Christmas Island detention centre inspected

After many years and hundreds of millions of dollars, the new immigration jail detention centre on Christmas Island has finally been completed – and of course stands empty.  A range of community based human rights organisations were recently able to inspect the detention centre.  This report on the Amnesty International website gives a good idea of how wasteful and inappropriate the facility is.

I have always been baffled by the absolute determination of the previous government to waste such a massive amount of taxpayers’ money on a facility which not only was unnecessary, but was built to a high security design which no longer even matched the former government’s own policies in regard to detention facilities. But they went ahead and built it anyway – despite significant risk to some endangered bird species as well. Such is the irrationality which government’s can get away with behind misleading mantras like ‘border security’.

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84 Comments

  1. They even put the lights in wire cages. Bizarre waste of money. The cost of this alone is about 50 times the amount sent to the UNHCR every year for the care of over 21 million refugees.

  2. This was not a wast of money,as the government of the day had it right.Would you have wanted a load of boat people turning up on your door step and jumping the que for citizen ship and not knowing if the had been in Sudan Huseens Army.I did 6 x six week tours to Christmas Island as an Immigration Detention Officer and also served at Woomera for 2 years as a Detention Officer.So I dont think this was a wast of money as I have seen what these people are capable of.

  3. Really? And exactly what have you seen they are capable of Colin? Being desparate in fleeing persecution and danger?

    Unlike every applicants for every other type of visa, every single asylum seeker applying for a protection visa is the subject of a policy check and an ASIO security check – not a single one was found to be a security concern, let alone a terrorist, a Saddam operative or anything like that.

    And I haven’t seen any argument even from the ‘Liberals’ that the reason why asylum seekers should be locked up ni high security jails for years is because they are a potential security risk – it would be a dangerous precedent to explicitly justify the indefinite imprisonment of people solely on the basis of undefined suspicions without any evidence of genuine risk. Who knows who could be locked up next under that sort of policy?

    There is no queue for asylum seekers to jump and there is certainly no queue in regards to citizenship, which has no cap on the numbers who can apply and is only open to people who have been granted permanent residence in Australia.

  4. I’m sure I read in the paper the other day we’re paying $30 million a year to keeo this centre operational – with no one in it.

    If there was someone in it, I can possibly see a remote argument to spend something, but at the moment, I can’t believe this incredible waste of taxpayers’ money. There are far better things we could spend our taxes on.

  5. Good on you Andrew! The type of comments made by you Colin, really make my blood boil. They are based on ingrained racism; the demonising of people (mainly from the Middle East by the Howard govt-to justify invading their countries, and killing millions now!) There are so many lies. The whole ‘hate thing’ is similar to what happened in Nazi Germany before Hitler started killing Jews, and then anyone who disagreed with his views.

    It was policy on the naval intervention ships, to not refer to asylum seekers by name; they were told not to be friendly with anyone, including the children. If not for the lovely crew on the Tampa, the kids would have been even more distressed than they were. The Howard govt used 8 naval ships to keep asylum seekers away from the mainland. Many naval personnel resigned, some yrs later, due to post traumatic stress or disgust at how people were treated.

    It is not against the law to seek asylum in this country from abuse, or if a person believes that their life is threatened.People couldn’t walk up to Saddam & ask to leave Iraq, however, Australia has signed up to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the Rights of the Child. We abused both of those declarations, and even refused members of the UN to freely inspect ‘detention’ (jails)centres. 98% of kids from Iraq proved to be genuine asylum seekers,92% of chn from Iran likewise(A Last Resort-inquiry into chn in detention).It’s logical to assume, that their parents were too!

    Someone in recent yrs said “the more we adopt cruel and inhumane practices against asylum seekers, the more we resemble the countries from which they fled”.People were driven to desperate actions, including self mutilation and death, due to cruel treatment and loss of hope. A little boy ended up in a catatonic state,caused by the things he saw and heard.Philip Ruddock referred to him as “it”.Sums up the attitude of the Howard govt to children – all children!

  6. Today I listened to The Conversation Hour on ABC. (You can listen to the conversation on the internet-just put the conversation hour into Google – that simple) where the guest was Juliet? Everitt, a journalist, who wrote a book called ‘The Broken Shore’ about that little boy (the one Ruddock referred to as “it” 4 times in an interview)in Villawood and his family, and how they came to come to this country as asylum seekers, and how Juliet helped get the family released into the community. This is just one of the many heartbreaking stories that make you ask the question, ‘this didn’t happen here did it?’. Sadly, there are thousands of them!

    I’ve read many books, and taped all sorts of programs on TV – 4 Corners, 7.30 Report, Lateline, Australian Story, items on national news and stories by people like Ian Chappell who visited Baxter and was so shocked that there was an Australian Story just on his experience. I read a book called ‘From Nothing to Zero’ which was a collection of stories about asylum seekers, with children telling their stories. The title of that book came about, when a little child was asked about his life in a detention centre. He spoke of why they had to leave and then said something I can’t forget, he said, “we came from nothing to zero”. Our government did this to other human beings, to suit their political agenda;part of which was invading Iraq & Afghanistan.

