19 Nov 2012

What 'No Advantage' Really Means

By Nick Riemer
Hunger strikes continue among asylum seekers on Nauru - but better conditions on the island are not the answer. Refugee advocates must not lose ground on offshore processing, writes Nick Riemer
On Friday afternoon, Omid, an Iranian asylum seeker on the 35th day of his hunger strike on Nauru, was transferred to hospital after he started excreting blood. For several days, doctors have been warning of the danger of permanent organ damage, heart attack, blindness, and death. With every hour those warnings come closer to reality.

There are now 401 asylum seekers on Nauru, 99 short of its full capacity. During the 38 days of Omid's strike, detainees have protested continually and staged a concurrent hunger strike lasting several weeks. A second hunger-striker was hospitalised on Sunday. Psychotic episodes have become more frequent; three asylum seekers have attempted suicide, with one trying to hang himself from a light pole; two other detainees have mutilated their heads and necks; and four have dug symbolic graves. As of today, five asylum seekers are on their 19th day without food.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has insisted that he will remain deaf to protest: processing under the "no advantage" principle on Nauru and, soon, Manus Island will continue regardless of how many people commit suicide or starve themselves to death. This is how modern Australia — the Australia of mateship, of the fair go, of the "boundless plains to share" — treats the damned of the earth when they appeal for our help.

Nothing justifies Bowen's intransigence other than his refusal to forfeit perceived political advantage. Determination not to give in may be understandable when terrorists are holding a government to ransom. This is not the case here. What are the Nauru detainees asking Australia to do? Just to process their refugee applications in a timely manner and under decent conditions, nothing more.

For many, Labor's return to Howard's policies shows the futility of trying to win any improvements on this acutely politicised issue. As GetUp put it in an email to its list on August 16, "many of us are weary, many are angry and many just want this issue to go away".

In this context, one common reaction among refugee supporters has been to adjust their demands in order to acknowledge the reality of resumed offshore processing. GetUp, again, immediately refocussed its message in light of the reopening of Nauru, effectively declaring the battle against offshore processing lost, and urging its supporters to campaign to win improvements for refugees removed from Australia.

The Salvation Army, which also has an official position against offshore processing — though not, to judge from their 2010 election statement, against mandatory detention — has signed a government contract to supply humanitarian support services on Nauru, a decision which has led to criticism for complicity and forced them into long justifications.

However desirable it is to ensure that conditions on Nauru are as bearable as possible, refugee supporters should never concede, even just implicitly, the acceptability of offshore processing. Calls limited to improving conditions on Nauru are fundamentally incoherent: refugees cannot be processed in a way that respects their rights on disease-ridden, impoverished islands with no support infrastructure. And regardless of the conditions, processing refugees anywhere offshore is inherently unacceptable, since it undermines the international principle of refugee protection Australia is obliged to uphold.

The brutality of Australian policy has already gained an export market: in reforms directly inspired by Australia, mandatory detention of boat arrivals will begin in Canada in December, and New Zealand has recently announced the near automatic imprisonment of asylum seekers arriving in groups of 10 or more.

In the packed domestic detention network, the vice continues to tighten. The period of Omid's hunger strike has so far witnessed two suicide attempts, a rooftop protest in Villawood — thanks to last ditch efforts by advocates, the protesters' imminent deportation was eventually halted by an injunction — and the ever present, continually mounting toll of madness, frustration and despair. Despite a recent High Court decision, 55 asylum seekers alleged by ASIO to pose a "security threat" are still detained indefinitely.

Last week, DIAC announced tighter restrictions on visitors to mainland detention centres, with visits to some sections now needing to be booked 24 hours in advance. The government continues to spare no effort to sever asylum seekers from contact with the community — this new measure will increase detainees' isolation from the outside world, and make it impossible to get asylum seekers' signatures on last-minute legal documents preventing deportations, as refugee advocates regularly need to do.

Chris Bowen's Facebook page records his favourite quotation as a short passage attributed to Emerson. It ends with these words: "...to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

Political success for Bowen, though, apparently means the imprisonment of thousands of people who have committed no crime.

No increase to Australia's humanitarian intake, no professions of concern for refugees in camps, can cancel out these horrors. And what is it all for? To avoid "deaths at sea". On that count, too, the plan is a failure, with 7600 extra people undertaking the dangerous voyage the government's plan was meant to prevent since it was announced in mid-August, all of them now no longer risking death at sea, but death by starvation, despair and suicide.

One week into Omid's hunger strike, and fresh from a UN win, Julia Gillard spoke of Australia's "big heart", its commitment to "strengthen the global rules-based order" and its track record in taking a "humanitarian" and "fair-go perspective" around the world. These ridiculous lies should not be tolerated. Australia's commitment to human rights abuses of the first order makes its Security Council seat richly deserved, giving us a place at the same table as such dogged guardians of human rights and of the "rule-based" international order as Azerbaijan, China and the United States.

On the 19th day of Omid's hunger-strike, on 31 October, Fata, the Iranian cyberpolice, arrested Sattar Beheshti, a critic of the Ahmadinejad regime. They took him to Evin prison in Teheran, where he was tortured and beaten to death. He was 35. These are the kind of conditions that Iranians on Nauru are escaping.

The reality of our political system is that nothing in the short term can prevent a government from pursuing whatever policies it deems in its political interests. Only the most naive could imagine that protests against offshore processing will bring immediate improvements. But only a determined, persistent campaign of public pressure, through demonstrations, individual lobbying and public advocacy, can shift public opinion far enough to compel a response from politicians.

Arguing for reforms to the current arrangements will only entrench them. The campaign to end offshore processing for good has to start in earnest now, before the "fair go" and the desire to "leave the world a bit better" wantonly visit more tragedy on refugees. Australia's acute human rights abuses are not happening in some other country: they are happening here, now, and Australian society is ultimately responsible.

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K Brown
Posted Monday, November 19, 2012 - 13:04

"No advantage" means that a fair share of the 20,000 places on Australias Humanitarian Immigration Programme can be made available for the 800,000 refugees that the UNHCR is caring for around the World and assessed to be in need of permanent resettlement http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliam…. The criteria used by UNHCR to select refugees for permanent resettlement includes:
1. survivors of torture and violence, where the conditions of asylum could result in further trauma or where appropriate treatment is not available
2. persons with medical needs, in particular life‐saving treatment that is unavailable in the country of first asylum
3. women and girls at risk, where there is a real risk that they could be exposed to sexual or gender‐based violence
4. children and adolescents, where a best interests determination supports this
5. elderly refugees who may be particularly vulnerable and for whom resettlement appears to be the best solution, generally due to family links
6. when it represents the only means to reunite refugee families who, owing to refugee flight or displacement, find themselves divided by borders or by entire continents.

