Refugees - PNG’s impossible responsibility & burden
PNG slaps Abbott over reaction to boatpeople deal

Never believe what you read – especially right now

PhilPHIL FITZPATRICK

THE ASYLUM SEEKER SITUATION has always been a minor issue.  Australia has been receiving refugees by the thousands for years.  Where on earth do you think all those Poms, Greeks, Eyeties and Vietnamese came from? 

It was only when John Howard turned these latest unfortunate souls into desperate pawns in his bid for re-election that the issue became prominent.  Since then politicians of all persuasions have been capitalising on the public’s xenophobia.

This latest round of hysteria has uncovered some interesting truths.  Chief among these is to never believe what the media says.

Never believe what a writer says and never believe what they write is an old adage.  Writers of every ilk essentially deal in fictions.  In the case of novelists this is well and good but when it comes to journalists it is a different matter.

Some other useful axioms in the same vein are that facts very often get in the way of truth and common sense is very dangerous, especially when the likes of Pauline Hanson are spruiking it.  Add to that the fact that the rich and powerful write history and people generally only interpret events from their own narrow perspectives.  All up, a very confusing mix.

Sometimes the truth is boring and needs to be tizzied up before people will buy it.  This is what a lot of journalists are good at. 

Sometimes when they don’t know the facts or fail to understand them or can’t be bothered checking them they become creative and make stuff up. This is how PNG has suddenly become a ‘shit-hole’ of a place.  Nothing personal intended.

At the moment all of the above, plus some, is being brought into play in relation to the matter of asylum seekers and PNG.  Now is especially not a good time to believe what you are reading or hearing.  Wait a bit and it will start to get more rational.  At the moment everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  Subtleties abound.

Martyn Namorong, among others, has suddenly decided that Australia is no friend of PNG.  With friends like that who needs enemies, he reasons.  He’s probably right but that doesn’t mean that Australians, as opposed to the collectivity known as ‘Australia’, aren’t PNG’s friends – well, some of them at least.

Conversely, one wonders, does this mean that PNG is no friend of Australia?  Hardly - it can’t exactly afford to be can it?

Peter O’Neill and Kevin Rudd suddenly seem to be great mates.  It takes two to tango and they are both locked together on the dance floor over this one it seems.

Which is interesting because they are both men with a huge amount of front and this whole asylum seeker thing is essentially a gigantic bluff.  Something history shows they are both very good at.

Neither of them is seriously expecting thousands of refugees to be re-located to PNG and eventually resettled there.

What they are counting on is that, except for a sacrificial few, the prospect of living in PNG will scare the boat people away and put the people traffickers out of business.  And it seems to be working.

So the more the media beats this up and the more the public in both PNG and Australia blather on about it the better will be the bluff. 

Kevin Rudd has even got the unlikely human horrors of Alan Jones and his shock jock mates hard at work for him.  Hell, even Tony Abbott is thinking about using the idea.  The worse PNG is portrayed the better.

And if it doesn’t come off?  Well, by then Rudd might have won an election.  And don’t forget that he and O’Neill have inserted a sunset clause in their agreement.  If it doesn’t work they can cancel the whole thing in 12 month’s time.

And if it works?  Well, Kevin Rudd will owe Peter O’Neill big time.  I wonder how he’ll collect on that one?

But wait, someone just said something about some kid being born to some obscure princess in a faraway land and it has blown the whole thing off the front page.

Oh dear, aren’t we fickle.

Comments

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Marcus Mapen

I'd like to believe the rumour is 50% true (although I have no proof at all).
___________

It is 0% true (see my observation on Barbara Short's comment below) - KJ
__________

Thanks KJ, but I really wasn't that convinced, I was just taking it lightly and I didn't think Barbara was serious either?
__________

You got me Marcus! - KJ

Yvonne Hani

Rudd and O'Neill cook up a plan in an attempt to keep asylum seekers away at the price of PNG's tainted image, unfortunately with the consent of O'Neill due to some 'extra coins' in exchange if the plan works of course.

And if it doesn't work in the next twelve months then at least we've learnt that according to some narrow minded Australians (there are some real good Aussies) what a 'shithole' PNG is.

But if Rudd & O'Neill's plan does work, could some of the 'extra coins' go to improving our health and education sector to turn this 'shithole' around?

In my opinion, Phil's right,don't believe everything said in the media. In a way, it's kind of a shithole itself.

David Kitchnoge

Image is important!

If you are being made to look like a bunch of Neantherdals incapable of thinking and acting for yourself, then no one would take you seriously.

And there's every chance the bad guys will line up to exploit your perceived inability.

We know our issues and we will deal with them. And we don't need some bloody idiot from elsewhere who hasn't a clue about us to rub it in and take us for a ride.

