Apr 13, 2018

Queue-jumping South Africans should wait their turn

Efforts by Western Australian Liberals to flood Australia with white South African "refugees" would undo the Coalition's good work of taking back control of our humanitarian visa program.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The left may not like it, but one of the Coalition's great success stories since 2013 is that it stopped the boats, bringing to an end a period in which Labor -- helped by politically motivated obstructionism from the Coalition and the Greens -- had allowed Australia's humanitarian program to run off the rails.

Part of the credit belongs to Kevin Rudd, who adopted a hardline "no resettlement in Australia for maritime arrivals" policy in his second stint as prime minister. But the bulk of the credit goes to Scott Morrison, whose boat turnback policy was -- whatever legitimate criticisms might be made of the secrecy in which it was shrouded -- highly successful in stopping boats coming to Australia and, therefore, people dying on the way. Critics insist that, somehow, this merely displaced maritime deaths to elsewhere in the region, but evidence for that is minimal.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

73 thoughts on “Queue-jumping South Africans should wait their turn

  1. Ruv Draba

    Bernard, I don’t believe this will be your most popular article this year, but I think you have it right. There’s no way Australia can be proud of its policy implementation, but it has been devastatingly effective and produced precisely the stated intention, while tested alternatives so far have not. It’s a shameful policy that has nevertheless worked; a policy we’d protest most strenuously were it applied to our own citizens in other jurisdictions, yet we still have no clue how to implement a more effective one to balance border control and humanitarian aid.

    Without question, the policy produces inhumane suffering and injustice far out of keeping with our broad cultural values, our aspirations, and our global responsibilities. We all know that running it is an hypocrisy undermining anything we advocate on human rights, and that we have a standing moral obligation to strive to do better. I’m confident that most Australians would support a more humane policy provided it could be proven that it was not substantially less effective. Obviously, a smaller but still significant number of Australians would also gladly dismantle the current policy regardless of whether a comparably effective alternative could be implemented.

    Both options are viable decisions for a multicultural democracy, but the one that clearly isn’t is overturning needs-based humanitarian intake selectively based on ministerial cultural bias, and it’s beyond a cynical obscenity to attempt to do so while the current realpolitik detention policy is in place.

    A brave article, B! Good luck on how it lands here.

    1. [email protected]

      It’s nonsense, the so called humanitarian program has nothing to do with any refugees, it’s a small voluntary program we use to pretend we are doing our share.

      Everyone has the right to seek asylum and what Keane supports is genocide pure and simple. Pushing away people seeking asylum is a crime and it’s never a ”success”, pity Bernard is such a racist idiot.

      1. Ruv Draba

        Shepherd, I apologise if I have read you wrong but you posted similar insulting comments three or four times in a row over what appeared to be a 20 minute period. I believe you are looking for a fight more than a discussion, and you won’t find it with me. If I’m wrong and you’d like a serious discussion, the ante I need from you is that you nominate one country accepting more unauthorized refugees than its nominated capacity, yet still exercising effective border control, and acting more humanely in the exercise of both than is Australia. You will need to supply evidence for each criterion.

        Your time starts now.

        (For other readers, this is not a defense of Australia’s current policy, of which I’m also ashamed. It’s my suggested minimum criteria for a better policy that I believe we’d have the political appetite to support.)

    2. Draco Houston

      If the solution to a problem is ‘death camps’ maybe we shouldn’t actually ‘solve’ it? I don’t know about you but I like to keep the number of death camps I have to help pay for at a level of zero. I see a non zero number of death camps run by the nation I am a citizen of as a pretty big problem to solve.

      1. Ruv Draba

        Draco, as death camps, the off-shore detention camps Australia has set up are neither efficient nor effective. Ours aren’t death camps. They’re misery camps, aspiration-killing camps, indifference camps, limbo camps that have also produced rape, assault, trauma, despair, medical neglect, disrespect, injustice, menace, administrative incompetence and death — as prolonged detention frequently does. They are doubly outsourced, Pilate-level handwashing fortified with cynical censorship and outright dishonesty to the electors of Australia.

        You’re right: they’re morally indefensible. They’re not even democratic. We should not tolerate them long-term, and especially not as the policy is presently implemented and sold. But you damage your case to misrepresent them.

        I’ve read and appreciated your comments on other articles. If you’d like to a constructive discussion with me on the broader question, the minimum ante I need from you is the same that I demanded from Shepherdmj above: you must name one country accepting more unauthorized refugees than its nominated capacity, yet still exercising effective border control, and acting more humanely in the exercise of both than is Australia. You will need to supply evidence for each criterion.

        If you can’t, then I won’t blame you. It’ll put you in precisely in the same boat as me and (I suspect) Bernard. We want better, but don’t want to compromise conflicting priorities, and don’t know how to do it.

        It’s okay to say ‘I don’t know’.

