Makes you proud to be Australian

Oh, wait – so we actually are going the deterrent route on refugees? The only one that has a prospect of causing them to give up and live (well, maybe) in danger back home – trying to treat them worse than the places from which they’re fleeing?

Ms Woods fears for the asylum seekers’ mental health. ”They’re saying they will continue this hunger strike until they die because they feel powerless and trapped”. She described shade from soaring temperatures as inadequate, and said some people were unable to contact their families.

At the end of last week 390 detainees had been transferred to the centre, which is fast approaching its capacity of 500. Detainees live in tents with the Immigration Department yet to confirm completion dates for buildings.

As a hunger strike enters its 11th day the Immigration Department confirmed about 30 asylum seekers were treated for dehydration and heat-exhaustion symptoms last week.

Well, treating them with even a small amount more humanity than the worst places in the world is hardly going to work! (And by “work” I mean “bully them into going somewhere else”.)

That’s what I love about Australia – our capacity to abandon all pretense of humanity in order to save ourselves from the minor inconvenience of helping a small number of refugees seeking the kind of assistance we’d demand ourselves if anything ever happened to us here. We’re AWESOME. Best country in the world, mate!

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89 responses to “Makes you proud to be Australian

  1. These asylum seekers are fleeing from imminent violence and grave persecution. And yet, Lefty, you claim that their predicament now is “worse” than those countries from which they are fleeing.

    But let’s have a look at the article closely and see what terrible breaches of humanity we horrible Australians are subjecting them to:

    1. Some of them have no legal representation
    2. A refugee advocate claims there is not enough shade
    3. Some detainees have had trouble contacting their families
    4. The asylum seekers are being housed in tents.

    That’s it. Even in the above article – one based almost entirely on uncritical acceptance of completely unverified claims from obviously partisan sources with a clear agenda – the above four examples of mistreatment are the gravest that can be found.

    So how is their situation now worse than it was where they came from? Seriously – how can you, Lefty, honestly argue that we’re treating them worse than they were treated in their homelands? You must realise that your position is utter hyperbole.

    Unless, of course, you’re implying that they’re not real refugees – in which case what you’re saying would make sense.

  2. Wisdom Like Silence

    But what if they terk urh jerbs?

  3. Getting there, Mondo. You’re right, there are two possibilities: they are genuine refugees in which case this isn’t worse and therefore WON’T WORK AS A DETERRENT. Or they’re not, and it will.

    Given that the numbers aren’t going down, I suspect the former explanation is more accurate. It’s not worse, but we are just being cruel to genuine refugees even though we know it won’t “work” by any definition of the word.

  4. So now you agree that we are not treating refugees worse than the location from which they are fleeing?

    Because in the initial article you say the opposite.

  5. Wisdom Like Silence

    That article is horrifying, assuming all the allegations are true and correct.

    Jeremy wasn’t saying we’re actually treating them worse, or agreeing as he just stated, he just quotes someone who does alledge that.

    But how is them not having legal representation not a big deal?
    Do you know the effects of 35c + degrees on the human body?
    Especially in the tropics?

    People don’t generally enter into hunger strikes as a form of recreation. It’s always a protest against something. In my mind it’s akin to holding your breath, but the reality is that it’s dangerous and a cry for help. Even if all the allegations are false, something is driving those men to do that to themselves.

    The only pro of being held in detention is that they don’t have people actively attempting to cause them harm. The situation is worse because even on Nauru we have the ability to provide them with more than those allegations portray and they know that. Hope is the most exquisitely monstrous occupation of the mind.

  6. Wisdom Like Silence

    Not worse, bad.

  7. Oh, wait – so we actually are going the deterrent route on refugees? The only one that has a prospect of causing them to give up and live (well, maybe) in danger back home – trying to treat them worse than the places from which they’re fleeing?

    No – Jeremy said “worse”.

    Now he admits that if “they are genuine refugees” then life on Nauru “isn’t worse” at all.

    I’m not trying to nit-pick Jeremy’s argument just for the sake of it – I genuinely believe that this debate is held back by the inability of many on the Left to be rational in their approach to the refugee debate.

    It, after all, is logical to conclude that any genuine refugee who is legitimately fleeing for his or her life will be happy to find safety in an Australian-run detention camp on Nauru, but that non-refugees who are really looking for back-door entry into Australia will not.

    That is the logic that Lefty has adopted in his post immediately above, but it’s the opposite of the logic he tried to roll out in the article at the top of the page.

