19 Sep 2011

What Deterrence Really Means

By Nick Riemer
The Gillard Government insists that the Malaysia deal will save lives. This reasoning is weak - and it's wrong. Nick Riemer on why asylum seekers should be able to choose the risks they take
The need to deter refugees from risking their lives on boats has been the argument used to justify the Malaysia refugee swap. Australia, the Government insists, simply must prevent anything like a recurrence of December's horrifying shipwreck on Christmas Island. Far from being confirmed as yet another violation of asylum seekers' rights, Malaysia is presented as nothing short of a humanitarian measure, which friends of refugees should welcome as a better option for asylum seekers themselves.

This reasoning has gained impressive traction. The "humanitarian" rationale for the Malaysia deterrent has been seized on by everyone who wants to stem the tiny trickle of irregular maritime arrivals to Australia, but is reluctant to commit to a full blown turn-back-the-boats agenda.

Even those mainly opposed to the arrangement have expressed approval of the plan's supposed deterrent value. Whatever their other disagreements, letter writers, online comment posters and columnists regularly see eye to eye in thinking that the only good thing about Malaysia is that it may save lives. The ABC's Annabel Crabb — no supporter of government refugee policies — tells us that this deterrent effect is the deal's "redeeming feature" — every other aspect being "harsh" and "hypocritical". Crikey's Bernard Keane uses similar reasoning to conclude that, subject to greatly increasing the number of refugees taken in exchange from Malaysia, the deal is justifiable:

"We can't stand by, indifferent, to people dying outside our borders, especially when they are trying to reach us, if we can in any way stop them dying, even if it inconveniences or even harms some other people.

"From that point of view, the Malaysian Solution is indeed, in Chris Bowen's words, 'elegant', even if there is a risk that asylum seekers sent by Australia to Malaysia will be harshly treated." 

The idea that there is anything laudable in the Malaysia deal is mistaken. With their talk of saving lives, political and media apologists for the Government's plan, along with reluctant part-apologists for its deterrence aspect, are endorsing an outcome that should be unconscionable: the effective deprivation of refugees' right to take calculated risks about what is best for them.

This, not "saving lives", is the relevant description of the deal's effect.

Denying people the opportunity to risk their lives also means denying them the opportunity to improve them. Since there is no "queue", refugees deterred from a boat trip are also effectively prevented from ever gaining resettlement in Australia. The notion that this could count as a humanitarian outcome is a powerful indication of how a decade of relentless anti-refugee propaganda has eroded our ability to assess both the dangers refugees are fleeing, and the precariousness of their existence in places like Malaysia or elsewhere in South East Asia.

Keane argues that the virtue of the Malaysia swap depends on how far it maximises "net welfare". If so, the fact that an indefinite number of asylum seekers will effectively be robbed of a chance of permanent protection in Australia shows clearly that the deal must be opposed without qualification, even on Keane's own reasoning.

Keane says debate has been skewed by lack of representation of the views of those asylum seekers whose lives will be spared through the deal's deterrent effect. As he puts it, "asylum seekers who will later drown have no one to speak for them". This is obviously true. His next point, however, is unwarranted: he takes it that those asylum seekers would support the Malaysia deal on the basis that it prevents them drowning.

This assumption is baseless and incredible. Everything suggests that the vast majority of asylum seekers consider the risk of a dangerous ocean crossing well worth taking. Indeed, the detention system is currently incarcerating a number of refugees who have come here, by boat, for the second time, having voluntarily returned to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban — before being forced to come here again after conditions at home deteriorated.

These second timers give the lie to any glib assumption that refugees themselves would welcome the deterrence of the Malaysia deal. If people have risked their lives on a smuggler's boat twice, they know the risks and are prepared to assume them. Asylum seekers rarely if ever express regret at having made the boat trip, even when it proved to be far more dangerous than anticipated.

If saving lives was really the goal of the Malaysia plan, it would not be predicated on 800 people embarking on the very sea crossing that is supposed to be intolerably hazardous. If the plan was really about saving lives, it would not require those same 800 people to be condemned to indefinite danger in Malaysia, where they will have none of the rights or welfare safeguards that the Government has claimed (see the discussion here).