Australia needs to protect the integrity of our humanitarian immigration programme to ensure refugees in greatest humanitarian need are not disadvantaged by having their places usurped by those who can pay a people smuggler including many thousands who are economic migrants. At the current rate of arrivals there will be no place for those in most need. Surely the moral choice is to take those in greatest humanitarian need first?

Dr Dog
Posted Monday, November 19, 2012 - 16:15

K Brown you are so right!

It's not like there is any evidence that having money gives you a privileged position in Australian society. I can't imagine where these cue-jumping economic refugee usurpers got that idea.

Of course what they don't understand is that we discriminate on the basis of skin colour as well as solvency. Thank goodness white people generally come from countries with decent passport arrangements and can arrive by plane.

You speak for the moral backbone of this nation K Brown. Thank you. Thank you from the heart of my bottom.

Posted Monday, November 19, 2012 - 16:39

Australia is a country of over 23 million people. We receive over 400,000 arrivals each year yet only 22,000 of these are refugees. Of these a tiny 22,000 refugees on average less than 2,000 have come by boat.
Millionaires with 5 million to invest have no need to wait these are welcomed with open arms. However, fleeing persecution, torture and war are forced to stay countless years in detention centres and many are forcefully returned to the country of defoulment.

It is time we open our hearts to accept a fair share of refugees - whether they come from UNHCR and Red Cross camps, or whose arrival is a result of assistance from the fisherfolk of Indonesia.

K Brown
Posted Monday, November 19, 2012 - 21:42

“No advantage” should mean that asylum seekers arriving by boat who are assessed as genuine will quickly receive protection visas and others who are seeking to abuse our system will wait longer. If Omid has a legitimate claim then he should be counselled that he won’t have to wait at least “five years” as the Coalition’s Scott Morrison so stupidly and bluntly declared. But if you are one of the many young Sri Lankan men that SBS “Dateline” recently interviewed in Tamil Nadu who were en route to Australia for economic and lifestyle reasons then you should expect to stay in Nauru until you are repatriated to Sri Lanka.

Last year, 211 Sri Lankan refugees arrived by boat. So far in 2012, there have been more than 5,300. I invite Dr Dog, Nick Riemer and any other refugee advocate to explain how come, when the civil war in Sri Lanka ended 3 1/2 years ago, 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) have been resettled and 5,000 Tamil refugees have returned to Sri Lanka under UNHCR arrangements since the end of the war, there has been this sudden explosion in Sri Lankan boat people coming to Australia if not for the reason Richard Danziger, Chief of Mission, International Organisation for Migration in Sri Lanka says, “the biggest driving factor is Sri Lanka’s economy. Many of those who have chosen to return to Sri Lanka rather than wait to be processed on Nauru or Australia originally left their homeland in search of work….people tell us they were just seeking better lives, jobs, money and so forth”.

Should these asylum seekers displace genuine needy refugees around the World that the UNHCR have assessed to be in urgent need of permanent settlement? What's your verdict Dr Dog?

This user is a New Matilda supporter. nickriemer
Posted Monday, November 19, 2012 - 22:34

K Brown – you seem pretty sure that the Sri Lankans coming to Australia don’t have genuine protection claims. How? Do you know *one single thing* about them? You can’t possibly: the government’s refusing to even begin processing their claims, so *no one* knows the content of their applications. No, you’re just motivated by the certainty – I could also call it the ‘racist prejudice’ – that these people *just can’t* have any claim on our obligations.

If you’re so sure of yourself, maybe you should get a job at DIAC: I’m sure they’d be happy to know that there’s someone who knows the truth about asylum seekers without actually looking at any of the facts. (Oh, wait on: they’ve actually got lots of those people already. They’re the reviewers responsible for the 24 per cent – the *24 per cent* – of refugee status determinations found to be invalid in 2011 because of reviewer bias: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/boat-refugees-will-be-asses.... Maybe you work at DIAC already!)

Anyway, let’s just grant that the Sri Lankans coming here don’t have valid protection claims. Let’s forget about the continual discrimination, the harassment, the abductions, the upside-down beatings, the torture, all of the things that are regularly denounced by major human rights NGOs, and for which Canada is talking about boycotting next year’s CHOGM meeting. For the sake of argument, let’s grant that *every one* of the asylum seekers on Nauru and in the domestic detention network has come here for what you call ‘economic and lifestyle reasons’. Of course, there’s not the slightest reason to think that that’s true, since the majority of people who arrive here by boat actually do have their asylum claims recognized. But let’s grant it anyway.

Even in that case, what Australia’s doing is unforgiveable. Do you, K Brown, think it’s ok to lock innocent people up, banish them to detention in inaccessible places surrounded by desert or ocean, drive them to despair, hunger-strike, and suicide and condemn them to years of mental illness just for asking us for help?

Shame on you, K Brown, and shame on all apologists for this viciousness.

K Brown
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 07:15

Nick Riemer - you could choose to toss around the label "racist prejudice" or you could go the whole hog in ad hominum abuse by invoking Godwin's Law and trot out Nazi analogys but doing so cannot obfuscate the SBS video and anecdotal evidence I have cited and the statistical anomaly of the 2,400% increase in Sri Lankan boat arrivals this year in the absence of any new "push factors" that the refugee lobby is so fond of highlighting.

As you point out I cannot be sure because assessments have not yet been done. Nor can you. But I can look at the facts and reach a reasonable conclusion unfettered by the wilful blindness that afflicts the refugee lobby.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. nickriemer
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 09:02

K Brown – I'll use exactly the label for which there's justification: 'racist prejudice'. I don't know whether that's your intention*, but what's *not* racist about your position?

You choose to single out one group of people who are currently trying to come here in large numbers: Sri Lankans. You ignore highly credible evidence of widespread persecution and discrimination in Sri Lanka – evidence that doesn't come from a single journalist's short report, or from an organization funded by, among others, the Australian government. On this evidence you base your support for a policy that inflicts suffering, despair, trauma and death on people who are *doing nothing illegal*.

That's the difference between you and me. I'm arguing for us to treat people asking for our help humanely. My position depends on no assumption about the legitimacy of their protection claims. If they're not found to have a valid refugee claim, let them be sent home if that can be done safely. But the whole apparent ground of your argument is that these asylum claims *must* be illegitimate – on the basis of evidence you now acknowledge not to be reliable. That's the basis for your argument in favour of government brutality to people guilty of nothing other than wanting to come here. You're ready to condemn Sri Lankans and, no doubt, Iranians, Afghanis and others, to Nauru, but I don't hear you complaining about any of the affluent first world visa over-stayers, or the asylum-seekers who arrive by plane. So, what *isn't* racist about your position?

