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Jul 24, 2013

PNG deal will save Labor -- and end it as we know it

Labor took the only deal it could to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea. But this is now a party divorced from its past, sailing against the tide that carried it this far.


In 1966, a Labor politician got up and described the Vietnam War as a “racist, criminal, genocidal” attack by the United States on a small nation. But it wasn’t Gough Whitlam, whose opposition to Vietnam was late-blooming. It was Arthur Calwell, damned by history as a racist. Calwell by and large wasn’t, in the pernicious sense we associate with the term — he simply continued to believe ideas of racial separateness that had been abroad in the early 20th century, subscribed to by almost everyone. Calwell understood the Vietnam War could only be waged through a contempt for the humanity of the Vietnamese. He was no wild leftie, had no time for communists, and he was from the rather proper Catholic side of the party — but he understood how power and humanity was often at odds.

Calwell’s stand on Vietnam — it cost Labor the 1966 election, and helped provoke an assassination attempt against him — reminds us that Labor is a far more complex beast than the received histories will acknowledge. Labor’s sense that it was part of a global struggle didn’t begin with the chucking out of the White Australian Policy in the 1960s; beneath that policy was still the idea of a universal struggle for justice and equality, even if it was seen as a struggle by separate peoples. Australian Labor’s shattering rise to power in the early 1900s, its world-leading role, could not have occurred if it was a merely sectional party, if it had no idea other than narrow advancement.

It has split and recombined several times; in Billy Hughes it had a figure who had more in common with Mussolini than with Methodism. But it has never fully lost that progressive impetus, even as the class it represented changed from a bare proletariat to a prosperous working middle class. Now that class has been further split into winners and losers — by the super bonanza, the housing bubble, the Norway-style rocketing prices — and by those mechanisms has been split against itself.

Labor got this process underway in the Keating years, and assumed it would retain the loyalty of its social base, while giving it access to the sort of individualised prosperity the bourgeoisie enjoyed. It hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, while the Liberals and now the Greens have retained an ideology and a class base, Labor has voluntarily liquidated its own. Rather than reinvent the notion of a life together, in which individualism played a role but did not determine how we lived, Labor has conceded the ideological field to its opponents, putting individualism at the root of social life.

It has thus set itself the exhausting task of having to round up a significant section of its vote afresh at each election. Queensland-style collapses appear far more likely to afflict Labor than any other party in the near future. Added to these difficulties is the fact that this atomised prosperity has made many people feel less secure, free and happy than they did decades ago, when lives were more modest, but not weighed down with student debt, mortgage debt, beset by fragmented labour markets, etc. This effect has been so remarkable that it has been dubbed “the Australian paradox”, the subject of a huge volume of debate around the world over the past few years, very little of it reported on in Australia. It has made it tempting for Labor to cut the final links with any sort of universalist notion of humanity, and become a part that is no more than a client of shifting interests, as outlined in Chris Bowen’s long suicide note for the party, recently issued in book form.

The Papua New Guinea asylum seekers deal — “solution” as a descriptor manages to be both sinister and inaccurate — is a mark of that. It is the logical conclusion to Labor’s failure to tackle the issue head-on in 2007, by expanding refugee “processing” facilities so that there would be no newsworthy bottlenecks, while re-emphasising ethical and treaty obligations, and the relatively small numbers involved. That was always going to be a tough sell, especially as the refugee route mostly involves a flight to Djarkarta, hardly in keeping with the image of tired, huddled masses climbing across mountains, etc.

