Responding to People! coming here!! in boats!!!

Having explored and debated the issue of asylum seekers arriving in boats for well over a decade, there are really only two solutions which I can see that are likely to work in the longer term – and they will inevitably be only partial solutions.

The first is to resolve the issues which cause people to flee in the first place. This is usually hard to do, because (a) the problems are occurring in other countries, and (b) the factors involved are usually intractable or deep-seated.  However, clearly part of the cause of recent asylum seeker flows has been the situation in Sri Lanka. It certainly wouldn’t hurt for the Australian government to put some more direct pressure on the Sri Lankan government to cease the current interment in terrible conditions of over a quarter of a million Tamil civilians.

The second approach is to try to ensure that people fleeing persecution have some sort of realistic prospect that they will be able to resettle somewhere safely within a bearable period of time.  People will wait a long time if they think there is hope at the end of it all.  But if people see no realistic prospect of being able to get themselves and their family to safety in the foreseeable future, more of them will start rolling the dice and taking their chances by jumping on leaky boats.

Getting asylum seekers to apply to the UNHCR in Indonesia is fine, as long as those who are recognised as refugees have some hope of getting somewhere secure eventually.  That is not currently happening – there are plenty of people who have been recognised as refugees by the UNHCR in Indonesia who have been stuck there for six years or more.  However,  if the ABC’s report is correct in stating that current negotiations with Indonesia involve “Australia helping to resettle all ‘illegal immigrants’ (sic) in Indonesia” then perhaps some improvement will appear soon.

Having said all that, I think it needs to be said that – unless we can achieve the utopian goal of world peace – this is a messy and difficult matter which is never likely to be completely solved.  Which leads me to a third solution, which is to not get so worked up about a comparatively very small number of refugees trying to get into Australia by boat.  History shows the vast majority go on to become very productive and responsible members of our community. The Vietnamese community in Australia is a good example.

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28 Comments

  1. Is the Australian Government using it’s self-proclaimed diplomatic skills and improved regional clout to persuade other countries in the region to become signatories to the UN convention on refugees? Maybe contribute to building centres overseas? And would new signatories increase pressure on the /source/ countries of refugees to improve things so fewer people are compelled to leave?

  2. Another solution from Earth Garden Magazine is the House Boat option, DIY, but in that magazine a whopping 20,000AUS$,to me at least. Then Dyson of the British Conservative Party designed a work boat truck.Combine a similar design,refugees build them themselves see Australia.Act as day Tourist operators,help clean up near shore rubbish.Permanent job after assistance in building houseboat.Transport people along coastlines,go fruit picking etc.May need a added on combo of various hulls to be sea worthy safe.ReNew Magazine was designing,or had a group in the mag,diesel based catamaran type boats for their clients.

  3. Now we know why John Howard built the Christmas Island facility. He was expecting a huge influx of asylum seekers, but it seems most of them waited until Kevin Rudd relaxed border security.

  4. Only 4% of refugee come by boat the other 96% come by air but we only hear about the desperate people that feel risking thier lives on a leaky boat is the only option that they have. We have one of the lowest rates of allowing refugees to stay in the first world a fact that we should be ashamed of. If our governement really believes in the declaration of human rights and the UN declaration on the status of refugees then this information should be made common knowledge and this concept of protecting us from them mentality needs to change. As a country that is under populated and facing an aging population crisis we should welcome people that want to come here seeking a new start. Xenophobic ethnocentric policies need to change.

  5. Sally

    Sally says: Only 4% of refugee come by boat the other 96% come by air

    I doubt whether that is the correct figure for refugees. The other 96% I would imagine would be from people overstaying their Visa’s etc. Not landing on our shores seeking Aslyum. If they did they would be sent back immediately.

    Even if 4% was correct the number is rising and will soon get out of hand. No country can afford to adopt an open door policy as you are suggesting.

    Making statements like Xenophobic ethnocentric policies need to change. adds nothing to the debate and decreases your credibilty or lack of input, by throwing in the racist card.

    During the second world war there were many refugees that come to Australia and returned after the war. It seems strange that so many are failing to stand up for their country and are paying huge amounts of money to be transported here. (One wonders what sort of loyality would they show to us if we got into trouble)

    Each case needs looking at. We are a compassionate society and each case is different. The fears of many in our society are also shared by Europe and to promote an open door policy is just nonsense. Something has to be done to slow the money making practices of the people who are profiting from this human trade.

    Outburst like yours only help inflame the situation.

