Other learnings from Queensland

Moving the focus away from the Senate result, there are a few other interesting features in the House of Reps results in Queensland (and to some extent elsewhere).

The Coalition lost a swag of seats in Queensland (between 9 and 12 – my guess is this will end up at 11), but Queensland is still their second strongest state, after WA, with approx 49% two party preferred. Indeed, on primary vote, there were still more people in Queensland who voted for the Coalition than Labor (44.25% to 43.40% on current figures).

I was wrong in my assumption (shared by at least some others) that people like Mal Brough in the outer-urban mortgage belt seat of Longman would do better at resisting the swing than people like Michael Johnson in the traditional wealthy ‘leafy green’ Liberal heartland of Ryan.  The swing against Brough of 10.3% was almost the worst against a sitting Liberal member in the entire state, just behind the 10.7% for Cameron Thompson in Blair. There were bigger swings against the Libs in Leichhardt and Forde, but the sitting member was retiring in both of these. The Nationals’ Deanne Kelly also suffered a bigger swing of 13.4% in Dawson. 

By contrast, Michael Johnson only had a 6.4% swing in Ryan and Ross Vasta in Bonner had even less at 5.3% – the lowest swing against an incumbent Liberal in Queensland, which is quite a respectable effort for a lower profile MP competing against a very well known local Labor candidate, although not enough to save his very marginal seat.  Other outer-urban mortgage belt seats like Dickson (Peter Dutton, who I suspect might just hang on) and Petrie (formerly held by Parliamentary Secretary Therese Gambaro) also copped swings of 8.7% and 9.8% respectively, while Bowman held by Andrew Laming (who is in an incredibly tight contest, but I think might just lose out) had a swing of 8.9%. Bowman is also outer-urban, but is a bit different in character and the contest may also have been affected by the controversy Andrew Laming faced with an ongoing police investigation into printing entitlements.

The swing to Labor in their own inner-urban seats was also comparatively low. Only 4.1% in Kevin Rudd’s own seat of Griffith, 3.2% for Wayne Swan’s seat of Lilley and just 3.0% for Arch Bevis in Brisbane, which is the most inner-city seat of all. By contrasts, Labor’s outer-urban seat of Rankin, based on Logan City and held by Craig Emerson, gained a swing of 9.2%.

The 3 Gold Coast based seats of McPherson, Moncrieff and Fadden all had relatively low swings of just over 5%, and remain fairly safe for the Liberals.

In regards to south-east Queensland, the bigger swings in the outer-urban mortgage belt seats reinforces the view that Workchoices, interest rates and probably the punitive attacks on sole parents (under the misleading label of Welfare to Work) all had a big impact – more so than the Coalition’s continual attacks on human rights and appeals to racism.

However, in this context, it is worth noting some results in another state. The two Liberal seats in Victoria which had virtually no swings to the government where those held by the two most prominent internal opponents of the Coalition’s draconian assaults on refugees – Russell Broadbent in McMillan and Petro Georgiou in Kooyong.  Sadly, there weren’t any Liberal MPs in Queensland who took a similar public stand on conscience, so there no local comparison I can make using this criterion.

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52 Comments

  1. So much for the big impact of the council story though when you consider the outer seats that fell. As for the inner seats, didn’t matter about the swing toward them as their hold was so strong anyway.

    The best thing is that the Howard era was swept away in 2 hours in the end.

    Andrew, I am so sorry you lost your senate seat, this is a tragedy. One small light is that the excellent Jacinta Collins have been re-elected after that disastrous mess with Fielding and I think we can safely say he will be a one term wonder.

    Whereas you could come back if young Laura Chipp has anything to do with things. What a bright young woman she is.

  2. Yes, it looks as if we are stuck with Peter Dutton again, instead of the Labor school teacher.

    I think the size of the swing to Labor across the electorates had more to do with the number of affluent “Snobville” areas per electorate, and how strong the Labor voter base was already.

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that a Logan City electorate would have a huge swing to Labor.

