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Jul 26, 2011

How can we tell if the Malaysian deal works?

It's unclear whether the Malaysian deal will work and it has risks, but it is the least-worst solution currently available form the major parties.


It’s not clear whether the Government’s announcement on 7 May about a deal on asylum seekers had a significant deterrent effect on boat arrivals. What is clear is that there has been a huge fall in the number of arrivals this year, even before 7 May.

The dirty secret of the asylum seeker debate is that something is stopping the boats, but it’s most likely the shift in asylum seeker sources away from the Asian region toward Europe over the course of 2010.

Having spent so long insisting “push” factors were the key to the rise in asylum seekers heading for Australia, the deal with Malaysia finally announced yesterday looks awfully like an acknowledgement that “pull” factors are critical. The test will only really come when there’s another surge in asylum seekers in our region, courtesy of civil war or, as recent history suggests is more likely, people like us invading other countries.

The deal, of course, doesn’t apply to the much larger number of asylum seekers who arrive by air, who are the subject of a strange conspiracy of silence across all disputants in the debate; the official line for all sides is that the real issue is stopping dangerous maritime journeys, but it’s odd how the “queue jumper” rhetoric seems to vanish despite the fact that people arriving by boat have a far higher success rate in applying for humanitarian visas than those arriving by air. Plainly, people coming through airports don’t push the buttons of hostility in Australians that boat arrivals do, despite boat arrivals being subjected to far heavier vetting and screening than people going through Customs on a tourism visa.

Still, the deal falls over the line for the Government: the UNHCR will be closely involved in monitoring the deal, despite not signing but merely (and pointedly) “noting” the agreement yesterday, although Labor would have been pleased the UNHCR’s statement made a clear reference to the purpose being to prevent loss of life at sea. It loosely fits the “regional solution” rhetoric that Julia Gillard has been pushing since her first frantic days as Prime Minister and her to-do list of watering down the mining tax, pandering to hostility toward asylum seekers and pretending to do something about climate change.

There is criticism both that the conditions detainees sent to Malaysia will face are too generous, and that they are too harsh, which will be spun as evidence the Government “got the balance right”. The issue of unaccompanied minors has been dealt with via a rule of “no blanket exemptions” (the Government had no choice, given any exemptions would operate like TPVs and encourage boat arrivals) but with the wriggle room that case-by-case judgments will be made.

Best of all — or should that be least worst of all — it expands, albeit only for four years, Australia’s humanitarian intake, the single best thing a wealthy country can do for asylum seekers.

What it also does is outsource a political problem to the Malaysian Government. Guarantees about the treatment of detainees sent to Malaysia won’t be worth a great deal if anything untoward befalls one of them, even accidentally — the federal government will be held responsible under the same logic that had Peter Garrett responsible for “industrial manslaughter” because of shonks in the insulation industry.

And how much is a commitment on human rights from the Malaysian Government worth anyway? This is a government with a wretched human rights record and a long history of abuse of its own citizens, let alone those from other countries. Much political damage could accrue to Labor from things that are entirely outside its control. However, it will be counting on events in Malaysia being out of the gaze of most voters, compared to rooftop protests at Villawood that are all too public.

It’s a shaky policy, with plenty of risk, and it will be hard to tell whether it works or not given the current lull in asylum seeker movements in our region. But contrary to the all the noise from both Left and Right, it’s a better policy than the Coalition’s, which consists of TPVs — that have a proven history of leading to the deaths of asylum seekers — and spending a billion dollars warehousing people in Nauru for two years before bringing them all to Australia. And if it does work, it’ll be time to move Chris Bowen to somewhere where his skills are put to better use than cleaning up one of Labor’s longest-running messes.


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72 thoughts on “How can we tell if the Malaysian deal works?

  1. Michael James

    Bernard, you keep forgetting the key reason that people don’t see asylum seekers arriving by air as a problem.

    1. They don’t arrive by job lot as they do in a boat
    2. Their chosen method of arrival isn’t illegal
    3. Their chosen method does not rely on paying people smugglers to be shipped here in leaky boats with the chance of drowing thrown in
    4. Anyone who gets onto a plane to Australia has had to present proof of identity at several steps of the journey, making it much harder for people with no (or discarded) documentation from arriving here.

    That’s why people arriving by air have less successful track record, because they have already been vetted before they step on a plane.

  2. cpobke

    Would be interested to hear a response from someone on point 4 from Michael. It is often suggested that the absense of papers verifying identity is a core driver in the differences in processing and general level of controversy.

  3. Jimmy

    CPobke – I’m more interested in point 2 which seems to make out that arriving by boat is illegal when it quite obviously isn’t.

  4. Stevo the Working Twistie

    Spot on Jimmy. Unless we have repudiated the UN Convention since I last looked? No? The fact is that arriving by boat is an act of desparation. Arriving by plane and pretending to be a tourist while planning to overstay and work illegally is the real crime.

    And how will we know the “Malaysian Solution” has worked? Simple – when Australia’s reputation as a just and fair country with respect for international law and human rights has been comprehensively trashed. Be proud.

  5. skink

    ‘Prime Minister John Howard has repeatedly proven to be one of the most sensible leaders in the Western world.’

    Anders Behring Breivik

  6. ConnorJ

    “4. Anyone who gets onto a plane to Australia has had to present proof of identity at several steps of the journey, making it much harder for people with no (or discarded) documentation from arriving here.”

    That would almost make sense if ASIO hadn’t kept people locked up for years because they couldn’t adequetely prove their identitities.

  7. stephen martin

    Maybe the place of origin of arrivals has a bit to do with attitudes. Air arrivals mostly from Europe and boat arrivals from Asia. Personally I hope that this is not the case.

  8. David Hand

    The pull factors attracting economic migrants has been taken away. Bernard can test this idea through observation if he wants but the rest of us know that fewer people will be willing to part with the equivalent of a first class air ticket for a dangerous ocean crossing that lands you in Malaysia.

    The problem has always been one of border control and identification, not immigration, not refugees and not islam (though I acknowledge the right has a lunatic fringe that espouses those views, they are rejected by most people).

    Border control is not an issue at an airport where each traveller must be positively identified with a passport. Though many people overstay their visas, they are here illegally, have an identity but have limited access to social services. Bernard puzzles, like so many urban left elites, why middle Australia doesn’t care about airport arrivals. Bogan western Sydney residents should in his mind be xenephobic about everyone and the fact that they’re not upsets the narrative.

    An anonymous person with not a skerrick if identification finds Christmas Island attractive because once through that channel, permanent residency is achieved if he or she is found by immigration officials to be a refugee. It used to be a channel with a 95% success rate. Not any more.

  9. GocomSys

    Give the new policy a chance! Keep monitoring it! Modify it if necessary. In the meantime please stop the ongoing moronic media and LNP chatter. It isn’t helpful!

  10. Phen

    The Malaysian Solution is a rare bit of common sense and pragmatism from the Gillard Govt. Now hopefully it has its desired results as a “pull factor”-based solution.

  11. fred

    Is it moral, is it legal to obstruct or stop an asylum seeker fleeing persecution from crossing the border of a safe country?

    What an infamous trade deal in misery have we done? The fate of the 800 should be monitored. Maybe our aid budget can extend to education for asylum seekers’ children in Malaysia? Another few million should be no problem?

    NB :The only way Tony and Scott can trump this one is to promise to unsign us from the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and protocols; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention against torture …

    The next drama is the selection of 1000 mandated refugees from the UNHCR pool of 93,000 this, and for the next three years ,without falling out with the UNHCR. Cherry picking is migrant selection process and out of place in a truly humanitarian program. If UNHCR refers Hazara and Iranian and Tamil to Australia for resettlement, will Australia reject them if they were on the boats intercepted in Australian waters?

  12. CML

    Bernard – Why are you, and just about everyone else in the media, obsessed with these 800 boat arrivals who will be transported back to Malaysia? If the details of the policy just released by the government are to be believed, these people will be much better off than the 92,000 refugees already in Malaysia awaiting placement. Why isn’t anyone concerned about the huge number who have been there for 20+ years suffering all kinds of deprivation? Isn’t it a good thing that 4,000 of these people, who will never have the money to get on a boat, will finally have a chance of permanent refuge here. What exactly is the preoccupation with these 800 recent arrivals, when so many others deserve a fair go?
    I have written in greater depth about this on another thread, but I would just like someone to answer these questions for me. Thank you.

  13. Phen

    Great comment CML. I’ve also wondered why theres so much posturing about the small number who get to Malaysia via Australia, rather than the other huddled masses there (and in other camps).

  14. fred

    Anyone monotoring the push factors driving the ethnic Shia Hazara ? Much the same as ten years ago? Is anyone doing a body count of all Hazara killed in bomb blasts in Quetta, Peshawar, etc, in drive by shootings and other ethnic motivated murders, and the numbers being forced over the border by the Iranians into a social and political quagmire ? the number driven off their lands, out of their villages as the war rages? the temporary workers and indentured labourers returning from the Middle East with no home to go back to? whose family members have scatterd?

