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Dec 22, 2011

Refugee debate dominated by compromise, not core promises

The anti-mandatory detention campaign, which came from the Left, has a simple demand -- that the country live up to its freely taken-on treaty obligations. Why have commentators like Robert Manne lost sight of that?


God oh god, it’s Christmas and I wanted to write some sort of light frippery that allowed me to get in a joke about news that Molly Meldrum’s condition being described as ‘stable’ was a lifetime first. But there’s no alternative to saying a word or two on the strange turn that the refugee debate has taken, in the wake of the sinking of Siev-221, and the reaction it has produced in the commentariat.

M’colleague Keane summed it up by saying yesterday that: “Opinion now seems to be shifting to recognise that, to the extent that if the Australian government can take action to deter people from risking their lives, it should.”

That may well be true, but exactly whose opinion is it that’s shifting? The comments strings here, at The Drum and the major papers shows nothing that is so easily readable. More than usually for comments strings, they show such a wild variation not merely of opinion, but of basic perception and understanding that no simple summary really covers it.

That is to be expected. After all, the asylum seeker debate has been prodded, pushed, manipulated, reshaped and repackaged for so long now that one layer of official sentiment lies atop another.

We have gone from the high/low point of children overboard — in which boat-borne refugees were constructed as inhuman monsters who did not love their children — to an official bipartisan version blaming people smugglers, and constructing boat-borne refugees as wholly passive, and thereby innocent.

The latter attitude suits both major parties: the ALP can use it to pursue exclusionary refugee policies by framing them within a notion of oppression and exploitation, and the Coalition can back away from the race-hate it deployed in 2001-4, which caused major internal party disruption, and endangered inner-urban seats with a left-liberal tinge.

The racist “children overboard” version licensed a form of visceral hate close to the surface, and made it permissible by expressing it in terms of national traditions — as an alleged expression of the “fair go”.

The “people smugglers” version licenses another sort of approach: that we try and manage not only the people who come here, but do so by managing their beliefs and expectations. Suddenly, the whole approach to boat-borne refugees has become very UK New Labourish.

Rather than treat them as subjects and world citizens to whom we have a treaty-based obligation, should they arrive at our shores, the new approach is that they should be managed from afar, so that they don’t even want to come here.

This is expressed not as a preventative tactic for national security, but as a way of honouring our obligation to them — in designing policies that treat them as psychological units to be deterred, we can claim to have their best interests at heart.

This argument is the latest one being used to justify “overseas mandatory detention” — the process known as “offshore processing” the very use of such a weasel term all but conceding the argument to the “people managers”. It came from within Rudd Labor as a branded alternative to the Coalition’s overseas mandatory detention policy, the so-called Pacific Solution.

The claimed superiority of Labor’s Malaysia solution was that it would engage the region in a collective approach, thus drawing on notions of equality. But inequality was central to the process — the inequality between Convention signatories and non-signatories, between countries with an independent economy, and dependent states, and so on. This stands to reason — if we were exchanging refugees between two equal countries (as Nordic countries sometimes do) it would have no strategic effect at all.

The “regional” rhetoric of the Malaysian mandatory detention fooled no-one paying attention. Now it, and Pacific mandatory detention, are being re-examined as a tool for people management by those who were never fooled by the official version.

Bernard Keane gave a policy-led utilitarian version assessment of it in these pages some months ago, arguing for a boat-deterrent policy coupled with an increase in official refugee intake. In his blog and in The Age, Robert Manne has give a more, erm, performative take on the whole thing, arguing a similar policy.

Given the horrors of mass drownings, it’s worth taking their arguments seriously — a great deal more so than the endless position skirmishes of the major parties. But both positions are nevertheless found wanting.

The problem that Keane and Manne have to deal with is this. Our commitment to refugees is an argument based on human rights, and on a categorical imperative. The Convention we are signed up to makes a promise to any potential refugee that if they reach our shores, they have the right to make a claim for asylum. Recent laws we have put in place may interfere with that treaty/promise, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t made it.

The extreme form of such a morality would suggest that we make no consideration of the situation of refugees before they make landfall, at which point we would accord them full rights. But such abstract positions become immoral in themselves if they become an excuse for allowing great wrong to occur.

So both Manne and Keane put the emphasis on a utilitarian argument — the need to dissuade people from lethal voyages outweighs honouring the rights of others to claim asylum. They are appealing implicitly to the process by which general rights are curtailed for specific good — a compulsory seat-belt law would be one mundane example.

Yet such an example gives the reasons why overseas mandatory detention can’t be advanced in that way. We make such trade-offs in situations like the seat-belt one, of clear knowledge and limited impact on rights.

The boat-borne refugee situation is the reverse — we are being asked to wholly negate someone’s rights (that we have explicitly promised them), in a situation where their life and freedom will be wholly annihilated indefinitely, all as a strategy for dissuading unknown future persons from making a possibly perilous journey.

By that definition we are using the “deterrent” — the people locked up for years on Manus, Nauru, in Malaysia, or god knows where — as a means to a utilitarian end. It is a clear use of human beings in their totality, as means to other ends, and cannot in any sense ground a moral policy.

Such a negation of the humanity of the present refugee in favour of the welfare of a possible future one thus makes the ultility calculus impossible. The old challenge to utilitarianism was the question as to whether one can torture a small number of people to make a larger number happy.

Since we know that prolonged mandatory detention has many of the effects of torture, on adults and children alike, the solution that Rob Manne proposes — overseas detention in Australian de facto dependencies for “lengthy” periods that would deter others — would seem to elevate that philosophical conundrum to the policy level.

How have these two commentators got themselves to this position — negating the irreducible moral base with a utilitarian argument based on unknowable contingencies and outcomes that cannot be guaranteed? Such an over-ride usually occurs when an obligation is honoured partially, and the resulting situation is blamed not on the partiality of the response but on the obligation itself.

Put simply, our specific obligation to refugees under the Convention, and our general obligation to fellow human beings means, not a curtailing of the former but an expansion of the latter — in the form of increased sea patrols to the north to make possible the rescue of people in unsafe vessels. Any other activity — harsh prosecution of users of unsafe boats, warnings in third country — may be a good idea, but they are not central to the moral obligation.

Both Keane and Manne would respond, I suspect, that there is no chance of that being a realistic policy option — and in the absence of one, the current half-cut muddle will continue to see human disasters occur. But that then becomes a question as to what one is actually doing in voicing an opinion and arguing a case. Is it really, as both seem to argue, to provide the government of the day with a policy?

Or is the role to stand up for what we believe to be irreducibly right — right not by emotion, but by well-argued reason from fundamental principles, capable of debate — and seek to repeatedly make those issues clear as they are ceaselessly covered over by, well by notions like “offshore processing”.Making those issues clear would be done by making clear the fundamental political question that no politician will put — are we going to stay within the Convention, or are we not? Surely anyone who wants an honest debate and decision would want that question to rise to the surface.

Either we stay with the Convention, and honour its obligations – and further obligations that arise from those — or we repudiate it. Putting the question thus is first of all, simply honest — but I suspect it would also make clear to people eager to impose desert prisons etc, exactly what they are repudiating, about themselves as much as anything.

That seems to be the only moral approach of any honest commentator from any side regarding the issue. In that respect, Rob’s approach in his two recent pieces has served to put the debate about as badly arse-about as one could imagine.

To be swept up in Rob’s grandiose mea culpa, assailing the Left for failing to provide the government with a refugee policy, is merely irritating in its implicit claim to leadership of a political formation of which he is not really a member.

But the wider suggestion — that it is the role of activists and writers to provide governments with pre-packaged compromises, is simply a mistake, and a more serious one, about what such people should do, what their role is.

I think Rob knows that, and I think the brief sunlit days of the Rudd era, when it looked like public intellectuals etc might have a direct line to the Lodge, is leading him astray on that one.

The anti-mandatory detention campaign, which came from the Left, has a simple demand — that the country live up to its freely taken-on treaty obligations – that puts it firmly in the tradition of the Left giving heft to campaigns that liberals and centrists can’t or won’t push through.

Such campaigns may demand strategic compromise, but they defeat themselves if that involves turning core principles into their opposite. From Mabo back to Charter 77, to the Moratorium, to Wave Hill, to Selma, Alabama, and back further, such core demands are how progress gets done. I would have thought that was understood — indeed I would have thought that some still, small voice might have told Rob that the week Vaclav Havel died was a bad one to float the idea of a prison archipelago as a progressive cause.


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154 thoughts on “Refugee debate dominated by compromise, not core promises

  1. Suzanne Blake

    “not core promises” Guy, that is because Gillard has proven time and time again that she cannot be trusted and li es

  2. Filth Dimension

    Snooze, I’m surprised you made it to the end of this article. Not surprised that your comment is meaningless in light of it.

  3. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Seriously deadly, Guy. The politician that can articulate the principled position and sell it, unsullied, to the Australian public, can/will be the next prime minister.

  4. paddy

    A much better read than a light hearted piece on Molly Guy.

    I can’t think of any simple solutions to the problem either.
    But there is one thing that seems to have been ignored in all the debate surrounding the AS storm.
    The incessant cries of “leaky boats” are a *direct* consequence of the Govt’s policy of seizing all vessels carrying asylum seekers.
    There are plenty of perfectly seaworthy boats, with excellent, experienced crews in Indonesia. But they’re not going to ferry refugees to Australia, while the Govt has such a draconian policy of seizure and imprisonment in place.

    Unfortunately, it’s probably too much to hope that the policy might change.

  5. Holden Back

    S_pam B_ot

  6. S

    Rundle seems to have neglected the role of evidence in all of this.

    The Pacific Solution reduce the number of boat arrivals to negligible levels and as a consequence, reduced the need for detention to negligible levels. With lowering detention costs, more resources were available to provide to refugees.

    During the Pacific Solution, only 450 people arrived by boat, and so we only needed to detain 450 people. Since the end of the Pacific Solution, more than 14,000 boat people have arrived, and been subsequently detained.

    Which is more “humane”?

  7. Kfix

    Correlation doesn’t equal causation, S. Must do better.

  8. Shorty

    Normally I don’t make it past a Rundle article where it mentions “notion”, “Left”, “Right”, some philosophical term like “irreducible”, or just about any term with “quotation marks”, I simply sigh and move on to the next article.

    This afternoon I forced myself to fully take in the horror of his thinking and muddled writing style. Trying to put every argument in a Right/Left, progressive/reactionary dialectic is not appropriate and makes his articles a hard read. Put simply, I would have got more useful information about refugee policy from reading my tea leaves in this morning.

    Please somebody think of the readers and tell Rundle the cold war is over and assign him a good sub-editor.

  9. Clytie

    Thanks, Guy. I needed that. 🙂

    The utilitarian sideshow was getting me down.

  10. Robert Smith

    I think you are a bit tough on Mr Keane and Professor Manne. I read their stuff as attempts to shift the debate into realistic policy analysis.

    One good result is support for upping the resettlement program and trying to provide a pathway for people stuck ‘in transit’ in Indonesia and elsewhere.

    However I am still unsure about the evidence on which some sort of Malaysia/Nauru shandy could be based. How much do we really know about what drives asylum seekers to specific courses of action? What is the probability that if things are bad enough people will just see a stretch in Malaysia/Nauru as part of an ‘application process’.

  11. humphrey bower

    Thank you Guy for providing some moral and philosophical clarity in the face of a depressing coalition of increasingly confused, hysterical, slippery and/or downright manipulative reactions by politicians and other media pundits (I leave them to speak for the mythical ‘public’ whose opinion they variously claim to represent) to the recent deaths of boat-born refugees – whose claim to the latter designation is no less ‘genuine’ than others, despite the offensive distinction maintained by certain journalists writing in The Australian in reference to the so-called ‘flood of boats into Australian waters’ that is allegedly now taking place in response to the alleged ‘pull-factor’ of basic humane measures such as onshore processing and release into the community on bridging visas which are finally being re-instated after a decade or more of politically motivated victimization by both Labor and Coalition Governments). It’s typical of the level of ‘debate’ on this issue that Bob Brown is now being painted as ‘immoral’ for continuing to oppose so-called ‘offshore processing’ (a weasel-term indeed if ever there was one) when in fact he is the only politician currently prepared to stand by the courage of his convictions and remain a consistently categorical defender of the human rights imperative, rather than adopting slippery utilitarian or consequentialist arguments about the need for ‘deterrence’ (a term whose legal-punitive and military-geopolitical genealogy is worth unpacking, by the way), while the Labor Left and ‘small L’ liberals alike are both crumbling in the face of sickening Labor Right and Coalition hypocrisy on this issue – sickening because we all know what the real agenda is behind the Pharisaical mask of ‘concern’ for refugees who put their lives at risk by seeking to come here by boat: namely, the imaginary threat they constitute to our paranoid-fascist ‘border protection’ complex. Yes, the recent deaths at sea are terrible: part of a terrible chain of inhumanity that stretches from the home-countries they flee, to indefinite purgatory of UN refugee camps, to the further persecution and neglect they experience in the interim-countries they flee to, including Indonesia, Malaysia and other proposed ‘regional’ sites for a putative ‘solution’ to their (read, ‘our’) problems – and finally, most shamefully of all, to the detention camps that still await them here. Cheers, mate. Humphrey Bower

  12. Bo Gainsbourg

    Isn’t the tragedy really that people sometimes die, in perilous circumstances, while fleeing one country to go to another? In that case many of these people may have either been killed in transit somewhere else or in fact killed if they stayed in their own country, or suffered a fate they considered worse than death? Is it correct that the siev x tragedy occurred under more draconian offshore processing arrangements under the previous government? I’m not sure that having an offshore ‘solution’ in Australia will stop these awful things happening. I’m fairly certain that we were led to this position not by motivations of what was good for refugees but by polling figures stretching back showing there aren’t many swinging votes in treating them well when they get here. I agree with the writer that our obligation is to treat people humanely when they get here, the perils of their journey, or lack of journey as it may be need to be addressed as best we can but I’m not sure that doing away with the former imperative will solve the latter.

  13. Lambikins

    great article. Also I have trouble believing that any of these policies actually work as deterrents. I would like to see the ‘people smuggling business model’ deconstructed out of existence…

  14. Whistleblower

    The 363 kg (800 pound) gorilla in the room in this debate is why should the Australian taxpayer be picking up the cost of other nations disputes and çonflict by providing care and sustenance to those with the wherewithal to bribe their way into the country through people smuggling.

    Australia’s preferential standard of living is solely due to its ability to manage its borders and control immigration, otherwise we would be sharing the continent with half of Africa and Asia, with associated Third World living standards.

    Australia should seriously consider repudiation of refugee conventions, and control its own immigration intake. It should remove the social welfare and citizenship incentives currently operating and match the refugee treatment currently handed out in Indonesia and Malaysia. This would certainly stop the boats because there will be no greater incentive to come here.

    Insane comments from people like Paddy that we should provide a seaworthy and risk-free method of access would only accelerate the problem. Furthermore serious question should be asked as to how these so-called refugees managed to find their way through Malaysia and Indonesia supposedly without passports and visas and normally required identity documentation.

    I would respectfully suggest that those who have a passion for supporting refugees pledge a significant proportion of their income for this purpose and help refugees offshore, and leave the rest of Australia alone.

