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Australia’s refugee problem

Written By: - Date published: 7:45 am, October 24th, 2018 - 89 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, australian politics, climate change, global warming, immigration, International, Politics, racism - Tags:

Although the final results are not in yet it looks like the Liberal party has lost the seat of Wentworth. The best New Zealand comparison I could come up with would be if the National Party lost Helensville or Labour lost Mangere. The young gifted and beautiful people of Mangere are far too smart to ever think of this as an option but you get the picture.

Katharine Murphy in the Guardian has the details in this article with the title “[t]he Wentworth byelection isn’t just a loss for the Liberals. It’s a disaster”.

Her introductory comments are:

Let’s not sugar coat this, the outcome in the Wentworth byelection is a disaster for the Liberals. Counting isn’t over yet, but the anti-government swing in this contest will be north of 20%, which is the biggest swing ever recorded against a government at a byelection.

It is a repudiation. A repudiation of a chaotic period in government characterised by self-obsession and self-harm. A repudiation of the party’s lurch to the right, and the hollowing out of the sensible centre.

A repudiation of amoral plots, schemes, coups, and seat-of-the-pants bullshit – a howl of frustration from voters, from the most well-heeled to the couch surfers, about the endless weasel words from their disconnected, half-deranged politicians – a group with scant respect for facts and evidence, intermittent competence and no plan in evidence to address the problems the country faces.

It was a rebellion against political business as usual. People are sick of it.

And Labor need to be careful and respectful.

The rise of the independents isn’t just a problem for the Liberals. Representatives connected to their communities, with a will to serve them, can take seats away from Labor too, and from the Nationals. This is a major party problem, not just an affliction confined to a government that has forgotten how to be competent.

There’s an earthquake going on in Australian politics. So far it’s just a rumble, but if the incumbents don’t hear the rumble, and start to change things up, make no mistake: the rumble will become a roar.

And let’s concentrate on two of the details, climate change and the treatment of the Nauru refugees.

The Liberal’s refusal to accept that climate change is actually happening played a significant part in the result.  From News.com.au:

While the swing against the Liberals undoubtedly reflected widespread anger about the treatment of Turnbull, Dr Phelps said the party’s stance on failing to take real action on climate change also played a huge role.

“There was absolutely no question that climate change action was a major issue at the Wentworth by-election,” she said.

“It was something almost everybody was talking about. You couldn’t miss the presence of climate change activists in the area.

“What we need to do is accept the science on climate change. Climate change is real and I’m science trained and I’ve been satisfied by the evidence for a very long time.”

The right is in danger of winning the culture war and keeping its core happy but losing the battle that really counts, for political power.  Too many people realise that climate change is happening and accelerating for the Liberal’s tawdry climate denial actions to work.

As said by Professor Judith Brett in the Conversation:

To be sure, those who doubt the seriousness of climate change are now more likely to describe themselves as sceptics rather than outright deniers, but the effects are the same. Doubting the risks of climate change, opposing serious counter measures and believing in coal’s long-term future is an identity issue for many Coalition politicians.

As an identity issue, it is largely impervious to evidence, as we saw in government ministers’ hasty dismissal of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report – before they had even read it, one suspects. Identity issues are also resistant to the normal processes of bargaining and compromise with which many political conflicts are resolved. The National Energy Guarantee was the last of the government’s energy policies to founder on the suspicion that a market mechanism might damage coal. Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s Clean Energy Target met the same fate.

So now, some members of the party of private enterprise and the free market, which argued for and oversaw the privatisation of most of Australia’s power utilities, are seriously advocating that the government develop a coal-fired power station.

As for the Nauru refugees what is really good is that Kerryn Phelps is actually human and wants to do something for them.  Again from the Guardian:

Kerryn Phelps has said she believes the “writing is on the wall” for Australia’s offshore detention policies as prominent members of the crossbench urge the major parties to strike a deal to get children off Nauru.

The independent, who is now all but certain to claim the Sydney seat of Wentworth from the Liberals, said on Monday night the massive swing towards her and against the government showed “the people have spoken” on refugee policy.

“I think the most important thing is that we give now the government an opportunity to respond to what the people have said,” she told the ABC’s Q&A program. “The people have spoken on this issue, I believe, in this byelection.”

New Zealand’s offer to take the Nauru refugees is still on the table.  The Australian Government is now contemplating accepting that offer but with a rider to make it very difficult for them to then get into Australia.  From Katharine Murphy again:

Scott Morrison has put resettlement in New Zealand on the table provided the parliament supports government legislation shutting the so-called “back door” entry to Australia for people transferred from Nauru.

[Labor shadow immigration minister, Shayne Neumann] says Labor is prepared to countenance the bill but the government must first guarantee acceptance of New Zealand’s longstanding offer to resettle asylum seekers “and the removal of all children and their families from Nauru to New Zealand”.