  8. I knew Jeremy wouldn’t be able to leave this blog alone for long …

  9. “That’s what I love about Australia – our capacity to abandon all pretense of humanity….”…Spot on, as usual from the J.

    “…one based almost entirely on uncritical acceptance of completely unverified claims from obviously partisan sources with a clear agenda…”…Insane right wing bollocks as usual from mondo.

    I might as well be consistent with my insults from thread to thread.

  10. narcoticmusing

    I see where you are coming from Mondo and I know you are attempting to cast an objective eye (as opposed to not actually sympathising with the plight of those in those situations) but I nevertheless think you under-estimate some of the factors listed.

    For example, the impact of the ‘insufficient shade’ concern. A heatwave in Victoria is defined as 3+ days with an average temp of 30oC. The definition of a heatwave obviously differs based on humidity, etc but one of the main determinants of a heatwave is in fact its impact on the people, based on their acclimatization (and ability to acclimitise) and general vulnerability. We need to consider this as an already stressed group of people (at a minimum), meaning their capacity to accilimitise to the high temperatures will be significantly reduced. This means they will need to be kept out of direct sunlight and well hydrated or their stress levels and subsequent resulting heat related illness will be exacerbated. Thus, insufficient shade is a significant indictment when we are knowingly placing people where the level of direct sunlight is greater than most regions Australians would live in (the more temperate zones).

    I’d also suggest denying them contact with legal representation and relatives is a double hit that denies them any form of access to hope. While hope may seem an elusive item, it is in legal terms natural justice and in humane terms something to maintain your sanity. The erosion of the mental health of refugees (even the ‘fakers’) is of great concern. These are not criminals or hardened in some way – they are victims of criminals. The Australian media and Parliament would be well served by remembering that distinction.

  11. Mondo, my point is that we’re being unnecessarily cruel and it won’t work.

    To deter, we’d actually have to treat them worse. We might think we’re treating them worse, but we’re really only treating them badly. The reality is that things are far worse in the countries from which they’re fleeing, so it’s no deterrent – just a kick in the guts when they get here.

    Also profoundly unjust and an abandonment of our treaty obligations. Also inhumane.

  12. Narc – my point is not that a lack of shade has no capacity to be harmful, but that this is merely a claim being made by a refugee advocate with a clear agenda to push. and so should be taken with a massive dose of salt.

    Same for the lack of legal representation.

    Bottom line is that conditions on Nauru must be an enormous improvement over the conditions these people are fleeing. Unless they’re not genuine refugees of course.

  13. To deter, we’d actually have to treat them worse.

    I don’t disagree with this position in principle Lefty – at least inasmuch as it applies to genuine refugees. Logically you’re right – if we want to deter refugees from fleeing the hell holes they’re coming from then the only way we could do so would be to make Australia (or Nauru) a worse option.

    But – manifestly – neither option is actually worse. Nauru might be a little bit sunny and have insufficient legal representation, but it surely beats the shit out of war-torn Afghanistan. Hell, it’s probably better than conditions in Australian detention centers.

    Let me stop dancing around the issue and actually put my view on the table (hell I can hardly ask others to be honest in their argument if I’m holding back myself): I strongly suspect that a large percentage of those arriving here by boat are not genuine refugees and are deliberately gaming the system to obtain Australian residency. I suspect that these people are being lured (sometimes to their deaths) by what they perceive as an easy back-door route to permanent residency in a wealthy country.

    Just for the record I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the decision to try this back-door route – I might try the same if I was in their position – I’m just noting what I suspect to be the truth.

    And so we come back to Nauru – the little island that should work to deter non-genuine asylum seekers, but probably will not work as a deterrent against genuine refugees.

    Seems like a pretty good solution to me.

  14. Wisdom Like Silence

    Mondo lack of shade has the capacity to kill, quickly, as in a matter of hours. If the sun is out, and the humidity is above 95% which it always is in part of the world, it’s essentially a convection oven. Frankly unless you’re in an iced over cave with no direct sunlight, you are still hot.

  15. So, to be clear, you’re happy with us treating genuine refugees cruelly in the hopes of deterring non-genuine refugees. You acknowledge that the present system ought to deter non-genuine refugees. So how long into the numbers not dropping will you acknowledge that clearly we’re talking about genuine refugees and treating them cruelly is achieving nothing other than damaging them more?

  16. Wisdom Like Silence

    They’re just really, really determined to come here and enter into our enviable housing market.