    The only reason we have the current problem is the Labor government used wedge politics against Howard’s “Pacific Solution” and Labor, despite being warned repeatedly that this would wreak havoc and result in an influx of so-called refugees, studiously ignored the advice for the benefit of the short-term advantage gained by appealing to the chattering classes.

    Now surprise surprise, after vilifying Howard’s Pacific Solution, Nauru is being considered by a besieged government trying to address the problem of its own creation in another wedge exercise against Tony Abbott! These people have no shame!

    I’m sick and tired of being told that we have obligations to the clients of people smugglers who have bribed their way to the head of the refugee queue. It is also quite obvious that anybody wishing to fabricate a refugee status from any of countries such as Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Burma, Iran, Iraq or numerous other conflict riddled environments can readily do so, especially if they are coached, aided and abetted by empathetic refugee advocates in Australia.

    Every dollar spent on facilitating so-called refugees is a dollar not spent on our own citizens, and there are significant points of resource pressure on the economy in education health and public infrastructure that deserve greater recognition. For a government desperately trying to return the budget to surplus, this festering boil must be lanced. We should repudiate the existing refugee conventions to match Indonesia and Malaysia, cut out automatic citizenship for so-called refugees, restrict access to social security, and reinstitute temporary protection visas. This will stop the boats.

    Government should then take control of the situation, establish appropriate refugee quotas, and manage the inflow in accordance with reasonable standards of equity. It should also tell foreign governments that it will return any person attempting to come into Australia without a visa back to the port of embarkation. Similarly visa over stayers should be immediately deported thereby establishing equity between authorised and unauthorised entry.


    And S seems to have missed the immorality in holding some prisoners, indefinitely,on some speck of bird sh!t in the middle of nowhere as a warning to others, while at the same time going through the motions of upholding agreements freely entered into. To argue that harming some to deter others from possibly drowning at sea is as grotesque a notion of a ‘moral argument’ you could possibly construe.

    The sad irony that most ended up in Australia after finally being acknowledged as refugees with a legal right to claim asylum is another bit of the problem S appears to have with those messy things called facts.

    The trolls don’t get any smarter, even after reading Rundle’s treatise…what’s to be done, eh?

  16. cannedheat

    Thank you Guy. You have hit the nail on the head talking about ‘managing’ human beings via deterrents. The honest approach would simply be to repudiate the convention and wear the resultant opprobrium. The indirect ‘management’ approach inflicts much pain for little gain.

  17. Damien

    Maybe someone could put together three or four dot points for Shorty – save him from the horror of a more nuanced article.

    I think guy has a point. The dialectic is appropriate. The fact is, the entire issue seems framed around what it’s thuoght people want (no asylum seekers here) and what their representatives are too reluctant to say (no asylum seekers here).

  18. Wallace Scott


    Nauru did reduce and deter refugee arrivals but it also coincide with a drop in international refugee number as well. I don’t have problem with off shore processing but people got locked up in a little shanty detention camp is not humane and money not worth spending.

    If there is proof that it was cheaper the money saved did not go to spending more on refugees our quota remained the same I believe, I don’t think the government did lift the intake number or spend more on assisting re-settled refugees.

    I don’t agree with people who make comment that people drown because of the anti-people smuggling law (not that I agree entirely with this law). Tampa happened long before this law was introduced, boats sank long before that.

    Why is Mr Abbott demanding the government to reintroduce TPV?, He should know that it will not pass with the Greens in the Senate. More over TPV does not deter people from getting on the boats, Europe has TPV but they have more asylum seekers going there.

    And the Greens as well as the rest of them are delusional about prosecuting the people smugglers as the main prevention. We can’t even catch our criminals here let alone the elaborate web in Indonesia with vast number of islands and water ways and full of corruption.

    We should recognise that the Human Right Conventions is an out of date law applied to particular circumstances at particular times. If we can’t enact new complementary law around it then the international community will have to get together and amend to law to adapt to new reality. The people who drowned recently as I heard were not waiting in Indonesia for years. They recently flew in via Dubai that does not sound like they were in immediate danger nor were they waiting in limbo for so long. We now have to deal with complicated situation where a lot of people movements are economical movements messing up with genuine refugee movements. But all we’ve got is political posturing, no-one is interested in condeding which part they are out of touch and come together to produce a proper solution that is effective while still treat asylum seekers humanely with dignity.

  19. Damien


    “Australia’s preferential standard of living is solely due to its ability to manage its borders and control immigration, otherwise we would be sharing the continent with half of Africa and Asia, with associated Third World living standards”

    Really, it’s like reading a yellow peril Bulletin article from 1880.

  20. michael crook

    Good article guy, we need to get the debate back on track. ie we have an obligation to treat refugees in a certain way once they get to our shores. We are not doing that.

    Whistleblower, many of the refugees were created by us and our allies when we send young men overseas with guns to carry out the wishes of the US empire.

    Please try and remember that these are human beings we are talking about here, not animals, not statistics, not terrorists. We have an obligation to treat them humanely. Just do it.

  21. Wallace Scott

    Being moderated again. Merry Christmas everyone.

  22. Aphra

    What a miserable lot our politicians, almost to a man and woman, really are.

    Rather than indulging the popular, media-driven nazification of opinion pertaining to these poor, sad wretches, all politicians should be reiterating that there really aren’t very many refugees; we boast that we have ‘boundless plains to share’; we are partly to blame for this shocking situation, just as we were when thousands upon thousands of Vietnamese refugees allegedly ‘inundated’ the wide-brown; they are not ‘illegal’ in any sense of the word; that our humanitarianism is questionable and that we are, as a nation, self-satisfied, selfish, arrogant, penny-pinching and above all, racist.

    This whole issue is predicated on one thing and one thing alone – Racism. It would be less shameful if we honestly and openly acknowledged this, at least. To my mind, it’s incomprehensible that the majority can’t see that they’re behaving exactly as the Nazis did when demonizing the ‘other’. Sadly, I thought that we were better than this.

  23. Monica Kane

    Thanks Guy. Refreshing to hear it said straight, without the washing down of debate; however realistic Manne and Keane are being. The breakdown of the utilitarian argument was useful, but the reminder that when something is this important we need to speak up was just as pertinent.

  24. Paracleet

    Any chance we could drop the “M’colleague” business? Makes it read like a District Attorney Ferguson sketch…

  25. GeeWizz

    Gillards “Core” Election promise on boatpeople at the 2010 election was to send them to East Timor “Regional Processing Centre working under a Regional Framework”(whatever the hell that means) and that she would never send boaties to a non-signatory of the UN Refugee Convention.

    Unfortunately for Dillard she forgot to ring East Timor to tell them she was setting up a detention centre on their land and when they found out told her to go jump.

    Also unfortunately for Dillard in the mean time Nauru managed to sign up to the Refugee Convention at great dismay to the leftwing brigade, eliminating any reason Gillard could give not to send them there anymore.

    And finally after begging and pleading with great big bribes for someone to take Labor’s boatpeople, Malaysia put it’s hand up for a $300 Million cash Bonanza and a ridiculous 4 for 1 swap. Unfortunately being the only takers(other than Nauru which has been saying “pick me pick me!” for the last 4 years) Gillard had to go with Malaysia… despite them never being signatories of the UN Refugee Convention, putting everything Dillard claimed she stood for in the 2010 election in the proverbial outhouse.

    Of course Tony has been cashing in on Labors incompetence and is loving every minute of it…. getting Nauru to sign the UN Refugee Convention was a masterstroke which really wedged the lefties. Now the lefties say being a UN Refugee convention country doesn’t matter… now the lefties say caning people in Malaysia is A-Okay to them.

    One thing you can’t claim about Tony Abbott is that he has changed positions on Nauru…. yet this incompetent, useless rabble we have for a government changes their position on boaties weekly.

    All Labor need to do is say those three little words…. Howard Was Right, and the Libs can make all this pain go away for them.

  26. shepherdmarilyn

    Since 0.0001% of the world’s refugees are in Australia it would seem we are not such a golden land after all.

    The rest of the world with 99.999% of them must laugh themselves stupid at us.

    And by the way, under the new system at the Herald there is heavy censoring of anything like facts.

  27. Paracleet

    LOL, “Core” promises. Reverse Troll.

  28. Suzanne Blake

    @ shepherdmarilyn

    Since 0.0001% of the Australia’s population are “Marilyn’s alikes” it would seem we are in such a golden land after all!!

  29. jtwoodrow

    The chronological sequence began as shown here with demonisation of refugees. We were told they were going to take our jobs, could be full of disease, were willing to throw their children overboard and could be terrorists. To deal with them the government of the day excised Christmas Island from any obligation to uphold requirements of the Refugee Convention which Australia had signed. Refugees were taken to Nauru (not signatory to the Convention at the time but with ‘special provisions’ , we are now being told). Since then we have been told that the plan was to stop the ‘people smugglers’ (captains and crew would be detained, ships burnt – why send seaworthy boats?). Some smugglers – they are caught every time. Punish a few and save the rest, is the claim. So they stopped the boats – but where were the refugees? We were supposed to think there were no refugees – out of sight, out of mind. They were in Malaysia and Indonesia – neither countries signatory to the Convention (which is why, after the exploitation of Nauru, opposition to agreement with these two countries is hypocrisy). Now Nauru as a detention centre is in dispute. How would a High Court rule? That so many people are willing to gamble all on a perilous voyage tells us that people are unwilling to risk spending 15-20 years in a muddy camp and who could blame them? What is not well undersrood is why the refugees know where to find the boats but the Indonesian authorities do not, presumably. Here is reason for seeking a regional agreement to stop the boats from ever setting out. Meanwhile thousands of refugees are stuck for years waiting and at the same time refugees fly in by plane (surely cheaper than coming by boat). As for costs involved in taking care of these people, the experience in Australia of taking in immigrnts/refugees is that over time they will repay us many times over with their contribution to the life of this country. Long term there is no loss, instead much gained.

  30. Venise Alstergren

    It might help if we, as a nation, could get it clear in their minds, by asking ourselves do we really wish to see the refugee problem solved; or do we wish to be thought of as having solved the problem?

  31. Peter Hannigan

    Nicely argued. However – people in general simply do not operate on the basis of fundamental principles or moral obligations. The best description of the way people approach issues could be described as a pragmatic focus on local concerns, and a perception of themselves as good people who believe in fairness, leavened by a large dose of cognitive dissonance for the inevitable clashes. The classic is that for most Australians 8 people drowning in floods in Queensland is a bigger tragedy than 200 drowning trying to get to Australia by boat which is bigger than 10,000 drowning in floods in Pakistan. This is not just about Australia – the supremacy of the local is characteristic of people anywhere in the world.

    The reality is that we don’t have a refugee problem given the numbers involved and in comparison to most other developed countries (and of course developing countries actually host the vast majority of refugees). The perception is clearly that we do have a problem – a general view fanned by political and media opportunism.

    However, a solution would be a good idea given the reality is likely to change.

    – Australia is now one of the most desirable places in the world for people escaping bad economic or political environments in their own countries to want to migrate to because of our relative economic well-being post GFC and comparative social tolerance.
    – Refugee numbers are increasing, with economic factors (if you include not wanting to starve to death as an economic driver) increasing. Flows will increase with both population increase and the impact of water shortages/climate change, and there will doubtless be new politically driven flows – for example from the Middle East.
    – While getting into Australia (at least by boat) is hard, if the demand is there someone will try and make a buck by providing a means.

    So what happens when the refugee flow gets significantly larger, even perhaps exceeding our desired migration level?

    I doubt that even a significant increase would be tolerated politically by the Australian public. While views in the population would vary, we would likely see a rise in right wing extremism as has happened in Europe. People rubbish warnings about social breakdown flowing from cultural clashes as a result of high levels of refugee/migrant intake. Of course the numbers of refugees/migrants would have to be colossal for a society to collapse, but not so big for a poisoned atmosphere to produce extremists who might, for example, kill migrants – as happened in Italy with the shooting of the Senegalese street traders.

    We are currently nowhere near that situation – and we never want to be.

    The solution ultimately is about reducing the causes of refugee flows. This is more feasible in relation to political than economic/climatic drivers such as droughts and floods. I suspect in time governments around the world will have to to face up to the need to force incompetent/malignant governments that turn their populations into refugees to reform. Zimbabwe is a classic of a country that has a politically created refugee problem when it could be economically well off. The comparison where there is effective government in the same environment would be Botswana.

    Addressing the causes means dealing with not just the failed states like Somalia, but those on the way to failing. Perhaps we will have a new UN doctrine of Responsibility to Govern Competently. I suspect getting governments in general to accept that may be extraordinarily hard!

  32. Whistleblower

    The real problem here is not a few thousand refugees forcing their way into the country, but the multitudes that will follow as a consequence of the exploitation relatively open borders providing for permanent residency for refugee claimants, and full access to Australia’s social security systems for refugees if we do not tighten up access procedures significantly.

    Refugees and their advocates/supporters are effectively saying to the Australian government that in their case Australia’s immigration and border controls can be flouted because of reliance on refugee conventions which may have been relevant during the Cold War but are not relevant today. It should be noted that neither Malaysia nor Indonesia has signed up for this convention, probably because their governments clearly understood the long-term implications of shackling yourself with such a convention.

    Claiming to be a refugee is currently a ticket through the gate provided you can get to Australia, and there are probably tens of millions of potential migrants who could claim to be refugees. The reality is we cannot practically accommodate the quantity that would turn up if we have open borders which is effectively what we currently have under Labor. Refugee advocates ignore this potential risk whilst demonstrating its significance by exploiting every opportunity to use Australia’s legal system to prolong the state of claimants who have had their claims rejected.

    There is no doubt that there are millions of people who could claim to be refugees provided they get their foot in the door. This is a real problem. Chest beating about refugee conventions is it is impractical if you ignore the long-term consequences of this folly and its exploitation by well-meaning refugee advocates exploiting Australia’s legal system.

    According to JT Woodrow, it is fair enough to force your way to head of the queue rather than wait 15 to 20 years in a muddy camp. Whilst thousands of potential refugee claimants might be stuck in camps, that is not our problem . It only becomes our problem when they force their way into our country. As for turning up by plane which is cheaper, JT Woodrow ignores the fact that to get through immigration you must have a passport and visa. If so it is very difficult then to fabricate a case for refugee status if you can be identified accurately.

    Another aspect which needs to be considered is the educational and social status of the individuals concerned. Unemployed goat herders can contribute little to the Australian economy other than being a net welfare drain. Surely Australia should exercise some discretion and control over immigration into this country, and not relinquish its border control responsibilities to people smugglers.

    Every refugee advocate in this country enjoying Australia’s high standard of living is hypocritical unless they are prepared to share their personal resources with refugee claimants and not try to entrap the rest of the population paying taxes to support their own personal agenda.

  33. McFly Marty

    why do we not just withdraw ten thousand dollars of aid for every refugee Indonesia allows to leave their ports for Australia?

  34. Venise Alstergren

    WHISTLEBLOWER: “”Australia’s preferential standard of living is solely due to its ability to manage its borders and control immigration, otherwise we would be sharing the continent with half of Africa and Asia, with associated Third World living standards.””

    What a charming remark. You do realise that most of the countries in this world are full to the brim with refugees? At least, by instigating a decent program, Australia could begin to slow down the tidal wave of humanity by making sure that the ones who are already here are adequately educated to help the next wave of people.

