It’s not “tough” to demonise the vulnerable

If you didn’t catch last night’s episode of Go Back To Where You Came From, you can view the video on that link before you watch tonight’s.

And a quick response to young Liberal participant Roderick Schneider, who reckons “A tough stance on refugees doesn’t make me a racist” – no, Rod, but if by “tough” you mean “a hysterically hostile stance on a small proportion of refugees who happen to predominantly be from particular racial groups”, then it does.

Today’s Crikey does an excellent job of demolishing the myths on which Rod’s selectively “tough” approach to asylum seekers relies:

The Coalition claims that the punitive Howard policies were successful in stopping the boats and asylum seekers, and that the government should pick up the phone to re-establish a processing centre in Nauru. It ignores the fact that the Pacific Solution cost more than $1 billion over five years, at enormous human pain, yet diverted only 46 persons away from Australia, at a cost of $35,000 each.

It’s our deranged, irrational obsession with keeping out these most desperate people NO MATTER THE RIDICULOUS COST, in a context where much of the debate is clearly based on fear of other races, that makes the “boat people” fear mongering “racist”.

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50 responses to “It’s not “tough” to demonise the vulnerable

  1. Geeze that skanky little fuckhead is annoying.

  2. Sorry, totally agree with the post, and think that show is great.

  3. Still, as I said on Twitter – “Instead of being angry with young Raquel, can we direct our rage at the ppl who pander to and encourage those views?”.

    She’s just an ignorant young person who left school at 14 and lives in a media and political environment where her base prejudices are inflamed and encouraged. It’s only partly her fault she turned out the way she did.

    I’m optimistic we’ll see a turn-around by the last episode tonight, too. One we didn’t see with the young Liberal.

  4. I can’t help feeling that if some disaster occured in the United Kingdom that created a flood of refugees, our doors would be swung wide open. Imagine for a moment Labour or Liberal ministers advocating detention centres for people with white skin and impeccable English. Now tell me it’s not a racist policy.

  5. Totally agree Jules. I can’t stand her, the foul mouthed little trollop!

    And why do the camera men give her so much airtime? All she is going to do is swear, smoke and whine about how unfair everything is.

    I love that when asked “what do you do for a living” by the UN guy in the refugee camp, and her answer was “Nothing”

    I hope she remembers that next time her lazy ass is moaning about immigrants “stealing Aussie jobs”

  6. “Still, as I said on Twitter – “Instead of being angry with young Raquel, can we direct our rage at the ppl who pander to and encourage those views?”. ”

    Yeah fair enough, tho I get annoyed at both.

    The real thing about her isn’t her racist attitude. Its just that she never stops whinging. Thats why she shat me to tears last night. I reckon living in Western Sydney would bring out the worst in anyone, but that aside did they have to pick someone who would complain about every little thing all the way thru the show*. Is all reality tv like this?

    “I’m optimistic we’ll see a turn-around by the last episode tonight, too.”

    Maybe, I think some people are just jerks tho. But you never know, things are definitely gonna get “worse” soon, as they confront the reality of the situations “these people” are trying to escape. Maybe that’ll open their eyes. It was interesting hearing how different people reacted to the raids, for instance. One guy referred to how he’ds lose it if the cops raided the family they stayed with. I’m wondering if that family has been raided since. It wouldn’t be surprise me if they got done as soon as the cameras were gone.

    * I’m sure Ms “Haven’t you seen a drug raid before?” is suffering at the hands of the editors too. 16 days … it’d be easy to pick the bits you wanted to reinforce your view, especially for people going cold turkey on their loved ones and (or including) mobiles. I don’t mind Raquels admitted racism, I wish she’d just get on with it,and have the sense to realise that it doesn’t matter where its happening, cops kicking in doors isn’t and getting all violent like that isn’t generally a good thing.

    Notasheeple, don’t English people, most Europeans in fact, who get busted overstaying their visas end up in detention?

    I’m sure I’ve heard of that sort of thing happening. One of the towns I live near is a big backpacker destination. My understanding is that usually they end up in detention, for at most a week and get deported back to Europe. I think they then can’t get another visa for a year. Not completely sure about that tho, so don’t rely on it.

    However I do agree with you tho, its a racist policy and if was white English speakers fleeing disaster things would change pretty damn quickly.

