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Federal

Jul 31, 2013

Greens focus on incentives in asylum seeker policy

The Greens hope to use incentives to encourage asylum seekers not to arrive on boats -- but have no answers if more come. Their policy alternative might be kinder and cheaper, but would it work?

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asylum seekers

The Greens asylum seeker policy, most of which was released this morning, adopts much of the logic of last year’s Houston Panel report — but, crucially, not all of it.

That report, by Angus Houston, Michael L’Estrange and Paris Aristotle, argued for a significant rebalancing of incentives for asylum seekers, away from “irregular” pathways and toward “regular” pathways — the incentive of more opportunities to reach Australia via our humanitarian resettlement program, and the disincentive of no advantage in reaching Australia by boat, courtesy of a re-established Pacific Solution.

At the core of the Greens policy is the belief that disincentives will never work (and what evidence, so far, is there to contradict them?), and we need to massively increase the incentives to use regular pathways, via a dramatic expansion in our humanitarian intake and more Indonesian processing centres. More of the latter in a moment.

The increase in Australia’s humanitarian intake from 20,000 to 30,000 (though 4000 of the additional 10,000 places would be reserved for family reunion) would represent a more-than-doubling in just under two years. The Houston Panel recommended eventually lifting our intake to 27,000 over an extended period, rather than 30,000. But the goal would be the same: to dramatically decrease the supply pressure, particularly by immediately taking 10,000 asylum seekers from the region, 3800 of them from Indonesia. The incentive to get into a boat would be reduced — additionally, because asylum seekers from refugee-producing countries would be allowed to travel to Australia by air as well.

And as the Greens point out, the cost of resettling such a significantly greater number of refugees — costed at an additional $2.5 billion — is far less than the cost of running offshore detention centres.

However, the policy raises a number of questions. It proposes a number of UNHCR-run “safe” asylum seeker processing centres in Indonesia, further increasing the attractiveness of Indonesia for asylum seekers who can reach it (whether the Greens have consulted with the Indonesian government about this isn’t clear).

However, there is no guarantee that reaching such a centre would guarantee you would reach Australia: the humanitarian program is capped at 30,000, including another 4000 for family reunion. What happens if the numbers of asylum seekers exceeds 30,000? If they reach Australia by boat, they won’t be detained beyond an initial period for screening — and they are guaranteed resettlement here.

In short, the Greens are relying on being able to permanently cut the supply of asylum seekers to below 30,000. But there may be those who are not content to wait in an Indonesian processing centre, and who want to get to Australia with their families to get on with their lives and end the uncertainty, or who have the money to fly to Australia. And more asylum seekers will be in Indonesia, and resettlement in Australia will be guaranteed if you can reach here by boat, even if Australia has already taken 30,000 people under its humanitarian program.

So the Greens policy will work well up until the 30,001st asylum seeker and at that point becomes unclear: what will happen to asylum seekers arriving after we’ve taken 30,000? Are they detained? Sent back to an Indonesian processing centre? It’s implicit, but the 30,000, in the absence of any offshore processing or PNG plan, isn’t a hard cap.

Still, it may be enough: in the absence of a major humanitarian crisis, the Greens’ policy may be sufficient. It would be cheaper, too, than running offshore detention centres and bribing less developed countries in our region to take our problem off our hands.

But the complete removal of disincentives — the Greens even propose presumably permanent “community detention” for those found to be a security risk — leaves the effectiveness of the policy in the hands of people smugglers and asylum seekers. Australia would be a more attractive destination than it is currently under the Greens’ policy, and the Greens have no answers for what happens if that drives asylum seeker numbers beyond their 30,000 cap.

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66 comments

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66 thoughts on “Greens focus on incentives in asylum seeker policy

  1. Tamas Calderwood

    “At the core of the Greens policy is the belief that disincentives will never work (and what evidence, so far, is there to contradict them?)”.
     
    Gosh… let me think…  I know!  The Pacific Solution! 
     
    6 years of evidence from late 2001-2008, and all of it ignored by the Greens and Bernard. Fascinating.

  2. Bo Gainsbourg

    Good to see some detailed coverage in Crikey of Greens Policy on this…its the only alternative to an auction of focus group/ tabloid/ shock jock driven cruelty we are in with the majors. The points are fair enough. The Greens policy may not stop all drownings. But neither has the Howard,Gillard or Rudd policy,and presumably suffers from the same critique…what happens when the detention camps are full? Maybe we have to face up that they can’t all be stopped, and maybe if they aren’t occurring between Indonesia and here, they’ll simply occur elsewhere in the world, somehow out of the sight or moral radar of our media. Seems to me the policy is not perfect, but has just as much chance of succeeding as the majors…without the cruelty and degradation involved. The dip in refugees under Howard mirrored a worldwide dip…this policy is a valid practical response to a cruel situation.

  3. dazza

    TC. – 6 years of evidence from late 2001-2008 clearly shows The Pacific Solution will not work.

  4. shepherdmarilyn

    All major parties miss the point but Bernard, you are just an ignorant man without a clue.

    Tamas, the Pacific Solution is in play now you dimwit, has it stopped one person from seeking asylum here?

    Bernard, you don’t seem to understand do you?

    EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO SEEK ASYLUM.

    That is the law, get over yourself because you are more and more peddling DIAC and government lines.

  5. Elvis

    Great to see an attempt at objective analysis on this. Much appreciated.

    The question is, what do you mean by the policy “working”?

    Do you mean Australia controlling who comes here?

    Do you mean stopping boats and drownings?

    Or do you mean what we should all be concerned about first and foremost, namely ensuring persecuted people have safety and security? After all, why do you or I deserve it any more than them?