    Tony

  6. A strange argument this ageing population ,underpopulated stuff is.Wether you look at yourself as male of female,and how medical intervention such as egg banks or sperm repositories,or even myself getting sexually active with willing partners…doesn’t take long before another lot of name tribes springs forth.I am impressed with those who support refugees,however, I am not always sure society is improved.Somehow, whatever people’s activities are ,it is a strange argument that immigration improves a country.The newly arrived can become victims of real and not so real outcomes that make welfare dependency the unchosen norm.I DONT think my life can be improved by boat refugees,I feel I am in a similar boat as it is.Sri Lanka isn’t behaving very well recently.

  7. just like howard rudd will loose govt if he is not seen to be slowing if not stopping this exallerated inflow asylem seekers by boat.
    just how interesting was the channel nine news last night 3out of 4 are on centerlinck payments and dont look like ever getting off them .

    what a slapp in the face for the ppl who have worked all there lives in and for this country .

    the aledged cost of a trip is $16000 as stated on the news is a worry as to where these ppl got that sort of money and if they didnt have it how are they gowing to pay there depts off to the ppl smugglers if they get here.

  8. Red Crab:

    Yes, I saw the television report you are referring to.

    I think there are plenty of other reasons Kevin Rudd is unpopular e.g. flogging nearly all of our natural gas to China for 6 cents a litre and trying to push an ETS that will further damage our economy in favour of Asia, are up there with the best.

    Sally:

    You described Australia as a “first world” country. Doctors on the television news described NSW hospitals as “second world”.

    Right here in Brisbane, our infrastructure is already strained to breaking point (hospitals, schools, public housing, transport etc) due to immigration and huge numbers of people coming here from interstate.

    We have long queues of ambulances waiting outside hospital emergency centres, and people dying before they can be treated.

    We have 100,000 people living on the streets in Queensland alone.

    The federal government (whether Liberal or Labor) should cease doing whatever it wants without giving appropriate consideration to how the states are going to cope.

  9. Tony:

    Have you considered that the turmoil/warfare occurring in other countries might be tied in with The Greens’ policy to redistribute population?

  10. Yeah! Reports about being on Centrelink payments are cheap,just like life itself has been cheapened in the following countries of late..Palestine,Iraq ,Iran Pakistan Afghanistan whilst the majority of news items continually swirls around western countries.To here Rudd and Houston and others who are well spoken individuals but behave like non agreeing bureaucrats to U.S.A. interests,means Rudd is party to the reflex action of playing Sheriff,whilst the World says to the U.S.A., mind your own business.And isn’t it so easy to be swayed that Rudd and others are driven by mighty national concerns,whilst matters like the 9/11 event and the episode on the Pentagon is the greatest swindle of all time.So much so even the Taliban got round to nesting a chance for their status by suggesting they will dis own Al Quada.Pakistan declaring war against insurgents,isn’t new.What is new is Australian complicity with U.S.A. interests over too long a time.Having a strategy to pull out of Afghani territories,and turning it into a moral wrestle is unacceptable Smells of a alliance with Murdoch and Lowy for maximum”,the ALP is always right!”

  11. well phil
    i seem to remember that it is usually the libs and the nats that get us into wars and the alp that gets us out.
    so wheres your problem
    i think and watch what is going on now and look forwad to very interesting times ahead in this country.

  12. Hi all,

    In WA we have 17,000 homeless people.

    I think Rudd should stop and think for a moment, if that was his child on that boat….(Does he have Kids?)

    If we can spend money in Asia to house these people why cant we spend some money in the countries of origin to help police the exodus, and instead of sending bombs and soldiers, why not send some Aid and pressure to the governments in those countries.

    Im sympathetic to the Boat people and their plight, but i dont think we should allow them to be fast tracked either.

  13. I use my real name Red Crab.I live my life from the processes of what are my living processes.Interesting times are matters of the individual deciding so.This bunk of doing matters for the national good,and all the other verbiage,misses to describe individuals their understandings and experiences,on the day,as a continuing reality and what they have emotional derived by their explorations of history as history can be found,and any other determinates both honest or other wise that add to the process of individual assessment of the world and what often is transcribed as occuring in it.I reject entirely your premise of me having a problem about the future.I am not there at the moment of the discontinuity of this typing.Seeing world events are not always springing from U.S.A. matters in any regard at all there are matters of the future that are distinctly threatening to Australians without considering war or the manifest outcomes of war.If you think the entirety of a set of outlooks can be derived from the momentary observation of Blog posts,you are severely limited in the understandings of the dynamics of a individual life.

