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Federal

Jul 3, 2012

Coalition's asylum-seeker policy -- lost at sea

The asylum policies of the Coalition are not only cruel, they are unworkable, writes John Menadue, Centre for Policy Development director and former Department of Immigration secretary, and Arja Keski Nummi, former first assistant secretary in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

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The asylum policies of the Coalition are not only cruel, they are unworkable. Let’s examine them.

The Coalition  wants to re-introduce Temporary Protection Visas. More than 8000 TPVs were issued to people who came to Australia by boat — most of whom went on to be granted permanent protection visas. It did not stop boats — in fact the evidence shows that more people got onto boats once this visa class was introduced with more than 6000 coming in 2001.

But it did change who was coming — because of the punitive condition placed on the TPV particularly keeping families apart, the demographics of who got onto boats changed from single men to more women and children. Just under 25% of arrivals in 2001 were children compared to some 6% before the TPV was introduced. And the result? Overcrowded boats and tragedies.

The Coalition wants to turn back the boats — but to where? To Indonesia, which is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention. Last time it was clear that a boat could not be turned away if it was a direct arrival, such as the boat that arrived with Papuans from Indonesia. First flight is a non-negotiable principle of international refugee law. The hypocrisy to argue against Malaysia where safeguards have been guaranteed and supported by UNHCR while prosecuting a policy of “turning boats around” is spectacular.

What has not been explained is how this could be done with safety. The evidence is clear that boats were scuttled to avoid tow back. Desperate people will do desperate things. The Fraser government considered push backs but rejected it. It concluded that to  turn boats back would brand Australia as a “pariah” nation in our region

And finally re-open Nauru? And what would that achieve — a circuitous boat ride via Christmas Island and Nauru to eventually being resettled in Australia. Nauru is the real dud. We have repeatedly pointed out that while Tampa/Nauru did stop the boats, asylum seekers continued to come by air at the rate of about 4000 per annum. The trend of arrivals to Australia in the Howard years followed very closely the trend of arrivals to OECD counties.

What we did in Australia had only a marginal effect. Further, the secretary of DIAC has told the Senate that the meagre benefits of Tampa/Nauru cannot be repeated. People smugglers and asylum seekers now know that of the 1637 asylum seekers sent to Nauru and found to be refugees all but 45 finished up in Australia or New Zealand. Nauru was a remote island prison. It can never be part of a regional solution.

UNHCR has as recently as today, restated its willingness to work with Malaysia and Australia on the Malaysian arrangement. It does not support Nauru. Could anything be clearer?

The Greens continue with their purist policy by opposing the Malaysian arrangement. It is an impotent policy that guarantees more tragedies. The Greens have a great deal to answer for in their earlier policy purity on climate change. As Voltaire put it, “the perfect is the enemy of the good”. In voting down the Oakeshott bill in the Senate last week, the Greens have become accomplices of the Coalition on asylum policy, just as they did earlier on climate change.

As a result of the High Court decision at the end of August last year, which struck down the Malaysian arrangement, asylum seekers arriving by boat rose from about 250 to 900 per month and many deaths.

The Malaysian arrangement is not perfect, but supported by the UNHCR, it is a start. Done well, it could be the start of a meaningful and sustainable regional co-operation model. We should go many steps further and work with Indonesia in addressing the poverty of the fishing villages from where crew are recruited by the smugglers. All that many of the crew are seeking is to lift their families out of poverty and get an education for their children.

Why do we leave it to the smugglers to finance these aspirations and not do more to work with Indonesia to address these basic aspirations of people? We need a strategic diplomatic focus on building relations with Indonesia on more than live cattle and drug runners. The UNHCR operations in Indonesia should be substantially increased. Perhaps we could start with Indonesia as the co-chair of the Bali process to initiate a genuine dialogue to have a reprocessing centre established in the region.

