Why won’t anyone think of the borders?

Another day ruined for me by a few hundred people arriving in boats four or five thousand kilometres away and seeking refuge in our enormous and sparsely-populated nation of twenty two million people.

As I drove back from work on a dangerous highway between unrepaired black spots I marvelled that anyone could care about issues other than unannounced maritime arrivals. While I was waiting at an underfunded emergency department to see a doctor there was nothing that could distract me from thinking about how crowded the country would get in twenty thousand years if they kept coming at that rate. When I got home to the tiny flat we’re stuck renting because investors have priced us out of any hope of ever buying a home of our own, I despaired at the notion that do-gooder leftists have bullied the government into not deliberately keeping refugee families apart like in the good old days. As I filled in my credit card details for the unmanageable private school fees we’re forced to pay so that our kids don’t miss out on a decent education at the impoverished local public school, I wondered when the politicians would finally devote some serious energy to protecting the precious national borders I’ve never seen before in my life.

God I can’t wait for Tony Abbott to become PM and spend a huge amount of taxpayer money STOPPING THE BOATS. There are few issues that impact on my daily life more.

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106 responses to “Why won’t anyone think of the borders?

  1. narcoticmusing

    Jeremy, you missed one of the most critical arguments:

    Only a return to the orgy pile will resolve this.

  2. Hmmm . . . what costs the taxpayer more – dealing with the thousands ferried here each year in an unregulated (and sometimes fatal) people smuggling trade and patrolling the seas to prevent the drowning of thousands more, or implementing measures to combat ipeople smuggling?

    Honestly – does anyone know?

    Clearly Jeremy is assuming the latter but I doubt he’s basing that on anything concrete.

  3. narcoticmusing

    Mondo – you aren’t questioning the right of people on the internet to make shit up that is convenient for their point of view are you?

  4. Wait, Mondo seriously has some doubts as to whether the amount of money we’re planning to spend BOTH patrolling the seas AND running offshore processing centres in which we detain people for YEARS at a time costs more than just patrolling the seas and processing people quickly and efficiently here?

  5. Mondo ,

    Interesting question.

    Offshore processing and detention is budgeted to cost $1.07 billion in 2011-12 (P/S will up that by quite a bit in future years)

    In the same period an extra customs vessel to patrol northern waters will cost $30m. Getting a handle on the navy costs is a bit harder.

    The entire ADF budget for 2011-12 was $26b.
    Navy gets roughly 25% of that. Operational costs are about 30-40%. How much of that goes to patrol in the north is unclear.

    Budget estimates for ‘combating people smuggling’ I think is around $50m.

  6. $1.07 billion?? For that price we can put a bounty on the head of every Warlord and Taliban Commander in Afghanistan!

    Cheers.

  7. BTW, that comment above was meant to satirise the garden variety News Ltd. commenter.
    I used “rightwingtroll” tags, but they didn’t appear in the body of the text.
    HTML fail!

    Cheers.

  8. Wisdom Like Silence

    ” or implementing measures to combat ipeople smuggling?”

    Apple would be terribly upset about the illegal iPeople trade, but I think they would rest assured knowing Australia is finally doing something to combat it.

  9. Yes Jeremy – I seriously have doubts.

    After all, if our efforts to discourage the people smuggling trade reduce our boat arrivals to only a handful per year (as was the case the last time this was tried) then I think we’ll be looking at some significant $$ savings.

    Of course there’s also the hundreds of innocent lives that will be saved and the thousands of genuine and needy refugees who will finally be resettled out of refugee camps around the world – but those are less tangible benefits that are unlikely to free up funds to repair the black spots in your local road.

    Wisdom – LOL.

  10. “housands of genuine and needy refugees”…because those arriving by boat are not genuine right? what an obvious lier you are on this stuff mondo. no credibility whatsoever.

  11. After all, if our efforts to discourage the people smuggling trade reduce our boat arrivals to only a handful per year (as was the case the last time this was tried) then I think we’ll be looking at some significant $$ savings.

    Big “if”, and even if it did work (which of course it won’t) then all that’s doing is leaving vulnerable refugees in danger somewhere else where we don’t hear about it.

    Of course there’s also the hundreds of innocent lives that will be saved

    Um, no, they’ll still come, and even if they didn’t they’d hardly be “saved” where they were. Remember, DESPITE knowing the dangers on the boats, these people still are desperate to come. What does that tell you about the places from which they’re fleeing?

    Also, we could save hundreds of innocent lives WITHOUT leaving them in danger simply by starting to distinguish between safe and unsafe vessels.

    and the thousands of genuine and needy refugees who will finally be resettled out of refugee camps around the world

    How does tormenting refugees who arrive on boat suddenly save “thousands of genuine and needy refugees”?

  12. Eric – you are a phenomenal idiot. Not only do you fabricate an argument that I haven’t made (i.e. that asylum seekers arriving by boat are fake refugees), you then use that fabrication as the basis of labelling me a “lier” and a man without credibility.

    There’s a reason why I stopped engaging in discussion with you and this is it writ large for all to see. You’re a monkey with a keyboard – a blundering troll highlighting to all the world a shallow, dishonest and ignorant grasp of otherwise serious political issues.

  13. all that’s doing is leaving vulnerable refugees in danger somewhere else where we don’t hear about it.

    Lefty – we have a quota of refugees that we take each year (about to be lifted to 20,000 p.a. under the current government) and as you well know that quota is always filled. The issue is not how many refugees we help – it is solely about whether we prioritise boat arrivals or refugees currently waiting in the myriad of refugee camps around the world.

    If we can decrease the number of refugees arriving by boat then we can increase the number we take from refugee camps. It’s a very simple proposition.

    On this basis it is, in fact, you who is advocating that we leave “vulnerable refugees in danger somewhere else where we don’t hear about it” It is you who is arguing (in effect) that we should prioritise those who turn up on our shores over those waiting in camps.

    I know, I know – you side-step this reality by advocating a ‘no limit’ boat person quota, but your position in this regard is simply not realistic. Whether you like it or not Australia has a refugee quota and we need to make an honest decision about who to prioritise.

    How does tormenting refugees who arrive on boat suddenly save “thousands of genuine and needy refugees”?

    Come on Lefty – I utterly reject your attempts to characterise the offshore processing system as a deliberate attempt to ‘torment’ refugees. You’re dishonestly framing the debate to suit your argument and utterly misrepresenting the reality of what is being proposed.

  14. I utterly reject your attempts to characterise the offshore processing system as a deliberate attempt to ‘torment’ refugees.

    Seriously? Now who’s being dishonest? Why not bring them here and process them onshore? The whole point of Nauru is to leave asylum seekers languishing in a remote detention facility for ages with for no reason besides deterrence of other would-be asylum seekers from making the boat trip. This is not some conspiracy theory; the government has expressly told us this.

  15. Why not bring them here and process them onshore?

    Hi Buns. The reason for this, as I understand it anyway, is that processing asylum seekers on-shore (ahead of and in preference to others waiting in refugee camps offshore) does not act as a disincentive to boat arrivals.

    The whole point of Nauru is to leave asylum seekers languishing in a remote detention facility for ages with for no reason besides deterrence of other would-be asylum seekers from making the boat trip.

    That’s simply untrue Buns. The Nauru solution’s purpose is to send a message to would-be boat people that journeying here to seek asylum is a very uncertain path to Australian residency. That’s the message we are trying to send here – that’s the message that was so successful in shutting down the trade last time.

    The government hasn’t “expressly told us” that the point of Nauru is to leave people languishing in detention for ages – you should admit that you’re simply making that up.

    I still reject the deliberately inflammatory claim that the policy is aimed at ‘tormenting’ people. That’s a ridiculous and untrue assertion and does not befit adults of your experience and intelligence.

  16. I know, I know – you side-step this reality by advocating a ‘no limit’ boat person quota, but your position in this regard is simply not realistic.

    Why? We don’t have a quota for babies being born here, and there’s far more of those.

    Whether you like it or not Australia has a refugee quota and we need to make an honest decision about who to prioritise.

    Australia must have a refugee quota because it has a refugee quota? How delightfully circular. There is no reason we need to take a place from the “queue” just because someone arrives on a boat – that’s just something we do to appease xenophobic idiots who think we’re going to get “swamped”.

    Come on Lefty – I utterly reject your attempts to characterise the offshore processing system as a deliberate attempt to ‘torment’ refugees.

    I thought the whole point was as a “deterrent” for people who are already in the most desperate situation imaginable. Of course it’s about tormenting them – how else can it be a “deterrent”?

  17. “Why? We don’t have a quota for babies being born here, and there’s far more of those.”

    Because:

    * Births are naturally limited by population fertility.

    * Over the short term, newborn babies add far less to the load on infrastructure than children, let alone adults.

    * If the intake were uncapped, and we were allowing people to claim asylum in Australia from countries of origin or first asylum instead of asking them to travel here first (as sensibly proposed here, by you, myself and others, numerous times), we should reasonably expect to meet the UNHCR’s estimated global unmet demand for resettlement, which stands at around 800,000 people currently.[1]

    Given that: “In broad terms it would cost in the region of $250 million for every extra 1000 refugees under Australia’s resettlement program over four years.”[2] the budgetary impact over the forward estimates of resettling these people would be in the order of $200 billion.