  6. Professor Tournesol

    Even if the Greens policy didn’t work we’d be in exactly the same position that we are in now, but with policy changes that didn’t traumatise people who in the long run are likely to stay here as refugees and then who’s health care we will also have to pay for. We’ll also avoid the moral abuse that is such an essential ingredient of both ALP and coalition polices.

  7. CML

    Marilyn – You may well be right that “everyone has the right to seek asylum”. But what happens when there are 30,000, 50,000 or 100,000+ per/year, every year? Australia simply cannot afford, either economically or socially, to settle that number of people + their families.
    You will end up with significant social upheaval if that happens. Perhaps attitudes should be different, but they are not. It would take a lot of years to prepare the majority of Australians to accept such a policy. What you are suggesting is a recipe for disaster.
    If you (and others) keep pushing this issue, you will find that more and more people will demand complete withdrawal from the Refugee Convention, or other more damaging alternatives. You cannot simply override democracy, however much you think that should happen.
    While many people on these blogs are fond of bashing the major parties/leaders at the moment, they are doing what the electorate wants. If you think about it, we elect our parliamentarians to represent our views, and introduce policies which reflect the will of the people. I do NOT understand why The Greens, who represent around 10% of voters, think their policies should be foisted on to the other 90% of us. That is NOT democracy.

  8. shepherdmarilyn

    Bernard is utterly ignorant on this, he is pandering to the same hate the Greens bullshit as the major parties.

    Last year 6.5 extra people were displaced, only we punish the few who get here.

  9. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    CML, you ask: “But what happens when there are 30,000, 50,000 or 100,000+ per/year, every year?” What answer will you get if you ask that question of Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott. Both are building tent camps for thousands. Neither has any idea how many thousands – that is, no more idea than the Greens or Ms Shepherd. Every policy risks “social upheaval” because every policy has the potential for overflow – that is, if the boats keep coming in larger and larger numbers then there will have to be people processed on shore in Australia.

  10. pretorius3

    The writer is “just an ignorant man without a clue”. Later he “doesn’t seem to understand”. Later still he is “utterly ignorant”. Meanwhile, Tamas is a “dimwit”.

    Shepherdmarilyn, I’m inclined to agree with you and am actively involved in helping refugees. But you make your opinions seem extreme when you so regularly insult your opponents, here and elsewhere.

    When Robert Manne, Julian Burnside, and now Bernard Keane all say it’s a complicated issue, for you to simply scream at people undermines your argument.

  11. dazza

    we’re still talking about it. This from before Christmas last year. http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/12/11/rintoul-challenging-bipartisan-myths-on-asylum-seekers/

  12. Tamas Calderwood

    Well put CML.

    dazza: Fewer than 300 people arrived by boat between 2002-2007. Since Labor dismantled the previous government’s policies in 2008 almost 50,000 people have arrived.

    The Pacific Solution worked. Maybe, just maybe Rudd’s PNG solution can work. This flow of people (most of whom discard all their papers before arriving – why?) is undermining our immigration program and it must be stopped.

  13. michael r james

    CML: I do NOT understand why The Greens, who represent around 10% of voters, think their policies should be foisted on to the other 90% of us. That is NOT democracy.

    First, the Greens are simply enumerating clearly their policy. Voters can make their choice.
    Second, your view of democracy is simplistic in the extreme. In polls only about 40% support K Rudd’s approach with 38% supporting Abbott. But the awful reality is that the only thing driving these policies is a small fraction of voters in a small number of swing seats: on this issue it is mostly Western Sydney where the swings are less than 10%. So with less than 10% of voters in less than 5% of seats, it is very roughly 66,000 voters. The Greens got 1.55 million votes last election and, though I don’t have poll info at my fingertips, I think we can be pretty sure the fraction of these that support their policy on asylum seekers (along with many ALP & Libs) is a heck of a lot more than 66,000 bogan xenophobes in Western Sydney that are hijacking policy.

    It is THIS that is not democratic and I for one am fed up with so many important things (eg. building nothing but roads instead of PT) being dictated by these ignorant bogans. It is a non-democratic quirk of our electoral system and it would disappear if we had a PR or MultiMember system. The bogans would get a few of their ilk elected but they wouldn’t have control over policy, which is the way it should be.

  14. Hamis Hill

    For all this analysis of the successful people “moving” business there aught to be a lot of people now able to write a good small business plan.
    Like the asylum seekers all they need is the finance.

  15. pretorius3

    Tamas, when you say a government program “works”…

    There’s a lot in that, isn’t there?

    I mean, Hitler’s Final Solution “worked” in the sense of murdering millions of people.

    Stalin and Mao’s similar programs also “worked” by giving more people to the policy-makers.

    Do you think they were good things too?

  16. el tel

    We seem to have invoked Godwin’s Law at #15.

  17. Bronwyn

    This scrutiny of the Greens policy seems to be more thorough than that of Rudd’s recent announcement. I think it also hints at the real question of what any of these asylum seeker policies are intended to achieve – are we really trying to stop people drowning at sea, or just to stop people getting here at all.

    I think the flaw in all of the so-called policies and surrounding discussion is that it is premised on the idea that boats can in fact be stopped (and that if we don’t believe in adopting an inhumane solution we are either bleeding hearts who want to take everyone or don’t care about deaths at sea). Boats won’t be stopped, at least until the world is a slightly better place than it is right now.

  18. Karly Rubins

    Tamas, you said that, “Fewer than 300 people arrived by boat between 2002-2007. Since Labor dismantled the previous government’s policies in 2008 almost 50,000 people have arrived.”

    CML also expressed concern with the comment, “But what happens when there are 30,000, 50,000 or 100,000+ per/year, every year? Australia simply cannot afford, either economically or socially, to settle that number of people + their families.”

    I think it’s important to remember that the Australian population naturally grows at a rate of approximately 7000 people per week. Therefore, 20 000 asylum seekers arriving on our shores only adds a few extra weeks population growth per year.

