Most boat arrivals are refugees

Andrew Bartlett, research fellow, Migration Law Program, Australian National University, writes: “People smugglers keep out real refugees” (Friday). Greg Clancy’s statement that most boat arrivals in Australia “are not refugees” (and thus take the places of “real refugees”) must not stand unchallenged.  I’ve only been studying the issue for 17 years, as opposed to Clancy’s 20 years, but honestly you only need to look at the full facts for a short period of time to recognise that the vast majority of boat arrivals are “real refugees”.

An honest examination of all those facts means one has to recognise this is a very vexed issue which isn’t readily resolved, but that doesn’t change the figures, which clearly show the high level of success for those who claim refugee status are very clear. Unless Clancy can somehow demonstrate that all of those arrivals have somehow conned Australia’s strict refugee determination system, he really should retract his statement, as it is in effect a slur on those many thousands of refugees who now live in and contribute to the Australian community — and frankly, they’ve already copped more than enough for doing nothing more than seeking safety from real and serious persecution.

Clare Rhoden writes: Most interested in Greg Clancy’s explanation, except that I don’t understand what a “real refugee” is. I’d be most interested in a succinct definition. I thought a refugee was anyone who needs to leave their place of origin and cannot safely return there. So more information would be welcome.

What’s so great about Julie Bishop?

David Edmunds writes: Re. “Myanmar’s reform process is two steps forward, one back” (Friday). Michael Sainsbury refers to the “sure-footed Foreign Minister Julie Bishop” in his piece on Myanmar, reflecting a general view in the media.

Julie Bishop is generally referred to in the media as one of the best, if not the best performer in the Abbott government, not a high bar, but nevertheless, it is hard to see where this intended praise comes from.

She gained a very high profile following the MH17 disaster, but despite the leverage Australia had by virtue of its position on the security council, it is hard to see any outcome at all from her intervention.

Following this, her management of Australia’s contribution to the Ebola outbreak was simply underwhelming, and more recently her contribution following President Obama’s Queensland University speech was similarly hamfisted.

Her failure to identify the possible China-US climate agreement and devise some sort of strategy ahead of the announcement is quite breathtaking.  After all, the leadership of both countries have been discussing the issue for some time, and tried to provide Australia with direction when discussing the proposed G20 agenda.

It is not clear what foreign affairs leadership she is providing.  There seems to be a steady as she goes sort of agenda, with the possible exception of a preference for the far-right government in Japan over that in China. Perhaps she deserves some praise for putting out some of the bushfires lit by her colleagues.

We have yet again managed to upset the Indonesians, for no apparent reason.

I think that in order to justify the accolades she has received there should be some sign of direction and leadership, where there is none apparent to date.

Peter Fray

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