Monday, July 5, 2010

Oh God, this again!

It was with a sinking feeling that I heard Prime Minister Gillard has called for a debate on Australia’s policy on asylum seekers and border protection.

I say this because a debate would be fine, a debate would be peachy, a debate is what civilised societies do. What we’ll get in Australia is the usual knuckle-heads shrieking abuse at anybody who disagrees with them.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young opines

“Julia Gillard is sending signals ... that she's prepared to chase Tony Abbott down that low road of Howard-style politics where children were detained behind bars ... and where vulnerable people were demonised”

Well done Senator, you’ve managed to drag in the expression “Howard-style politics” without explaining how exactly this is relevant or what “Howard-style politics” even means. You’re a credit to the upper house.

In this, we’re assisted by a media that are obsessed with who “won” or “lost” rather than working through what it means.

This issue involves international law, organised crime, “push factors” and legitimate issues around border protection. I don’t have an instant answer. I suspect there are no instant answers, but could we have a debate based on the facts and a smattering of logic?

Could we fuck!

40 comments:

RandomGit said...

Gladly, we may fuck! Debate solved.

Or did I misunderstand the question?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Very droll, RG.

squib said...

I have to say I'm starting to wish Rudd was back

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Squib, I did say at the time the change was a mistake.

squib said...

I know, I know

catlick said...

Hey can we examine a thought I had. What if "boat"(or any refugee) arrivals could be, after health/security etc checks, allowed into the community. They and their family immediately apply for refugee status on specific terms on the strict understanding and agreement that their asylum/refugee applications are heard in the order of their likely projected place in the UNHCR list for Australian intake had they been through the camps, ie, they may stay here, supported by their community and their work, not getting taxpayer support or costing money to detain, and when their notional number in the UNHCR list comes up, in 15 or so years, they agree to be assessed under the terms of their original application.
If the situation back home is no longer dire, they have agreed to be returned. Any children born here may remain, no family members may migrate here during that period prior to assessment, and refugees can make an informed decision to spend time building a life here that might be wasted or to go home because things have improved, or, if things are still seem impossible, argue for a refugee status decision in their favour.

patchouligirl said...

As much as I detest the idea of detention centres and sympathise with the refugees, its complicated Catlick. Will they really be supported by their community and their own work? How do we make that work? Would people willingly step up as sponsors? Why wouldn't their family members/friends just come out as well? Will more lenient conditions in fact prompt a dramatic increase in the number of boats arriving? If the children born here can stay, what happens if the parents are denied residency? If refugees are allowed to spend years in the community, can they marry an Australian?

Alex said...

It's a tricky one, isn't it? And I don't just mean the asylum seeker thing. I mean, how do you effectively debate an issue where so many people have already made up their minds based on strong emotions, and don't really want to listen to anyone who isn't validating that decision?

Catlick, I've noticed that quite a few of those who were arguing that boats full of people are bad for Australia, are now arguing that boats full of people are bad for people on boats. Y'know, because it's dangerous and stuff. So I guess your idea would still get slammed for encouraging people-smuggling and strengthening "pull-factors".

One thing I'd like to know: Is assessing someone as a refugee a lengthy process by necessity, or is it just a problem with a lack of resources? And if it's the latter, shouldn't we be concentrating more on that?

patchouligirl said...

I totally agree the time it takes to process refugees seems unreasonable.

Alex said...

I'd also like to add that, while I like the idea of having politicians that aren't aligned with the major parties, Sarah Hanson-Young really gets on my nerves for some reason. I still can't put my finger on why, though.

Oh, and I see the king of comedy is weighing in on this issue on Lateline tonight. That should be productive.

Dr. Golf said...

Surely Julia can score a win/win here. The lefties want more refugees and the righties want border protection. So give them both what they want.

First, be bold and double our refugee intake. Lefties will love it and I dont think the rest will care too much.

Second, reintroduce TPV's minus the dumb stuff about not being able to work etc.

patchouligirl said...