If the plan was really about saving lives, serious efforts would be made to boost our ocean surveillance so we could detect and help boats in trouble. If it was really about saving lives, the Government would, as Keane suggests, massively increase our refugee intake from Malaysia. It would also decriminalise people smuggling so that boats did not have to sneak into Australian waters in the first place, without any of the usual official notifications that could prevent many deaths at sea.

Only the most culpably uncritical analysis, then, could entertain the proposition that the Malaysia plan is about "saving lives". Nevertheless, a supporter of the government can insist that, whatever its real intent, the Malaysia plan still deters people from risking drowning.

There is no reason to accept that argument. Firstly, on the Government's own admission, the deterrent value of the Malaysian deal is uncertain. As shown by the plans for Manus Island and the possibility of a second round of 800 deportations, no one imagines that the measure spells anything like the end of the boats.

Secondly, not all deterrents are morally equivalent. In particular, a deterrent that involves causing deep and abiding harm to innocent people should be acceptable to no one. Most people would judge it immoral to instrumentalise a single innocent individual, let alone 800, for deterrence purposes. We would clearly not, for example, consider it right for the government to mandate the addition into cigarettes of special chemical agents, causing smokers highly visible harm and trauma, on the grounds that this would deter others from taking up the habit. Yet this is precisely the logic of the Malaysia arrangement.

Not once in this debate has anyone stopped to seriously ask whether it is Australia's role to take decisions about what constitutes a reasonable risk out of refugees' hands. We do not have a responsibility to deter asylum seekers from risking their lives if they think the risk is justified: that decision is for them alone. We do not, after all, grant government the right to pre-empt life threatening decisions even for its own citizens. If it were a widely accepted principle of good policy that people should be prevented from taking calculated risks with their lives, then sky-diving, elective surgery and the Sydney to Hobart, along with any number of other activities, should be outlawed.

In deterring people from asking Australia for help, the Government has become complicit in their ongoing persecution. No one is under an obligation to find any redeeming features, or anything laudable or "elegant" in the Malaysia arrangement.

If Chris Bowen sees fit to promote the plan in the face of every rational and humane consideration to the contrary, no one else need follow him. Many policies are wholly bad; a few are wholly good; most are a mixture. The Malaysia deal is in the first category, and it is only by adopting a morally incoherent perspective that any benefit can be found in it.

With Gillard talking once again of her commitment to the "light on the hill" and similar humanitarian values, and with the plainest facts of the asylum seeker debate regularly distorted beyond all recognition — "queues", "illegals", "border protection" — it is essential to keep a clear view of the realities.

Ethical public debate depends on calling actions by their real names. The Malaysia deal does not promise to save lives, on even the most charitable interpretation; it is certain only to damage them further. The opposition to it should be clear-headed, absolute, and undistracted. It should not submit to any misguided urge to find a way to be balanced or even-handed over an unequivocally indefensible policy. In this case, no coherent balance or even-handedness is possible.

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This user is a New Matilda supporter. Joe Politico
Posted Monday, September 19, 2011 - 12:28

Brilliant article. Absolutely spot on.

Monkey_Girl
Posted Monday, September 19, 2011 - 13:24

The most sensible thing I've read on this topic, particularly the point on whether it's the role of Government to outlaw inherently risky activities.

DaleLBailey
Posted Monday, September 19, 2011 - 14:02

Can someone provide the figures on 'illegal arrivals' by plane vs those by boat. the so-called asylum seekers? This whole debate needs a circuit-breaker, with the leaderless ship of state being sucked into the maelstrom created by the shock-jocks and The Oz.

GocomSys
Posted Monday, September 19, 2011 - 15:30

DaleLBailey posted Monday, 19 September 11 at 2:02PM

Agree with your sentiment.

This article has been applauded by "Joe Politico" and "Monkey_Girl".
It ticks all their "anti-government" boxes. Well done.

What this article avoids to tell is that the government's underlying longer term intention was/is to gradually improve regional co-operation as well as asylum seeker treatment and processing. This was/is only meant to be the first step of a better overall solution.