    When I lived there, “bread and butter” wage earners and social security recipients abounded. A huge kick in the guts for the Liberals is excellent social justice coming from them.

    I went to school with Arch Bevis. I think he is fairly well respected. Despite the smaller swing, he still received the lion’s share of the votes.

    People who live in my street received help from him on a State matter (they’re not in his electorate – local, state or federal) when our sitting State member wouldn’t help them.

    I think Rudd, Swan and Bevis only had small swings due to the fact they had a very strong voter base already.

    The 2 liberal seats in Victoria with almost no swing to the government probably comprise a lot of very wealthy people.

    I think it is correct to say that Workchoices, Welfare to Work and interest rate increases coming on top of spiralling housing costs led to the demise of the Howardship.

    We need to think a bit more about discretionary powers that are NOT USED by Centrelink and the Child Support Agency – instead, just put there for decoration to make it look fair when it isn’t.

    According to my son who has just finished a unit of Year 10 Legal Studies, the chances of winning an appeal at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) or Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) is only about 20%.

    And let’s not forget the married women who cannot get any Parenting Payment if they don’t go out to work. That’s 2 votes to Labor from my sister and her husband.

    It seems as though Mal Brough might have received a not too unexpected hiding from the mortgage belt.

  3. Your point coupling the swings in Russell Broadbent’s and Petro Georgiou’s electorates to their positions on the asylum seeker issue requires clarification.

    In previous elections the Australian electorate has strongly and clearly indicated that it does not favor a humanitarian refugee program based on secondary movements of asylum seekers and people smuggling. Perhaps the electorate has indicated that it wants as a priority refugee places to go to those most in need, not those having many thousands of dollars to travel around the world seeking their preferred destinations for asylum.

    Perhaps the decline of the Democrats can be partially explained by their very outspoken and very vocal stance on secondary movement asylum seekers (and thus implicit tolerance of the criminal activity of people smuggling), as shown by the Democrat’s loss of senate seats in the previous federal election under the very outspoken Senator Bartlett’s leadership. This was also shown in the 1995 South Australian state election by the electorate’s rejection of the Democrat’s Kate Reynolds who was quite vocal in her support of secondary movement asylum seekers. And to complete the sweep, in this election the Democrats have lost their remaining senate seats, including Senators Andrew Bartlett and Lyn Alison who have also been extremely outspoken on the asylum seeker issue.

    Note: secondary mover asylum seekers are defined to be 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 an affluent Western country. Almost all secondary movers arrive without identity papers / 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 / origin a very time consuming, difficult and costly task.

  4. The treatment of asylum seekers only became the prominent issue it did because the Howard government wanted it that way. Plenty of people are unaware that Labor introduced mandatory detention because they didn’t make a big deal of it at the time.

    It doesn’t directly impact on the lives of anyone but the asylum seekers themselves, yet Howard convinced a lot of people that their neighbourhoods were about to be overrun by foreigners still wringing the seawater from their clothes and probably planning terrorist attacks.

    The best thing that can be done now is to make the processing more humane, but treat it as routine. This is pretty much what happened when a boat arrived during the election campaign but Howard decided not to make a fuss over it.

  5. I think the lack of a large swing in the inner seats was more about the traditional Liberal voters retrungin or deserting less. I think the refuggee positon of the two Vic MP’s was more a coincidental corrleation than anything else.

    The outer metro swing, most really only have a coaliton hisorty of ten years or so, eqully enormous in Macarther down here, was based on the old truism from Jack Lang and onward – hip pocket nerve.

  6. Possibly it is coincidental Ken, although while Kooyong is an inner seat, McMillan certainly isn’t – it’s not even metropolitan. And Kooyong’s non-swing contrasts with (admittedly still small) swing away from Peter Costello in the neighbouring seat of Higgins. I’m not trying to make too big a deal of it, but its interesting none the less that these are the only two Victorian Libs who have a swing towards them and they do have very differing demographics between their two seats.