    I believe that is what in modern spin doctor jargon is referred to as a “black hole.”

    On the other hand, if you DON’T want to allow people to apply from asylum from their current location, then you still end up with an effective quota on visas (i.e. people who have the will and means to travel here) without having to enforce an explicit one, and so the costs are probably a bit more manageable. Expect people to continue to die en route, though.

    ~~~~~~~

    [1]http://www.unhcr.org/pages/4a16b1676.html
    [2]According to minister Bowen – http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/asylum-seeker-demand-set-to-blow-the-budget/story-e6freuy9-1226432225094

  18. * Births are naturally limited by population fertility.

    And boat arrivals are “limited” in the same sense, plus by geography.

    Over the short term, newborn babies add far less to the load on infrastructure than children, let alone adults.

    The “short term” between newborn babies becoming children is pretty meaningless in this context.

    * If the intake were uncapped, and we were allowing people to claim asylum in Australia from countries of origin or first asylum instead of asking them to travel here first (as sensibly proposed here, by you, myself and others, numerous times), we should reasonably expect to meet the UNHCR’s estimated global unmet demand for resettlement, which stands at around 800,000 people currently

    Why? That didn’t happen throughout any of the years before we introduced mandatory detention or the Pacific “solution”.

    Expect people to continue to die en route, though.

    Not if we adopted a sensible policy to distinguish between safe and unsafe boats.

  19. “That’s simply untrue Buns. The Nauru solution’s purpose is to send a message to would-be boat people that journeying here to seek asylum is a very uncertain path to Australian residency. That’s the message we are trying to send here – that’s the message that was so successful in shutting down the trade last time. ” – Mondo.

    If that is the intended message, then it’s a false one – being processed off-shore has no effect on your eventual status and whether or not you’ll come to Australia.

    And it’s clear that PS or no PS, Nauru or not, if you make it into Australian territory, you will most likely stay. Objectively, we know that the success rate for ‘boat arrivals’ is 80-90%. Less objectively, but a rough estimate based on asylum seeker numbers in SE Asia, your chance of success in waining around patiently and politely (in the ‘queue’) in Malaysia or Indonesia is less than 1%.

  20. And boat arrivals are “limited” in the same sense, plus by geography.

    Yes. Except the natural limit on birth is parent’s desire to have kids, which I’m sure no one finds particularly problematic, and also is essentially static over the short term. Whereas the natural limit on onshore arrivals is the willingness of refugees to both pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers, and risk their lives at sea. Describing this constraint as “geography” doesn’t make it any less volatile, or any less morally awful.

    We can afford to resettle fewer than all of the world’s refugees in Australia (given we have other morally important things to spend government resources on, such as health, education, climate change etc.) For argument’s sake lets say we can only manage a modest number – 80,000 p.a. There are two approaches on the table.

    “As is morally incumbent upon us, we are going to take people right up to the limit of what we can afford – 80,000 people, from anywhere in the world.”

    or

    “We will work with resettle 20,000 people from anywhere in the world. We also will let any genuine refugee who manages to get here resettle. Now, we can only afford to have another 60,000 show up before we get into budgetary difficulties. Fortunately, we know that globally only at most about 30,000 people are able and willing to pay smugglers $5,000 and risk a 2% chance of death in order to get here, so no explicit quota is necessary on the second intake – supply and demand takes care of it for us.”

  21. Why? That didn’t happen throughout any of the years before we introduced mandatory detention or the Pacific “solution”.

    Partly because there have been fewer refugees historically, but mainly because we’ve always required refugees to physically travel here to gain a realistic chance of asylum, and most lack either the means or the will to be smuggled.

    Not if we adopted a sensible policy to distinguish between safe and unsafe boats.

    Or how about rather than semi-regulating the boats, we could allow refugees to buy plane tickets instead, which would be substantially cheaper for them, would be inherently safer than even “high quality boats”, would direct the revenues to legitimate tax-paying airlines instead of criminal profiteers and corrupt police, and would remove the risk across the entire length of the Afghanistan/Iraq/Sri Lanka/Iran to Australia journey instead of just the leg from Indonesia.

    @nawagadj:

    And it’s clear that PS or no PS, Nauru or not, if you make it into Australian territory, you will most likely stay. Objectively, we know that the success rate for ‘boat arrivals’ is 80-90%. Less objectively, but a rough estimate based on asylum seeker numbers in SE Asia, your chance of success in waining around patiently and politely (in the ‘queue’) in Malaysia or Indonesia is less than 1%

    These figures look about right for the Pacific Solution (although we mustn’t forget the added disincentive of Jeremy’s torment, intentional or not.)

    However note that the policy recommendations of the Houston report are aimed at addressing both numbers, with the implicit aim of trying to make them much closer to equal and thus remove the incentive for boat travel. This is by:

    a) Drastically increasing the resettlement intake, and allocating the additional visas primarily to refugees in the region (esp. waiting Indonesia and Malaysia) to increase the 1% figure.

    b) Implementing a Malaysia-like Solution with stronger protections for the refugees, establishing more regional co-operation, and working harder to disrupt smuggling networks, to decrease the 90% figure.

    Nauru and Manus Island are only envisioned as short term measures to put a temporary halt on boat arrivals (and hence boat losses) while everything else is implemented.

    Of course, given the political climate there’s every chance we’ll get stuck with the band aid while the bypass surgery gets postponed indefinitely or scrapped outright.

  22. The government hasn’t “expressly told us” that the point of Nauru is to leave people languishing in detention for ages – you should admit that you’re simply making that up.

    I didn’t make it up though:
    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/political-news/first-asylum-seekers-land-in-nauru-20120913-25vdu.html

    From the article:
    “The detainees sent to Nauru face spending up to five years there under ‘no advantage’ provisions. This time is designed to be the same as that the asylum seekers would spend in a refugee camp so there is no incentive to get on a boat.

    So it’s precisely as I said: we are leaving them languishing in detention centres for ages – years, in fact – solely to deter them from making the boat trip. It’s not because it takes that long to process them. You agree that the purpose of sending people to Nauru is deterrence, so what exactly are we arguing about? I’ve provided evidence to support what I claimed, which is that we’re leaving people there a lot longer than is necessary to process them – with the express purpose of deterrence. As Jeremy said, if it wasn’t an unpleasant experience to spend years on end in a detention facility in Nauru, there wouldn’t be any deterrent.

  23. This argument would be a whole lot easier to follow if they would just Go Back Where They Came From.

  24. “Australia must have a refugee quota because it has a refugee quota? How delightfully circular. ”

    Not once have I argued that Australia “must have a refugee quota” Lefty. That is, quite honestly, a ridiculous characterisation of what I’ve been saying.

    All I have done is point out that the only way you can sustain your present argument is to ignore reality. If you were to accept that we are, as a matter of fact, subject to a refugee quota (which we are) then your argument would become patently false (which it is).

    Let me highlight this by asking you a very simple question: if it becomes clear to you that Australia will continue with its quota policy then would this have any impact at all on your advocacy against the Pacific Solution?

    If the answert is no – which I’m certain it is – then you have admitted that boat arrivals being prioritised over refugees sitting in overseas camps is an acceptable outcome to you. QED.

    Of course it’s about tormenting them – how else can it be a “deterrent”?

    In order to be effective as a deterrent to the boat person trade all the system needs to do is send a message that coming here by boat is not an effective way to obtain Australian residency. There is no need to “torment”, torture or otherwise abuse boat arrivals to send this message.

    It is an obvious (and shallow) non-sequitur to argue that if we want to deter boat arrivals then we must, by definition, ‘torment’ them when they get here.

    The abolition of the Pacific solution has seen thousands of refugees left to rot in squalid camps around the world who would otherwise have been resettled into Australia. This is simply an observation of reality.

  25. So it’s precisely as I said

    Nice try Buns – but what you actually said was that “the government has expressly told us this”.

    All you have provided in support of your claim is a journalist’s summary of what he thinks the new laws are designed to achieve – which is clearly not a declaration by government, express or otherwise. Unless you can find an express declaration by government that the purpose of the new laws is to “deliberately leave people languishing in detention for ages” then I maintain that your earlier claim was without merit.

    In fact under the original Pacific Solution very few asylum seekers were left in detention for ages – most were quickly processed and then resettled in other countries. A deterrence effect was achieved without any need to artificially prolong detention – so why do you insist that the policy will be different this time around?

    As I said above – it is simply emotive nonsense to assert that Australia’s intention is to deliberately ‘torment’ boat people. Our policy is to deter them, not to torment them, and I’d suggest that those who claim it is impossible to achive the former without the latter aren’t really playing a straight hand in this debate.

  26. If that is the intended message, then it’s a false one – being processed off-shore has no effect on your eventual status and whether or not you’ll come to Australia.

    Gadj – it might not have any effect on eventual status, but it most certainly can have an effect on whether you’ll come to Australia. It did under Howard’s Pacific Solution.

    And it’s clear that PS or no PS, Nauru or not, if you make it into Australian territory, you will most likely stay.

    Yep – which is why the Pacific Solution involves keeping asylum seekers away from Australian Territory.