    Christmas Island is an expensive and shameful monument to the racism, cruelty and despicable behaviour by many of us. I think it was built for even more sinister reasons – thankfully, Howard and Ruddock didn’t get the chance to put this plan into action! Only diligence will prevent it from becoming a reality!

  7. Colin – would you like to expand on “what these people are capable of” ? What do you mean by that?

  8. Colin:

    I’m with Dolphins. What are you talking about? Please give us an answer. Curiosity is gnawing at the depths of my soul.

    Naomi:

    I think we should find out about Colin’s first hand experiences before dishing too much abuse in his direction.

    Muzz:

    I think the detention centre on Christmas Island is there to house all of our most eminent politicians in the event of a holocaust. They’ll get out while the getting’s good, while we all get blown away.

  9. It is interesting who gets a job in the Immigration Department. A detention officer who cannot spell properly.

    DOLPHINS, can you answer this:
    -How many terrorists have been found among boat people?
    -How many of the boat people are now Australian citizens?
    -How come that the recent riots in Port Augusta prison, (not far from Baxter Detention Centre) and total devastation of premises get so little media attention? All inmates are Australian citizens, some of the rioters used to work as ‘prison officers’.It is interesting that the suggestion to put the rioters to, now empty, Baxter Centre was rejected as the former detention centre ‘does not meet the standards’. Just wondering whether those rioters would get the bill for the damage.
    -What does a ‘red neck patriot’ mean?
    -How come that there were NO CHILDREN even in the Soviet Gulags?
    Why do you think that innocent children should spend their childhood in jail? Just because they are NOT your children????????

  10. Sorry, DOLPHIN, I obviously addressed the questions to COLIN,
    MY APOLOGY, DOLPHIN. The emotion should not get better of me, but it does, sometimes. I was born in a German concentration camp, if that explains anything.
    Regards

  11. Zen – no need to apologise. I would have been in similar circumstances had I been born 50 years earlier, in the place my great-grandparents came from.

    My question was just intended to try to understand the thinking of Colin. I know what I think about this issue, but I have noticed that I don’t actually know who think the opposite to me, so I have no idea “where they are coming from” so to speak.

    When the detention centres in Australia in remote places were in full swing (let’s not forget they were not ALL closed .. some people are in them today) I visited one a few times on behalf of a friend, who had befrended through the mail some teenagers who were there. I got to know some of the staff and they were the usual mixture of people, as you’d expect, but prevented by fear of unemployment from deviating from the system in any way. I turned up one day with a lot of home-made cards for a religious festival – just thinking to give one to each person of that persuasion, even though I didn’t know them, to let them know someone cared. Not allowed to even leave them at the front desk.

    But getting back to Colin – could you explain what you mean by “what they are capable of”?

  12. Okay, Colin, where are you? You can’t just leave us hanging on a string, as if we are clones of Saddam Hussein.

  13. some ppl really dont know much do they,but still like to debate that of which they know very little.
    the christmas island centre is a max security gaol there is no dout about that .it has been inspected by the american millitary after it was built . the project manager who worked in the act was an american.question why?

    it is suposed to be a deterant but the info that i have herd from very reliable sorses is that it is not working the asylum seekers are just transported direct to the mainland now.and the number of boats is the same.

    as for colin mabe if we should listen to everyones point of view some times the truth finds a way .

    Naomi Cartledge
    Christmas Island is an expensive and shameful monument to the racism,

    please expane how it has anything to do with racism.

  14. Red Crab:

    Appearances can be deceitful.

    If you were setting up a safe haven for politicians, would you build a holiday resort with the name “Pollies’ Retreat” emblazened on a sign at the entrance?

    Of course you wouldn’t. You’d make it look like something else, to keep all the racists happy. That’s about 3/4 of the Australian population.

  15. I don’t know what Naomi meant when she said the Detention Centres are racist, but I belive they are, too.

    Let’s leave aside for the moment the boat people. Have a look at the skin colour of the inmates, and have a look at the stats of visa overstayers who seldom end up in detention centres. The largest number of overstayrers is from USA, but few end up in detention. Next comes China, of whom many have ended up in detention, and we surely all remember the sad case of the young women who was deported just in time to have her almost full-term baby aborted? Then comes the UK band of overstayers, again, few of whom end up in detention.

    According to International Law, people who fit the definition of “refugee” have the right to arrive without notice, and to have their claims heard. We neither give them unfettered access to legal advice, not treat them humanely while they wait for their claims to be determined. We may have too many people here, given our waste of scarce water, but we should treat them decently while they are here. Read more here: http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/the-indignity-of-detention/2008/10/18/1223750397125.html

  16. Redcrab – Naomi Cartledge

    “Christmas Island is an expensive and shameful monument to the racism,

    Please expane how it has anything to do with racism.” To build such a horror, just for asylum seekers,who’ve committed no crime is racist based!If you read some books,watched documentaries etc, and took notice of the use of language used by Ruddock, Howard, Downer etc, only a person incapable of assessing motive, attitudes etc, would not think it was racist based.The whole demeanour, including many of those who worked there, (calling detainees ‘refs’ and ’sand niggers’ (referring to those from the Middle East) was based on an ingrained view of those people being inferior, less than human in fact-then it’s racist! It’s not rocket science?