    Franklin, if your thesis was to have any credibility, then there would also be a corresponding drop in support for the Greens, who most people perceive to have been just as strong in their support of asylum seekers – (I happen to think the Democrats were a bit better at it, but (a) I’m biased and (b) I don’t think most of the electorate perceived that – probably the contrary actually). Also it would have meant the drop in Democrat support would have occured in 2001, when the issue was white hot, not 3 and 6 years later. The Democrat vote went up (albeit slightly) in 2001, and I got re-elected then, depsite being “extremely outspoken on the asylum seeker issue” (as you put it).

    In any case your ‘definition’ of so-called ‘secondary mover asylum seekers’ is both highly perjorative and grossly misleading (not unlike the government’s portrayal of them, although you’ve mostly couched it in less crude language), so in as much as the electorate does reject asylum seekers, it does so on the basis of totally dishonest portrayals of the facts by the government (and by people such as yourself).

    There would not be a single person in Australia, myself included who supports “a humanitarian refugee program based on secondary movements of asylum seekers and people smuggling.” That is not the reality and has never been the reality, so just cut the crap.

    There are a few reasons why the Democrats lost their core support, but that certainly isn’t one of them, especially this election.

  7. Thank you Andrew for putting the facts about the snow job Howard did about asylum seekers so clearly and moderately. I’m really tired of people who try to paint the very complex issue of world-wide population movements based on various causes as some easy, simply-solved black-and-white issue.

    Yes, Lyn ” The best thing that can be done now is to make the processing more humane,” – we need to sort out our use of Australia’s natural resources before we can strain the climate with more people, but if we can take only few of those who arrive, let’s at least get the processing of their claims done in a straightforwardly honest, humane, timely way.

  8. They are all secondary movers you imbeciles. Those we bring here have been in third or fourth countries for years and they were all smuggled out of their original countries.

    So cut the bloody crap.

  9. I presume by “make processing more humane” you mean by bringing them to the Australian mainland and not locking them up.

  10. The refugee debate still raging on at a former Senators blog! Just visited DavidIcke.com and a story about Polish English pregnancies and burgeoning attempts to stay in dear olde England.No doubt they have European Union passbooks…and with a still potential world wide Depression they may have to hitch hike through the English France road tunnel back to Poland. I have put in another long week of hoeing thistles and prickles to pay the rent.Thankfully I can claim I am homeless.There are many types of losers today as the old history shapeshifters continue to play around with the Earth,and Andrew and myself are in their sites as much as anyone that visits here.The Senator lost an election, what he stood for is still being mercilessly bulldozed down ,in so many ways, that they will not see where they are driving soon.Hug your kids today if you are a parent.

  11. Thank you Coral. I get so tired of the tripe. If they had done something even remotely wrong the UN would be up in arms and they would not be granted refugee status.

  12. Muzz:

    It wouldn’t make any sense to bring refugees to the mainland and not lock them up. Only imbeciles would do that.

    Andrew:

    “There would not be a single person in Australia ….”

    None of us can speak for every citizen on this or any other matter – or for refugees en masse. They aren’t all of the same mindset either.

  13. Muzzmonster, well in fact I think the Convention could do with a bit of reform, but to answer your question, yes, the unfortunate souls now incarcerated on Nauru and Christmas Island ought to be on the minaland, where (if we set up a decent process) they could gain proper access to their legal rights and their status could be determined quickly and under humane conditions.

    I have not forgotten the mis-treatment of children and the effect on their mental health of incarceration for years of adults as well as children. All this was paid for by you and me, and I have also not forgotten who started locking them up (Labor).

  14. Bob Menzies, and Coral why the hell would you want to lock up refugees? They have fled persecution and torture so what is the point of creating more havoc?

    WE are the only nation who locks them up in endless detention without a proper hearing.

  15. I agree that endless detention without a proper hearing is wrong.

    But I think locking up refugees in the interests of national security is essential until they are cleared or rejected.