    Seeing you want quick and superficial solutions have a look at the VCE standards. You will find a solid eighty-five plus, percent of high achievers are born of foreign parentage. People who value an education, as opposed to the footy loving, cleft-palated, (sic) certifiably stupid cannon-fodder that we ordinary Australians are content with. I would far rather the former came to this country in increased numbers. As a fair swap we could unload our cretins to off-shore camps.

  35. C@tmomma

    Smells like Rundle equivocation in search of a justification for his personal point of view to me. A point of view which has the same doe-eyed Utopianism at it’s core that The Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young, Bob Brown et al., and their proxies in the Blinkered Bleeding Heart Movement, such as the Refugee Action Collective’s Ian Rintoul, and Pamela Curr, use. Which essentially approximates to, ‘Suffer the Little Children, Men & Women, That Come Unto Me'(if they make it).
    Well it’s about time that apologists such as Rundle, fronted up to the bar from their comfy Middle Class, Arts educated eyries, and admitted the truth of the matter here.
    No longer are these refugees the approximate equivalent of those boat-bound, country-shunned Jews from the Second World War. They are now the cynical exploiters of a system which has been set up by a well-co-ordinated Organised Crime Syndicate. The arrivees are refugees from only a couple of conflicts, and especially in the case of the Afghans, we seem to be getting the Hazaras because they feel as if they are being Ethnically-Cleansed. I guess it might be true on a small scale but I haven’t seen it the way Saddam Hussein tried to Ethnically Cleanse the Kurds & Shiites, or Slobodan Milosevic tried to eliminate the Serbian Muslims. So I get the feeling we’re being had in no small way, and I’d just like the government to be able to get on with bringing back some fairness into the system, because as soon as you fill up one quota, there will be millions more waiting out there to have their shot at a place. So we can’t just let them come, willy nilly. There has to be a process and an easily quantifiable outcome. We can’t take every refugee in the world. It’s as simple as that.

  36. McFly Marty

    Loving footy makes you worthless, loving hijabs make you a saint? Get that reactionary class hatred out of here, its deeply offensive.

  37. Liz45

    @Marilyn, Christopher Dunne,and others of like mind – thank you!

    Nothing personal Guy, you probably are a very decent man, but I’m just sick to death of reading more articles on this issue, with the anticipated responses from the usual suspects?

    Funny how the Govt, the Opposition, Pell, Wallace and the others don’t think it a tragedy; something that must be curtailed etc when hundreds of thousands were/are being bombed to bits in Iraq & Afghanistan – ON OUR WATCH – sometimes with OUR weapons? Why is the tragedy at sea worse? Is it because when the deaths, maimings and other injuries by bombs etc are where we can’t see, they can just treat it with ignore – how convenient for them? Is it a case of out of sight out of mind, or are the major political parties just using these people who managed to escape and flee terror via an old and leaky boat for their own political interests? I am so disgusted with all the bs! Truly! It’s beyond obscene!

    Neither of the major parties give a toss about these people – let’s be honest here. The facts speak volumes. The very idea of Ruddock having a say in “solving” this current problem is nauseating. This is the man who allowed a little 4 yr old boy to almost die on several occasions rather than allow the family to live outside of detention centre/s, even though a leading Psychiatrist re children advised against it, and even though it’s the cheapest form of housing asylum seekers. All this year, claims for compensation via the neglect of this person have been finalised in the courts – to the tune of MILLIONS $$$$ – thanks to Ruddocks ‘great solutions’?

    I’m not surprised when Marilyn “goes off” as I’m just about to explode. I have no intention of even reading WHISTLEBLOWER’s comments or SB’s or some of the others. They just make me realise that some people don’t grow up or compassionate or even decent – they just get older! That’s all!

    If the Govt and Opposition nut out a ‘solution’ that is one that will suit their agenda, I hope David Mann takes them to the High Court again – and wins – again! Then, both sides might realise, that instead of spruiking bs about principles, democracy, responsibility, the rule of law blah blah, they just might have to act it out! Wouldn’t that be something?

    We’re living like kings in contrast to many countries around the world, particularly the countries from which these poor souls flee from, and yet those who are doing very well thank you are whining and bleating about spending time and money on other human beings – who’ve seen and experienced things that we can only have nightmares over – many of them have lived the nightmare!

  38. Venise Alstergren

    MCFLY MARTY: McFly Marty
    Posted Thursday, 22 December 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    “”Loving footy makes you worthless, loving hijabs make you a saint? Get that reactionary class hatred out of here, its deeply offensive””. That wasn’t my point at all. However, I wish to God it had been as your comment is a brilliant example of the point I wasn’t trying to make. Cretin!

  39. shepherdmarilyn

    Yeah, and not a word or press conference to mourn the Filipinos drowned the same day.

    How the hell punishing people who didn’t drown because someone else did works is beyond me but like Liz I don’t know why the media and pollies go on and on and on whinging about it.

    And the game of the media is just as appalling.

    Reporting that there is a stalemate over something that does not and cannot exist in law is ridiculous.



    4. Under s.65(1) a visa may be granted only if the decision maker is satisfied that the prescribed criteria for the visa have been satisfied.

    5. So far as is relevant to this matter, s.36(2) of the Act provides that a criterion for a Protection (Class XA) visa is that the applicant for the visa is a non-citizen in Australia This means that a Protection (Class XA) visa may only be granted if the applicant is in Australia.

  40. GeeWizz

    [“The chronological sequence began as shown here with demonisation of refugees. We were told they were going to take our jobs,”]

    Not likely, 90% of them are on centrelink benefits

    [” could be full of disease,”]

    Confirmed, there was an outbreak of TB at Villawood from an illegal. Way to go quarantine.

    [“were willing to throw their children overboard”]

    They don’t seem to have any qualms about pouring petrol around the hulls of their boats and setting it alight. 5 Killed and 12 seriously burned… just the sort of individuals you want roaming the streets(they all got Permanent Residency Visa’s, thanks Labor)

    [” and could be terrorists. “]

    Confirmed. There are people off the Oceanic Viking whom Rudd promised insta-visas… only problem was when Rudd flew them in from Indonesia without doing any security checks first it turns out some of them are on terrorist watch lists. Now the Australian taxpayer is paying for 24 Hour ASIO survelience of the families to make sure they don’t blow anything up.

    This government bungles everything it touches.

    Anyways this debate is pretty much over now. Dillard has declared defeat, she can’t stop the boats and will ask Abbott if she can please reinstate the Pacific Solution within a few days.

  41. GeeWizz

    I don’t even know why we are debating this topic anymore, Gillard is soon to announce the re-opening of the Pacific Solution.

    Looks like Howard was Right afterall.

  42. JMK

    This is what I wrote to Chris Bowen earlier today:

    People smugglers (including the Indonesian police profiting from the ‘business model’) are not the problem. Visas are. You must enlighten the Australian public as to why
    the most desperate genuine asylum seekers come from countries where it is either impossible or too dangerous to apply for a visa. And why the far greater numbers of asylum seekers arriving by air
    are those who were in the happy position of being able to get a visa. Fewer of them are deemed to be genuine asylum seekers, and many are returned to their home countries. (I assume they all hold return tickets.)

    Opening processing centres in Nauru and Malaysia isn’t going to stop visa-less asylum seekers from undertaking dangerous journeys in over-loaded fishing boats.

    Has the Government considered looking for a way to make it possible for visa-less asylum-seekers to fly in to Australia instead? They pay people smugglers about the same amount as a return ticket to Kabul or Tehran must cost. Why can’t we process asylum seekers nearer to where they are being persecuted and negotiate with airlines for them (those deemed genuine refugees) to be flown to Australia. Of course to sell this plan to the public you’d have to tell them the facts, which are conveniently set out in this paper produced by the Parliamentary Library:


  43. bell

    Guy, I absolutely agree. And on Robert Manne, I think it is appalling how he has come out over the past year and placed himself above the rabble, called them all dishonest and cowardly for the views they hold (his old beliefs). It really is nauseating and he has had a lot of publicity for his piece this week, on the Drum, The Monthly and the Age. Thank god someone has responded, not sure why those other publications haven’t run a counterpoint… public intellectuals should probably be removed from the debate, they haven’t served the cause very well. thanks for your piece, I think we are all in trouble when we fail to separate compromise and political surrender from reasoning and from what is right.

  44. Alexander Berkman

    @ geewhizz ” looks like howard was Right afterall” -I think you meanT FAR RIGHT, just like the image in your mirror

  45. Ken Lambert

    Gee Guy – there you go again…

    “Rather than treat them as subjects and world citizens to whom we have a treaty-based obligation, should they arrive at our shores, the new approach is that they should be managed from afar, so that they don’t even want to come here.”

    Should they arrive on our shores? Hello? Just happened to be in the area and thought, well, since Oz is the richest and best provisioned country in the region of Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iraq – how about I stay??

    We are being gamed mate – by an elaborate web of smuggler connections which have only today reportedly involved the Indonesian military.

    This is my piece which Crikey printed (less Para 2&3) back on 3SEP11: (funny how para 2 was pretty spot-on eh??)

    “There is a solution – a morally defensible one at that. Those who have the money to pay people smugglers are automatically deported back to Indonesia on the grounds that refugees in camps around the region (the Burmese in Malaysia for example) who do not have a razoo are more in need or resettlement and have a moral and legal right to be resettled ahead of a smugglee. Of course David Mann (he of the taxpayer funded refugee legal service) will object that such deportation breaches the UN convention and Indonesia would not allow them back in any case.

    Here the Kevin Rudd art of gentle persuasion comes into play. I would expect that our intelligence service, if it is doing its job, would know the names and addresses of a good number of Indonesian officials who are paid by the smugglers to facilitate the trade. Local police chiefs, harbormasters, village chiefs would know exactly which boats have been bought and when and where they depart for Australia. Now Mr Bang Bang Yudyono might not be personally getting a slice of the action, but a well presented dossier of the culprits and the embarrassing links to the Indonesian Government would be useful in making Mr Bang Bang an offer he could not refuse.

    Indonesia takes back a couple of boat loads of smugglees who are instantly deported by air on arrival in Australia, and Mr Rudd will not publish the dossier or leak it to Wikileaks. It would only take a couple of deportations to stop the trade. As soon as the word got up the smuggler pipeline that a paid trip will result in immediate deportation, then the game is up. There is no product to sell.

    And as for breaking the UN Convention – Australia makes its laws to proscribe paying a smuggler and that prima facie any boat originating from Indonesia or other nominated places is a smuggled transit. If that won’t stand a High Court challenge – then we simply withdraw from the UN Convention and enact our version into law. This would bring us into line with most of the countries in our region.”
    end quote

    This is the solution which dare not speak its name. One which needs political bravery, diplomatic punch and a firm grasp of the moral argument that a refugee without a razoo rotting in a Malaysian camp has a right to resettlement in Australia ahead of any self-selectee who can pay for a smuggled passage.

  46. CML

    @ KEN LAMBERT – Bravo! I agreed with you in September, and haven’t changed my mind.
    As for Guy, he lives in cloud cuckoo land. No one has yet told him that the government of any country REPRESENTS its citizens. At present a minority of people are holding the rest of us to ransom – not on!
    In order to make happen what Ken suggests, we should have a referendum re withdrawal from the UN Refugee Convention. These laws were put in place over 60 years ago, in very different circumstances, and are no longer suitable for the 21st century. Now if that makes us international pariahs, then so be it, but I reckon there would be a lot of other countries not far behind us.
    Unfortunately, the sheer number of refugees world wide now threatens all western countries with the probability of significantly reduced living standards – not right now, but certainly by mid-century. Then we will have severe community unrest and world-wide chaos. It is just not possible for all people from third world countries (or even a significant minority of them) to move to “rich” countries, even if they are having a hard time at home. Why don’t they stay in their own country and be part of developing it? There will always be wars somewhere in the world – that has been going on since the world began.
    At the very least, the Refugee Convention needs to have some numbers attached to it, specifying how many refugees each country agrees to accept/year/head of population. The current free-for-all is just not sustainable in Australia or anywhere else. Finally, I have always thought that our humanitarian intake should be significantly increased. I am not, repeat not, against genuine refugees, just those who don’t appear to fit that description. (See my post re the editorial today)

  47. shepherdmarilyn

    Why do people who don’t know the meaning of a refugee insist that asylum seekers are not refugees?

    The records show that almost all of them here have been granted refugee visas with 640 of them in October and 1800 in the last three months.

    So if they are not refugees prove it because our own authorities state that they are.

    How though this country is so ignorant and lawless is beyond me.

    We don’t get to break the law because it suits a few morons.

  48. CML

    @ SM – If the authorities didn’t give most of the asylum seekers refugee status, you and your lawyer friends would bankrupt the country. I read somewhere recently that one asylum seeker had been to court a dozen times because he didn’t like the verdict from the refugee tribunal. Who do you think pays for all this? These stories of “woe is me” from carefully rehearsed asylum seekers, certainly don’t convince me that many of them should be granted refugee status. On top of that, we have the very naive, Hanson-Young, saying recently that those who fail to gain refugee status should not be sent home. What twaddle!
    I also saw a TV program recently (think it was on SBS, but a British doco) about young boys/men leaving Afghanistan, travelling across Europe, with the sole purpose of gaining entry into Britain. When they were asked why they didn’t stay in any of the countries along their journey, (most of which had signed the UN Refugee Convention) it basically came down to the British welfare system and the fact that once they had refugee status there, their families could start coming. Sound familiar? Surely you are not asking us to accept that all asylum seekers who put a toe in the sand at Christmas Island are genuine, while those who go through Europe are not? That doesn’t even make sense. As far as I’m concerned there should be much more scrutiny of these boat people. I don’t care how long it takes. The UN Refugee Convention needs updating, and if that isn’t going to happen, then I think we should withdraw from it.
    And stop calling people names (moron) – your argument is lost before you begin.

  49. shepherdmarilyn

    UNHCR newsletter, December

    UNHCR is concerned by several
    features of the debate which have led to
    an unhelpful politicization of what is, in our
    view, fundamentally a humanitarian issue.

    First, the number of people arriving by
    boat is very small by global standards. In
    the first nine months of 2011, just over
    2,500 people arrived to Australia by boat –
    about the same number who crossed from
    North Africa to Italy during one weekend
    in August. A reduction in boat arrivals of

    around 50 per cent to Australia this year
    has contributed to the overall number of
    asylum claims in Australia being down
    by 19 per cent in the first half of 2011,
    compared to the same period last year, in
    contrast to a 17 per cent increase across
    the industrialized world. Asylum claims
    made in Australia still represent just 2.5 per
    cent of the industrialized world’s total.

    Second, unlike the situation in many
    other industrialized states, those arriving
    by boat to Australia are mostly refugees in
    need of protection. Despite the controversy
    in Australia over ‘push and pull factors’,
    there is a direct correlation between high
    refugee recognition rates and source
    countries that are beset by conflict,
    human rights violations and persecution.

    Approaches based solely on deterring
    boats fail to appreciate this fact and do
    not ask the more fundamental questions
    of how and where these refugees are to
    find protection if they are turned back from
    Australia. This is why UNHCR places such
    emphasis on initiatives that share, rather

    than shift, the responsibility for refugee
    protection between states.