Scott Morrison raises objections to the Malaysian arrangement because he says the numbers are too small and already over subscribed, that there are exceptions to who will be transferred. At each turn he finds another problem. That is the luxury of opposition. The fact is that the opposition wants the boats to continue. It believes that boat arrivals are a political winner. As a “senior Liberal Party strategist” told the US Embassy in 2009, “the more boats that come the better”. Who was that senior Liberal Party strategist?

Only last week, Morrison said on the ABC’s 7.30 that even if the government adopted the Coalition’s Nauru proposals in their entirety, they could not confirm its support. He continues t0 demonise asylum seekers — they “bring disease … wads of  cash … and large displays of  jewellery”. Surely we are a better country than this. Where is there any sense of charity “to set the downtrodden free”?

Here are some suggestions. Stop saying it is not the government’s problem — it is a concern for all of us. We need orderly departure programs with refugee source countries such as Afghanistan to provide an alternative to risky boat voyages. The government has been quite dilatory on such issues. Under the ODP with Vietnam in 1982, some 100,000 people came to Australia

Stop trashing our regional partners — let’s work with them to find a solution. Malaysia’s treatment of asylum seekers is far superior to some countries that have signed the Refugee Convention, e.g. China and Papua New Guinea.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the people who seek sanctuary. Who of us would sit still as our family’s safety is in danger, as war threatened our very existence and we were being targeted by our own government?

But what ever we do with source or transit countries desperate asylum seekers will not necessarily abide by “our rules” It will always be messy.

*John Menadue was a former secretary of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in 1983. Arja Keski Nummi was a former first assistant secretary of the Refugee, Humanitarian and International division in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship from 2007-2010.

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19 thoughts on “Coalition’s asylum-seeker policy — lost at sea

  1. Steve777

    Again, an excellent analysis. We can’t come up with a perfect solution but the CDP study shows we can do much better if politicians of all colours can get together and genuinely look for a solution rather than for political advantage.

  2. The Pav

    Good luck with the rational approach.

    You see the issue is complex and hard to work out but lends itself to sloganereering.

    Howard realised this hence ” we will decide….etc”

    As long as Australian allow their fears of Asia to overcome
    their humanity and “fair go’ the right wingers such as Abbott will continue to use it for crass
    politcal gain and stuff the suffering they cause

  3. Kathi Bonhagen

    Howdy, my cousin asks me to post the following for him because he can’t access subscriber page.

    No one can really agree to the LNP policy, because towing back the boats cannot work simply because the people smugglers will teach the asylum seekers to scuttle the boats. More over they can start sending boats in fleet, if I was them I’ll send fleet of 12, 2 for decoy for the navy to chase around and the rest can penetrate. If I was the Indonesian and Malaysian government I would let all asylum boats leave the ports if Australia act arrogant and don’t share the responsibility, might even let everyone fly to Australia without enough valid documents.

    Immagine if the fundamentalists take over Jordan and king Abdullah rocks up to the UN refugee camp and seeks refuge to be resettled in Australia, do you think he really needs the Australian government to wait until there is enough resources to provide welfare to him in the resettlement placement program?

    King Abdullah can buy out Twiggy easily and provide plenty of people jobs. Suppose he could only access to a couple of lazy billions left in the Swiss and Cayman accounts he could sure look after himself and open business in Australia.

    Why don’t we have something like the importation of the wogs or the 10 pound pom program running in the region to take more refugees in? A humanitarian work visa is better for the asylum seekers than them paying people smugglers huge sum of money for a risky boat trip, n’est-ce pas? Is it because we don’t like the darkies and the moslems? Or is it because we became either too sanctimonious or too dumbed down that we lost touch with reality, we think we should not charge refugees or that they are all starving from the slums and need welfare provided? Every refugee has different means and aptitude, many don’t need charity and welfare but a quick chance to be resettled and start a new life, why don’t we think about helping them to meet those needs?