As I said, shame on you and all apologists for this viciousness.

Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 10:17

Go NIck. It is about time the K Brown's of this world were called for what they are.

Janet May
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 13:19

I have asked this question on this media site before, and have not received an answer to date, so perhaps Nick can have a stab at it. What is the refugee "carrying capacity" of Australia? ie, given our current population, environment, national wealth etc, what would be the right number (this is irrrespective of how they are selected, or method of arrival).

The second part of the question is, if we can arrive at a consensus about whet the right number is (and assuming we cannot assist every refugee in the world, and assuming that while not every refugee in the world wants to come here, there is probably still more wishing to come than we can take in at any point in time) how should we prioritise? eg, should we try and take in family groups (so balancing old and young, male and female etc to enable a stable community base and reduce culture shock?) should we take the most in need eg ill, old, frail and disabled, traumatised? and so on?

Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 16:17

People who are willing to risk their lives in leaky boats at sea sound like great entreprenurs to me. We should admit them to our country immediately - give them a special class of visa. I'm not kidding.

All this bleeding-heart pseudo-concern about people who drown at sea or are dashed to death on the rocks of our coastline is just that - hypocritical and a problem for us in our little comfort zone. It does not reflect the reality of the refugees. If people escaping from hell are prepared to take such risks, more power to them. Since hell is the reality of many countries on this earth today - however we might try to block our ears and eyes - then let them come.

Who are we to stop them? People complain about the "nanny state" but what could be more patronising and gratuitous than this - saying to the desperate that we will not allow you to make your decision to take this risk because it makes us feel uncomforable. We don't want to know that conditions in some places are so bad that people will risk their lives to get away. Or even that we could be contributing to that hell by participating in their wars, heaven forbid.

If you as rational adult human beings have assessed the only alternative of staying home is worse, and are not willing to spend a decade or indeterminate time waiting in some god-foresaken refugee camp while your children stunt and vegetate, then embarking on leaky boats sounds like courage to me. No we can't save the whole world, but we can save those who arrive on our doorstep and beg for help against the odds no matter what.

And we should up our refugee intake substantially. And work to improve refugee processing in countries within our geographical and moral ambit. And increase effective aid to poor and war-torn countries. And stop engaging in wars for the wrong reasons. If all these things are too hard we should re-configure our political parties to make them possible. "The lucky country" should broaden its horizons and stop being so cowardly, greedy, pathetic and short-sighted.

"Swamped" by the brave? We wish.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 16:56

I understand from several reports that the typical journey of an Afghan asylum seeker is by plane from Kabul to Dubai, on to Malaysia and then Indonesia, still all by plane. Up to that point papers are needed, fake or real ones.
Why then destroy these papers, opt for an expensive and uncertain journey by boat for the last relatively short leg of the journey?
Why not continue by plane to Australia, when it is cheaper, safer and faster.?
I don't know the motivation behind this move, but surmise that boat arrival have a greater chance of proving their claim simply by sticking to a story, whereas by plane and with papers (fake or real) there is a paper trail which authorities can follow through.

Alternative scenario:
How do we know the Afghans who come via Dubai have not actually worked there, lost their job, and cannot go home because of 'losing face'? Dubai only supports natives with social security (as does the rest of the UAE and Qatar). Natives make up between 10 and 20% of the population.

TIME reported that there are many very restless young men in Afghanistan. Better qualified than their elders they cannot get jobs because the elders hang on to them. Frustrated the young ones leave the country.

None of that sounds like a persecuted refugee to me, more like an economic one, wanting a better life.

Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 16:59

It is not an accident that the current batch of refugees come from places that have high birth rates. Poverty causes conflict and high birth rates create poverty. Rewarding the heavy breeders by bringing their offspring to Australia and a western standard of consumption, is not the answer. Those left out just breed more refugees.

Immigration is ruining our country. Our fish stocks are depleted, our flora and fauna treasures are endangered due to habitat destruction, and the Great Barrier Reef is under pressure. Cities are encroaching on agricultural land. Residential blocks of land are getting smaller and smaller and the journeys to work are getting longer and longer. Children are growing up in little flats with nowhere to play within earshot of their mothers other than the driveways. The eastern states are coming out of a long drought with more to come, and Perth is dependent on desalination plants running on fossil fuel energy. In Western Australia, much agricultural land is salt affected due to over-clearing.

We don't need more people and what space we have left should go to the descendants of those who were born here and have built our culture and living standard. For the last 36 years our baby booms have been below replacement levels in an overpopulated world. We have earned our high standard of living. Those people in other countries, who try to ensure their own security by having four or more children, have no right to ask for help from those who have behaved more responsibly.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Frederika Steen
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 17:23

What K Brown talks about is the "refugee migrant" component of our annual 210 000( yes, this year) Migration Program.

Nothing to do with legal obligations under the Refugee Convention.
Australia's Asylum seeker policy = the 1951 Refugee Convention + 1967 Protocol, making us responsible for the PROTECTION ( not punishment) of all who cross our border, by whatever mode of travel, with or without visa or passport, and for the processing of their claim that they need protection from (more) persecution- expeditiously , as Navi Pillay said last week.

Shed the migration framework.

It is asylum seekers we are dealing with, and very inhumanely.

Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 17:37

<i> "What are the Nauru detainees asking Australia to do? Just to process their refugee applications in a timely manner and under decent conditions, nothing more." </i>

Nothing more? What rot! They are not satisfied with safety - they want a western standard of living - a share in an economy to which they have not contributed one iota.
The asylum seekers are not our citizens yet we provide them with safety, food, shelter and medical care. They are not imprisoned. They are free to leave at any time to anywhere in the world that will take them - just not Australia.

Sue Hoffman
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 19:25

Almost all Afghan asylum seekers to Australia are of Hazara ethnicity and subject to persecution by other ethnicities and/or Taliban. Afghans who claim asylum in Europe or United States are less likely to be Hazara. So any analysis that is Euro or US-centric won't necessarily be applicable to Australia.

About flying to Australia. It is not possible to get on a plane to Australia unless you have already got a visa or are an Australian citizen. Australia fines airlines that carry passengers to Australia without valid visas so airlines are quite strict about checking before people get on the plane in eg Singapore or Malaysia. Australia tends not to grant visas, even tourist visas, to certain nationalities, like Iraqis and Afghans. They may have to lodge bonds and so forth, and applying for a visa can take months.

Also, certain nationalities have a lot of difficulty getting
passports. Some authorities make it difficult for its citizens to get passports. So people's options are limited...