While we are thinking outside the box, do any other countries have a better system for processing asylum seekers? The Americans do the same as us and stick them in detention centers don't they? What do the English do with theirs? The Germans? Other European countries? New Zealand?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Patchie, from memory I'm pretty sure most other western countries have some form of mandatory detention for asylum seekers while their identity, health status is assessed.

Puss In Boots said...

I don't think processing refugees is as easy as looking at a form and stamping yes or no. I think it would be quite difficult to ascertain whether someone was a genuine refugee or not. I believe there are many factors involved, and each case is studied in depth, and all claims are checked and double checked, sources contacted, witnesses contacted, governments contacted, etc etc. I don't think it's as easy as some might like to think it is.

I'm just thinking about how long it takes to ascertain whether someone has a real injury once they've put in a claim for personal injuries. Those cases can take years, and I can't imagine it would be any quicker when you're trying to deal with overseas governments and what not.

I'm not saying I agree with the time period, and I think it is a bit long when you're stuck in detention. I'm just saying that I don't think the time period could be shortened that much when you take into account all of the work that goes into determining whether or not someone is a true refugee.

catlick said...

Visas or a a lack thereof and geography are drivers for the decision to come by boat rather than by air. "Refugees" literally pass UNHCR camps in other countries to try to get to Australia by boat. Assessment here resulting in refugee status can then result in placement in this or another country years ahead of projected UNHCR time lines.

This "queue jumping" seems to be an issue for the hoi poloi. If arrivals are allowed into the community rather than be detained urgency is less of a factor. Status should be resolved as an issue of fairness, but temporary status is better than detainment. The Govt is on the back foot in an effort to process quickly and reduce numbers. Give the TVPs out, but hold back on formal assessment on refugee status until people in UNHCR camps who were waiting before them have their turn.
Not sure why the Govt continues to place itself under the pressure of detaining boat arrivals with the consequent pressure of needing to decide their status as quickly as possible. Without a relatively quick decision the so called "economic" refugees lose some incentive to queue jump. In fact the longer the Govt takes to decide their status, the more likely things back home will be arguably different, and they can return.
As for marriage, there are rules for all immigration affected relationships. As for community support, in my Region there is strong local support for many migrant groups, and I know this is not unique. This is apart from and in addition to the community support within their ethnic community.
I suspect stated reasons for disquiet around boat people/asylum seekers/refugees will be hard to pin down, but taking a number works in the deli, and I can't see why it won't work here.

Jamie said...
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Jamie said...

I'd love it if the 50,000 or so visa overstayers currently running around in Australia were pursued with the same vigour as the few thousand desperate but rather dark and swarthy asylum seekers.

Race drives this debate. Let's not bullshit ourselves about that. Take a look at the Herald Sun forums for the proof.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I think Jules has pretty much hit the right note in her speech today.

Main points

No return to TPVs.

Saying that turning back the boats was a "fairytale" and that "Australians were better than that".

Lifting the freeze on processing asylum seekers from Sri Lanka.

Emphaising that it requires a region wide solution with the creation of a processing centre in East Timor to be run by the UNHCR.

Alex said...

The lefties want more refugees and the righties want border protection.

I have a feeling that a not insignificant amount of white people are just terrified that they're going to end up as some sort of persecuted ethnic minority if we let too many darkies in.

However, I can see the point that people using people smugglers to get to places is less than desirable. When I mentioned speeding up the assessment process, I was mainly talking about the UNHCR camps that people are said to be bypassing. I have heard stories of people coming here by boat after spending more than ten years in a camp, and that seems kind of reasonable to me. I imagine that after a decade, I'd be getting pretty fed up and desperate too.

Maybe the UNHCR: a) Could be better resourced and/or managed, or b) Could have some sort of fast-track resettlement process. Countries accepting asylum seekers after preliminary checks could then integrate them into the community under a grace period while more thorough checks were performed. Anyone found to not be a legitimate refugee could then be booted out if necessary. So, basically what Catlick is suggesting but on a global scale.

I don't know how the extra transport and settlement costs would compare to the cost of detention, and I'm sure there's other stuff that I haven't considered. It's not exactly the most thought through idea. I'm really just pulling stuff out of my arse, here.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Jules' full speech can be found here.