“In a period in which it has been more imperative than ever to work out why the party exists and what it is for, it has launched something that is, at its heart, nihilistic …”

But there was really no other alternative if Labor was to remain the party it had once been, with a claim to be the natural, and expansive, home of the broad progressive forces. The Liberals, it was thought, could always out-xenophobe Labor. It was inevitable that a piecemeal implementation of this and that solution, measure, etc, of 457 visas and so on, would only serve to make Labor look inept and imitation-xenophobes a poor substitute for the real thing. Even better/worse, such ineptitude made the Liberals’ cruelty look humane, by being decisive and solidly implemented. The PNG deal — with its breathtaking denial of any possibility that people might escape to a peaceful and prosperous land, its denial of hope — is both the only political solution Labor could now make, but also the one act that finally cuts it off from its past, from even a vestigial granting of a common humanity to people who, for many different reasons, come in boats.

The PNG is of course, an enhanced Pacific “solution”, since most will simply be transferred to Manus Island. Beyond that it has the makings of a moral, political, geostrategic disaster, you name it. PNG is broke, politically fragmented and very poor. The police force and other services are as corrupt and brutal as such forces are in any poor country, where bribes are a necessity. There is no guarantee that we will foot the bill should the process of refugee assessment continue on, or the government change hands and reject the deal, leaving thousands in limbo, or a dozen other scenarios. We can be certain that we have consigned numerous people to death, to deaths that would otherwise not occur, by making this deal.

Should they get refugee status, they will be abroad in what is really only a quasi-state, stamped on a territory which encompasses the most complex web of complex kinship societies in the world. With the exception of a small part of the south, you can’t just turn up in PNG and become part of it. Quite possibly, there may be unintended consequences. In the 1930s, Trujillo, the murderous Dominican Republic dictator, was the only one who would allow mass Jewish immigration from Europe (our Sir Robert, something of a fan of Hitler’s Germany, fell short). By the time the 5000 or so Jews who had settled there finally made it to New York and Miami they had created a town, Sosua, that is now the country’s resort hub.

Maybe there will be a similar PNG effect. But that also points to other possible effects. Given the stated concern about boat arrivals has always been the “terrorists in their midst”, a lot of people on the Right seem curiously comfortable and relaxed about sending some fairly sharp people to a troubled state. Wasn’t that the sort of conjunction we’ve been trying to avoid? But of course such concerns always masked a more primal, and strategic, politics of fear.And all this is supposing those consigned to PNG consent to staying there. A glance at the map will show PNG might be a lot better launching place, by way of the Torres Strait Islands, to get back to Oz than Indonesia is. Will this mean some mad and lethal cat-and-mouse game in two, three, four years time? Inevitably, if the past is anything to go by. The boats have not stopped coming, despite the revival of the Pacific Solution. It seems unlikely, though not impossible, that they will now.

The manifold absurdities of the policy are like salt air on our hull; we are corroding our own vessel in an attempt to reach some illusory safety. Some parts are rusting faster than others, and Labor is one of them. It has restored its standing in the broad middle, but its advocates fantasise about once again becoming the broad party that represents all progressive aspiration. Such appears to be the subject of Bowen’s slim book, and Kim Il-Carr’s even slimmer one (the larger the Laborite, the slimmer the book; MUP will be releasing a single haiku by David Feeney any day now). Now that they have reached the ultimate point of their kludged refugee policy — the denial, not merely of rights, but of human recognition to boat arrivals, the unwillingness to hear someone’s account of their reasons for being and doing — that reclamation is unlikely to happen.

This act rescinds not merely some of the progressive reconstruction of the party in the 1960s, but something of the spirit in which the party was formed in the 1890s. They are unwilling to admit that, just as they are unwilling to admit the Greens will be able to consolidate their vote and base from this decisive act, because deep down many remain wedded to a fantasy image of the party, a sort of super-Whitlamite fetish object. The more it departs from that, the more insistent the fantasy becomes. The more likely it looks that the Greens will be around as a permanent feature of the system, the more their real existence must be denied, through all this bullshit about liberal elites, unAustralians, blah blah blah.