    LORIKEET “Naomi:I think we should find out about Colin’s first hand experiences before dishing too much abuse in his direction.” I have seen, heard and read enough to not only restate my claim, but reinforce it here. There’s an article in the Sun Herald by Kerry-Anne Walsh(Sun 19th inst.) called “The indignity of detention” -just another testimony in huge piles of it over this disgraceful chapter.I will say, that the Howard govt caused people, perhaps including Colin, to treat others in a horrific manner, in order to keep their jobs;many left sick and traumatized – go to 4 Corners web site and watch the program( a couple of months ago)from the perspective of warders! However, I won’t resile from my strong belief, that the whole demeanour was revolting, inhumane and racist.

    I defy anyone, who’s read as much as I have, or been involved like Andrew Bartlett, Julian Burnside QC, Marilyn etc not to be outraged by the shameful actions of Howard & his vicious ministers, and those in the Parlt. who didn’t have the guts to speak out! If you still feel you want to deny this as a shameful chapter in our history, then ?

  17. Dolphins:

    Visa overstayers who are white people from UK, USA, NZ and Canada are from countries which are considered to be our allies, and are therefore probably considered to be less of a risk.

    Nevertheless, less than a year ago, a man told me he couldn’t get work as an Air Traffic Controller in Australia because he was from Canada.

    My son has to bust a gut to keep Chinese, Russians and no doubt certain others out of our national security systems. Our family was gone over with a fine-toothed comb for 6 months before they even gave him that job.

    I therefore don’t think it’s strange that the government would be more worried about people arriving from war zones where Australian soldiers are in combat, such as the Middle East.

    But I agree with you that refugees should be treated in accordance with International Law.

  18. Lorikeet: Not all “people from UK, USA, and Canada” are “white” unless you think their passports make them honorary “whites”? Thank you for making my point.

    People from NZ are often not “white” either, but because of our special agreements with them are rarely overstayers.

    If visa overstayers who are tourist, or people working under the table as backpackers, call centre operatives or other black maket employment have broken the law, their country of origin should be immaterial.

    thre are quite a few people who are trapped on Bridging visas who were wrongly advised that all they have to do is come to Australia and you’ll be able to get a visa. The one they may – if they are “lucky” – is the Bridging EE visa . People on this visa have been released, but forbidden to work, and unable to obtain such things as medical treatment for their sick children.

    At least they have access to the kind hearted folk who support them with legal or medical aid, or charity. On Christmas Island inmates have access to no help of any kind … and I have yet to hear whether the centre there, if revived, would be run again by an American Company. It says it all, doesn’t it, when the Government is too ashamed to employ the people it uses to impose its brutal system?

  19. Dolphins:

    I didn’t make your point at all.

    I said nothing about the colour of the people from UK, USA, NZ or Canada – or about the colour of anyone from any other country. You simply injected your own “whiteism” into what I had to say.

    Please read again. I said those countries were allies.

  20. DOLPHINS-Good for you!
    LORIKEET ” I said nothing about the colour of the people from UK, USA, NZ or Canada – or about the colour of anyone from any other country. You simply injected your own “whiteism” into what I had to say.”
    The fact is, that people who fly here for holidays or some other reason, and overstay their visa, are usually allowed to remain in the community while their case is reviewed,even if they apply for asylum.Historically,the majority of these people NOT detained are white- there can be up to 60,000 overstayers in this country.However, Villawood in NSW comprises people from countries like China,Sri Lanka, Bangladesh,Vietnam,Middle East -non-whites! A friend of mine has befriended several young men, taken them into her home, helped restore their health(all the ones I know of have a mental illness of some kind – caused by their trauma of leaving their country, exaccerbated by their jailing.) She helps them to achieve their goal of further education/job, and also continues to fight for their permanent residence if required.I’m proud to know her,and assist if I can!

    The Howard govt used our monies to uphold a system that was based on the need to demonize people to justify the illegal invasion of their country, such as Iraq/Afghanistan.Those people in Villawood,who were such tortured spirits as to be so ill, were flown to a pvte hospital in Qld-more expense;Why?In fact,the govt flew my friend there to accompany a young man back to her home.Are there no Psychiatrists in Sydney to assist these people? There are so many instances of officials acting out of sheer ‘bastardry’ just because they can, and in contravention of the UN agreements of which the Howard govt renewed – the latest I know of, is the Declaration on the Rights of the Child,which Howard ignored! Read “As a Last Resort” inquiry into children in detention. State Labor govts are also to blame,by allowing these hell holes to function in several states.They too are to be condemned

  21. I defy anyone, who’s read as much as I have, or been involved like Andrew Bartlett, Julian Burnside QC, Marilyn etc not to be outraged by the shameful actions of Howard & his vicious ministers, and those in the Parlt. who didn’t have the guts to speak out! If you still feel you want to deny this as a shameful chapter in our history, then ?