  16. Coral, there are 2 million Iraqi refugees in Syria and they are not locked up.

    We are the only ones who lock up refugees and we have the most miniscule amount of them on the earth.

    Jesus, the stupid debate has been raging for 6 years and you still come up with drivel.

  17. I’d like to see anyone try to lock up 2 million people. That’s not a “group” of refugees – sounds more like an “invasion”.

    I still think it gets back to the United Nations not doing its job, and the superpowers financing civil war for their own gain – in the form of fossil fuels and mineral wealth.

    The Iraqi refugees should be sent directly to a new home – The White House – with George Bush as their patron.

  18. Coral, the UN does not protect refugees, nations protect refugees. And we helped to make the 2 million Iraqi refugees currently in Iraq.

    Will you get this through your head – there is no such thing as limits on the numbers of refugees and never has been.

    We just made it all up.

  19. I’ll agree with you Coral, that there shouldn’t be such things as refugees in the world. We shouldn’t have wars that people run away from. Unfortunately we do, and it’s not all George Bush’s fault (though he hasn’t exactly helped things easier).

    We are a rich and privileged nation (though not everyone living here is or feels well off) and as such I believe we (along with other well-off countries) have an obligation to help those who are in need of assistance.

    Sadly the UN can only do as much as member nations and their contributions allow.

  20. First, Andrews reply to Ken is right- if it was just refugees, or just aborigines, or just welfare to work or several other issues of a similar nature it would not have mattered so much. But taken together the issues reveal a shared characteristic: a ubiquitous trait of insensitivity that had voters,in the end, worried.
    Now, to my kind friends Marilyn and Coral.
    I observe Marilyn to be crowing again. She is often right and the only thing she does more often than be right is crow about it, which makes her bordering a pain in the ass, something which I understand, pleases her no end.
    Marilyn, is Coral so wide of the mark if she understands that newcomers, particularly agitated and angry ones from traumatic locations like war zones, might for safety reasons need to be identified or checked over at least at a basic level, before hitting the streets? Not nice, but given our world an unfortunate necessity in a handful of cases?
    Very few people would approve of the maltreatment of traumatised refugees over uneccessarily long periods, particularly now that the truth is out concerning the previous governments abuses of the powers they legislated for themselves.
    But a short stay for a small minority who can’t explain themselves is not totally unrealistic, is it?

  21. That’s insulting, Marilyn.

    I am well aware of the involvement of our government and defence personnel in Iraq.

    The UN could do more to sort out the problems in various countries, so that people would not have a need to flee from persecution or warfare – ergo, few or no refugees.

    Yes, that’s right, Muzz. I agree with you entirely.

    But I don’t agree with letting refugees loose on society without thorough checking.

  22. I don’t think anyone is arguing that anyone be let “loose on society without thorough checking”. All refugees are thoroughly checked for security purposes and not a single one has had a visa refused on security grounds.

    The issue is not that they are detained for a “short stay” (as Paul puts it). It is that they are locked up indefinitely – often for years – regardless of any security or health risk. When we talk about not letting people “loose”, we are talking about “locking them up” instead. It is a very serious thing to jail somebody or take away their freedom. We should not do without due process or without good cause.

    Being a security or health risk is a good cause, but currently there is no requirement to establish that. Even with Dr Haneef, there was actually no argument put by the government that he would compromise public safety – indeed the contrary was acknowledged.

    Continually locking people up who have committed no crime even when it has been conclusively demonstrated they are not a risk to public security or safety is an abomination and a perversion of the rule of law. The fact that it “won’t happen to you” is no excuse to allow to continue.