    Bernard, please have a discussion with the Australian Hazaras and other former refugees who came by boat, and update yourself on the true life evidence of push factors. Australian journalism cannot go on reporting ABOUT asylum seekers when they have not researched locally with the survivors of the mass movement of people from certain parts of the world , and have heard und understood their reasons.

  15. david

    Agreement signed yesterday, comes into force today and already the doomsday merchants are weeping and wailing before one AS has been sent to Malaysia. The stupidity is beyond belief. As GocomSys and others are saying, give it a chance. Abbott and Morrison will never shutup about it, because they are quickly running out of other cr-p to lie and mislead over. They have lost all credibility and I suspect the Govt of Nauru will not be pleased with their two fly in fly out visitors with their offering of 30 pieces of silver.

  16. Liz45

    Some people still insist on either not acknowledging certain facts or being discriminatory/racist themselves.

    1. It is not illegal to arrive in Australia seeking asylum. (full stop) And a person should not be discriminated against because of their mode of travel – by air, boat (leaky or otherwise) or cruise ship or helicopter or?Australia pledges as much via our being a party to International agreements and abiding by Australian Legislation.

    2. Those who continue to refer to people arriving by boat as illegals are liars. No pussy footing around. They should know the Law by now, and it is a lie to state that these people are illegal.

    3. By sending asylum seekers off shore to be processed, it is against our commitment re the Immigration Laws we’ve committed to. It will be interesting to see what the outcomes are via the two cases before the High Court.

    To send children and unaccompanied minors back to uncertainty and perhaps neglect or lack of health, educational services etc is reprehensible.

    One way to stop the “push” factor is to stop supporting countries that kill and torture their own citizens(Burma and Sri Lanka for instance) and stop killing and maiming people in Iraq and Afganistan. We are causing much of the misery, death and intimidation that are causing people to flee in desperation.

    The non-actions re those who arrive by air is racist, classist and obnoxious! Those who arrive by plane are usually from Europe, Britain or the US – many speak English – not the same threat at all???Shameful!

  17. shepherdmarilyn

    Let’s see if money talks to you guys.

    1. the so-called humanitarian program for just 6,000 refugees costs taxpayers $360 million per annum – we give $30 million to the UNHCR to help the other 15 million refugees. So that is $60,000 for one refugee who has no legal right to come to Australia, $2 per annum each for the rest to stay where they are.
    2. A few thousand others are sponsored under a rigged program under which we only accept people if they have family, if they can benefit us and if no other country will have them.
    3. the actual asylum seekers – in the last 5 years only 36,000 have applied here, 10,000 of them sailed. It has cost just $11 million per annum to help those 26,000 who fly here and live in the community and can work, although there are 1,000 who applied before that changed who are starving in the streets on charity.

    We spent $600 million on prisons on Christmas Island, $200 million on Curtin per year, $50 million for Leonora, $50 million for Inverbrackie, $76 million for Shergar and $20 million on motels yet 97% of the applicants could have been in the community in one week because we already knew they had a prima facie case for refugee status.

    Now they want to waste $300 million to abuse and torture a random 800 people while there are 100,000 illegal workers, 56,000 overstayers and at least 1,000 girls and women trafficked as sex slaves every year.

    Stupid, moronic, lying cowards.

  18. CML

    @ SHEPHERDMARILYN – It is not about the law, and it is not about money. Whatever we do with asylum seekers, refugees, even migrants, it costs the taxpayer a lot of money.
    It is about the citizens of this country having a say, not in who rocks up on a boat, plane or anything else for that matter, but who gets to stay as a permanent citizen in OUR country.
    You may want every Tom, Dick or Harriet who turns up on our shore to be accepted with open arms, the majority do not. Its called democracy. Get over it!
    That doesn’t mean no one should come here as refugees, just that those who self select their country of refuge because they have the money to get here, should not be favoured over others who will never be able to come because they have no money. We are a wealthy country and we should take as many refugees as possible, but preferrably from our own region – Asia and the Pacific first.

  19. Suzanne Blake

    @ Sheppare Marilyn

    Yes you are right – “they are lying cowards”.

    Bowen promised all arrivals after announcement would be processed offshore. He lied. All from today will be processed in Malaysia.

    We sent 800 and get 4000. Great Maths

    We pay the WHOLE bill. Only from the people who waste money like there is no tomorrow.

    Meanwhile, consumer confidence, business confidence collapses.

  20. paddy

    So, as the clock is now off and ticking down….. What happens to refugee number 801 arriving on our shores by boat?

  21. David Hand

    Yes, Shepherdmarilyn, it costs a shitload but it will probably stop the boats.

  22. Catching up

    Is it push or pull to leave unsafe conditions in a country where you have no future to seek a better life with a future for you and your kids in another country.

    Which is it. push or pull? Maybe it is both.

  23. shepherdmarilyn

    Who says we get to stop the boats you freaks? What if Kenya decided tomorrow that self selecting refugees who didn’t want to die of starvation could not enter?

    147 nations agreed and guaranteed that anyone on earth can enter any of our countries anyway they can without papers or prior permission and ask for our help so suck it up.

  24. GocomSys

    Thinking outside the box!

    Let’s say we have a current government that tries, often in a very clumsy way mind you, to make a difference. On the other side we have the others who for their own devious reasons are continuously undermining it.

    The current OZ government avoided the GFC. We know what and why they did it. We know it worked.
    The current OZ government is putting a price on pollution. Is it a perfect scheme? Of course not but it is a start!
    The current OZ government is attempting to stop the people smuggler trade. Is it a perfect solution? Of course not! Is it a sincere attempt in a very small way to improve the seemingly intractable worldwide refugee crisis situation? Yes it is!

    I urge everyone to stop knocking, to look at the broader picture and become positive and pro-active.

    We can do without armchair critics.

  25. TheTruthHurts

    Interesting fact:

    There have been more boat arrivals since Dillard announced the Malaysian solution then there was total arrivals in the Pacific Solution years of 2002-2007.

    The Malaysian Solution should help slow the boats, but there are two major flaws in the policy.

    Firstly Australia’s funding for health and education of illegals we send to Malaysia is endless. Imagine that… possible having to pay the health and education of people FOR 50 YEARS! People who should not be our responsibility and should be the responsibility of Malaysia(we are paying for 4000 we take for Malaysia remember). What are the punters going to say in 10 years time when they are told we are still paying for Gillards Boaties? I reckon they’ll be pieved. Perhaps the lefties should think things through before announcing.

    Secondly Dillard is basically making Asylum in Malaysia a two-tiered system. One where if you arrive illegally in Malaysia you get treated like dirt, but if you arrive in Australia first you get treated like a gold class citizen. Now Gillard and lefties once again in their inability to think things through have really screwed up here. This could actually ENCOURAGE people to get on a boat in Indonesia. Think about it… you could sit in Indonesia or Malaysia and be denied work rights, safety and security… OR you could jump on a boat to Australia and within a guaranteed 45 days be walking the streets of Malaysia with the ability to work, health insurance and education rights and the promise of no canings.

    Gillard could have avoided all this trouble with the Nauru solution. We know it works. We know it’s humane. But Labor and Gillard are too arrogant and pig headed to say those three simple words: Howard Was Right

  26. Phen

    Ho, ho, ho – “Dillard” . From the geniuses that brought us “Ju-Liar”? How pathetic.

  27. Suzanne Blake

    @ Gocomsys

    Please stop being gullible

    The current OZ government avoided the GFC. We know what and why they did it. We know it worked.


    The current OZ government is putting a price on pollution. Is it a perfect scheme? Of course not but it is a start!


    The current OZ government is attempting to stop the people smuggler trade. Is it a perfect solution?



    I urge everyone to stop knocking, to look at the broader picture and become positive and pro-active.


    We can do without armchair critics.


  28. Suzanne Blake

    here is a good one – of topic, but really its on topic

    How to start a New Day with a positive outlook. Open a new file in your
    computer and name it “Julia Gillard”. Send it to the Recycle Bin. Empty
    the Recycle Bin. Your PC will ask you, “Do you really want to get rid of
    Julia Gillard?” Firmly Click “Yes.” Feel better? Tomorrow we’ll do Wayne

  29. 1934pc

    Calm down Suzanne Blake you will blow a blood vessel, things are no where as bad as you appear to think, take a cold shower!.

  30. shepherdmarilyn

    Already the wheels have fallen off as Geoff Chambers and the UNHCR blow up the whole “private education” lie.

    It’s illegal to trade humans.

  31. geomac

    Your logic and maths escape me. You say we escaped the GFC because of a 20 billion surplus yet spent 100 billion on the stimulus. Government revenue down as business tightened up with the mining sector being among the first to divest labour. 4000 refugees our way and 800 to Malaysia is straightforward if you concentrate solely on numbers but its not a maths test is it ? The stated aim is to deter arrivals by boat and for some reason arrivals have declined even before the policy was announced. Over 90,000 refugees in Malaysia and the 4000 we accept is wrong ?
    It seems to me it ticks a few boxes that some people like to use as points to denigrate boat arrivals. The 4000 are not jumping any imaginary queue and are already UN declared refugees. Be honest and say what you actually mean. You would prefer that we were not a signatory to the UN refugee process and had no obligations. I have no problem with that if its stated as a stance but get riled when its masqueraded as concern or compassion when its nothing of the sort. Australia can remove itself from the refugee convention but it cannot do so and at the same time shout about how kind and generous we are. Suzanne you put yourself in Reith and Morrison territory .