Sue Hoffman
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 19:39

About seeking safety - people do not feel safe when they don't know what their future holds and there is the possibility that they might be returned to the country from which they fled. The fact that there is no imminent or immediate danger does not remove the fear of what might happen. It eats away at them and is a source of constant anxiety.

When people have suffered trauma such as being caught up in war, seeing others killed, living in areas where bombs might go off, they can only start to heal and recover from the stress and trauma when they feel safe. And they don't feel safe, can't feel safe, while their future is uncertain. So recovery from trauma is delayed, and the state of being anxious and worried can become their normal state. So by the time the person gets permanent residence, they can't shake off the feelings of fear and uncertainty, and their stress levels do not go back to normal.

The protracted uncertainty associated with being on Nauru does untold damage, from which some may never recover. If they had a safe place to go, they would.

K Brown
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 21:02

Nick Riemer and jennyhaines - I have worked in the provision of services to refugees in Vietnam and Palestinian refugees in Rafah Camp, Gaza albeit 30-40 years ago when international travel to Australia was beyond the imagination and means of people in these countries, before the World Wide Web enabled emerging refugee communities and refugee lobby groups to communicate freely and shape their political message and people smuggling was not a multi-million dollar transnational enterprise.

I have seen refugees “in extremis” and I am very troubled to see these refugees having their opportunities for permanent settlement in Australia’s humanitarian immigration program eclipsed by asylum seekers whose claims are shallow or disingenuous.

K Brown
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 22:37

jennyhaines - your admiration for Nick Riemer's cheap and contemptible racist smear to avert answering the reasonable question that I posed for an explanation of the 2,400% annual increase in Sri Lankan boat arrivals simply tars you with the same brush of mindful blindness.

It is very sad to witness Australia's refugee lobby casting aside the most dispossessed and needy people that the UNHCR is looking after in favour of asylum seekers that the overwhelming evidence indicates are economic migrants.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. nickriemer
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 00:13

Janet May – I don't have an answer about this country's 'carrying capacity', except to say that we are obviously so far away from exceeding it that the question doesn't even arise at the moment, and is in no danger of doing so in our lifetimes. On your question about who to prioritize, as I've argued here –
http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/for-desperate-boat-people-devil-i... – Australia has the most immediate obligation to those refugees who are asking us, and no one else, for help. People coming here by boat are in that category.

K Brown – There's nothing "reasonable" in your question about the spike in boats from Sri Lanka. Your purpose in asking is to discredit Sri Lankan asylum seekers, and to legitimate the unspeakable conditions they, and others on Nauru, are being made to endure. If you're really worried about people in extremis, why aren't you worried about the people your own government is pushing to the brink, apparently with your enthusiastic support?

You continue to repeat your statement that boat arrivals here are "economic migrants". As I've said, you have no grounds for that claim: many other reasons exist for the spike – notably, the perception that we are closing our doors, and that it's important to try to get here before it's too late. (That, in fact, has been the government's own explanation.)

But since you ignored me last time, I'll repeat it: the legitimacy of boat arrivals' refugee claims doesn't make a skerrick of difference to my position. Regardless of the legitimacy of their refugee claim – and, again, the evidence is *overwhelmingly* that boat arrivals will be found to be "genuine" – the argument against offshore processing – like that against mandatory detention – is based on the premise that both measures are *human rights violations* and therefore unconscionable for anyone, ever, regardless of whether they're a refugee, an "economic migrant", or anything else.

So, K Brown, what's your reply? That it's not in fact a human rights violation to (a) imprison people who have committed no crime, without trial; (b) willfully remove them from an environment where they can get the medical attention they need; (c) keep them in appalling conditions just today criticized by Amnesty International (see http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-20/amnesty-international-appalled-by-...)? Or that it is a human rights violation, but one that you're happy to support because it keeps 'disingenuous' and 'shallow' Sri Lankan, Iranian, Iraqi and Afghan asylum seekers out of Australia? Which is it?

Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 00:49

<i> "I don’t have an answer about this country’s ‘carrying capacity’, except to say that we are obviously so far away from exceeding it that the question doesn’t even arise at the moment, and is in no danger of doing so in our lifetimes." </i>

What rubbish! Australia is already overpopulated.

Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 13:13

The White Australia policy was unjust, because none of us can choose our race. It did have a beneficial side effect for which I am very grateful.
By excluding Muslims, the White Australia Policy ensured that our lawmakers were <strong>not </strong >selected by voters who believed that slavery, or the marriage of prepubescent girls was acceptable. And while there was plenty of domestic violence, it was not approved of, and few voters believed that a man had a god-given obligation to beat a disobedient wife. (Sura4, 35 of the Qur'an)

Our lawmakers were <b>not </b> selected by people who believed that, while rape should be punishable by death, rapists should be immune from prosecution unless four male witnesses were willing to testify against him. Our voters did <b>not </b> believe that a woman who complained of rape should be punished harshly for adultery, unless of course she had four male witnesses to back up her story.
Our lawmakers were <b>not </b> selected by voters who believed that a woman's legal testimony was worth half of a man's.
Most of the current batch of asylum seekers have come from Islamic countries and many will themselves be Muslim. The Muslim men are asking Australia for a degree of freedom and security for <b>themselves </b>that they, by their choice of religion, deny their own mothers, wives and daughters.

How can Australian women expect any justice in our courts if there are Muslims serving on juries? Muslims believe that the legal testimony of a man charged with rape or assault is worth twice that of his victim. Can we guarantee that Muslims will reject large chunks of their religion if given a better life in Australia?
Those who have chosen to hold the Qur'an sacred, don't deserve the freedom and security of Australia. They are themselves oppressors.

All Australians should read the Qur'an before they decide that they want to increase the Muslim vote in Australia by giving citizenship in our country to asylum seekers.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 13:19

Sue Hoffman:
You said: "They may have to lodge bonds and so forth, and applying for a visa can take months." Instead of paying people smugglers they could use the money as bond money; they now have to wait months and years anyway. Not convincing at all.
Furthermore, Afghanistan/Pakistan are western-friendly governments responsible for the protection of their citizens. Again, not convincing.

Nick Riemer:
The book "Overloading Australia" by O/Connor/Lines, first published 2008 and re-published several times later, will tell you about Australia's carrying capacity, as does Tim Flannery's "Future Eaters" (somewhat older book). But in numbers, it is seen as less than 10m. Only 5-6% of Australia's surface area is any good Go to the Outback and see for yourself.
As EarthFan said 'we are already overpopulated'.
And so is every speck of habitable land on this planet.
Countries have to learn to live within their means. Cutting down on population growth is the answer. We have to opt for quality not quantity. And we have to re-think our social structures.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 14:40

You are so right. We have to be very wary not to lose our hardwon secularism and freedoms to the youngest and most hideious of the three monotheistic religions. Not that the other two were any better in times gone by, but they have been reined in.