    Third, the confusion, and often wilful
    conflation, of Australia’s commitment to
    offer asylum to those eligible under the
    1951 Refugee Convention with a separate,
    and discretionary, programme of resettling
    6,000 UNHCR-referred refugees from
    different part of the world each year.

    This has led many to assume, wrongly,
    hat ‘proper’ refugees arrive through the
    resettlement programme and ‘improper’
    refugees arrive by boat, with the latter
    accused of violating Australia’s borders
    and hospitality by jumping the (mythical)
    queue of more deserving people awaiting

    resettlement. This false characterisation
    has led, in our view, to a disappointing loss
    of support for the institution of asylum at
    a time, during the Refugee Convention’s
    60th anniversary year, when we are asking
    States to reaffirm the primacy of this
    important human rights instrument.

    Fourth, the mandatory detention of
    asylum-seekers and refugees remains deeply
    problematic, both as matter of international
    law and also for its high human and financial
    cost. UNHCR is concerned by escalating
    levels of self-harm and frustration that can be
    traced, in no small measure, to people being
    held far too long in remote locations without
    certainty as to their status. At an expert

    Workshop convened by UNHCR in June, a
    number of steps were identified that would
    allow more asylum-seekers and refugees
    to be released into community settings.

    Slow and opaque security assessment
    processes were identified as a serious
    issue needing attention. Following the High
    Court of Australia decision in August which
    effectively rules out ‘offshore’ processing
    for the foreseeable future, the question of
    alternatives to detention becomes even

    more pressing.

    Fifth, a domestic policy debate that
    focuses too much on a dichotomy of
    ‘onshore’ versus ‘offshore’ processing in
    third countries. This has skewed the debate
    away from what UNHCR believes is a
    more important question, which is how to
    develop genuine burden-sharing measures to widen and deepen the quality of asylum
    and protection throughout the region. In
    this context, UNHCR’s past concern about
    the transfer of asylum-seekers to remote
    locations such as Nauru and Manus Island
    in Papua New Guinea are well known. We
    view these as arrangements that tend to
    deflect responsibility for refugee protection
    and do not involve the kind of burden-
    sharing mechanisms that are needed if
    the Regional Cooperation Framework is to
    address the common problems faced by
    States in the region.

    Lastly, as with the other 148 States
    party to the Refugee Convention, UNHCR
    believes that Australia needs to maintain its
    fair and robust asylum procedures and that
    regional initiatives should supplement rather
    than replace them.

  50. Whistleblower

    @ ken lambert and CML

    I agree with much of what you say. However to implement your suggestions would take courage and logic, both conditions being lacking in the political sphere.

    Take Shepherd Marilyn for example.
    Logical analysis is lost on her, and she keeps repeating the mantra of asylum seekers are refugees like a mediaeval mendicant.

    Refugee advocates like her ares totally oblivious to the logical consequences of policy being pursued by wet small l liberals who are happy to let any queue jumper come ashore and go straight to Centrelink to sign up for benefits and then file reunion applications for 20 their relatives to join them.

    They fail to see the pull factor of full citizenship and Centrelink benefits for unemployed goat herders with a lazy $15,000 or so who can afford air travel from their country of origin to Indonesia, the cost of local accommodation, the cost of bribing Indonesian customs officials and other associated hangers on including what that what now appears to be elements of the Indonesian military to bribe their way onto boats and pay the $5-$10,000 fee to be smuggled into Australia.

    They fail to see that it is very easy to create/fabricate a sob story about being a refugee, aided and abetted by the growing army of refugee advocates and “immigration consultants” in Australia to present information supporting refugee status, a situation that probably 50- 100,000,000 people could put together. The question is not whether these people can present a case which fits the definition of refugee, but why are they here, how did they get here, and what bribery and corruption was involved in getting here and whether they have an equitable case compared to the tens or hundreds of thousands of refugees currently sitting in refugee camps..

    One is forced to the inescapable conclusion that these people are delusional, and are probably trying to boost an ego suffering from very low personal self-esteem by running around as do-gooders creating havoc at the expense of others. They fail to see that the logical extension of the advocacy policy will be that the Australian community will be swamped by refugee applicants and that Australia must impose effective controls over illegal immigration.

  51. Suzanne Blake

    @ shepherdmarilyn

    Marilyn, you can bang on and on with your active sonar on this issues, many are listening here, but around 10% of the populaion, maybe 15%.

  52. zut alors

    On the next occasion our government is deciding whether or not to aid and abet our North American ‘cousins’ in the illegal invasion of a foreign country it may be prudent to first ask the question: should this war lead to thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or even millions of nationals fleeing the terror we create, will we be willing to take responsibility for them?

    If the answer is ‘no way!’ then that is also the answer to the potential war engagement.

  53. Alexander Berkman

    @ZUt – A light in the tunnel of fetid darkness! Exactly! Can’t wait for the responses form our raci$t ‘friends’….!


    A slight inconsistency: on the one hand they are people of means who can pay a substantial amount to smugglers to get here, and on the other, they are “unemployed goat herders”.

    Much of the heat in this argument is around the notion that those who pay to get here are less deserving than someone stuck in a camp in some hell hole without the financial means to do so.

    But I’m almost sure you’d get the answer “the user pays” to just about any other economic question you put to these types.

    Cognitive dissonance maybe?


    And I don’t see anyone standing at the airport shouting to the 2,500 Greeks who have flown in this year that they are just economic refugees and should go home.

    It’s all very selective outrage apparently.

  56. Bob the builder

    What an issue to attract muddle-headed irrational emotionalism!

    If hordes were going to drip down here (quick note: a map is a 2D representation of a 3D reality – the only gravity comes from the sky down to earth), they would have done it long ago. Unbelievably, most people would prefer to live where they are, even if – gasp! gasp! – they are poor. We may be kidding ourselves about what a wonderful place our society is to live.

    Australia’s wealth is due to a number of factors, but hard work and superior personal qualities are negligible – free land stolen from the previous occupiers, descent from European stock, membership of the industrialising/-ed world, English-speaking – these are all far more important factors, along with the general systemic alienation of wealth and resources from the poorer majority by the rich club of nations that’s been going on the centuries and has accelerated in the last two or three decades.

    If your hatred of refugees is greater than your avarice for that new plasma flatscreen, why don’t you campaign for economic justice and take only a fair share of the world’s wealth?

    That’s the issue – we can’t continue to steal from the world and contribute to war and lawlessness overseas then whinge about a dribble of decent, resourceful people as a consequence.

    So, what’s it to be megaphones?

  57. Arty

    Here is the obvious course of action for both side of politics.

    The present government should implement the opposition’s refugee proposal exactly as submitted. Then we can all see whether or not it is successful.

    At the inevitable change of government, the incoming government should then make reporting of all refugee matters a national security issue to prevent publication of refugee deaths and disabilities – except for creation of a model camp for inspection by the popular media.

  58. GeeWizz

    [“People smugglers (including the Indonesian police profiting from the ‘business model’) are not the problem.”]

    Of course they are, they are criminal scum. No wonder the lefties are sticking up for them.

    [“the most desperate genuine asylum seekers come from countries where it is either impossible or too dangerous to apply for a visa.”]

    Yet somehow they have no problem boarding first-class on Emirates Airways to Indonesia with a few stop offs along the way. Sorry I’m not buying it.

    The most desperate genuine asylum seekers are sitting in refugee camps, to poor to pay for a round the world airfare, let alone pay for their food for the week.

    [“And why the far greater numbers of asylum seekers arriving by air
    are those who were in the happy position of being able to get a visa. Fewer of them are deemed to be genuine asylum seekers, and many are returned to their home countries. (I assume they all hold return tickets.) “]

    Thats because people coming via air have passports. We know who these people are, the country they are from and can use their names to check their stories.

    We can’t do this with illegal boat arrivals because they burn their ID papers. Why do they do this? Because there is a massive loophole in our immigration system which allows those without ID’s to be given the benefit of the doubt, plus it’s very difficult to repatriate them back to their country of origin because Australia must prove they actually came from that country.

    Illegals are rorting this loophole and leftwingers are helping them do it.

    [“Opening processing centres in Nauru and Malaysia isn’t going to stop visa-less asylum seekers from undertaking dangerous journeys in over-loaded fishing boats. “]

    Of course it will, thats why the lefties are terrified of the re-introduction of TPV’s, Turning back the boats and Nauru because it worked so effectively last time. The numbers don’t lie and no leftwing talking points will change that fact.

    [“Has the Government considered looking for a way to make it possible for visa-less asylum-seekers to fly in to Australia instead?”]

    I’ve got a much cheaper and better solution…. rather than fly 2 Billion people in from the middle east, south east asia and africa that would love to live in Australia, how about we fly all the leftwingers OUT to these countries to give them a taste of what they want which is open borders.

    We’ll live happily on this little island by ourselves and the leftwingers can live their open borders lifestyle. Sounds good eh?

  59. Bob the builder

    “Yet somehow they have no problem boarding first-class on Emirates Airways to Indonesia with a few stop offs along the way. Sorry I’m not buying it.”


  60. GeeWizz

    [“Here is the obvious course of action for both side of politics.

    The present government should implement the opposition’s refugee proposal exactly as submitted. Then we can all see whether or not it is successful.”]


    TPV’s, Turning back the boats where appropiate and Nauru.

    If it works then Labor has to admit that Tony Abbott and Howard got it right.

    If it fails to stop the boats then Labor can say it’s not working, Abbott’s plan is a failure and they can have their Malaysian Solution.

    Unfortunately Labor still can’t get over it’s pride and pick up the phone to the President of Nauru.

  61. GeeWizz



    How do you reckon they are getting from the other side of the world? Flying carpet?

    They can make a flight all the way from Pakistan to Indonesia… but somehow they lose their passports on landing.

    These people are class-A con artists.

  62. Archer

    Alexander Berkman Friday, 23 December 2011

    “@ZUt – A light in the tunnel of fetid darkness! Exactly! Can’t wait for the responses form our raci$t ‘friends’….!”

    Oops, there’s the “R” word, just because a portion of the population wants orderly processes used and justification shown for entry of illegal arrivals, it does not make them racist.

    And I don’t care if they arrive by plane, boat or if they swim.

  63. Son of foro

    [Unfortunately Labor still can’t get over it’s pride and pick up the phone to the President of Nauru.]

    Yet we learn today that Nauru can’t accept any asylum seekers at the moment because the facilities are being used as a primary school.

    Perhaps Mr Abbott needs to take his own advice and pick up the phone to the President of Nauru before he opens his mouth again. Perhaps a conference call with Ms Gillard?

    Isn’t it great when Australian politics goes beyond farce.

  64. GeeWizz

    [“Yet we learn today that Nauru can’t accept any asylum seekers at the moment because the facilities are being used as a primary school.”]

    The left told us the Nauru facilites were tantamount to a Naz1 concentration camp.

    Now we learn the kids of Nauru are reading books, playing games and loving their new facilities. Seems the reality and the leftwing say are 2 completely different things.

    As to the facilities, the school was only one such accomodation buildings, there is another group of buildings that have been abandonned and will require some minor maintanence(probably 2 weeks worth) and can be up and running again.

  65. Bob the builder

    “Now we learn the kids of Nauru are reading books, playing games and loving their new facilities. Seems the reality and the leftwing say are 2 completely different things.”


  66. Son of foro

    [As to the facilities, the school was only one such accomodation buildings, there is another group of buildings that have been abandonned and will require some minor maintanence(probably 2 weeks worth) and can be up and running again.]

    Actually, the President has advised that that’s being used as well.

    Perhaps you can join in the conference call with Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott? The President has indicated that he’d like someone from our wonderful country to give him a call before deciding what happens with his wee island.

    [Now we learn the kids of Nauru are reading books, playing games and loving their new facilities.]

    I think the schools are being run in a slightly different manner to the detention centres, school teachers generally being a bit nicer than private security goons.

  67. Bazza Smith

    In an age of market based mechanisms why are we not just under cutting the people smugglers? We’d make some money back and wreck their business model while not only regaining control over who arrives here but also helping prevent maritime tragedies.

    Also please note the Pacific solution was illegal and that it didn’t do as good a job of stopping the boats as occurred in 1982-1988 without any mandatory detention or offshore processing.

  68. GeeWizz

    [“Also please note the Pacific solution was illegal and that it didn’t do as good a job of stopping the boats as occurred in 1982-1988 without any mandatory detention or offshore processing.”]

    How was it illegal, and please be specific.

    The High Court ruling recently said Nauru was a different set of circumstances to Malaysia, because in Nauru protections and quality of life were guaranteed by the Australian Government.

    Therefore, If we can’t process boaties in Nauru, we can’t process them in Australia.

  69. Liz45

    ABBOTT and his band of No-alition members don’t want the boats to stop! They milk it for all it’s worth. They give not one fig about anyone – certainly not coffee coloured people who don’t speak English! This will not resolve today! I’d bet money on it! (not much, but some!)And the Govt is no better on this issue! Disgusting!

    Those who are so heartless and choose to ignore FACTS ! Where were you lot when thousands, hundreds of thousands, over a million in Iraq were/are getting murdered with our agreeance? This has been the worst year for civilian deaths in Afghanistan. Where’s the outrage for the loss of innocent lives? What about the babies, kids and the aged? Who knows what the average age is in Afghanistan? How many kids are orphans? How many kids have lost one parent or has one without one limb or more?

    We lose 10 people in Afghanistan and it’s a national calamity – some families in Afghanistan and Iraq are almost decimated – by our actions! Pesky little people aren’t they? They should stay there and die quietly, and with much dignity! It suits us better that way!

    I’m so fed up with the absolute drivel argument of so many people with selective memory! It’s just really p*****g me off! When Marilyn and others reprint FACTS, you abuse her! I would love to see some people in the same position as those seeking asylum. Unbelievable!

    The Coalition AGREED to the many changes re asylum seekers. In fact, some changes came about due to Petro Georgio and others. They were part of the Committee that agreed to changes; Sharmon Stone was on that Committee. they were more than happy with those changes, until after Turnbull was politically executed – by those who are ‘in charge’ now! It’s only for political gain that they are showing concern over the drownings at sea – which I see as a tragedy, but no more so than those poor people were forced to live EVERY DAY by us!

    IF we want to be known as a decent world citizen, we should act like one! Both the Govt and the Opposition are just beneath contempt! I’m just turning them off, as I’m so sick of their behaviour. Neither side give a s**t by asylum seekers or us either for that matter!

    IF WE WANT TO STOP THE BOATS, LET’S STOP OUR KILLING SPREE, OR SUPPORTING OTHERS WHO ARE! Like propping up Burma and Sri Lanka, and engaging in happy family military activities with them! Disgusting!

  70. Alexander Berkman

    @ LiZ45 – As usual , intelligent and rational input. thankyou! Have a happy solstice!

  71. GeeWizz

    [“We lose 10 people in Afghanistan and it’s a national calamity – some families in Afghanistan and Iraq are almost decimated – by our actions! Pesky little people aren’t they? They should stay there and die quietly, and with much dignity! It suits us better that way! “]

    Maybe we should just hand it all over to the Taliban eh Liz, I hear they are really nice people at heart.

    Other than whinging about all the killing and maiming Australian “murderers” are doing(I bet they wish they were home from Christmas, not there protecting the freedoms of the Afghan people), what solutions do you actually have?