    Essentially, it’s not a question of how many asylum seekers arrive in Australia – it’s what we do when they get here. Off shore processing centres cost Australia between 150-350k per person, per year. Whereas, if they were allowed to settle in Australia and obtain benefits such as the dole, it would only cost 10-20k per person, per year – with the majority of the money going back into our economy. You do the math.

  19. Hamish Moffatt

    So why isn’t anyone seriously talking about Fraser’s proposal? Processing centre in Indonesia with successful refugees being resettled in Australia (more than current limit but not significantly more), and other countries (Canada, US in particular).

  20. michael r james

    @Hamish Moffatt at 10:19

    Pay attention.
    That IS the Greens policy. Why do you think Fraser is campaigning for Sarah Hanson-Young?

  21. Patriot

    Goes to show what happens when a protest party tries to do policy. Surprised they didn’t learn their lesson after the carbon tax.

  22. CML

    MRJ @ #13. – It is not only the hogans of western Sydney who agree with stopping the boats. If you look at any poll which asks whether people want the boat loads of asylum-seekers to keep on coming, the negative response is 60 – 70%. There are many reasons why this is so, and I believe xenophobia/rac+sm is only a very small component of that.
    And when I went to school, a majority was 50%+1!! I do not think that the Green vote of 1.55 million comes anywhere near that. It doesn’t matter how many ‘others’ you think agree with Green policy on this issue, it’s the vote that counts. You have completely missed my point about the moral philosophy of political representation. Labor and Liberal parties believe they are doing what their constituents demand. If they are wrong, then the Greens will win the forthcoming election.
    Gawd help us all, if that happens!!!!

  23. gapot

    The biggest problem is the corrupt Indonesians who make a good living from the time they are bribed on entry at the airports to the day they leave on a $5000 trip to Christmas Island. The Indo government allows their people to make money by any means they can, no questions asked and a cut of the fee collected on the way. The corruption in Indo is the normal way of living from the top down.

  24. drsmithy

    I do NOT understand why The Greens, who represent around 10% of voters, think their policies should be foisted on to the other 90% of us. That is NOT democracy.

    I’m sure the people who used to own slaves and think only property-owning white men should vote said the same thing.

  25. Hamish Moffatt

    Michael R James, not according to Keane’s article it isn’t. And Fraser has pointed out he is not campaigning for SHY, only appearing at that one forum.

  26. drsmithy

    If you look at any poll which asks whether people want the boat loads of asylum-seekers to keep on coming, the negative response is 60 – 70%.
    What’s it look like if it’s phrased “should genuine refugees be accepted into Australia” ?

    Because the 10+ years of demonising boat people by both political parties and pretty much all major media outlets, have largely ingrained the idea (as intended) that they are somehow “less refugee-ey” and thus don’t need help.

    If they are wrong, then the Greens will win the forthcoming election.
    Gawd help us all, if that happens!!!!

    Indeed. How would the country function without the major vested interests easily influencing policy to suit their agendas ?!

    Incidentally, the Greens vote is ~10% of the population, but the Greens presence in the house of Reps is substantially less than that. From a numbers perspective, Greens voters are _under_ represented.

  27. CML

    @ drsmithy – That is a ridiculous statement. Slaves were not allowed to vote. Today, in this country, EVERYONE has the right to vote. In fact, voting is compulsory. Therefore, the end result of the voting process is as close to democracy as you can get.
    Some will argue that the ‘system’ of voting could be fairer – multi-member electorates etc., but then you have the other extreme of ‘first past the post’. It seems to be that our system sits in the middle of these extremes. If Greens voters want to change the system, go for it. With 10% of the vote at present, I think it could take you quite awhile!!
    It seems some people just do not want to accept that the end result of our federal election process, usually produces a government formed by one of the major party groups. For goodness sake – that means the the vast majority of people vote for both, and choose one of the two. Presumably that is what the people want. If you are going to argue against that, then what do you want to put in it’s place? Dictatorship by the Greens??????

  28. drsmithy

    That is a ridiculous statement. Slaves were not allowed to vote. Today, in this country, EVERYONE has the right to vote. In fact, voting is compulsory. Therefore, the end result of the voting process is as close to democracy as you can get.
    Some will argue that the ‘system’ of voting could be fairer – multi-member electorates etc., but then you have the other extreme of ‘first past the post’. It seems to be that our system sits in the middle of these extremes. If Greens voters want to change the system, go for it. With 10% of the vote at present, I think it could take you quite awhile!!

    A weak attempt at misdirection.

    The point, which you are studiously ignoring, is that back when slaves could be owned, and back when women and other groups couldn’t vote, there were a minority of people who disagreed with those views. That didn’t make their views wrong, nor did it make slavery and disenfranchisement right. Eventually their views were “foisted” on society.

    It seems some people just do not want to accept that the end result of our federal election process, usually produces a government formed by one of the major party groups.
    Agreeing with the democratic process in principle, does not you to agree with the policies enacted by the Government in power.

    For goodness sake – that means the the vast majority of people vote for both, and choose one of the two. Presumably that is what the people want. If you are going to argue against that, then what do you want to put in it’s place? Dictatorship by the Greens??????
    I’d argue what people want is more fine-grained input than “everything party X says”. I think getting rid of the formal party structure would help immensely.

    A move away from Government by one of the two major parties, whose policy platforms are largely indistinguishable, is not “dictatorship”, it’s “democracy”. YOur reasoning is backwards.

