential for a new radical Muslim empire across the old Ottoman territories was too dangerous. There were some exceptions. It’s plausible that Brzezinski succeeded in breaking this rule and then invented a prescient rationale for it later when it all worked out so badly for the Soviets.

    Anyway, once again, don’t go calling people trolls just for not subscribing to your Comintern view of the world, in which the USSR was a great big happy charity just trying to help everyone, on the basis of dubious single-source stories on the internet.

  60. James McDonald

    Correction, here is the original article: http://hebdo.nouvelobs.com/hebdo/parution/p1732/articles/a19460-.html?xtmc=brzezinski&xtcr=63
    Looks like Brzezinski did try to claim credit for setting a trap for the USSR and brilliantly winning the cold war. NATO forces did worse things, like happily overseeing torture of Russian troops. What can I say, I’ve said elsewhere the cold war doesn’t cover either side in glory.

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