  17. “I strongly suspect that a large percentage of those arriving here by boat are not genuine refugees and are deliberately gaming the system to obtain Australian residency.”

    Gee…mondo “strongly suspects” something. Well then we should all just roll over and let him walk all over us..no…wait…nearly every single refugee that arrives by boat into Australia has turned out to be genuine!!..so…while he may “strongly suspect” something he actually has no evidence whatsover.

    Which kinda makes him hard to take seriously ever, at all. Maybe I should just go back to insults:

    mondo talks bollocks. there, phew, I feel so much better now.

  18. So, to be clear, you’re happy with us treating genuine refugees cruelly in the hopes of deterring non-genuine refugees.

    Absolutely not. I fundamentally reject your claim that housing asylum seekers on Nauru is “cruel” treatment. In fact I could hardly have been clearer in my comments above that I consider Nauru to be a perfectly safe, secure and satisfactory destination for those fleeing for their lives.

    Do you have any actual evidence of cruelty towards those currently in detention on Nauru Jeremy – or are you just throwing that accusation around without any regard for whether it is true or not?

  19. Wisdom Like Silence

    Doesn’t the fact that there have been reports of cruelty or at least mistreatment deserve the gravest and most serious investigation?

  20. narcoticmusing

    that this is merely a claim being made by a refugee advocate with a clear agenda to push. and so should be taken with a massive dose of salt
    And if it is true? Should it not at least be considered?

    I suspect that most of those desperate enough to risk their life on a rickity boat are genuine refugees (notwithstanding that this is a technique used to “illegally” enter other jursidictions). I also suspect that Naaru see this as a cash cow because they can read the political environment as well as anyone. There is no clause in the agreement that says that they cannot profit. It is a basic contractual, self-interested parties agreement (albeit between two jurisdictions). Only, as with any for profit service, there is a conflict of interest in the quality of care (higher quality = higher cost) and the profit margin (which is to be maximised).

    Australia is outsourcing its obligations elsewhere, which means we have an interest in ensuring these are met. If there are allegations of harm (eg lack of shade) this should be investigated and addressed. Considering the amount paid per person to Naaru, basic care like shade should be part of the deal.

  21. But they are ,erken er erbs…..

  22. Wisdom Like Silence

    Yep, we’re asking the same question, you just used more words.

  23. Considering the amount paid per person to Naaru, basic care like shade should be part of the deal.

    Narc – the camps aren’t run by Nauru, they’re run by the Australian Immigration Department. We rent the land from Nauru (and apparently pay some sort of extortionate visa fee per detainee) but that’s it. Nauru doesn’t control these camps – we do.

    Nauru is an Australian government immigration detention camp. It’s just like the mainland camps in that regard, except it’s on Nauru.

    Certainly allegations that basic care is not being provided should be investigated (either in camps here or on Nauru). Certainly we should expect the Australian government to provide basic services and to look after people who are in our care. This is the minimum standard that any decent human being would require.

    But Jeremy has no evidence that this is the case, and his hyperbole in describing the Nauru camp as a deliberate attempt to inflict “cruelty” on the detainees is simply misleading and exaggerated garbage. If the best he can produce to back up his accusations is a highly suspect claim by a refugee advocate that there’s “insufficient shade for the detainees” then I’d suggest he’s more interested in scoring political points than he is in dealing with reality.

  24. Wisdom – what reports of cruelty are you referring to? Can you be specific?

  25. Yes, Mondo… If only humanity had devised some sort of system for evaluating claims as to whether someone was being treated in accordance with their legal rights. If only we had some way of those affected making complaints and having evidence of same tested.

    We could then block them from accessing it for the lulz.

  26. Jeremy – I asked you above but you seem to have missed my question so I’ll ask it again:

    Do you have any evidence that detainees on Nauru are being subjected to cruel treatment, either deliberately as part of an official Australian policy of deterrence, or for any other reason?

    Or are you just making this claim with no regard for whether it’s true or not?

  27. I think leaving them in tents in the heat is cruel. I think holding them indefinitely without having committed an offence is cruel. I think removing legal protections is what enables cruelty to go Uninvestigated and is itself part of the cruelty.

  28. Nauru conditions unbearable: UN commissioner.

    Ms Pillay has appealed to Prime Minister Julia Gillard to ensure there are human rights protections on Nauru.