Unfortunately the feral media and a shrill opposition on the war path does not give the government enough clean air to get a coherent message across. As with many other issues we find ourselves at an impasse again. OZ, how stupid can you get!

Perfidious Rex
Posted Monday, September 19, 2011 - 20:11

DLB

This doc contains the info you were after... a bit heavy on the spin though.

www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bn/sp/AsylumFacts.pdf

Whilst the article is absolutely correct on the point about Government having absolutely no role to play in outlawing risky activities, it wasn't clear to me whether the author was serious in devoting an entire article to a topic which is essentially political spin or whether he was just taking the p*ss?

The Govt is not taking action to prevent asylum seekers risking their lives. That is just political spin for the rationally crippled bleeding hearters who (until recently?) make up a significant portion of their voting base.

Labor are madly scrambling to come up with something that has the same effect as the Nauru solution (ie no boats) but without copying it exactly. Why? Because No Boats = More Votes....

PR

ninetynine
Posted Monday, September 19, 2011 - 21:26

Quote GoComSys:
"This article has been applauded by “Joe Politico” and “Monkey_Girl”.
It ticks all their “anti-government” boxes. Well done."

So does being pro-human rights mean being anti-government these days?

Very well, then.

Excellent article.

Perfidious Rex
Posted Monday, September 19, 2011 - 23:07

99

To answer your question - of course. Unless your list of human rights includes war, theft, waste, lies and manipulation?

PR

hlewers
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 07:21

Great article. Many thanks for it. My thoughts exactly (apart from where you said "Not once in this debate has anyone stopped to seriously ask...." - as people are also commenting - on the ground!- about this spurious argument).

Definitely a must-read for J Gillard and C Bowen! I don't suppose they read much these days.....perhaps only the advice of Andrew Metcalf and other Immigration Department "Refugee Policy Makers". (Shudder).

By the way GocomSys, it was never the intention of the government to "improve regional co-operation as well as asylum seeker treatment and processing". It has always been about responding to Tony Abbott's relentless campaign of "Stop The Boats", by whatever illogical piece of political spin that came the government's way.

It's also fairly clear that from the time Gillard was the opposition spokesperson for immigration in around 2002, she was never much interested in the plight of refugees. Her visits to detention centres around the country were more about hearing from the Immigration Department - she apparently avoided any possible contact with refugees - even eye contact!

If you read her document from the time - it's purportedly a "refugee policy" but the name gives it away - "Protecting Australia and Protecting the Australian Way" (cringe) - you will see that there was never any sense of concern for people fleeing persecution.

http://australianpolitics.com/parties/alp/policy/02-12-04_asylum-seekers...

O. Puhleez
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 10:39

"The 'humanitarian' rationale for the Malaysia deterrent has been seized on by everyone who wants to stem the tiny trickle of irregular maritime arrivals to Australia, but is reluctant to commit to a full blown turn-back-the-boats agenda."

There appear to be two assumptions below the surface of this statement. The first is that the "tiny trickle" could never become a flood. The second is that "a full turn-back-the-boats agenda" is morally repugnant and fraught with political danger for anyone who favours it. So Nick's article becomes an excuse and an apology for queue jumpers.

John Howard proved otherwise on the second point above. Abbott is following in his footsteps.

Yet as long as people like Nick Riemer take such a position, and never specify what they see to be fair limits on arrivals by boat, they will rightly be taken as favouring open borders and abolition of immigration controls.

As long as boat crossings offer hope of resettlement in Australia, refugees will take that chance, and disasters at sea will inevitably keep occurring. There are only two ways to stop the boats: (1) block this migration path or (2) for the Federal Government to provide cheaper and safer passage than any people smuggler can provide, and to anyone who wants it: from Indonesia to Australia.

Which one would you favour, Nick?

Surely the choice is not difficult?

hlewers
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 14:00

O. Puhleez, oh puh-lease!

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 14:00

Nick writes: "Since there is no queue...".
Yes, there is one. All those in camps in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Karen people in Thailand, and those refugees in camps further afield - all those who do not have the means and opportunity to pay people smugglers to make it to our shores, are the 'queue'. By giving priority to onshore arrivals, these left behind will have little chance of ever getting one of the 13,750 places available.