  23. Mercifully, what I hoped would happen has happened- the offering by Andrew of an experts opinion.
    A ( small ) cavil, Andrew. Am presuming the regime practiced over the previous decade or so has come to an end and a depoliticised approach is applied in place of the previous Ruddock/Vanstone/Andrews “sky is falling in” stuff. Hence, “continually locking people up” is actually “were continually locked up”.
    We have the blessing of new times and attendant twenty-twenty hindsight. The nonsenses of Howard and Bush plied through big media on a gullible public for venal or political ends, relying on plausible deniability, have largely demonstrated to be outrageous furphies , as with the fantasy of Iran’s weapons, revealed yesterday to the undying embarrassment of Bush. But not before those almost McCarthyite years ruined the political careers of Colin-Powell, John Kerry and Al Gore, and Beazley, Crean, Carmen Lawrence and Mark Latham locally.
    I can’t beleive that, with the significant sacking of Andrews today, with more to come next year as DIMA is finally investigated properly, we will return again to the hysterical times of five years ago.
    Finally, I think Muzzes comments were interesting. Horrible things have happened elsewhere on a vast scale because of the selfishness of people beyond our control. I pray for the end of Bush, or for that matter Osama, as I did for Nixon and Kissinger a generation ago. I hope adventurism on the ruinous scale applied over the the last eight years comes to an end and trillions of dollars are finally applied instead to sorting the world’s problems instead of aggravating them.
    I hope our beautiful country is never forced to be complicit with rubbish like SEIVE X again.

  24. Andrew:

    “The fact that it “won’t happen to you” is no excuse to allow it to continue.”

    More insults. No one here is condoning refugees being locked up for years.

    Paul Walter:

    Thank you for a realistic view of the situation. A short period of detention would also allow psychological help for traumatised people and, where necessary, language and cultural lessons.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I have a relative and a friend who work in highly secure jobs with the Department of Defence in different parts of the country. They are in a position to know what precautions are necessary, although they cannot discuss any details with us.

    I think it remains to be seen what Kevin Rudd is going to do about a vast plethora of issues. Unfortunately, I don’t think he can do very much about problems which occur across the globe, without the participation of other countries.

    The humanitarian needs of others are very far from the minds of most people, as is any kind of voluntary work.

    The stall holder of the charity I work for told me that “no one wants to do anything for nothing”. All of her helpers are elderly, disabled in some way, or both.

    Because I have a 17 year gap between my second and third sons, I really noticed a huge change in people’s attitudes when the youngest started Preschool.

    Even non-working mothers (of whom there were many) did not come along to participate with the children or give any assistance.

    The few who did turn up worked only with their own children, and didn’t put their names on the roster as the teacher requested.

    In my family, my older sister does 2 days a week of voluntary work for the Red Cross, I do the equivalent of 2 1/2 days of charity work, another sister does at least 1 day a week in aid of a Women’s Shelter in Perth, and my (childless) brother sponsors his local school’s envelope system.

    My remaining sister has the standard attitude of most people – look after No. 1 and those within your own 4 walls.

  25. I agree with Andrew B. and Muzzmonster that refugees ought not to be locked up, in Nauru or the Oz mainland, while their asylum claims are processed. As Julian Burnside QC has said, 95% of people do NOT abscond. Why not put refugees on ‘bail’, in Oz? It must also be added that other countries such as Canada look on Australians’ locking up refugees as evidence of the ‘convict stain’; that people arriving on our shores MUST be crims, so we better lock ’em up. Finally, didn’t Hitler lock up Jews and others in detention centres/concentration camps, before he started gassing them? If so, the Australian Government is on very dangerous ground, when it locks up people who have not been proved to have committed a crime.

  26. Detention is never required and is forbidden by the convention and human rights instruments. We used to use open hostels for god’s sake and the sky didn’t fall in.

    Who really cares if we know precisely who they are anyway? The kids and women shouldn’t have been locked up as they were all brought and taking a person’s word is no big deal when papers are not available.

    I hate the word detention more than the stupid word “queue” for refugees.

    The dumb thing is that even when we locked these kids up one boy was locked up for months with undetected leprosy at the age of 12, having infected at least one other kid.

    Health checks don’t happen, security checks are non-existent anyway and the whole thing is a $3 billion hoax.

    I hope the department now starts leaking all those documents we want.