Bowen’s argument, in the suicide note, is that Labor should build the country up as a high-tech, growth-oriented, value-added producer, that Labor should never govern with the Greens, and that it should reopen its doors as a “big-tent” party, for all to be represented. Yet it is obvious that what builds the Green vote is exactly that process, because it adds to the culture/knowledge producer class from which the Greens draw their support. The PNG deal gives the Greens scope to get to the next step in their political process, a pretty arduous one it must be said; to emphasis that the universal humanism which Labor has forsaken resides with them, to work actively to detach and appropriate, or at least neutralise those leftish Labor Party members who are dismayed and heartbroken by the PNG deal.

Labor may or may not prosper in the short term from the refugee process it has made itself a party to over these years, even supposing the policy holds together at all over the coming weeks and months. What is certain is that it has not heard the last of it. In a period in which it has been more imperative than ever to work out why the party exists and what it is for, it has launched something that is, at its heart, nihilistic — racist and criminal as the man said.

It’s a pretty leaky boat in which to sail against a current, one you’ve sailed with for your whole existence.


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49 thoughts on “PNG deal will save Labor — and end it as we know it

  1. morphy richards toaster

    What glorious irrelevant you live in, Guy.

  2. morphy richards toaster


  3. Edward James

    I have no problem admitting I am unable to understand all that you have written for Crikey.com readers Guy. But my own first hand experience permits me to understand the Labor Party nationally have done the wrong thing by their Australian constituents, once too often! Kevin Rudd may be the last Labor leader in power for quite a while. But he alone is not to blame. He has had a lot of help from those same faceless men who have over years destroyed Labor from the inside out and top to the bottom. All that remains now is for very angry Australian voters to exercise their own votes, putting labor last on ballot papers. With the aim a putting out the remnants of a once great peoples party which is now no better than political garbage. Edward James

  4. paddy

    I’d forgotten about the attempted assassination of Caldwell.

    But I doubt I’ll live long enough to forget the shame of what Rudd is doing to what remains of the progressive ALP.

    The frenzied moral panic over refugees is the most depressing thing I can remember.
    Whether Rudd or Abbott wins the next election, we’ll all be choking on dust and ashes.

  5. @chrispydog

    We are all Pauline Hanson now.

  6. John Newton

    It is clear that nothing, now, separates the Libs from the Labs but a vowel.

  7. Andybob

    What would Labour not do to retain power ?
    The list is depressingly short.

  8. Hunt Ian

    Guy, you are right to say that the ALP has gone for neo-liberalism, which began with Hawke and Keating, and forgotten the ideal of supporting the collective side of our social life. However, you seem plain wrong about the PNG policy.
    I conditionally support Kevin Rudd’s announcement on change of asylum seeker policy. I have been uneasy about the more than 1100 asylum seekers who have drowned on people smuggler boats and the fact that all our increased quota of refugees come from those willing to pay people smugglers. I am therefore happy about a policy that has a chance of ensuring that our future intake will be from asylum seekers who have UNHCR recognition as refugees in various places around the world.

    I am concerned, however, about the asylum seekers who have unwittingly walked into an unexpected situation and now find that they will not be resettled in Australia because they attempted to seek asylum in Australia by travelling by boat to Australian territory. I have no objection in principle to granting asylum to people who come to Australia by boat but I think that the deaths at sea mean we now have to say that people must apply for asylum in Australia by other means.

    However, I think you should use diplomatic channels to persuade other countries, such as Canada and the US, to consider taking asylum seekers who have unwittingly found themselves ineligible for resettlement in Australia.

    I also think that Australia should increase its aid to our former colony, Papua New Guinea, so that it can take a path of development that will provide asylum seekers, who unwitting put themselves in a position where they cannot be resettled in Australia, and who cannot be resettled in other countries, with resettlement in PNG in conditions where they can get on with their lives in peace.