It would be much better for everyone concerned if the government finds a solution where people do not have an incentive to attempt the crossing, as O. Puhleez quite rightly points out.

We should also not grant permanent resident visas to refugees but in the literally sense only refugee protection visas. The latter should be more restrictive than the former, although not as restrictive as Howard's TPVs. The former are immigration visas and subject to a stricter set of criteria.

loquaciousjess
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 14:23

O.P.:
An open door to refugees is not an open door to immigration.

There are a limited number of genuine refugees (ie those who meet the UNHCR requirements) and it would cost Australia less to de-criminalise the transportation of asylum-seekers, process their applications on shore and deport those who are unsuccessful, than the billions wasted on Christmas Island and the Pacific Solution.

This may or may not cause a "flood" of arrivals. So what? Those with legitimate reasons for coming deserve sanctuary, not persecution.

Amazonia
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 15:53

@ Gocomsys

Because the Malaysia "solution" has apparently been thrown out in no way means that exploring the possibility of regional processing is dead in the water. You are scaremongering.

Regional processing would be a good thing, but there is no reason at all to implement it in the ludicrous manner this government suggested. Have you forgotten that the Malaysian "deal" ended when we sent 800 asylum seekers there?

By all means let's work towards regional processing of asylum claims. But not at the expense of asylum seekers' human rights, that makes no sense at all.

Calling the Malaysia "solution" a step towards regional processing was the Gillard government's weasel wording. The most sensible place in our region for such a centre is Australia.
http://www.noplaceforsheep.com

LukeMR
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 18:20

"brilliant article", why? Because it dooesn't challenge the standard NM viewpoint?

I would rather see boat arrivals processed here, but, I think it's ridiculous to say a policy that is the first step to a regional deal has no redeeming features.

The ultimate goal of everyone who supports Australia accepting refugees, pressumably the author included, is that there is an orderly and swift process for granting refugee status to those who can get as far as Indonesia or malaysia before they get on boats. Correct me if I'm wrong, but does this policy not do this?

This policy, it followed up with further regional cooperation will likely reduce boat arrivals, not for the fact boat arrivals will be sent to mAlaysia, but because it incentivises hanging out for a better option than the boat.

The author's also assuming that things will be horrible for those sent to Malaysia. He may be right, but the degree of certainty is off

zeroxcliche
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 18:32

@ Marga & Oh Phuleez .... explain

the queue is a howard construct - we are the only country that subtracts boat arrivals from UNHCR quotas - they are two separate things. In fact in the normal world refugee arrivals effectively shorten the queue (insignificantly)- other countries accept the rise and fall of refugee flows from conflicts like the Sri Lankan civil war, this is seen as separate to taking in an annual quota from UNHCR camps. Howard combined these as part of his move to reabsorb One Nation voters, a party he wanted to preference but was stopped by Costello.

If you two want an offshore policy it can easily be done in a compassionate way. Marga you mentioned protection visas - fine combine that with a regional destination like Nauru - once identified the refugee does not need to be locked up, the identification process makes new attempts to enter Australia a waste of time and money - the trouble with Howard policies of keeping women and children in desert prison camps indefinitely or Gillard's deportation to Malaysia is that it treats people like trash - keeping people out of the country does not have to involve treating them like trash - the crime/punishment response people have got is dumb and shallow much like this government.

mark71
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 19:26

I have to respectfully disagree with this article
As someone that weights the values on this issues differently then many here - i have to point out some issues

1) The crossing into Australia IS incredibly dangerous - it is calus to say if they can, so let them - this point of view should be told to the families of the people on the bottom of the ocean. The ones we know of and the many others we don't know of.

2) For these people that jump the cue what about the many rated refugees in actual camps that did the correct thing -sod em! this is compassion?????

3) The people that come are either affluent enough to afford the trip or worse have hocked god knows what (that might involve criminality in Australia).
The people in the camps classed as refugee are not chosen by thier afluence. Do we support people becouse of thier means?

4) We are meant to sqash the slave trade not help asist it. The trafficing of people like this is criminality of the worse kind and the sentiment expressed in this article does nothing but lubricate a modern day slave trade.