    Just pull out? Will you and the left then take responsibility for the consequences? Of course not… the left never take responsibility for anything they do, you’ll jusdt be in here whinging we aren’t in Afghanistan saving their lives and it’s all the wests fault.

    BTW Worldwide asylum seeker numbers peaked in 2002 and have come down significantly since. The reason? Repatriated asylum seekers going back to Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course that doesn’t suit your agenda…. it’s all the wests fault, it’s all Howards fault, it’s all Bush’s fault.

  72. GeeWizz

    What we should do is a 3 stage plan on stopping the boats.

    Firstly reintroduce the Pacific Solution and reopen Nauru…. this is stage 1. All boatpeople who arrive illegally will be sent directly to Nauru for processing.

    Secondly after processing on Nauru, any undesirables(aka. violent men, trouble makers, arsonists, possible threats to Australias national security, fake refugees etc etc) that we don’t want we send to Malaysia as part of the people swap deal. We keep the ones that are well behaved, polite and patient and once processed we send them to Australia.

    Stage 3 is those that are brought to Australia will live here under TPV’s. No welfare cheques, centrelink benefits, or family reunions or anything else for 2 Years as is the SAME rules that apply to all new immigrants. They should however be given work rights, English language lessons and some medicare concessions.

    Now everyones happy.

    Libs get Nauru as primary processing centre. Labor gets Malaysia to dump the undesirables. Libs get TPV’s for 2 Years after arrival.

    Not only that but my plan above is using all of the available tools in the governments arsenal to stop the boats.

  73. shepherdmarilyn

    Gee, you support a double dipping fiction then do you? Why do you support the notion that an asylum seeker can get refugee status in one country and then put in an application for further status in another country at the expense of the taxpayers of that country when there is no legal basis for it?

    How nice to live in a world where order is god, in a nation where we are too pathetic to wait 5 minutes in the supermarket without whinging.

    There is no such thing anywhere in the as orderly refugee settlement. Seeking asylum is random and 8 people per minute do it from all corners of the earth every day to all corners of the earth and there is nothing remotely organised about it.

    4 times more fly here and apply for an 866 protection visa than apply after coming by sea but you don’t demand that those who fly here wait somewhere else.

    Honestly troll, go to Afghanistan or Iraq and see how ordered it is.

    And by the way, the Chin are the safest refugees in Malaysia, it is the Afghans, Sri Lankans and Iranians who are the worst treated because Malaysia will not allow them to even make a refugee application no matter how long they are locked up there.

  74. Bob the builder

    People FFS!!


  75. Dagney_Taggert

    Dumb question….. according to Article 31 of the 1951 Convention, asylum seekers who come directly from a country where their life or freedom are threatened should not be penalised for entering or being in a country unlawfully, provided they present themselves to the authorities without delay. What standing do the asylum seekers who come via a third country, such as Indonesia, have, noting that under Australia law they are classified as unlawful?

  76. Liz45


    HOWARD turned back some of his worst and inhumane policies because people in his own govt forced him to – brave and christian-like people who demanded decency as opposed to the ‘pacific solution’ practices that should’ve had a different name? Your memory is very narrow and negates many truths? How can that be? Do you also think that people like Marilyn, Alexander, myself and others are suffering from Alzheimer’s, that we can’t remember more than a few days back?

    Under Saddam and Iran, attempting to leave was punishable by death. As if you can just stroll down ‘Pitt St’ to the relevant office and request a visa? Permission to leave, sir? What you think OK is like throwing a bomb into an area and then jailing those who manage to escape. If you believe that Afghanis, Iraqis etc should stay home and die, have the guts to say so. Don’t go on with all the bs under the sun. Spell it out! They should stay home and die quietly – far away from us! That’d be your solution? How ungrateful of them wanting to get out of a hell hole!
    After all we’ve done for them! There you go, you just can’t help them when they insist on leaving a hell hole created by us! Damned ungrateful lot!

    Fancy people like Marilyn trotting out the relevant Acts(passed by both major parties????) clearing showing how the major parties are breaking their own Laws – that’s before we even talk about the international laws that we insist on committing to – in writing! It’s the action bit that they don’t like!

  77. Liz45

    GEEWIZZ – Why, we even voted for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world? How about that? We looked pretty good in the UN didn’t we? Pity that we don’t have to actually DO SOMETHING! Even something as minor as insisting that indigenous people are mentioned? in our Constitution? Wow! we can’t do that? Next thing is, they’ll also start insisting on being treated as human beings? Of equal importance? Just like those pesky coffee coloured and black people from Asia or the Middle East? My goodness, what next? Health care and housing no less!

    I recall a whole family being sent back to Pakistan, because Ruddock or Vanstone insisted that they came from there – where in fact, they were from Afghanistan as the female head of the family insisted all along. Oh yes, we behaved very morally after she gave birth to her 5th child – a little boy; we locked them both up in a motel for 10 months under 24 hour guard; denied her husband the right to be at the birth, and wouldn’t allow her to live with her other kids? How upstanding! What a generous and christian bunch making that decision? I also recall the woman who was given a caesarian section(without her consent) and she gave birth to twing. Then there’s Vivien Salon and Cornelia Rau – both examples of Ruddock at work! NOt to mention the over 100 who’d been jailed incorrectly?

    How could I forget the horror of the woman from China, who was 8 months pregnant. she begged to be able to stay. Then she begged to be able to stay just until her child was born. No to both requests. she was sent back to China and her child was forcibly aborted. This was the action undertaken while Abbott was part of the Howard govt. How many other little christians were in that bunch? People like Marilyn and Alex and others sent emails, letters etc, but our pleas fell on deaf ears. I think that those responsible should’ve been charged with contributing to murder – but, of course, they were not! She was only a woman – she wasn’t even from Australia. She was a non-person in their eyes!

    You lot get into bed with people responsible for these sorts of human rights abuses – you too are just as culpable as they are!

    How about the millions$$$ paid out this year(damages compensation) due to Howard/Ruddock/Vanstone’s horrific decisions going back several years – prior to Rudd?

  78. GeeWizz

    [“GEEWIZZ – Why, we even voted for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world? How about that? We looked pretty good in the UN didn’t we? Pity that we don’t have to actually DO SOMETHING! Even something as minor as insisting that indigenous people are mentioned? in our Constitution? Wow! we can’t do that? Next thing is, they’ll also start insisting on being treated as human beings? Of equal importance? Just like those pesky coffee coloured and black people from Asia or the Middle East? My goodness, what next? Health care and housing no less!”]

    Liz you are doing what lefties always do and focusing on tokenism.

    A few words written on a piece of paper is what matters to the left. Will putting the word “Aborigines” in our constitution stop drunkeness in Alice Springs? Will saying “sorry” make all the rapes that currently happen in Indigineous communities disappear?

    It’s all about tokenism for the left. You enjoy words, not actions. You get off on talkfests, not policy.

    Aborigines don’t want words, they want jobs, security and education.

  79. shepherdmarilyn

    The same as anyone else, because this is the first place along the way they can apply for protection.

    Mr Towle—Yes.
    Senator EGGLESTON—One of the things I noted in the material we have before us is that
    article 31 of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees prescribes
    the entitlements of:
    … refugees who—
    coming directly—
    note the word ‘directly’—
    from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1 …
    Many of our unauthorised arrivals are Muslims who come through Malaysia or Indonesia. What
    is the legal situation then under this article 31 in terms of coming directly from an area of
    persecution—say, Afghanistan or Iraq?
    Mr Towle—It is a very important question. There is an assumption that asylum seekers should
    really apply for asylum at the first reasonable opportunity. It is not a legal principle at all, but
    there is an assumption that every country should offer protection but that you should not be able
    to forum-shop and travel around the world looking for the best place where you want to end up.
    The problem for Australia is that, between the places of conflict today and where Australia is
    situated down here in the South Pacific, there are very few countries that have signed the refugee
    convention. If you take Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and perhaps Burma to some extent as the
    countries that are really producing refugees these days, you would be hard to put to it to find any
    refugee convention state between those place and Australia. There is nothing in South-East Asia
    at all. UNHCR fills the gap a little in Indonesia, as you know, and in Malaysia, but those
    countries do not have any regulatory framework at all to protect refugees. The problem for us is
    how we keep the gates open here for those who need it but also encourage states further up the
    people movement chain, if you like, to do the right thing there. That is something that is a long-
    term work in progress for us. Article 31 hints at those kinds of issues.

    Enough of nonsense, we never ask the same idiotic questions of people who fly here from all over Europe and apply for refugee status even though they are frauds.

  80. Archer


    Do I detect a level of “misotheism” in your postings. Not good for someone who thows the R word around.

  81. shepherdmarilyn

    Reference: Immigration detention in Australia

  82. Liz45

    Thanks Marilyn – again for sharing your KNOWLEDGE of FACTS???Some of us do appreciate it!

    SB, for your information, when the people are told THE TRUTH ( a strange concept for some I know)they believe in treating people with dignity and decency. Those who turn their eyes away so as to miss any form of violence etc are in a minority? Sort of like those who believe in same sex marriage and the right to die etc. It’s just people like you who misrepresent the Law and other Australian’s viewpoint!

    @ARCHER – I tell you what? If I got into strife, I’d seek support from Alex and Marilyn and others of like mind – and I’d walk a klm to get away from you and SB and Whistleblower, Geewizz etc. I can feel the loathing from here!

    Just one more time – slowly! It is NOT illegal to seek asylum in any country! OK! Get it! Not illegal! Regardless of whether you arrive by boat, plane or carrier pigeon? OK???Got it now? Wow! That’s a relief!

    What about the 40-60,000 people living here while we speak without a visa? Even when they’re caught or whatever, they remain in the community until a decision is made. Also, they have always had the right to appeal a negative decision, while those who came by boat could not – until some time ago! I think that was one of the High Court decisions that has gone against the current govt this year! Marilyn will know if I’m correct on this one – her KNOWLEDGE of the relevant legalities are far superior to mine! The govt has lost 3 High Court decisions this year alone! I’d love it if the Coalition agreed to Nauru; the govt taken to the High Court by David Mann or Julian Burnside etc and lose again! That would shut Abbott and Morrison up – one would hope!

    Just heard on the 4.30 pm news headlines – the ‘meeting’ has broken up in Sydney without reaching agreement. Now why doesn’t that surprise me? I said as much this morning – at about 9am I think? How disgusting they are!

  83. GeeWizz

    Anyone notice that Swan, Bishop, Abbott and KEVIN RUDD were at the meeting, but Gillard was nowhere to be seen?

    I’m guessing this was at the insistance of Rudd that she not show up or he was out of there.

  84. Julie

    I agree with you about sticking to the UN Convention – otherwise what is the point of them and what example is this to the next generation? Basically take no notice – we are all rhetoric and if we choose we can do what we like.
    I am a member of the ALP but on this issue it is tearing me apart – my angst recorded at http://www.woman-in-labor-politics.blogspot.com

    Have a Merry Christmas and Renewing of your fine intellectual batteries. Cheers!

  85. Liz45

    @GEEWIZZ – Guessing is a favourite past time of yours isn’t it? You trot it out instead of using rational thought? You trot it out in lieu of even acknowledging any knowledge of laws or the obligation by our Govt to abide by our Laws – both domestic and International?

    Could it be that she’s away on holidays? Could it be that she is entitled to have some time off? Just like you and I. Do you have a conspiracy theory for everything, or are you just selective – as usual? You have the knack of just ignoring any relevant facts that might reflect, that somewhere inside your hateful being, you just might have a conscience, or maybe even be capable of intelligent and logical thought? Instead of being an excuse mechanism for Abbott and his bunch of would-be dictators – if they had the chance! Such a nice little spokesperson for christianity!

    When are you going to accept, that we have some responsibility to Iraqis and Afghanis – after the death and misery we’ve caused there? Or do you just think that we can do what we please, just like the US, and they should just cop it sweet? Perhaps it would be an idea not to have chum buddy military excursions with Burma or make a point at being so welcoming to the dictators in Sri Lanka! There’s too much of us accepting their violence and then bellyaching when traumatised people feel, that their only recourse is to leave?

    You and your other trolls are beneath contempt! One can only hope, that one day, your day will come!

  86. John


    and mate, what would you personally do if the shoe was on the other foot? You would do exactly the same as they are doing; whatever is humanly possible. Think about it, and you might remember what it is like… to be…human.

  87. Whistleblower

    What I might do under the circumstances is entirely irrelevant. What I believe we are debating here is what is Australia’s policy towards people who force their way to the head of the refugee queue, through bribery and corrupt behaviour, as distinct from those who are rotting in refugee camps without the wherewithal to bribe their way in. Furthermore bleeding- heart activists getting their rocks off by aiding and abetting queue jumpers are making the situation worse.

    Pragmatism rather than principle here is the most important issue. Exploitation of our legal system is now becoming the order of the day, presumably funded by legal aid, to further facilitate such queue jumpers whether they arrive by boat or overstayed their visas.

    There are potentially tens of millions of refugees and the country cannot accommodate them all. All the piousrhetoric about definitions of refugees and refugee conventions ignores the fact that we can only accommodate a certain quantity, and that quantity, and the rate and time of arrival should be should be determined by the government, and not by criminals.

    Try analysing the practical issues of process management and relative equity rather than cheap personal shots. Remember that sarcasm is the last refuge of the fool.

  88. Venise Alstergren

    GEE WHIZ: WTF do you seriously believe the following, “”Secondly after processing on Nauru, any undesirables(aka. violent men, trouble makers, arsonists, possible threats to Australias national security, fake refugees etc etc) that we don’t want we send to Malaysia as part of the people swap deal. We keep the ones that are well behaved, polite and patient and once processed we send them to Australia.””

    Your whole attitude could only be based on an upmarket sale ring for slaves. Put an ankle-tag on that one, a wrist- tag to deter malingers. Doubtless the authorities in your Orwellian scenario will frown at mixed marriages. So better be wise and prevent them from going to Australia. And those with hay fever will be mandated to go onto our biggest sugar cane fields.

    If your argument had been written for comic relief it might have been entertaining; but I think you are quite serious? The details, the details, the details. How, for instance, does anyone spot a first time arsonist? “”We keep the ones that are well behaved, polite and patient”” You intone, then with a sweeping and spectral, never-the-less paternalistic wave of your arms you state that these quiet ones are the chosen few. Really? And how do you suppose Australia got started in the first place? If not by using the losers of society and their progeny?

  89. geomac

    Anyone notice that Swan, Bishop, Abbott and KEVIN RUDD were at the meeting, but Gillard was nowhere to be seen?

    According to the Age and the Hun Morrison was there but no mention of A A . A typo is normal but being casual with facts and information is standard practice for SB aka truthie . The above isn,t even a howler by the supporter of Mirabella because no standards of ethics or morality are required just money for old rope and hope nobody squeals too loud.
    Children overboard and WMDs ? Well , it sounded like a good idea to use those images and it worked for a while didn,t it ? What astounds me is the thought that anyone with a reasonable knowledge of human nature can delve so low and expect to be accepted as a fellow human being .

  90. GeeWizz

    [“The details, the details, the details. How, for instance, does anyone spot a first time arsonist? “]

    I don’t know if you have noticed, but some of these lovely sweet and innocent boaties are responsible for the burning down our detention centres at Villawood, Woomera, Christmas Island, Darwin, Curtin, etc etc etc.

    How do we spot an arsonist? Simple… they are attempting to burn down Nauru. Straight to Malaysia with them.

