Dec 11, 2012

Rintoul: challenging bipartisan myths on asylum seekers

Last week Bernard Keane slammed "the Ian Rintoul approach" to dealing with asylum seeker issues. This week, Ian Rintoul fights back.

Bernard Keane claims, in Crikey last week, the Left is disconnected from reality and has failed to “actually … grapple with policy solutions” around refugees. This is all pretty disingenuous when he refuses to engage with anything the Left has actually argued and simply dismisses it as championing “the Ian Rintoul approach of reflexively criticising anything and everything short of an open-borders policy”.

Everyone on the Left acknowledges that we are currently in the minority on attitudes to refugees, although I’d regard the two successive Nielsen polls showing around 30% opposition to re-opening the Pacific Solution as more relevant to the current policy debate than the more general Essential polling Keane cites.

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28 thoughts on “Rintoul: challenging bipartisan myths on asylum seekers

  1. Jackon Taylor

    Thank you Ian,

    I greatly appreciate you countering a number of the arguments that have been mounted previously here.

    Ultimately the current approach amounts to little more than punishing protection applicants arriving by boat to scare others from doing the same.

    The cost of onshore processing would be a fraction of the cost of offshore detention.

    Finally, the number of boat arrivals over the past 20 years suggest that movements by boat into Australia are predominantly the result of push factors rather than pull factors.

    Unfortunately we lack the political leadership to tackle this difficult issue.

  2. Jenny Haines

    Well said Ian. I agree with Jackson Taylor – what we need is political leadership to tackle these issues and we don’t have it. So we have to rely on the safeguards built into our system and have the courts tell the politicians what the law, domestic and international will allow.

  3. Exactly!

    I agree with Ian Rintoul, and would add these comments.

    As soon as Bernard Keane or anyone else starts blathering about what the “Left” stands for you can stop reading, unless you want to read unsubstantiated polemic.

    But it was not until he stated the “vast majority of these arrivals are manifestly not asylum seekers” that I began to wonder about the point of the article.

    How can he know anything about the status of the recent wave of Sri Lankan arrivals? Did he sit in on the initial DIAC interviews and was he privy to the DIAC decisions? Did he audit the reviews to the Refugee Review Tribunal, the appeals to the Magistrates’ Court, the Federal Court, the Full Bench of the Federal Court, and the High Court? Did he consider the aggregate of the outcomes of the applications before spouting off about the “vast majority” of arrivals?

    Of course not.

    What then is the point of the article? Void the polemic about the “Left” and “vast majorities”, what point was Bernard trying to make exactly? Or was polemic the point?

    I may as well read the Telegraph.

  4. Moloch

    It’s terribly sad that humane approaches to people fleeing persecution are labelled by Crikey – with a Joe Macarthy like glee as ‘left wing’.

    When did compassion get outlawed for ‘mainstream’ Australians? Why didn’t I get the memo?

    Sad that a news organisation like Crikey that labels itself ‘independent’ merely follows the MSM herd down the path of hyped-up xenophobia and the demonisation of brown people.

  5. michael crook

    thank you Ian, thank your comment makers. Got it Bernard? You are way out of line. It is not ok to use human beings as toys, for whatever grubby reason.

  6. paddy

    Well said Ian. Reading Bernard’s piece the other day, had me thinking that we’d been transported back to the days of the “yellow” (now brown) peril. Good to see there are still a few voices of sanity left amidst the great panic.

  7. Michael Jones

    There’s nothing pragmatic or realistic about pandering to this kind of Fake Issue, especially since doing so is exactly what gives such fabricated outrages their power and traction.

    This is a fake issue with a massive humanitarian and financial cost- one of the worst excesses of the assertion-based community.

    That goes as much if not more for people such as Mr Keane , who engage in classic circular-reasoning: “it polls well so, you must bow to it(hence helping it poll better)”. Assertion-based, indeed.

  8. Steve Clarke

    “But even if numbers doubled it would still be easily manageable”.

    Yes I agree. However what if the numbers increased 12 fold to 180,000 per year as Senator Bob Carr has suggested or go far higher than that?

    Ian, you are basing your arguments on the assumption that the numbers of people paying to enter Australia by boat wont increase very much. Considering the many millions of refugees and millions more living in poverty, it is an assumption that is very questionable.

  9. mattsui

    A reasoned response to what was a politically myopic artical.
    I would like to see this discussion (and others like it) taken out of the context of Left versus Right. I think that having sympathy for the plight of refugees needn’t be a thing strictly for left leaning people. There must be those of “the Right” (right-identifying Australians?) who have sufficient empathy to want to seek a humane outcome for assylum seekers. Surely they haven’t all been duped by the “stop the boats = no mass drownings = good. ergo any policy aimed at stopping boats = good (even if said policy is destined to fail)” dogwhistle.
    I said on Bernard’s comment stream that this is about Australia asking itself hard questions about what sort of society we want to be. That’s not the sort of discussion we can afford to have along Left/Right divisions.

    Oh, and Steve. 180000/year. Where will they find enough boats?
    Please drop the left and write as an individual with a conscience. If the left becomes defined as everyone with a conscience, we risk defining the right as the exact opposite – i.e. all evil. Then conversations like this will become impossible.

  10. Julie Pulvirenti

    Agreed, given the conflicts in Syria and Egypyt can we expect even more claiming asylum? I think it rather naive to think the numbers will remain the same. What then? Very short sighted rhetoric. Clearly some changes need to be made to the UN convention or we remove our signature altogether.

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