Janet May
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 14:41

Thanks Nick. I do however have reservations that we are a long way from reaching our carrying capacity. I'm not qualified to say whether we are or aren't but I am concerned that refugee advocates such as yourself won't engage in a process to determine what that capacity is. And I'm not btw, talking about physical space, I'm talking about the overall capacity of a society to support people who will require considerable resources for support and who may never be able to be economically or socially productive.

This goes in part to the question about who we take, and again I thank you for your succinct response that we should first consider people who ask rather than going out seeking refugees.

My thoughts (and again, these are just thoughts, not assertions or postions) that as a society we can and should take in a number of people who are elderly, very young, or disabled. They are part of the communities fleeing persecution and those communities should be able to bring their weaker members with them in order to maintain relationships and cultural integrity. However, if we do take in the needy, then, well they have needs and it will essentially be up to us to meet them, and it is reasonable to have a discussion about how to balance their needs against existing vulnerable groups who aren't getting their needs met here, now (eg people with disabilities).

On the point of the appropriate mix, I think Earthfan has a point, although I disagree that all muslims adhere rigidly to the most extreme islamic tenets, and knowing what we know now about catholic clergy and right wing tea party nut jobs, who woul want christians? the point is, as a women and a lesbian, frankly I would like to make sure that whoever we allow to move where (via migration or refugee acceptance) understands that this is a tolerant pluralist, secular society. Extremists or fundamentalists of any faith are not welcome.

Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 15:15

janet - and yet the catholic confessional remains intact and above our laws...bit hypercritical of our society don't you think?

And where do some of you people who are using the Muslim extremists as your trump card believe our society's values and laws in matters such as abortion, euthenasia, gay marriage, rights to access social security, balancing the budget, consumerism...where do you think these come from...some Martians bumhole? Don't kid yourselves, we are continually immersed in cultural values that have religious origins. The danger comes in using blind, one-sided, inhumane judgments upon vulnerable, needy, people who lack representation and voice in our society and on social issues in general...because we will end up with wrong decisions.

Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 19:56

The Islam to which I refer is neither extremist nor fundamentalist. It is basic, standard straight-from-the-Qur'an Islam. There is an idea that, so long as Islam is neither "extremist" nor "fundamentalist," it can do us no harm. I don't believe that is the case.

<i> "And where do some of you people who are using the Muslim extremists as your trump card believe our society’s values and laws in matters such as abortion, euthenasia, gay marriage, rights to access social security, balancing the budget, consumerism…where do you think these come from?". </i>

Answer: The last three in your list have nothing to do with any religion I know of. The first 3 are forbidden by <b>all</b> the religions that I know of, and for good reason. The support for euthanasia, abortion and homosexuality has been a result of the secularisation of Australian society.
Euthanasia is dangerous; abortion violates the rights of the unborn child; and, in view of the basic function of marriage, which is to assign paternity, gay marriage is just silly.

I sure that all migrants recognise that Australia is a tolerant, pluralist society, but that will not prevent them from retaining their own values and concept of what is just and right:- and voting accordingly. If either the Bible or the Qur'an are the words of a creator, then one of them is a higher authority than any human government.

In Australia we have freedom of speech, religion and thought, and we all get a vote. It is for that reason we should be very careful of whom we choose to enter our democracy. There are enough Muslims on one asylum seeker boat to cancel out the votes of every female in my family.

(Excluding Muslims from Australia does not prevent them from practising their religion - there are plenty of Muslim countries in the world.)

Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 21:08

<i>"knowing what we know now about catholic clergy and right wing tea party nut jobs, who woul want christians?" </i>.

You can't judge Christianity by the Catholic church. Protestantism grew from the realisation that the teachings of the Catholic church was opposed to what was in the Bible. And Christianity certainly doesn't permit paedophilia, or any sex outside marriage.

To judge Christianity, you have to look at the New Testament, at the teachings that Christians believe are the word of a Creator. Likewise with Islam. You have to judge Islam by looking at the Qur'an, which all Muslims of all sects believe is the perfect word of God which cannot be changed.

Christianity is about "love thy neighbour as thyself" and "do good to those who hate you" and "thou shalt not kill" "honour thy father and thy mother" etc, etc. It is relatively benign, but not without patriarchy. I am happy to have Christians in our democracy, even the fundamentalist ones.

K Brown
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 00:24

Nick Riemer – The reason I highlighted Sri Lankan asylum seekers is because the political and security situation in Sri Lanka has stabilised to the degree that the UNHCR is repatriating refugees back to Sri Lanka. Surely, you are not seriously suggesting that the UNHCR are returning refugees to “continual discrimination, the harassment, the abductions, the upside-down beatings, the torture” as you claim. Also, the SBS “Dateline” programme I cited interviewed a number of Tamils in Sri Lanka (including an ex-LTTE member who was standing as a candidate in recent Sri Lankan elections) who stated that there were now no problems except economic ones and Sri Lankan Tamil’s heading to Australia were doing so for a better life. Every young Sri Lankan man that SBS interviewed ensconced in the safety of an Indian refugee camp in Tamil Nadu said they wanted to come to Australia for a better life. If this TV programme was produced by one of our commercial TV stations then I would not have given it much credibility but it was the SBS whose charter it is to report ethnic issues and would have fearlessly supported these asylum seekers if there had been a skerrick of evidence.

The current security and economic situation for Tamils in Sri Lanka is not perfect but it is benign enough for the UNHCR to return refugees. The prime purpose of the UN Refugee Convention is to return people to their homeland when it is safe to do so. Sri Lanka meets this criterion. This is evidenced by the fact that some 500 young Sri Lankan men who have arrived by boat have failed to claim asylum for valid reasons and have now voluntarily returned to Sri Lanka.

Nothing I have said about the political and security situation in Sri Lanka is based on race, ethnicity or religion. Your attempt to dismiss these arguments by playing the race card is cheap and contemptible. The fact that you have engaged in smear tactics like this simply highlights your lack of reasoned argument on this matter.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. nickriemer
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 09:34

K Brown – The UK High Court, just at the end of October, granted injunctions against the deportation of Tamil asylum seekers on the grounds that they face a risk of torture on return: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/oct/23/sri-lanka-asylum-seekers-deport.... You're telling me that a single SBS report is more credible??

