Category Archives: Immigration


Hard not to hear this Foreigner anthem about Scott Morrison whenever he pops up to do some other horrible thing to more than justify it. So few changes required it’s almost redundant amending the lyrics at all.

Cold As Ice

You’re as cold as ice
You’re willing to sacrifice their lives

You never take advice
Today they’ll pay the price
I know

I’ve seen it before
It’s happened many times
You’re closing the door
You leave the world behind
You’re digging for votes
Yet throwing away
Australia’s reputation
And someday we’ll pay

You’re as cold as ice
You’re willing to sacrifice their lives
You live in Paradise
But someday you’ll pay the price
I know

I’ve seen it before
It’s happened many times
You’re closing the door
You leave the world behind
You’re digging for votes
Yet throwing away
Australia’s reputation
And someday we’ll pay

Cold as ice, you know that you are
Cold, cold, as, as, ice, as cold as ice to them
Cold, cold, as, as, ice

Ooh, ooh, ooh, cold as, cold as ice
You’re as cold as ice
You’re as cold as ice, cold as ice, we know
You’re as cold as ice, yes we know
You’re as cold as ice, cold as ice, we know
You’re as cold as ice, oh yes we know
You’re as cold as ice, cold as ice, we know
You’re as cold as ice, oh yes we know
You’re as cold as ice, cold as ice

PS Hey did you hear we’re kidnapping people off boats in international waters now?

49% risk of torture or death? We’ll make ’em take it.

So… what kind of human beings are we?

The Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, is planning to increase the stakes dramatically in deciding whether his nation should send an asylum seeker away to the dungeons and the hands of brutes.

And he wants to put a figure on the ghastly business. Yes. He’s offering an each-way bet, set a bit shy of 50-50.

Applicants for asylum on the basis of fear of torture must establish, under his proposal, that there is more than a 50 per cent probability that they will be subjected to agony or even death if returned to the country they have fled.

In short, if there is a mere 49 to 50 per cent chance of escaping being hung by one’s thumbs from meathooks while being thrashed by a length of electrical flex, that’s good enough for Mr Morrison. They can be sent to whatever fate might await them.

And I doubt you’d find many Australians happy to hold the Coalition’s front bench to that same standard. 49% chance of brutal torture or death if we put them on this plane? No, they’re not that bad. They’re not, you know, asylum seeker children.

Meanwhile, on this link there’s a video of Scott telling shattered refugees that they’ll be staying in those camps for “a very very long time” unless they voluntarily go back into danger.

If you voted for this, or worse – are intending to keep voting for this, then I have some rather unkind words for you. But they’re not as unkind as what you’re prepared to do to vulnerable people.

UPDATE: Apparently there’s been some confusion in the comments as to whether Australia really would do something like this.

Here’s the Government’s bill to amend the Migration Act to make this the new test:

6A(2) The Minister can only be satisfied that Australia has protection obligations in respect of the non citizen if the Minister considers that it is more likely than not that the non citizen will suffer significant harm if the non citizen is removed from Australia to a receiving country.

Like most conservative Australians, I’m sure we can trust the government to do the right thing without any oversight

OK, ok. The leftists are out there constantly claiming that we’re doing all sorts of monstrous crap to country-shopping fake-refugees that, in reality, most of us know we’re being far too nice to.

We just know we are. If we weren’t, we’d have heard about it, surely?

And since we know that our treatment of refugees is, if anything, too nice, because otherwise we’d have heard about it, that means that secrecy is fine, since we already know we’re being too nice. If there’s anything we know about governments, it’s that they can be trusted to do the right thing when nobody’s keeping track of them.

As Tony Abbott, our trustworthy and honourable new Prime Minister, declared this week:

Abbott was also questioned by the breakfast TV hosts about whether he was happy with the conditions inside detention centres.

“I am confident that we are running these centres competently and humanely,” replied Abbott.

So shut up about it. Why would the PM declare that the centres were being run “competently” and “humanely” if they weren’t? What’s his motivation to lie? Why must you leftists be so cynical and untrusting of government? If you’re going to be so untrusting, maybe you’re exactly the wrong people to be keeping tabs on what’s happening in these places.