    It’s ridiculous that we have shortage of labour in regional area and the government has been compelling tourists to do 3 months of regional work in order to renew their visa when most of them much prefer to work and stay in the city while desparate refugees are waiting in camps. We should offer special work visas for refugees who passed assessment by the UN, get various employers to get involved to ensure there will be enough jobs provided, they may have to work 5 years before gaining permanent residency. Their tax should be flat around 32-34% for the first 3 years, the federal government keeps the 29% like they do with the tourists and the 3-5% goes back to the local government, it makes sense because the spending pattern of these new arrivals will likely be less than Australians and other migrants hence there is less flow on effect in the economy.

    Taking refugees in for work should alleviate the pressure in the region. Now we need a great logistician to map out various locations in the region to build processing centres that will help with better population distribution and reducing the need for refugees to travel. Business should be in partnership with government to train those awaiting refugees to be a pool of labor supply, many of these refugees could register for the work visa and can be picked when needed so they won’t have to wait too long.

    Companies such as clothing can also have small factories at the processing centres to employ refugees and pay local wage rate. The waiting list for all registered refugees in the region needs to be a smart matrix that does not only sort by the time of registration, but divided into subgroups of ethnicity and also skills, it will help us with a diversity resettlement program also alleviate ethnic density backlog in the region.

    Data profiles need to be shared with Australian intelligence, finger prints, iris scan etc. so that those who failed assessment should not attempt to try to reach Australia with new identity.

    Now those arrived in Australia by boats should be put back on the same waiting list with refugees in the region. If the law does not permit, we need to create a maritime arrival department, the department has the budget to assess only 3 refugee claims completely per year. All boat arrival claims must require on ground intelligence investigation in order to complete assessment. The department however has the means to assess many more cases on preliminary level, those who fail preliminary assessment as either insufficient, dubious or fraudulent will be promptly refered to the general immigration department or a fraud squad to deal with. It is a punishable criminal offence to l i e and try to defraud the Republic of Australia.

    Those who pass security clearance can live in the community, on Christmas Island, may be Norfolk Island, and as the last resort send them to Tasmania to stay with Christine Milne. They cannot leave the island without authorisation. Now here’s the very important thing people need to know. Asylum seekers need to be placed in shared amenities accommodations, dwellings similar to backpackers standard, those awaiting at processing centers overseas who have passed assessment should live in more convenient dwellings and those newly registered could either live in army barrack standard or backpackers standard if there is not enough fund to provide more convenient dwellings. Now the Greens should not complain about this, many Australians I know live in backpackers hotel and work to pay their way, do the Greens look down on backpackers now?

    If people who you have no clue about knock on your door and say they have been abused and need help what do you do? You take them down to the local ‘refuge’ to stay, the shelter can only provide the kind of accommodation they can afford for as many people as they could. The Greens need to stop living in theory the same way the free marketeer purists do, start living in reality and practice. We are a long way from utopia yet.

    Talking about utopia, Greg Barns suggested open borders to solve the problem, that’s not a bad idea, but even my relatives in Holland and Germany want to move to Australia let alone people in poorer or politically unpleasant countries. Bring back the top tax rate of 48% and apply it as a flat rate for all non-valid visa entries + a health insurance levy or they can choose their own private provider, and assign one employment officer to 60 cli ents checking up on them to make sure they work legally and to help them find work. Tax department should target and enforce heavy fine for those who illegally employ these arrivals. Clive Palmer in his twisted and nasty attack on Gillard blamed the drownings on her policy of placing barrier to those asylum seekers to fly in. The policy has been in place for years regardless of who’s in government, it is to do risk of flight, people from those countries are prone to disappear and become illegal immigrants and it costs a lot to try to catch them, detain and return them. That is why such restriction is in place, the question whether it is also trying to stop a flood gate of asylum seekers coming to Australia is debatable. And no Clive you don’t get on the plane and fly straight back the next day if you fail, there is a review and appeal process, Clive seems to be going more loonie than the CAD.

