Is a “no boats” goal all that matters?

post by Nayano at a Possie in Aussie drew my attention to a story in The Agedetailing a visit by a Federal Government’s security adviser “to Malaysia and Sri Lanka to negotiate ways to stop the flow of asylum seekers to Australia.”  Many asylum seekers go via Malaysia to Indonesia where they try to apply with the UNHCR for recognition as a refugee and/or try to get on a boat to Australia.

This post at my Crikey blog provides graphic detailof some of the serious human rights abuses which asylum seekers in Malaysia face.  Major human rights abuses in Sri Lanka have also been widely documented over many years.

A policy approach to asylum seekers focused only on stopping all boat arrivals, regardless of all the related issues, risks entrenching a view that the victims of major human rights abuses, even in our near-neighbourhood, are someone else’s problem as long as we can keep them out of Australian territory.

Apart from being of questionable morality, I find it difficult to see how such a policy could work without great expense. Even then, I doubt it could be sustainable in the long-run. A blind eye can only be turned to unpleasant realities for so long, before that reality has a way of forcing itself in your face one way or another.

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35 Comments

  1. Sane as ever Andrew! The Democrats have been accused of a lot of things,but rarely making excuses.I think Don Chipp learn’t that over hisVietnam experiences.The Labor Party Anzac day has once again, reasserted its right to be military, and so, I wager a bet, that, a woolly swifty will be played on the electorate.Invaded by problems beyond our control refugee wise and a Afghanistan.I mean what is thisFitzgibbon idiot up to.!?A cursory look at the Afghani Army simply shows these are selected men from only some areas,and are not a representative army.How odd it is, the crap from Mundine about Iranian leadership,all completely a-factual,not non-factual ,because that implies that the Iranian leader said nothing at all.And I was shocked and horrified,and I cannot relate that intensely in words, to see Israeli protestors about shipment of ammunitions to Israel before Gaza happened,as the news of gun disappearances in Afghanistan shocked me.In the U.S.A. to me, some of the gun lobby seem really sane,as a supply of munitions is crushed,and reports of swine fever are applied to the U.S.A. citizenship in a manner that doesn’t seem a normal spread of disease.So the paranoia spreaders,and that isn’t Alex Jones and Jeff Rense,but disease control centers.. and Tamiflu Rumsfeld investment looks a winner.I bet swine flu will show up soon on our coastline,and emergency emergency,will cover up, economic failure.So Today is the day after the sun comes up.Be prepared.

  2. Then should Australia take hundreds of thousands of people from war torn countries, instead of the United Nations doing their job?

  3. Without a welfare state I think open borders could be viable. I’d happily ditch the welfare state in the name of being more humane all round. In the interum our governments are going to do nasty stuff to people defending our “way of life”.

  4. Have the United Nations ever done their job properly,Lorikeet? Or are they just a show for TV to make usfeel secure.At DavidIcke.com tonight a few stories about swine fever from Mexico,and a American GMO pig producer is linked with excreta into the water ways of Mexico,where protestors about this sites location were badly treated before the Swine fever got up.So onecould say there are elements of cover up within Mexico and the U.S.A. and I think a story about a woman by the name of Corbet in these changeling hours on the SMH Online is a diversion,rather than maybe a bigger story evolving not yet landed.Andof which the UNO will not dare question amongst their ranks, the compliance to the shareholder owners of the means of swine flu vaccine…Rumsfeld and Al Gore..traitors both to Americans and the world’s citizens alike. You can choose them Lorikeet.

  5. Terjep

    So we revert to no pensions, no medicare, no public education, no unemployment benefits, no public housing, ….add to the list ad infinitum and open the borders and whoever gets here and manages to survive, along with the rest of us as the fittest is the way of the future?

    And that’s more humane all round?

  6. well phil i think you are correct just last week in rph in wa after they lobbed the poor bubbers off the burning boat . a supperbug appeared in the hosp that there is no cure for .
    not only that the fed govt dose not want to pic up the bill so how many west australians will have to miss out on life saving help because there is no money and no beds in the hosp

    so terjep ???
    are you saying that the ( australians!! ) that have built this country to what it is now should give up what they worked so hard for over the last 200yrs to keep a few boat people from comming here .