    “It would be a blight on Australia’s good human rights record if it doesn’t respect the rights of asylum seekers under the convention to which it is a party,” she said.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-14/un-rights-commissioner-on-nauru/4370332

    Clearly this woman has an agenda..to undermine our ‘stralian way of life.

  29. narcoticmusing

    Mondo, I agree that Australia effectively runs the camps (noting that if it was completely that simple they would not be on Naaru) which is why if there are serious claims then they should be investigated by Australian authorities.

    Eric – you risk confirming Mondo’s point with your link. The UN Commissioner, from my reading of the article, made the conclusion that the conditions were bad based on hunger strikes, not based on any inspection or first hand knowledge. While I can see her logic, that is not evidence of such conduct.

    Regardless, I agree that the fact there is a hunger strike, at the least, warrents investigation as to why there is a hunger strike and if the claims/concerns have merit they should be addressed immediately.

  30. I regard the “No Advantage” policy as indisputable cruelty. Our express policy is to leave people languishing in detention for years on end solely so they get “no advantage” by having come here by boat, not because there’s any actual need to keep them in detention that long. Understanding that there’s a logic to this, namely, deterrence… but it’s still obviously cruelty, even if it works as an effective deterrent.

  31. narcotic…rubbish.

    The situation these people are in is cruel, simply from a human rights point of view, through the denial of those rights, which we’ve signed up for and are ignoring because..well because.

    One does not need to have “any inspection or first hand knowledge” to grapple with this simple fact.

    So… debate the fact of the actual physical circumstances of their plight all you wish. But those circumstances are, in fact, immaterial to the designation of cruelty from a very basic human rights perspective.

    That of course, is not to deny that the physical circumstances they are in are simply barbaric, which of course is why mondo likes em so much.

  32. Send them to live next to me. The Uber Bogan drunken conservative racist idiots that live close to me can then be moved out. Mars sounds like a good place for them!

  33. narcoticmusing

    Eric – did you even read my post? You used the UN Commissioner’s statement as evidence that the conditions on Naaru were terrible. I actually read the link you posted and saw no evidence in the article (which was exactly what Mondo was pointing out, calling things ‘evidence’ when they are just hearsay/opinion). Evidence is not just someone’s opinion. That was despite that I am of the opinion that a) the conditions in Naaru are substandard and need rectification and b) that the very fact there is a hunger strike should warrant investigation. Wtf is your problem? Do you just crack it with people and so attack their every post without reading it?

    Also, do you even see the nonsense in a sentence like “… circumstances are… immaterial” – I think you’ll find the circumstances are the only thing that IS material here. And I agree with you that the circumstances of the asylum seekers detention in Naaru is unacceptable, however, you are using the same sort of ‘facts are irrelevant’ approach of Fox News and Alan Jones. This was Mondo’s point regarding the evidence – it needs to actually be credible or else we end up being no better than Fox and Friends. I agree with Mondo that evidence needs to be credible – I just think it is, at the very least, sufficient to warrant investigation (which is where most evidence would be picked up).

    And your comment about Mondo at the end continues to reinforce your immaturity. Are you really that frightened of views other than yours?

  34. narcoticmusing

    I think removing legal protections is what enables cruelty
    Exactly J – this, in combination with limited ability to communicate with loved ones, means that they not only have conditions/circumstances that we would never accept for an Australian, but that they also have no mechanism to address that either directly (via legal protection) or indirectly (through contact with family). This disconnection with any chance of success/relief strips a person of hope and humanity. It is the most fundamental of needs after shelter and food (the former of which we are apparently not even fulfilling adequately).

    Again, we need to remember while debating this that we are not discussing criminals who have been sentenced, but likely victims of crimes. Thus we should err on the side of compassion – as we would any victim of such crime or hardship – not coldness.

  35. Jeremy, dude, I am begging you: can you please stop posting Assassin’s Creed III spoilers on your twitter account? I don’t want to unfollow, because everything else is witty and engaging and thought-provoking and I genuinely enjoy your tweets, but seriously you are KILLING me here.

  36. narc:

    “when they are just hearsay/opinion”.

    Errr no…the human rights of these individuals are being ignored on purpose. That’s the whole point of the policy, as buns clearly points out above. Not rocket science narc.The fact of the policy and then the fact of its implementation is, in fact, the evidence.

    “you are using the same sort of ‘facts are irrelevant’ approach of Fox News and Alan Jones. ..”. Yawn.

    and good ole reasonable mondo is very clear..he wants the policy implementation to be as cruel as possible. that’s what makes him a wingnut barbarian..imho of course.