  7. I didn’t watch this doco (a decision I now regret) – largely because I’m fairly confident about how it’ll end.
    I predict that their views will simply harden.

    Jeremy’s right about the likes of Raquel – from what I’ve read about the doco, these entrants have never been in an environment in which their views would be meaningfully challenged (or even available for challenge). Like climate-change denialism or creationism; when you DO face such a test, it’s easier to attack the proof than wonder if you picked the wrong horse.

    But having said this, I’m seeing this website…
    http://thingsboganslike.com/
    … in a whole new light.

  8. Notasheeple, don’t English people, most Europeans in fact, who get busted overstaying their visas end up in detention?

    They do – visa breaches are visa breaches, regardless. But I think his point is, that The Bogan wouldn’t wear that.

  9. What the hell is going on here – am I drifting to the right or are the rest of you losing the plot?

    I clicked on young Rod’s piece expecting to see a glib regurgitation of Liberal Party nonsense but instead I find an earnest plea for permission to talk about ways of addressing the boat person problem without being branded a racist.

    And Lefty responds to this plea by calling Rod a racist. Fuck me.

    Does anyone here actually accept that the people smuggling trade is something which Australia should be trying to stop? I ask because the way you’re framing this issue – i.e. that the only reason someone would focus on the boat people problem is that they are racist – essentially precludes such a conclusion.

    Is it so inconcievable to commenters here that someone could be motivated by a genuine concern for refugee welfare and still favour action to stop the boats?

  10. Does anyone here actually accept that the people smuggling trade is something which Australia should be trying to stop?

    Yes, but I wouldn’t go to the lengths Gillard is, ie send them to Malaysia (especially unaccompanied minors). Push factors, as long as there is war and misery there will be people smugglers.

    “Is it so inconcievable to commenters here that someone could be motivated by a genuine concern for refugee welfare and still favour action to stop the boats?

    Clearly, those who support the Malaysian solution have no concern for the 800 we’re going to send there. The 800 aren’t people smugglers and are just as human as the 4 000 we’ll take in exchange. It is a bit like collective punishment.

  11. Say there was a catastrophe over the pond in NZ, they started coming in boats, they had no papers as the result of the catastrophe, I wonder if Rod would send them to Malaysia? I wouldn’t mind betting that we’d roll out the red carpet.

  12. “am I drifting to the right or are the rest of you losing the plot?”

    I think perhaps, like me, you’re drifting towards a much more centrist view on this issue where it is possible to be compassionate for those seeking asylum whilst wishing to see the end of people smuggling or “stopping the boats” as it is now termed.

    I think however Jeremy is so vehemently opposed to anyone who was previously associated with the Young Libs that no matter how pragmatic and cogent their argument is, he will take an opposing view.

  13. “Is it so inconcievable to commenters here that someone could be motivated by a genuine concern for refugee welfare and still favour action to stop the boats?”

    It’s not inconceivable. But when the suggested alternative action boils down to “off-shore the problem so we don’t see it”, then one has to wonder whether refugee welfare is really the animating principle behind the Liberal (and Labor) solutions. “Out of sight, out of mind” isn’t helping true refugees. Put a better option on the table than punishing the victims.

  14. Yes, but I wouldn’t go to the lengths Gillard is, ie send them to Malaysia (especially unaccompanied minors).

    So what would you do bobby? What policy aimed at slowing/stopping the boats would be acceptable to you?

    Clearly, those who support the Malaysian solution have no concern for the 800 we’re going to send there.

    Can’t the exact same argument be made against you bobby? Clearly you have no concern for the 4,000 refugees you would have us leave stranded in Malaysia.

    Don’t you care about them?

  15. “instead I find an earnest plea for permission to talk about ways of addressing the boat person problem without being branded a racist.”

    His preferred policy is to chuck the refugees – including children – into prison as a “deterrent”. As we saw on the program, this cruelty is insufficient to stop people trying to come – it’s still not as bad as conditions in the Malaysian refugee camps or, indeed, the ones back in Africa or the Middle East – all it does is punish desperate people for doing precisely what we’d do in exactly the same circumstances.

    The only way we could effectively “deter” people from coming here is to be even WORSE than Malaysia, but what monster would seriously advocate that?