    There will also be a difficult problem with people who take the risk because people smugglers have assured them that this scheme will not work and cite Tony Abbott’s new statements of opposition to it. The government should consider advertising that makes it clear that whatever the outcome of the election, there is no point in getting on boats to seek asylum in Australia and should make a promise that once the number of boat arrivals falls, our intake will be increased, to encourage asylum seekers to think that they can get to Australia (or other resettlement countries) by going through the UHNCR in transit countries

  9. Michael

    Whilst Abbot said he would sell anything but his ar$e Rudd upped the ante and sold his soul. The PNG solution is truly appalling.

  10. Bo Gainsbourg

    Crikey needs a specific detailed article working through the issue of drownings. Though labor has consistently shape shifted on its reasons for cracking down on refugees using boats, this latest justification does need some clear thinking. I don’t think it justifies the PNG ‘solution’. I think refugees will now drown on other journeys, but all important for Labor, they will not be drownings that our media talks about here. I also think there must be ways of reducing the bottlenecks forcing people onto leaky boats other than this. More enhanced processing in Indonesia for one, probably others, short of complete open boaders..of course that does not satisfy the primary labor motivation for this policy…winning votes of those who don’t like refugees. So clearly demonstrated by the shocking ads we are now seeing targeted not at refugees despite the protestations, but at the darkest part of our minds. But at this point it would be good for Crikey to focus on that issue specifically…what are the other options, more humane, for reducing or preventing drownings. As anyone raising legitimate human rights concerns is now being traduced by Labor politicians because of this, and the Greens vilified because they refuse to hold hands with Howard, Rudd and Hanson and walk the same dark path.

  11. shepherdmarilyn

    Hunt, there are no smugglers doing anything, there are refugees stuck in INdonesian prisons being tortured at our expense who want and must leave anyway they can. It is their legal right to do so.

    And why on earth would any nation accept people who arrive in Australia and how on earth do you swallow the lies of a bankrupt country on how the laws work.

    Refugees are universal with universal rights, they are not trading chips.

  12. Mark Duffett

    Green poll numbers have been declining steadily for a while now. What happens to them from here will be a good test of the latter part of this Rundle thesis.

  13. mikeb

    It’s very easy to label someone/something racist. What would be more helpful is coming up with a solution that doesn’t allow open slather migration to Australia for the 42m or so refugees who are currently seeking alternative countries.

  14. Bob the builder

    Stop the policy of sinking transport vessels and the businesses transporting asylum seekers to our shores will use seaworthy boats.
    That’s all that needs to change to stop the drownings.

    All the rest is a transparently p*ss-poor excuse to say we’re doing the unconscionable out of altruism.

    It’s not only the level of public morality that is at rock-bottom in Australia at the moment, the level of public debate and thought is pretty poor too.

  15. Bob the builder

    Crikey, please make “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail” the default and available to de-/select on both windows.

  16. Timmy O'Toole

    Rundle seems to rest so much on the legitimacy of the Greens as a left wing political party. They undoubtedly are a left wing political party and a class based one (albeit their class is firmly middle-middle class) as Rundle says. But at 10% of the vote (if that) they are no model for a successful political party that has any chance of implementing an agenda.

    Rundle should realise that the Greens, to become a major party (say of more than 20% of the vote, like the Lib-Dems in the UK once were) would need to look more like the ALP. And to become a major party that replaces the ALP, as is their intention, would essentially need to be the ALP in their policies. I am speaking broadly- not saying every policy would be the same, including on refugees- but they would need to temper their economic vandalism to be successful in implemeting social policy (i.e. their redistributive policy, energy policy etc) and would thus end up as compromised and gradualist as Labor.

    As Orwell said, “Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing.”

    Finally, Rudd wants to increase the refugee quote to about 27,000 people. They will come from camps. The conditions of these camps will be as bad as Manus. Is this inhumane? Or would you prefer 13,000 self selecting people from boats, plus or minus a few thousand that die on the way. The selection criteria being whether they can afford a boat trip.

    The left needs to stop pretending there is a clear moral absolute on this issue. Manus is inhumane; so are people drowning; so are people living in camps overseas who do not get an opportunity to come to Australia because they cannot afford to take a boat.