    Naomi Cartledge
    with the upmost respect to those mentioned .
    i only get any info about christmas island first hand from my trips there and from the ppl who are there .
    anyone who has seen it being built will tell you it is no holliday camp.
    i belive it is a overkill because anyone who has actualy been there will tell you the island itself is vertualy escape proof.
    as for ashamful chapter in australias history i must agree with you
    but as far as the storys about the tamper and the children overboard go iv been told different storys that never got to the media. buy the ppl who were there.
    dont belive everything you read or see on the tv.

  22. Lorikeet: I’ll remind you of what you said first. “Visa overstayers who are white people from UK, USA, NZ and Canada are from countries which are considered to be our allies, and are therefore probably considered to be less of a risk.”

    Later you said this” I said nothing about the colour of the people from UK, USA, NZ or Canada – or about the colour of anyone from any other country. You simply injected your own “whiteism” into what I had to say.”

    Do you read your own posts?

  23. DOLPHINS-Good for you!
    LORIKEET ” I said nothing about the colour of the people from UK, USA, NZ or Canada – or about the colour of anyone from any other country. You simply injected your own “whiteism” into what I had to say.” The fact is, that people who fly here for holiday or some other reason, and overstay their visa, are usually allowed to remain in the community while their case is reviewed,even if they apply for asylum.Historically,the majority of these people NOT detained are white- there can be up to 60,000 overstayers in this country.However, Villawood in NSW comprises people from countries like China,Sri Lanka, Bangladesh,Vietnam,Middle East -non-whites! A friend of mine has befriended several young men, taken them into her home, helped restore their health(all the ones I know of have a mental illness of some kind – caused by their trauma of leaving their country, exaccerbated by their jailing.) She helps them to achieve their goal of further education/job, and also continues to fight for their permanent residence if required.I’m proud to know her,and assist if I can!

    The Howard govt used our monies to uphold a system that was based on the need to demonize people to justify the illegal invasion of their country, such as Iraq/Afghanistan.Those people in Villawood,who were such tortured spirits as to be so ill, were flown to a pvte hospital in Qld-more expense;Why?In fact,the govt flew my friend there to accompany a young man back to her home.Are there no Psychiatrists in Sydney to assist these people? There are so many instances of officials acting out of sheer ‘bastardry’ just because they can, and in contravention of the UN agreements of which the Howard govt renewed – the latest I know of, is the Declaration on the Rights of the Child,which Howard ignored! Read “As a Last Resort” inquiry into children in detention. State Labor govts are also to blame,by allowing these hell holes to function in several states.They too should be condemned!

  24. Dolphins:

    Sorry, I made a mistake, but I don’t think the government would be too worried about ANY people from allied countries, unless they wanted to work in sensitive jobs.

    But you are still good at injecting whiteism into any debate, as is Naomi.

    On Tuesday night, I had a terrible experience with a man saying dreadful things to me on the phone. Yesterday I was not quite my normal unflappable self.

    Red Crab:

    There can only be 2 reasons why the government built that facility.

    1. They are expecting a huge influx of refugees from a war zone in which the native country is one of Australia’s enemies.

    2. They want to send higher level politicians there while the rest of us become victims of a holocaust.

  25. LORIKEET – “whiteism” what sort of a word is that? I’m against whites? If I speak out against racism, do I then commit the crime of “whiteism”? A trifle immature don’t you think? I hate sexism too! What word covers the opposite? No, feminism and racism aren’t the same or similar.

    If you get annoying phone calls – leave the phone off the hook, and ring and report it with another one. Even if the repulsive caller hangs up, it’s still possible to trace from your line. If you don’t want to do that, then buy a whistle. I guarantee, that person won’t do it again after you’ve almost deafened them. Years ago, I had an easy phone number and had smart arses ring, particularly during school holidays. I’d give them a blast on the whistle! It’s not pleasant, it’s quite painful in fact!

    I think Howard was going to close the detention centres in the States, and just use the hell hole on Christmas Island. Maybe, as someone else commented, allow the US to use it instead of Guantanamo Bay?

  26. Naomi:

    I’ve got a whistle, but it wasn’t that kind of annoying caller. I know what to do about stalkers etc. I didn’t come down in the last shower.

    I think I’ve explained what “whiteism” is before. It’s where whites are on the attack against other whites, after they have said something which they have wrongly interpreted as a racist slur, and/or because their only agendas are to attack other people and/or stymie debate.

    The broader thinkers around would find similarities between feminism and racism.

  27. I think Howard was going to close the detention centres in the States, and just use the hell hole on Christmas Island. Maybe, as someone else commented, allow the US to use it instead of Guantanamo Bay?

    well thats an interesting comment.
    the last lot of so called reffugees are being housed in the camp that was built for the construction crew they are getting a fence built to hold them in but the pool fencing that was supplied was a bit to high so its now being cut down to 900 mm.
    the detention centre has bean inspected buy the red cross or some group like it.
    they found two things that they reported to the govt that they were not happy with they were the fence and the internet speed is to slow.
    there is more but that will do for now

  28. Red Crab:

    Internet speed? I think that adds fuel to my argument about pollies becoming the “detainees”.