    The reality is Dillards deal with Malaysia only deals with 800 illegals, so it should be Australia’s right to selectively choose which ones we send. I think I speak for most Australians when I say the scumbags involved in the riots, the violence and the burnings don’t deserve to live here.

  91. Alexander Berkman

    @Archer – I prefer my miso as a soup

  92. Fran Barlow

    This whole area of policy is perfectly simple to address.

    But first, let’s stop using the term “offshore processing” for “offshore warehousing”. As far as I can tell, the so-called Malaysia/NauruSolution is expressly intended as a punishment imposed on those seeking asylum calculated to deter others from doing so. There’s nothing at all in principle to prevent Australian authorities, in concert with the UNHCR “processing” applicants in places such as Indonesia and Malaysia or anywhere else such folk aggregate. We of the left not only support such processing but think it should be done expeditiously.

    Australia should process such people (while co-extensively doing primary health care, supplying education services, doing skills audits etc) so that those who fit the specification of refugees can be moved without serious delay to countries willing to accept them, including of course, Australia. In processing should take a maximum of 90 days, and where this standard can’t be met, applicants who have a plausible case should be moved by orthodox means to our major cities and placed within suitable communities (under the oversight of a qualified case manager who can smooth their path through the bureacracy) while further inquiries are made. They should be encouraged to seek work and/or further education.

    Australia should also seek a definite agreement between all states who have ratified the Refugee Convention either to accept those so deemed, or to fund resettlement, or some combination of these two based on their capacity to pay (i.e. per capita GDP). They should also give priority to resettlement of those who could succeed under either humanitarian resettlement provisions, or skilled and business migration, where Australia (or any state doing a similar program) has qualified the applicants.

    For those who are not simply raising the issue of “boats” disingenuously to cover their animus towards asylum seekers, this is a reasonable apporach to addressing the basic humanitarian obligation that should attach to all civilised states.

  93. Fran Barlow

    Ha … I join the list of modded responders. I didn’t mention any poster or use any “naughty” words. One has to wonder why.

  94. Whistleblower

    @Alexander Berkman
    Your potty training must have gone seriously awry because your total contribution to this debate has been nothing more than shallow personal abuse in relation to those with whom you disagree . Furthermore you do not have the courage to use appropriate spelling, preferring the smart arse technique of modifying spelling to avoid Crikey’s pathetic automated moderation tool.

    Your contribution has all of the intellectual content of a shallow mud pool after recent rains, and is providing further evidence of the appalling moderation standards of Crikey which has gone progressively downhill since Stephen Mayne left.

  95. GeeWizz

    [“Australia should process such people (while co-extensively doing primary health care, supplying education services, doing skills audits etc) so that those who fit the specification of refugees can be moved without serious delay to countries willing to accept them, including of course, Australia. In processing should take a maximum of 90 days, and where this standard can’t be met, applicants who have a plausible case should be moved by orthodox means to our major cities and placed within suitable communities (under the oversight of a qualified case manager who can smooth their path through the bureacracy) while further inquiries are made”]

    Hi Fran,

    How many of 3 Billion that would like to live in Australia will you be hosting at your house?

    You are in lala land now with your open borders idea.

    [“Australia should also seek a definite agreement between all states who have ratified the Refugee Convention either to accept those so deemed, or to fund resettlement, or some combination of these two based on their capacity to pay (i.e. per capita GDP).”]

    I know this is a silly silly question, but what do you do for a living and how much in taxes do you pay per year?

    An interesting trait I have noticed about leftists is that most of them pay no taxes and are themselves on some form of government benefits. Hey…. as long as someone elses pays right?

  96. shepherdmarilyn

    What I don’t understand is why so many middle aged white men in Australia are happy to will away the human rights of others.

  97. GeeWizz

    [“What I don’t understand is why so many middle aged white men in Australia are happy to will away the human rights of others.”]

    You forgot taxpaying…. taxpaying middle aged white men Sheperd.

    When was the last time you paid taxes Sheperd?

  98. Suzanne Blake

    @ GeeWhiz

    Yes is on a permanent pension, living in the winefields of SA!!

  99. GeeWizz

    [“@ GeeWhiz

    Yes is on a permanent pension, living in the winefields of SA!!”]

    Must be a hard life bludging off others and then trying to tell them how the government should spend their money.

    I have a feeling though that Marilyn has a little side business going where she profits from boat arrivals. Nobody could be this blind sided without making some $$$ on the side.

  100. Suzanne Blake

    @ GeeWizz

    You are right, she runs the detention centre in SA and gets paid per person, can only be the explanation. I bet she lives in a little house with its own market garden and compost bin.

  101. Whistleblower

    @Marilyn Sheppard
    You must live your life in a black-and-white world of moral absolutes by stating “so many middle-aged white men are happy to will away the human rights of others.”.
    The concept of human rights is an exercise in relativism and social convention. Human rights is a fabrication of the moral absolutist, because when it comes down to it, human rights is purely a matter of convention. On the battlefield for example human rights do not exist if your intention is to butcher the enemy. In the area of politics, moral relativists like Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot, to quote several extreme examples, the wet liberal definition of human rights would carry no weight whatsoever.

    By convention we establish a number of social boundary conditions including property, criminality, and causing death or injury to others. However these are all social conventions, relevant for the time and the principle of general acceptance by the majority, with appropriate enforcement sanctions to maintain social stability.

    However there is no absolute human right, and banging on about people’s human rights is a waste of time unless one establishes the context in which the human rights debate is being established. Slaves in Rome had very little in the way of so-called human rights. Prisoners in Stalin’s gulags or Pol Pot’s Killing Fields had little or none.

    The so-called human rights of refugee claimants is solely at the discretion of the Australian jurisdiction, and this definition can change according to circumstance. There are no absolute standards which apply, only the conventions which we choose to apply at a particular time. Attribution of so-called human rights to refugee claimants is purely a matter of convention, and as we discriminate on the basis of immigration applications, we should also discriminate on the basis of refugee applications because these can be readily fabricated in order to satisfy existing Australian conventions.

    If these conventions are being abused or manipulated, then consideration should be given to changing the rules. Banging on about human rights is no substitute for cogent analysis of the consequences of activity. Of course if you lack the analytical capability to do anything else, t I suppose you are condemned to continue chanting the mantra.

    It is now appropriate for Australia to re-examine its adherence to the UN refugee Convention, and whether this Cold War apparatus is now appropriate for the conditions confronting Australia was wholesale abuse of our immigration processes through the use of criminal syndicates acting as people smugglers.

  102. Liz45

    @GEEWIZZ – Don’t judge other peoples’ morals or principles by your own!

    @WHISTLEBLOWER – Where is the queue in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or ????

    Seeing we’ve caused the trauma in those countries, don’t we have any obligation to those people whose whole life we’ve almost destroyed?

    It is a relevant question. What would you do if you awoke to bombs, automatic weapons, depleted uranium bombs etc every day for 7 – 10 years? I’d want to take my babies away too!

    @SB – How despicable you are! You should know better. Just because you lot surround yourselves with immoral, money grabbing, selfish, insular and despicable people, some of us were raised with a social conscience – it’s people like us that has helped give this country its moral compass – in spite of people like you! You lot would’ve done well working for Hitler! Same attitudes. Get rid of those humans who you perceive to be inferior. Have no moral values to assess behaviour. You just open your mouth and the vile hating gut comes out! Sickening!

    These people are human beings – that seems to be forgotten here. Ask your mate Abbott, in what part of the bible does it state, that he has the right to turn the boats back and murder innocent people? Perhaps you could ask his mate, Pell? These people rant on about the joy of xmas blah blah, but they don’t exhibit any of the actions. Just sickening and destructive!

    No doubt you’ll be watching their ‘christmas message’ tomorrow, when they disgust the rest of us with their hypocrisy!

  103. Liz45

    @GEEWIZZ – In case my last post is not published.

    You take certain crimes, committed by one group, and then lump the whole community as guilty. I’m sure you’d scream like a stuck pig if someone did that to you! If I have any doubt about how ignorant you really are, it’s removed every time you open your mouth – so to speak! You use certain crimes, that may or may not be committed by a certain group, and then insist that the whole population in that area or of that group are also guilty. Some sense of justice you have. But then, why am i not surprised?

  104. jtwoodrow

    We have some weird ideas here. We are told that if we were refugees we should sit about in a muddy camp with our family for 15-20 years, meekly do as we are told, and wait for someone to speak to us and not seek some other way of giving our families a future. We are told that, as refugees, we would be regarded as seeking to take other people’s jobs or to dole-bludge, as being diseased, or willing to throw our children into the water, or as terrorits – all this on the basis that there were a couple of people with TB or having police records or appearing in photographs used as anti-refugee propaganda. Such people are accused of costing too much taxpayer money because it takes time to settle into a country, be educated and receive some financial support so they can live and contribute to society. Yet in the WE Oz today is the headline “Crackown on dole punishing the vulnerable’. Greg Sheridan propounds some of this in his claim in The Weeend Australian that these people might not be who they claim they are – surely a matter which can be verified, if necessary. Even due process of the law is criticised because it costs money. So there is the cry that we ignore international law and change our laws so that others cannot access them. Then we have a solution for international dealings with other countries: we blackmail them. The idea is that the AFP must know who the ‘smugglers’ must be in Indonesia, so all they have to do is threaten them with exposure if they do not do as we want them to do. Great ethical diplomacy! Then we have the idea that all refugees must carry visas, even though just the application for visas would in some countries endanger the applicants and anyone of the family left behind. It is of great concern that there are these weird ideas floating about. Is it really a matter of people being misinformed about the issues, of being in thrall to propaganda, of being made to feel fear and loathing… some kind of xenophobia…or what? Logic and some basic facts do not seem to feature at all!

  105. Alexander Berkman

    @Whisleblonker -love you too..!

  106. Alexander Berkman

    @ Whistleblonker- I don’t mind using a bit of the old potty mouth to raci$t idiots like yourself, so whatever you have to say is irrelevant in the sense that I not only disagree with what garbage you spew forth but I find it disgusting. so yeah fukk off

  107. Liz45

    Hi Alex- Don’t let them get to you. You’re twice the human being they are! Big hug to your little daughter. Have a lovely day tomorrow!

    Tonight I planted a beautiful Grevillea – it has gorgeous lemon flowers – couldn’t resist. It’s 30 years tonight since my Dad died! I think he’d like it! It’s all about perspectives isn’t it?

    Some people need to realise, that the REAL fair dinkum Aussies are the indigenous people of this country – all the rest of us are ‘boat people’ from somewhere else! They’ve been dealing with ‘boat people’ for over 200 years – and the funny thing is, they support humane and decent treatment of those traumatized people who arrive here for sanctuary! Now who’d have thought????

    I only hope that those who lack the ability to show decency and justice to others(let alone compassion???) have a time in the near future when they’re really challenged – and need the compassion of others! One lives in hope!

    g’night Alex!

  108. Liz45

    PS – Just read a few more of the above comments – masochist aren’t I?

    This nonsense about people who have money being demonised as not being ‘real’ asylum seekers.? Anyone would think that the US in Afghanistan tells all those people with their own homes etc to leave, and only bombs the beejesus out of the poor and homeless? I didn’t think that the drones or the depleted uranium bombs were just aimed at the poor? I thought most of the country or lots of the country and infrastructure has been wrecked? It has in Iraq. I think they only have about 12-14 hrs of electricity a day, if they’re real lucky – some – maybe! I don’t think Fallujia has been rebuilt – the whole place was bombed to bits – at least twice that I know of! Too bad if any of those families pooled their meagre savings in order to pay for a couple of young men to flee???

    Just imagine! If bombs rained down on Sydney, guess what? The wealthy as well as the poor would want to flee to safety! If they could afford to get out, they’d be demonized by the yahoos here!

  109. Whistleblower

    @liz 45
    I fail to see the relevance of the Grevillea in this discussion thread.We need to make allowances for the febrile to wander off into a completely detached thread, which is probably a reflection of your cognitive and analytical capabilities.

    Unfortunately compassion has to be paid for and compassion has an opportunity cost. I think you missed your calling, you should have been unarmed men you could have devoted a whole life to caring for others are not bothering the rest of us.

    @ Berkman if your cognitive capabilities were not so challenged, you would realise you’re making a complete idiot of yourself.

  110. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ: A belated ‘happy Christmas’ and good luck in dealing with the poor Euro white trash who attach themselves to your posts.

  111. Liz45

    And a very ‘happy Christmas’ to you too! They’re out there aren’t there? Always have been, and sadly always will. Most depressing.

    I’ve seen one of my three kids, hugged two of my grand kids and their lovely Mum; spoken on the phone to others who are driving to Qld – and given my pregnant grand daughter some big hugs – she’s suffering morning sickness, poor little pet!My first great grand child is on the way- just wait for the ageist nasty comments now! Don’t care! They’re not worth a spit! IN the aboriginal culture, I’d be respected by all, and called ‘Aunty’ as a mark of respect for my wisdom etc????

    This is the first Christmas that I’m not going anywhere for lunch – don’t have to rush about. My friend of whom I’m an advocate is coming here for the evening meal and to stay for a couple of days. This is the first year since her darling little Mum died, so she needs some hugs too! I’ll try to do little things to make her feel important and loved – doesn’t take much does it? Some who post their hateful and ugly’ psyche’ here could learn a lesson or two! One thuggish, controlling bastard almost took her life and left her with brain damage! She’s an absolute darling!

    Well, I’m off to marinate the chicken!

    Take care Venise! A big hug to you too!

  112. shepherdmarilyn

    Fittingly today 116 refugees arrived. Instead of a welcome they get the same whine about 69 BOATS THIS YEAR, AS IF ONE BOAT EVERY 5.2 DAYS IS A BURDEN.

    In the same 5.2 days 62,400 other people have arrived.

    And 192 other boats have arrived.

    69 boats in 360 days would not even make on Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

  113. Archer

    Posted Friday, 23 December 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    “@ARCHER – I tell you what? If I got into strife, I’d seek support from Alex and Marilyn and others of like mind – and I’d walk a klm to get away from you and SB and Whistleblower, Geewizz etc. I can feel the loathing from here!

    Just one more time – slowly! It is NOT illegal to seek asylum in any country! OK! Get it! Not illegal! Regardless of whether you arrive by boat, plane or carrier pigeon? OK???Got it now? Wow! That’s a relief!”

    You people are so busy tripping over yourselves screaming U.N. conventions, you have no idea what I’m in favour of. I have no problem with refugees being given asylum……… After they have been screened.

    My strong held belief is that due process must be followed, papers must be produced and security checks must be run. Hell, I’m an Australian citizen and when I do work for the Australian military I must have a basic clearance check which takes 8 weeks to process and goes through a fair portion of my individual and family history. If they have purposefully destroyed their documents they should expect delays. These are not stupid people, they understand travel, they understand what a passport is for. Releasing them into the population where you may not find them again is not an option. Make the process as efficient as possible, reducing time in the camp to a minimum. Supply educational, medical, psychological, religious and comfortable living services.

    Once they meet the criteria, every bodies happy.

    If their claim is rejected they go back. Any acts of violence or vandalism are marks against their character.

    It is not our fault if they were told they would set foot in a sovereign country without documents and be allowed to wander the streets within days of arrival.