“We trust you have been engaging already with the New Zealand government on arrangements to move vulnerable asylum seekers as soon as it becomes possible to do so,” the shadow minister says in the correspondence.

Neumann says the next condition is ensuring that any lifetime ban “is only applicable to the cohort transferred to New Zealand”.

“Your government has argued consistently and continues to argue that the issue of concern is specific to New Zealand due to the unique trans-Tasman travel arrangements we have in place.”

He says if the government is concerned to ensure that asylum seekers resettled in Nauru don’t then relocate to Australia, “then limiting the legislation to New Zealand will achieve this outcome”.

How tawdry.  After mistreating and abusing the refugees for so long the Australian Government is now prepared to accept New Zealand’s offer but as a kicker will discriminate against them by refusing to allow them entry into Australia.  Of course the refugees should accept the proposal just so they can get out of their current awful situation.  But this rider is despicable, abhorrent, and a direct repudiation of Australia’s obligations to consider refugee applications seriously.  All for political advantage.  There should be a special place in hell reserved for these sorts of politicians.

And time is ticking for the Liberals.  They no longer have a majority in the House of Representatives and will be severely restricted in what they can do.  The next election is due in May 2019.  I suspect it will be touch and go if they last that long.

89 comments on “Australia’s refugee problem”

  1. Dukeofurl 1

    yes the seat has been lost but when you look at the primary votes, the liberals ‘won it’ by our electoral process.

    Votes Liberals 32,000 43%, fall from last election -19%

    Independent 21,000 29% ( new)

    labour 8500 11.5% -6%

    Greens 6300 8.5% -6%

    many national Mps here have a seat based on 43% or less of the vote!

    of course Australia uses preferential voters and as Devanand Sharma has only 43%, the second preferences of the other votes are distributed. So in effect the Independent Kerryn Phelps has most of the labour and greens votes added to her tally to get just over 50%
    They reckon in Sharma got 45% of primary votes the preferences would have got him to 50% +1 sooner . But he didnt.


  2. Dukeofurl 2

    The offfer to take 150 of the refugees from Nauru was first made by Key back in 2016 so was a bi partisan issue- unlikely to be supported by Bridges now as hes a weasel.

    John Key says NZ will take 150 refugees from Australia if required. ( Jun 2016)

  3. Ad 3

    Not much for any future Labor-led coalition to celebrate there.

    And these voices were nowhere when Turnbull and his Energy Guarantee was killed off.

    This vote feels more like a safety valve letting off steam.

    • Dukeofurl 3.1

      What are you talking about Ad ? The Coalition will be pushed out of office come next may based on nationwide polling.
      Thats the Core reason Turnbull was pushed , 30 consecutive monthly polls showing labour was leading on the preferred vote ( the one that matters)

      • ScottGN 3.1.1

        Turnbull was pushed out by the right wing cabal of Christian hardliners and Coal/Mining climate change deniers who’ve always felt he was too centrist to be a Liberal prime minister. The run of bad Newspoll numbers was just a stupid line in the sand that Turnbull himself had drawn.

    • Bill 3.2

      Not much for any future Labor-led coalition to celebrate there.

      I agree. An Independent taking 30% of the vote ‘right off the bat’ to Labor’s 11% is heartening. It’s only a by election, but insofar as it’s reflecting the pattern seen elsewhere in the Anglosphere and ‘the west’ in general – a rebellion against political business as usual [because] People are sick of it. (as Micky puts it), there’s cause for cautious celebration.

      Next stop NZ? We can only hope.

      • Dukeofurl 3.2.1

        Its the wealthiest electorate in Australia, it will never have any meaning for labour Australia wide.
        This will as it shows polling nationally

        labour only has to get to 51% ( 2PP) to just win government, the national polls give them something like 52-53%
        That assumes there will still be cross bench of 5-6 inc Greens

        • Bill

          Ah well, if the Independent is nothing more than some kind of Morgan type character, then I’m guilty of looking for things and sometimes seeing them when there’s nothing there – or to steal a topical US term when there’s “no there there” 🙂

  4. ScottGN 4

    Having said just a day or so ago, in the wake of the Wentworth disaster, that the NZ offer is a possibility, it looks like the right wingers in the government have reasserted themselves and ScoMo is backtracking like crazy. Clearly the Liberal government would prefer to leave the refugees suffering on Nauru rather than have to give credit to Shorten and Labor for helping to resolve the issue.


    • Dukeofurl 4.1

      All the child refugees (and their families) are being moved to Australia as we speak. This has been ongoing for some time but kept quiet for political reasons under the guise of medical evacuations. They say if even a child gets a stubbed toe, its off to Australia for treatment and are not going to go back to the island

  5. RedLogix 5

    Overall a great post and a good read mickey. But I trip over at this point:

    But this rider is despicable, abhorrent, and a direct repudiation of Australia’s obligations to consider refugee applications seriously.