Which developing country doesn't have its issues? And which developed country today didn't have its issues before emerging bigger and stronger?

It seems Peter O'Neill has fallen for Kevin Rudd's promises of bucket loads of money and sold us out. But why does Peter need more money?

Spend the money we already have effectively first before stooping low and begging for more. More money doesn't necessarily mean better outcomes for PNG.

Improve the quality of your spending first before asking for more.

Marcus Mapen

I'd like to believe the rumour is 50% true (although I have no proof at all).
___________

It is 0% true (see my observation on Barbara Short's comment below) - KJ

Mrs Barbara Short

There is a rumour going around PNG that Rudd spent time living in PNG as a child and that his parents were friends of O'Neill's father.

So this plan for dealing with refugees is something two buddies have cooked up together.

Anybody know if there is any truth in this?
___________

This is not true. It appears to be a conflation of the Ian Kemish experience (the former Australian High Comissioner having spent his boyhood in PNG) and the 'Baby Kevin' comedy - KJ

Marcus Mapen

I generally agree with the writer’s views on this.

If I can have better roads, airports, hospitals, colleges and an improved justice systems, I wouldn’t give a damn about image or what people thought of me (if I have done nothing wrong).

Forget image (just a state of the mind), O’Neill & PNG just ensure that Rudd (or whoever succeeds him) guarantees & delivers on his promises ASAP (regardless of the outcome of this refugee plan).

Note: I love my country so don’t think for a moment that I want it sold.

Zenitram Dee

Australia is no friend to PNG... I support the statement.

The agreement of the asylum seekers was made to fulfil Rudd's political interest which O'Neill is just a puppet of Rudd's political desire.

Phil Fitzpatrick

I understand completely the issue about illegal versus legal migration. No visa - no entry, can't be clearer than that. People should stand in line and wait their turn. People trying to jump the queue are disadvantaging others.

I'm a ten-pound Pom who came to Australia in 1956. Didn't have a passport or a visa. All my father had was a "Document of Identity" (No. 127332) issued in lieu of a passport on which all our names were listed. But he did apply through the right channels and he paid his ten quid.

A lot of Greeks, Italians and other Europeans simply arrived on ships immediately after the war and were processed when they got here. Very few Vietnamese arrived on visas, especially the one's who came by small boat.

The legal issue is a furphy.

Martyn and I enjoy the odd joust. He's making a good point in saying that both Rudd and O'Neill are acting like 'bigmen', making autocratic decisions without consulting the troops.

He's also right that the Australian government is no friend of PNG. People having been banging on about this for ages. I think its important to understand that the Australian government is not the Australian people and that quite a few of the latter are good friends of PNG.

At the same time many Australians see PNG solely in terms of a place to exploit.

The worst outcome of the whole thing has been the trashing of PNG's reputation. Rudd and O'Neill have both managed to negate overnight years and years of constantly building goodwill. They couldn't have been so dumb not to think this wouldn't happen.

People in PNG have every right to be outraged.

David Kitchnoge

Martyn does have his ears pinned on the ground and his writing reflects the anxiety and anger Papua New Guineans are feeling about this whole shit.

We are not Kevin 07's and Australia's soccer ball to be kicked around and used for your own selfish agendas.

You are right, as far as Kevin 07 is concerned, the worse PNG's image is depicted internationally, the higher the changes of him succeeding in this gimmick.

And it seems he has his spin doctors in overdrive mode doing just that.

But why? What have we done to deserve the very bad publicity, some of which make me want to get up and kill someone?

Martyn is right. Australia is not our friend. Which friend makes his friend a laughing stock?

David Wall

Phil, spot on, you get it, so many don't!

Craige Brown

317 arrivals since the announcement of the Manus policy Friday and more boats on the water now - one sank overnight 61 dead so far. Looks like your bluff has been called. What's the policy now?

I believe Mr Namorong has the ear of the grassroots when he writes he reflects their thinking and concerns. To dismiss his writing his writing is to turn a blind eye to peoples reality.

Colin Huggins

ABC Correspondent Liam Fox has travelled to Manus Island where detention facilities are set to be expanded. He says locals have welcomed the PNG-Australia deal because they believe it will facilitate more jobs and business opportunities for locals.

Thank God two commentators, Phil Fitzpatrick and Warren Dutton, on this Manus business have made some sense.

The hysteria especially from Martyn Namorong is alarming to say the least.

Jo Cooper

You said it all, Phil. And with a desperate election in September, the political and media scrabbling is getting more furious.

Bruce Grady

Writer does not understand impact of illegal immigration. People he refers to came here legally. Issue is about people smuggling. [From Twitter]

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