  29. Sharkie

    On a slightly different topic, why are the Immigration Department running their “the rules have changed (and you will be sent to PNG” ads on Crikey?
    Can anyone tell me the Crikey readership numbers in Indonesia and refugee source countries?
    These ads are all over Facebook as well, AND IT’S VERY EASY TO TARGET SPECIFIC COUNTRIES FOR FACEBOOK ADS. Are these tax payer-funded ads actually being run in Indonesia?
    Not only are the new policies abhorrent, it certainly looks like the ad campaign is deliberately targeting wavering voters rather than those thinking of jumping on a boat.

  30. Tamas Calderwood

    Karly – the point is that it’s not just 20,000 people per year. It’s growing very quickly and could easily reach 100,000 people per year. You only need a few years like that and suddenly Australia has a US or European style underclass – and we need to avoid that.

    And why do they all throw their passports overboard? Why?!!

  31. michael r james

    @CML at 11:08 am

    Others have responded to you. But seriously, it is you who does not understand the fundamentals behind democracy. Instead you appear to be a simple-minded majoritarian. We have just seen the consequences of such a deeply flawed and immature view of that approach in the catastrophic rule of Mursi in his first 12 months in Egypt. He, and the Muslim Brotherhood, sincerely believed winning at least 50.1% of the vote gave them the right to impose their narrow view on the rest of the country. This is precisely the politics you are proposing. To be expected in a country where the mentality of a football game, with its clear outcome, is so important. And it’s nice and “simple”, yes?

    But you are correct in one awful regard: many mainline politicians (and dumb voters) increasingly believe this. Especially from the Right (glance at our cousins across the Pacific who have rendered their country almost ungovernable). Abbott tried it when Minister of Health by blocking RU486, and one shudders to think what he might do with his “majority” if he were to reach the top.

    As Dr Smithy says, our society is very complex. And as I have written (and sincerely I hope you read this) the electoral systems, and thus democracy, of the Anglophone countries is failing because of this inability to cope with the actual diversity:

    ((crikey.com.au/2010/09/03/the-crisis-in-governance-in-two-party-systems/))
    The crisis in governance in two-party systems
    by Michael R James, Friday, 3 September 2010

  32. klewso

    When was the last time either major party achieved 50(+1)% of the primary vote?
    We have “government’s by second choice”.

  33. shepherdmarilyn

    No Pretorious, the others who pretend it is complicated are wrong. It is not complicated in fact, it is only complicated by liars who refuse to uphold the facts.

    That everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution in other countries and other obligations and rights.

    It is only complicated because the Australian government and most of the media have been lying for the past 40 years about the law.

    WE alone in the world pretend we can set silly little quotas but then make it impossible to access the quota in the first place.

    WE alone in the world pretend that voluntary resettlement of a few thousand people is an obligation when it is not.

  34. CML

    To all above – We currently have a system of preferential voting in this country. I am a realist. You work with what you have. If the system changes in the future, that is fine by me, except that we should still have ‘democracy’. My entire point is based on the premise that at present our election outcomes are based on the preferential system, which throws up government by majority, usually involving rule by one of the major parties. This has been the case for over 100 years, with only minor changes. You can argue the ‘rights or wrongs’of that system, but I don’t see it changing in the near future. Nor am I prepared to accept that minorities have the right to dictate to the majority.
    As far as Egypt is concerned – the people voted in the Muslim Brotherhood. If they don’t like the outcome, then the people should have been allowed to change it (and still may) at another election. What happens if they have another election, and the Muslim Brotherhood wins again? Why is it our ‘right’ to dictate to another country what party/ideology they should elect? Ditto Gaza and their government. It has nothing to do with us. You may see their governments as illegitimate, but thereby hangs the moral philosophy question that many experts are having trouble answering.
    As for the US – yes, their government does sometimes appear to be in deadlock. Fortunately, our ‘founding fathers’ were wise men who gave us a way out of that situation. It’s called the double dissolution, and the few times in our history that it has been used, the problem has been solved. Our system is quite different to that of the US.
    As for getting rid of the two party structure – so you want to end up like Italy until recently, where on average, each ‘government’ lasted around 9 months, and caused great instability. You are on your own with that suggestion!
    And Michael – Your description of the Australian electorate as ‘dumb voters’ is elitist in the extreme. Everyone here is permitted to vote however they like in a secret ballot. Regardless of what you think, the customer/voter is always right. You can’t seriously argue with what people think!!!
    As for the possibility of an Abbott government – I do agree with you about that. But if that is what people vote for, so be it!

  35. shepherdmarilyn

    I mean to say, what is so complicated about deciding that an Hazara or Palestinian is a refugee? Seriously?

  36. shepherdmarilyn

    Tamas they do not throw their bloody passports overboard, they don’t have any passports that are legal tender because they are frigging stateless.

    Fair dinkum, stop putting first world standards on things and confusing easy migration from one safe country to another with seeking asylum.

  37. Karly Rubins

    Tamas, I agree with Marilyn – they aren’t throwing their passports overboard, they simply don’t have any! The fact of the matter is, is that over 90% of ‘boat people’ are genuine asylum seekers. While we ignore all of the people that arrive via plane and overstay their Visa (only approximately 20% of these people are genuine asylum seekers).

    Secondly, the fact that you are worried that an influx of 100 000 asylum seekers will create an ‘underclass’ completely ignores the fact that many of these people may actually have skills that will allow them to gain employment in Australia. Why not locate them in rural and regional centres in Australia to help them boost the economy in those smaller towns?

  38. CML

    Marilyn and Karly. – There is an international airline agreement which prohibits ANYONE from boarding a plane, anywhere in the world, without a passport and relevant papers to ensure the passenger can disembark when the plane arrives at it’s destination. Since almost 100% of asylum seekers who arrive in Malaysia or Indonesia come in on a plane,perhaps you could enlighten us all how they achieve this without said passport/ documents? Since we know these people MUST have passports etc., it is a legitimate question to ask why they destroy them.
    That is the problem with asylum seeker advocates – they are either poorly informed, or just tell fibs to enhance their stories.