    Rod’s “concern” for the refugees is as hollow as that of the party he wants to represent. The real audience for their policies is ignorant racists like Raquel, and the real victims are the refugees for whom they feign concern.

    “Is it so inconcievable to commenters here that someone could be motivated by a genuine concern for refugee welfare and still favour action to stop the boats?”

    Not if the way you want to “stop the boats” is to be nastier to the refugees.

    “I think however Jeremy is so vehemently opposed to anyone who was previously associated with the Young Libs that no matter how pragmatic and cogent their argument is, he will take an opposing view.”

    That’s the second time you’ve come out with that rubbish ad hom. I’m arguing the ball, not the man, and the smear’s both inaccurate and unfair. (As it happens, when I first went to uni I joined the Liberal Club, so I’m hardly someone who believes young conservatives can’t ultimately see the flaws in their philosophy.)

    “Say there was a catastrophe over the pond in NZ, they started coming in boats, they had no papers as the result of the catastrophe, I wonder if Rod would send them to Malaysia? I wouldn’t mind betting that we’d roll out the red carpet.”

    Exactly.

  16. “So what would you do bobby? What policy aimed at slowing/stopping the boats would be acceptable to you?”

    Haven’t seen one so far that’s an improvement on the pre-2001 situation. Rescue them and treat them humanely when they get here. Prosecute those who run dangerous boats into Australian waters putting lives at risk.

  17. “What the hell is going on here – am I drifting to the right or are the rest of you losing the plot?”

    I’d seriously consider shutting this blog down if after all of our debates here you drifted to the right.

  18. “That’s the second time you’ve come out with that rubbish ad hom. I’m arguing the ball, not the man, and the smear’s both inaccurate and unfair”

    Fair enough, please accept my apology.

    I don’t understand however, how you can make statements such as “Rod’s “concern” for the refugees is as hollow as that of the party he wants to represent” based on the article he has written.

  19. “how you can make statements such as “Rod’s “concern” for the refugees is as hollow as that of the party he wants to represent” based on the article he has written.”

    He tries to play one group of refugees off against another – as if we must treat group of refugees A badly or we can’t help group B. A disingenuous false choice..

    He acknowledges the monstrous conditions in the refugee camps from which they’re fleeing, and then suggests we should have no sympathy for them for daring to flee.

    He wants to punish the diabolical people smugglers who prey on “vulnerable people” by punishing the vulnerable people further!

    None of this squares with someone who has genuine compassion for the refugees in question. He supports treating them badly, and has made up a set of flimsy justifications and false choices so that he can pretend he’s treating them badly for their own good. It is, as I said, completely hollow.

  20. I’d seriously consider shutting this blog down if after all of our debates here you drifted to the right.

    LOL. I think you can rest assured Lefty.

    The only way we could effectively “deter” people from coming here is to be even WORSE than Malaysia, but what monster would seriously advocate that?

    I’m not sure this observation is true – after all Howard’s Pacific Solution deterred quite effectively without us sinking below the level of Malaysia. No one has suggested that the detainees on Nauru were treated inhumanely (apart from the whole deprivation of liberty thing).

    Would a revival of the Pacific solution therefore be preferable to the Malaysia solution?

    Haven’t seen one so far that’s an improvement on the pre-2001 situation. Rescue them and treat them humanely when they get here.

    Aren’t we effectively applying the pre-2001 solution now? The Pacific solution has been abandoned and TPVs are out – so we’re back to plain old mandatory detention aren’t we?

  21. “I’m not sure this observation is true – after all Howard’s Pacific Solution deterred quite effectively without us sinking below the level of Malaysia.”

    I don’t think that’s true – plenty of boats still came, they just weren’t allowed to land in Australia. Weren’t most of the detainees eventually approved as genuine refugees anyway – after years of unnecessary (and ridiculously expensive) imprisonment?

    “Aren’t we effectively applying the pre-2001 solution now? The Pacific solution has been abandoned and TPVs are out – so we’re back to plain old mandatory detention aren’t we?”

    Did we have mandatory detention pre-2001?

  22. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, the mistake you are making is to actually think for yourself. Please try to show more respect to the great Hive Mind. If you continue down this path who knows what might happen. Imagine the horror if all the donkeys stopped braying in unison. If you don’t regularly upset all sides chances are you’ve sold your soul, or at least your judgment, down the river.

