Keeping out boat people …

Vincent Burke writes: Re. “‘Let them all come’ is ‘stop the boats’ for unthinking progressives” (yesterday). It’s not so daft to suggest let them all come. Why not tell people who are thinking of booking a passage with the people smugglers to instead buy a tourism package (including accommodation) with a return ticket on a Australian government-organised flight, with the proviso that if they are not deemed to be genuine refugees they will use the return portion of their ticket to go back to where they came from? If the program is structured properly, the government stands to gain rather than having to meet the huge cost of policing our waters and paying for the accommodation of the asylum seekers. For the asylum seekers, the benefit is avoiding the risk of being drowned at sea, while paying pretty much the same to the government tour operator rather than the evil people smugglers. Is that too easy to be a solution or not?

Dylan Taylor writes: It’s good, and quite a relief, to see some realism in the demeaning and fruitless debate about asylum seekers coming by boat.

The Greens ( on which planet does Sarah Hansen-Young live ?) together with David Manne and the Socialist Left  must make up about 10% to 12 % of the population who genuinely think that “let them all come in” is a viable policy. It’s easy when you are not in government to produce these bright ideas. To MPs with seats in the western suburbs, it sounds like a suicide note.

Forget the “racist elements” — no country, however benign in its attitude to asylum seekers, can adopt a “let them all in” policy. It would be sheer madness. Which is why, in the face of persistent opinion polling that shows that that a majority of Australians do not wish to see such a policy, both major political parties have to try to deter them.

Add to this the fact that the people smugglers have  the most to gain from such a policy — and more people will drown en route — is it really a policy that any government can adopt?

So we have Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison dog-whistling, declaring war on refugees and bringing on Dr Strangelove to explain their “military solution” — with a three-star general tasked to “turn back the boats” — against Kevin Rudd and his “PNG policy”, which offers no incentive at all to asylum seekers to get on a boat.

Neither party can guarantee success- so, one must hope ( and pray?) that all this will deter at least some people or at least encourage them to save up and buy a plane ticket instead. As for the rest, just yelling from the sidelines or preaching from pulpits is not likely to achieve anything useful.

… but treating 457 visa holders fairly

Kate Kennedy writes: Re. “Stop the planes? The frustrations of educated, working migrants” (yesterday). I enjoyed your balanced and timely article. He’s my two cents worth:

I have a German friend on a 457 visa who is being sponsored by the firm that he has been working for. He applied for a promotion, but because he has to be in the same job for two years to be eligible for permanent residency he cannot take it.

I’m not sure if the company employing him is interpreting the rules to suit themselves, but it looks like exploitation to me.

Striking the right chord

Peter Nevin writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday). It was interesting to read about the announcement of the National Office for Live Music in today’s Crikey. What particularly caught my eye was that no fewer than three of the seven state representatives (Dave Faulkner, Kevin Mitchell and Kav Temperley) originally hail from Western Australia.

Given the current battle between Messrs Rudd and Barnett over Gonski, perhaps there’s scope to sweeten the deal with a “(music) royalties for regions” program?