Fair enough that Nauru is trying to drive you meddlesome busybodies away.

Stop trying to expose things we don’t want to know about because whilst we want our government to do monstrous things to our fellow human beings to drive them away, it’s much harder to endorse cruelty when the details are right in front of us. Stop undermining our carefully-constructed edifice of plausible denial.

The government is NOT doing indefensible things on our behalf. Shut up, it isn’t. And if it turns out later that it was, it’s not our fault – we didn’t know about it. NOBODY TOLD US. Shut up, nobody told us. You did not.

And the victims are only foreigners, anyway.

I knew it was going to be bad, but… do even Liberal voters want this? or; in which Australia becomes an international pariah

So this morning’s news is that, far from criticising Sri Lanka for its recent blatant human rights abuses, the Abbott government is actually giving them Australian warships to stop people trying to escape.

Yes, you read that right: we are GIVING THEM SHIPS to stop people fleeing human rights abuses. This is a government so authoritarian last week it detained an Australian senator for holding a press conference criticising its record.

Meanwhile, Scott “I seriously have no conscience at all” Morrison has, in the last fortnight:

All because we’re ludicrously paranoid about people seeking refuge here.

Liberal/National voters, I’m finding it really difficult to even look at you right now.

“Deterrence” will never work or, get ready for a sad “I told you so” in 2014

When the ALP decided to ape most of the Howard Government’s anti-refugee policies last year, I said it wouldn’t “work”, even if you defined “work” as “bully vulnerable people into staying in danger in Indonesian camps indefinitely instead of getting on boats”.

And of course it didn’t. Of course it didn’t, because Indonesia is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention and we are, so we cannot leave refugees who come here without any humanitarian protections at all like they can.

Remember how we justified IMPRISONING CHILDREN on the basis of how many lives it was going to “save” and then it didn’t anyway?

But not letting a cruel abject failure deter us, we’re trying again! The ALP is now attempting to “deter” people on boats by being even crueller than before, and just refusing to take any refugee who arrives here on their own if it’s by boat, but not if it’s by plane, and nobody’s quite sure what the rules are for hovercrafts (god you’re hopeless, national media, why can’t you find this out?).

And, again, it won’t “work”, even under the monstrously inhumane definition of “work” described above. Why not? Because whilst PNG is worse than Australia, and dangerous, and corrupt – so long as we’re required to make sure they’re at least safe and able to eat while being processed, which we are, by virtue of the Convention and also our rhetoric of claiming to give even a vague shit about their lives – then they’re still better off than they were in Indonesia.

(Let’s ignore for now that the policy is discriminatory and will undoubtedly be challenged as being almost certainly contrary to our obligations under the Convention.)

The test if you want to “deter” isn’t “how can we treat them worse than the most vulnerable people in our society” – the test has to be “can we treat them worse than they’re treated in Indonesian camps”. And the answer is no, we can’t.

So again, this won’t work. We’re just treating refugees ever more cruelly because it makes the people in Western Sydney, who apparently blame every challenge in their lives on fantasy “reffos” who are living in imaginary LUXURY ON OUR DIME, feel like at least they’re being punished for daring to ask us for help – but it won’t stop them coming, and in a year we’ll be trying something even nastier. Which also won’t work.

I’m telling you so now. And all those who thought that the ALP’s scheme last year was going to “work” but haven’t called on them to abandon it once it became clear it hasn’t – what will it take before you recognise that “deterrence” will not work, cannot work, and we’d be much better off professing refugees promptly and compassionately and stopping trying to duck our responsibilities and drive them away.

You know another country “blessed with a large land mass and a very small population”?

Look, Papua New Guinea isn’t the worst country in the world. Sure, it’s mired in corruption, large parts of it are deadly dangerous, it’s desperately poor, much of it has nonexistent infrastructure and although it has signed up to basic refugee convention protections its political system is hardly strong enough to reliably enforce them. (Not that we’ve done a bang-up job of that either.)

And to be fair, as the PNG Prime Minister pointed out, they are “blessed with a large land mass and a very small population”, unlike Australia apparently.