  39. CML

    And Karly. While you are busy giving jobs to an asylum seeker/ refugee, that is one less job for an Australian citizen who is unemployed.
    And you don’t think that this will cause friction in the community? Wake up to yourself!

  40. michael r james

    @CML at 5:37 pm

    You said Nor am I prepared to accept that minorities have the right to dictate to the majority. But as DrSmithy said, you have it completely backwards. Because, in fact it is the majority who are terrorized by the minority on these issues. And it is this minority that I am calling “dumb voters”.

    Take action on Global Warming. For a long time more than 70% (I recall 74%) of people polled, wanted to see action such as a ETS. The reason Rudd panicked and etc was because of a quite small minority of voters who reacted to the usual ignorant loudmouths (those Western Sydney bogans who listen to Bolt, Hadley & Jones) and The Daily Tele and The Australian (did you see they printed an appalling amateur-hour piece by Joanne “Nova” yesterday?). Even after years of relentless negative campaigning by Abbott support was still above 50%.

    As it happens it is the same ignorant minority that blocks Sydney’s second airport. And insists on endless expensive roads rather than public transport. And of course what do we get from Abbott on all these things?

    I think you are like too many Australians, fooled by our current prosperity into believing everything is hunk dory. Didn’t you read the article by Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton (The prosperity paradox: who’ll lead when times are so good?) in yesterday’s Crikey? It’s really just another iteration of the Lucky Country syndrome. Our prosperity is more fragile than most people realize and our polity is paralyzed/terrorized by ignorant minorities who wield an outsized and undemocratic entirely malign influence.

  41. drsmithy

    As for getting rid of the two party structure – so you want to end up like Italy until recently, where on average, each ‘government’ lasted around 9 months, and caused great instability.
    Actually I’d rather end up like Switzerland. Or Germany. Or New Zealand.

    Regardless of what you think, the customer/voter is always right. You can’t seriously argue with what people think!!!
    So if people thought Aboriginals shouldn’t be able to vote any more, and voted to take that right away from them, you wouldn’t have a problem with that ?

  42. drsmithy

    And Karly. While you are busy giving jobs to an asylum seeker/ refugee, that is one less job for an Australian citizen who is unemployed.
    And you don’t think that this will cause friction in the community? Wake up to yourself!

    Whether we subsequently want the Government to pursue proper full-employment policies is an entirely separate issue.

  43. Bronwyn

    CML, presumably you are talking about carrier sanctions, whereby a State can fine a carrier who brings in someone without a valid visa – a large part of the reason that asylum seekers are forced onto the leaky boats our politicians now claim to be so concerned about.

    If you want to be enlightened as to how asylum seekers get to Malaysia or Indonesia, read this – http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/07/11/get-fact-how-many-asylum-seekers-turn-up-without-id/?wpmp_switcher=mobile.

  44. Karly Rubins

    CML, I was not suggesting that asylum seekers who arrive via plane have no passport. I was suggesting that there are asylum seekers that arrive via plane, with a valid visa and apply for asylum at a later date whilst living in community. However, this is ignored by the media who seem to target ‘boat people’ as being criminals.

  45. Karly Rubins

    The fact of the matter is Rudd’s PNG solution is crap – dumping refugees in a country with a poor human rights record and poor protection mechanisms for political opportunism?! Here are the reasons why it won’t work: PNG is a predominantly Christian country, and it passed a motion to ban non-Christian faiths through its Parliament. Many of the asylum seekers travelling by boat to Australia are Muslims fleeing religious persecution -not being able to practise your religion in the country of asylum is a breach of the UN Refugee convention. Violence against women in PNG is so high it puts the country on an almost equal levels with Afghanistan e.g. 50% of PNG’s women have been raped and 68 per cent have experienced physical violence. PNG has never been a resettlement country and does not have the infrastructure for refugees, or the legal resources to assess applications and communicate with asylum-seeking groups.

    So we have a choice between that, or keeping asylum seekers in immigration detention? There is a large amount of evidence showing that prolonged detention has detrimental effects on psychological and physical health – 100% of asylum seekers in detention for 12 months experience some form of mental illness, there have been 5 suicides in Australia’s detention centres and more than 1100 incidents of threatened or actual self-harm occurred. Not to mention the outrageous costs of such a scheme. I don’t think either of these options is worth considering.

    As of 2011, Australia was hosting just 0.23% of the world’s refugees. Less than 1%! CML, the only way I can see this causing friction in our communities is if these communities are full of intolerant and racist people. The world is laughing at us

  46. CML

    Karly, you entirely missed my point. I am NOT talking about asylum seekers who enter this country by plane. I am talking about those who come by boat from Indonesia, but who got on a plane somewhere in the middle east/sub-continent to fly to Malaysia or Indonesia BEFORE getting on a boat.
    In order to fly from the middle-east, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq (or anywhere else)and arrive in Malaysia or Indonesia, EVERY PASSENGER must have a passport at the very least. So what happens to the passports of those who arrive by plane into Indonesia, and then get on boats?
    If you do not believe what I am saying, try getting on an international flight from Australia to ANYWHERE without a passport. Good luck!!
    Or perhaps you think that the ‘boat-people’ walk from their home countries to Indonesia?
    And drsmithy, you don’t think that giving jobs away (or for that matter, housing, welfare etc.etc.) to refugees rather than our unemployed citizenry is part of the demonisation of refugees? What planet have you been living on? I even heard a radio talk-back caller in Adelaide yesterday complaining that the government gives out cigarettes to asylum seekers free of charge, while planning to raise the price of this stuff by $5/pack to the local citizenry. He didn’t sound very happy about it either.
    Still think all this “assistance” to boat people is “a separate issue”? It is the major cause of resentment towards refugees in this country, and if unchecked, will lead to events like we have seen in Europe. No one is thinking 5, 10, 20 years down the track, and the repercussions for this society could be diabolical.