  14. I am back to correct the value of a houseboat advertised in the Earth Garden Magazine.It was $48.000,although I bet the price could of been once about $20,000.Paul writes with a sense of honesty in his opinion,and I doubt Andrew is about encouraging homelessness.It may not be so bad over warmer months,and, the ALP runs its Policies on a theme basis, so the coming week or two will see the refugee replaced by..Re f u g e e…perhaps reef uglies,or rug fees, or so and similar.Never to expose themselves as rote learning at it’s worse,Pauland his concern will not see the ALP doing much in the community.They are simply not their.More like resting on their Laurels giving opinions out at the ABC,about how we Australians should cry for Barack Obama because of the racism of Americans or something.Which means then tardiness and failure are all the result of others,suits the ALP that logic,so not being able to be seen as losers they pass it on to lower income groups,and have fights with State Governments about Pensioner rents and such like. Only the ALP lives!

  15. I saw Sandra Kanck (Sustainable Population Australia) on the ABC news. She was complaining that Howard brought in 70,000 immigrants per year, and now Rudd has ramped it up to 250,000.

    How does he think the states are going to cope with that many new arrivals, plus thousands more asylum seekers?

    Sandra Kanck wants to cut the current Australian population by 2/3 – down to 7 million – and bring in a One Child policy.

    Rudd wants to ramp population up to 35 million. He says this will increase our national security. Perhaps skin and hair will fly between him and Kanck.

    Paul:

    Yes, I think you have the right idea.

  16. paul both being in the same city we both know whats happening to this place one only has to walk to any shop to see for themselves hence my thoughts about to future and its not good.

    phil what a privilaged life you must have had the difference between the way i think and the way you think is that my education came from the school of had knocks and yours would have cost more than i would make in a life time . thus the tragedy of your inabillity to live in the real world .

    even you cant help but bring up racism when your argument is soft .

  17. Terjep:

    Your link supports people wishing to come to Australia purchasing a Permanent Residency Visa and then coming here by plane at a cost of $30,000, which would be collected by the Australian government.

    It says Australia could also keep its tough border policy – but I think it would simply become redundant.

    Although some of the reasoning has some merit, it would appear that we would end up with open slather on immigration, but only for those willing and able to pay a huge fee.

    As it is, some people are concerned that Kevin Rudd wants to ramp up our population to 35 million by bringing in 250,000 people per year.

    I think your proposal will land us with millions of extra people each year, and takes no account of infrastructure issues such as housing, hospitals, transport and schools.

    While collecting a fee of $30,000 per person might seem lucrative at first glance, the cost to government in resettlement, Centrelink payments and infrastructure would be enormous.

  18. The hysteria over the current asylum seekers is media and opposition driven. TONY it’s true, that only 4% arrive by boat. Take a look at the facts.Go to ‘Asylum seekers, the facts in figures’
    One statement is, ‘Percentage of asylum seekers who arrive by air: more than 95%’. Malcolm Farr – The Daily Telegraph.
    ‘Increase in the number of asylum applications in Australia between 2007 and 2008: 19%’ The Australian

    The big difference is, that those who arrive by air come with papers, and are usually white and speak English as their first language. There can be over 50,000 of them at any one time in this country. Nobody is suggesting, that there should be truck loads of military personnel checking out backpacker hostels in all capital cities each week. The present nonsense re those arriving by boat is just plain stupid and race driven.

    LORIKEET I read an article in the Herald recently that stated, that one in 4 jobs relies on our export/import activities. To curtail these would cause up to and maybe beyond 25% of people being unemployed. What about the airport security and the ports. As a person who lives near a major port, with cars arriving and other large items, I was concerned to learn, that during the Howard years, he cut back on this type of ‘border’ security. Nobody raises this aspect of border security.

    The alleged terrorists of 9/11 fame arrived by plane, as have those allegedly involved in aspirations here.
    There were 23 nationalities on the first fleet. We’ve embraced many peoples from different lands, who’ve contributed in an amazing way to all our lives.

    It’s not well known, but while Howard was locking people up and leaving them to rot in jails, he increased our migrant intake more than any other govt that preceded him. All OK I assume!

  19. Naomi:

    According to statistics quoted on a political program, Howard brought in 70,000 migrants per year and Rudd is ramping it up to 250,000 per year.

    Settler arrivals during the period July 2008 to June 2009 numbered 158,021.