I've already acknowledged that your comments may not have been racist in *intent*. I stand by my claim that they are racist in effect, for the reasons I've given: you single out one category of people (Sri Lankans), cast doubt on their bona fides, and justify the harshest and most inhumane treatment of them, while exempting people of different ethnicities – in particular, Caucasians – who are in exactly the same situation, or one that, on your logic, is worse: asylum-seekers and would-be 'economic migrants' who arrive by plane, and visa-overstayers. Why aren't you advocating Nauru for them too?

K Brown
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 11:02

Nick Riemer – The UN Refugee Convention only requires us to provide protection to refugees until they can safely return to their country. It does not require us to provide them with a permanent immigrant place. Asylum seekers held offshore are being protected, are not subject to refoulement, will be free to come and go from their camps so are not being “imprisoned without trial”, are provided with medical support staffing levels that far exceed that provided to the Australian public plus they have access to Nauruan facilities. The temporary tented accommodation conditions are short term and quite suitable for young men until permanent facilities are available. Indeed the camp is palatial in comparison to most other UNHCR refugee camps around the World and the “desperate” conditions that the refugee lobby, Amnesty International, and MSM’s hyperbole constantly assure the Australian public they are “escaping”.

The UNHCR have 800,000 refugees around the World in need permanent resettlement http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliam... but there are only 80,000 annual refugee resettlement immigration places available worldwide http://www.unhcr.org/4c31cd236.html. Australia will this year provide 20,000 of these 80,000 places via our Humanitarian Immigration Programme. 6,000 people have arrived by boat in the first quarter of this year and this rate shows no sign of easing so the quota is likely to be exceeded this year. Logically as our refugee community grows and people smuggling operations mature the rate of arrival is likely to increase exponentially. There will be no place for refugees in far more desperate conditions overseas unless the Government takes action to deter the boats and protect the integrity of our Humanitarian Immigration Programme.

Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 11:53

earthfan - you fail to recognise that we are saturated in cultural, religiously-originated values which proceed to influence our moral behaviour, goals/ambitions, decision-making and interpretations. Where do you think our contemporary priorities for liberalism, bureaucracy, "democracy", economic rationalism, managerialism, social and health policies come from? Church, state, monarchies...all entwined in complexity, all brought us to where we are right at this living moment in history.

Sure the Qur’an has literal words on pages, but it is subject to the interpretations of those who read, apply and follow those words - as also occurs with interpretations of christian bible, or even political ideologies for that matter.

A well-intended, wise, kind, mature leader teaching and applying those words will express and expound on them along compassionate, sensible lines in harmony with that culture's taboos, manners and values. A hateful "teacher" with ulterior motives for conflict, control, exploitation will apply the same words differently. The same applies to the audience - those desiring self improvement and illumination will seek wisdom, empathy and insight, those who seek justification for exploitation, destruction and murder will find it also.

The same can be said for the christian bible - there are plenty of references and instructions for, seemingly to our sensitivities, barbaric, strange, cruel and inhumane activities - stoning, spearing, death, murder, genocide, exclusion, restrictions on diet, sex, marriage. How about Easter and Christmas which do not appear in the bible at all? How are these celebrations justified? Christians have used the bible to justify violence, abuse, animosity, murder, marginalisation...so much for your assertions of "love thy neighbour"!!

The point is that using a religion or different cultural values as a main argument against helping these assylum seekers - is an extremely faulty approach, particularly considering you cannot prove that one is superior and "good" while another is inferior or "evil". You can only assert that each has good or evil interpretations and applications.

Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 12:08

KB and nick - I think there is a point that if we are not able to assist refugees in extreme need/vulnerability due to having to process people who are seeking entry due only to wanting higher standard of living - then this is a cause for concern. The main word being "IF" because I'm not sure that KB can effectively use ONE news segment on ONE TV station, as valid, reliable evidence of his claim that in fact many SriLankans are NOT genuine in need to seek assylum. That assertion would need thorough unbiased research to make such a claim with any validity. Any person seeking entry when they were not truly being persecuted, unsafe etc in their own country is stealing the humanitarian efforts of all those people who are victims of extreme conditions/circumstances...so nick, you also can't make a blanket statement that ALL the assylum seekers ARE genuine either.

This is still an issue requiring interaction and coordination with other countries, especially Indonesia. This doesn't occur. If we were more strict in our interrelations with that country the situation would be different. But of course our politicians won't do that because of trade and terrorism.

K Brown
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 12:15

Nick Riemer - My logic applies to of all races whether South Asian, Asian, Caucasian or Eskimo from Sri Lanka or any other economic refugee source country. I have not mentioned asylum seekers who arrive by plane because your article was about the Governments policy to deter boat arrivals that are set to exceed our 20,000 Humanitarian Immigration Programme which will make quota management pointless and our whole refugee process unmanageable.

However seeing you asked I would make the point that asylum seekers arriving by air come with travel documentation that provides data on which to base a reasonably assured assessment of their refugee status. That should not be deterred. Boat people invariably destroy their travel documentation to frustrate enquiry of their claim. This makes it extremely difficult to verify whether an asylum seeker's story is true or a well rehearsed concoction of persecution and fear dreamt up while they have been safely working in other countries to save up for the people smuggler's ticket to the good life in Australia. That is why the majority of boat people claims are approved.

Boat arrivals are only going to get worse and our orderley refugee process is going to become unmanageable unless we implement measures such as off-shore processing and no advantage rules to deter it.

Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 14:14

<i>Christians have used the bible to justify violence, abuse, animosity, murder, marginalisation…so much for your assertions of “love thy neighbour”!!</i>
I challenge you to provide a quote (in context) from Christ's teachings that could be used to justify the Crusades, heretic or witch burnings. You are confusing the belief system with the actions of people who call themselves Christian. Not the same thing.
I suggest that you read both the Qur'an and the Bible - at least the New Testament.

<i>you fail to recognise that we are saturated in cultural, religiously-originated values which proceed to influence our moral behaviour, goals/ambitions, decision-making and interpretations.</i> <b>What is the basis for this accusation?</b>

Atheists should be prepared to acknowledge that, in Australia, the above have been OVERWHELMINGLY Christian. At least until the end of the Vietnam war and the influx of Asian immigrants. I don't recall any mention of drug or sex trafficking until then.
Christianity then, should be given some of the credit for Australia being the great place that it is.

<i>The point is that using a religion or different cultural values as a main argument against helping these assylum seekers - is an extremely faulty approach, particularly considering you cannot prove that one is superior and “good” while another is inferior or “evil”. You can only assert that each has good or evil interpretations and applications.</i>
So, if there is something in Christianity that we don't like, we can't be critical of NAZISM?