  27. Partly because there have been fewer refugees historically, but mainly because we’ve always required refugees to physically travel here to gain a realistic chance of asylum, and most lack either the means or the will to be smuggled.

    Wait, so what’s changed since the 1970s? The boats certainly haven’t.

    Or how about rather than semi-regulating the boats, we could allow refugees to buy plane tickets instead, which would be substantially cheaper for them, would be inherently safer than even “high quality boats”, would direct the revenues to legitimate tax-paying airlines instead of criminal profiteers and corrupt police, and would remove the risk across the entire length of the Afghanistan/Iraq/Sri Lanka/Iran to Australia journey instead of just the leg from Indonesia.

    If you can fund it, that’s another option. But distinguishing between safe and unsafe vessels is the bare minimum start.

    Not once have I argued that Australia “must have a refugee quota” Lefty. That is, quite honestly, a ridiculous characterisation of what I’ve been saying.

    All I have done is point out that the only way you can sustain your present argument is to ignore reality. If you were to accept that we are, as a matter of fact, subject to a refugee quota (which we are) then your argument would become patently false (which it is).

    Let me highlight this by asking you a very simple question: if it becomes clear to you that Australia will continue with its quota policy then would this have any impact at all on your advocacy against the Pacific Solution?

    My advocacy is against BOTH the Pacific solution AND the quotas, and those who use their support for quotas to justify their support for the Pacific Solution.

    The fact that we’re choosing to do something awful, cruel and destructive doesn’t justify us doing something else awful, cruel and destructive.

    If the answert is no – which I’m certain it is – then you have admitted that boat arrivals being prioritised over refugees sitting in overseas camps is an acceptable outcome to you. QED.

    Um, no – playing refugees off against each other is a deliberate policy
    we’re pursuing that we must stop pursuing.

    In order to be effective as a deterrent to the boat person trade all the system needs to do is send a message that coming here by boat is not an effective way to obtain Australian residency. There is no need to “torment”, torture or otherwise abuse boat arrivals to send this message.

    Nope. If the threat of death isn’t enough to deter people, then the places they’re fleeing must be pretty darn horrible. And anything short of tormenting them has buckley’s of working. Which is of course is why it’s the whole point.

    They’re certainly not being treated humanely where they are.

    The abolition of the Pacific solution has seen thousands of refugees left to rot in squalid camps around the world who would otherwise have been resettled into Australia. This is simply an observation of reality.

    A horrible reality supported by anyone voting for parties who insist on us taking places from the resettlement list whenever someone arrives on a boat (or plane, which method FYI takes far more places).

    I oppose this horrible situation and I vote against it. Do you?

  28. My advocacy is against BOTH the Pacific solution AND the quotas, and those who use their support for quotas to justify their support for the Pacific Solution.

    Right – you will continue to promote an on-shore system even where that system results in camp-based refugees missing out on resettlement. You would prefer that it didn’t have that result, obviously, but your advocacy will continue regardless.

    Fair enough – although it does seem a bit rich for you to accuse others of wanting to “leave vulnerable refugees in danger somewhere else where we don’t hear about it” when that same result is an observable real-world outcome of your own advocacy.

    And anything short of tormenting them has buckley’s of working.

    What sort of ‘tormenting’ do you think offshore processing actually entails Jeremy? Poking them through the bars with sticks?

    By your own reasoning these people are fleeing utterly desperate, life-threatening situations – so how does moving them to a peaceful tropical island where they will be free to mingle with the community and enjoy safety and security (all on the Australian taxpayer dollar) constitute ‘torment’? Seriously – how is this not an enormous improvement on the circumstances from which they are fleeing?

    How does the simple act of denying them the opportunity for Australian residency constitute ‘torment’ for someone fleeing persecution, death and destruction?

  29. Right – you will continue to promote an on-shore system even where that system results in camp-based refugees missing out on resettlement. You would prefer that it didn’t have that result, obviously, but your advocacy will continue regardless.

    No, I’m specifically advocating against that policy. Are you? I thought you were in favour of us taking a place from a refugee in a camp when one arrives by plane or boat. You certainly keep making excuses for that monstrous policy.

    Fair enough – although it does seem a bit rich for you to accuse others of wanting to “leave vulnerable refugees in danger somewhere else where we don’t hear about it” when that same result is an observable real-world outcome of your own advocacy.

    No, it’s an observable real-world outcome of yours, and the Labor and Liberal parties’ obsession with such a cruel policy. Stop trying to blame me for the results of what you advocate.

    What sort of ‘tormenting’ do you think offshore processing actually entails Jeremy? Poking them through the bars with sticks?

    By your own reasoning these people are fleeing utterly desperate, life-threatening situations – so how does moving them to a peaceful tropical island where they will be free to mingle with the community and enjoy safety and security (all on the Australian taxpayer dollar) constitute ‘torment’? Seriously – how is this not an enormous improvement on the circumstances from which they are fleeing?

    That’s why it’s no deterrent. However, the government is trying to do what it can to punish them – leaving them there, unable to work, unable to do anything to move their lives forward – leaving them in limbo, locked up, in Nauru stuck in tents on a stinking hot island. I suppose you think that jail isn’t any punishment at all?

    How does the simple act of denying them the opportunity for Australian residency constitute ‘torment’ for someone fleeing persecution, death and destruction?

    That’s not all we’re doing. The whole point of keeping them there indefinitely – of locking up children there indefinitely is a petty attempt at cruelty by way of deterrent.

    But I agree, that will in no way be sufficient to deter people from coming. We’re just being cruel pointlessly.

  30. If you can fund it, that’s another option. But distinguishing between safe and unsafe vessels is the bare minimum start.

    If you can fund it? Are you joking? Its both much safer and hugely cheaper for people to fly than to travel irregularly by sea.

    One-way flight for an adult from Pakistan (which is a pretty indicative indicative refugee origin country) to Australia, as of a google search right now: $1,140.[1]

    Cost of passage for same refugee by alternate means: entire cost of journey from Pakistan to Indonesia, PLUS about $4,000-$8,000 for the final maritime leg on recent figures[2].

    People pay the latter because the Australian government can, and does, prevent probable asylum seekers from commencing travel to this country by air, by refusing to issue them visas and thus effectively removing their ability to board planes. This is your allegedly natural limit to onshore arrivals, imposed by “geography”, or rather, Australian immigration controls. Your argument against any explicit limit on total visas is predicated on an implicit limit created, not by the physical costs of travel, but by the black market costs (in money and lives) of circumventing the government’s measures to stop people coming here. It is absurd.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    [1]http://res.webjet.com/prices.aspx?page=flightprices&air=Air&id1=4a368930-5fbf-43a6-bff6-9d0a528b1b03

    [2]http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/people-smugglers-exploit-dangers-to-cash-in-on-desperation-20120629-2180n.html

  31. “Gadj – it might not have any effect on eventual status, but it most certainly can have an effect on whether you’ll come to Australia. It did under Howard’s Pacific Solution.” – mondo

    Thst is a common mis-perception.

    Despite all the tub-thumping and chest-beating, all almost all of them came to Australia (we managed to get to NZ to take a few).

    “Yep – which is why the Pacific Solution involves keeping asylum seekers away from Australian Territory.” – Mondo

    The orginal PS didn’t – people only went to Naura etc, when they had made it to Oz, and most then were re-settled in Australia.

  32. Nice try Buns – but what you actually said was that “the government has expressly told us this”.

    All you have provided in support of your claim is a journalist’s summary of what he thinks the new laws are designed to achieve – which is clearly not a declaration by government, express or otherwise. Unless you can find an express declaration by government that the purpose of the new laws is to “deliberately leave people languishing in detention for ages” then I maintain that your earlier claim was without merit.

    You’re being obtuse. Watch this video produced by our government and titled “No Advantage”:

    A direct quote from the video:
    “No advantage. Boat arrivals will not be processed faster than people waiting in refugee camps.”

    Got it? Boat arrivals sent to Nauru will not be processed faster than people waiting in refugee camps. Now, we all know how long people wait in refugee camps overseas. I think it can accurately be described by the colloquial term “ages”. Would you agree? You’re a smart guy and I believe you can join these dots.

    Granted, the government did not use the expression “deliberately leave people languishing in detention for ages” – that was some mild hyperbole on my part – but that is the undeniable effect of their “no advantage” policy, which they’re being very up-front about. Do you disagree?

    By your own reasoning these people are fleeing utterly desperate, life-threatening situations – so how does moving them to a peaceful tropical island where they will be free to mingle with the community and enjoy safety and security (all on the Australian taxpayer dollar) constitute ‘torment’? Seriously – how is this not an enormous improvement on the circumstances from which they are fleeing?

    You tell us. You’re the one asserting this is going to act as a deterrent. You make it sound quite lovely. They’d be mad not to get in the first boat going.

  33. In what bizarro world is it not “torment” to be left in limbo for years in a remote detention facility solely on the basis that there are people in refugee camps overseas also unfortunate enough to wait for years for re-settlement? Imagine, mondo: you are in a detention centre on Nauru. Nobody can tell you how long you are going to be there. You have literally no idea when you are going to get processed. Weeks, months, years drag by and still nothing is happening and nobody can give you the remotest idea when you are going to get out of there or whether you are ever going to see your loved ones again. Seriously – how can intelligent people dispute that this constitutes “torment”?