    Once there are great processing centres open in the region, airlines or travel agents in a second country could try to recommend and sell tickets for people to go there if they don’t have enough paperworks if the agents can solicit the asylum seekers to reveal their intention for traveling to Australia. It will not be bel ievable that asylum seekers will not be aware of the centres when they are smart enough to find contact with the under world people smugglers for such difficult travel while such better and easier option are available for people to go via the centres. Would a present of a Australian offices at the airports to direct would be asylum seekers to the centre work? We know that people can’t just rock up to Autralian consulate to claim asylum, it would flood the system that’s why they have to go the a UN office to spread the load of resettlement to different countries.

    Maritime arrivals who passed preliminary assessment can live in the islander community and must do 4 days of voluntary work per week (may be drop back to 3 days a week after 4 years) and learn english or other training in other time. Single men can stay at the backpackers if government don’t have enough housing, good for hotel iers. They must not be paid cash but get only grocery card may be $50 each per week, get $50 cash per month and children get $20. If government can’t provide work, private employers can employ and pay at award rate but directly to the government account. The government keeps 70% for providing healthcare, education, housing and other administrative requirement such as intelligence, 30% will go back to local government for local projects. Children who turn 18 have to do 3 days voluntary work per week and study in other times. This restriction should run for 7 years unless their turn in the ‘queue’ come up.

    If people don’t like it, leave or don’t come. If they are willing to do the hard yard they deserve to be here and the bogans should stop bi!ching. Enact a law to deport all politicians and journalists who complain about asylum seekers unnecessarily, send them to Antarctica.
    If after 8 months, there is still a lot of maritime arrivals and more drownings then buy a high rise building in Malaysia. Separate the ground floor securely and make it the Australian Embassy, and upstairs for new maritime asylum seekers to be send there. The Autralian government guarantee their protection and will let those found to be genuine resettle in Australia after 7 years if no other countries offer resettlement. The embassy is technically Australian territory, security staff their will also be security staff for monitoring entry and exits to upstairs dwellings. The government already negotiate rights for asylum seekers with the help and support from the UN, if the place is safe enough for Australian staff it should be ok for asylum seekers. Another way to reduce the pressure is to swap failed claimants with qualified claimants in the region, since we are taking up more responsibility we should be able to negotiate a 1:1 ratio; also try to get charity organisations to sponsor to provide welfare for refugees so we can take more in.

    If they can’t agree to any solution then notify the UN to withdraw from the convention and write up Australia’s own refugee law. The Greens should not pretend that they are not trying to control boat arrivals, if they weren’t they wouldn’t be supporting the prosecution of the people smugglers.

  4. Pamela

    Both The Nauru and the Malaysian solutions require that people get into dangerous boats, set out to sea, be found and rescued by the Australian navy and customs risking their lives in order to trigger the “solution”.

    Whether it is the 800 destined to be transported to Malaysia or the thousands to be transported to Nauru, all these people must put their lives at risk in order to activate the Australian policy proposals. This is a brute fact of both proposals.

    This negates the stated purpose of the politicians who argued so strongly last week that their most pressing goal was to save lives and prevent more deaths at sea.

    What is so purist about resettling 1000 assessed and proven refugees from Indonesia and committing to an increase in our refugee intake. Resettlement is key to ending irregular movements of people. This action would indicate to those waiting in Indonesia that Australia was committed to providing an alternative to the expensive and dangerous journey at the hands of unscrupulous agents.

    We would also be opening the opportunity to effective dialogue with our neighbours who currently see us as dumping our responsibility and so are clearly not assisting in preventing irregular movements.

    Refugees and asylum seekers are coming because they see no other way- they see the numbers waiting in Indonesia for resettlement that never comes. Providing a formal , orderly resettlement in real numbers provides the other way.
    People are saying that they will wait if they have a real chance of resettlement.
    There are currently 1200 refugees in indonesia and around 4000 asylum seekers. The numbers are not frightening.

    This initial plan of action implemented as a crisis measure would really save lives and open the space for a real regional cooperation model for protection which after 11 years of Bali Process deliberations has not even come close.