You would have me believe that the printed word is unimportant. That ideas expressed in print are infinitely flexible and can be twisted to suit any purpose. That is simply not so.

Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 14:50

In Australia, refugees are the meat in the sandwich of political opportunism, pure and simple.

Whatever the facts, they are now lost in lies and distortion. Scare campaigns and spin-doctoring have taken over. Our country is floundering in ignorance, prejudice and propaganda on this issue.

It is unconscionable considering the suffering of so many. It is way past time to put a stop to the political football and face up to what we want to be and do as a wealthy middle power in this world.

Are we to be cautious, afraid and typically taking the meanest option? - or fair and compassionate, sometimes taking the generous option? Because there are probably no perfect answers or black and white decisions. We are among the richest in the world. Would it be OK to err (since some error is inevitable) on the side of humanity?

At the moment we look selfish - craven supporters of a bungled, cobbled-together out-of-sight and out-out-of-mind unhumanitarian policy. Even to hardened sceptics it must be a PR disaster. To anyone watching it lurch from one disaster to the next, our stance on refugees must appear egregious - unnecessary, undignified, unworkable and cruel.

Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 18:24

They are NOT "appealing for help" they are dumping themselves on us like unwanted guests. And they ARE unwanted. And dumping their identification so we have no knowledge as to whether they are genuine or not. Off to the Islands with them! Make em wish they stopped at any one of a dozen countries they bypassed to get here. One day they'll get the message Australia is not an easy touch.

Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 20:00

earthfan - "I challenge you to provide a quote (in context) from Christ’s teachings that could be used to justify the Crusades, heretic or witch burnings."
This is exactly the type of examples I was thinking of to assert that the bible is interpreted differently and often with destructive ends. I didn't say that I agree that applying its teachings for twisted ends is a desirable thing, I just said that this is what people do do...

How about the invasion of every continent on the planet my christian europeans and missionaries and their excessive expolitation and abuse of the indigenous populations? Or the conflict between catholics and protestants down through the ages?


Mass suicide of Jonestown (900) an horrific example of people interpreting religion in weird, dangerous ways.

Our current civilisation is founded on the practices and power, control and wealth generated by these types of beliefs and interpretations of the written word. Just look at the Poor Laws of Britain and then consider contemporary atitudes towards social security and the removal of entitlement for people who are disadvantaged in this society...

You yourself seem to claim love from christianity but are denying empathy and understanding for assylum seekers...not very loving, or turning the other cheek-ish...classic example of the religious tendency to interpret and apply beliefs and values in the manner that you personally prefer and consider relevant or a priority. You either love ALL or you have your own version of loving...so what do you interpret the bible to require/advise us to give of our fruits of the spirit...only to christians or australians?

I have not stated and do not believe that the printed word is unimportant - I am highlighting that it is always subject to subjective, personal, religious, and motivated perspectives and interpretations. This is reality, not my preference...don't you think I would wish for ALL christians to show love, mercy, grace etc to ALL peoples and not live twisted, sick beliefs or enforce these on others??

Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 20:30

As to drug and sex trafficking how about the opium wars?


And don't tell me you cannot remember the rape, sexual abuse and use of indigenous women by "Christian" colonisers and slavery of Africans to many parts of the globe including sexual exploitation and selling women/children? Even by guess who - Thomas Jefferson the author of the Declaration of Independence and such fine sentiments as "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

This gets back to universal human rights, though culturally biased by cultures that believe in a transcendent god.

Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 23:21

Fightmumma: As I said before the above behaviours you are describing are not part of the Christian belief system.
Do you really think that aboriginal society respected a woman's right to control her own body? And do you think that aborigines did not take part in the genocide?

Like the Old Testament, the Qur'an takes slavery for granted. (The Europeans bought their slaves from the Muslims who had captured them.) But there is nothing in it that an abolitionist could use. It was the Christians of the west that fought against slavery.

Can you guarantee that Muslims will abandon the Qur'an and go against its teachings once they gain Australian citizenship? If not, every Muslim who gains citizenship is a threat to your freedom and security.

Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 23:29

When Jesus said "love your neighbour" he gave an example. The Good Samaritan of the Bible came across an injured man and, after giving first aid, paid a third party to look after him until he was recovered.
   The Good Samaritan did nothing to protect the man from possible future assault. He did NOT take the man into his own country to compete for a livelihood with his neighbours. Or to contribute to the demand for, and therefore the price, of housing. Or to contribute towards the depletion of wild fish stocks. Or to contribute to the need for ever more expensive water supplies.
   The Good Samaritan did NOT invite the assault victim to bring his wife and other able bodied relatives into his country. Nor did he invite the man's children to marry their overseas relatives and bring them into his country on spousal visas.

Bringing Muslim refugees into Australia is certainly a case of "doing good to those that hate you". The Koran is full of invective towards anyone who doesn't accept Mohammed's claims to divine authority. Al Qaeda is able to find plenty of justification for its activities in the Koran.

Parents in undeveloped countries create the conditions for conflict when they try to provide for their own future security by having four or more children. It is not reasonable for them then, to demand that those who have practised greater restraint, rescue their able bodied sons from the situation they themselves helped to create.

It is time for Australia, and all other countries that are reproducing at replacement rate and below, to opt out of the International Convention for Refugees. We should not have to shoulder the burdens caused by other peoples' irresponsible breeding.

Posted Friday, November 23, 2012 - 04:34

earthfan - see how you can place conditions on a simple example to care for others' needs? See how you have an interpretation of a holy scripture and can use it to justify your own attitudes/beliefs? You understand the principle and it sits comfortably within your own value system, even when your attitude runs contrary to the spirit of the law that JC taught in the parable of the good Samaritan. This is exactly how we end up with diverse versions of the one religious scripture...and motivated behaviours stemming from or justified by these.

The parable of the good Samaritan uses a key figure of despised Samaritans whom Jews hated. The priest and Levite are "holy" people who care more about their own needs, interests, safety (the journey to Jerico from Jerusalem was a very dangerous one) and purity (as in touching dead bodies and the implications on purifying themselves) - they felt no obligation to serve a stranger. The Samaritan placed his own interests, wealth, safety etc LAST and considered the injured robber victim FIRST without conditions. This is a lesson in pure care and service regardless of consequence to the own self and regardless of who your "neighbour" is.

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you" (Luke 6:27), "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44)...the SPIRIT of the law requires one to not value material possessions, ego, present circumstances or ANY worldly-motivated priorities and needs, interests or consequences... "Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions"(Mark 10:21-22).

You also are happy to ignore the Old Testament and see that the New fits better with modernity...so why can't you apply this cultural, religious evolution to other religious scriptures as well???