  27. Tom Spencer:

    According to your stated source, 5% of refugees do abscond. The government of ANY country ought to have the right to segregate refugees until they are cleared or rejected (without abscondence occurring).

    Who is most likely to abscond? Those with something to hide, those with hidden agendas, and those with psychological problems that need addressing.

    This could put the Australian society on dangerous ground, which is much more important than a short period of segregation.

    Adolph Hitler locked up Jews and gassed them purely for financial reasons, which was not his stated agenda. There is very little comparison between that situation and the one we are discussing here.

  28. Coral stop whining. Who the hell cares if 5% of asylum seekers abscond? They are not going anywhere or committing any crime for god’s sake.

    Why the hell punish 100% to stop the vague possibility of 5% going astray.

    The whole debate is a ludicrous nonsense.

  29. Marilyn:

    I think any whining is coming from you.

    Who cares if 5% of asylum seekers abscond? I do – just as lots of other people would.

    What I find ludicrous is your contention that they aren’t going anywhere or committing any crime.

    Does that mean you’re prepared to personally vouch for all of them?

  30. What about those people that overstay their visas? Do they have something to hide?

    They’re mostly poms by the way.

  31. Coral, 60,000 people go missing every year and nothing is done about it. Will you stop whining? When the amount of asylum seekers in Australia every year is less than 1,000 people and 5% of them might go missing who cares?

  32. Going back some way, I notice that Coral said to Marilyn: “What I find ludicrous is your contention that they aren’t going anywhere or committing any crime.”

    I think we’d fairly quickly know if absconding refugees were comitting crimes- think of the headlines! In other words. Coral, absence of crimes being reported is somewhat more convincing than your unnamed relative who mutters darkly over the port and Xmas cake about mysterious hordes poised to swoop down from the North. I had great-uncles like that too.

    The time, money and effort spent on locking people up would be better used in efforts to launch them into our society after health checks and speedy assessment of thier likely danger. After all, Coral, you may not know this, but many thousands walk off planes every day and overstay their visas – we know less about them than we do about the unfortunate boat people. If I were a terrorist or psychopath I know how I’d arrive if I hoped ot blend in and create havoc.

  33. Battery:

    That’s exactly what I’m advocating – health checks and speedy assessment.

    In future, please don’t bother to insult my relative (who works in a secure, sensitive government job) with your ill-informed clandestine nonsense.

    I am quite well aware of the situation involving people walking off planes and overstaying their visas – but that’s a separate issue which needs addressing.

  34. Oh Coral, many of us have relatives in well-paid jobs, who have passed police/security checks and who claim to be well-informed. Some of them undoubtedly are, and some are pompus pooh-bahs who harbour xenophobia left over from the 1940s. That’s how it is in my family, why not yours?

    And you are the one hinting at clandestine activities- I just said that one person’s opinion is just that – related to you or not.

    Can’t agree that visa overstayers who arrived by plane are a different issue- what easier way to smuggle a potential terrorist in?

  35. Battery:

    Very few people have the kind of job I have described. Does everyone’s relatives and friends work in buildings with tall spikes all around them, with armed guards on the gates?

    Are they charged with the duty of keeping potential enemies out of our security systems?

    Is it their job to design secret equipment that will detect and destroy enemy weapons and spybots? I don’t think so.

    If you have xenophobic pompous poobahs in your family or circle of friends, please do not project it onto others.

    It isn’t me making ridiculous comments about “port and Christmas cake”.

  36. The plight of asylum seekers in this country has been nothing short of a bloody disgrace. The fact that at any time there can be ‘unlawful residents’ that’s people who have overstayed their visa for a myriad of reasons doesn’t appear to be known by many – the fact that these people are usually from Britain or Europe is not acknowledge, and even when they are ‘discovered’, they are rarely locked up in detention centres. They usually arrived by plane not a leaking boat. They can usually remain where they are until a decision is made. Some seek asylum, some have stayed for love or other reasons.