  23. “He wants to punish the diabolical people smugglers who prey on “vulnerable people” by punishing the vulnerable people further!”

    Sorry Jeremy but I just don’t see how you come to that conclusion based on what was written in that article.

  24. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy: “Did we have mandatory detention pre-2001?”

    Keating introduced it in 1992.

  25. “So what would you do bobby? What policy aimed at slowing/stopping the boats would be acceptable to you?”

    For a kick off I’d stop causing push factors, I wouldn’t have had Australia waging war in Iraq & Afghanistan. I would have pressured Sri Lanka to negotiate a ceasefire etc etc.

    “Can’t the exact same argument be made against you bobby? Clearly you have no concern for the 4,000 refugees you would have us leave stranded in Malaysia.”

    I’ve said, possibly on this blog that we should take the 4 000 regardless, I absolutely have compassion and think Australia should up it’s intake.

  26. plenty of boats still came, they just weren’t allowed to land in Australia.

    Initially, yes, but once word got back that all boats were being intercepted and their passengers shipped to Nauru the boats stopped coming. This is reflected in the official stats.

    Did we have mandatory detention pre-2001?

    Yes – I believe that Keating introduced it in 1995.

    If you’re advocating that we go back to pre-mandatory detention days then I’m with you as long as the change in policy doesn’t encourage more people to try to come here by boat.

  27. If you don’t regularly upset all sides chances are you’ve sold your soul, or at least your judgment, down the river.

    Although the reverse isn’t necessarily true – regularly upsetting all sides is not of itself evidence of independent thought. It could, for example, simply evidence jerkish behaviour and/or trolling.

  28. “I don’t think that’s true – plenty of boats still came, they just weren’t allowed to land in Australia. Weren’t most of the detainees eventually approved as genuine refugees anyway – after years of unnecessary (and ridiculously expensive) imprisonment?” – Jeremy.

    Yep.

    The figures aren’t solid (for obvious reasons), but at least hundreds of milions, up to a bilion dollars for this piece of insanity.

    Most of them were eventually resettled in Oz.

    And it’s worth remembering that the panic that led to the ‘Pacific Solution’ was the result of an earlier policy innovation (TPV) that increased the number of boat arrivals.

  29. Good bloody grief. If people are going to go on about mandatory detention then at least get your facts right. Minister Gerry Hand, Keating government, 1992 One of the main reasons I left the Labor Party and no longer automatically support it during elections. I am heartily sick of hearing centrist and right wing waffle on this issue. The sheer bloody ignorance of Australians about our treaty obligations, not to mention their knowledge of signatories to the convention is staggering.

  30. And another thing – why do I have to feel any compassion for a person like Raquel? You know, it is possible to come from a working class/underclass background and actually develop skills in critical thinking. I know several people who have done this. I’ve also known people similar to Rachel who have held their racist viewpoints for decades. It doesn’t always have to be ideological brainwashing, or a product of historicity. Sometimes it’s just sheer bonedheadedness.

  31. Whoops meant ‘Raquel’ not ‘Rachel’.

  32. Apologies Malky – the Keating govt introduced it in ’92 and not ’95.

    Out of interest, do you believe that the goal of reducing the number of boat arrivals should exist on Australia’s list of priorities, and if so how do you think we should pursue it?

  33. narcoticmusing

    We seem to have a blurring of issues whenever this debate is raised. On the one hand, racism does legitimately enter this debate. On the other, people arriving by boat is a real concern for their safety.

    As Lefty mentioned earlier, any solution that punishes the people we claim to be worried about, for the actions of those we ALL oppose (people smugglers), then we are confusing our issues.

    Can I just suggest another view not often considered when people beat their chest seemingly compassionately about stopping the boat people. Yes, it is a dangerous path crossing the ocean in that little boat, but a bit of perspective. Consider where they came from. This is probably, arguably, the least dangerous part of their journey. In terms of survival odds, the ocean is looking good compared to some of the nations they have to leave and/or go through to get here.

  34. NM is right, of course. If we succeed in forcing these refugees to stay in the camps in Malaysia and Indonesia, they’ll be in more danger than they ever were on a leaky boat. But I suppose if we don’t see what happens to them, we don’t have to care, right?