  7. What can I say Andrew? It’s sad. That all I can say. The realpolitik of it all is that a continuous stream of arrivals of boats is bad for the government. Sad, again.

    People can overstay their visas by the planeload, but forty people arriving on a boat sends some Australians into apoplexy.

    You can only see the type of headlines on the ‘Herald Sun’: And still they come, not to mention the ‘illegal asylum seekers’ (sic) title given by many in the media that seem to push this asylum seekers = problem for the Rudd government.

    At least Kevin Rudd has handled the latest arrival responsibly quieting down the issue rather that whip xenophobes into a frenzy like Howard did.

    Sad. But I think it is a reflection of the culture where we live.

  8. Phil:

    No, I don’t think the UN has ever done its jobs properly, if the last few years have been anything to go by.

    Ken:

    I think it is reasonable to assume that Terjep is a very rich man. He also thought GST should have been applied to basic foods. I think he could give more thought to people in worse situations than himself.

    Red Crab:

    It’s good to hear from you again. I think Terjep wants open slather on migrants, not just a few hundred boat people.

    I must stay tuned to the news for more details of the superbug you mentioned.

    Guido:

    Have you given any thought as to why these people are risking their lives on leaky boats, instead of arriving by plane, or overstaying their visas???

  9. Guido amazes me with his , a haughty sense of right knowledge in analysis, the Australian culture is xenophobic whereas there is no possible way as a individual to show or prove one isn’t or that one is a xenophobic to someone who declares the culture is.If he is a individual that declares we[Australians excluding himself] are, what is stopping anyone from saying we aren’t!?If they belong to the subset of individuals that are the culture by not thinking that they are xenophobic!?He simply hasn’t got a point to make,that is at all valid.Heap s of people overstaying on Visas, doesn’t necessarily mean approval or disapproval of them as individuals,but, some Australian law is being broken.There is simply no worthy ground to compare those arriving by boat with overstayers,and some have been from Vietnam as overstayers! The two groups have been classified by the operational matters of legislation to come under various Acts.The Acts of Parliament are the considerations of a whole lot of people in preparation and enforcement. If he wants to,he can be a either a “Zionist” Vietnamese or a” Tobenised” Vietnamese,and seek by making statements wether or not making a statement about individuals and wanting the same indulgences as a individual by the and of the courts,sets the onwards standards of what xenophobic means.So Guido,instead of calling you just a garden variety moron,I call you the keeper of all that’s xenophobic, you will understand I seek your indulgence,because you are judging me.

  10. hi lorikeet hope you are well.
    just could not help myself
    if only i could say here what i have been told from some ppl i know who are there on christmas island . keep an eye on channel seven mabe they will find out some facts.
    TerjeP (say tay-a)
    thats a very interesting name
    may i ask where it comes .

  11. Red Crab:

    What’s going on at Christmas Island? If it’s not a national secret, surely you could tell us.

  12. LORIKEET – I don’t recall hearing about the UN being in Iraq or Afghanistan or Sri Lanka or Somalia? The UN doesn’t have the money to care for the millions of people displaced and seeking asylum around the world. Indonesia is also not a member of the Migration Program – they’re not obliged to care for those seeking asylum, in fact, as Andrew and others have pointed out, the authorities commit acts of violence etc against those people. Those who come by boat don’t have visas and probably can’t get one.Where is Immigration Dept.in Afghanistan/Iraq?

    Over 95% of asylum seekers arrive by air – that’s less than 5% come by boat – Malcolm Farr/Telegraph.
    There are 4 million Iraqi refugees – 2 million outside the country, 2 million homeless in the country. We helped cause that. We should be responsible for them, and the cholera, malnutrition, depleted uranium cancers, birth defects, unemployment, lack of sewerage, electricity, cluster bombs, bombed schools,universities and hospitals, and the 50% of kids suffering psychological damage. Afghanistan is the same or worse! We caused that too! If we invade other countries for no good reason than oil and gas, we should be responsible for the human misery we cause!