  32. TheTruthHurts

    Who here is surprised Gillard the Gutless ended up processing the 560 Boatpeople past the Malaysian Solution announcement in Australia?

    Come on, hands up.

    The people smugglers think Labor, Gillard and Rudd are a joke, and they are right. Every time the people smugglers test Labor, we see Labor give in. Every time. Without fail.

    Heres some examples:

    1. Boatpeople blow up boat, killing 5 and seriously burning 12 and putting the lives of Australian Navy Personnel in danger – All given Permanent Residency Visas

    2. Boatpeople burn down detention centre causing millions of dollars damage – Boatpeople told they MIGHT(can’t even guarantee that one) be given temporary protection visas as punishment. Oh gee wizz, how will they cope!

    3. Boatpeople who burnt down detention centre sent to prison holding cell for a week to show how tough Labor are, but a handful of the vandals refuse to get off roof. Gutless Gillard gives in and promises none of those still on the roof will go to prison(nice reinforcement there that if you stick to your guns, Gutless Gillard will give in eventually).

    4. Kevin Rudd on hearing boat intercepted outside of Australian waters needs rescuing, decides to pull a Howard and tries to send them back to Indonesia on the Oceanic Viking. OV arrives in Indonesian Port. Rudd too gutless to use force to get them off the boat(you reckon if I played up on a QANTAS flight the police would have trouble getting me off?). Kevin gives in, promises insta-visa for all on board including individuals who arrived in Australia and were then deemed security risks.

    5. Gillard announces hand over heart… no boat people after May 7 will be processed in Australia. Fair Dinkum this time we promise! And of course… another Gillard lie, another gutless back down. The people smugglers once again see this useless weak government give in yet again and back down.

    Every time this government backs down, the people smugglers grin grows. They see how weak we are. They see how useless and cowardly our government is.

    And what happens with the next boatload of kids that come in?? Gillard the Gutless says kids will be sent to Malaysia except for “special circumstances”. That sounds like another backdown in the making.

    Labor and Gillard just don’t get it. You either implement a solution fully or not at all. This Malaysian Solution is a continuing run of half-doing their boatpeople policy. We’ll be half-tough isn’t going to work. You have to go the full hog. Boatpeople should be sent to Malaysia… no exceptions…. no special treatment when they get there.

    Anything less and the people smugglers will once again see this weak government for what it is and the business will fire up yet again.

  33. Suzanne Blake

    @ 1934PC

    Thanks – cold shower was good and saved hot water and more cost.

    @ Geomac

    Your logic and maths escape me. You say we escaped the GFC because of a 20 billion surplus yet spent “you mean wasted “100 billion on the stimulus.

    YES, except a lost was wasted and not just spent. And nothing wqas learned. ie Fiasco with home insulation, that caused 4 deaths, was REPEATED after they know of the issues with Solar Panel program 15 months later!!! Now we have roof fires, no deaths as yet. Complete ineptness from the Federal Government

    Government revenue down as business tightened up with the mining sector being among the first to divest labour. 4000 refugees our way and 800 to Malaysia is straightforward if you concentrate solely on numbers but its not a maths test is it ?

    Declined from what levels? Your kidding, we have had 500+ since announcement.

    The stated aim is to deter arrivals by boat and for some reason arrivals have declined even before the policy was announced. Over 90,000 refugees in Malaysia and the 4000 we accept is wrong ?

    We are lucky we are an island or we would be over run.

  34. Liz45

    @TTH – Do you just not read anything apart from your own list of dogma, or are you deliberately obtuse or just plain stupid? To you and Suzanne and others –

    it is not illegal to arrive in Australia by boat to seek asylum.

    Nauru worked if you ignore the fact that the people sent there were human beings, who eventually, or a large % ended up here due to their LEGITIMATE claims for asylum.

    It amazes me, that Marilyn and others have posted Legislation etc for many months now, but you lot just ignore the Laws that as we speak are still on the Parliamentary List of Legislated Laws etc.

    It’s just ridiculous to keep on ignoring facts.

    Did you read, “A Last Resport’? The Inquiry into the detention of children? Do you not care about the lives of children? Do you think that the goal is worth the human misery and human waste that is caused by draconian policies?

    SUZANNE speaks of cost! Does she even know how much Howard spent? Do you even care or read anything about those years? Did you know that ‘softer’ legislation was passed AFTER Liberal members of Parliament took Howard/Ruddock to task over the horrific incidents of abuse and neglect, such asVivien Solon and the poor woman locked in jails in the Top End for almost a year – she was mentally ill, not an asylum seeker/

    The attitudes of you people is beyond belief. What is your problem? Is it their race or what? Did you support Vietnamese people being welcomed here during the Fraser years?

    I just get so damned frustrated with the continual trotting out of bulls**t! Your behaviour is akin to kids who pester their parent for a chocolate or something. You just keep on coming back with the same old nonsense, based not on any facts or legal requirements or fact.

    The nonsense re referring to Julia Gillard as ‘Dillard’ is straight out of an Alan Jones ‘manual’? It’s misogynist and childish! Totally boringly childish and damned stupid!

  35. shepherdmarilyn


    Off topic but on topic is this story about Gitmo.

    Let’s get this clear once and for all Suzanne – we do not get to deter or stop any refugee who wants to come here and ask for our help. As Chris Bowen amply explained in 2006, just a few years before he became a frigging nazi.


    Coalition attempts to excise Australian mainland from migration zone

    Posted August 10, 2006

    Mr BOWEN (Prospect) (10.17 a.m.)?In 1951 the United Nations convention for the protection of refugees came into force. The world realised the mistakes of the 1930s, when many Western nations turned their backs on Jews fleeing persecution in Germany. Collectively, we said, ?Never again.? I am sure that all of us involved in public life would like to think that we would have done the right thing in those circumstances and stood up for those facing the worst of circumstances, regardless of whether it was popular or unpopular. If the Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006 passes the parliament today, it will be the day that Australia turned its back on the refugee convention and on refugees escaping circumstances that most of us can only imagine. This is a bad bill with no redeeming features. It is a hypocritical and illogical bill. If it is passed today, it will be a stain on our national character. The people who will be disadvantaged by this bill are in fear of their lives, and we should never turn our back on them. They are people who could make a real contribution to Australia.

    This bill represents an extension of the so-called Pacific solution, in which we saw individuals who were processed offshore being treated differently from those processed in Australia. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs said in his second reading speech that the offshore processing system had preserved ?Australia?s strong commitment to refugee protection?. He is wrong. Let us take a look at how the Pacific solution has worked in practice. This bill extends the Pacific solution, so it is legitimate to look at how it has worked up until now. Firstly, we have seen families of refugees broken up?callously and in contravention of the refugee convention. Spouses of people who have been recognised as refugees in Australia received correspondence from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, which has been reproduced by Michael Gordon in his excellent book Freeing Ali . It states:

    Your claims have been assessed separately from your husband?s claims because you travelled at different times. Under the conditions of your husband?s stay in Australia he is not able to sponsor you. Like all refused asylum seekers you cannot remain in Nauru indefinitely. You should consider voluntary repatriation now.

    What a callous piece of correspondence. I agree with Michael Gordon, who said of that letter:

    There was only one conclusion to draw: if you wanted to be reunited with your husband, whose fear of persecution if he returned had been judged to be well founded, your only choice was to return and to convince him to leave Australia and confront the very danger he had fled.

  36. TheTruthHurts

    [4000 refugees our way and 800 to Malaysia is straightforward if you concentrate solely on numbers but its not a maths test is it ? The stated aim is to deter arrivals by boat and for some reason arrivals have declined even before the policy was announced. Over 90,000 refugees in Malaysia and the 4000 we accept is wrong ?]

    Dillards open ended commitment to look after boatpeople we reject to Malaysia is the most stupid arrangement in the history of Australian politics and this will come back to bite Labor in the arse.

    We could end up paying for these boatpeople for the next 50 YEARS. Imagine that.

    Just how bloody stupid is Gillard and Labor? Do they reckon the punters will be wanting to pay for boatpeople that have absolutely nothing to do with Australia for the next 50 YEARS? What do you reckon the punters will have to say about that one?

    Whats going to happen in the end is this will so burden Australia that in the end the government(whether Labor or Libs) will end up paying Malaysia some form of get out of contract deal, possibly in the Billions of Dollars. The amount of waste from this government is unbelievable.