I see you still believe every single problem gets down to one simplistic explanation - over-breeding (especially of other racces so it seems)...and yet the problems with the environment that you continually refer to are actually OUR fault as the 20% most wealthy on the planet and our over-consumption and capitalist economic way of life...consume consume consume...efficient maximum production (regardless of the environment or human rights abuses), exchange and trade (regardless of the impacts on local communities).

Posted Saturday, November 24, 2012 - 13:37

fightmumma: <i> see how you can place conditions on a simple example to care for others’ needs? See how you have an interpretation of a holy scripture and can use it to justify your own attitudes/beliefs? </i>
Actually NO, I haven't. But you have.

I have related the parable of the Good Samaritan exactly as it is. I have stated not only what the Good Samaritan did do, but also what he didn't do. I did so in order to explain that a failure to give Australian citizenship to able-bodied asylum seekers, is not in contradiction to Jesus' instruction to "love thy neighbour"; at least not as it is illustrated by Jesus' parable.

<i>The Samaritan placed his own interests, wealth, safety etc LAST and considered the injured robber victim FIRST without conditions.</i>.
<b>What rubbish!</b> The Good Samaritan didn't put himself last. His sacrifice was limited to initial first aid and a monetary outlay. He did not allow the care of the injured man to interfere with his own plans. He got an inn keeper to look after him, and went about his own business, returning only to make sure the bill was paid in full. By checking that the bill was paid, he made sure that person who did look after the injured man was not out of pocket. These are the simple facts of the story.
The Good Samaritan did not put the injured man first. He considered the welfare of others <b>besides </b>the injured man. He did not take the man to Samaria to impose on his actual neighbours.

Those who fail to accede to able-bodied asylum seekers' demands for a share of Australia's resources and the infrastructure, education and welfare systems built and bequeathed to us by our forebears, are sometimes accused of failing to follow Jesus' instruction to 'love thy neighbour'. An accurate analysis of the parable Jesus' used to illustrate his instruction, demonstrates that the accusation is unfounded. Our fellow Australian's are also our neighbours.

Posted Saturday, November 24, 2012 - 14:40

Fightmumma: <i>I see you still believe every single problem gets down to one simplistic explanation - over-breeding (especially of other racces so it seems)</i>.

I have not claimed that overbreeding is the explanation for every problem. But it is certainly behind a lot of them. And Australians cannot be accused of overbreeding because our fertility has been less than two babies per woman for 36 years. It is only immigration that is causing problems in Australia, and in other areas of the world that have low fertility. Japan does not accept many migrants, so its population will be getting smaller soon, if not already.
I suggest that you have a look at the literature on the Stable Population Party website. www.populationparty.org.au/ Also google: <i>Dick Smith Population </i>for his discussion of overpopulation, and <i>David Attenborough population.</i>

I don't disagree with you that the wealthier countries are ones making the most pollution and consuming the most resources. See my post of Friday 23 November under "Asylum Policy Brings More Cruelty....."

Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 01:04

earthfan - your take on the good samaritan is in error - ANY historical piece of literature needs to be analysed in view of the social context of the time - in the case of the christian bible, each era and set of circumstances needs to be understood to gain a better understanding of the valuable lessons of the literary work. This is exactly what you would do with Shakespeare as well - consider the meanings of the words, references etc of the characters because these could be vastly different to our own time or cultural context.

If I say to you "I wouldn't piss on you even if you were on fire" what does that mean? Does it have anything to do with my need to urinate or you being engulfed in flames? Does it mean that if you are NOT on fire then I CAN piss on you? And what indeed is "piss"? Is this a rule about how/when/why one can piss on another individual?

If you are a student of a spiritual text - then you need to learn about the contexts of that text in order to better understand the messages and offerings for learning and self improvement therein. If you remain so literal - what is your take on Song of Solomon 7 - does she REALLY have a huge nose like the tower of Lebanon? Maybe if you are still so unclear about who your neighbour is and you are concerned for your eternal soul, you could read Matthew 25:31-45

Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 01:08

earthfan - I believe this is exactly why JC often said "he who has ears to hear, let him hear" - because their are people who seek enlightenment and there are people who don't, those who seek depth, understanding etc will hear something different to those who do not have ears for hearing...

Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 04:24

Fightmumma: Now you are accusing me of not understanding the parable of the Good Samaritan in its historical context. And not knowing who Jesus says that my neighbour is. And of not seeking depth or understanding. All of which is proof that you have no answer to my argument.

Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 04:24

Fightmumma: Now you are accusing me of not understanding the parable of the Good Samaritan in its historical context. And not knowing who Jesus says that my neighbour is. And of not seeking depth or understanding. All of which is proof that you have no answer to my argument.

Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 09:35

i bet you didn't read matthew did you? Your statement/accusation toward me is not proof of any sort - it was YOU who raised the whole issue of helping thy neighbour, not me. And you who has a rigid view of who your nieghbour is - read matthew - you ignore much of my evidence already provided, so who is the one with the weak argument and not addressing the issues of this article? Using one scripture out of context does little to develop an argument, nor an assertion that we should not help these assylum seekers, nor that their living conditions are subhuman.

As to overpopulation - of course this is a concern, I've covered it extensively in my sociology course. You are in error there too - YOU yourself mentioned that traditionally some of those cultures had small populations, and yet deny that western society/lifestyle has negatively influenced them...so if you've been an anthropologist - you tell me - what happened to suddenly make traditional societies across the globe begin to overbreed and to have the high levels of poverty and subsistence living conditions? Remember these are societies that didn't use currency like the west, so I'd guess this would be european colonisation and christianisation.

Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 12:03

earthfan - also - what happened to change western societies from overpopulating, once we had big families too, so how did that social change come about?

Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 23:27

fm: <i> what happened to suddenly make traditional societies across the globe begin to overbreed and to have the high levels of poverty and subsistence living conditions?</i>
They already had a subsistence economy. There is a limit to how many people such an economy can support. It is only the use of fossil fuel energy to drive machines and make fertilisers, that allow one farmer to support more people than his own family.
They didn't begin to overbreed. The fertility rate stayed the same. It was the death rate that dropped and children survived long enough to have children of their own.

Western industrial society eliminated the regular famines that used to carry off the elderly and the very young. And western medicine diminished the number who died of disease and injury.
You seem to have a romantic and rosy picture of life in traditional societies.

<i> what happened to change western societies from overpopulating, once we had big families too, so how did that social change come about?</i>. I can't believe that you haven't noticed that the drop in birthrates co-incided with the invention of the contraceptive pill, and the rise of feminism!!

Please, please, watch David Attenborough's programs. He explains things better than I have time to, and WITH PICTURES!