    A pool fence? Think about it.

    BTW a 900 mm high fence is much too low to prevent even a toddler from climbing over.

  29. (I was away from home and inadvertently added that recent post – twice! Sorry)
    RED CRAB – It’s interesting to note, that the over 100 asylum seekers on the Tampa taken in by NZ were afforded permanent citizen status. Very few in Australia were/are! Captain Riannan of the Tampa received 2 awards and was congratulated around the world for his compassion & integrity, plus his upholding a well recognised law of the sea – to pick up and care for those facing peril, unlike our treatment of those on SIEV X, which resulted in the deat?

    LORIKEET – “The broader thinkers around would find similarities between feminism and racism.” The word “feminism” is the actions of people to bring about equality between men & women. That’s very brief explanation; however, there’s no similarities to the goal of feminism and acts of racism. The added fact is, that in almost all instances of negative words, actions etc against people from other lands, the reality is, that it’s white against blacks or other non-Anglo Saxon people. I make no apology for speaking out against racism – non whatever!

    The broader thinkers around the world would possibly also agree, that the countries invaded or interfered with by the US (over 40)since the end of WW2 for example, were non-white countries. The US doesn’t invade or interfere with countries that can fight back! Too often we have also been culable, as with Afghanistan & Iraq! When those who had to flee arrived here, we jailed them, and drove too many, medically mad! I find that despicable! I felt/feel outraged at the use of our money in abusing these traumatized human beings!

    I’ve a heap of documentaries, reading materials, and articles from around the world on racism, repressive regimes treatment of asylum seekers, and the Howard govt’s treatment of these and other human beings, and the gross number of our dollars spent on repression and propaganda, espousing zenophobic rhetoric! I’m proud to assert, that I am disgusted by these actions!

  30. Re: racism
    I remember last year, when Baxter Detention Centre was still in ‘operation’ but visitors were allowed due to ‘generosity’ of Amanda Vanstone there were 3 (three) detainees there. One was celebrating his birthday and the support groups of local people from Pt. Augusta, Whyalla, as well as from Adelaide, Melbourne and even Horsham came with little presents and plenty of food. The visitors well outnumbered the three residents of the detention centre.
    A very nice middle aged lady, I think from Pt. Augusta, with a basket full of goodies, approached a detainee and asked him gently: ‘And which tribe do you belong to?’
    A bit puzzled, a young gentleman answered: ‘Sorry, madam but for the past 300 years me and my family have been Americans’.
    I could not help thinking that after 3-400 years they are still called African-Americans’, although they have nothing to do with the vast continent of Africa.
    Racism may be hard to define particularly if the intention is not there. (Obama is constantly called ‘Afro-American’; just wondering, why?)

    I do not think that our detention centres were racially based.
    I would rather think that their creation was the fantasy product of red-neck bloody mindedness.

  31. You’re right about the racial issue, Zen.

    A person gets tired of all of the division and exclusivity, whether we are talking about Negroes, American Indians, Aborigines, Whites etc.

    Why can’t they just live as ONE GROUP OF CITIZENS, without special rules, rights and responsibilities applying only to some. That’s what I believe perpetuates the division.

  32. I’ve a heap of documentaries, reading materials, and articles from around the world on racism, repressive regimes treatment of asylum seekers, and the Howard govt’s treatment of these and other human beings, and the gross number of our dollars spent on repression and propaganda, espousing zenophobic rhetoric! I’m proud to assert, that I am disgusted by these actions!

    Naomi Cartledge
    as i have quoted before my info comes mostly from the people who are and were there including myself..
    most of the storys that are reported are not quite compete it mite be the govt it mite be the reporters i dont know.
    but i think that most docos and some things that are pened if buy the govt or buy the people who support the reffugees cause all have there own adgenda and will always try to make people see it there way.
    the truth is in the detail all one has to do is look for it .
    if one takes the time to seek out and speek to people who are on the front line so to speek one mite have a more informed opinion of a given situation.
    for me the word racest is a word that is being used to much.
    just like a few choice words that were extremely offencive and over used have very little meaning now
    .they are only used to get ones point across when one has run out of options and needs to gaine some sort of advantage over a given situation.
    a question that i have asked myself is why did not the captain of the tamper take the people he rescued from the sea to the closest land
    i thought thats all he was obligated to do so why go to christmas island knowing full well the problems he would face.

  33. RED CRAB – “a question that i have asked myself is why did not the captain of the tamper take the people he rescued from the sea to the closest land
    i thought thats all he was obligated to do so why go to christmas island knowing full well the problems he would face.”
    I think that Christmas Island was the closest ‘inhabited’ island, with medical & hospital facilities. There were many people (over 400 altogether)on the Tampa, who were suffering from a variety of medical conditions. some suffered from exposure (even though the crew tried to provide shade etc) and there were some who were having breathing difficulties. There were also many children, and as a decent man, the Captain felt he had a responsiblity to take them where all their needs would be met. The next time he called into NewZealand, many of those people went to meet him; they’d made cards that thanked him, and many took part in the festivities – people dancing etc.Kindnesses being recognised!
    He alleged, that he was personally abused by Downer, and Howard was determined that they would not ‘land’ in Australia.