  37. Liz45

    CRIKEY put out a list of Facts late last year I believe. It goes some way to addressing the total bs myths and nonsense being trotted out by some people! Take a look! Take a look at something containing facts not rubbish and bs. Read some of the articles/documents by Julian Burnside QC who has a lot of LEGAL knowledge re rights and responsibilities of asylum seekers and the Australian Government, plus International Law! do it PLEASE!

    It’s the hysterical bs of some people, that has fueled the mindset behind the horrific crimes in Norway. I get very frightened by people who insist on regurgitating lies and draconian bs that is unjust, unfair and racist!

    No wonder MARILYN lets loose with some colourful language from time to time. I have every sympathy!

    Perhaps you people just would like to see the Navy open fire on the boats? Perhaps that’s your solution? What you contribute on these posts is no solution, and is devoid of any humanity or sense of justice. Most of what you state is UNTRUE! and you’re too damned lazy to do some research!

    Fair dinkum!

  38. geomac

    Suzie Blake
    YES, except a lost was wasted and not just spent. And nothing wqas learned. ie Fiasco with home insulation, that caused 4 deaths
    The quote says a lot about perception as against informed comment. If you took the trouble to read data on insulation fires and deaths you would perhaps be less strident in using them as some false debating point. I take it you don,t support industrial manslaughter laws as you appear to favour Abbotts lead. He also used the false accusation of blame on the government which in my view disqualified him from deserving of high office. Same amount of fires prior to stimulus but less regulation. The minority of firms that disregarded state and federal standards were responsible for the deaths , plain and simple. By your logic the health minister is responsible for patient deaths. The agriculture minister is responsible for farm deaths because a farm manager allowed a worker to operate a tractor without roll bars.
    I realise that nothing is likely to change your perception or wish to raise 4 deaths because you think it validates your position on the government. However what it does do is illustrate that you don,t care enough to chase up the data that has been written here in Crikey and elsewhere. I wanted to know because I thought it important that such an accusation be investigated. Thats why Abbott and his accusation make him unfit for office. To use 4 deaths solely for political tactics with not an ounce of integrity or for that matter any compassion is contemptible . That you follow that lead is incomprehensible.

  39. david

    Liz the troll truthie, needs to come up from under the bridge occasionally for a gasp of clean air that normal people breath, in that time it uses the good ole cut and paste Lib handouts to prove it is still functioning as a troll.
    It knows not anything else, now back under that bridge truthie where you belong.

  40. TheTruthHurts

    [Liz the troll truthie, needs to come up from under the bridge occasionally for a gasp of clean air that normal people breath, in that time it uses the good ole cut and paste Lib handouts to prove it is still functioning as a troll.]

    Hey David,

    How long should Australia have to pay for rejected boaties health and education in Malaysia?

    5 Years? 10 Years? 20 Years? 30 Years? 50 Years? 70 Years?

    Another day… another Dillard stuff up.

  41. GocomSys

    Not worth engaging in a slanging match with troglodytes TTH and BLAKE! Signing off!

  42. Liz45

    @DAVID – Funy how tth is so selective. Funny how he never refers to the billions Howard/Costello ripped out of the pockets of ordinary people to foster the greed of their rich mates.

    I found the piece of paper that I wrote about the Superannuation Levy that they removed on high income Australians. A mere 600,000 high income people benefited to the tune of $2.5 BILLION and caused a big hole in the budget that could’ve provided much needed infrastructure for the rest of us!

    Funny how none of them refer to the $1 BILLION+ costs of killing, maiming and stealing the resources of the Iraqis. HOw much to date, and how much for Afghanistan? At least the same I’d suggest, particularly after 10 years.

    If we cause children and their parents to be traumatized further by their incarceration in our jails, then the country should cough up and shut up – particularly those who favour jailing babies and children, the majority of whom were found to be ‘genuine’ and in need of our protection. (A Last Resort/Inquiry) It doesn’t take rocket science to assume, that if 92 or 98% of kids are found to be in need of asylum, there parents would obviously need it too? Perhaps this logic is too much for some to grasp!

    Of course, when the trolls spew forth their vile hatred and morbid ‘fears’ it’s difficult to even get through to the few brain cells that may lerk in a dark and mysterious place – somewhere!

    Buddists believe that we have past ‘lives’? I wonder what theres were? Perhaps in one of Hitlers camps? Getting rid of the Mayans in Central America perhaps?

    I can only hope – that ‘what goes around comes around’ and/or one day they’ll get theirs!

    I’m so pleased that there are people like you here, or I’d lose all hope!

    TTH – Child! (I apologize to all children?)

  43. Liz45

    @TTH – If they do the right thing and lock you up, I’ll gladly contribute a small portion of my pension for your upkeep – in the cells! You can take your mate Suzanne with you!

  44. TheTruthHurts

    [Funny how he never refers to the billions Howard/Costello ripped out of the pockets of ordinary people to foster the greed of their rich mates. ]

    Never heard anything about that one, perhaps you can enlighten us remembering Libel Laws while you do so.

    BTW Howard posted 10 out of 11 budget surpluses. The left keep telling us about all this “waste” under Howard, yet he continued to post budget surplus after budget surplus, yet Labor haven’t posted a budget surplus since 1989. If only Labor were as “wasteful” as Howard we’d have tax cuts and budget surpluses bonanza’s just like his time in the hot seat.

    [Funny how none of them refer to the $1 BILLION+ costs of killing, maiming and stealing the resources of the Iraqis. HOw much to date, and how much for Afghanistan? At least the same I’d suggest, particularly after 10 years.]

    Once again… Libs = Budget Surpluses. Labor = Budget deficits.

    Anyways the Iraqi’s seem to be going pretty good now, got their own stable democracy and freedom that comes with it and troops are being withdrawn. Same thing will happen in Afghanistan just need to give it some more time.

    [If we cause children and their parents to be traumatized further by their incarceration in our jails, then the country should cough up and shut up – particularly those who favour jailing babies and children, the majority of whom were found to be ‘genuine’ and in need of our protection.]

    There are 3 Billion poor people in the world, what obligation does Australia have to take the lot of them, especially those who self invite?

    I agree that we shouldn’t lock them in prisons, my personal preference is to ship them back to country of origin on the next Qantas flight, just as what would happen if you rocked up to Australia without a valid passport and visa.

    The best people to decide the most needy to take up the humanitarian positions are Australia and the UNHCR in refugee camps. Not people smugglers in Indonesia.

  45. david

    GET BACK UNDER THAT BRIDGE TRUTHIE TROLL..you are not permitted to communicate with humans, get back get back, into the depths of muck from whence you came depaaaaaart oh gross thing. 😛

  46. TheTruthHurts


    So embarrassed by your party you can’t even answer a very simple question. Pathetic.

    Small business owners all over the country are hurting under Gillard taxes, yet we’ll be paying education and health costs for people that aren’t even living in Australia.

  47. Suzanne Blake

    @ Marilyn

    You use refugee term loosely. Some are genuine refugee and some are people looking for a better life.

    If you were Immigration Ministers, you would let 2 billion people in from Asia and Sub Continent. Cause all 2 billion would have a belief that the way of life here would be better.

    Then what is your plan? Is there a plan?

  48. Liz45

    @TTH There are 3 Billion poor people in the world, what obligation does Australia have to take the lot of them, especially those who self invite?

    What about the 40-60,000 people who could be here at any time – illegally? Came by plane and visa runs out, or lied on their application and fully intended to stay? What about those people? We don’t have the Fed Police going around the coffee shops or wherever checking people’s ID? Why not? Some have been here for decades? No, the motive is racism and cow towing to the far right, like you!

    As for the Senate action re the Superannuation tax cut was in the Telegraph on Thursday, 11 th August 2005 – when Howard had the numbers in the Senate. I don’t give a hoot about being sued! Go for it and have a good day!

    If Howard had spent some of OUR money on infrastructure, Labor wouldn’t have needed to – not to the extent that it has. Housing, Schools etc.
    I could’ve saved lots of money too when I was raising my kids – as long as I didn’t spend money on food, clothes etc. Having savings would not have made me a good mother, or a responsible person!

    Re our OBLIGATIONS – We have signed commitments to International Laws, such as the UN Declaration on Human Rights(take a look at article 14?) The Declaration on the Rights of the Child, the Migration Act etc – just to mention three. Why don’t you take a look at just these three, and you’ll understand what our obligations are! Don’t clog your brain with facts now! Keep on with the rubbish!

    We’ve caused the terror, misery and deaths in the countries you mentioned, but you believe that they should stay there and take it on the chin? Get killed for our cause? What sort of an attitude is that? Why aren’t those responsible treated as the terrorists they are!

    Ask the people in Iraq and Afghanistan what they think. The overwhelming majority do not agree with your glib summary. I listen and side with them!

    @SUZANNE -Those 85-90+% of people who are successful, are found to be in need of protection. I think you’re taking on the wrong person when you have a go at Marilyn. She knows more about this issue than most who post here! And has done so for a good while.
    HOw many asylum seekers have you spoken to? Where do you get your information from?

    Are you on the Review Tribunal? Met any asylum seekers; sat down and had a conversation with any? Probably not! Your humanity is rather choosey – OK for Australian people with disabilities, but not for people who we’ve made homeless, terrified and fearful for their lives?