  37. Mondo,

    I think your point about conditions not being “worse” is based on a misunderstanding (a common one) of the refugee conventions.

    All that is required is for a ‘well-founded fear of persecution’.

    A person may not have personally experienced any violence/mistreatment/torture and still be a genuine refugee.

    So, it is possible that an asylum seeker may experience their worst direct treatment at the hands of a state actor, when they arrive in Australia.

  38. Wisdom Like Silence

    BANANA HAMMOCK

  39. Wisdom Like Silence

    Sorry, I just wanted to get in some of my own pointless inane comments.

  40. I think leaving them in tents in the heat is cruel. I think holding them indefinitely without having committed an offence is cruel. I think removing legal protections is what enables cruelty to go Uninvestigated and is itself part of the cruelty.

    So no actual allegations of cruelty then – you just feel that the whole idea of putting someone in immigration detention is cruel in principle.

    By the way – what legal protections have been removed from the detainees on Nauru? I note that the article you link to above confirms that the detainees are being provided with access to lawyers – so what legal protections are you referring to?

  41. Gadj

    Thanks for your comments – and you make a good point.

    The “fear of persecution” test quite obviously does not require actual persecution in the country of origin. For example the test is commonly met by asylum seekers who convert to Christianity on their way to Australia. These applicants have suffered no actual persecution in their country of origin but if we were to send them back then their newfound Christianity would probably change that.

    It’s an interesting phenomenon – people who aren’t refugees when they leave their country of origin but who are by the time they get here. The more cynical among us might question whether this sort of manipulation undermines the real purpose of the refugee convention – which is to protect those who are forced to flee their homes for the safety of themselves and their families.

    Anyway I can understand how someone in that position would find incarceration on Nauru to be significantly worse than life back in their country of origin – particularly if they believe that their path to Australian residency has been permanently blocked.

  42. Our express policy is to leave people languishing in detention for years on end solely so they get “no advantage” by having come here by boat, not because there’s any actual need to keep them in detention that long.

    Buns – which do you find to be the worse outcome:

    1. a refugee is left waiting for resettlement in a detention camp in Indonesia for five years; or

    2. a refugees is left waiting for resettlement in an Australian run detention center on Nauru for five years?

    For me the first option is worse – at least under the second option Australia can ensure relative safety, security and basic care is offered.

  43. Wisdom Like Silence

    So mondo, do you think our Key Perfomance Indicators for the Nauru facilitiy should be one thing, “Not Run By Indonesia.”?

  44. Wisdom – are you still trying to be funny or is that really your interpretation of my comments above?

  45. Wisdom Like Silence

    I’m gifted enought to have done both in one sentence.

  46. He has a valid point, mondo. The issue is whether we are treating asylum seekers cruelly, not whether someone else would treat them worse. Surely you can parse the difference.

  47. Of course buns – but then I have not argued that our treatment of asylum seekers on Nauru is of an acceptable (non-cruel) standard merely by virtue of it being superior to the treatment they would receive in Indonesia.

    I have only pointed out that I would rather have refugees waiting in Nauru for resettlement than waiting in Indonesian camps. Part of the reason for my preference in this regard is that we have a much higher standard of care than they do.

  48. Wisdom Like Silence

    But not as high as it should be, if the allegations are to be believed. The allegations could be erroneous, or even maliciously fabricated, no one outside of the Nauru facility can speculate. Which is why there should be an investigation.

  49. Sure – I agree that credible allegations of mistreatment or of care that fails to meet our expectations should be investigated.

    I don’t find allegations of insufficient shade made by a sole refugee advocate to be either credible or serious – but I guess that is a matter of personal opinion.

  50. By the way Wisdom if the Nauru solution works to reduce the waiting time of refugees in Indonesian camps – but does this by holding asylum seekers on Nauru longer than would otherwise be necessary – would you consider this a good outcome?

    I appreciate that’s a rather big ‘if’ – but it is one of the intended outcomes of the Nauru solution so it’s not entirely unplausible.

  51. Wisdom Like Silence

    If the allegations were credible then they’d just be observable fact, negating need for investigation, because they’d already have evidence. Every allegation needs to be treated with the same severity, personal opinion shouldn’t really have any bearing on whether it should be investigated.