  5. michael crook

    Interesting the attack on the Greens as “purist” when the Greens are only suggesting that we follow our obligations under international law and the conventions which our parliament voted into law. The politics of “boat people” is just that, politics, and it was a vicious blatantly racist vote winning attack by Howard to win an election. That the ALP followed this racism with a gutless me too ism gives us the result we have today, which is no different, except in minor degree, from the Howard model. The Greens have got it exactly right. It is most interesting that the attack on the Greens comes from a couple of bureaucrats. The Department of Immigration has been complicit in the criminality initiated by the Howard Government and despite the odd outbreak of humanity by a very few public servants have continued to enforce a regime which refugees must feel is somewhat akin to the Spanish Inquisition. This particular department is, I feel, beyond redemption and should be dissolved and anyone associated with the refugee torture programs should be denied reemployment in the Australian Public Service. By putting a “pragmatic” argument the authors have rewritten history to justify their own behaviours. They stand condemned.

  6. Hudson Jasmine

    Pamela

    It’s not the 1200 refugees & 4000 asylum seekers that policy makers are worried about, it’s those who don’t want to register. The people movement experts know. They are either economic migrants or political migrants who are not under threat of persecution. They purchase people smugglers’ travel package and only go through Malaysia and Indonesia in short transit, they don’t wait there like the others.

  7. Pamela

    This is tosh. What do you mean ” those who dont want to register”.
    Cant register more like it.
    Have you stood outside UNHCR office in Jakarta and seen the people lined up unable to get in.
    They wait 12 months and more for an interview.
    The reality is NO ACCESS.
    This is why people go to the people smugglers.
    Jakarta is the first UNHCR office at which Afghans can make an application for a refugee visa.
    after a 12 months interview, they wait another 12 months for a decision.
    And then the big one- NO RESETTLEMENT!!!

    If we tackle these blocks we will go a long way to changing the way people arrive .

  8. Hudson Jasmine

    Pamela

    No one is disputing about the need for more processing centre and staff to ease the problem.

    What you advocates are in denial is that there are people who don’t want to register because they normally don’t qualify for the refugee status and it’s better for them to try to go straight to Australia and skip the waiting process. Not that I make any judgement on them. My friend from Italy did a fake marriage with our Australian friend so she can move to Australia. They didn’t even live together, the immigration department don’t have the time to check up and investigate. If you think the immigration department has the time to investigate into all refugee claims completely un-failed you are mistaken.

  9. Gratton Wilson

    The excuse of not taking refugees from Asia becaue there are thousands of refugees in camps in Africa and one Asian means one less African doesn’t cut much ice with meThe former colonisers of Africa have a moral obligation to mend the damage that their exploitation did to those countries and repay the finacial gains that they took from those countries. We have look after our own part of the globe. Indonesia cannot be expected to carry all the burden of those asylum seekers, we have no right to force refugees back to their shores.
    For as long as we sell armaments to anyone we must carry responsibility for the harm that is done by them. It would be poetic justice if the countries that sold armaments to have to take responsibility for the damage they do.

  10. graybul

    Thanks John Menadue . . spot on! Evenso, as ‘the Pav’ says, Abbott is not on about rational analysis. Abbott has made boats and refugees his platform from which he can attain Govt. Reason, ethics, morality and a fast disappearing concept called ‘a fair go’ rests within community. Parliament having abdicated its responsibility last week.Wonder what this nation considers a fair and reasonable body count before the end game concludes?

  11. Ellen O'Gallagher

    I suggest that we adopt the Malaysia solution with one change. We don’t send any one back there–we set up an orderly departure program in a camp there letting the UNHCR do the assessing (except i think that this is really a sticking point with the government who might be thinking the UN people are too easy on asylum seekers)–anyway–we set up this orderly departure program in Malaysia and fly a plane load of refugees to Australia every week. This would have the effect of getting people there to wait in hope for their turn. It must be miserable to be a refugee there without rights and hoping to find a way out of that situation that does not mean a risky boat trip to Indonesia and then another one to Australia. The trouble with Nauru is that that would happen AFTER the dangerous boat trip in any case. if we want to be consistent then we have to prevent boat trips. Ergo we choose refugees from the camp we have set up in Malaysia.