    Net permanent migration for the same period was 77,000. I guess that would mean that more than 80,000 have come here on visas.

    Nearly half of all arrivals were from various parts of Asia (69,616), easily outnumbering those from Europe (29,294) and NZ (30,010) combined. This would appear to conflict with your idea that most arrivals by plane are white English speakers.

    Arrivals from Africa and the Middle East numbered 24,168. Arrivals from the whole of the American continent including the Caribbean numbered a mere 4,233.

    There were also 700 miscellaneous others. Perhaps they fell off the back of a truck.

    You give some good examples of the ways in which illegal immigration occurs.

    I think both Labor and Liberals are working with The Greens’ agenda to redistribute world populations before grossly culling them. Politicians duck and weave all over the place to keep constituents confused as to their actual agenda.

    A man I know said that Rudd is too kind to boat people because he is a Christian. (Some recently admitted on national television that they are illegal immigrants/queue jumpers). I said he could forget about any Christian agenda.

    According to some links I read on another blog, even the Royal Family is pro-euthanasia. In the UK, the number of public hospital beds has dropped to less than half the number they had in 1975, despite large increases in population, and the rate of euthanasia is now outstripping The Netherlands.

  20. Thanks Andrew, nice summing up of what is a difficult situation.

    However I think that while the asylum seeker debate is being carried out in circus-style “Yellow Peril” media hysteria, little progress on the problem will be achieved. With dire predictions fostered in the country’s pages pages of being “overrun” by illegal immigrants, its little wonder that our politicians have acted in the shrill manner they have.

    As Richard Ackland pointed out in a recent SMH column, far more people arrive by plane and overstay their visas than ever arrive in a boat. Yet we hear little of being overrun by “plane people”.

  21. After 1945, the Chifley government knowingly admitted Nazi war criminals combatants and collaborators as refugees. The Labor government found itself in an environment where the US provoked the Cold War against Soviet Union.
    Chifley locked Australia into the western security web and in doing so surrendered our national sovereignty to the new intelligence order in Washington, and created ASIO, ASIS, DIO and DSD to enforce the interests of the ANZUS alliance over those of Australian citizens.

    The 1950’s the Nazis, protected and used by ASIO to control and monitor the growing migrant groups. The deposed regimes of occupied Europe now represented in the Liberal Party, pro-Nazis held significant power over preselection of Liberal Parliamentary candidates.

    Lyenko Urbanchich arrived in Australia after WWII and found a comfortable place in the bosom of the Liberal Party, ever happy to embrace, “good anti-communists” from the collapse of the fascist Axis.
    In the 70s Urbanchich headed the “Liberal Ethnic Council”. His faction known as the Uglies, control up to 30 per cent of the Liberal Party State Council votes and are the power base of Tony Abbot, Bronwyn Bishop, Philip Ruddick, John Howard and others.

    Perhaps the Nazi history in our conservative parties explains the present 9,000 Volt and razor wire fences around our concentration camps, (sorry, detention centres), the racial purity tensions in our immigration department plus the ever present need to have a strong Fuehrer.

    John Ward
    20 Grosse Road
    Gordon
    7150
    2921211

  22. RC , what he’s saying is, they sometimes bring out phonies, like militia commanders who are trying to escape trial for massacres committed but financed by others outside, trying to get hold of oil, as in Nigeria, where the poor have suffered by being driven off by the oil companies and rebelled. Genuine refugees are created out of situations like Nigeria, often companies from our part of the world, like Shell, supported by our governments in thebackground, are responsible.
    Ward is saying these sort of people, from older times but also now, are so racist they wouldn’t give a blackfella a go, even if he was a good bloke. But they’d let a nazi in for no better reason than he’s white. Or a militia leader responsible for murdering children in, because he was “on our side”, or pay the right bribes.
    We live well here, because the country is so rich we can do well even with all thecorruption that goes on. But it ruins a bit when you think your good luck comes at the expense of starving people somewhere else.

  23. paul walter

    i do understand the situation of what has and is happening in and to this country .
    it has been stated last week that the people born here will be out numberd within five years .
    do you really think this is good for this country
    would you not think that the minority groupes will be worse off
    the only wealth this country has is the people who made it what it is

    forgive me for being blunt but the people comming here now are not the same as the people who have come before them .newcomers now are supported buy the govt something they have never experienced before .
    the people who came before had very little support if any .
    question is would the people who are comming now come at all if there was the same amount of support as in the 50s and 60s.i dont think so.

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