    Life is messy.

  17. Robert Brown

    If the policy works as intended (and I assume the intention is to stop deaths at sea), then nobody goes to PNG. Am I being too simplistic/optimistic?

  18. Edward James

    Bloody good suggestion Bob at 15 and long over due ! Edward James

  19. Mr Tank

    It’s been said that you get the government that you deserve. Given the lack of compassion of such a large section of the Australian public is it surprising to anyone that this policy is the price of political survival for a progressive political party? No didn’t thing so.

  20. Hunt Ian

    There will be people going to PNG because they were caught unawares by the announcement and the people smugglers might like too say that it will not work, citing Tony Abbott or that once they are resettled in PNG they can migrate to Australia. Once the challenge stops and the those caught out have already gone to PNG, then it is not simplistic to say that no one else will go to PNG, since asylum seekers will prefer to seek resettlement in Australia and will wait for UNHCR to process them. The problem though is those caught unawares or those who are part of the challenge to the policy.

    As to Bob the Builder’s hope that people smugglers will use seaworthy boats once their boats are not destroyed when they reach Australia, that is wishful thinking, I think. Boats are just part of the people smugglers’ costs. Unless we simply allow the people smugglers to take their boats back to Indonesia then they will not switch to depreciation rather than scrapping cost in working out how much money they will make.The problem is that they do not have large seaworthy vessels to transport asylum seekers to Australia without their being stopped by indonesian authorities.

  21. Patrick Brosnan

    Mikeb, I think our glorious isolation at the arse end of the world is the main reason we don’t have 42M people descending on us. Do you know how many small boats would be required? Let’s assume 200 per boat, that’s 210, 000 boats. Let’s ride!

  22. Edward James

    Mr Tank Consider the clear attitude to Australia trying to off load the problem onto PnG in the clip. Assume nothing Tank simply consider this clip http://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2013/07/im-pretty-sure-the-smiling-bloke-with-the-machete-said-kevin-long-pig-problem-belong-im-you.html
    PnG is I understand Christian. Unlike Australians they have no problems articulating what they want and expect in their country. Edward James

  23. Rubio Diego

    Hey Guy, predicting anything is near on impossible, and so your prediction of Labor’s demise will go to the same dustbin that 90 % of others have gone.
    Wasn’t it only 6 short years ago that the Ruddslide tore through the Liberal Party and their Prime Minister of 12 years thrown out on his ear in his own electorate ?

  24. Mark from Melbourne

    Isn’t the whole idea behind Manus Island update is that the boats will stop coming therefore not many people will be in play and all the stuff about massive fracturing of PNG, costs etc rather irrelevant to the argument?

    Not saying it will work out that way but surely that’s the logic?

  25. Warren Joffe

    Guy Rundle

    “. It was Arthur Calwell, damned by history as a racist. Calwell by and large wasn’t, in the pernicious sense we associate with the term — he simply continued to believe ideas of racial separateness that had been abroad in the early 20th century, subscribed to by almost everyone.”

    With respect Y’r Honner well said. It is good to see someone on the left being so clear-headed about the way it was once customary to think about some subjects that are now thought to be understood properly and quite differently.

    Instead of choosing totally unqualified (in both major senses) opinions on AGW and what Australia should do about it or some other contemporary shibboleth let me rather note the energy we put into our defensive humbug about saving lives as the basis for our stern policies against boat arrivals. It’s all about saving lives!?!

    So how much money could you extract from the average Australians’ pocket to save the lives of almost any defined or undefined lot of 1000 people who are going to die in the next week, or three years? It’s not as though it couldn’t be done, easily, even with immigration or defense department bureaucrats put in charge or working it all out.

    And what about giving boat people the right to work? Bah, humbug!