  34. Cost of passage for same refugee by alternate means: entire cost of journey from Pakistan to Indonesia, PLUS about $4,000-$8,000 for the final maritime leg on recent figures

    Oh, Jordan. Bless. Are you seriously suggesting that the black market prices have nothing to do with the fact that we have attempted to criminalise running refugee boats, that we prosecute the crews and destroy the boats?

    And that the prices wouldn’t be a fraction of that if we started treating it like any other transport boat service?

    People pay the latter because the Australian government can, and does, prevent probable asylum seekers from commencing travel to this country by air, by refusing to issue them visas and thus effectively removing their ability to board planes.

    I agree that we should stop doing that.

  35. The bottom line is that, under the current quota-based refugee system, our present failure to stem the flow of boat arrivals has cost thousands of camp-based refugees a place in Australia. That’s just a statement of fact.

    All of us currently debating this issue want to address that outcome – but while I am proposing policy aimed at achieving that outcome within the current quota-based system, Jeremy and others here are proposing policy that achieves it by abandoning that system.

    For the record I don’t believe we should abandon our refugee quota for two reasons:

    1. because it will act as a further incentive for boat arrivals and will lead to greater numbers of refugee deaths, and
    2. because it will hugely blow out the cost of our refugee program (which is an irony given that Jeremy’s original post was largely a complaint about the excessive cost of our refugee program).

    It is, of course, literally true that anyone arguing against an uncapped refugee quota is effectively arguing that we should “leave refugees in danger”. But then any policy aimed at less than the resettlement of every single refugee in the entire world can be accused of the same.

    And by taking this accusation to its absurd conclusion we expose its hollow core.

    It’s easy to get up on a soap-box and condemn anyone not willing to take in an unlimited number of refugees – to clothe ones self in the warm glow of idealistic righteousness – but nobody should mistake this faux-morality for a serious or sensible policy suggestion.

    I’m starting to agree with SB that the main purpose of this sort of political advocacy is not to offer real-world solutions but simply to make the advocate feel good about themself. I finally understand all the masturbation references.

  36. Lefty – are you just purposefully trying to misinterpret Mondo’s remarks? I think you mistake his attempt to be constructive given the current constraints with advocacy of those constraints. There is a difference between agreeing with a policy and accepting a constraint and thus trying to work within that. Mondo has repeatedly stated he does not agree with the refugee quotas etc etc, however, he is looking at them as a constraint that isn’t going to go away any time soon (regardless of his personal preferences) and thus, with that constraint in mind, what would do the least harm/most good?

    While I agree with your policy positions (particularly with regards to dealing with the safety of the boats / allowing asylum seekers to use planes / quotas / etc) – it is not necessarily constructive to have a starting position that does not exist. We have, in reality, quotas whether we like it or not. Obviously most posters here do not like that reality or at least feel the quotas are too low (Mondo included). Nevertheless, there will never be a quota-less system. With that in mind, what solutions would work best?

    Further, given that the current system does not allow for boat arrivals to be exempt from that quota (again, this is the reality rather than necessarily the preferred position), what solutions work best with this constraint in mind? I’m not convinced about off-shore processing, but I comprehend the dilemma Mondo raises – due to the constraints, it is either group A languishing in camps or group B languishing in camps after a boat ride. The Government position seems to be why should group B get priority over group A? While I think that is an overly simplistic question and I believe that off-shore processing will not disincentivise boats any more than the life-threatening trip did, surely you need to face the reality of the constraint (albeit one we advocate to shift) when considering solutions? (for example your making the boats safer solution).

    It will be a long time coming before there is enough voices in Parliament to be truly useful on this – thus simply pretending the constraints don’t exist is not as useful as advocating for policies that can work with the system, until there are people that are willing to hear it (notwithstanding that I, like I suspect you, will still vote to attempt to change that Parliamentary dynamic in order to shift this position).

  37. Re the ‘detterence’ issue – Buns, I accept your point that part of the purpose of Labor’s PS is to send a message that coming here by boat will not speed up your chances of obtaining Australian residency. You are correct in that regard and the video you have attached above proves it.

    However my understanding of the program is that it far more complicated and nuanced than just that. Sending a harsh message does not necessarily entail following through with harsh behaviour – as Nawagadj has pointed out above the original PS managed to achieve a significant deterrence effect while simultaneously (and quietly) accepting many of the refugees into Australia.

    I’m not sure why people think this approach won’t work again. Perhaps you think that Labor won’t be as effective in prosecuting this policy as the Howard government was, or perhaps you think that the cat is out of the bag now and we can’t get away with a sabre-rattling policy like we did the last time?

    But of course nobody is actually making those arguments – all I’m seeing is blanket assertions that “it won’t work” mixed in with unsubstantiated claims that it would be cruel to accept refugees into an Australian-run refugee camp and deliberately provocative hyperbole about how proponents of an offshore policy want to ‘torment’ refugees.

    As I said above – if your preference is for a no-quota refugee policy that continues to encourage boat arrivals then that’s fine as far as it goes (which, in my opinion, is not very far). But if your preference is to actually do something about reducing boat arrivals then more is required than manichean slogans and high-horse morality.

  38. Mondo has repeatedly stated he does not agree with the refugee quotas etc etc, however, he is looking at them as a constraint that isn’t going to go away any time soon (regardless of his personal preferences)

    Ahhh – Narc. I appreciate the support and for your (accurate) understanding that I’m trying to find a solution within the system while Lefty is arguing for a change to the system – however I fear that poor timing means that in the post immediately above yours I have expressed in-principle support for a refugee quota.

    You are of course correct to note that I have consistently argued that our previous quota of 14,000 p.a. was too low, and that I have openly applauded the decision to increase it to 20,000 (and would def. consider increasing it even further), but it seems likely that message will be overshadowed by the more apparent fact that you just summarised my view as “not agreeing with refugee quotas” in a post immediately below one in which I endorsed the concept of refugee quotas.

    Oh well – for what its worth I think that, my poor-timing aside, you’ve quite accurately summarised the point I’ve been trying to make.

  39. I thought I summarised your view of not agreeing with the current quotas. I too agree that we require quotas but also believe that our quotas are grossly inadequate. People that claim we should have no quotas are the same sort of people that when you try to raise an issue important to a particular group, they reply ‘how is this important compared to starving people in africa?’ My response to most of those is that unless you have given up everything of yours that could possibly be spent on helping cause x, then don’t judge me for also placing limits on something.

  40. Nauru certainly doesn’t seem to be working as a deterrent – well, at least not yet.

    I think TPVs will need to be brought back if we are to have any hope in stemming the current tide of boat people. The message needs to get out that coming to Australia by boat is not an effective path to Australian residency – that is the only message that will smash the despicable and dangerous people smuggling trade.

  41. And when that doesn’t work either?

    And the only thing “despicable” about “people smuggling” is when it’s done with no respect for their safety. Pity that both big parties prefer that “people smuggling” remains as dangerous as possible because they’re really more worried about people coming here safely. THAT is despicable.

  42. Jeremy – people smuggling is always done with no respect for safety. That’s why it’s called ‘smuggling’. The only way to make the trade safe is to legalise and then regulate it which, from what you’ve written to date, appears to be something you support. But then, of course, it would no longer be smuggling – it would just be a commercial passenger service.

    Creating such a service would obviously result in a massive increase in the number of boat arrivals travelling directly to Australia – blowing out both the cost and fairness of our refugee progam – but I suppose that if you don’t accept that Australia needs to limit its refugee intake then that policy could make sense.

    For those of us who see the logic behind setting a quota, however, an open border policy is obviously not an acceptable option.

  43. narcoticmusing

    Although, Mondo, it should be pointed out that it is not currently illegal to travel to Australia by boat… many of our parents/grandparents did.

  44. The legality of the journey is not relevant to the issue narc.

  45. “..people smuggling is always done with no respect for safety. That’s why it’s called ‘smuggling’.

    Errrr no mondo. Plenty of smuggling of people out of war zones and oppression is done with absolute care and attention to their well being.

    And you have zero grasp on the human realities surrounding this issue generally, Barbaric right wing opinion dressed up as oh so reasonable debate from you mondo, as usual. LOL.

  46. narcoticmusing

    Sorry Mondo I didn’t explain well, to clarify I was meaning we already have a legal passenger service via boat here. The difference between it and the ‘illegal’ setup is more than the regulatory regimes around the boats. Nevertheless, I do agree with Jeremy that we should not incentivise dangerous boats and having a separate regulatory regime that, regardless of the policies around the remaining issues, would improve safety of the vessels must be a pretty straight forward quick win if the goal (or one of the goals) is to reduce life lost at sea.

    Eric, I’m not sure insulting people is considered ‘reasonable debate’ either, how about offering some suggestions to a complex issue? I don’t agree with Mondo on much of this, but I disagree all the time with people, as does he as do we all. It is a good thing that we are all free to contribute and offer views here without the sort of BS we are see in our current Parliament or shockjocks. (Mondo, I know you didn’t need any defense, but I’m pretty sick of people on this site just thinking that abusing people they disagree with is a-ok – I value the variety of views as I don’t come here just to validate my own views).