    However, the people from Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and others are locked up sometimes for years, the longest almost 7 years, Peter Quasim? Between 92-98% of children from the above countries were found to be genuine asylum seekers. Australia has ratified both the UN Decl.on Human Rights, and the Rights of the Child. If we want credibility we should either not sign or abide by our ‘word’.(inform.on HREOC website -read A Last Resort? inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention)It begs belief, that even though Howard gave all the gory reasons why Saddam should go, we treated his traumatized victims in a criminal and dehumanized manner, bordering on criminally cruel.We have no right to plead decency and upholding democracy, if we lock up kids and others until they are driven medically mad.

    I agree with Marilyn, and share her anger and disgust. A good book to read is Dark Victory, which starts just prior to the Tampa disgrace. 9 Navy vessels and personnel were used by Howard’s racist re-election disgrace. The Navy personnel were told not to treat those tragic people with humanity – no being nice to kids and pregnant women or old people. Then of course there’s SIEV X – a national tragedy – a crime- more truth has yet to emerge! There’s a book called, A Certain Maritime Incident about this horror.
    Easier to kill the enemy once you demean them. Read Hitler!

  37. Battery:

    Here’s another thought. If absconding refugees committed crimes, who’s to say they would be caught?

    Absence of crimes being reported would not mean that none had been committed.

  38. Coral

    That’s just getting ridiculous.

    Most refugees end up in undeveloped countries, not developed countries.

    Australia doesn’t even make the top ten list of developed countries that receive signficant numbers of refugees.

    It’s a non-issue.

  39. In the 1995 South Australian state election the Democrat’s Kate Reynolds was rejected by the electorate. In the the 2004 federal election the Democrats lost three senate seats under Senator Bartlett’s leadership. In the 2007 federal election the Democrats lost their remaining senate seats, including Senators Andrew Bartlett and Lyn Alison. The similarity was that all were quite vocal in their support of secondary movement asylum seekers. And now it seems that another very strident and outspoken supporter of secondary movement asylum seekers, Senator Kerry Nettle, has also lost her senate seat. Coincidence or not ? I guess historians looking back in the fullness of time will attempt to answer that question. Time will tell.

    As to the definition of secondary asylum seekers being 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 an affluent Western country, with almost all secondary movers arriving without identity papers / 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 / origin a very time consuming, difficult and costly task. This definition was taken from an informative paper written by Adrienne Millbank, a respected academic from Monash University, entitled “DARK VICTORY OR CIRCUIT BREAKER: AUSTRALIA AND THE INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE SYSTEM POST TAMPA” detailing the disfunctionality of the international refugee system. I don’t consider it to be “both highly perjorative and grossly misleading”, in fact if you dissect it phrase by phrase it describes well what actually took place at that time. I guess it all depends on your perspective.

    http://elecpress.monash.edu.au/pnp/view/issue/?volume=11&issue=2

  40. Donna:

    If “refugees” are a non-issue, then why are we so often discussing it?

    All human beings are important. It doesn’t matter how many or how few.

  41. CORAL says:
    December 22nd, 2007 at 8:08 am
    Donna:

    If “refugees” are a non-issue, then why are we so often discussing it?

    Coral, are you serious? The reason why it’s being discussed, is because Howard politicized the horror, trauma and desperation of people seeking asylum, because his party’s internal polling told him and his minders, that, ‘scratch an Aussie, and you’ll find a racist underneath’.

    If the Howard government had a policy of treating people with decency and respect, the issue of asylum seekers would not even made it on the national landscape, let alone been a topic of discussion in the community. Don’t question those who contribute to the website as to why we’re discussing it, put the appalling blame where it belongs – the Howard government!

    Yes, it’s true, that it was a Labor government that introduced mandatory detention for asylum seekers,(shame on them too) but they didn’t go to the disgusting lengths that Howard and his band of willing ministers went. Read some actual stories of those who were/are the traumatized victims of Howard’s law/s!