  47. Tamas Calderwood

    Exactly right CML – they get to Indonesia by plane with a passport and then discard it so they can lie about their circumstances.
    We can’t just ignore these facts.

  48. Bronwyn

    CML, maybe try getting your ‘facts’ from somewhere other than talk- back radio.

  49. Karly Rubins

    CML, if you are going to talk to me about costs, lets look at the bigger picture. Immigration detention costs Australia between $150 000 and $350 000, per immigrant per year. Say we send 5000 asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Islands over the next 5 years. That will cost something along the lines of $15 BILLION dollars. Can you comprehend how much money that is? It could cancel every single HECS debt in the country.

    So while Australia is wasting money on this, we are losing out on receiving funding for other services that could create these jobs we desperately need.

  50. CML

    Karly – You still have not addressed the issue of “missing” passports. It is a security question, NOT an economic one. Why do these people NOT want to be identified? Seems to me, without some means of identifying someone, it makes it easier for them to spin a yarn about their need for asylum. What other reason could they have for destroying these documents? At the very least, it is somewhat suspicious.
    Bronwyn – I neglected to say that the broadcaster to whom this story was told, did verify the fact that cigarettes were given out free of charge to refugees. That being the case, are you saying that you can’t see why it would cause friction? I use that incident only as an example. It would be just as valid to speak of refugees who are given public housing ahead of people who have waited for years.
    THIS TYPE OF BEHAVIOUR, DOES MAKE AUSSIE CITIZENS VERY ANGRY AND RESENTFUL, whether you like it or not!

  51. drsmithy

    You still have not addressed the issue of “missing” passports. It is a security question, NOT an economic one. Why do these people NOT want to be identified?
    You can’t think of a single reason why someone fleeing persecution – probably by Government forces – might not want to be easily identified en route ?

  52. drsmithy

    We can’t just ignore these facts.
    You seem pretty willing to ignore the fact that 90%-odd of boat arrivals are found to be genuine, regardless of whether or not they had identification when they landed.

  53. Bronwyn

    CML – I have no faith in anything any radio talk-back broadcaster claims to verify. I don’t believe the story about cigarettes, and I think that anyone who spends time and energy concerning themselves with such things needs to wake up to themselves. The only reason I care about the views of such people is that they have a disproportionate influence on political debate in this country – policy is being driven by idiots who waste time calling talk-back radio shows to complain about someone (allegedly) getting free cigarettes.

    Here is an answer to your concern about passports, if you are interested. http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/07/11/get-fact-how-many-asylum-seekers-turn-up-without-id/?wpmp_switcher=mobile

  54. Karly Rubins

    Your concerns about asylum seekers throwing their passports overboard simply shows the power the media has over the general public in demonising asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Your assumptions appear to be based on the fact that the asylum seekers must be evil and needing to hide something from the Australian officials that will interview them. It completely ignores the fact that some of these asylum seekers may be fleeing political persecution, which places them at risk when they are on the move. It also ignores the fact that these people are desperate enough to get in a dilapidated boat and travel thousands of kilometres by sea. If the people smugglers tell them to throw their passports overboard – then I doubt they will question that.

  55. Karly Rubins

    drsmithy, I agree with you on both counts. It’s a shame that the media and politicians have done nothing more than scaremongering on this issue.

  56. drsmithy

    Not to mention this whole little microcosm of manufactured outrage is based on the belief that some meaningful proportion of boat arrivals “throw their passports overboard”.

    I have yet to see a credible source backing this claim.

  57. CML

    I’m out of here. You people just don’t get it!
    One last thing – I think it was 4 Corners (but definitely ABC) who interviewed former staff who worked in the Australian embassy in Pakistan, last year. They collectively said they sent security profiles on many Afghan people living in Pakistan to the authorities in Canberra, who promptly ignored them. Especially the Refugee Review Tribunal. The staff claimed that there were criminals spinning a good yarn and being let into Australia as refugees. These workers were so alarmed by what was going on, that they resigned and returned to Australia. From memory, I think there were 4 or 5 of them – whistle-blowers who should have been listened to. I do not understand why all of you think these asylum seekers are more reliable, honest and deserving of tax-payer’s money, than our own Australian citizens.
    Finally, I have no problem with granting temporary asylum to people who meet the requirements for protection under the Refugee Convention. DO ANY OF YOU KNOW, that the convention does NOT require us to give permanent asylum/citizenship to ANYONE????? NO? Thought not! Perhaps you should all read the bloody thing, so you know what you are talking about.
    And just so you don’t all start calling me a right wing nut – I have never, and will never, vote for the Coalition or any of their fellow travelers. Just a student and observer of politics (national and international) for 60 years. Bet I’ve seen and heard more than most of you think you know in that time!

  58. Bronwyn

    The rest of you kids, get off CML’s lawn.

  59. CML

    Bronwyn – That is the trouble with people like you. You never focus on the contentious issues in the debate, just resort to personal abuse.
    I have yet to receive ANY answers from refugee advocates on disputed questions. Guess you are all ruled by emotion, not fact.
    I did read the article you suggested. I subscribe to Crikey, and did comment on it at the time. Sometimes Crikey just gets it wrong, and so it was on this occasion. If you refuse to believe the navy people at the coal-face, then you and others have a BIG problem!

  60. Bronwyn

    Was that verified by a talk-back radio host?

  61. drsmithy

    I do not understand why all of you think these asylum seekers are more reliable, honest and deserving of tax-payer’s money, than our own Australian citizens.
    This is what’s called a straw man.

    I have yet to receive ANY answers from refugee advocates on disputed questions.