    People being held longer than necessary is bad, generally speaking. I have no problem with people being held on Nauru, beyond my own moral/ethical/pragmatic reasoning, for whatever lenght of time the powers that be decide to hold them. Jumping up and down isn’t going to force someone to be more compassionate or reasonable. But if it gets people away from other detention facilities that are run poorly, then great.
    If Nauru is being poorly run then that voids the reduced waiting time in Indonesia though.

  52. Every allegation needs to be treated with the same severity, personal opinion shouldn’t really have any bearing on whether it should be investigated.

    Well I hate to disagree when we’re finding common ground on the other issue – but your view that all allegations stand on the same footing regardless of the credibility of the person making them is surely faulty reasoning.

    When someone making an allegation has an obvious agenda and a clear vested interest in pushing for a particular outcome then the credibility of that allegation should be evaluated in that light. For example when the US Government claims that all military aged males in the vicinity of a drone strike are Al-Qaeda militants I treat that claim with some skepticism.

    Wouldn’t you?

  53. Do you? Please share your suspicions with us!

  54. narcoticmusing

    There is, however, a difference mondo between taking into account someone’s biases and simply disregarding quite alarming allegations. Just because a person is an advocate for a cause, does not make their observations false – indeed, it may place that person in a unique position to make those observations. It would be one thing if they were being accused of exaggeration – but you have said repeatedly that we should completely disregard the allegations just because the person is an advocate. I completely reject that.

  55. Wisdom Like Silence

    Allegations can only be rejected based on evidence. There is no evidence to refute the claims. Investigate the claims. Evidence suggests claim in erroneous. Rejection.
    Your scenario would be treated with great skepticism, into which there would be an investigation to acertain the veracity of the claims. They would not be rejected out of hand. It swings both ways, hence, opnion shouldn’t have any place in deciding what should be investigated, because, every claim should be investigated.

  56. It would be one thing if they were being accused of exaggeration – but you have said repeatedly that we should completely disregard the allegations just because the person is an advocate.

    Well that’s just not true Narc.

    Scan my comments above – you’ll see that all I’ve said is that the advocate’s claims should be regarded with skepticism and not accepted uncritically (as so many on this thread seem to have done). That’s not the same as saying that they should be completely disregarded, and I certainly haven’t “repeatedly” said they should be disregarded.

    Look – fundamentally I don’t see Nauru as a positive place or an ideal option for dealing with legitimate refugees (or even non-legitimate refugees for that matter). While it’s true that I don’t put much stock in reports that detainees are forced to endure deliberately cruel conditions at the hands of their Australian captors I nonetheless agree that forcing refugees to choose between prolonged detention on Nauru (prior to settlement in Australia) or immediate return to their country of origin is a shitty thing to do. It must be awful for those who have to endure it.

    But for me it is, unfortunately, the best of the available options.

    We have to do something to address the boat person trade – and all the deaths that come with it. Maintaining the status-quo and tolerating a few hundred drowning deaths every six months or so seems immoral and unacceptable to me. Not to mention the impact this trade has on those waiting for resettlement in camps that are far worse than Nauru.

    The only solution I’ve heard proposed to date that seems to have any chance of shutting down that trade is Jeremy’s – i.e. throwing open our borders and accepting all refugees who want to come here. But while that solution would work to eliminate illegal people smuggling and empty the camps in Indonesia it is obviously not realistic (either politically or economically).

    So to me Nauru is the best of a bad bunch of options.

  57. Allegations can only be rejected based on evidence.

    I reject that allegation.

  58. narcoticmusing

    I was basing my comment on this:
    this is merely a claim being made by a refugee advocate with a clear agenda to push. and so should be taken with a massive dose of salt

    That to me read to be disregard because not credible. Fair enough if you meant with great skepticism, however, I’d assert the claims should still be looked into and we should be careful to not confuse healthy skepticism of someone’s claims with cynicism that would pay only lip service to the investigation to silence the advocate.

    I accept your correction, apologies for any misunderstanding. I also agree that it isn’t a scenario of detainees are forced to endure deliberately cruel conditions at the hands of their Australian captors , rather I simply see the conditions as unacceptable for Australia to provide – for me this is the case even if the allegations are untrue. The fact that the allegations are made and there are other indicators (such as the hunger strike Eric pointed out in the article he linked to) should invoke due process to investigate them and ensure the parties have access to the right care.

  59. Wisdom Like Silence

    The obverse is that allegations can only be accepted on evidence.