    I’m not engaging in any more posts. It’s too frustrating and also a huge waste of time!

  49. Liz45

    Incidently. Article 14 of the Human Rights Declaration states that any person has the right to seek asylum from persecution. That’s the rough gist of it. we’re a signatory to this, and the previous Howard Govt restated our commitment to the Dec.on the Rights of the Child! We’ve also committed to the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through the UN!

  50. TheTruthHurts

    [What about the 40-60,000 people who could be here at any time – illegally?]

    Round ’em up and ship em out. You know why we don’t? Because if we did the leftie bleeding hearts would be on the streets protesting about that as well.

    I’ve never heard a right-winger say illegals in Australia shouldn’t be sent packing, it’s always the left fighting their open borders moral crusade.

    [Some have been here for decades? No, the motive is racism and cow towing to the far right, like you!]

    Despite popular left-wing talking points, the largest group of visa overstayers aren’t from old blimey but are now actually from China. So I can only assume the left will whine that Australia is racist for not doing anything about the plane illegals, but when we do something we’ll be branded racist for getting rid of all these Chinese visa over stayers.

    I do like your visa check idea though, I watched an episode of a U.K version of border security and the immigration officials were doing random checks out front of supermarkets and caught quite a few illegals this way, even running after a few of them and handcuffing them. Perhaps we could introduce a similar system here.

    [Re our OBLIGATIONS – We have signed commitments to International Laws, such as the UN Declaration on Human Rights(take a look at article 14?) The Declaration on the Rights of the Child, the Migration Act etc – just to mention three.]

    It’s a piece of paper with words on it, written half a century ago in a different time and place.

    65 Years Ago I’m not too sure they would have realised that international travel would become so quick and affordable to almost everyone that people claiming asylum could actually fly in a commercial aeroplane to a destination near their country of choice and then jump on a leaky boat. Back in 1948 this idea would have been inconceivable.

    There are however limitations in the UNHCR refugee convention documents. It clearly states that an “asylum seeker” must come DIRECTLY from the country of persecution to claim asylum. In my view, and most Australians I would suspect, this means anyone from Indonesia is excluded from claiming asylum in Australia.

    Under that setting, Australia has absolutely NO obligation to process boatpeople from Indonesia.

  51. Liz45

    You really are the limit. Again, you conveniently omit to mention, or observe or respond to the fact, that during the HOWARD YEARS Australia re-committed itself(ourselves) to the Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Australia was a main player in setting up the UN. Our govt is involved with the UN – in fact, Kevin Rudd seems to visit there quite regularly, and Australia is canvassing their desire to be a permanent member – have a higher ‘place’ than now. If we don’t intend to abide by our obligations, we should say so and take the flack that would come.

    You aren’t correct about people who arrive here from Indonesia, in fact, one of the cases before the High Court(there are two) will hopefully give a definitive ruling on this – that is, that not processing people who arrive here, but who the govt was going to shunt off to Malaysia COULD BE in contravention of the Migration Act and our responsibilities under it, to it???whatever!

    If you continue to assert this way, you should post the appropriate article or document. I DO NOT believe what you say, as you are a stranger to fact, let alone the truth.

    Australia is the only country with mandatory detention. And a US investigation of some years ago found, that people who live in community settings awaiting their decision/s do not flee. Anyway, it’s not easy to flee with a couple of kids on your hip.

    I do not think that the overwhelming number of over stayers are from China – show me the stats!

    I recall a woman from China who was pregnant, in Villawood detention centre, and told she’d be deported. She pleaded to be able to stay until her child was born – she was about 8 months pregnant. Ruddock refused. She was sent back and her baby was aborted, even though many people, myself included contacted govt members etc on her behalf. Those in the Howard govt who pontificated about “traditional family values” and are against abortion, such as Kevin Andrews and Minchin and others silence was deafening.

    If you think it’s OK to lock up babies and children(from anywhere, with who cares what parents) then you aren’t the sort of person I want to communicate with – even via a computer. I think it’s reprehensible behaviour, and this country is very quick to boast of our commitment to justice blah blah blah, but ignore basic decency and justice when it suits us.

    The majority of Australians are not rabid right wingers. Surveys on several issues demonstrates this. It’s the major parties and their supporters who have lurched solidly to the right. The shock jocks and the Murdoch press, together with those wonderful christians in the Coalition who push these inhumane views. They’ve put a whole new meaning on their idea of being a christian – catholics, yes, christians, definitely not!

    I’m definitely not responding again! Seriously – no matter how you provoke me!

  52. Phen

    Liz45 I suggest you read article 31 of the UNHCR Convention and Protocol relating to the status of Refugees before insisting that TheTruthHurts is wrong. Sounds like he/she’s right that its protections only apply to those coming directly from their country of persecution, rather than via an intermediary country.

  53. TheTruthHurts

    [I do not think that the overwhelming number of over stayers are from China – show me the stats!]

    Sure no problem. It’s time people start seeing the facts, not leftwing spin.

    Biggest group of Visa Over stayers now Chinese, NOT those evil white men from U.K/USA the left keep telling us about:

    www . immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/popflows2009-10/pop-flows-chapter3.pdf

    Page 59
    Table 3‑21: Overstayers at 30 June 2010
    by citizenship

    People’s Republic of China 7 490 People 13.9%
    United States of America 5 010 People 9.3%
    Malaysia 3 890 People 7.2%
    United Kingdom 3 470 People 6.4%

    It’s very important that we start getting the facts out there, rather than the spin that constantly dogs this debate. Chinese now make the largest group of Visa over stayers in Australia, so can the left please drop the “white pommy tourists” rot they constantly use to denigrate the illegal immigration debate.

  54. Liz45

    @PHEN – Go and read Australia’s policy, including the additions by both major parties re the jailing of children – OUR Legislation some of it brought about during the Howard years by Petro Georgio, Judy Mylan and Judith Treoth etc. Then give me the address of the Immigration Office in Afghanistan, Iraq or Iran. Then look up the fact of what country is a signatory to the International Laws, for example Malaysia isn’t, that’s probably why people leave there to come here or first go to Indonesia or????, and then answer why we’re the only country in the world that locks up babies and kids. Then go to the bit that says, that people should be processed and it’s regardless of how they arrived. Then answer, why aren’t people who are found to be here illegally(visa expired for instance) aren’t locked up pending a decision being made. This discrimination is contrary to the Law. Go and ask Julian Burnside about the Laws – he knows more about them than I do, and I suggest you and TTh also.

    As to the UN Declarations being old tth – I suggest that you probably abide by the Constitution and it’s over 100 years old. Selective I suggest!

  55. Phen

    Liz – i certainly dont profess to be either a lawyer or an expert on the matter. But as i said, Article 31 of the UNHCR Convention and Protocol relating to the status of Refugees is entirely consistent with TTR’s comment re people coming via Indonesia. If you’re aware of a specific item of international law or Australian law which overrides this and does give such people the same rights then I’d love to hear the specifics, rather than “go and read Australia’s policy”…..

  56. Liz45

    @PHEW Use your brains. If there was a ‘Law’ that meant asylum seekers had no right to be here, they wouldn’t receive asylum. Isn’t that self explanatory/evident etc. The fact is, that it is NOT I repeat NOT illegal to seek sanction here – or anywhere else on the planet for that matter. That’s the basic and most relevant position to start. THEN you look at the responsibility of the Australian Government to process claims, while abiding by peoples’ rights to human rights – basic ones – no big deal!

    NOW, what is difficult about that?

    It’s interesting to note, that prior to TAMPA Julian Burnside QC also thought that asylum seekers were “illegals” but when he studied the Law, he was enlightened to the reality and legitimacy of seeking asylum here. He represented the people on the TAMPA as you may recall. He used to clarify the legal position every time he was interviewed, for several years after 2001(he probably thinks that people should bloody well know by now – 10 yrs on?). He says he was WRONG about the Law. He’s represented many people, in fact, the last person on Manus Island(who’d been there for 6 yrs or so) spent time in Julian Burnside and his wife’s home after he was released.

    The facts are, that people are entitled to come here seeking asylum. The awful fact is, that our country shows gross dereliction of its duty by treating them as they do. Asylum seekers who are children are legally the responsibility of the Minister. I find it totally repugnant, that any Australian could lock up hundreds of kids behind razor wire in contravention of many legalities. That is one reason why there have been compensation cases against the Federal Minister re the dereliction of this duty. I suggest you read, ‘The Bitter Shore’ about one such shameful case. Written by a journalist called, Jacqui Everitt? I think from memory. Quite revealing and shocking in its contents. There’s also ‘Dark Victory’ by David Marr and Marian Wilkinson; ‘From Nothing to Zero’ about several children and their experiences; ‘Following Them Home’ about what happened to about 6 people after they were deported. There are others. I read all of these by borrowing them from my local library. There are papers, lectures, web sites etc that are most informative. If you can’t be bothered to do some research, then you really negate yourself from wanting to understand the issues – particularly the legal ones. Fr Frank Brennan wrote a book, as did Heather Tyler – hers is called, ‘Seeking Asylum’ or something similar!