    So I went back and had a look for these “disputed questions”. I found:

    “But what happens when there are 30,000, 50,000 or 100,000+ per/year, every year? Australia simply cannot afford, either economically or socially, to settle that number of people + their families.”

    Firstly, your whole basis is a hypothetical. There might be 100k refugees reaching Australia in 5 years, there might be 5k.

    However, we currently allow for 190,000 permanent migrants, in addition to the 20,000 places for humanitarian purposes. The obvious answer is that more humanitarian intake means less other intake. How you feel about that is something of a moral question – whether we should favour those mostly already living in safe, civilised countries who are mostly likely relocating for lifestyle reasons, or whether we should favour those coming from warzones fleeing persecution and in fear of their lives.

    This 190,000 represents 0.8% of the population. Back in the ’50s and ’60s, permanent immigration represented 1-1.4% of the population, more than 50% higher.

    I’m sure we can agree Australia in the ’50s and ’60s wasn’t a dystopian wasteland.

    Picking an amount somewhere in the middle of that historic range – say 1.2% – would indicate we can take ca. 285,000 immigrants per year.

    Then there was the obligatory “papers please” question.

    People fleeing persecution, often by Government, and often based on ethnic, religious, or social group, understandably do not want to be identified. Hence fake identification.

    On employment, as I said earlier, whether we want the Government to pursue real full-employment policies (ie: Government steps in in to employ people when private industry demand for employees is insufficient), is an entirely separate discussion irrelevant to whether those people are asylum seekers, or one of the 10% or more of the population who currently wants to work more but can’t. Similarly for the issues of housing and welfare.

    As for people being “hateful” because of some free cigarettes, they should maybe consider all the free stuff they’ve enjoyed (and will enjoy) in their life simply by virtue of being born in this country before getting too agitated.

    Finally, we come back to the simple fact that the vast, vast majority of boat arrivals are found to be genuine refugees, and thus perfectly within their rights to seek asylum in Australia, and it is our obligation under the treaty we have signed, to deal with that. If that is your desire, so be it, but you might want to reflect on why you’re so bloody scared of a handful (proportionally speaking) of people who have arrived seeking help from those who would harm them.

  62. CML

    Bronwyn, you are just another smarta+se with nothing relevant to say.

  63. CML

    drsmithy – I feel this conversation is going around in circles. Don’t think I will ever change your mind, and you certainly won’t change mine. We have recently returned from overseas – UK, Europe and Canada – and I can tell you most people I met do NOT want anymore refugees in their country, refugee convention or not. So I wouldn’t run away with the idea that the Australian attitude is unique. You and most other refugee advocates do not seem to realise, that if you keep on pushing the envelope, insisting that we must take all those who arrive (yes 90% found to be refugees because in most cases they have no documentation, and can spin a good story), there will be a major push from the public to withdraw from the refugee convention. And judging from what I have been hearing overseas, we won’t be the only ones. Doesn’t matter what you or I think about this. That is what will happen. You people need to stop demonising those who don’t agree with you for starters.
    Now, let me tell you I am not “frightened” of anyone, let alone refugees. What I don’t want to see in Australia (for my grandchildren), is the state of play in parts of Britain, where many cities have “no go”areas for white people. There are cultural and religious clashes all over the place, and you just get the feeling that all this resentment, anger over terrorist attacks/riots and just general interference in people’s lives, will explode into something much more dangerous. The hatred between groups is palpable, especially in France. You might want that for Australia. I don’t! And it will happen here as sure as night turns into day. For the first time in 40 years I didn’t feel safe anywhere overseas.
    On migration versus refugee intake: like most other western countries, Australia takes people through the migration program who have skills we require. While some refugees may have those skills, the vast majority of them are uneducated, even illiterate. Yes, we can educate the next generation, but that takes time and costs a lot of money. So what do we do with the adults in the meantime? I read somewhere that 95% of refugees are still on welfare five years after they arrive in this country. Who is going to pay for all this? Someone has to go without – it is not possible in a country of 23 million people to do everything. The refugee advocates seem to imply that the poor in this country should just suck it up. And that is the beginning of the resentment build-up. You also seem to forget that most Australian citizens who are doing it tough have worked and paid taxes here in the good times. Why shouldn’t they expect some government assistance for general living/retraining when they lose their jobs, have health problems or fall on hard times? It is their country after all.
    On permanent settlement for refugees: as I have said before, as signatories to the refugee convention, we are NOT required to give any refugee permanent protection, let alone citizenship. I think we should offer temporary protection, and concentrate all our efforts on improving conditions in the so-called source countries. Then these people can return home and have some kind of future, along with all those who do not have the money to “escape”. I have a problem with the selective compassion displayed by refugee advocates. Those who have money and can get to a western country like Australia, GOOD. Those who sit in refugee camps for decades all over the world, BUGG=R THEM!! The latter don’t seem to be “REAL” refugees. The boat-people are much more visible and exciting. Conspicuous compassion personified!!! Yes, I am very cynical about refugee advocate’s choices, I’m afraid.
    And that is about it from me – think I’ve reached the stage of repeating myself! Sorry about that. Have enjoyed your comments and the debate. Thank you for that.

  64. Bronwyn

    And the problem with people like you, CML, is that you will simply dismiss any information that does not confirm what you think you already know.

    When somebody is so closed-minded, and so vigorous in their dismissal of any source which does not support their position, then in my view the only logical conclusion is that their opinions are based on nothing but good old-fashioned prejudice.

  65. Eric Vigo

    And drsmithy, you don’t think that giving jobs away (or for that matter, housing, welfare etc.etc.) to refugees rather than our unemployed citizenry is part of the demonisation of refugees? What planet have you been living on?

    You are SO right. Out of all the things you have said, this is what refugee lovers are ignoring.