  60. Bottom line Narc, is that even if these detainees were being housed in air-conditioned luxury with personal infinity pools and unlimited Foxtel (including the naughty channels) they would still, underneath it all, be detainees in a prison. They would still be suffering by virtue of the fact that they are likely to be stuck in limbo on an island in the middle of nowhere for many years, and may never start the new life in Australia that they had hoped for.

    There is no way to get around that – well, no way other than abandoning the Nauru idea and going back to on-shore processing.

    Certainly we should ensure the minimum level of acceptable care is provided (at least) to those unfortunate enough to get stuck on Nauru, but that won’t end the hunger strikes nor will it prevent the refugee advocates from continuing to allege detainee cruelty to any media outlet willing to report it.

    These advocates are, after all, trying to achieve an outcome through their lobbying efforts.

  61. So ending cruel treatment of asylum seekers won’t stop refugee advocates alleging cruelty? Wow. I thought I was cynical.

  62. No, what I’m saying is that while Nauru exists and is used for its current purpose – i.e. holding asylum seekers for prolonged periods to prevent settlement in Australia – it will always be described as ‘cruel’ by those seeking a return to onshore processing. It doesn’t matter what conditions on the island are like as these are not, fundamentally, the source of the cruelty against which these advocates are protesting

  63. Wisdom Like Silence

    I’ll cop that. Just because someone is an advocate doesn’t mean they don’t fabricate bullshit to get a favourable result ie their job description. Wee all liiive in a morraal va-ca-uum a moral vac-a-uum a moral va-ca-uum.

  64. Ahh, but Wisdom don’t you see? Bullshitting the public isn’t an immoral act if it is done in the pursuit of a moral cause.

  65. Wisdom Like Silence

    Moral relativity is one of Australia’s oldest past times. Like owning english newspapers and shooting horses in the face.

  66. narcoticmusing

    I find it concerning that you view a refugee advocate as someone who is dishonest and not to be trusted rather than perhaps someone who may have, by the nature of their special position, exposure to the facts and first hand observations, of which you do not have. In my experience, many people that work with refugees – be they advocates, medical professionals, etc – observe things that are inconvenient for the polity. That doesn’t make them lack credibility, it is a witness testimony of actual perceived events.

    The advocate did not say things as obscure as those making allegations (who also have an agenda) regarding the ‘Gillard AWU scandal’. This is filled with innuendo and smear without any substatiation nor any current confirming evidence- and yet you think that deserves investigation. Yet, someone who gives a first hand account of things they witness that is current – they are the ones that are not credible?

  67. Wisdom Like Silence

    Trust no one, haven’t you ever seen X Files?

  68. It doesn’t matter what conditions on the island are like as these are not, fundamentally, the source of the cruelty against which these advocates are protesting

    Even when they say otherwise? It couldn’t possibly be true, so they must be bullshitting.

  69. Wisdom Like Silence

    It could possibly be true, they also might be bullshitting. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

  70. narcoticmusing

    I’m suggesting there should not be a presumption a person with first hand witness evidence is bullshitting merely because they also have an opinion/bias. This should be contrasted with a person who merely has an agenda making claims without any evidence, rather the best support they have is innuendo. Innuendo and other like propositions should, at first instance, be presumed as BS if coming from people with an agenda – or at the very least have no presumption either way. This is because they have not experienced any of the matters first hand (or even 2nd hand).* Witness (a person who has personally seen/experienced the matters they describe as opposed to a person who merely heard something from someone) evidence, such as that from this advocate, should carry far more weight.

    *This of course should be distinguished from an impartial investigation.

  71. Wisdom Like Silence

    I can be cynical if I want to.

  72. narcoticmusing

    I hope this is not considered someone with an agenda who should be taken with a grain of salt.

    A delegation from the human rights body expressed shock at the conditions at the camp after being given unfettered access on Tuesday, saying they were tougher than those at any mainland detention centre and responsible for a ”terrible spiral” of self-harm, hunger strikes and suicide attempts

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/amnesty-urges-rethink-on-island-detention-20121120-29o61.html

  73. Wisdom Like Silence

    I like how Bowen says “it’s the same conditions immigration staff and service providers are working under” like that makes the slightest bit of difference.

  74. narcoticmusing

    I’m not sure the immigration staff and service providers are:
    a) being forced to sleep, eat, do everything in the same space
    b) being confined against their will (notwithstanding that it may be appropriate to do so, but it goes towards the conditions not being the same)
    c) have adequate warmth and shade

    If not, we would see similar mental health impacts on staff and service providers.