    People are entitled to be represented, regardless of how they came here, and people are entitled to appeal adverse decisions. The High Court has upheld this, and hopefully will uphold the assertions as put to it by David Manne re two cases before them, solicitor familiar with these matters.

    I’ve also been to lectures where Prof Louise Newman, child Psychiatrist and ADVISER to the Fed Govt on health matters re DETAINEES, and who was on ABC AM this morning from memory airing her serious concerns re the mental health of detainees. In one month, there were over 50 instances of self harm. There have been 5 suicides since the end of last year. She keeps on warning the govt of the severity of the problem of jailing people for long periods – to no avail, sadly!

    The ‘traditional’ jails in this country has a rule re babies and children. The last time I heard, they’re only allowed to stay with their mothers for the first twelve months, for the obvious reason, that jail is not a place where children’s needs can be met, and is injurious to their emotional development. But, we lock up babies from other countries, sometimes for an indefinite period, and then wonder why, or are angered by the reality, that they may require psychological and/or psychiatric counselling/care for many years. This is costing us millions, which the right wingers and haters don’t seem to mind. I think their solution is to kill them, or the equivalent – send them back to certain persecution and/or death! These hateful responses are shameful, and successive govts have been grossly inhumane and hypocritical by their policies.

    You could also go to the website of Edmund Rice, Peace & Justice Centre, and read their info on what happens to people after they’re deported, and other topics. Hardly a ‘lefty’ organisation!

    In comparison to other countries, comparable in population to Australia and the thousands of people arriving on their doorsteps, our response is just plain unjust, inhumane and cruel – it’s also hysterical and stupid! It’s time Labor told Abbott and Co to shut up, and tell them how it’s going to be – and the Murdoch rags and shock jocks too!
    I predict that there’s going to be an awful tragedy in either the detention centres or via this deal with Malaysia!

  57. Liz45

    Another book from my library is about the history of immigration/asylum seekers etc in Australia. It is most enlightening, and clearly illustrates from as far back as WW2, that the attitude of successive Australian govts have been racist – to say the least. One such govt even devised a ‘questionaire’ that asylum seekers had to fill out. If they did it incorrectly or couldn’t do it at all – they were deemed ‘not desirable’ or ‘suitable’ and were deported. The fact that the questionaire might be in German and given to someone who spoke Chinese or Arabic? or? was just one aspect that shows the mindset – over many years.

    It’s intersting to note, that these days, Malcolm Fraser comes across as a ‘chardonnay leftie’ somewhat like myself(Lol) by comparison to Abbott and his band of thugs! Who’d have thought in 1975 that I’d be singing the praises of Malcolm Fraser? Astonishing! He managed the thousands from Vietnam without almost hyperventilating in shock! They turned out to be wonderful citizens, contributing in a wonderful way to the country.

    Of course, there’s always the matter of not causing trauma, persecution, killings, maiming, tortures in these countries that force people to flee for their lives – such as Iraq & Afghanistan. Or, to stop supporting dictatorships like Burma and Sri Lanka for example. If we contribute to this, we should meet our responsibilities and process traumatized people quickly and with dignity and humanity – not like what is happening at present!

  58. Phen

    Liz – no it isn’t self-evident actually – there are plenty of different interpretations of how governments have dealt with their obligations under international law. For example, as you note, most countries don’t deal with it by mandatory detention.

    I’ll ask the simple question again – Do you have a source for your assertion that asylum-status under international law (or Australian law for that matter) doesn’t change if the asylum seekers come via an intermediary country? I’m more than happy to be proved wrong.

  59. Liz45

    I’LL SAY IT AGAIN TOO! IF THERE WAS A DIFFERENCE OR AN ‘OUT’ DON’T YOU THINK WE’D HAVE HEARD ABOUT IT BEFORE NOW. This assertion has been used since ’01 from memory. Probably by the likes of Andrew Bolt etc and now it has a life of its own. They arrive on our shores we have to process them. Why do you think HOward brought in the “Pacific Solution”?
    Why the emphasis on excising different parts of the country? Because the legal responsibility takes place when they ARRIVE HERE! on Australian soil!

    Send Julian Burnside an email and ask him!

    The reality speaks for itself. The Inquiry into keeping children in detention, called ‘A Last Resort’ stated, that 92% of kids from Iran, and 98% of kids from Iraq were acknowledged to be genuinely in need of asylum/protection. It stands to reason, that if they were, so too were their parents – seeing that even dictators don’t have issues with kids. Therefore, if they came by boat from Indonesia, there must have been a legal impediment on Australia to accept them if their case was genuine.

    I don’t know why you continue to harp on the Indonesia rubbish. The fact is, that legally, it matters not how they get here – the legal issue is, that once they arrive they’re entitled to be processed? Sure you’re not just being bloody minded? I don’t believe Indonesia is a signatory to the Migration Act, so that is probably the reason why.

    You just don’t want to accept, that legally we have an obligation to process them. that’s it! Full stop! Petro Georgio made a speech before he left Parlt, as did Judith Moylan and Judith Troeth – they all spoke about their stand on this issue – all Libs. In fact, Judith Moylan only made a statement in the last few days, that taking a stand on stopping kids being locked up was the most worthwhile? positive aspect of her career. If we had no legal responsibility, would they have taken such a stand?

    Australia is somewhat unique, say as opposed to Europe, due to the distance. Canada has a population about the same as us, but has had 25,000 asylum seekers in one year. They are all still functioning, and the sun rises and sets as normal. There’s been no adverse incidents. Sweden keeps adults no longer than a few days, and children less – just for medical and security checks. They’re also functioning OK. And, I hasten to add, if Howard hadn’t used this issue as a ‘prop’ prior to the ’01 election, it probably wouldn’t have taken on the current hoo ha! It’s just ridiculous!Even the US doesn’t get hysterical like us! It’s just plain stupid, and horrificly expensive too!

    There’s an article in last weeks GreenLeft about the medical crisis in detention centres. People getting their medication from guards(which is possibly/probably illegal – should be a qualified medical person). People seeing different doctors, no follow up, no continuing medical treatment if person is moved to another centre etc. People ‘saving up’ medication – people who’ve been assessed as suicide risks. There’s a disaster waiting to happen!

    This morning, Chris Bowen’s statement re treatment of traumatized people asserted that staff are trained and can detect ‘signals’ of alarm – that’s bs as they are not trained. They don’t even have medically qualified people to handle medications. Some medications are in plastic bags, all mixed up! Watch for ‘unexplained deaths’ in the future – too much or incorrect medication. Some medications for depression are narcotic drugs – heavy stuff! Amazing! It’s out of control. If people were living in the community, they’d have one medical centre responsible for supervising their progress and medication.

  60. David Hand

    Well, Liz45,
    I can accept your fundamental point that it is not illegal for anyone to come here and seek asylum. But that means that a family from suburban Karachi, who would not have any hope at all of getting a visa to bring the whole family, including granny and a couple of aunties by plane for a holiday on the Gold Coast, can bring everyone by leaky boat and after conveniently destroying their identification as they board, cross the ocean and claim asylum.

    The absurdity of the situation is in your main point. Absolutely anyone, no matter their circumstances, origin, or country of citizenship, can arrive in Australia and claim asylum. It’s a handy visa to get the family here.

    That is why the government has belatedly brought in tough measures to stop the boats.

  61. Phen

    I’ve heard it argued lots of times, and am yet to hear a convincing argument why its not so.

    I agree that the way the govt processes people may indicate theres little difference in practice.

    Refer quote from Aust govt website below (my capitals) “Generally speaking ‘illegal immigrants’ are people who enter a country without meeting the legal requirements for entry (without a valid visa, for example). However, under Article 14 of the 1948 Universal declaration of human rights, everyone has the right to seek asylum and the 1951 Refugee Convention prohibits states from imposing penalties on those entering ‘illegally’ WHO COME DIRECTLY FROM A TERRITORY where their life or freedom is threatened.” http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/BN/sp/Asylumfacts.htm#_Toc299011016

    If you’re talking about me being “bloody minded”, for what its worth, I am not a supporter of mandatory detention and am generally supportive of better treatment of asylum seekers. And yes, I absolutely support the Malaysian solution.

  62. Phen

    Above comment was in response to Liz’s last piece if that wasnt clear.

  63. Liz45

    @DAVID – Rubbish! The thing is that people are interviewed and have to give reasons
    why they require asylum. The numbers and % of those who are given asylum speak for themselves. It’s bloody obvious that those people are deemed to be ‘genuine’? The ‘A Last Resort’ reinforced this. Julian Burnside and David Mann also research these people. People from Edmund Rice have followed people home and saw or heard what happened to them.

    Your taking the legal reality, turning it on its head, dragging up absolute bs and then telling me that’s what I’m saying! Geez!