    I’ve also read a book called “Following Them Home” which follows several people back to the country from which they had to flee. Edmond Rice, Peace & Justice Committee, has also documented evidence of people being killed after their forced removal from this country. Then there’s Peter Qasim, the longest detainee, who’d elected after over 6 yrs to go back to India? But India wouldn’t accept him, as Peter had no evidence of his birth etc. I often wonder what happened to him, as the last I heard he was in a bad way in a Psychiatric Hospital in Adelaide. Another shame on this country, courtesy of John Howard!

    Ministers and others in the Howard govt should be condemned for their inhumane and unjust treatment of other human beings. Perhaps “The Howard Years” might bring out some truths (that many of us know, or at least suspect)! I’ll be watching tonight – ‘through clenched teeth

  34. Red Crab
    Australia, with the full support of our supposedly inquisitive and independent media, breached also international laws re: international waters.
    The Tampa passengers were presented by our media as erratic, violent criminals who had boarded a foreign vessel by force and were trying to take the captain to ransom.
    But it’s not only refugees that Howard government hated.
    We are now world famous for burning and sinking Indonesian and Filipino tiny fishing boats and dumping in the detention centers (along with refugees) TOTALLY innocent fishermen whose only guilt is that they have been living of fishing in the waters for centuries.It is their only livelyhood and their main source for feeding their very poor families. All of a sudden we decided that Australia has exclusive rights to claim the international waters as their own so we can fish them out, pollute them and destroy the marine life. Christmas Island is an Australian territory but the Howard government turned it into Aussie Guantanamo. If I were the Tampa captain I would be scared to death, too.
    I have been watching tonight’s ABC program about Howard’s achievements, Part I. A monster gnome from the darkest dungeons of human soul.

  35. zen
    I have been watching tonight’s ABC program about Howard’s achievements, Part I. A monster gnome from the darkest dungeons of human soul
    i have never supported the howard govt in any way .but from experiance of meeting polititiions i had formed an opinion of only to regret any thoughts i had of the person .
    i think i would think twice about making a statement like that.
    i also know that in australia a prim minister cannot make any decisions without the support of most of the govt.

    the only advice that i can give is to seek out the people that know the truth and ask them.your opinion will change like mine did .
    the media will twist the truth to suit there needs at the time.

  36. Red Crab:

    I think you possess a lot of wisdom where the media and government are concerned. Sometimes the influence coming from both is one and the same.

    The name, Rupert Murdoch, springs to mind in relation to social issues.

    I couldn’t watch Howard Part I, due to storm damage in my area equivalent to a Category 2 cyclone.

  37. lorikeet
    and all that were affected buy the weather in the past week in brisbane .
    i know what its like as i lived there for quit a spell .(was there in 1974 floods and experienced some nasty storms there over the years)
    all the best to anyone that was affected .
    i did not watch the howard show as i got enough of the pollicies of the govt of his time .but i still would not form an opinion of the man unless i had the opitunity to meet him in person and chat.
    question to zen
    do you know the history of christmas island and how it became part of australian territory and do you know why the govt trys to control illegall fishing off the w.a. coast .have you been to either and had a look.

    its my opinion that the centre on christmas island if not the whole island will end up in the hands of the americans sooner or later so why are we so worried about it . if this is not the case then why not use it now as there are reffugees on the island now why place them in a used work camp .

  38. I’ve recently watched(again) the many tapes I have of past 4 Corners programs; SBS programs such as Dateline, Cutting Edge and others about the horrific history of the Howard years re asylum seekers, and the hideous policies that caused already traumatized people to end up with horrific mental illnesses, that would prove, that for the rest of their lives, their past traumas, and their treatment in Australia, would render them humanly devoid of having the right to power and practical positive energy over their lives. We took already traumatized and brutalized people, in the company of their wives and children, and committed horrific acts of physical and psychological trauma! I feel ashamed!

    Lest We Forget? No bloody way!

  39. Red Crab:

    Thank you for thinking of us all in relation to the horrific storm.

    I think we will all need to wait and see what the Christmas Island Detention Centre has really been built for.

    Yes, nothing can beat going to places and seeing what’s happening for yourself.

    However, I don’t think I would need to chat with Howard to know what he’s like. If he was a decent person, he would never have been pushing anti-social Liberal Party policies which empowered the rich and hurt the poor.

  40. The Howard government’s policies were aimed not at refugees per se but to counter people smuggling and secondary movement asylum seekers. Secondary movement asylum seekers are asylum seekers who move from a first country of de facto asylum, moving long distances around the world through countries with little interest in persecuting them, in order to settle in affluent Western countries.

    Almost all secondary movement asylum seekers arrived without identity papers or travel documents, destroying them to make the determination of their identities and verification of their stories of persecution and return to their countries of residence a very time consuming, difficult and costly task.

    Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya is one of the largest refugee camps in the world with more than 80,000 refugees from nine different countries and dozens of different ethnic groups. The refugees there are forced to deal with hostile locals, an almost total lack of economic opportunities, frequent gender based violence, high rates of crime and food shortages. Life is particularly harsh for single vulnerable women who have nobody to protect them.

    For a time until people smuggling was effectively halted Australia’s refugee resettlement program had to be suspended as all resettlement places were being taken by secondary movement asylum seekers. Why did not refugees in camps such as Kakuma themselves become secondary movement asylum seekers and travel around the world to seek refuge in affluent western countries. The unfortunate reality is that most of the world’s refugees live in abject poverty, not having the financial resources required to pay people smugglers.

    As Minister for Immigration, Phillip Ruddock visited refugee camps in Africa and Asia and to his great credit worked diligently to halt people smuggling and the influx of secondary movement asylum seekers, so that resettlement was returned to being on the basis of need rather than financial ability to pay people smugglers.

  41. FRANKLIN “The Howard government’s policies were aimed not at refugees per se but to counter people smuggling and secondary movement asylum seekers.” Those brave people who saved Jews from the concentration camps and certain death have been and still are, hailed as heroes. What’s the difference between these ‘people smugglers’ and those who helped Iraqis, Iranians and Afghanis from tyranny and the threat of death. The first country many asylum seekers are taken, like Indonesia, are not party to International laws pertaining to those seeking asylum. If asylum seekers didn’t have papers, they were accused of not being from where they asserted; if they did, they were told, that they weren’t genuine, if they had time etc to have papers – so they couldn’t win in many cases.

    Regardless of what the Howard govt’s aims were, there was no excuse to keep people locked up until they’re medically mad. Philip Ruddock knew about the little boy in Villawood in Sydney, and knew about the severity of his mental illness (papers obtained by solicitors confirmed his daily briefings). It wasn’t until it hit the news that he released this little 4 yr old boy and his parents. He’s the one Ruddock referred to as “it” 4 times in a TV interview. A book has been released called, The Broken Shore, which details the horrendous and cruel neglect of the Howard govt. Ruddock was responsible for the health and safety of every child in detention – he was cruel and heartless? No excuses!

    If wealthy govts spent more on relieving poverty and repression around the world, instead of putting billions into weapons and war. It was pure hypocrisy for Howard to give graphic details of the tortures Saddam Hussein used, but then locked up those who managed to escape – a double negative whammy? We shouldn’t walk hand in hand with the US policy of causing misery in the Middle East, or not speaking out against tyranny (like what Israel is doing to Palestinians).

  42. Franklin:

    Yes, that’s what most of the people I know think also.

    The poor have Buckley’s chance of getting out when they are endangered.

    That’s why we need the United Nations to take a more active role in putting an end to abusive regimes throughout the world.

  43. FRANKLIN
    Why disseminate misinformation? Qui bono??
    Most of the 353 drowned passengers of the SIEV-X had close families in Australia but they could not join them because TPV (unlawful visas) banned family reunion which is against any humanitarian laws and principles. The refugee camp in Kenya is NOT one of the largest refugee camps. There are half a million Iraqi refugees in Jordan alone, millions other nationals in Iran, Syria, Pakistan and across Europe. Howard’s hysteria about 8000, mostly genuine, refugees is beyond comprehension.
    The so called ‘secondary movement’ of many a refugee was a very poor excuse not to grant visas to genuine refugees. Indonesia is NOT signatory to the Refugee Convention so they do not have obligation to protect refugees. Phillip Ruddock and Howard are responsible for demonising refugees, particularly Muslims.
    Passports? There is no legal requirement to carry documentation even if you run away from bombs dropped by the Coalition of the killing..
    Ruddock did not have to waste public money to travel to Africa. He could have consulted Italian Embassy and find out some info about sojorno!! and save us money on prison projects architecture and future compensation for mistreatment of humans.
    Ruddock ‘did not work diligently to stop people smugglers’ as most of the people smuggled to Australia got Protection Visas and smugglers are nowhere to be seen. However, Ruddock is responsible for smuggling to Australia 200 Lebanese army deserters, masquerading as refugees, who are not covered by the Convention..

  44. zen
    if only there were a way to tell you what iv been told buy those that were and are there.its a bit difficult to say very much here as its not what some would like to hear.
    but i will say that franklin is very close to the truth.
    for someone to come through indo and get on a boat costs a lot of money.
    i dont think that many ppl in the camps have that much money just laying around. first they have to fly into indo from wherever they are then have money for bribes and then enough for the boat trip iv been told that its quit a large sum of money.
    but i think that you know this

  45. Red Crab … 1. If someone, let’s say a Mandean, someone from an oppressed religious minority in Iran and other parts of the Middle East / Asia, has the money to escape certain death or at the very least savage persecution, do you suggest that they should not do so, merely because they can’t pay for every other persecuted or endangered person in the world to escape too? (Mandeans are often jewellerymakers – they may have the means, or ability to get a loan, to bribe their son or grandson or nephew’s way out. Do you suggest that to save oneself is wrong if one has the money to do so? Doesn’t make sense to me. Jews before WWII often paid vast sums to be smuggled to a neutral country or other safety … do we despise them for that?)