  47. Oh look Eric has showed up – not to engage in the topic, but to insult me.

    What a shock.

  48. Narc – I think you’re getting to the nub of the topic here.

    You’re right to point out that we already have passenger services ferrying people to Australia through all sorts of transportation channels (including boats). The difference, at least as I understand it, is that those passenger services require their customers to produce a valid Australian visa before they will allow that person to board. If they do not do this then they face sanction from the Australian government.

    What you are Jeremy are proposing (in effect) is a relaxation of that requirement. You are proposing that commercial operators should be able to bring people to Australia without regard for their possession of a valid visa. You are advocating that the Australian government take no action against the unregulated flow of asylum seekers into Australia by commenrcial operators.

    As I said above – that position only makes sense if you reject the idea that Australia should control the number of refugee applicants arriving on our shores. If you are, in effect, willing to open the gates and simply deal with everyone who shows up – regardless of the numbers.

    I don’t subscribe to that view. I believe that a quota-based system is the right approach and am therefore seeking solutions that preserve the integrity of that system. You and Jeremy, on the other hand, see the quota as an optional component of our policy approach.

    That seems to be the key difference of opinion here.

  49. Part of the problem, Mondo, is that you believe we can “control our borders” without paying too high a high price in terms of our humanity and cruelty to refugees. You were convinced that the ALP’s plan would work. It hasn’t. You now think TPVs will work. They won’t. The only way to stop people trying to come here is to treat them worse than the countries from which they’re fleeing.

    Please don’t let that be your next fallback position when TPVs fail.

    As for a “quota” on refugees, you might as well have a “quota” on children being born. Or rain.

  50. narcoticmusing

    I hear what you are saying Mondo, but disagree. You can regulate activities separately, there is no need to endorse position a) entry without documents in order to regulate matter b) boat quality. We actually do this in many arenas already.

    I can give you a few examples, and instead of going for a soft easy one, I’ll give you a really controversial one as perhaps some of the controversy of it may help both sides of the conversation: Injecting rooms. In no way do (heroin) injecting rooms advocate for complete deregulation, commercialization, legalisation or even use of heroin. They do however recognise that it is the dealers not the users that are the primary goal of our criminal sanctions. They also recognise that heroin is a really damn dangerous drug and near impossible to control (much like our borders). There will always be someone desperate enough to do it.

    I think regulation of the boat quality etc and more just laws regarding duped crew members would be a quick win for harm minimisation in this entire space.

    Jeremy, I thought of your concerns straight away reading Waleed Aly’s article, the idea that people choosing to return to the country they are fleeing being seen as a success is just such an indictment on the current political climate. It means this person has said that the horror they were fleeing has more certainty than the horror of indefinite detention. The dehumanising impact of it is a pitiful state of affairs.

    I should add that I do not know the solution to this and that it is highly complex, but it is that complexity which makes simple solutions so tempting. Unfortunately unlimited compassion has its own issues (not least of all that hate sells more newspapers) as does our current strategy of out-doing the horror by setting a standard so low it could be considered worse. I wonder if our detention centres will soon be recognised as a place where one can flee to seek asylum?

  51. yes well, look up the word “smuggling” when you have a mo..LOL. not that mondos support of barbarism is insulting refugees or anything…golly gosh hush my mouth…….

  52. The only way to stop people trying to come here is to treat them worse than the countries from which they’re fleeing.

    This is where you and I fundamentally disagree Lefty. I believe that boat arrivals will be significantly reduced if we can convince asylum seekers that arriving here through people smuggler channels will not result in Australian residency. It’s worked before and it can work again.

    And BTW I am obviously referring to a quota on Australia’s refugee intake – not a quota on the number of refugees in the world. Not sure what caused you to erroneously assume I meant the latter, especially given that it would be an utterly ridiculous position for me to take.

  53. BTW Jeremy – do you support a quota on our refugee intake?

  54. “Over a five-year period, the visa fees collected by the Nauruan government for 1,500 people would amount to $90 million.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-26/nauru-hikes-up-asylum-seeker-visa-costs/4334448

    well there’s a nice liitle earner, but hey, its really all about stopping the leaky boats and saving peoples lives.

  55. narcoticmusing

    That is an interesting figure Eric – particularly as it is not dissimilar to dole rates per person. Ie. We could support each of these people in a community for a similar cost. Sad.

  56. BTW Jeremy – do you support a quota on our refugee intake?

    No.

    Do you support a quota on, say, driver’s licences? Or births?

  57. No and no.

    Jeremy are you saying you would not want to put a limit on the number of refugees Australia takes in each year? Do you really propose that we create a legal and regulated people smuggling trade into Australia and then accept every single person who arrives here in that way?

  58. narcoticmusing

    Do you support a quota on, say, driver’s licences? Or births?
    I suppose the issue here is that those quota’s do not exist. However they do exist with regards to any form of immigration, including refugees – indeed, I’m not aware of a single jurisdiction in which there are not quotas (although my awareness of other jurisdictions is pretty limited). That doesn’t make them a good thing per se, but it does indicate that a lot of minds have considered this matter and have determined them necessary. Where we set them is a separate issue again. And how we enforce them a separate issue again.

    Nevertheless, the reality whether we approve or not, is that there ARE quotas. Thus, while we can still advocate against them, solutions we propose should anticipate that they aren’t going away any time soon (considering both major parties and most minors parties support them). This is why I think the boat regulation policy ideas of yours are good quick wins – we could immediately impact deaths at sea without requiring a policy position that is not on offer (again, notwithstanding one can still advocate for/against quotas).

  59. Jeremy are you saying you would not want to put a limit on the number of refugees Australia takes in each year? Do you really propose that we create a legal and regulated people smuggling trade into Australia and then accept every single person who arrives here in that way?

    “A legal and regulated people smuggling trade”? Bit of an oxymoron there. It’s not “smuggling” when you stop criminalising it.

    And yes, while there are refugees seeking our help, we should offer it.

    We should certainly stop failing to distinguish between those who run dangerous boats and those who run safe boats. And we should stop pretending that being a crew member on a boat that brings people seeking asylum is a serious crime that requires a minimum jail sentence.

  60. narcoticmusing

    And yes, while there are refugees seeking our help, we should offer it
    While I agree with this statement, given that we have quotas and they aren’t going away (regardless of merits) how should we manage the existing situation?

    I agree that regulating the boats is a significant first step. I admit i’m probably the most ignorant in this space of commentors here, but if I were to think out loud (so to speak): It makes sense that there should be a no advantage test applied in so far that if you a) arrive on our shore (or are bound to) and b) are seeking asylum, then that should be the test as to whether you are assessed for refugee status. How you got here should not be relevant, only that you did. I’m not clear what the implications of that are, but if you start with the quota as a policy constraint, then it is necessary to have one quota. Not a quota for people who arrive via x and another for people via y or else it will incentivise one over the other based on the criteria/limitations of the respective quota.

    There is also a difference between incentives and disincentives. The current strategy appears absolutely abhorrent in practice even if some elements appear to make sense on paper. Thus the issue becomes even more complex as we need to determine solutions that are not only effective and humane, but palatable to the electorate (this is a democracy after all).

  61. And yes, while there are refugees seeking our help, we should offer it.

    Right – so you are advocating the creation of a legal, regulated commercial passenger service that will operate to ferry an unlimited number of asylum seekers direct to Australia for resettlement. You would see these boats docking freely in Australian ports before heading back out to pick up their next load of paying customers.

    20,000, 50,000, 100,000 refugees per year – it doesn’t matter to you. They’re out there and they want our help so we should ferry them here in their thousands. Before we feed, clothe and house them all, of course.

    That’s an insane policy Lefty. You seem to have unmoored yourself from practical reality in favour of drifting in a feelgood utopia.

    It’s ironic that this thread started with a complaint from you that our Emergency Departments are underfunded, that our roads are not maintained and that our public schools are struggling. Because something tells me that your no limit refugee policy would make all of those problems significantly worse.

  62. I’m not aware of a single jurisdiction in which there are not quotas (although my awareness of other jurisdictions is pretty limited). That doesn’t make them a good thing per se, but it does indicate that a lot of minds have considered this matter and have determined them necessary.

    The truth is Narc that there are plenty of countries out there who can’t control their refugee intake at all due to a shared land border. These countries accept hundreds of thousands of genuine refugees (at times) because they have to – there’s no point setting a quota if ten thousand people can walk into your country tomorrow.

    But just take a look at the conditions those refugees are forced to live in. I’d be surprised if Pakistan’s refugee budget stretched to much more than about $10 per person. Compare that to Australia where we house, clothe, feed and educate all who come. We provide healthcare and security – and we do it all because we can afford it. How much do you think it costs us to resettle a refugee into Australia – $10,000 p.a. over five years? $50,000 p.a.?

    We have quotas because they’re necessary – accepting, processing and resettling refugees is expensive (unless you want to adopt the third world model).

    If we throw open the gates as Lefty suggests then something will have to give.

  63. If we throw open the gates as Lefty suggests then something will have to give.

    You forget that we don’t share a land border and we’re a long way away from the countries producing these refugees, so we’re hardly going to have the camps they have in already-impoverished nations next door to the trouble spots.

    We haven’t always had mandatory detention and all these hideous anti-refugee policies. And yet we’ve never been “swamped”.