    Howard brought in his laws to ‘stop the boats’ and they didn’t. Go and read either Judith Moylan or Treoth’s last speech because whoever it is made THAT POINT. She almost said that Abbott was lying with his mantra of ‘stop the boats’ like Howard did! It’s bs!

    Why don’t you lot worry about the bloody people who come by plane? Only a small number of those people are in need of asylum, but not locked up like they’ve killed someone – for years! Some people, including kids have been locked up as long as a person who’s committed a crime of violence? 5 or 7 or ??? years! Are you OK with that? If seeking asylum is not a crime, how come you remain silent about people being jailed? Unbelievable!

    No wonder Marilyn swears! And swears! You’re just amazing you lot! Simply amazing!
    At this minute, there could be 40-60,000 people here without a visa. No hysteria about them? We’d need to quadruple the country’s police force to check all venues etc, but they don’t provide any concerns> Rarely is a person charged with a crime who’s been here ‘illegally’?

    Many asylum seekers are either advised to ditch their identity papers, or haven’t got any, or have them stolen from them.
    I’m going to finish the vacuuming and organise my dinner!

    Go to the website of Lawyers for Refugees or some such. Put David Mann into google. Ask him about the legality of your arguments. I’ve never heard any legal person comment to the effect, that they had a difficulty because the asylum seeker/s came from Indonesia or ???Therefore, I believe that it doesn’t matter – they step foot on our shores, and that’s it!
    In fact, didn’t the High Court assert that those who came by boat were to be treated the same as those who arrive by plane, therefore, they had the same rights to LEGAL APPEALS If they were not eligible due to arriving in a leaky boat, don’t you think Ruddock, or Andrews or Bowen or Gillard would say so? Use your head. Think logically!

  64. david

    Liz perhaps when there are 2 or more Davids posting you might consider giving their full name ID when responding, or include part of the post you are replying to.
    When I see you responding DAVID – rubbish I wonder how I have upset you, as we usually are on the same wave length..just a small point I know, nearly dropped a lovely glass of NZ Marlborough Sav Blanc…wasn’t worried about the glass it was losing the contents 🙂
    Have a pleasant evening…

  65. Liz45

    There’s an item on ABC PM radio this evening about asylum seekers, the Ombudsman’s proposed inquiry; response from the Greens; an interview with an asylum seeker called ‘Joya’ and info about the attempted suicides etc one was last night. He was found, but taken to hospital by ambulance and the person didn’t know of his current condition.

    It’s also the anniversary when Kevin Rudd said that kids wouldn’t be in detention, and adults “only as a last resort”? So much for that lot!”

    As to the nonsense of anyone coming here claiming they need asylum. Do you remember the Baktiari? family who were deported to Pakistan in a CHARTERED JET (under Howard?) Rosa, asserted that she was from Afghanistan, Vanstone etc said no. Rosa’s legal people went to Afghanistan and spoke to people who knew them. They begged Vanstone to wait a few days as some papers or some such would arrive to confirm that Rosa spoke the truth. The govt deported them almost on Xmas – sure enough the evidence arrived.

    Rosa had her 7th child while in detention. Her husband, who was in another detention centre wasn’t allowed to be with her. She and her baby were kept in a motel room for almost 10 months, with at least 2 guards with her 24/7? How much did that cost? Then, one church group agitated for the other 6 kids to be in the community, they won that, but Rosa wasn’t allowed to be with them? Imagine being with a baby alone in a room for 10 months, under guard? This was life under Howard/Ruddock/Vanstone/Andrews. People worry about cost now, not a peep out of Abbott or ???? then?

    I’ve read of some awful incidents re pregnant women. Having caesarians forced upon them without their consent; male guards in the room while the woman gave birth, sometimes with handcuffs on, but the fathers not allowed to be there? There’s been male guards who’ve been reported for ‘perving’ on women while they showered etc. I’ve seen the video of when Cornelia Rau was finally taken to hospital, wearing only black knickers and screaming? Just awful stuff! I have no doubt that this sort of s**t is still happening. the idiot in charge then, is still in charge now! SERCO are a law unto themselves, with little or no scrutiny. People are still being referred to by their ‘number’? Too bloody lazy to pronounce their names, probably! Also, it’s a proven method of dehumanising people – Hitler did it too!

    This is not a country to be proud of while exercising such inhumane and disgraceful practices. I remember what happened to Vivien Solon also. I also recall the at least 200 people who the then Ombudsman found had been detained ‘incorrectly’? Like Vivien and Cornelia, either permanent residents or citizens? Not good enough! Not in a country that wants a permanent seat on the UN, or who brag about our allegiance to justice, democracy and “traditional family values”? Hypocrites!

    Bring on the High Court case/s- two of them. I hope they give this govt the serve it deserves!

    On a personal level. When I raised my boys and taught them about kindness, compassion, being truthful and treating each other and outsiders with respect, I didn’t add, ‘but if they’re asylum seekers, these rules don’t apply’? I didn’t say that we could be proud of our justice system, but add, only for ‘fair dinkum aussies’ not interlopers! How have you raised your kids?

    It’s like teaching them about courtesy and respect, and treating adults with respect always, and then taking them to Question Time in Parlt House? How awful it is to kick garbage along the street, but it’s OK to drop cluster bombs on innocent families while they eat their evening meal, or are at a wedding, or???Or that women were inferior and so didn’t have the same rights as men, particularly if they’re pregnant asylum seekers?I also told them, that some people who are gay or lesbian could be imprisoned or worse in some countries; that this was wrong and inhumane, and certainly unjust!

    Imagine how they’d react now, if I started acting in a zenophobic and hateful manner. I’d deserve the label of hypocrite! How you react is mirrored in how your kids will grow up. The question is, how do you want them to grow up? Hateful or compassionate!

  66. David Hand

    Hey, Liz45
    You don’t really want to push your argument using the Baktiari family as an example, do you?

    You may well believe that our government is punishing boat people because the Murdoch press has brainwashed western Sydney into demanding action on muslims coming by boat.

    This is an idea that flies in the face of the fact that every government since Keating has taken a strong line of border security, all taking similar measures. The act of destroying your passport just before embarking on a boat to Christmas Island, thus making it extremely difficult, even impossible for positive identification, does not seem to the average person a rational act by a genuing refugee. It would change a lot of poeple’s attitudes to the boat people issue if most asylum seekers get off those boats with passports in hand.

    The act of arriving without a passport mans that our government does not know who they are and is faced with thousands of anonymous south asians with stories. I understand that destruction of identification papers is a standard practice by people smugglers in the process. Tell me they don’t do it Liz. I can confidently say this, if boat people had identification, their asylum claims could be processed in days and if genuine, they’d be safely here and welcome.

    Maybe you could get your refugee activist mates to ask the people smugglers to allow their customers to keep their passports. That simple measure would change these desperate people’s lives enormously.

  67. Liz45

    @david – Oh no! I’m so sorry! Sorry about the wine too! Oh dear! Yes, we do agree on most things. Makes me feel I’m not bashing my head against a brick wall! Shouldn’t bother I suppose!

    If I was a fish I wouldn’t last long would I? Lol

    When I receive your post via email, your name is in lower case, but when it’s on the Crikey site it’s in capitals. I took a short cut with DAVID HAND! Lazy me! I’ll be more careful in future!

    In the past, if people arrived WITH passports the view of the authorities and some media outlets were, that they weren’t ‘fleeing’ at all. The inference was that they weren’t “genuine”. If they had passports and had time to collect them, well? If they arrived without passports the same view or similar to your attitude prevails. They can’t win? You know why? Because they’re not meant to. That’s why the Muslim hate campaign was started. Like the goebbels lies by the US/Britain and Australia leading up to the invasion of Iraq, the bs that came from first the HOward govt was along the same lines – to demean and cause hatred and division in our community. That’s why the orders were given, not to show the asylum seekers any humanity let alone warmth – including the kids. What sort of monsters do that? Howard, Reith and Ruddock to name just 3.

    The fact is, that in Iran it’s a capital offence to leave that country. They execute young teenagers in that country, even though their own law prohibits this. If you are fearful about your life, you’re hardly going to front up to the Immigration Dept or the local Australia Post Office and get your passport or photos taken are you? Under Saddam Hussein, the postion was the same. Get caught trying to leave, and you’re dead, or your relatives would pay the price – torture, imprisonment and/or death.

    If you can tell me where the Immigration Office is in Afghanistan, I’ll contact them and inquire about their immigration procedures.

    The Murdoch rags plus shock jocks use asylum seekers as part of their methods of demeaning those on the lower rung of the ladder – they do the same thing with aboriginal people and women. Their goals are to protect their wealth, and having to pay equal wages for example is something they want to avoid – at all costs. While they demean indigenous people and tell lies about their history, it takes the eye off the fact that their goal is to steal their land, or dump nuclear waste on their sacred lands or near water ways etc. For example, the applications for mining leases in the NT doubled after the Intervention/invasion in ’07. Funny that?That’s why aboriginal people are being bullied into signing away their rights to their land! IF they do that, in years to come they’ll lose their Court cases as they won’t be able to prove a CONTINUAL association/involvement with their land and culture? Clever isn’t it?

