Christmas Island and asylum seekers:

Peter Kemp writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. Any consideration of Australia’s boat arrival problem should take account of the following facts:

  1. The vast majority of boat people currently reaching Australia would in every way would become productive law abiding citizens.
  2. The number of boat people currently reaching Australia could be absorbed into the community with barely a ripple.
  3. Australians in general are rightly uncomfortable with any sort of hardship imposed on refugees
  4. If the process of being allowed to stay in Australia was perceived to be easy:a) The number of people arriving would increase. I can’t quantify this but I suspect that the effect would be significant to the extent that a large proportion of our population would be uncomfortable. Opposition politicians would do their best to increase this level of discomfort.b) The demographic of the arrivals would change with the proportion of  so called economic refugees increasing. It seems to me that the degree of stress that refugees flee from is more or less continuous though many people would consider there to be a discontinuity after life threatening stress.c) People smugglers would make more money and the degree of corruption in intermediate countries would increase.

The best any government can do is:

  1. Ensure the process of being allowed to stay in Australia is perceived as difficult.
  2. Treat refugees properly and ensure that the general population knows this though to some extent this is not consistent with the first step.
  3. Do all that is morally possible to disrupt the supply pipeline.

In short there is no easy answer.

Owen Holmwood writes: Why isn’t there a conventional radar system (non-military) looking north from Christmas Island? If the plateau which constitutes most of the island is about 300m ASL, radar should have a range of at least 70km. This would be a great improvement on the current system, which seems to depend on boats bumping into the island before their presence is detected.

Crikey published an article a few months ago, written by “an industry insider”, bemoaning the demise of the Coast Radio Network, and the subsequent patch-work systems presided over by the states and territories.

It would be interesting to know if the wrecked boat had a standard VHF marine radio transceiver, and whether there are any monitoring facilities on Christmas Island.

We have much bigger disasters just waiting to happen.

Phylli Ives writes: There are so many people who criticise the boat refugees by pointing out that they could just catch a plane and get to Australia like that (albeit illegally). And if they pay thousands of dollars to a people smuggler, they could certainly afford a plane ticket.

The trouble with that is, the airlines won’t give them a ticket unless they’ve got a Visa. And of course the Australians won’t give them one. So the desperate refugees resort to the boats. And we know how that can end up.


Les Heimann writes: Re. “Kohler: now THAT’s a broadband business plan” (yesterday, item 3) & “Cox: NBN the scariest business model I’ve ever see” (yesterday, item 4). I am but a simple CPA with only 50 years experience including forensic investigations and multinational financial inquiries so I guess after having examined probably over 10,000 businesses in my time I might have learnt a thing or three. Peter Cox is wrong and Alan Kohler is bang on target.

There is undeniably clear and irrefutable evidence from both the NBN Co Business Case and even the most rudimentary knowledge of electronics that not only is the financial future of NBNCo already an assured money making, trillion dollar business; but also the communication platform being built now has the capacity and ability to make this nation the most efficient, smartest, cheapest and simply the undeniable most potentially productive nation in the world — for a long long time to come.

I absolutely agree with Kohler that this is the biggest and enormously the best infrastructure program in — perhaps world history!

This government — for all its faults, and there are many — must be congratulated once again for foresight and bravery. They took great advice and acted during the GFC and now they are brave again to champion a brilliant and gigantic economic gold nugget for this country.

Bob Ross writes: Alan Kohler is completely right when he says in yesterday’s Crikey that the NBN is exciting and will be a very profitable investment. And Peter J. Cox  is completely wrong when he knocks the NBN business plan and describes it as “scary”.

Australia has a long history of knocking down visionary projects and settling for mediocrity. It will be interesting to see if the knockers also manage to scuttle the NBN.

Carolyn Whybird writes: Very positive article. Trouble is much of what is said by Stephen Conroy is incorrect. Most of our current copper wire system would be still perfect in hundreds of years from now. Why are we putting fibre into the ground and taking up a lot that has already been laid?

Stringing connections up in the air, as they have in Tasmania, is incredibly prone to weather damage. My biggest fear is that so far this government has not managed to do any project properly and on budget. All sounds good but when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Most universities and hospitals currently have fibre connections so why do lies have to be told?

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks:

Jo Dyer writes: Re. Michael Frazer (yesterday, comments). Julian Assange barracks for the Kangaroos. Like all reasonable Australians, I’m sure he loathes Collingwood (although at this stage there is no evidence, leaked or otherwise, to support this claim).