  26. Elvis

    Using PNG as deterrence is not the only way to stop deaths at sea. With a little imagination many alternatives can be found.
    The Greens do offer a credible alternative plan to stop deaths at sea (link below), but I fear that it hasn’t been clearly or simply enough explained and publicised. Maybe it needs a catchy name like “Gonski”, something that rolls off the tongue and can become fashionable to support.

  27. Griffiths Karen

    So right Mikeb-‘racist, bigot, xenophobe, small minded, ignorant etc.’
    How can you build a discussion on a platform of name calling, blame and “false” claim to the moral high ground? We need a discussion!

  28. el tel

    It is interesting to go over to The Guardian to see the logical end-point that the “universal humanism” advocated here leads to, which is open borders for all.


    I would be very interested to see where this position sits alongside the sustainability agendas that the Greens have been associated with. I would think that feeding, housing and employing a massively increased population would point to a less ecologically balanced economy that I would have thought the Greens would be comfortable with.

  29. Bob the builder

    @Hunt Ian (19)

    The ‘people smugglers’ are businesspeople (even if it’s a business that’s criminalised by the Australian state). Before the destroy the boats policy, better boats came, crewed by less disposable (i.e. more experienced and capable) people – and so the service was safer and more reliable. ‘People smugglers’, as businesspeople, want to maximise profit, and the best way is to provide a better service.

    In addition, I should note, that I suspect a good proportion of the ‘people smugglers’ are closer to Oscar Schindler than Kerry Packer, i.e. acting from ethical motivations rather than monetary ones, so would be doubly likely to use the safest method of travel.

    Presently, the certainty of boats being destroyed and the crew being incarcerated for perhaps a long time guarantees poor quality boats and crew and no-one can afford a good boat to be destroyed and no-one with options (i.e. experienced crew) is going to risk gaol in Australia.

  30. David Hand

    My reading of the whole PNG policy is that everybody in the upper echelons of both governments believe that the vast majority of asylum seekers are economic migrants. The theory is that in choosing suburban Tehran to PNG, they’ll stay in Tehran.

    I’m not saying it will work.

    Guy’s idea that the main issue in the right is a fear of t*rrorism is fatuous nonsense. The main issue for middle Australia is a view that Australia is being dudded by opportunists.

  31. Scott Grant

    Out of curiosity I hunted around for some stats to see if they could move my own prejudices on this matter. It seems that in calendar year 2012 there were 278 boat arrivals bringing 17,202 people categorised as “Irregular Maritime Arrivals” (IMA). The rate appears to have increased markedly since 2009.

    The rate of asylum seekers arriving by air has been more constant, and it appears that IMA numbers are now matching non-IMA numbers, so one can, perhaps, roughly double that 17,000 figure. This compares with a total net arrival rate (arrivals minus departures) of around 230,000 for 2011/2012 financial year. About half of those in the net arrival rate have promised they will go home again, some time (student/457/Working Holiday/Tourist).

    As for country of origin: For IMA asylum seekers, the top 3 countries are Afghanistan (3,179), Iran (1,553) and Sri Lanka (825). For non-IMA asylum seekers, the top 3 countries are China (1,216), India (906) and Pakistan (667). The top 4 source countries for permanent settlers and migrants are New Zealand (44,304), India (29,018), China (25,509) and the UK (25,274).

    Make of that what you will.

    (Sources: Refugee Council Of Australia and Dept OF Immigration)

  32. Warren Joffe

    Good work Scott Grant. Can you go further and tell us whether those IMA asylum seekers from China, India and Pakistan were accepted as refugees? Christians from Pakistan maybe: lots of categories from China perhaps, but India?

  33. Lyndon McPaul

    I agree wholeheartedly! Whatever the situation, the facts, the will of the people or the lives at stake; the progressive ideology must be accommodated!! Permanent residency must be given on demand to anyone who has enough money for a plane ticket and quite a few thousand more for a treacherous boat journey facilitated by opportunistic criminals! The Navy’s role in all this is a taxi service from the sea to the Australian Mainland where they will be assumed to be who they say they are despite the lack of ID etc.. (and also as a body retrieval service when it all goes wrong) This article is just a lot off ideological post communist waffle that doesnt begin to deal with the facts on the ground or to chart reasonable course through this current crisis.