    Also, I’d like to distinguish between “people smugglers” in the generic sense – there’s nothing evil about helping a person escape persecution and reach safety – and the people who deliberately make money by putting them on unnecessarily dangerous boats. And the poor fishermen who take a job to crew them out of utter poverty.

    How about we up the penalties for running unsafe boats, and make a clear distinction between them and those who would smuggle the refugees more responsibly? If we’re genuinely concerned about their safety, that is.

  35. From Rob, who’s having some posting difficulties:

    So mondo, in summary (you may have missed my response because it got held up for a short while) I maintain that it would be better, fairer and far cheaper to take in the 4 000 and keep process the 800 here on the mainland.

    Australia needs to up it’s humanitarian intake and then we might be as good as we claim, we don’t punch above our weight, we take 13 000 per year which is bugger all considering Italy currently has 2 500 arriving per week, yes, I realise that they aren’t automatically granting all of them refugee status immediately but it puts things in perspective, our problems with boat people is exaggerated, there is a fear campaign and people smugglers are the new bogey man the govt likes to use. Sad thing is so many are falling for it. 

    BTW there has been a sharp drop in immigration, we need more immigrants, lets take the people who are most keen to get here.

  36. On the one hand, racism does legitimately enter this debate. On the other, people arriving by boat is a real concern for their safety.

    As is the case with so many political arguments, the great confusion arises from the fact that both of these points are valid.

    While you’re right that this paradign sometimes results in a blurring of the issues you’re wrong to suggest that as a bad thing. The fact is that the issue is blurred: some people on the “stop the boats” side of the issue are undoubtedly racist, just as some on the “let them come” side are blase about the dangers of people smuggling. That’s what makes it so complex.

    The complaints from both sides of the argument are valid, and need to be addressed. A solution doesn’t come from “picking” one of the two issues and bunkering down behind it, but from opening your mind and understanding that you’re opponets aren’t unthinking monsters, and may actually have a point.

    That’s why it’s so disappointing to see Lefty attempting to frame this argument in terms of “if you disagree with me you’re a racist”. He apparently wants to paint his opponents as cartoon monsters, presumably so he feels better about completely ignoring their views. It’s an identical mindset to those Israel defenders who try to define their debate so that all criticism of Israel appears as anti-semitism.

    “I don’t need to listen to you, you’re anti-semitic.”

    “I don’t need to listen to you, you’re a racist.”

    It’s all a bit sad really.

  37. I maintain that it would be better, fairer and far cheaper to take in the 4 000 and keep process the 800 here on the mainland.

    But Rob, that would have no detterent effect on boat arrivals.

    Otherwise I completely agree with you. We should increase our intake of refugees and migrants. We should go to the appaling camps and help more people to escape them. We should reject immigration policies based on xenophobia and seek to open the minds of our prejudiced and parochial.

    But we should do all this while also trying to discourage boat arrivals. They are a dangerous and exploitative way of getting to Australia, and they deny places here to other refugee families who may not have the means to travel on a boat, or who have otherwise decided to follow the rules.

  38. jordanrastrick

    If we succeed in forcing these refugees to stay in the camps in Malaysia and Indonesia, they’ll be in more danger than they ever were on a leaky boat.

    If you mean direct danger to their life, I think that’s probably false, although if you’re talking some more nuanced measure of risk to welfare like disability-adjusted life years, it might be closer to the mark.

    Out of interest, do you believe that the goal of reducing the number of boat arrivals should exist on Australia’s list of priorities, and if so how do you think we should pursue it?

    Mondo, here’s a rough outline of my approach.

    *I would establish a couple of charter cities on the Australian mainland. They would be Federal territories (ceded by the States where applicable) with distinct legal jurisdictions, excluded from our migration zone. There would have a strictly policed border; all residents would have to carry ID cards, and regularly report to an authority to confirm their ongoing presence.

    *Australians would be free to take up residence in the cities. We would also have a very generous allowance of visas to immigrants, that would essentially be auctioned off, based on a single unified formula calculated using three criteria – upfront payment, projected capacity to earn, and humanitarian need (essentially a broadening of our current refugee/family reunion criteria). Applications would be at Australian consulates, and also at centres set up in UNHCR refugee camps.