    If you haven’t developed your thought processes to wonder what their motives are, you need to do some more reading.

    If you flee for your life, it stands to reason that you probably won’t either have the necessary papers(due to dictatorships etc) or will have to rely on the advice of others, such as those who supply the boats etc. Most of these people don’t sit in front of their widescreen LED TV’s each night listening to the advice of people like you?

    The people in Sri Lanka were forced to live in those refuge centres for example. Wouldn’t think there would be facilities for distributing or applying for passports would you? The same with those from Burma, China etc. Those in Iraq & Afghanistan probably don’t even have those offices still standing? Iraq still doesn’t have electricity on a regular basis, and the last article I read, they still don’t have clean water in many parts. Schools, hospitals and Universities have been destroyed, partly by us. Did you watch the 4 Corners program on Sri Lanka? If not, I suggest you watch it online. I doubt those people had time to take photos let alone organise their papers?

    When we destroy all these facilities as in Iraq/Afghanistan, it’s a bit rich for people like you to then condemn asylum seekers for not having their papers? We helped destroy them, their homes etc. In Fallujia for example, almost two thirds of the homes were damaged. It’s now rife with Depleted Uranium. The US wouldn’t even allow people to collect their dead or injured for days. It was almost a ‘scorched earth’ policy that took place -twice, with horrific outcomes!

    Many of these people probably never owned a passport in their lives – they’re poor people, not like yourself. I don’t have a passport for example. Never had one. Never been out of Australia. Could never afford to. I don’t see that changeing any time soon. If I wanted to flee I’d have no passport – a photo ID via my licence would be the next thing. IF my home was destroyed, I’d have no means of identifying myself if I had to flee for my life!

    These people are coming from war zones or similar. Not beautiful downtown Sydney or Melbourne!

    don’t you ever watch the ABC or SBS documentaries? Don’t you read anything from overseas? Are you like the ‘boy in the bubble’ safely out of touch with the outside world.

    The people who saved the lives of Jews were called heroes? Those who take people out of misery these days are branded as criminals. Do you think it’s because we were at war with Hitler, but we’re part of the aggression against Iraq & Afghanistan. We supply information and military manouvres with Burma and Sri Lankan govts, and even train the military thugs in Indonesia!

    Perhaps that colours the govts attitudes, and corporate Australia upholds their attitudes, because they gain from this too! There’s a BIG picture in all of this – it’s called the dirty side of politics, and making the poor and miserable pay the costs!

    My hands are freezing. I forgot to put my mittens on? Off to have brecky – hot food!

  68. Liz45

    @david – There’s a post of mine still waiting?? I’m so sorry about the wine etc. When I receive your comment via email, your name is in lower case. When it appears on the post, it’s in capitals? I’m so sorry! Sorry about the wine too! I’d buy you another bottle if I could! Yes, we are on the same wave length almost always – thank goodness! Otherwise I’d be really depressed.

    It’s interesting that those like DAVID HAND or TTH just keep on moving the goal posts. They completely ignore what is a bit difficult, or speaks of decency etc. I wonder how they raise their kids if they have any. If I went on like they do, my now adult sons would call me a hypocrite – and they’d be quite right! All those years teaching them about justice, decency, anti racism, not to be homophobic etc – gone!

    As a friend of mine says – ‘you can go to bed with whoever you like, but ultimately you sleep with yourself’? How true! Only pain or worrying about bills keeps me awake – not my conscience? My dear little Mum wouldn’t be impressed either!

  69. david

    Hi Liz, wine wasn’t spilled, no problem…. keep being yourself its how we like you and your posts. Your kids are damn fortunate to have a caring mum. My 3 boys in their 20’s now, daughter 19..their mum is similar to you, they have grown up to be great kids. They have Abbotts measure 🙂

  70. Liz45

    @DAVID – Thank you! I could’ve had another one but it never really worried me not having a girl – I’d probably have had a footy team! Or not survived at all! Other people were disappointed that I didn’t have a girl! My boys are gorgeous and I have lovely grand daughters and 3 grandsons – who are also gorgeous! My eldest grand daughter turned 18 last week! Scary! It only seems like yesterday that she was born.

    Seems like the others have taken flight! Could it have been something I said?

    Must go and organise dinner for my friend, and catch up with the news of the day! I wonder what bs Abbott is on about today? He drives me nuts! Ho hum!

    Take care!

  71. Liz45

    @PHEN – I don’t give a toss what bs is on the Aust govt website. It’s not true. They are not “illegals” and people should not be treated differently because of their mode of transport. When there’s a dispute between what the govt line is when they’re acting in such a despicable manner, or what Julian Burnside QC who is familiar with Human Rights Law and INternational Law etc, I’ll take notice of Julian every time.

    This interview was on PM on Thursday 11th November 2010.
    Just one small portion –
    “DAVID MARK: Today’s High Court decision has been welcomed with universal acclaim by the people who work on behalf of asylum seekers in Australia.

    PAMELA KERR: Jubilant.

    DAVID MARK: Pamela Kerr is the Campaign Coordinator at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne.

    PAMELA KERR: At last there’s an opportunity for the people coming by boat to get the same treatment as people applying for refugee status who come in by air. ”

    With this ruling, I don’t see how the Govt can remove people after they’ve landed here. Obviously they’ll ‘hide them’ and not allow them to see anyone so they won’t have a chance to say that they want to apply for asylum – otherwise, the Govt will be taken back to the High Court!

    Wednesday June 15 2011
    BRENDAN TREMBATH: The Australian Government is under renewed attack today over its plan to send 800 unprocessed asylum seekers to Malaysia.

    The Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has indicated today she’ll push to amend the Migration Act. If she succeeds the Federal Government will have to gain Parliament’s permission before sending asylum seekers to a third country.

    The so-called Malaysian solution has angered human rights groups and refugee advocates. They say that because Malaysia is not a signatory to the refugee convention, asylum seekers have no legal status in the country and are vulnerable to exploitation, arbitrary arrest and trafficking.

    Renuka Balasubramaniam is a director with Lawyers for Liberty in Malaysia. She’s in Sydney for the 2011 Refugee Convention at the University of New South Wales. She explained to me why she opposes the Government’s plan.

    That is only part of it! there’s another interview with a Lawyer who specialises in International and Human Rights Law, but I haven’t found his interview – yet! He was most emphatic about the duty of the Australian Govt under International Law!

    I hope Sarah Hanson-Young goes ahead with her plans. If we send people to Malaysia, kids, babies, pregnant women and unaccompanied minors, to be sold as sex slaves, or parents to be harassed to hand over their young daughters for sex (or boys too for that matter -I’ve only read about girls?), then our Govt deserves to be taken to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity! We’re no better than Iran or Saudi Arabia or????And as bad as Howard and Ruddock! I wonder what god Abbott prays to, and how does he sort out this crap with his so-called catholicism?

    If Canada can process 25,000 what is our problem? It’s bloody stupid and it disgusts me!

    Also – the behaviour of the Fed Govt to Malaysia borders on racism. They have 95,000 refugees in the country and we’re going to send more??How can that be OK? It’s ludicrous and makes us out to be a white supremist country bludging on a poorer Asian country, already over burdened with asylum seekers? We have a ‘piffling’ number in a wealthy country!

    Going to bed!

  72. Liz45

    @PHEN – Just found this!Julian Burnside has given many lectures, interviews etc. He knows about International Law and the OBLIGATIONS Australia has as a party to many ‘agreements’ which we proudly allege to uphold and abide by – we don’t!


    Australia’s Treatment Of Asylum Seekers: The View From Outside

    by Julian Burnside QC
    Parliament House, Victoria
    World Refugee Day 2003

    The Migration Act provides for the detention of such people until they are either given a visa or removed from Australia. In practice, this means that human beings – men, women and children innocent of any crime – are locked up for months, and in many cases years.

    They are held in conditions of shocking harshness. The United Nations Human Rights Commission has described conditions in Australia’s detention centres as “offensive to human dignity”. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has described Australia’s detention centres as “worse than prisons” and observed “alarming levels of self-harm”. Furthermore, they have found that the detention of asylum seekers in Australia contravenes Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which bans arbitrary detention.

    The Delegate of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner who visited Woomera in 2002 described it as “a great human tragedy”. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly criticised Australia’s policy of mandatory detention and the conditions in which people are held in detention.

    In short, every responsible human rights organisation in the world has condemned Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. Only the Australian government and the Australian public (not all of us) are untroubled by our treatment of innocent, traumatised people who seek our help.

    Just because people insist on sprouting lies and distortions doesn’t mean that if they repeat them often enough and loud enough they somehow become truths. Lies and distortions remain that way regardless of the protestations to the contrary.

    We’ve even been criticised by South Africa? How about that? Isn’t that something? We also have the dubious honour of locking up more blacks than they did under the Apartheid regime, when black people were gunned down in the streets or burned alive in churches or murdred in the schools? We’ve got a lot to be proud of haven’t we? NOT!

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