5) We have a large coast line and creating situations like this does nothing but increase this poresity of very real borders. If people can be shipped, clearly other products can be also.

I believe we need to be tough in these situations to deter this trafficking of the worse kind - i truely see this in terms of slave trade.
I also think that more refugees can come to this country while slashing the skilled migration program and creating a migration level that is sustainable.

Regardless of my thoughts, it is not the refugee numbers that impact negativly australias sustainability but our ridiculus high skilled migration program.

As for human rights - tell that to the people in the camps that have followed ligitimate means and see esentially cue jumpers (who have the means & contacts) take up limited places.

This is a Fair go?

In the SBS documentary we got to see a dangerous sea crossing and then a trip to a real refugee camp with the people we should be helping - i guess i see things differently.

O. Puhleez
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 21:26

zeroxcliche:

"If you two want an offshore policy..."

I cannot speak for Marga, but what I want is a sustainable Australia with a sustainable immigration flow of whatever number per year. It goes without saying that there is an upper limit, which may or may not have already been reached, after which the Australian environment goes rapidly downhill. And the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.

For those who favour the apparently high moral ground of 'open the doors' and 'come one, come all', or: "This may or may not cause a “flood” of arrivals. So what? Those with legitimate reasons for coming deserve sanctuary, not persecution..." (loquaciousjess) there is a big problem. The number of people who would like to come here as refugees of one kind or another, is vast: probably between 20 and 40 million on an open gate policy. This is why I ask those favouring the open gate to specify their cutoff point, and what they would do with those who arrive after that point had been reached. I never get a straight answer, but I keep on asking anyway.

John Howard is rightly booed for many of his policies. But I cannot see what can possibly be wrong with "we will decide who comes here, and the manner in which they come." Perhaps someone here could enlighten me, and on the way through include the name any country which does not practice that policy.

itinerant
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 21:28

Nick, you write:

<blockquote>"The need to deter refugees from risking their lives on boats has been <b>the</b> argument used to justify the Malaysia refugee swap."</blockquote>

Has it? ... the only argument?

AND
<blockquote>"the effective deprivation of refugees’ right to take calculated risks..., not "saving lives", is the relevant description of the deal’s effect."</blockquote>

Are the 4000 repatriated asylum seekers irrelevant?

AND
<blockquote>"Since there is no "queue", refugees deterred from a boat trip are also effectively prevented from ever gaining resettlement in Australia."</blockquote>

Really? Would you issue a correction is this is, in fact, false?

AND
<blockquote>"Keane argues that the virtue of the Malaysia swap depends on how far it maximises "net welfare". If so, the fact that an indefinite number of asylum seekers will effectively be robbed of a chance of permanent protection in Australia shows clearly that the deal must be opposed without qualification, even on Keane’s own reasoning."</blockquote>

Must it? 800 is less than 4000, isn't it?

AND
<blockquote>"If saving lives was really the goal of the Malaysia plan, it would not be predicated on 800 people embarking on the... sea crossing"</blockquote>

Wouldn't it? Would a life-saving policy simply stop all boat arrivals tomorrow?

AND
<blockquote>"...in Malaysia, where they will have none of the rights or welfare safeguards that the Government has claimed"</blockquote>

Really? None? Is your source the ill-researched herald article linked?

AND
<blockquote>"Many policies are wholly bad; a few are wholly good; most are a mixture. The Malaysia deal is in the first category, and it is only by adopting a morally incoherent perspective that any benefit can be found in it."</blockquote>

Come on, seriously?

Your point about the rights of people to choose their own risks is superb.
Why have you buried it beneath all this hyperbole and ideology?

josken1
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 23:00

Mannie De Saxe

I believe that when Australia sends its soldiers to fight in wars which have no bearing on this country's security, and when, because of those wars we cause people to be displaced, terrified, terrorised, abused, assaulted, raped, and often murdered, then we are obliged to offer refuge to those fleeing the disastrous conditions they find themselves in.

How they get here and in what circumstances has no relationship to the terrors many of them have already suffered, and when they do finally arrive here many are traumatised and desperately need help.