    Meanwhile, in today’s madness – the two big old parties are planning to excise Australia from the Australian migration zone. Because insanity.

  64. we’re hardly going to have the camps they have in already-impoverished nations next door to the trouble spots.

    My argument is not that we will end up with impoverished refugee camps – my argument is that there will come a point (i.e. in annual numbers of refugees) where the quality of services we can offer must necessarily drop due to the costs involved.

    This is the logic behind setting a quota – asking ourselves “how many people can we afford to resettle?”

    Your preferred approach of throwing open the doors and hoping that we don’t get too many arrivals (or end up being flooded by economic migrants who see this as an easy back door) – all in addition to a fixed annual quota of refugees taken direct from camps (that you believe should be quarrantined from boat arrivals) – is a fairly obvious abandonment of our government’s responsibility to manage our economy and budget for our people.

  65. Wisdom Like Silence

    Where am I going to live if Australia doesn’t count as Australia any more?
    That’s like removing the goal posts and the behind posts.

  66. It’s pretty weird. I don’t know why they don’t just cancel Australia’s sign-up to the Refugee Convention.

    I mean if there is no land in the entire world that counts as our migration zone then isn’t there no opportunity for anyone to ever claim asylum in Australia?

  67. ” is a fairly obvious abandonment of our government’s responsibility to manage our economy and budget for our people….”.

    however they get here, once they are here, they are, in fact, our people. being xenophobic and desperately parochial may of course make one feel better within oneself about holding such disgusting views as those mondo expresses regularly in these threads, but does not in fact deal with the realities of growing numbers of refugees world wide.

    Australia simply can not vanish and/or hide itself from the rest of the world however much it wants to. We have many opportunities to help both ourselves and the rest of the world. Are we grown up enough to act? Or shall we just carry on as little colonial babies hiding under the blanket at the back of our cot?

    mondo could grow up and deal with the world, he’d feel better about himself if he can be bothered to make the effort. imho of course.

  68. narcoticmusing

    So Eric would you prefer we just take them all but not help them? Let them walk off the dock and that’s it? Do you understand Budget processes at all? Oh wait, you’d prefer to pretend we live in an imaginary world where we can just throw unlimited funds at any thing you like. I am in favour of assisting refugees but quite frankly your argument is entirely irresponsbile and undemocratic. You live in a democracy and so the rest of the country has a say as to how the Budget is spent. It isn’t up to you.

    I’ll give you an example. Emergency departments in hospitals – they are some of the most worthwhile places in the country to put $$ but they are also bottomless bits. Put more money in, waiting times decline, more people go, waiting times rise, need to put more money in. It is a forever escalating arms race. We could put the entire state budget in them and they’d still demand more. It deosn’t mean they aren’t worthy of the expenditure, but it certainly isn’t sustainable.

    Another example: early childhood education (kindergarten not childcare). Conservative estimates show every $1 spent here is $7 saved. In Victoria, the union and a bunch of others campaigned to have this portfolio moved from the Department of Human Services (that manages child protection and other family services) to the Department of Education. They claimed it was about profile but what they wanted was money – they wanted the budget to enlarge and thought they had more chance there. They were wrong. The shift cost heaps and early childhood education has tanked compared to where it was.

    The immigration budget won’t enlarge just because we accept more refugees, anymore than the budget for kindergartens would change just because it was administered by a different department.

    There is a small bag of money with a large bag of money’s worth of demands. You may dislike some of the things that money is spent on, well guess what, some people will dislike the policies you support too.

    The government has the responsibility first to Australians – those that form part of the democracy. We acknowledge our global responsibilities and thus policies are made and implemented with the consent (more or less) of the public. This isn’t xenophobia, it is the realities a democracy. It may be flawed but it is still one of the best governments available.

  69. It’s pretty weird. I don’t know why they don’t just cancel Australia’s sign-up to the Refugee Convention.

    I mean if there is no land in the entire world that counts as our migration zone then isn’t there no opportunity for anyone to ever claim asylum in Australia?

    I’m not a migration lawyer, but the most important differences between what’s being proposed and rescinding the convention that spring to mind are:

    1) Abolition of the migration zone changes nothing for people arriving with a visa.

    2) People arriving without a visa can still exercise their right under the convention to claim asylum (just as they can in currently excised areas such as Christmas Island). The main requirements under the convention are to allow them to make a claim, and to not under any circumstances refoule them; resettlement is not an obligation. Whether Nauru etc respect the spirit of our human rights obligations is another question…..

  70. Wisdom Like Silence

    Can’t we just drop all these boat/people things around the Ord river for a few years? If I recall, dropping new comers on our river systems has been pretty successful in the past.

  71. Hi Jordan

    Thanks for your efforts to explain – although I must admit I don’t understand the word ‘refoule’!! In any event it sounds like you’re saying that under the refugee convention we’re under an obligation to help them, but not necessarily by resettling them in Australia.

    It was my understanding that if a person reaches our ‘migration zone’ and successfully claims asylum that we are required to offer them protection within Australia, and that by excising all this territory from that zone we are effectively sidestepping this requirement.

  72. Wisdom Like Silence

    If-I-Don’t-See-You-You-Can’t-See-Me Immigration Policy

  73. Narc – the worst part is that I actually understand and sympathise with where Eric is coming from.

    Obviously I’m not a fan of his inability to argue without abusing me and completely misrepresenting my position, but putting that aside I do agree that xenophobia is driving much of the reaction to boat arrivals and that Australia should do what it reasonably can to assist in the global refugee issue.

    But it’s that word – ‘reasonably’ – where we part ways. I believe our response cannot be reasonable (or fair) if we do not strike a balance between our moral desires and our economic capabilities, between accommodating desperate refugees and protecting their safety, and most importantly (as you allude to above) between the Australian people and their various viewpoints.

    I am coming to realise that being ‘reasonable’ (or even adhering to the bounds of reality) is an optional consideration for many . It seems to me that occupying the moral highground is the singular goal of some, regardless of whether that position offers any realistic insight or workable solution.

    It is genuinely eye-opening for me to see someone like Lefty (who I respect on an intellectual level) basing his policy position on the noble but fundamentally insipid notion that “if there are refugees seeking our help then we should offer it”. It’s nice in theory but completely impractical in reality – in fact taken to its logical extreme it would bankrupt us as a country and potentially unravel our entire social fabric.

    But then I suppose it was naiive of me to think that I would share identical views with my fellow travellers on every single topic of importance.

  74. narcoticmusing

    I agree with what you are saying there Mondo – which was why I gave the example of a hospital. It is easy to say ‘fund the hospital what it costs’ or ‘if people turn up needing treatment, then treat them’ – but it is just not sustainable nor economically possible. It also ignores other inflationary mechanisms that come into play, such as in the increase in the cost per patient (outside of CPI type inflationary measures). This is from thiings like reduced throughput from ageing populations; increased co-morbitity (think complexity) and increased expectation about the standard of care (think the cost of technology and pharma).

    The same equation plays out in any sector with such laudible goals. Immigration is no different. The cost per person is based on public expectations of the standard of care, as time moves on that standard has increased expectations from what it was – hence we don’t have the awful tent city scenarios of those countries that have influx due to bordering torn nations.

    Budgets can increase year on year but are constrained by how much revenue increased and choice of how the pot is spent – eg inititaives not just related to demand/unavoidable growth and/or increased cost/price per unit. Until people have some sense of this, it makes discussions on places like this very frustrating. Even more frustrating is the lack of understanding that budgets must be set BEFORE the $ are spent – how to do that without a quota? It is a mechanism to determine how much $ to put aside. We can enlarge the quota if we can put more $ aside or decrease one of the other cost pressures.

    It does not make it not a worthwhile cause, just like health care, it simply means there are a LOT of worthwhile causes. Like health care. And education. And police. Etc. Rarely do posters here come up with mechanisms to pay for their strategy. Regulating the boats would not be an enormous impost as we already have a regulatory function and would make savings from the cost transfer from justice (ie prisons are expensive).

    And no, raising revenue another way won’t be a solution – it must directly offset. Why? Any revenue raised or savings banked goes to consolidated revenue, not your pet project.

  75. Wisdom Like Silence

    This issue, to me, seems to be like trying to play rugby with a cricketball. You can rationalise and throw it around easily enough, but when it’s time to develop policy and you need to kick it, it’s just bloody painful. What’s needed is a fresh perspective, but I just don’t see how anyone in this country could give a new angle on the thing. It’s become such a polarising debate, everyone in the country has an opinion, and everyone’s said their two cents and then some, there seems to be a society wide melaise when someone mentions it. It’s a humanitarian issue that shouldn’t be politicized, it’s an immigration issue that should be controlled, it’s a resource issue and should be administered, it’s a social issue and should be feared, it’s not our problem, it is our problem, we don’t want it to be our problem, resign from the UN! Become the international hub for all refugees our country is awesome! Turn all the lights off and hide under the couch, turn the boats around, have our own boats, make it a race, make it impossible so anyone who makes it must be Bear Gryls crossed with Rambo and Aquaman, they’re lying! Save everyone! Wait in the qeue, what qeue, take a number and we’ll be with you shortly, are they actively trying to kill you? Are you sure? Live in my house! Is the person smuggling you Han Solo?