    *The charter cities would have their own taxation system and social services, and would be legally required to be net contributors to the federal treasury; there would be no subsidisation of the cities’ residents by Australian taxpayers. All residents would have the legal right to work, freedom to move around the city, etc. For migrant residents to travel to other parts of Australia, they would be required to apply for a visa like any one overseas.

    *After having spent a minimum timeframe of several years and contributing a minimum net amount of tax, migrant charter city residents would be eligible to apply for full Australian citizenship. People who fail to make a net positive tax contribution could remain in the charter city indefinitely, but would not be able to move elsewhere. Only people convicted of serious offences would be repatriated (where that would not endanger them).

    *Asylum seekers arriving here unannounced, by boat or plane, would automatically become charter city residents. They would have to wait longer and pay more tax before being eligible for citizenship. A lack of documentation would add further still to the requirements.

    N.B. I have other policy motivations besides migration for setting up the charter cities, but I think they’re a nice solution to this issue.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on such a system.

  39. narcoticmusing

    The problem Mondo, is that you can’t simply apply more punitive measures to those coming by boat – those who are desperate enough to risk their life, again – without trying to fix the other side of the equation – those ‘following the rules’.

    Firstly, many who come here by plane do not follow the rules, they were just wealthy/resourced enough to do so and they aren’t as easily sensationalised by the media. They are not detained for that. They are allowed to mingle with the community until their assessment is complete.

    Secondly, the ‘queue’ system and the camps refugees would go to is such a massive disincentive, there is very little you can do to say risk your life on this shitty boat is worse. They’ll take their chances, after all, what they just escaped, that boat looks pretty easy comparatively.

    In other words, just adding more disincentives to boats doesn’t help – you need to incentivise the queue system.

  40. In other words, just adding more disincentives to boats doesn’t help

    That is just not true Narc – Howard’s disincentives almost completely stopped the boats from coming.

    I understand where you’re coming from but you are quite evidently wrong to assume that disincentives don’t work to reduce boat arrivals.

  41. “But Rob, that would have no detterent effect on boat arrivals.”

    Why is that critical? If the people arriving on boats are in less danger even on the leaky boats – and Jordan, did you watch GBWYCF? I thought it highlighted fairly well how much danger they were in in those camps already – then why should our focus be on “deterring” boat arrivals at the cost of our obligation to these particular refugees?

    Also, it’d be nice if you responded to this cutting paragraph from Narc that you’ve wilfully ignored:

    “Firstly, many who come here by plane do not follow the rules, they were just wealthy/resourced enough to do so and they aren’t as easily sensationalised by the media. They are not detained for that. They are allowed to mingle with the community until their assessment is complete.”

    Quite.

    “That’s why it’s so disappointing to see Lefty attempting to frame this argument in terms of “if you disagree with me you’re a racist”. He apparently wants to paint his opponents as cartoon monsters, presumably so he feels better about completely ignoring their views. It’s an identical mindset to those Israel defenders who try to define their debate so that all criticism of Israel appears as anti-semitism.

    “I don’t need to listen to you, you’re anti-semitic.”

    “I don’t need to listen to you, you’re a racist.”

    It’s all a bit sad really.”

    That’s not what I was doing at all, of course.

    Perhaps instead of making stuff up you could address what I actually said in my comment above about people smugglers, about genuine concern for the interests of refugees.

    I think those who want to treat one group of refugees badly and justify it by pretending that it’s really on behalf of another group of refugees (when there’s no reason why the treatment of one has to affect the treatment of the other) or “for their own good” are either disingenuous or misled. And I think those who simply don’t care – the “not my problem” crowd that Raquel originally personified – need some serious exposure to the real world.

  42. narcoticmusing

    Unfortunately Lefty, most young and upcomings these days think couch surfing/backpacking around a few countries (financed by mum and dad) while being consistently intoxicated, between study gigs counts as ‘exposure to the real world’.

  43. narcoticmusing

    If you mean direct danger to their life, I think that’s probably false

    Some of my good friends escaped countries under a hail of bullets (directed at them); that ocean and that boat would be looking pretty sweet in comparison.

    We need to accept some level of responsibility for creating many of the situations that are generating refugees, which ranges from participating in wars (which guarantee refugee production) and complacence against tyrannical situations (Congo anyone?).