Is it so difficult for this country, with its vast resources, to do something humane about this situation?

I don't think so!

<center><H1><b>STOP AUSTRALIAN INCARCERATION OF ASYLUM SEEKERS - SIGN THE PETITION AND SEND IT TO OTHERS WHO MAY BE INTERESTED TO HELP!: <a href="http://www.thepetitionsite.com/13/stop-australian-incarceration-of-asylu...

Alex Njoo
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 10:11

Alex Njoo
The movement of people at a global scale will continue until the end of time, so to speak. Asylum seekers/refugees are part of it. The whys and wherefores become merely academic discussions for their own sake. They do not confront the humanitarian issues that are at the centre of all this dialogue on asylum seekers/refugees. We either accept that there will always be people, different to us, who'd want to come to live and share our fortunes, or we don't. All this argument about population sustainability is simply a thin veil to cover our inherent national xenophobia.
Alas, this is a BIG country with a SMALL heart.

mark71
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 11:05

@alex njoo
population sustainability is simply a thin veil to cover our inherent national xenophobia.

Its a central issue in the discussion about sustainability. As for you wanting to throw mud - go for it but i am pleasently surprised by how many people understand this topic in detail and its very comforting. As opposed to all the population and migration ministers, the public are not interested in policies based on just economic reasoning - which the skilled migration program is all about - actually the number of refugees is also set in regards to economic outcomes.
Migration set in this backdrop -as all other migration policies have been set around the world - show critical lack of long term outcomes.

As for ths is a big country - we live on a island of which most is largly infertile and the fertile bit equates to 16% - You have a poor understanding of this country - As for small heart - comparitive to whom?
Are you the bench mark?

Will there be poeple movement - yes but migration needs also need to be set by a countries need for its own well being - which ultimatle becomes the new Australians well being. Globalisation of people will evolve into more emphaisi on regionalism - particulary in a renewable energy economy

As for high immigration rates - many (and i have spoken to many with this veiw point) many idigenous people see it in terms of the continueing invasion - can black people be xenophobic too?

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 12:49

To zeroxcliche and all the other open-borders and 'do gooder' proponents:

As an environmentalist and co-existentialist (seeing humans as just one part of nature, not superior to any other species) I have grave concerns about mankind's longevity on this planet, as well as the longevity of some other species that we would take with us to their grave prematurely, unless we do something quickly and drastically.

With the global population soon reaching 7billion (maybe it has already been reached), there is in terms of carrying capacity, not any spare land on this planet. Moving people around as migrants in any shape or form, is simply moving deckchairs on the Titanic.

The problems need to be addressed in situ, where they happen. Dramatic change is needed that cuts deeply into people's culture, tradition and religion. But it is needed to save ourselves from ourselves.
When I saw - on TV - an African checking into a Kenya refugee camp with his 3 wives andd 20 children, I thought this man has to be taught how not to be a bull in a paddock, believing that his only duty in life is to inseminate women, then not be able to provide for them and/or their offspring (compare that with the LTC Mama and Papa Magpie in our garden provide for their one and only offspring).

Back to the Boat People and the Convention.
The original Convention intended to protect people from the Hitlers and Stalins in this world. Refugees were expected to flee to the nearest place and return to their home when the danger had passed.
The original Convention has been much watered down.
Of course, sometimes people cannot go back in their lifetime.
Example: There are still refugees in Germany, now very much aging, whose home has been annexed by Poland and Russia respectively. Whilst no one knows what will happen in a 100 or 200 years from now, as far as these Germans are concerned they can only live on the memories.

We need to grant genuine refugees sanctuaries, thus my proposal of a restricted refugee protection visa. I even go so far as to let these people convert their refugee prot. visa into a perm. resident visa, if they are still in need of such a visa after a number of years, and provided they can demonstrate that they are worthy migrants.
We have to separate the good from the bad, or as Howard said (and I am not a friend of Howard): "we determine who comes to this country..."
I also endorse the points that mark71 and O.Phuleez made.