    Howard gave a grisly account of Saddam’s methods of torture, and then demonised those brave & traumatized people who managed to escape. How despicable?

    Many people who’ve overstayed their visas are not from the Middle East; they’re from the UK or Europe or China etc.For decades we allowed/participated in the destruction and interference in the Middle East.Now?

    REDCRAB – Many people who ‘made’ this country started out as refugees or immigrants; the Snowy River Scheme for instance; 40% of people in NSW were born overseas, in Australia overall, it’s about 25%. The only ‘real’ Aussie is an aboriginal person, so it’s a nonsense to use that line – ‘them’ spoiling? our way of life. They MADE our way of life, and their descendants are still doing it! Mine too!

  13. lorikeet
    i would love to tell what iv been told by the ppl i know who live there and from the times i have been there.
    but without absolute proof most of it is only hearsay.
    i can tell you this that not many ppl have actually been put in the centre most are given a house and money and left to just wander around the place.
    they are treated better than the ppl who live there.

    as far as the centre itself go,s through a chance encounter and coversation with someone from the govt who i dont know but clamed to be incharge of the progect. i suspect the u.s. has invested into the project for what i dont know .but one dose wonder.

    so don,t belive much of what you see on the t.v. or read in the news paper .

    i would love to talk to andrew face to face tried last xmas to contact him but no luck hope to be back in brissy in july will try again if he is interested.

  14. If you read the Piers Akerman blog you see the racism that flies there and the rampant politics of fear. Its just unbelievable.

  15. REDCRAB – Many people who ‘made’ this country started out as refugees or immigrants; the Snowy River Scheme for instance; 40% of people in NSW were born overseas, in Australia overall, it’s about 25%. The only ‘real’ Aussie is an aboriginal person, so it’s a nonsense to use that line – ‘them’ spoiling? our way of life. They MADE our way of life, and their descendants are still doing it! Mine too!
    Naomi Cartledge
    please show me where iv sead that any aboriginal or anyone is excludid from being called australian .
    then if you could please show me where iv sead
    them’ spoiling? our way of life.

  16. I am Australian.My parents are Australian deceased, the Grandparents were Australian deceased.I have the same problem as Aboriginal Australians,apart from having to learn English to know one way of defining who we are as individuals,the problem remains, our Constitution based on a small number of people who voted for it,has an taxpayer support media radio station called the ABC that allows someone like Mundine define every reality of what racism is, including how well mortgaged people are in terms of intellectual stamina!My father was around before the Snowy Mountain scheme,working as a lowly paid rail fettler in Victoria. There is plenty of contempt for other human beings doing work in of and around the time of the Snowy development if the Snowy was somehow a unique national building exercise.Why this bastardry to others in of and around the same time!?The fact remains, because of the problems of the Snowy Mountain Scheme to this day,it is an unfinished engineering work,and that is why it has become an refugee Icon, so the bastardry to others continues,anew, and freshly.

  17. Well, how do we know that aboriginal people did not come here from somewhere else as well?

    I think “a real Australian” is largely anyone who is born here and is taught the Australian way of life.

  18. REDCRAB – If I misunderstood you I’m sorry. I believed that you were inferring, that asylum seekers come here and take what ‘we’ve worked for’?I made the obvious comment, that unless you’re an aboriginal you’re a ‘boat person’ or ‘plane person’ from somewhere, and these people have and still are working hard for all of us. I’m sure, that those who are eventually recognised as needing asylum will do so too – as many before them in recent times have! That’s all!

    The Coalition is desperately looking for some divisive item to whack the Rudd govt with. They thought they’d try Howard’s game again, but it backfired, I hope! Turnbull lied on some points, and conveniently forgot others. Those who’ve followed this Human Rights issue for years, know that he’s behaved in an appalling manner, as has Hockey, Bishop and others. Judy Moylan(Lib.) and Bruce Baird (ret.Lib.) came out against Turnbull and Sharmon Stone – as they did against Howard, along with Petro Georgio, also a Lib. Good for them!