        1. Decorum

          You’ve rigged this little game of yours two ways, Rav. First, by demanding that the only alternative policies that you will consider must be extant somewhere in the world. I agree that such a policy would be sufficient to destroy your case, but I don’t see why it’s necessary; why a well-reasoned and rationalised policy wouldn’t make do in this argument, conjectural as it already is (if you want an example of such a thought-out policy position try the RAC position papers.) Second, I suspect you would actually declare any country taking “more unauthorized refugees than its nominated capacity” to not, by definition, be exercising effective border control. Otherwise I’d give you Canada, Sweden and even New Zealand (though their intake is tiny, even per capita.) And you can look up your own evidence!

          But no, I am not actually offering you your impossible ante to play and nor, I suspect, will anyone else. Because, beyond this voice-of-reason sophistry, the ease with which you can apparently separate moral defensibility from practicality and “effectiveness” is, frankly, disconcerting and doesn’t make you a tempting debate partner! Your ability to applaud anti-democratic immoral policies (albeit not in the “long-term”), despite all your heavy-hearted expressions of deep regret etc etc, suggests a certain moral, ah, flexibility, let’s say.

          (For some reason, Lewis Carroll springs to mind: ‘”I weep for you,” the Walrus said: “I deeply sympathize.” With sobs and tears he sorted out Those of the largest size, Holding his pocket-handkerchief Before his streaming eyes. “O Oysters,” said the Carpenter, “You’ve had a pleasant run! Shall we be trotting home again?” But answer came there none–And this was scarcely odd, because They’d eaten every one.’ Not obviously and directly relevant, true, but a nice verse!)

          1. Ruv Draba

            Decorum wrote: I don’t see why it’s necessary

            I’ve offered these as a minimum criteria, Decorum, that I think Australians would accept and support. You might feel that Australians would accept other than the criteria I’ve advanced, and that’s okay. You could easily argue that with another reader. I might not participate, but I’d certainly read it if you did — especially if you were able to argue it credibly from opinion polls and other respected tests of sentiment.

            As for why I’ve set minimum criteria, it’s because I’ve noticed that from the outset (and perhaps not unexpectedly), many readers here are talking down to one another. That is, they’re not just saying they’re upset, dismayed and ashamed as I’m sure we both are — they’re being sanctimonious, claiming superior and authoritative knowledge — trying to blame one another for the problem, responsibility-shift.

            But such a posture requires more than just conjecture about what might work better. It requires policy one can point to that has worked better, and which we are presently ignoring. If one doesn’t have that, then as I pointed out to one reader before, it’s okay to drop the posturing and say ‘Actually, I don’t know’.

            That doesn’t say there isn’t a better answer (there might be, and I hope there is), or that we shouldn’t look for it (I agree: we should.) Only that we don’t claim to have a better answer yet, and therefore won’t chastise fellow citizens and elected representatives over not having one yet either.

            Those are my minimum criteria; they may not be your ante, but they’re mine, based on what I’ve observed. Nobody else has to accept my criteria, but that’s the bar a reader would have to jump before I’d also accept the rhetoric and sanctimony I’m seeing in comments here.

  2. Robert Smith

    It is one thing to stop boats but another to keep a group of people in endless detention on Manus & Nauru where their lives and mental health have been destroyed.

    1. Bobby

      Yeah because those 2 things aren’t related #rollseyes

      1. Woopwoop

        They needn’t be.

      2. Robert Smith

        So it’s ok to destroy this group of people if it discourages others from arriving by boat? Wow! That ‘s a great morality to follow.

        1. Woopwoop

          That’s not what I said, or implied. I would favour having accepted the Malaysian solution, years ago – the perfect was the enemy of the acceptable. Also accepting the NZ offer. After that, cultivating good relations with Indonesia, so the comparatively well-off don’t see flying there as a fast route to settlement.

      3. Robert Smith

        I hope they appreciate they are being sacrificed for such a noble cause.

        1. Bobby

          Who cares if they appreciate it. They made the decision to try and come here without the government of Australia’s permission. They have no one but themselves to blame for their current circumstances.
          Iseael would have just shot them. Far cheaper and just as efficient at stopping unwanted immigration.

          1. Zeke

            We signed the 1951 Convention on Refugees which gives them the right to come here any way they can. The blame is all on Australia, its media, its government and ultimately its people. Your attitude is common and it is also misinformed.

            Israel would have shot them, yes. Is that the government you want? Why don’t you just move to Israel? Oh, that’s right, they’d shoot you.

          2. kyle Hargraves

            I am obliged to use the “Reply” slot here to respond to Zeke.

            Unfortunately, Zeke, there is such a behaviour as “lip-service” in Politics and which, upon my mentioning it, I am sure that you will agree. Actually you are not quite correct regarding the Convention it is of little matter. Consider, as another example, the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child which has been sloshing about for 90+ years. Do you recall Hawke’s “No Child…” (real question) Just how many signatories have offended and do offend currently with this Declaration ? Politics huh?