    As it turns out, this morning, before I read your piece, I had hacked into the CES website. I was only allowed to see 3 jobs per viewing. I could print the jobs out on little cards (brown ones) and some person in the computer will find out if I am suited by looking at my resume.

    I pretended I was a a refugee, as I put on an accent, and down the jobs came:
    • gas pumper at Ampol on George Street, Sydney (smoking on job banned)
    • milkman (6.30am start)
    • switchboard operator at Telecom (this was the only job where I could smoke my free cigarettes at the desk.)

    Contact the CES hotline on: 008 111 666
    or local call: 06 278 1199
    or telex them on: 051916424

  66. drsmithy

    I feel this conversation is going around in circles. Don’t think I will ever change your mind, and you certainly won’t change mine.
    My mind has been changed before. I used to be in the “f**k off, we’re full” camp like you, until I started actually researching the topic.

    We have recently returned from overseas – UK, Europe and Canada – and I can tell you most people I met do NOT want anymore refugees in their country, refugee convention or not. So I wouldn’t run away with the idea that the Australian attitude is unique.

    It is entirely about the “sell”.

    Sell refugees as desperate, in fear for their lives, fleeing persecution and looking to start a new life, and they’ll generally be accomodated.

    Sell them as sneaky queue-jumpers, not really in danger, moving for “lifestyle” and, well, since that’s all that’s been done by both major parties and most media for the last decade, we know what happens then.

    Most people are decent and empathic at their core, in my experience, and willing to help those in need. And while 15-20 years (more like 30-40 in the other countries you mentioned) of right-wing Government promoting entitlement, greed and selfishness has done its best to stamp that out, I am confident it’s still there. I expect the coming recession will remind some Australians what it’s like to be less fortunate than their peers through no apparent fault of their own.

    You and most other refugee advocates do not seem to realise, that if you keep on pushing the envelope, insisting that we must take all those who arrive (yes 90% found to be refugees because in most cases they have no documentation, and can spin a good story), there will be a major push from the public to withdraw from the refugee convention.
    You have given no reason to believe we’re “pushing the envelope” – indeed, I gave you an historical reference frame to suggest we’re not even close – nor any evidence that any meaningful proportion of people found to be genuine refugees are not.

    You people need to stop demonising those who don’t agree with you for starters.
    Be careful waving irony around like that. You could take someone’s eye out.

    On migration versus refugee intake: like most other western countries, Australia takes people through the migration program who have skills we require.
    Yeah, I’m sure all those “skilled immigrants” driving mining trucks, pouring cement and reading scripts on phone support desks have skills that could never be found amongst, or easily taught to, locals or asylum seekers.

    While some refugees may have those skills, the vast majority of them are uneducated, even illiterate.
    Wait, hang on. I thought they were all middle-class “economic” migrants who were wealthy enough to fly to Indonesia then pay off a people smuggler ?

    One thing the xeonophobes tend to be somewhat correct about (albeit with the wrong motivation) is that the people who make it halfway across the world are generally not in the same demographic as goat-herders. Those unlucky sods end up in places much closer to the action (eg: like Jordan – now *there* is a country with a _real_ refugee problem) because they don’t have the resources to get any further. People who make it to Australia are reasonably likely to be middle-class and educated, because if they were’t they wouldn’t have made it this far.

    Further, refugees are generally likely to spend at least a couple of years locked up in detention centres being processed, where they also have access to education resources.

    So this argument that they couldn’t be easily capable of working, is utter bunkum.

    I read somewhere that 95% of refugees are still on welfare five years after they arrive in this country.

    Now there’s a figure that’s going to be a lying with statistics number if ever I’ve seen it.

    Firstly, probably more than half the country is “on welfare” to some degree. Indeed, if you’re not single, a childless couple, or extremely wealthy, chances are pretty good you’ve received (or continue to receive) some sort of welfare payment.
    You are suggesting you’re fairly old. Do you get a pension payment of any sort ? Got a senior’s card ? Well, that means you’re “on welfare”.

    Secondly, I’d put down a hundred bucks in an instant betting that “95%” includes people on bridging visas who are not _allowed_ to work and therefore must rely on welfare (and usually voluntary donations as well) just to survive.

    Who is going to pay for all this? Someone has to go without – it is not possible in a country of 23 million people to do everything.

    Let’s put this into perspective here. Even 100,000 refugees represent 0.4% of the population. Are you seriously arguing one of the richest, lowest-taxing countries in the world can’t afford small fractions of one percent more people than we’d originally planned for ? Because that’s like inviting 500 people to a party then saying there won’t be enough food and drink when one or two of them bring a friend.

    The refugee advocates seem to imply that the poor in this country should just suck it up.
    Please quote some people who have said this. Actual quotes as well, not your usual straw men and imagined false dichotomies.

    On permanent settlement for refugees: as I have said before, as signatories to the refugee convention, we are NOT required to give any refugee permanent protection, let alone citizenship. I think we should offer temporary protection, and concentrate all our efforts on improving conditions in the so-called source countries. Then these people can return home and have some kind of future, along with all those who do not have the money to “escape”.
    So let’s get this straight. You think we should provide “temporary protection” – basically, the initial and most expensive part of the whole process – then just when people have started to integrate, find work and contribute to the local economy and culture, we should send them home ?

    I don’t think you’ve thought your cunning plan all the way through.

    I have a problem with the selective compassion displayed by refugee advocates. Those who have money and can get to a western country like Australia, GOOD. Those who sit in refugee camps for decades all over the world, BUGG=R THEM!! The latter don’t seem to be “REAL” refugees. The boat-people are much more visible and exciting. Conspicuous compassion personified!!! Yes, I am very cynical about refugee advocate’s choices, I’m afraid.
    You’re not cynical, you’re dishonest.
    Who has said anything similar to your assertions ? Again, actual quotes from relevant people.

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