    No, it’s not illegal to seek asylum in a country, but in my travels I’ve noted that it’s illegal to arrive in a country without documentation, and I would imagine it makes it a shitload harder to process their asylum request.

  114. Archer


    ” just wait for the ageist nasty comments now! Don’t care! They’re not worth a spit! IN the aboriginal culture, I’d be respected by all, and called ‘Aunty’ as a mark of respect for my wisdom etc????”

    That’s nice, in many Mediterannean families you would be taken in to the family home of a son or daughter, respected as an elder and looked after as you are meant to be. It’s common practice for Italians and Greeks and as an Italian you would be called Nonna or Bisnonna, Aborigines didn’t invent it.

  115. Liz45

    What goes around comes around – I hope!

  116. Liz45

    Hi Marilyn – all the best for the New Year. It keeps on and on doesn’t it? The hateful bs I mean!

  117. Liz45

    @WHISTLEBLOWER – Re the Grevillea – I wasn’t ‘talking’ to you, I was responding to Alexander! Since when has someone made you moderator? Butt out!

  118. Liz45

    @ARCHER – As aboriginal people in Australia are the oldest culture etc on the planet – I think it might be accurate to assert that they DID “start it”? We just didn’t know about it until the last 200 odd years or so. Try not to show your ignorance so blatantly dear!

  119. Whistleblower

    Why don’t you get a Facebook page so that you just share your febrile ramblings with Marilyn. I’m sure you can exchange e-mail addresses and then you could have your mind stroking discussions in private and spare us the gory details!

    Your simplistic patronising knows no bounds. What do you mean by aboriginal people having the oldest culture in the world?

    Rousseau has a lot to answer for concerning the glorification of the “noble savage . This is a dominant theme in the Romantic writings of the 18th and 19th centuries which is where I would suggest that your ramblings belong.

    Most of the civilised world has moved beyond simplistic dreamtime stories, and so-called culture has evolved over millennia in different societies throughout the world. Culture is continually evolving, and I suspect that dominant aspects ofwelfare dependency, drunkenness, wife bashing and child abuse are not aspects of aboriginal culture that you would want to claim credit for “auntie”.

    As for rambling on about your Grevillea, what relevance does this have to the subject the article being discussed? Zilch!

    Finally, this discussion thread commenced concerning illegal immigration, queue jumping and selective manipulation of Australia’s good-natured acceptance of refugee conventions which are being rorted and abused by criminals exploiting the misery and desperation of people less privileged than yourself. Try sticking to the subject!

  120. Archer

    I dedicate this one to you.
    Don’t back down now..buon anno

    This ones for you, aimed at all the heartless bastards who pollute this blog.

    “As aboriginal people in Australia are the oldest culture etc on the planet – I think it might be accurate to assert that they DID “start it”? We just didn’t know about it until the last 200 odd years or so. Try not to show your ignorance so blatantly dear!”

    2000 years ago the Romans and the Greeks were building cities, discovering new lands, had parliament, were involved in medicine, the sciences and the arts. 2000 years ago the aborigines were doing pretty much what they were doing 200 years ago. They had no discernible technology, no cities, no written history, no script, minimal medical knowledge and no real grasp of science or math. They were nomadic.

    What you’re talking about is the workings of the family unit, not the invention of the wheel. Just because they painted a rock 40,000 years ago it does not mean they progressed at the same rate of evolution as we did. I would imagine that their would have been a point in time when injured or ill elders in nomadic tribes were left to die. When did that practice stop? I believe that such drastic action would be less likely in progressive and evolving civilizations such as the Roman or Greek empires than a stagnant one like the nomadic tribes of Australia. The idea of the family unit being within the regions of civilization and permanent settlement gives far more scope for survival and evolution. So, who do I believe would have evolved a safer family unit for elders? The Mediterraneans.

    I’m not an anthropologist and it may be simplistic, so it’s all just guess.

  121. Liz45

    It was your mate GEEWIZZ who introduced “aboriginal” into this debate!

  122. Liz45

    To accuse you of being “simplistic” is being too kind! You don’t deserve it! There’s more to peoples’ existence than what your definition is. I note that you never speak of the spirit of humanity – just things that you can assess in your limited human capacity. Anything else is beyond your comprehension. You have no right to your high definition of yourself! None of you hateful people do!

    I’ll side with Marilyn any time at all, on just about any issue!

  123. Whistleblower

    Whilst I agree almost entirely with your sentiments, I believe that there is a minor correction in relation to aboriginal technology. There is some evidence of the use of fire hardening of wood for spear points, obviously chipping of stone tools to generate a sharp edge for cutting, and the use of natural resins combined with vegetable fibre for the binding of sharp edges to spears, axes and other tools, as well as basket weaving and of course the boomerang.

    I think you meant was that they had no discernible technology to differentiate themselves from our antecedents more than 10,000 years ago. Other than the boomerang, I am not aware of any aspect of Australian aboriginal culture to differentiate it from our stone age ancestors.

    I’m struggling to find anything other than febrile rantings in your postings. Do you have any capacity to mount a logical argument on any subject other than running for the shelter of your little mate Marilyn?

  124. Archer


    “To accuse you of being “simplistic” is being too kind! You don’t deserve it! There’s more to peoples’ existence than what your definition is. I note that you never speak of the spirit of humanity – just things that you can assess in your limited human capacity. Anything else is beyond your comprehension. You have no right to your high definition of yourself! None of you hateful people do!”

    Sorry, you really are beginning to lose me. Define the human spirit. Is it the spirit as defined by religion? Is it the spirit as defined by philosophy? Is it the spirit as defined by achievement. As you seem to have been offended by my earlier cold hearted post it seems human spirit through achievement is not on your list. Therefore I believe you mean I have not taken into account the aboriginal spiritual and philosophical side, the dreaming. Am I correct? As I recall, and not so long ago, some of your postings showed little regard or respect for western Christian spirituality, yet here you are completed offended that I had neglected the religious or the spiritual side of the aborigines.

    If I recall, and if I’m wrong I apologise, you’re an atheist. That being the case, what makes “the dreaming” any more believable a faith than Christianity and why would you treat it with any more reverence than any other spirituality? Because it’s supposedly 40,000 old?

    “The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one’s opportunities and make the most of one’s resources.”
    Marquis De Vauvenargues

    Look, if you’re going to be so disagreeable in your responses could you please be less cryptic. BTW, I’m agnostic.

  125. Liz45

    @ARCHER – I don’t think spirituality has anything to do with christianity!

    I lost you a long time ago – we’re not even in the same book, let alone the same page.

    @WHISTLEBLOWER – The same applies to you!

    do yourselves a favour – broaden your horizons – read!

  126. Whistleblower

    @liz 45
    “do yourselves a favour – broaden your horizons – read!”

    It is because I have read enough to be quite sure of my ability to back up my opinions with facts which is why I am very comfortable putting forward very specific arguments which is more than I can say for some of the narrow minded single issue advocates that I encounter from day to day.

    My horizons extend from history, cosmology, microbiology, evolution, evolutionary biology, quantum physics, astronomy, economics, politics, music (classical), information technology and of course public policy, politics and public finance. I also have more than a passing interest in cryptology and the development of evidence-based scientific thought including physics chemistry and mathematics.

    Perhaps you could enlighten me with your breadth of knowledge if you hold yourself out to be so superior! What is the abstruse concept “spirit of humanity” that you refer to? Can you provide a concrete definition of what you mean? Can you derive this concept from first principles without falling back on the crutch of religion? Do you ever address any of the opinions expressed withanything other than ad hominem attacks?

  127. Liz45

    I’m not interested in having some sort of contest with you. My ego doesn’t need stroking at every opportunity. I’ve read, but probably what’s really important is listening to people – in this case, indigenous people, including a couple of friends, plus going to meetings etc at an Aboriginal Cultural Centre, plus listening to older people and the role they played in advancing human rights for aboriginal people. Some of these people are over 80 years of age!

    I suggest that you do likewise. sometimes more learning takes place by interacting with people!

    You are a conceited, egotistical person, who is his own publicity agent! You don’t need any encouragement from me!

    I’ll just tell you though, that when people like Marilyn or Venise give me a lecture, then I’ll really know that I need to take stock! Arrogant, intimidating, abusive and controlling males? Not a problem! I eat them for an entree!

  128. Liz45

    @WHISTLEBLOWER – You need to ask yourself why you’re so quick to be abusive to women. Good for your ego is it? Makes you feel good! You have a problem, and I don’t give a toss how many bloody books you read, or the topics. Some people only grow older, they never grow up. If you always need to win, or be ‘on top’ then you have a problem!

    Go back and read who, how and in what context aboriginal people were added to this post; which, last time I looked was about refugees and asylum seekers. I think it was your arrogant little mate who raised it in a very offensive and patronising manner! Take a look!

  129. Archer


    “I lost you a long time ago – we’re not even in the same book, let alone the same page. I don’t think spirituality has anything to do with christianity!”

    I never said it had to, though a few billion Christians may disagree. I gave you three options of what I considered “the human spirit” or “spirit of humanity” may encompass, religion / faith, philosophy or achievement. You dismissed achievement as lacking spirit of humanity, that leaves religion / faith or philosophy. In the aboriginal case “the dreaming” or their relationship with the land.

    Unless you offer your definition of the “spirit of humanity” or “the human spirit” how’s the discussion meant to progress? My contributions may not be hitting the mark and I attribute that to your vague responses. I agree with Whistleblower, it would help if you would address the opinions expressed with anything other than attacks.

  130. Whistleblower

    @liz 45
    Your preoccupation with aboriginality is a crutch, because you cannot mount a decent argument on any subject. Also your difficulty with males is quite interesting from a psychoanalytical point of view.

    You seem to confuse gender with superiority of argument, and consequently you assume your adversary is a male when in fact it is the analytical superiority which makes the difference.

    If you can provide one shred of evidence where I have been abusive to women I will give $100 to any charity that you’d like to name. Of course I’m sure I have no chance of losing the bet.

    I am not aware of having any “arrogant little mates , and I believe that it is you who have been extolling the virtues of aboriginal culture without responding to any of the criticisms that have been levelled at you for such observations.

    Furthermore it is you that suggested I go and read, and now you “don’t give a toss how many bloody books you read”, or the topics”.

    You are the master of the throwaway line and the shallow response!

  131. Alexander Berkman

    @ Liz 45 – Seasons greetings to you! Can I suggest watching the wonderful French film – LA BELLE VERTE ( THE GREEN BEAUTIFUL) – it really puts in perspective the rubbish argument about aboriginal culture vs ‘civilisation’ put forward by those two jackasess. Try not to let Jeffrey or whistleplonker get you down or stuck in their polemics. Neither of them have any understanding of two important and basic human traits ~ empathy & compassion. These have been systematically bred out of many humans and these two are prime examples. Arrogant, self important egotists not to mention raci$t as well. Neither of them deserve your time nor others. They are prime examples of the cancer eating away at the heart and soul of this country.

    take care and happy gregorian new year

  132. Alexander Berkman

    @jtwoodrow Posted Saturday, 24 December 2011 at 6:12 pm

    very well put – couldn’t help but notice no response from our heartless trolls….

  133. Archer

    Alexander Berkman,

    Please, get over yourself, you take your moniker from the name of an assassin and anarchist who was jailed for murder once and was suspected for terrorist attacks resulting in multiple deaths. So much for empathy or compassion. Don’t make assumptions about a persons ability to empathise, be compassionate or to be charitable unless you know their personal and family life intimately.

    Nothing I have stated indicates I disrespect indigenous people. However, their evolution as opposed to ours is drastically different and underdeveloped. That’s a fact.

    If you want to put forward you’re view to the question “definition of the “spirit of humanity” or “the human spirit”, that’s fine. But don’t quote French film titles.

  134. Liz45

    ARCHER – This may come as a real shock to you, but my life is not motivated by your demands. This discussion started out about the “refugee debate”? You are doing what you do so well – and your mates join you – trolling! Just take your egos and go away!

    As to Whistleblower and others – go and read the UN Report on the Intervention; you could also take a look at Amnesty International, or even shock horror, read Henry Reynolds, or listen to Mick Dodson’s speech on May 26 ’01? What I’ve been saying can be read in many articles, speeches, essays etc. then of course, you could shut your mouths and listen to what other indigenous people are saying and feeling! They do it so much better than I can!

    My self esteem is not so fragile that people like you put a dent in it. I don’t care what you think of me – not for one minute. Your pre-occupation with your own worth is boring. YOu think you can change the topic, or join others who do, and then criticise those who aren’t interested in playing the game! Go away!

    @Alex – Please don’t stop being your compassionate and decent self, or I’ll despair altogether!
    Where can I access the film?

  135. Liz45

    @ARCHER – And your knowledge of their evolution can be found where exactly? Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s inferior! They survived for hundreds of thousands of years in some areas – must’ve been pretty clever to do that? Your ‘they were only barbarians’ attitude is somewhat uncharitable to say the least?

    I’m not convinced that you haven’t shown “disrespect” to indigenous people. I suggest you read ALL of your past posts! And the posts of others that you haven’t challenged!

    The film “quote” was a suggestion to ME to watch said film? It wasn’t directed to you? Go and read what he said!

  136. shepherdmarilyn

    But Liz, everyone knows that those pesky brown people can’t survive without us lovely enlightened white people don’t they?

    Except of course for the 50,000 or so years that they did rather well without us.

  137. Venise Alstergren

    WHISTLEBLOWER: I appreciate the fact that your sweeping assertions are the lazy persons answer to all things he/she wants to thrash about with, without the hard yakka of doing in depth analysis of the topic you wish to pursue. However, when you decide to compare stone age man with indigenous Australians you fly so far out of reality I have to correct you.

    Aboriginal art is the glaring omission in your rant/s. Art Galleries throughout the world will pay almost anything to buy the very best Aboriginal artists’ work. It is my not-so-humble belief that a culture is defined more by its art than by its ability to provide well honed arrow heads.

  138. Liz45

    Indeed! I’m reading Henry Reynold’s book ‘Why Weren’t we Told’ for the ??? time. He was angered when he realised that he hadn’t been taught the truth about Europeans vs Aboriginal peoples’ fight to maintain their land etc. He spent much time researching, and found that the information was all there – just hidden from view. Some of the very old newspapers were still folded as they were at that time. His journey filled him with horror, but an understanding as to how whites were viewed during the 60’s/70’s with downcast eyes etc. Perhaps still are in that part of the world – Townsville?

    I realised that I was kept in ignorance via my education too. I’ve spent a long time trying to catch up – with much still to do. If over 20,000 Europeans had been butchered during the over 150 years following the invasion, there’d be monuments all over the country? 20,000 aboriginals could be a very conservative figure, but it’s still shocking isn’t it? The absolute cruelty and viciousness is breath taking!

    Those like DH like to ignore all that, and like the current govt is now doing, blame aboriginal people for their own ‘demise’ and ‘take the stick’ to them again – or is it still? Shameful!

  139. shepherdmarilyn

    And Archer, it’s nice that you think due process must be followed by those pesky people not registered at birth because in their own country they are lower than the cockroaches but hey, you can’t be bothered with trifles like ‘it is not necessary to have frigging papers to claim asylum”.

  140. Venise Alstergren

    MODERATOR: Have you gone completely mad? WTF is going on? I don’t mind being moderated for something slightly over the top. However, I object most strongly to having a completely clean comment banned/moderated. How dare you!