But the miserable situation of refugees who Kevin Rudd and the ALP are now going to send there, a situation well below what we would ever accept ourselves if we’re being honest, is of course the point – the point being to try to seem pretty much as bad as the Indonesian camps that are so dangerous people are prepared to take a punt on a boat with a 10% chance of drowning to get away from them. You can’t deter people from fleeing danger by treating them humanely if they arrive, so our scheme is not to.

And now you have a choice when you vote, between the Coalition, who want to tow boats back into the ocean and dump them there (“…AND STAY!”), and the ALP, who will simply dump them all in another, far poorer country so as not to upset paranoid xenophobes in Western Sydney. If you’re determined to pretend that refugees should be someone else’s problem, and harden your heart to vulnerable human beings including children because you’re deep down pretty confident that you’ll never need to flee real persecution yourself so you’ll never have to experience that issue from the other side – well, you have two parties who’ll treat those refugees badly on your behalf to choose from.

But what if you watched Schindler’s List and you thought the “people smuggler” Oscar Schindler was the hero, not the villain?

What if you have a functioning sense of fairness, and think Australia should at least take on as many refugees as our poorer neighbours?

What if you have a functioning sense of scale, and you recognise that we have more than sufficient capacity to take those who seek to come here, because it’s still only a small percentage of the world’s refugees and a tiny percentage of our overall immigration intake anyway? What if you’re not insanely paranoid about “limits” to population growth and don’t have a heart attack when you realise that the birth rate is not “capped” either?

What if you remember that if any of these people are “economic migrants”, then those are precisely the motivated sort of people who built modern Australia?

What if you have compassion for the vulnerable, and want to help refugees rather than try to drive them away to become someone else’s problem?

What if you’re not an hysterically paranoid, xenophobic loon?

Well, then you could vote for this, a grown-up, humane and rational refugee policy:

1. Increase Australia’s humanitarian intake to 25,000 per year and as part of that increase urgently resettle at least 1,000 people from Indonesia and at least 4,000 people from Malaysia;
2. Immediately increase funding to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Indonesia, or a specially deployed Australian assessment team, to boost the capacity to assess asylum applications in Indonesia;
3. Immediately escalate discussions with the Indonesian Government around preventing boat departures from Indonesian territory and enhancing their search and rescue capacity, and codify and abide by our obligations to provide safety of life at sea;
4. Immediately escalate multilateral discussions in aid of establishing a New Regional Plan of Action that is fair, safe and legal;
5. De-link the onshore and offshore quotas for humanitarian visas;
6. Address the lack of humanitarian family reunion pathways by immediately and significantly boosting the numbers of family reunion places within the Humanitarian Program;
7. Review carrier sanctions and visa impediments for people seeking protection by air; and
8. Establish an Australian Ambassador for Refugee Protection to assist the government with high-level advocacy in the region.

Number 7 kills the “boat trade” stone dead by enabling refugees with the funds for these apparently very expensive boats to get on planes instead. Number 5 gets rid of the “queue-jumping” concern – unexpected arrivals would simply not affect the “queue” at all.

One more reason I’ll be voting for the Australian Greens.

As for in which order I’ll put the big old parties well down the ballot paper after that – we’ll have to see what the LNP come back with in this nastiest of reverse auctions. A giant oil slick on fire between here and Indonesia? Sharks with frickin’ laser beams?

UPDATE: The Greens’ official policy implementing the above.

How can I tell if I’m a xenophobe who fears refugees arriving here, or a compassionate person who wants to save them from drowning?

I’m often asked by people desperately wondering whether they’re a compassionate human being or actually a xenophobic arsehole – how can I tell, from my response to asylum seeker deaths, which one I am?

Fortunately, there’s an easy test.

Is your response to news about boats arriving safely to demand that we “stop the boats” – or is it, “thank god they got here alright”?

Is your response to news about boats sinking and lives being lost to demand that we “save the refugees” – or is it to think “see, now I don’t have to feel guilty about wanting to ‘stop the boats’ when they get here safely, I can pretend it’s because I care about their lives”?

“Stop the boats” or “save the refugees”.

The one that more closely matches your response, gives you your answer.