Well worth a read.

catlick said...

I think there is a tangible sense that it's unfair to jump the queue/break the rules/sneak in/etc when the vast number of Australians with a family history of immigration had to, and still go by the rules. I hear recent refugees speak of fairness to all, rather than compassion. I'm not sure that racism is the driver.

catlick said...

And, in an aside, Insult of the Day goes to Anthony Bourdain who described Alain Ducasse as "slightly more odious than a twit, older and more substantial than a shithead, yet without the gravitas required to be called an asshole".

Melba said...

I agree with Jamie. Apparently the most visa overstayers, ie "illegals" are British. But that's ok it seems, no headlines about that.

It's about a sense of entitlement that people feel about this country, and not wanting to share. And it's all relative depending on when you got here. There are attitudes of intolerance amongst immigrant groups, depending on "who came out first." Each group comes, takes time to settle, and then they take their turn to hate on the next group that comes out.

Melba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
patchouligirl said...

Most of the visa overstayers go home within weeks of their visa expiring of their own accord though don't they? As for the rest - I knew an Irish couple who were deported after outstaying their visa for nearly 10 years - they got raided in the middle of the night after someone tipped off the authorities. They kept her detained while he went around closing bank accounts etc and they were put on the plane home within a few days. Both of them had jobs and his employer offered to sponsor him but they sent them back anyway.

I'm sure there are racists who write to the Herald, probably the same ones who wrote in saying that having a female PM is 'un Australian' and similar nonsense.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I wrote two, long comments about Jules' speech and cunting internet ate them both.

Alex said...

I guess Blogger is having a bit of trouble with the comments again.

Boogeyman said...

Really, we're having a debate?

Because I could have sworn that Julliard just recycled the existing policy while dog-whistling to the xenophobic right.

Nice to see that, having changed leaders to arrest a drop in the polls, Labour's not attempting to win back left-wing voters they're losing to the Greens, but are continuing to chase those on the right.

Melba said...

My comment disappeared then re-appeared Ramon, so there's hope.

Although I can see Jamie's comment with which I agreed is not visible on the post a comment page.

About this debate, it'll be interesting to see what happens.

Alex said...

It just struck me that the premise of this post has now been proven correct: You can't have a debate on this issue. Blogger's flaky comment handling has seen to that.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Blogger hates us and wants us to die.

squib said...

The really annoying part in all of this is I made a heap of Gillard badges and now I can't even give them away unless I say they are Tilda Swinton

*shakes fist at Gillard*

eat my shorts said...

Ooohh. Imagine Tilda Swinton as Australia's PM. That'd be awesome.

Alex said...

It would, EMS? I didn't realise that Tilda had such a following. Aside from 'Burn After Reading' and some Narnia junk, I can't remember having seen her in much. Thought I'd take a squiz at her imdb profile to see what I'm missing, and Whoa! In 2008 she played Julia in a movie called 'Julia' and she has a film in post production called 'We Need To Talk About Kevin'. Spooky, or what.

Kettle said...

Alex you should watch Orlando, it's very good.

eat my shorts said...

It would be way awesome, Alex. Tilda Swinton wears some batshit-crazy clothes. Definitely a pre-requisite for any Prime Minister.

Melba said...

Plus Tilda has an arrangement with her husband/partner that involves a younger man. Sometimes they all stay together in their castle in Scotland.

Plus, squib, sorry to say I took my Julia badge off on Tuesday. Wore my Darwin for months, Julia lasted a coupla weeks. I'll save her though for when she becomes head of the international cricketing thingo, or chief of the UN or... writes a best-seller.

Kevin never got worn.

Puss In Boots said...

I'm extra disappointed with Gillard that she's choosing to stick with the internet censor plan.

First gay marriage, and now this. I'm really not sure I like where this is headed.

Alex said...

She's sticking with the internet filter?

*Joins Squib in shaking fist*

Boogeyman said...

I won't be voting Labor this election. They no longer represent what I believe in.