  76. LOL Wisdom. But also depressingly true.

    It’s a humanitarian issue that shouldn’t be politicized, it’s an immigration issue that should be controlled, it’s a resource issue and should be administered, it’s a social issue and should be feared

    Half the problem here is that there is an element of truth to all of those positions.

  77. “Australia should do what it reasonably can to assist in the global refugee issue.

    But it’s that word – ‘reasonably’ – where we part ways. I believe our response cannot be reasonable (or fair) if we do not strike a balance between our moral desires and our economic capabilities, between accommodating desperate refugees and protecting their safety, and most importantly (as you allude to above) between the Australian people and their various viewpoints.” – mondo

    On the objective front we clearly struggle to do what could “reasonably”….at least if you go on my criteria.

    On an absolute scale we clearly do far, far less than many other countries, and even quite poorly on a relative scale (per capita), and even worse relative to GDP.

    Just important that we don’t get too precious about our reasonableness…..

  78. Barbarism is never reasonable. I never use the word reasonable..it stinks of fascism.

    Making up superficial and quite frankly ridiculous economic arguments to defend xenophobic policies is not remotely reasonable. Fascism always sounds “reasonable” , and mondo is very good at the old ‘reasonable ‘ right wing spin, he’s well known for it, so it seems is narcotic. neither of them of have moved out of their playpen yet of course.

    Australia is not short of $s. Clearly overall taxes in this country are far to low. But even with the rich getting away with it so blatantly here…saying Australia doesn’t have enough money to properly support refugees is simply wrongheaded and a desperate attempt to justify barbaric far right thinking.

    In a democracy narc anyone has the full and complete right to not only disagree with you, but also to disagree with the majority and any bad policy as they see it. You saying:

    ” You live in a democracy and so the rest of the country has a say as to how the Budget is spent. It isn’t up to you”

    Isn’t any sort of argument narc, its just deeply condescending finger wagging. It isn’t up to you either. LOL.

  79. Wisdom Like Silence

    Everyone’s goddamned position is understandable and has elements of truth!

  80. narcoticmusing

    It isn’t up to you either
    That was my point Eric, that it isn’t up to one person but the entire population – your desire to disregard the population was what I was pointing to.

    I find it laughable that you talk about people being able to disagree – which is exactly what I was advocating – while you generally just come here and insult people who disagree.

    Australia is not short of $s. Clearly overall taxes in this country are far to low.
    Being a wealthy country with a lot of $s or having a taxation scenario that in your opinion is low (I put it to you that many would disagree with you on this, particularly the working poor and lower middle class) does not equate with “fund my pet project because i want it”. You and a 20 million others have that view, so the pot gets shared among the projects.

    There are services provided that grow each year due to population and/or demand growth. Some services do not grow in demand (eg schools actually experience very little demand growth) but may have price growth (cost of educating would increased each year). Some have both (eg health). So that means each year, just to maintain performance on these services they require more money. If you actually want to increase performance on these services or do something different that might yield an improvement or add a service, that is an additional luxury that can only be entertained after unavoidable cost growth is addressed. Hence, increasing the quota is a luxury item – it does not merely seek to maintain the current performance, but to increase it. Much like decreasing the elective surgery waiting list – maintaining performance in elective surgery requires around 5% increase in expenditure year on year, improving it requires more. That is why elective surgery waiting lists don’t often improve.

    Comprehend this and you’ll understand how all the wealth and taxes in the world does not suddenly translate into your pet project being funded. Add to that that there are many organised lobby groups and biased media and some of the most laudable projects/ideas fall aside.

    I don’t disagree that we should increase the quota etc – but I strongly disagree that it is at all practical or fiscally responsible to have no quota. It is also undemocratic for a government to fund something the populace don’t want – notwithstanding it is often the duty of government to do this.

    As WLS stated, this issue is complex and fraught with opposing views. However, ignoring reality does not help (notwithstanding that you can advocate to change the status quo).

  81. I find it laughable that you talk about people being able to disagree – which is exactly what I was advocating – while you generally just come here and insult people who disagree.

    Indeed. According to Eric we’re now both fascists because we use the word ‘reasonable’.

    I wonder if Eric realises just how damaging his inane ranting is to his own cause? There are many reasonable progressives on this site who must read his content-free rubbish and realise, as I have done, that left-wing politics can stem as much from deep-seated and aggressive stupidity as it can from rational and reasonable analysis.

    Oops – I used the word ‘reasonable’ again. What a fascist I am!!!

  82. On an absolute scale we clearly do far, far less than many other countries, and even quite poorly on a relative scale (per capita), and even worse relative to GDP.

    Hi Gadj. As true as this observation may be I don’t think it relates to the argument I’ve made, which is not that we can’t do more to help refugees but that there is eventually a limit to how many we can take in. To an extent I feel that this is merely a banal observation of obvious truth – which I suppose is why I’m so surprised to see people effectively arguing against it.

    I have certainly not argued that our quota is too big, or that our economy cannot sustain an increase (even a significant increase) in our refugee intake, only that it is important to set a quota and then administer our program in a way that allows us to actually keep to that quota.

    Do you agree with that concept – at least in principle?

  83. Wisdom Like Silence

    What is “real”? How do you define “real”? If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.

  84. narcoticmusing

    Perhaps the Dept of Immigration needs to take the blue pill.

  85. Wisdom Like Silence

    This issue is good for two things; degreasing engines(?) and killing brain cells.

  86. narcoticmusing

    True that WLS, but I’m sure you agree this issue is not good as a desperately improvised weapon in a zombie apocalypse.

  87. Wisdom Like Silence

    ‘ Be like trying to hold back the hordes with damp lettuce.

  88. Wisdom Like Silence

    People should talk about the Zombie Apocalypse more though, because the more it is talked about and discussed, the less frightening it will be when it actually happens. Like now with the homosexuals being all homosexual, which before used to be all like “Ick, ieeeee! Bleugh! Aaaaah flee for your morals!”. But now we’re all like “Meh, so?” Homosexuals were the babyboomers Zombies. Our zombies will probably be zombies, or Windows 8 users. Probably both.

  89. Mondo,

    I thought that you were alluding to an argument of roughly ‘doing our part’ .

    I only wanted to point out that the considerations you raise (economic capabilities and public viewpoints) must surely hold for every other country, and that the current inequality in burden sharing (developing countries with their meagre resources are host the greatest numbers of asylum seekers) is of direct relevance.

    Quota -yes, I concede that we should indulge ourselves that luxury.

  90. Wisdom Like Silence

    nawagadj: please try to stay on topic.
    We’re talking about the zombie apocalypse now.
    Any budgetary concerns would certainly be a fond memory in the face of a shuffling, hungry armageddon.

  91. narcotic says i have a “desire to disregard the population”. Gee, I must have written that with invisible pen or something??? Don’t you just love people who lie about what you’ve said and then argue passionately against it? LOL.

  92. narcoticmusing

    Don’t you just love it when people only contribute to spout abuse and don’t get the irony in their very complaint? LOL.

    Eric, your post could actually be an example in the definition of irony.

    You merely assert that you are right therefore all the current policies should be disregarded and replaced, despite that the electorate would never vote for what you propose. I attempted to describe some of the other issues that impact those making decisions around this, and for that, you insult me and lie about me. Yet you do not see the irony of that in your post above.

    For example; You claim I forbid you from disagreeing when I did not do that, I merely disagreed with you and you did not see the irony. I am not suggesting (and never have) that you cannot disagree with others (indeed it is you that insults anyone who dares disagree with you or dares offer a single critical statement to anything you say). You say that the current policy should be abolished merely because it is bad policy (I don’t necessarily disagree with that) but you won’t accept a ‘reasonable’ alternative merely because you find that word unacceptable – so, by your own account, you would only be satisfied by an unreasonable policy (such as no quota) which comes back to the original point – that is not something the population would agree to, and if that is what you desire (which in this and other threads you have argued for) then you are disregarding the view of the population. I’m not suggesting the majority need agree with the minority or that bad policy is not bad policy just because the majority agree to it (slavery was always bad policy regardless of how many people wanted it) – what I am saying is that there are more things to consider than your gut and sense of morality.

    You call Mondo and I fascist (yet another insult / lie) in an attempt to silence us and yet do not see the irony.

    I’ve personally sacrificed time and wealth (not including taxes) for refugees that come here and require assistance. I have seen first hand what they go through and have assisted in alleviating that. Beyond just insulting people attempting to flesh out a complex issue, what have you contributed? This is a complex and important issue and the ‘we should do x because anything else is wrong’ argument does not fly. I’m looking for means to make real changes; your constant insults and refusal to even consider that the issue is just not that simple, hinders progress.

    I apologise if I’ve taken you out of context or mistakenly misconstrued any of your statements. In an ideal world, your view would be in effect – there would be no quota, our wealth would support those who need it rather than being a cause of displacement in the first place. Unfortunately that is not the reality. I only attempt to point to some of the realities and real constraints that exist. I hope you can understand that for what it is. It is not a personal attack against you, rather an attempt to seek solutions that will actually have a chance of success in a context where, whether we like it or not, asylum seekers (as opposed to refugees) are not citizens (in so far as our obligations) of this jurisdiction. This is not the same as situations where those involved are citizens of the jurisdiction. I often wish it was, but it isn’t. I often opine to colleagues the difficulty of having to use vague international instruments that have not been fully incorporated into Australian law (despite ratification). But unless we advocate for matters like that, then we will not get far.

