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09 April 2014


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Chris, a very good comment.

The difference between Peter and Chris's views appear to be like deciding to consider a problem by looking at it through a telescope. It depends on which end you look through as to what view you see.

I prefer Chris' perspective to looking through the lens that gives you a full view of what is happening rather than concentrating on some minutiae associated with the problem and losing track of the complete picture. Both views might be relevant however depending on the context of the discussion.

Nevertheless, there are, 'none so blind as those who will not see!'

Chris - On the number of boat people found to be genuine refugees the Australian Parliament itself puts the figure at over 90%.

This from Parliament's web site...

"According to the Refugee Council of Australia, in 1998–99, approximately 97 percent of Iraqi and 92 percent of Afghan applicants (the majority of whom would have arrived by boat) were granted refugee status and given permanent protection visas."

I see also that in the last few weeks UN officials were denied entry to the Manus detention centre and have just been barred from visiting Nauru.

Fr Licini starts his article by baldly asserting that "90% of them are genuine political refugees."

Having thus disposed of the "facts" he then goes on to say that what is happening in the detention centre will come to be regarded as "murder".

The article is long on highly emotive utterances and very, very short on sensible analysis.

Those like Fr Licini, who style themselves as refugee advocates, seem quite unable to either grasp or accept that the government is attempting to deal with a determined, organised criminal conspiracy to violate the country's borders.

It is not about whether or not Australia will take in genuine refugees: we have, we are and we will continue to do so into the indefinite future.

People smugglers are not doing their work out of the goodness of their hearts to help the world's down trodden masses. They are in it for the money and don't much care if there is a bit of collateral damage along the way.

The definition of the term "refugee" has now been stretched and deformed to such an extent that it can seemingly encompass just about any citizen of any country where the ruling government is deemed to be oppressive in some way or where the standard of living is simply much lower than in Australia.

Basically, this means that if you come from just about anywhere else outside of Western Europe, the USA, parts of South America, Canada and Australia you are, ipso facto, qualified to be regarded as a refugee.

The horrible truth is that most of the world's population lives in significant poverty, have very limited if any political freedom and are subject to oppressive acts by their governments. It was ever thus.

Australia and the so-called "Western World" simply cannot be expected to right every wrong in the world. There is no virtue in impoverishing ourselves in a vain attempt to do this. It is a task quite beyond us. Our efforts to "export" democracy and freedom have invariably ended in disaster: think Iraq and Afghanistan.

Similarly, we lack the socio-economic capacity to absorb the vast numbers of very genuine refugees who undoubtedly would love to come to Australia. The best we can do is run a balanced, carefully managed process to accept a steady stream of these people over the long haul and this is what we are doing.

This is not a solution that appeals to idealists who always love "big bang" solutions to problems, but it has been shown to be sustainable and effective.

I wonder whether the PNG government has any plans in train yet for resettling the transferees, as they are now known.

The people of Manus certainly don’t want them settled there.
I’ve just returned from Manus and they are adamant about that.

They reckon they’ve had enough trouble keeping highlanders out of the province, let alone potentially problematic Middle Easterners.

They’ve tried to keep the ‘new’ Chinese out too but they pay bribes and have slipped in anyway.

There are land shortages on Los Negros, where the Regional Processing Centre is located anyway. This is caused by overpopulation and inundation of agricultural land from climate change.

Some villages are building earth dykes and groundwater supplies are becoming saline. Fish stocks are also under threat from overfishing and the Crown of Thorns Starfish destroying reef habitats.

There probably are a few options for the PNG government. The new township at Konebada on the other side of Fairfax Harbour near Roku might be a suitable place for some refugees. There will be an influx of expatriates there soon and a few more would probably go unnoticed.

Presumably at some stage the resettled refugees will obtain PNG citizenship. It might take them a while to get the language down pat and they’ll probably have to abide by the prior residency rules.

It’s hard to see them being kept on some sort of bridging visa forever. The dual citizenship rules may help them too.

Once they’ve got PNG citizenship they should be able to fly down to Australia. The whole business will probably have blown over by then and no one will notice.

One interesting perspective is to look at the costs of maintaining "Operation Sovereign Borders" and the detention centres on Christmas Island, Manus and Nauru as well as the mainland centres.

The Australian Government is secretive about the total costs involved, but conservative estimates are around $4 billion p.a.

This doesn't include the eventual costs of resettlement or the aid bonuses given to PNG and Nauru as 'bribes' to host the centres there.

$4 billion a year? What could this money be used for if spent elsewhere?

On a cost analysis basis alone you have to wonder why the Government is prepared to spend this much money on a few thousand boat people when ten times the number of "plane people" arrive each year.

(Yep - that's a News Lid story from 9 months ago.)

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