  141. Whistleblower

    @Liz 45

    It should be noted that we are all descendants of stone age ancestors so attributing some moral superiority to Australian aborigines is somewhat racist. All of our ancestors faced the same challenges for survival, the only difference is that our ancestors developed more robust social systems and technology..

    It is an iron law of history that the weak are subsumed by the strong and that if you cannot defend yourself you lose control. I am not defending genocide but recognize that power differences in terms of technology and social organization inevitably lead to dominance by the strong. By all means luxuriate in your recent discovery of abuse of aborigines but recognize that this information is not new and has been recognized for decades for any student of Australian history.

    @Alexznder Berkman
    I took the trouble to actually download and view “LaBelle Verte” Whist mildly amusing it was a “green” fairy tale which would no doubt appeal to febrile green activists due to its total lack of logial analysis, presumed moral superiority aided and abetted by a total absence of recognition of the Einstein’s theory of Relativity. Of some interest is the segment where two space travelers end up in Australia and identify with the nomadic lifestyle of outback aboriginals as being “just like us” (except of course the space traveller’s capacity for telepathy, and self actualizing capacity for inter planetary space travel).

    @ Venise

    The automated Crikey moderator has a list of prescribed terms which have some potentially sensitivities, but at some point it can flag the individual. I once tested it and it even moderated a “full stop” – presumably because it was associated with me. Trying to get sense out of Crikey on this is a waste of time.

  142. Liz45

    @ARCHER – Just because they painted a rock 40,000 years ago it does not mean they progressed at the same rate of evolution as we did.

    Yes, well over the years since Invasion, we certainly show how superior we were didn’t we? Butchering indigenous people out of racist hatred, to show them who’s boss; raping the women and murdering their babies. The pearlers threw pregnant aboriginal women(who they’d raped) over board when their pregnancies were visible – the actions of superior beings, no less! All quite admirable. I’m so pleased that my ancestors were so noble with such high ideals etc!

    Incidentally, in some areas of Australia, aboriginal people were there 200,000 years ago!

    What a load of tripe!

  143. Venise Alstergren

    GEE WHIZ: You still haven’t answered my question (Fri 23 Dec ’11 @ 8:31 pm). “”And how do you suppose Australia got started in the first place, if not by using the losers of society and their progeny?”” This was in reply to your following curious statement.

    “”Secondly after processing on Nauru, any undesirables(aka. violent men, trouble makers, arsonists, possible threats to Australias national security, fake refugees etc etc) that we don’t want we send to Malaysia as part of the people swap deal. We keep the ones that are well behaved, polite and patient and once processed we send them to Australia.”” (Why didn’t you include in your list of undesirables ‘people with ingrown toe nails and those with dental cavities?)


    WHISTLEBLOWER: You have a more than valid point “”However there is no absolute human right, and banging on about people’s human rights is a waste of time unless one establishes the context in which the human rights debate is being established. Slaves in Rome had very little in the way of so-called human rights. Prisoners in Stalin’s gulags or Pol Pot’s Killing Fields had little or none. “” Of course an industrial civilisation will always beat an agrarian or a nomadic civilisation. And context? I’m not so sure about that one.

    In order to avoid treading on anyone’s toes I’ll use a different group of people. There is, in Myanmar, a large group of workers who slave in the Jadeite mines. They are ill fed and shockingly treated. The only comfort they get is from the heroin and other drugs which are handed out to them by their Burmese masters. (Jadeite arrived somewhat later on the scene than Nephrite which has been around for about seven thousand years.) The only context I can think of for this appalling abuse of human rights is to compare the workers in the Brazilian gold mines and the ones caught up in Africa’s diamond mines. But, I believe that in parts of Africa, and in Brazil things have at least been thought about. Not so in Myanmar.

    I’m not sure who introduced the Aboriginals in the context of asylum seekers because I fail to see any valid comparison between the two peoples.

    You were moderated on the basis of a full stop? OMG!

  144. Liz45

    @VENISE – I think you’ll find, that it was GEE WIZZ? who used ‘aboriginals’ in a nasty comment to me. Sort of, ‘lefties’ like me support ……. I’m not going back there, but that’s how it started. In a petty and nasty assault on my being a ‘leftie’? Funny how the ‘righties’ don’t have a problem with people being treated as you described above. I find the example you gave, plus those I’ve read about – those who work in horrific conditions in Indonesia(only one example – I’m not picking on them only) for some of the really big names in ‘shoes/joggers’ etc and live in awful conditions without fresh air, sanitary conditions, decent food etc. Or those in other areas, even in the US, who live out of a bus that drives them around for some time then takes them back to their place of ’employment’? These too are those companies that charge like wounded bulls! Or those making watches etc and others who are exposed to nuclear hazards.

    We only have to look at the very recent situation, where opponents of a gold mining company(Australian) lost (dead) three people as the police were called and they were shot dead! So, we’re engaged in horrific practices too! Our Fed Govt has been asked to investigate? Guess what? I don’t expect to hear any more about it! Such is the behaviour of these ‘respectable’ companies who use and abuse those in impoverished countries – be it Burma, Indonesia or ????The Northern Territory! Aboriginal people and many mining activities!

  145. Liz45

    @WHISTLEBLOWER – You know what? Your last post is so repugnant to me, that I’m not even going to answer it. For you to use the argument you did to justify at best, mass murders that nobody thought required any semblance of justice; or the invasion of a country and then exercising a deliberate campaign to kill as many “savages” as need be, is one of the most gutless and revolting excuses that I’ve come across – in recent years anyway! I’ve read enough of the revolting attitudes of the 1700’s – 1900’s + even into this century, but yours is pretty gross!

    Just one question? IF the position was reversed, do you accept that those times, those events would’ve been part of our national annual observance! Monuments scattered all over the country? Rallies etc? Public holidays to commemorate ‘horrific mass murders’?

    I just hope that you don’t have any access to indigenous people – particularly those I call friends – acquaintances even? Lest we forget!

  146. Whistleblower

    @liz 45
    Whether you like it or not you have responded.

    In your rush to shoot the messenger you have not read the message. Justice is always in the eye of the beholder and there are no moral absolutes only conventions which vary according to time and circumstance. The strong always dominate the weak unless the weak organize to defend themselves. Cultures rise and fall solely on their ability to control their environment and when they come into contact with a stronger culture, either social or military (or both), they are subsumed.

    This situation occurs throughout history and examples include the Persians confronted by Alexander, the Celts and Carthaginians confronted by Rome, South America in the sixteenth century and most of Africa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries under various European colonialists.

    I am not defending any of this but recognize the reality. Chest beating about past “injustices” achieves nothing. Should the French be castigating Italians for the exploits of Julius Caesar? Get over it and look forward.

    Thank you for your thoughtful and constructive response.

  147. Liz45

    @WB – One of the reasons why I get so fed up with people like you, is your arrogance, coupled with a patronising air in your dealings with others. Neither you nor I have the right to tell anybody to ‘get over it’? If you need such an attitude because it helps you not to feel ‘bad’ or uncomfortable about others, then keep it to yourself.

    If you have such views, then you shouldn’t even engage in these discussions, let alone be patronising or condescending. I do NOT accept the current racial situation in the world at large; or women’s issues or the neglect/cruelty etc of children. I don’t have a ‘get over it’ mentality towards my co-habitants of the planet. I do what I can to eliminate the negative ‘isms’. I live by my own standards and principles, and have had your ‘get over it’ dogma from others – even in my own family; due to their inability to show empathy for others, let alone take a closer look at the role they played or take any responsibility for their past actions and beliefs.

    If we go by your standards, there’d be no reason for people to be called to account before the Law? Just tell those injured by others to “get over it” and “look forward”? That gives the perpetrators exactly what they want, and sadly, too many think is their due – to just continue on to the next ‘victim’ of their choosing! This is most relevant when discussing the awful predicament of both asylum seekers and indigenous people. The fact is, that it’s due to wrong, illegal and/or unjust practices that is making these people suffer. If you don’t give a toss about righting these wrongs, have the g**s to say so – don’t wrap it up in platitudes and condescension.

  148. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ, WHISTLEBLOWER: Are you both sure there isn’t a Freudian sub-text thingy going on here? It’s almost as if the pair of you love hating each other! Still, it’s none of my business is it?

    Happy new year to both of you.

  149. Liz45

    @VENISE – I don’t hate anyone – I just get p****d off with racism and the destructive forces that emanate from it. I will NOT allow people to use ‘brush strokes’ on this topic. I know a few indigenous people and care enough for the many I don’t know, that I must speak out against it.

    There’s no excuse for non-indigenous people who believe that they are intelligent and well read, not to be ‘up to speed’ about past history and the realities of the present. For instance – a little test that has stood me in good stead for some time. When something ‘happens’ re indigenous people, all the rest of us need to do, is ask ourselves – how would I feel if this Law or policy or whatever was aimed at Jews, or Catholics, or people with only one leg, or those who are blind etc. If the answer is, ‘it’s wrong, destructive and hurtful’ then that’s the real truth, and having realised that fact means, you don’t remain silent when it’s black people – or the chocolate people either for that matter, or those who speak another language, or????Simple! No need for a University degree, or to have certificates about agriculture or Law or anything else. It either comes from your ‘gut’ or it doesn’t. Not rocket science!

    There’s a saying which I really like – ‘the sad thing about common sense, is that it’s not very common’? Or words to that effect.
    Racism, in all its forms is horrible, destructive and just ruins peoples’ lives. The really sobering thing is, it NEED NOT HAPPEN!

  150. Whistleblower

    At the risk of prolonging what has become a somewhat tedious interchange of views, I’m sick and tired of simple minded but well-meaning advocates boosting their self-esteem by identifying with somebody less fortunate than themselves. Patronising comments that non-indigenous people not being up to speed on past history isa throwaway line with no substantive analysis.

    There is an unfortunate confusion between racism, which I understand to be denigration of somebody other than your own assumed racial characteristics, and blunt analysis of deficiencies in social organisation, correlated with particular racial characteristics. This is not racism, but merely objective analysis. As for attributing logic to gut feel rather than logical analysis or “rocket science” this is an indication of the shallow subjective nature of such advocates.

    In defence of my own position I am active supporter of the campaign against Sharia law in the UK, I have been an active supporter of Mukhtar Mai the Pakistani woman gang raped on the orders of the local Pakistani village court, travelling in the outback I have stopped to assist stranded aboriginal motorists, and I have both gay and Asian friends. When some ill informed self important advocate accuses me of racism, I am afraid I have no sympathy for them, and feel honour bound to respond appropriately.

    If I might return to the original subject at hand, simple minded patronage of queue jumping asylum seekers is exactly my point. Whilst one can have empathy for the individual asylum seeker, whether he/she be a true refugee or somebody wishing to better his or her economic circumstances, we cannot extend this empathy to the huge numbers that would enter our country if we don’t maintain strict entry controls. As I’ve pointed out, and nobody has contradicted me, power relatively high standard of living here is purely because we allocate available resources in Australia to 22 or so million people living here, and we have maintained strict controls to preserve the high standard of living for the last 200 years or so. How many million” refugees” do you want, and how much of the cost burden are you prepared to shoulder individually?

  151. Venise Alstergren

    LIZ: I’ve got to say there was a tiny element of stirring in my comment. You know that I agree with most things you say.

  152. Liz45

    @WHISTLEBLOWER – The very fact that you take me to task shows how ignorant you are. I have contact with an indigenous friend who’s writing a thesis at the moment on racism. I’m also reading Henry Reynold’s book as I’ve already mentioned. Now, he’s a lecturer in Australian history, but realised that through his school years, even his University studies, he was ignorant of the past history. If someone like him can admit to ignorance, and then take the long journey into research and writings, what’s your problem? Helping aboriginal people out is not an admittance of knowing about 200+ years of history – commendable though that is.

    I find it quite interesting the number of people who boast of participating in overseas injustices(of which I also participate) but don’t acquaint themselves of what’s happening in their own back yard? Huge though it is!

    Australia is a huge country by comparison with many countries overseas – we have the resources and space to participate in our AGREED TO responsibilities re asylum seekers. For instance – what’s the size of Italy by comparison? They had 25,000 asylum seekers arriving on their doorstep over a weekend or week? We’re very small fry by comparison – petty nasty xenophobia is frequently the response here.

    I have a couple of such people in my family who came here seeking asylum – they’re Aussie citizens, contributing to the wealth of our country. I don’t see the problem. As long as the well publicised checks etc are carried out, why shouldn’t we help out – after all, we’ve contributed to the horrific situation in several countries, either directly or indirectly!

    I contribute quite well, by making clothes etc for my grand children etc. This country is blessed because their mother and her family sought asylum here. What’s your experience!

    Objective analysis is alright as long as that is what it is. Throwing away ‘lines’ to make someone else look stupid or inferior is hardly objective analysis. You feel the need to use petty/sexist denigration as part of your so-called ‘objective analysis’? You’ve provided no real data to support your selective ‘opinions’?

    @VENISE – Yes, I realise that, thank you!

  153. Whistleblower

    @liz 45
    As a point of clarification, I am acutely aware of the systemic murder of aboriginals by white settlers, as recently as the last 70 years or so. The methods used included shooting and poisoning, and I’m sure there is no shortage of evidence in relation to the exploitation of aboriginal women by white (male) settlers. To accuse me of ignorance without evidence is unsubstantiated personal prejudice.

    Speaking for myself, I have no desire to assume a burden of responsibility for substantial numbers of people outside this country who want to come and share our resources. By all means share yours but leave mine alone. Every dollar spent on freeloading asylum seekers is not able to be spent on Australian citizens. That is the core of my concern.

    I am not xenophobic. If the so-called refugees were from New Zealand or the United States I would have the same attitude if they were forcing their way into Australia. If the country is so blessed by having your refugee friends as Australian citizens, why should aboriginals be concerned about people coming in this country and displacing resources for the benefit of others?

    If you follow affairs in Europe, you will be aware of the social dislocation arising from the substantial influx of African migrants purporting to be refugees. You will also be aware of the long journeys undertaken by so-called refugees crossing a number of jurisdictions conforming to the United Nations refugee convention travelling on the way to the United Kingdom where the welfare benefits are better. Furthermore I would challenge you to identify any of my comments which are sexist.

    I’m also aware of the massive atrocities committed by Nazis, the Japanese, the Cambodians, the Chinese Communists and of course Russian communists under Stalin, as well is the massive displacement of Palestinians by the Zionists, and the various atrocities committed by the Spaniards and the English settlers in North and South America. There is no point dwelling on the injustices of history, you just have to move on. This includes the aboriginal displacement in Australia.

    The most important thing is to identify what we can do now to make the lot of so-called surviving aborigines better, and to also control our borders so as to allow a reasonable number of refugees to come into this country without overburdening our social welfare systems. We certainly should not be facilitating the activities of criminals involved in people smuggling.

    I would respectfully suggest that you stick to your knitting and making clothes for your grandchildren.

  154. Luke Buckmaster

    Luke Buckmaster here, Crikey website editor.

    I am dismayed by some of the comments posted to this story. I have subsequently deleted a number of comments.

    At Crikey we endorse the technique “play the ball and not the person.” In other words, please don’t attack each other. Please keep this in mind and consult our code of conduct for more info.

    The ability to comment on this story has been switched off.


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