    As I’ve mentioned before, 95% of asylum seekers come by plane. As they land on Australian soil, they’re allowed legal representation and every access to appeal – those who landed on Ashmore Reef or some other excised island don’t have the same rights. All asylum seekers undergo stringest health tests as a first priority I understand, so Rumours of bringing ’super bugs’ are hysterical. You can pick them up in any hospital – I did in 1998! Golden Staph! Took me a yr to fully recover!

    The detention Centre at Xmas Island, and those in the States are funded by the Federal Government – not the States! They are ‘upholding’ federal government laws and so pick up the tab!

    Daniel “If you read the Piers Akerman blog you see the racism that flies there and the rampant politics of fear. Its just unbelievable.” TRUE!
    He and Andrew Bolt never allow the truth to colour a racist slur – probably never will. I avoid them these days-too depressing!

  19. Lorikeet a real dinkum,isn’t she!? So if aboriginals and other settlers and refugees were botanic species,what would one call the wildflower Lorikeet living the Australian life!? European Galahis crysanthemum reluctance!? In the bad old days of English tribal ways,that had the beginnings of Family Crests,where having a Knight in Armor was considered a matter of great esteem…on a later visit than both Portugese and Chinese.Capt. the Philips,and hoodwinker Capt. the Cook found Botany Bay the coastline, and Sydney Harbour and sagged in their clothing refinery,and made sure for the sake of history,well spoken friendly in intent, words, sprang from the Capt.Later found out to be a quite abusive killing machine of other Island natives. So it may have been that within the folklore of the natives,they had seen even more ancient shipping than their walk as family tribes across Gondwanaland.There is even a Church in Sydney who has a dinosaur on its website in a engraving,thus the poor misunderstood races from a twilight zone,may have a multitude of dealing with strangers.Pyramids, strange rocks, strange writings…and some strange attitudes in Academia denying, whilst bones,not found in a closet are returned to Australia.You are out of line Lorikeet.

  20. Naomi Cartledge:

    Naomi Says: As I’ve mentioned before, 95% of asylum seekers come by plane. As they land on Australian soil, they’re allowed legal representation and every access to appeal – those who landed on Ashmore Reef or some other excised island don’t have the same rights

    That may be partly true but of those coming in by air, only half gain refugee status.

    The modern boat arrival is quite wealthy, (Costs are now are in the vicinity of $12000US to $20,000 US)
    It was reported last night on Q&A that over 7000 are waiting to come to Australia and although being a very emotional subject it needs to be discussed without the defeatist crys of ” Naomi says; Daniel “If you read the Piers Akerman blog you see the racism that flies there and the rampant politics of fear. Its just unbelievable.” TRUE

    Calling a debate racists, makes the accuser look foolish and only shows that one side is all but calling for a total open door policy

    The recent arrival of a quite wealthy family on xmas island wearing designer clothes no doubt will fuel the argument.

    But it is a serious one and we need to make sure we get it right

    Tony

  21. Phil:

    I think you have misunderstood my meaning. Aborigines may have originally come here on boats as well.

    I was not excluding them from “the Australian way of life”.

    I have never described people of any race, religion, culture or gender as flora (or, for that matter, fauna).

  22. Tony, please give examples of the people “all but saying they want an open door policy”. Who? Where? When? About whom? Dark mtterings add nothign to the discussion.

    At the moment, we do, for practical purposes, have an open door policy, in that, legally, you may claim asylum if you can establish a well founded fear of persecution where you come from .. regardless of what you are wearing, which I consider to be one of the most stupid red herrings yet in this last outburst of xenophobia. What possible difference do clothes make? If people turned up in rags and tatters would they be automatically classed as ‘deserving’? Geez.

    BTW, where do you think many ‘designer clothes’ are manufactured, and rip-offs sold very cheaply?