To end this post, here are some examples from interviews I saw on ABC and SBS respectively, at the height of the Tampa crisis:
Quotes from M.E. asylum seekers:
"Australia is a good country, I love Australia. It has free health, education and social services"
"I cannot go back. I made debts and do not want to repay them".
"I paid people smugglers, as I was not prepared to wait my turn."

Do we really want these people? Or should we not choose the gentle and modestly looking Karen people who have been languishing in camps for so long and are from our region?

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 12:49

To zeroxcliche and all the other open-borders and 'do gooder' proponents:

As an environmentalist and co-existentialist (seeing humans as just one part of nature, not superior to any other species) I have grave concerns about mankind's longevity on this planet, as well as the longevity of some other species that we would take with us to their grave prematurely, unless we do something quickly and drastically.

With the global population soon reaching 7billion (maybe it has already been reached), there is in terms of carrying capacity, not any spare land on this planet. Moving people around as migrants in any shape or form, is simply moving deckchairs on the Titanic.

The problems need to be addressed in situ, where they happen. Dramatic change is needed that cuts deeply into people's culture, tradition and religion. But it is needed to save ourselves from ourselves.
When I saw - on TV - an African checking into a Kenya refugee camp with his 3 wives andd 20 children, I thought this man has to be taught how not to be a bull in a paddock, believing that his only duty in life is to inseminate women, then not be able to provide for them and/or their offspring (compare that with the LTC Mama and Papa Magpie in our garden provide for their one and only offspring).

Back to the Boat People and the Convention.
The original Convention intended to protect people from the Hitlers and Stalins in this world. Refugees were expected to flee to the nearest place and return to their home when the danger had passed.
The original Convention has been much watered down.
Of course, sometimes people cannot go back in their lifetime.
Example: There are still refugees in Germany, now very much aging, whose home has been annexed by Poland and Russia respectively. Whilst no one knows what will happen in a 100 or 200 years from now, as far as these Germans are concerned they can only live on the memories.

We need to grant genuine refugees sanctuaries, thus my proposal of a restricted refugee protection visa. I even go so far as to let these people convert their refugee prot. visa into a perm. resident visa, if they are still in need of such a visa after a number of years, and provided they can demonstrate that they are worthy migrants.
We have to separate the good from the bad, or as Howard said (and I am not a friend of Howard): "we determine who comes to this country..."
I also endorse the points that mark71 and O.Phuleez made.

To end this post, here are some examples from interviews I saw on ABC and SBS respectively, at the height of the Tampa crisis:
Quotes from M.E. asylum seekers:
"Australia is a good country, I love Australia. It has free health, education and social services"
"I cannot go back. I made debts and do not want to repay them".
"I paid people smugglers, as I was not prepared to wait my turn."

Do we really want these people? Or should we not choose the gentle and modestly looking Karen people who have been languishing in camps for so long and are from our region?

Perfidious Rex
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 19:46

Marga

Excellent analysis. Plenty of food for thought there.

PR

Unit
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 09:32

I just bought a subscription to New Matilda because of this article. Really really good.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 12:50

Thanks PR

outrider
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 15:00

Outrider
Good to see that some MN readers like Marga, Phuleese and others are standing against the woolly minded "compassionate' contributors.
The latter are compassionate for queue jumpers, but not the refugees in Malaysia, who seem to have found the queue, despite the falsehood there is no such thing.
As regards those who arrive by air, they should also be locked up until their case is heard in order to make it equitable.

redrich2000
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 15:09

This is an excellent piece. However I think there is a key point about deterrence that is missed. Namely that any 'deterrence' produced by these measures is by definition only a deterrent not to come by boat <i>to Australia</i>. It does nothing to deter asylum seekers from getting on leaky boats to go somewhere else nor from getting ripped off by people smugglers in the process (to the extent that occurs).

So we should make it clear the goal of the policy is not to 'stop the boats' but rather to 'stop the boats <i>coming here</i>'. There is no guarantee that it will mean people wait it out in Malaysia or Indonesia. Although many will, others will get on boats to go somewhere else. Or will go by a different route entirely, not via the asia-pacific, but through North Africa to Europe or wherever. This might not involve leaky boats but it is equally dangerous as the cases of people suffocating in the back of trucks or shipping containers make clear.