            If Bobby or your good self cannot recall Hawke as PM (or were in day-care at the time) then there is a very good chance that either of you would be accepted as an Israeli citizen if you had desirable skills – but, I agree, not as a refo – high end skills excepted.

  3. Rais

    The refugee program is supposed to be for people who have nowhere to go to be safe from physical peril. South African fatmers, if they feel endangered on their fatms, are free to put a manager on the farm and move into a nearby town or city. There they would not be as safe as in Australia but they would be as safe as most black Americans.

    1. Rais

      “fatmers” – fat fingers. Don’t know how spell check let that through. “Farmers,” of course.

  4. zut alors

    When in opposition the LNP frequently cried foul regarding seaborne refugees ‘jumping the queue’. This must be parroted back at them – in unrelenting Abbott-style – by Shorten & Co.

  5. Bobby

    It’s actually a stroke of genius from the Libs.
    The left may not like it but Australia is still predominantly white European people. People are naturally tribal.
    See the outcome of the most recent US presidential election when you think you don’t need the votes of the majority ethnic group in a country. #shrug

    1. Tinatoerat

      Vomit. We are tribal with the people we know.

      Once we only knew white Europeans.
      Now the people we know includes Europeans, Asians, Indians, Chinese, Japanese and many others, including Africans, who are simply part of our friends and family.

      Get to know any people and they will become your tribe.

      1. AR

        “Who you mean ‘we’, Paleface?”

      2. Bobby

        Lol. Have a drive around Sydney sometime. All those ethnic groups have a funny tendancy to huddle together in suburbs full of people from their same ethnic group. It was ever thus.
        No end of studies have shown diversity leads to lower levels of social cohesion. Choices have been made (not by the actual voting public of course) and we will all now live with the consequences I guess

        1. [email protected]

          Absolutely. Forgetting in-group preference and accepting that the dominant culture in Australia has more in common with the Christian, English-speaking South-African farmers is a sad error. “Diversity is our strength” is a much-repeated mantra with little evidence backing it up.

        2. Zeke

          “No end of studies”… really? How about you pick one and provide a link?

  6. David Thompson

    So, according to BK, all the troubles in Syria are down to Assad, Putin and the Iranians.
    What a freakin’ crock.
    Where’s Raqqa, on the moon!?
    Next door in Iraq worth a look?
    Mosul, for instance?
    How about further west, say Libya?
    As ‘city levellers’ go, Assad, Putin and the Iranians don’t hold a candle to the “Coalition of the Killing”.

    1. Peter Schulz

      Exactly, David. Try 2.5 million (and still counting) deaths in Iraq since 1990 and 3 to 5 million deaths (and still counting) in Indo-China, to name just two theatres of geopolitical involvement.

  7. graybul

    “Ends justify means” eh Bernard? Just like “Arbeit macho frei”

  8. graybul

    . . . bugger spellcheck. “macht”

    1. AR

      … actually, it’s fairly apt.

  9. [email protected]

    You vicious idiot, the humanitarian program is nothing to do with the right to seek asylum and aiding the genocide of refugees from war zones is not a ”success”, sometimes Bernard you are so ignorant you make my hair hurt.

    The fact is South Africans can simply fly here without needing humanitarian visas, they always have but only if they are white.

    The right to seek asylum has nothing to do with that. You make me sick.

    1. Bobby

      Rule 1 of being a nutty refugee advocate. Completely ignore the fact you’ve completely lost the argument with the voting public.
      Rule 2. Spend your days wondering why your favourite refugee advocacy Party the Greens is circling the drain.

      1. [email protected]

        Bernard is wrong on every part of his silly story. The humanitarian program has nothing to do with refugees seeking asylum under the refugee convention. And the Greens are not circling the drain. WE have never lost control of our so called humanitarian program, it’s well under control and so miniscule it makes no difference to anything.

        1. Bobby

          Lol. Yeah the Greens are going great guns. Tasmanian state election. Batman. SA election. etc etc etc

      2. Draco Houston

        Last time I checked, Kevin Rudd did not win the election. But he also opened up death camps. Isn’t this supposed to Just Work? You make the death camps and then ~the voters~ vote blindly for you because of their undying racial tendency to death camps? Or something.

        Maybe you’re reading way more into the results of an election where the entire political class outside of a tiny party that doesn’t even campaign in every seat adopted the exact same policies on immigration mid term?

  10. federali

    theres not much more insufferable than a white south african. The accent and the unjustified arrogance. No wonder they got beaten up in high school when they came here after they lost their slaveholder power. The Libs are just trying to invite people destined to vote for them for generations.

    1. federali

      BUT if they pay their way thorough the investor visa program fair enough, they shouldn’t get a free ride

Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details