  23. Naomi Cartledge .thank you.
    i dont mind sharing what we have as australians at all.

    as far as the centre itself go,s through a chance encounter and coversation with someone from the govt who i dont know but clamed to be incharge of the progect. i suspect the u.s. has invested into the project for what i dont know .but one dose wonder.

    ok its aparent you dont read between the lines
    the person that ( I ) spoke to was an american he claimed to be incharge of the finance for the centre
    then when the centre was finished why did representitives from the american military come all the way on a u.s. plan to inspect the centre.
    i have no dout that there is some sort of interest in it buy the americans
    the centres security is way beyond anything that is required to hold some poor refugees.

    phil and lorikeet
    i think you are both missing the point it dos not mater where you are from or how long you have been here or what you look like to be an australian is a state of mind .

  24. Thanks,Lorikeet,but,perhaps you have missed the meaning of my cynical remark. I have just visited Journal Online ‘TM’, where a report of both Israeli activity as jets and manning them with Israelis is presented,and Israelis recruiting Tamils as weapon buyers and users is reported.Even though diplomatically since 1970 there was no relationship between the two countries. I could spill out now into a tirade against Israelis and their activist friends as government in Australia,but it is Andrew’s Blog,although he could also see Israel a dangerous country operating in countries that are deadly to civilians and encouraging it. I find this hiding behind being victims, by Israeli friends, in Australia…. totally unacceptable,and Australian diaspora Jews must be serious in condemning Israeli actions,on our door step.Why wouldn’t anyone not consider this a trial run even into Australia itself, via Pine Gap for example.

  25. TONY – “designer clothes”? Who told you that?What sort of clothes? Perhaps they were given to them – a second hand store?Sure you’re not fueling your argument with some baiting? I believe Piers Ackerman is a racist?I believe that many of his comments are meant to demean those coming by boat as opposed to others – who may arrive by plane – the majority in fact. Tony, if we don’t want asylum seekers to come here, we shouldn’t invade their countries, kill innocent civilians, destroy the country, cause malnutrition, cholera, unemployment, cancers and birth deformities from Depleted Uranium and cause at least 65% unemployment, and bring about psychological trauma to the children. In “A Last Resort” it was found, that between 92-98% of kids were in need of refuge – that would mean their parents as well. We either keep our international commitments, or we act honestly and refuse, and say why? The fact is, that the media uses language such as “illegals” which is a lie. It is not illegal to seek asylum, and our commitment does not discriminate re the mode of travel – that has been whipped up for racist and political agendas! Andrew has already corrected many of your previous statements on this site and others. I’ll trust his opinion, and past and present commitment to justice and decency over yours any day!

    LORIKEET – “Well, how do we know that aboriginal people did not come here from somewhere else as well?” Go to First Australians web site, watch the 5 or 6 episodes on the history of aboriginal people. At best, Aboriginal people have been here for 60,000 years – perhaps more in some areas. That’s a hell of a long time before white invasion day! There are many people who were not born here, but who class themselves as Australians, and contribute to this country in many areas. I know and respect many of them.

  26. Naomi:

    I don’t really care how long ANYONE has been here, as long as they respect Australian laws, and are equally subject to their enforcement.

    I think Tony knows quite a bit more about asylum seekers than most people. I’m sure he is acquainted with people from very reliable sources.

    You might also remember he told us he is ex-navy, and therefore would have more idea than us how our naval personnel might behave.

    With all due respect, Australia and her allies are not responsible for all of the woes of the world.

    If we had soldiers in Zimbabwe, would you want to blame Australians for the attitudes and actions of Robert Mugabe? How about Saddam Hussein?

    Are Australians responsible for hundreds of years of warfare between religious groups? Muslim against Muslim, or Muslim against Jew?

    Red Crab:

    I still think the Christmas Island facility has been built for some other reason besides housing asylum seekers.

    There is also a super-jail being built outside Gatton (rural Queensland) that can house 3000 prisoners, despite outcries from qualified people.