  34. Rudi Broekhuizen

    Look at other countries and learn people. Have a really good look.
    We will soon not be able to support the population we have.
    Once this has been addressed then go through the proper channels to see if we want you in this country.
    No different from what I had to do to immigrate here. There should be no short cuts.
    If you want to take a short cut then you suffer the consequences – it was your choice not ours.
    Otherwise just open up the borders – no customs – no rules – open slather to all?

  35. Rudi Broekhuizen

    The Navy as a taxi service.? What universe are you from.?
    Get real – if we tried this caper off their shores we would never even see the coast.
    Permanent residency on demand? What happened to rules. Have you ever been outside ? Wake up please.

  36. Rudi Broekhuizen

    Keep them all out!!!
    We have enough free loaders already.
    If you want to come in, you go through the proper channels like all other immigrants, including myself.
    If you try a shortcut then you suffer the consequences.
    Not our fault or responsibility – but only yours.
    If we did the same in their country we would be shot.
    Perhaps this would be an appropriate deterrent if we adopted the same policy.?

  37. CML

    Guy – You have become just another apologist for the Greens, although perhaps you always have been. I agree with TT’s comments @#16 – the Greens will never be more than a protest movement, because they don’t represent anywhere near enough of the Oz population to be relevant in the governing of this country. Thank goodness! Over time they will disintegrate and hopefully disappear, just as the Democrats before them.
    I am also heartily sick of you and your ilk calling everyone racist, inhumane or whatever. Along with many others who contribute to the various discussions on Crikey, I don’t have a problem with our refugee intake, and hope it is increased in the future. But I very much resent the so-called boat-people self selecting their country of refuge because they have money to buy a seat on a boat. And the
    Green’s position of ‘selective compassion’ for this group ONLY, has never made any sense to me. I am much more interested in Australia taking refugees from the ‘non-existent’ queue. You know, those people who have been sitting in camps all around the world waiting for decades to be resettled. The Green’s attitude to these people is to me inhumane, cruel and dismissive.
    So don’t lecture me, and people like me, who are not racist but just want to see the Aussie fair go applied to all – not just those with money! With the Labor party policy of stopping the boats by diplomatic means, and increasing the humanitarian intake to 27,000, perhaps we will see a fairer outcome in the years ahead. I certainly hope so.

  38. Lyndon McPaul

    Its all good Rudi 🙂 I was obviously making a poor attempt at Sarcasm in my previous post to make a point; a poor attempt because you obviously didnt pick up on it.

  39. Damien McBain

    Rudi, to suggest only the extremes as available options is the mark of a puny mind.

  40. simpletext

    The situation is slowly and steadily getting out of control and reaching limits in capacity to deal with it. So what should the government of done?

  41. CarlitosM

    Absolute gold Guy!:
    “..the subject of Bowen’s slim book, and Kim Il-Carr’s even slimmer one (the larger the Laborite, the slimmer the book; MUP will be releasing a single haiku by David Feeney any day now).”

  42. Scott Grant

    In reply to Warren Joffe @32, the document I used for asylum seekers, from the department, is http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/asylum/_files/asylum-trends-aus-annual-2011-12.pdf

    It would appear that the primary acceptance rate (ie excluding appeals, etc) from China was 9.7%, from Pakistan 40.3 % and India does not appear in the table, from which I infer a very small acceptance rate. Reasons for seeking asylum are not discussed in this document.

  43. simpletext

    Latest news – Abbott would put a “. . . a three-star commander in charge of a military-led border protection campaign in a bid to outgun Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on the vexed issue of people-smuggling”.