  93. Wisdom Like Silence

    Everyone stay on topic we were talking about the Zombie Apocalypse! A frankly more productive discussion than any other thread of conversation in this thread.

  94. narcoticmusing

    WLS, may I propose that we discuss the top 5 desperate improvised weapons for a zombie apocalypse. With the obvious note that anything regarding fire is bad because we all know the only thing worse than a zombie is a zombie that is on fire.

  95. Wisdom Like Silence

    A high pressure cleaner that uses firelighter fluid might be the exception. Rip the flesh and cook it. Like the best pulled pork sammich ever. But yes, setting something on fire that cannot feel pain, only hunger, is a bad move. Unless looking for emergency lighting!

    My personal favourite is the golf club. Any one you like. Small, light and you can focus the power through a tiny area of compacted steel. Smack anything with that, shit’s gun break. Smack a zombie in the head with that, it’s going down harder than a republican moderate from the north who can’t decide if he hates base republicans from the south enough to ignore them. A small addition would be to wrap the head in razor wire, so if you miss you still get some damage in, and havea chance to disorient your target.

    Zombies cannot run. I just thought I should establish that right now, before people start getting ideas.

  96. narcoticmusing

    Not sure about wrapping the golf club head in razor wire – what if it gets stuck in the zombie’s rotting flesh? Then you have an aggravated zombie who now has your weapon. I do like the reach the golf club would give – i’m not one for getting close and a pool cue is just gonna break. Perhaps a pool leave cleaner would be useful for crowd control – nice long pole, hook the zombie in the net and guide to nearest long drop.

    You going for the shuffling zombie rather than the 28 days later rage type? How would you tell the difference between the shuffling zombie and your work colleagues on a Monday morning? At least when differentiating between say Glenn Beck and the 28 days later zombie, I know a simple change of the channel will suffice – or at the very least, it could be argued that the 28 days later zombie offers more objective views on society.

  97. “You merely assert that you are right”
    I offer strong opinion with no compromise based on the facts as I see them.
    “You call Mondo and I fascist”
    Errr…no…I said the use of the word reasonable stinks of fascism.
    “attempt to silence us”.
    Errrr…no…I strongly disagree with you in the most basic terms.
    “I only attempt to point to some of the realities and real constraints that exist….”…Week, tame, riddiculous and pathetic. The art of politics is the process of changing “reality” dear boy not constantly tiptoeing round it.

    And how about you quit it with the “some of my best friends are refugees” bollocks. I am not impressed by your attempt to hide your disgusting (that is not an insult narc I genuinely believe your views, as you have expressed them to be …disgusting) views under a blanket of apology through good works….the usual right wing self delusion. LOL. (say….narc in 1959: I think black people are inferior and should not have the vote but I really really help them out whenever I can..i gave one a bible recently, honest.)

    And I consider it to be vitally important to call out, insult and riddicule barbarism whenever it rears its ugly head. Your (and mondos) views on this matter are IMHO, not in any way logical, thought thru or sensible..they are disgusting. Again: IMHO of course.

    Insulted yet? Have a think about why…..

  98. narcoticmusing

    Wow Eric, your sense of moral superiority knows no bounds. So now people who volunteer are evil monsters too? Why is that? Perhaps because you just sit on your ass writing vile comments with no argument? Hmm, lets see Eric circa 1959: “I think black people are great and I’ll shout out of my window at anyone who says otherwise, honest – I’ll give ‘em an ear full! But anymore than that, no thank you, I’ll leave that to the evil volunteers! I won’t dare lie on the street with the black guy or actually help defend them when the cops scoop them up on mocked up charges or actually assist them. No no, the safety of my lounge room is where my views come from, but I’ll totally yelled at my TV the other day, honest!”

    I am not suggesting that advocating for your position harms your cause, or going out there and acting on it hurts the cause – not at all. Your vile manner hurts the cause. Please, enlighten me as to how abuse and ridicule has helped the current Parliament? I’m not suggesting we should moderate our views, I’m saying we need to determine the key issues and act. Some things can be changed easier than others, some have a greater impact than others. I’m also aware that, in a democracy, views other than mine are important – so whether I want to accommodate every one that comes here or not, is not the only relevant element.

    Which view of mine exactly do you think is disgusting btw? Is it the one where I think we should dramatically increase the quota? Or the one where I think we should regulate the boats to ensure their safety? Or that we should increase our aid to make a meaningful impact on the ground in nations that are going through conflict? Or the one where I think we should allow all processing of asylum seekers on Australian soil including via airports (ie no documentation required to board a plane if the basis is asylum). Please, point out the barbarism. Oh, wait, now I know, it is the one that says the Australian public also deserve fiscally responsible government – that does not translate to not spending, it translates to knowing what things will cost in advance and budgeting for them. But that is clearly “not in any way logical thought thru or sensible”. How do you pay your bills? Do you budget? If you were taking care of someone else with their money, would you just blow it all on anything you thought was cool or do you think that person’s needs and views should be considered? I would hate to see you as a Trustee.

  99. “But anymore than that….”. LOL..narc really…I mean you know me and my life soooo well don’t you?????? you know everything about me eh?

    you have no idea at all if I vounteer anything for anything or not, at all, do you?? and since I don’t have to prove anything to you, ever, I certainly choose not to skite and be all holier than thou like you, as an excuse for being such a bottom dweller (quote: keating on howard)….

    face it, you have no idea what I “do” about my views do you?

    narc: some of my best friends are …….fill in minority.

    All Australia has to do is the decent things, the humane things, the things it signed up for. But as anyone from East Timor or PNG who has lived longer than 40 years will tell you…Australians love backing away from stuff they agreed to once the going gets tuff. And boy…are they backing away from their obligations right now..and like narc and mondo..Australians can think of one thousand really reasonable reasons about why they shouldn’t follow up on what they’ve actually agreed to do. Puke.

  100. narcoticmusing

    So Eric, you presume and make up shit about me, but suddenly it is out of line for me to do anything similar? You don’t know anything about me and yet, you feel happy to presume anything that suits your bile. Yet you really can’t hack it when someone serves up the same medicine. That tells me a lot about you. A person who likes to serve it up but can’t take it. Which is exactly the sort of person who talks lots and acts little.

    I don’t disagree with your last paragraph except where, as usual, you make up shit about me and Mondo (again) and (again) have nothing to back that up (seeing your idea of backing something up is to make shit up rather than quote eg. “narc: some of my best friends are…”. You should also get a little understanding as to what it means in international sphere to sign/ratify an international instrument. Please, enlighten me seeing you know everything Australia agreed to – oh wait, not even the High Court can figure out all the freaking agreements as there are 1000s. Even UN is unsure on what all the terms mean? Why? Because they are purposefully vague. I agree that Australia is not pulling its weight and could/should do more but that is different to your ‘no quota’ assertion.

    Please – attempt, for once on this thread – to explain why it is in the best interest of Australia and Australians (however you wish to define them, but say for arguments sake the voting population as you do not need to be naturalised to be included in that set) to have no quota on refugees. I would really like to know.

  101. Don’t bother, Narc. Even if he’s right on the policy, and maybe he is, Eric is being a complete douche, and decent people like yourself are under no obligation to cop such personal crap when arguing in good faith, given you have approximately zero chance of changing his mind.

    Well, unless its SB, but then the shit he slings is amusing from time to time, and once or twice I believe he has even made a point. :P

  102. narcoticmusing

    Thanks Jordan. I suppose my concern is that many people come here and argue in good faith and none of them deserve the sort of irrational bile and abuse that Eric dishes out. While I will happily hold my own and/or just lose interest, some might be intimidated into silence by the likes of Eric. That is my concern (hence the irony of him purporting that others were fascist when it is him hurling abuse every time someone disagrees).

    While many have particular vernacular I don’t personally like at times, or views I don’t agree with, I still appreciate their contribution. Why? It helps us all to have many views expressed rather than just reading the same bull. SB is a good example – his views often differ from the majority of this thread, but his contribution is important. He also cops a lot of flak and it must at times take a lot to keep on expressing the opposing view. Mondo cops a lot of flak on the immigration threads – I don’t agree with his overall position, but I do agree with elements of almost every position here and disagree with elements of almost every position here. We don’t need a left wing Alan Jones – stooping to his level is not constructive.

    We would not get very far in this world if all we had was a view and yes men.

    And please Eric, do not take this as a message against you, I’d love to hear your opinion but you so rarely give it – rather you smother your posts in hate. The few times you actually give your view in a post I more often than not agree with it. Try giving your view or debating – unlike most threads where people post just to for their own turn to speak (so to speak) here people are actually, genuinely interested in the views of others.

  103. Wisdom Like Silence

    I hate all of you.

  104. narcoticmusing

    I hate all of you.
    I can only hope that that will make it easier for you to kill those of us that inevitably become zombies (more so than now).

  105. Wisdom Like Silence

    With great prejudice. And relish, maybe some mustard.

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