    I heard another jail is planned for somewhere outside Cairns. I’m told it will hold 400 female prisoners.

    These all might be ideal places to incarcerate political enemies, national security officials or current politicians (remember 2006 sedition laws & other sneaky amendments to constitution).

    Phil:

    I guess anything is possible, but I am expecting Chinese communists may come and take over. They have bought into 3 of our mining industries now. They may even move in without a fight.

    If communists take over, no one here (on either side of the argument) will mind accommodating a couple of hundred boat people.

    On last night’s news, it was said that the government will further relax tariffs on imported clothing next year, thereby building Asian economies while kicking both our economy and our workers in the guts.

    Is that something that politicians with a local/patriotic (rather than global) agenda would do?

  27. Lorikeet, Australia was a super jail, re terra nullis and the convicts. Prisons do play a role in society and as our population rises, it stands to reason that so will the number of people in prison.
    It is also a sad fact that as more and more people in asia become displaced as a result of golbal warming and conflicts arising ultimately from this cause that more boats will come. We need a humanitarian approach and a no boats goal is certainly not that.

    Chinese communists – Just remember, the ox is slow but the earth is patient.

  28. The Grey Ghost

    The Grey Ghost says: Prisons do play a role in society and as our population rises, it stands to reason that so will the number of people in prison.

    That maybe true but the number of female beds in the new prisons.
    (Gatton and the expanded Stewarts Creek Nth Qld) simply do not add up.

    What do you think would happen that would cause an increase in female prisoners of this magnitude. Young women are committing more crimes and their crime rate is increasing at a rate of over 20% but that is coming of a small base(and are mostly non capital offences) the number of women being housed for capital offences would have to increase astronomically to house even a fraction of the new beds proposed.

    Yes I think Lorikeet has every right to be concerned. Dont you ?

    Tony

  29. Andrew, would it be possible to quarantine comments on communist/vegetarian/asian/climate change conspiracy theories to a separate thread so that the rest of us aren’t continually trudging through this drivel?

  30. Feral:

    I’m certainly glad you have seen the connection between communism/veganism (you got that part a bit wrong)/Asian (economics/trade)/climate change.

    Now give it a bit more thought please. Where could this be leading?

  31. Sigh…..

    I know what you mean Feral. Even I don’t want to read my own blog sometimes.

    I really like the potential and opportunities of comment threads, but some of the time I don’t even want to put up new posts as alomst every one seems to draw the same series of comments.

    I’ve only ever blocked one person entirely who just engaged in perpetual pre-meditated trolling (still does actually but it all goes straight down the plughole now so I don’t even have to bother pressing delete).

    I’m not very keen on putting a blanket ban on anyone else unless they get to the same extreme stage. But moderating and potentially editing every single comment so it’s rigidly on topic is time-consuming, inevitably subjective and tends towards being overly constraining on conversation flows. And my annoying feeling that I should be even-handed means I can’t just do it to the comments that irritate me.

    Anyway, feedback has been absorbed – you’re far from the first one to say so, although most just send me direct emails.

    I will give it some more thought.

  32. Unfortunately Andrew there would be almost no more blog – you are indeed perched on the horsn of a dilemma.

    Perhasp you could try to blog on less controevrsial topics, almost become a blogging twitterer, if you like

    how to cook pumpkin scones?
    My favourtie conversations with the lady on the bus?
    tips fopr saving money at the Supermarket – I know feral has a great inteerst in this one
    the ecological footprint of squirrels?

    There is no end of matters that we coudl recevei mensarian instruction on

  33. Well, long comment threads aren’t essential to a good blog Ken – although in my view a blog isn’t really a blog unless there’s some scope for comments to be left, even if through a tightly moderated filter.

    I already twitter about my blogs (http://twitter.com/AndrewBartlett if anyone wants to follow me), but I doubt even short blog posts would address the problem (although the posts about local music don’t seem to suffer from it).

    Perhaps if the first few comments came from (occasionally) erudite folks such as yourself, it might set a different tone.

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