    If people want an Australia that only talks about democracy and human rights; that signs and/or ratifies important values like the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child, but does the hideous opposite, then you should aim your criticism at the government, not those of us who still believe in human rights, the dignity of the human person, regardless of sex, country or creed. It’s easy to be strong during good times, the test is when the standards are being rebuffed! Howard’s ‘trick’ was to demean the people first if he could, make them out to be murderous swine, or opposite to our values and customs, and after all, they didn’t speak English as their first language did they? Always sufficient reason to be sceptical if not down right scared to bits. Hence the frig magnets. Given to every household to protect us from ‘them’ over there!

  42. The Howard government had the choice, to treat people with decency, or to use them, demean them, whip up hatred, touch the racism raw nerve, and then, he and his ministers caused such trauma and mental damage to people who were already traumatized. There’s articles and essays by psychologists and psychiatrists on the damage to all ages, but particularly children.

    Every prison system in this country prevents children being in prison with their mothers for more than 12 months (I think). The reason being, that these places are deemed not suitable for children. A little girl called Naomi, was born in Villawood and was not released with her mum until there was public outcry – she was about 3. She was already damaged, institutionalized and displaying disturbing behaviour of withdrawal etc. A shameful part of our history. If we wish to pride ourselves on our freedoms, democracy and a ‘fair go’then we must not repeat this behaviour ever again. It is not a crime to seek asylum, it is not a crime not to have identification papers-some are told by those who assisted them to destroy them, many don’t have any at all – do people think they could stroll down to Saddam or the equivalent and ask for a travel visa?

    Many asylum seekers found that they could not win. If they had papers they’d planned to leave for ‘economic reasons’ and if no papers were accused of not being genuine! Of course if you send them to that hell hole Nauru, and don’t allow them to ask for asylum or request legal assistance, you can bully them much better. It worked until people with a conscience and sense of decency and justice found out, and thankfully, informed the rest of us.
    An Australian judge said, “The more we seek to deter asylum seekers through harsh treatment, the more Australia comes to resemble the repressive nations from which they flee” Amen I say!

    State Labor governments should desist also! These detention centres are on state land-they should refuse to co-operate with this travesty!

  43. ‘All human beings are important. It doesn’t matter how many or how few.’

    Coral

    Your above comments are completely inconsistent with what you have said thus far on the topic of refugees.

    Naomi

    Thank God you’ve come along.

  44. Naomi:

    It was Donna who said it was a “non-issue”, not me. See post #43.

    Donna:

    If you had read what I’ve said with understanding, instead of being on the attack at every opportunity, you would know that I’m taking a centrist position.

    All persons of unknown quantity need to be segregated for at least a short period of time. That’s ordinary logic.

  45. Marylin,
    Many thanks for your understanding the whole refugee tragedy.
    What I would like to add is that in most cases it is western countries military interventions (read: undeclared wars) which generate refugees. It was the western policy to meddle with the Middle East in the First World War (to destroy Ottoman Empire to get to the oilfields); It was 1947 (British ‘quit India’ and leave the mess behind) in Punjab and Pakistan.
    Prior to 1975, the Vietnamese had never migrated before. The Balkans, the Sudanese,the Ethiopians. Saddam Hussein was still a great friend of Americans when his regime caused many people to flee. Not as many as nowadays, though. Nicaragua, Columbia, El Salvador and some former French colonies, etc. seem to be forgotten by western, very territorial, voters.
    Philip Travers
    Poles do not have to get pregnant in England. As a EU members, all Polish citizens are entitled to settle and work in England and elsewhere in EU countries.It is interesting that just recently, a lot of English have settled in Poland and are happy to work there.
    The problem is that the invaders and colonists have given themselves right to invade and settle everywhere they like treating the local victims as refugees, thus, demonised intruders. History shows that playing tribal hatred is the easiest way to brainwash illiterate electorates for political reasons.

    That’s why Howard was successful, at first and could even win the election as he had nothing else to offer exept for the ethnic cleansing of the electorate.

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