  44. Also, it’d be nice if you responded to this cutting paragraph from Narc that you’ve wilfully ignored

    I didn’t ignore it – it’s just irrelevant to my argument about boat arrivals. I have no problem with refugees, my issue has consistently been with the people smuggling into Australia via boats (because it’s incredibly dangerous and exploitative).

    Perhaps instead of making stuff up you could address what I actually said in my comment above

    I’m not making things up Lefty. You have clearly tried to frame this issue so that anyone taking a “stop the boats” position can be smeared as racist. Your behaviour is identical to those who try to frame the Israel debate the same way.

    Lastly, there’s not much I can say in relation to your assertion that life in a Malaysian or Indonesian refugee camp is more dangerous than a week on a people smuggling boat. I have serious doubts about whether that’s true, and I doubt very much that SBS have given a particularly balanced perspective on that, but I can’t authoritatively dispute your view.

    All I can say is that I hold a contrary view, and that a couple of hours of television isn’t a great basis for you to authoritatively dispute mine.

  45. “I have no problem with refugees, my issue has consistently been with the people smuggling into Australia via boats (because it’s incredibly dangerous and exploitative).”

    Here’s a thought then – Australia runs an official ferry service between Indonesia/Malaysia and Australia, bringing any refugee that fronts up for a ride in complete safety and comfort with their application dealt with on arrival safely in Australia. Would that be satisfactory? Somehow I don’t see that flying with the “stop the boats” crowd though. I wonder why?

  46. jordanrastrick

    and Jordan, did you watch GBWYCF? I thought it highlighted fairly well how much danger they were in in those camps already

    Not yet. But there is public data that refugees are dying as a result of being smuggled by boat. Horrible conditions shown on a TV show doesn’t trump that, unless you can report to credible evidence that mortality rates over time are as high for refugees in Indonesian or Malaysian camps as they are for those on boats. And I doubt such evidence exists.

    That’s not to deny, as I said, that the camps could conceivably be worse under some other metric of welfare than simple “odds of being killed”.

    Mondo, if you can perhaps overlook my verbosity this once :-), what do you think of the charter city idea? I’ve been trying to get a sense of people’s reaction to it – as one of the few other progressives I’ve encountered with a strong interest in ending smuggling by boat as well as mandatory detention, your perspective in particular interests me.

  47. Lastly, there’s not much I can say in relation to your assertion that life in a Malaysian or Indonesian refugee camp is more dangerous than a week on a people smuggling boat. I have serious doubts about whether that’s true, and I doubt very much that SBS have given a particularly balanced perspective on that, but I can’t authoritatively dispute your view.

    And therein lies the rub. Who of us can say whether risking all on a boat is worse than staying put in one of these hopeless halfway-point countries? Only the people who have actually done it or are forced to make that decision can make that call. The rest of us watching from Australia are speculating at best about their underlying motivation. I doubt it is a decision that is made lightly.

  48. “That is just not true Narc – Howard’s disincentives almost completely stopped the boats from coming. ” – Mondo

    Though it’s not always so cealr cut..

    The first disincentive was the TPV- which likely led to an increase in boat arrivals, and definitely did lead to an increase in the proportion of women and children on the boats that did arrive.

    Porported ‘disincentives’ don’t always work as expected, and it’s hard to disentangle local from remote factors.

    It’s assumed that Australian actions reduced the boat arrivals…….but there was a corresponding sharp drop in asylum numbers acorss the world at precisely the same time.

    And if disincentives are good enough for us, are they good enough for everyone else? Malaysia has far greater numbers of asylum seekers than we do, but already do not offer Converntion protection. Should they apply more disincentives to reduce arrivals? Paradoxically, we are trying to convince them to offer better protection – ie ‘incentives’.

  49. narcoticmusing

    The reason for the inconsistent approach gadj, is the logic is flawed. They don’t really give a shit about the boats. People like Mondo care about stopping the boats for good reasons, but most out there exploit the good reasons for rationales that are less that admirable – hence you get these really confusing, overly complex while still simplistic in attitude responses.

  50. I agree.

    We should have a system in place were people fleeing persecution don’t have to rsk their lives further to be afforded some degree of protection.

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