    Of course I feel for the people who are in camps waiting for a chance to come here, or to another place of safety. I have worked with peple wrom Africa whose experiences before arrival I am sure I could not dream of. Their life here is not a bed of roses, but they will make fantastic citizens. There are more who want to come. Do we suggest Person X not to come because Person Y and Person Z did not also get a visa?

    A system of absolute fairness does not, and never will exist. We need to put energy into supporting victims of war and oppression in any way we can, but for heavens sake don’t insinuate that those who have got here are in some way tainted morally because they DID survive!

    2. Whether they have ‘too much money’ money or not, and even if I believed they had no right to come here to seek asylum … once they are here, we have a moral duty to treat asylum seekers humanely. Not to lock them up in such conditions as to attack their health, mental or physical.

    I have been to Baxter. I have visited asylum seekers there and I know people who have worked there. I wrote to people on Nauru who later ended up in Baxter. I wrote to people in Port Hedland who later ended up in Baxter. I know a little bit of what they suffered.

  46. Dolphins ,
    exactly where and when did i say that these ppl did not deserve to be treated humanely. the only statement i have made is that it costs quite a lot of money to get to australia that way..
    but what i read in your comment is that it would seam that the person with the means to afford the trip would make a better australian than the one without .

    the detention centre on christmas island was mainly built as a deterant .
    as i see it the govt will be accused of not doing the rite thing if they detaine these ppl .

    on the other hand if there is problems in the community later the govt will be accused of not looking after the interests and protection of the australian community which is what they are put there for. and should at all times be there primary consern.

  47. Red crab – I didn’t say that you said people should not be treated humanely. I said that for me, this issue lives and dies on that point. You seem to be approving of the centre on Christmas Island – you hint darkly that there are things you know that we cannot know. If those things are about the detainees, I’d be interested to know what they might be – what secrets can there be that would make me feel differently from how I do now? On the other hand, if the secrets are about the machinations involved in setting up these private prisons, then perhaps all taxpayers would like to know this. If they are defence secrets, then I don’t see the relationship with asylum seekers. Perhaps you could enlighten us?

    If they are on Christmas Island they are unable to take advantage of the opportunities that exist on the mainland — well, the more populousparts thereof – to gain access to legal and medical advice, not just that provided by the Department, seen to be callous in the extreme in the past, as well as the chance to work to perhaps save up a bit, or even pay rent if they must have their movments circumscribed .. this is a common practice in Europe and Asia, where they have MANY more asylum seekers/refugees to deal with. Isolation leads one ot suspect that efforts are being made to avoid proper scrutiny – e.g. in Woomera.

    Again, I didn’t say that the people with means are better people – I just said that there are, whether we like it or not, people from some areas who have the means ot escape what our own processes have found to be genuine situations of persecution. Others, like the Sudanese, generally have no money, but in common with the other refugees, a thirst for making a better life for themselves.

    I don’t discriminate between people based on money, at least not regarding this issue. I do, though, recognise that almost all my ancestors could be described as economic refugees, but they were lucky enough to be escaping famines and wars in the 1800s, not now.

  48. dolphins
    there are no dark secrets only what i have been told buy ppl who were there at the time and what i have seen there. there are limits to what i will say on an open forum .i cant comment on any other place .
    i will ask you one question though.
    do you think that asylum seekers/refugees should have accsess to free legal and medical advice that the most tax paying australians cant.do you think that the govt should not look into these ppls past activities before they are let into the community.

    but this is all beside the point the thing is that when the centre on christmas island was inspected the only things that were commented on were the fence to which i would agree is an over kill, and the internet speed was too slow .

  49. I think once others hear about the internet access and the 900 mm fence on the Christmas Island facility, there will be a race between the wealthy to see who can be first to get here.

  50. red crab – of course we need to vet people properly. They need medical and security checks, but it needs to be done efficiently. Whether you like it or not we have obligations under international law – they need to be informed as to what their rights are – they have had rights stripped away gradually over the Howard years, and before, let us not forget who started the detention system – Labor. Does it not strike you as suspicious that they were placed in inaccessible places so that they could not get legal assistance, even from lawyers willing to work for free, which did happen? Christmas Island is hard to get to, and easy to block off should a government decide to make it even harder for detainees to find out what is going on with their cases. The downside for you and me is the continuing cost of maintenance – so far about 400 million dollars have been spent on it and it is empty! An ongoing $20-30 MILLION a year … for what? Apparently the cost to build this was equal to 50 years of contributions to the UNHCR to help care for 21 million refugees. Did you know we have reduced our contribution to UNHCR? Somebody is making money out of this. As for the conditions, it is not only where people live but how the system works, e.g. isolation in padded cells for such “crimes” as being mentally ill. How will being locked in cages help sick and traumatised people? We have been down this road before, but this time they are somewhere even harder to get to for people of goodwill. Nauru and PNG were not remote enough to hide what was going on.

    I’ve said it before: “Bring a refugee is not a crime – they do not deserve to be in jail.”

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