  12. Jenny Haines

    Nice to see the Indonesians told Julie Bishop to get lost when she went to Indonesia recently to tell the Indonesians about Coalition policy, as reported by the ABC on 3.5.12. The Deputy Chair of the Indonesian Parliament told Julie Bishop their policy was unfair on Indonesia and that Australia should be more humanitarian. So much for the white people telling the brown people how to behave! She got a long overdue rebuff!

    Bringing back TPVs will only mean more women and children getting on boats and risking their lives at sea. Remember the SIEV X where 353 people drowned, many of them women and children trying to get to Australia to reunite their families. Any Minister who wants to bring back TPVs should first answer these questions – Suppose you were the Minister for Immigration and the policy of TPVs had been re-instated. Would you be prepared to sign a document authorizing the return of a Shia to Iraq when he had fled that country because his life was threatened by Sunnis? Would you be prepared to sign a document authorizing the return of a Hazara to Afghanistan when he had fled that country because his life was threatened by the Taliban? Would you be prepared to sign a document authorizing the return of a Tamil to Sri Lanka when he had fled that country because his life was threatened by Sinhalese? (Extract from a Labor for Refugees letter to Senators, 3.7.12)

    I don’t agree with the Malaysia Solution. It is not a solution it is a political fix, to get asylum seekers off the front page and take the wind out of Tony Abbott’s sails. It won’t stop the boats, because the push factors will still be there just as strong. This year we have taken 50 UN registered refugees from Indonesia and there are another 4552 registered refugees and another 1180 unregistered refugees waiting in Indonesia. Refugees recognised by the UN are currently waiting up to 3 to 4 years in Indonesia for the opportunity to come to Australia. Given human circumstances of young families, older sicker member of families, poor living conditions , lack of work opportunities, lack of educational facilities, lack of health facilities etc etc, they sell what they have, and take a chance on a boat. Why not transport these people now, by plane or safe boat? I have heard that when this is put to the Minister for Immigration his answer is that it will create a honey pot effect, of drawing many thousands of people to Indonesia in hope of a trip to Australia. If the honeypot effect was to have happened, surely it would have happened by now! (Reminds me of the domino effect, and that never happened either!) And if people are refugees, they are refugees. Register them with the UN and bring them to Australia. Far more efficient. I suspect less costly than what we are doing now. And stops the boats.

    Why won’t the politicians do this? Lack of compassion is one possibilty. There is also their fear of uninformed voters in marginal seats, participants in focus groups, and the lashing that Gillard and Bowen would get from the Opposition and their media attack dogs. What is needed now is leadership of the style of Malcolm Fraser when he brought the Vietnamese to Australia against the howling of his attack dogs.

    John Menadue has another go at the Greens. One of the things that is often complained about in Australian politics is the lack of commitment to policy and ideas. The Greens have been constructively in Coaltion with Labor since the election of the Gillard Government. The Gillard Government would not have survived without them. They have helped implement progressive reform in this country, the carbon tax, the mining tax, and health system reform for example. They are standing on their digs about refugees and asylum seekers. Good on them. Whats wrong with a little bit of principle in politics! All the other parties seem to have forgotten what that means.

  13. Andrew

    A good indication of what the general public think should be done was a poll run by yahoo7. Now, before I give you the results of that poll that was run for nearly a week, I need to point out that the results of yahoo7 polls on other issues are almost always skewed in favour of the Liberals. Usually 70% in favour of Liberal policy. There were more than 50000 respondents in total.
    46% were in favour of Labors Malaysia/Nauru solution,
    46% were in favour of the Liberals Nauru only solution, and
    8% were in favour of the Greens onshore only solution.
    I think you can see that the government has strong community support for their plan especially if if you compensate for the usual skewed results. The government plan may have support as high as 75%.