  44. Bob the builder

    Surprise, surprise, outflanking the Libs on the right hasn’t worked….

  45. simpletext

    @ Bob ha, Hopefully Labor will raise their next plan to include a mmmm, mmm, a fleet of aircraft carriers to patrol the world looking for errr , boats.

  46. Bob the builder

    Yes, or maybe they could better the Coalition’s hopelessly muddled and weak policy and use our army to patrol the borders of Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka.
    Perhaps a ‘regional solution’ involving a multi-national force that sealed all those ‘economic migrants’ within their borders.
    ‘Sealing the source’ would be a nice, catchy slogan.

  47. mike tabs

    Rudi Broekhuizen:

    ‘If you want to come in, you go through the proper channels like all other immigrants, including myself.
    If you try a shortcut then you suffer the consequences’

    Wait a second…. you are an immigrant…. ? why didn’t you say so earlier, what this discussions so desperately needs is the authority which can only provided by an expert in the field. So please, edify us, which war torn country did you flee to arrive here? Or was it the threat of persecution which caused you to leave everything behind in the hopes of bring resettled and starting again?

  48. Warren Joffe

    @ mike tabs

    I wouldn’t go into bat for R B but still am not impressed by your cheap shot at the straw man. He was no doubt an economic migrant like the vast majority of those whom the system has been fiddled (by the Rudd-Gillard governments and maybe under Howard before that) to get a 90 per cent acceptance of refugee status outcome on review. I am not in a position to be certain of course but think Bob Carr, unwisely, spoke the truth on such evidence as can be gleaned.

    What I can say, having read and seen enough of Sri Lanka, is that most of the Tamils who come here are not refugees as we would have understood it post WW2 or after the Communist takeover or Vietnam. It would be extremely unpalatable for a former Trincomalee boy to have to settle himself in a “plantation Tamil” village in the tea country but he would be safe, if poor. As it happens I would be pleased to see most of the Tamils given a go here. But then I wouldn’t be in economic competition with them and might well benefit from their presence. One thing is quite certain. The rejection of them on security grounds is absurd, certainly if it is Australia’s and Australians’ security that one is concerned about.

  49. Warren Joffe

    @ CML

    Your wish to do something for refugees I acknowledge but would you not see us as doing more good than current policies provide for if we used the same money (including all the flow-ons from accepting people who have no valuable skills and are culturally a long way from integration) to employ local people, including refugees but not only them, in the countries of first asylum to build facilities for education and health care and to provide those services with a view, as first objective, to prepare the refugees for a better life back in the countries of their birth and culture once stability is restored?

    For those, perhaps like 40 million Copts in Egypt or Christian or other minority communities in Syria, for whom return to a near permanently dystopian country may be the nightmare come true if we insist on that possibility, what do we do? Surely we don’t farm out selection to UN employees but do it for ourselves using the criterion of Australian self-interest in choosing employable potentially net taxpaying people or other with obvious promise and prima facie cultural compatibility. What do you think? Why bring an unhappy handful of culturally incompatibles out of the millions of refugees when we could do better for them and for ourselves with the same choice to spend money on policy in that area rather than, say, better aged care here for existing citizens? And why offer citizenship so readily? You and I might not be affected but there are a large number of Australians for whom the dilution of their voting power and of the pot of money available for transfer payments to them by the unnecessary addition of culturally and linguistically foreign people with little to contribute to the economy as their fellow citizens is objectively unfair, imposed on them de haut en bas by those of us who can afford to be bien pensant. Because we had already stumbled into diversity and prosperous multi-culturalism we haven’t, by and large, (with some Sydney exceptions), suffered the shock that those once nice social democrat Scandinavians have as they find themselves not so good at dealing with the cultural clashes occasioned by misplaced generosity in their refugee intakes. Why take on extra degrees of difficulty for no reward and no good done to anyone other than those few who are by chance accepted for the equivalent of a lottery win?

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