Asylum seekers:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Coalition’s asylum-seeker policy — lost at sea” (yesterday, item 14).  John Menadue (AO) and Arja Keski Nummi have written 1000 words on asylum seekers and yet, despite their senior service in Immigration, have added nothing to the debate.

After filtering out their blinkered opposition to the Coalition’s policies their actual recommendations can be summarised as follows (and I quote):

  • “The Malaysian arrangement is not perfect, but supported by the UNHCR, it is a start”
  • “work with Indonesia in addressing the poverty of the fishing villages from where crew are recruited by the smugglers”
  • “orderly departure programs with refugee source countries such as Afghanistan”
  • errr … that’s it.

If I get this right, Australia is going to uplift the Indonesian average wage of $2 or $3 per day to such a level that people smuggling at (say) $10,000 per passenger becomes uneconomic.  That should work.  We will then set up an office in Afghanistan to create an “orderly” refugee program — presumably then we will cease collaboration with the disorderly UNHCR and go out on our own.

Which leaves the Malaysia solution, of which UNHCR on its website says: “the absence of a legal protection framework and weaknesses in the administrative structure for asylum have caused many people of concern to remain at risk.”

This from former senior bureaucrats from Immigration. Lost at sea? — yes.

Matt Davis writes: Why, oh why, Crikey? In an otherwise well-reasoned and sensible article — albeit one that contained nothing new in terms of facts for regular readers — the authors abandon their area of expertise to give us this piece of blind political opinion: “The Greens have a great deal to answer for in their earlier policy purity on climate change.”

These “former Department of Immigration officials” who have obviously never been journalists, also attack the Greens for “purist policy” and further “impotent policy” (remember, we’re talking about a party with only one lower house MP). As if that’s not enough, the Greens are now “accomplices of the Coalition on asylum policy” and were apparently equally duplicitous on climate policy.

How exactly “a former secretary of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs in 1983” and “a former first assistant secretary of the Refugee, Humanitarian and International division in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship from 2007-2010” have come to be such experts on the recent history of Australia’s parliamentary system, or the legislative advantages of one form of carbon pricing scheme over another, remains unexplained.

This Green bashing has become a recurrent theme in Crikey lately and in this instance it really goes too far. The authors better stick to what they know or do some proper research — or Crikey‘s subbing process better lift its game.

That the Greens are being made a scapegoat for the political failings of two governments and an opposition isn’t really so surprising. But the comments in this article are lazy and unfounded and do no one any favours, least of all the Crikey masthead.


Richard Cornish writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). I am the freelance writer of the piece in The Saturday Age about Shoreham mentioned in yesterday’s Crikey.

I was born and bred in Shoreham. When I went to high school 30 kilometres away, some people hadn’t heard of the seaside hamlet and confused the place with Horsham (we were farmers). So it was ironic that when I wrote about my home town a map of Horsham was accidentally used with my copy.

My email is at the bottom of the column and I was I overwhelmed by the number of emails many angry a using me of “Google hack journalism”. One accused me personally of bringing down Fairfax and letting Gina Rinehart through the gates.

It reminds me that Fairfax truly is a public company and readers are protective of their paper.