  14. Hudson Jasmine

    God damn insomnia

    Kathi Bonhagen

    I think that should have been king Abdullah of Saudi he’s richer than the Jordan King.

  15. Elizabeth Thornton

    As a Greens member I feel obliged to mention that both major parties decline to talk with The Greens party leaders .The fact that the country voted to have a minority government means that Both parties realised that one or other would HAVE to do this.

    Instead of working together on what would be right for asylum seekers a battle of who has the brightest way to take them off the front page is being fought.

    Clearly the best thing to do is reduce the huge numbers of economic refugees who can afford to live here in nice houses,and make up a larger number of the refugees who have in the past proven themselves to be very valuable members of the community.Also they have a clue about real hardship.

    The carbon Tax issue is another area whereby Labour was dragged into pulling some sort of ETS together even though global warming used to be our greatest moral dilemma Now we have seen Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer in their full glory we understand more about the reluctance to take them on ! However the ice continues to melt in Antartica and we are once again moving into another drought period in Australia and the farmers will continue to ask for tax payers hardship money. The Coal miners will continue to be paid by tax payers to continue polluting.

    I may be off to N.Z. soon as I feel no loyalty to a country that has forgotten its Human Rights pledges.

  16. Hudson Jasmine

    ELIZABETH THORNTON

    The N.Z. government push asylum boats away, they don’t accept them, it was big news when they did not let the boat from Sri Lanka enter. It seems like you guys look at things through a fundamentalist prism and don’t bother to look at things at a wholistic level, the world is much more complicated and full of colour, it is not just black and white.

    It’s nothing wrong with the Greens holding on to principle and try to up hold the law, the problem is they have been happy to let more drownings occur and did not bother to find a solution that works which also uphold the law. It is distressing and upsetting for many people.

  17. Michael James

    In the interests of full and frank disclosure, why don’t you provide full disclosure of your contributor’s political links?

    You state John Menadue was a former secretary of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in 1983. You might also wish to highlight that he was Gough Whitlam’s personal private secretary and has cleaved a determinedly Labor line ever since, so he is a reliable go to person when you wish to bash the right’s policy’s.

    I cannot imagine you letting someone like Graham Morris comment on Labour policy’s without highlighting his Liberal credentials,, equal disclosure for both sides of politics would be appreciated.

  18. Pamela

    NZ pushes boats back- this is the sort of ill-informed rubbish that has to be refuted.
    NZ has not had a chance to push boats back- so far potential boats have not got past Australia.
    The waters between Australia and NZ are treacherous to say the least and have proved an effective barrier as has the Australian navy.
    One man who tried said- “We want to go to New Zealand becasue we have have never met anyone in Sri Lanka who was sent back from there. We have met people sent back from Australia.”
    Two interpretations- the obvious is no one has made it to NZ by boat.
    A few years back a boat got close – they stuck to the NG coast avoiding OZ waters but then hit a rock. There was a 5 day stand off with OZ navy trying to convince them to cross into our waters and board Navy boat. The Sri lankans were promised all sorts of enticements. Their boat was no longer sea worthy. They gave in and were carted off to Christmas island and subsequently deported with all promises broken. Such is life out on the unaccountable ocean.
    But please dont spin line that NZ has pushed boats back. They have been untested in this regard. Their geography protects them.

  19. Hudson Jasmine

    Pamela what planet are you living in?

    They told the Sri Lankan boat to go away.

    You should try to find interview with John Key, especially around the time of his recent visit to Australia. He does not accept them and call them “jumping the queue”.

    That’s why during that time many right-wingers praised him on the internet fora.

    What pissed me off in the debate is we’ve been solving N.Z.’s unemployment problem for the last 20 years and the last few years we’ve been helping the Irish and the Greeks and the Brits also but people pick on these asylum seekers as ‘economic opportunists’. Let them in don’t provide welfare, they will still come, they will work hard but it’s unlikely anybody will consider it.

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