  75. narcoticmusing

    Dr Thom spoke of cramped conditions in which up to 14 men were living in a single tent.

    ”In summer, in the heat, it gets to over 40 degrees during the day in those tents and it was certainly very hot and humid when we were in there. When it’s raining, as it is now, the tents are leaking and their bedding gets wet at night,” he said

    I’m pretty sure the immgration staff and service providers are not enduring those conditions. And if they are experiencing even a portion of it, I can bet you that they are being adequately compensated for it.

  76. The the immgration staff and service providers are in hotels.

  77. Exactly right, narc.

    I hope this is not considered someone with an agenda who should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Personally, I take the government’s statements about conditions at Nauru with the biggest grains of salt seeing as the government has a lot more at stake than some refugee advocate or Amnesty.

  78. Wisdom Like Silence

    My point is that anyone enduring those conditions is bad, but mentioning they are doing it as well is just dumb. “Look at us, slumming it.”

  79. narcoticmusing

    Wasn’t disagreeing with you Wisdom :) I was providing examples to show just how ridiculous the statement from Bowan was.

  80. Wisdom Like Silence

    Politician Dimminutizes Human Suffering, film at 11.

  81. narcoticmusing

    Wis – is that film as good as “Man being hit by Football” by Hans Moleman?

  82. Personally, I take the government’s statements about conditions at Nauru with the biggest grains of salt

    As, of course, you should buns. There is no party with more incentive to spin reality to suit its agenda than the Federal Government.

    However I maintain that it is naive to fail to apply the same scepticism to claims made by advocates for the ‘other’ side. It’s an act of willful stupidity to assume that refugee advocates, Amnesty International and others, are as pure as the driven snow and don’t also stretch the truth to further their agendas. They have in the past, and they will continue to do so into the future.

    It is also relevant to note that I have never said that the allegations made about the conditions on Nauru should not be investigated. I have only argued that we should not jump to conclusions based on reports from a single source with a clear agenda to push. I certainly agree that, given the recent Amnesty report seems to corroborate the earlier report, an investigation now seems necessary.

    But let me ask all of you a question – Wisdom, Narc and Buns: if Australia can address these concerns to your satisfaction, i.e. if we can bring the facilities up to a level that is acceptable to you, would you then change your position and support offshore processing on Nauru?

  83. Wisdom Like Silence

    Support, no. Stomach, yes.

  84. Wisdom Like Silence

    I’ll never be an advocate in favour of off shore processing because the cost is astronomical and the outcomes are no different. I don’t like the government spending extra money to assuage the proletariat’s fear of brown people, it’s never ended well.

  85. narcoticmusing

    Putting humanitarian issues aside Mondo, I agree with Wisdom’s well put statement regarding cost. I think it is a completely inappropriate and extravagant indulgence to process refugees offshore when the cost is upwards of 3 times more per person. For the same reason I believe we must maintain a quota, I also believe onshore processing is the most cost effective solution. Furthermore, it has the most options to enable even more cost effective solutions (such as conditional release into the community etc while processing is ongoing).

    With regard to humanitarian outcomes, as is often the case, more effective solutions are often cheaper. Onshore programs with conditional release are much less that onshore imprisonment which is much less that offshore imprisonment.

    We see this in health care all the time, but there are perverse incentives in the funding mechanisms to steer away from greater health outcomes and towards greater costs. The Feds, in their continued cluelessness, are simply reinforcing this with health reform by ignoring the lessons learnt by SA and Vic. Similarly, the Feds refuse to learn lessons from our past and others who have tried such strategies.

    Finally, as many of the asylum seekers who are sent to Naaru will indeed be found to be genuine refugees, we should be considering the cost of now integrating such a damaged person – where so much of the damage was caused by us simply to placate a few loud voices and shock jocks.

  86. I’ll never be an advocate in favour of off shore processing because the cost is astronomical and the outcomes are no different.

    That certainly seems to be the current reality – the solution that worked last time isn’t working this time. Incidentally the only reason I support (supported?) Nauru was because I believed it would work – i.e. I believed that it could deliver a reduction in boat arrivals (as it did when it was administered by the Howard Government).

    It certainly seems, at this point, that I was wrong.

    Fundamentally I agree with you Wisdom. If offshore processing can’t deliver a reduction in boat arrivals then it is a gigantic waste of time and money and not worth pursuing.

  87. Wisdom Like Silence

    I’ve always liked the idea of Snowy River Scheming them all.

  88. Wisdom Like Silence

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