    Why? Australia has already considered the potential refugee status of these people and decided no. It’s that simple.

    NZ cannot stand on any moral molehill here; if our geography was located a lot closer to the Equator we’d have exactly the same controversy on our hands. We’d handle it no better. (And if and when people smugglers discover that the Jordan Series Drogue enables small craft to sail safely through big storms; we’ll have them arriving here too.)

    Nor is there anything sacred about NZ’ers right to travel to Australia. Our entry is subject to an SCV444 (Special Category Visa) that can be revoked absolutely at the discretion/whim of their Minister. Granted Peter Dutton’s deportation whims were often capricious and cruelly unfair… but denying entry to people a govt doesn’t want in country is a routine matter everywhere.

    • Ad 5.1

      We’re just damn lucky Australia does our heavy lifting for us.

      • Dukeofurl 5.1.1

        Ad , does UK say to Ireland ‘we are doing heavy lifting for you’ through a world war and the cold war , while Ireland wasnt even part of nato.

        Does the US say to Canada – we are doing heavy lifting regarding migrants from central America ?

        of course not. geography decides every countries strategic situation. We are further away from Australia than Britain is from North Africa and the distance changes everything. We have our own policy on these matters and arent Australias hand bag any more than say Ireland is to UK .

        • Ad

          Ireland were neutral.

          Yes US says it to everyone.

          We are to Australia what the Cook Islands are to us.

          • marty mars

            Rubbish. Talk about cultural cringe trev…

            • Ad

              Have we ever had to make a hard call about illegal immigrants arriving by boat?

              • Macro

                In the early 19th C they came in their hundreds Ad.

                Today asylum seekers mostly arrive on aircraft. There are up to 450 arrivals to NZ a year of people seeking asylum
                https://www.immigration.govt.nz/documents/statistics/statistics-refugee-and-protection-status-pack (see page 2)
                Around 30% of those arrivals seeking asylum in NZ are approved

                • Ad

                  So answer was no.

                  We’re a weak state making moralizing calls from no vantage of virtue to a far bigger country with actual refugee issues.

                  I don’t have any sympathy for the Liberal governments’ handling of them, but I have none for our governments’ actions either.

                  • Macro

                    No Ad – you didn’t understand the implication of my first sentence.
                    Read it again and have a think about the legality of those first arrivals in NZ and Australia for that matter. They were all so desperate to escape from servitude, persecution, and starvation that they risked 6 months of a sea voyage during which many died. OK so Cook had “claimed” NZ for England – but just how valid was that. And what right did those first immigrants have to come and settle?

                    As for the second part – I showed you that NZ does have a growing number of people arriving at our boarders at least one or two a day off aircraft who are seeking asylum – we don’t send them off to the Cooks or Nuie into detention, but they stay in Mangere, and then have temporary visas while their case is reviewed.

                    Actually Australia’s draconian and inhumane treatment of those traveling to Australia by boat has not stopped the passage of asylum seekers.

                    Although the numbers fluctuate, usually only a small proportion of asylum applicants in Australia arrive by boat—most arrive by air with a valid visa and then go on to pursue asylum claims. While the number of boat arrivals has risen substantially in recent years, it is worth noting that even in high arrival years they still comprise just over half of onshore asylum seekers in Australia and a greater proportion of those arriving by boat are recognised as refugees. In 2014, arrival numbers fell again and there was only one boat arrival in Australia. As a result, the majority of asylum applicants arrived by air.


                    • RedLogix

                      Read it again and have a think about the legality of those first arrivals in NZ and Australia for that matter.

                      How ‘legal’ was any of human history by modern standards? And if not what exactly do you propose doing about it?

                    • Macro

                      We need to acknowledge that – If you visit the Melbourne Museum sometime you will see a very powerful exhibition on the atrocities that were perpetuated upon the first nations of Australia, and which to some extent are still going on. A recent exhibition in the WA art gallery in Perth by Julie Dowling looks at the experiences of modern day first nation peoples.

                      The exhibition takes a step back in time to a period (1993–2005) when First Nation Badimaya artist, Julie Dowling, emerged as one of the most important artists in Western Australia and the country.

                      In this period, the real-life stories she shared about First Nations peoples’ experience in this country were abrupt, brutal and challenging. Many of the stories she shared were, and still are, largely unknown or acknowledged in mainstream Australian society.

                      This is a start. And when we begin to understand that all europeans are immigrants in these new lands and have behaved badly – then we might begin to treat others with more respect and humanity.

                    • McFlock

                      Waitangi Tribunal and dispute settlements, perchance?

                    • RedLogix

                      And without subtracting anything at all from the tragic consequences of the Australian colonisation; does anyone here imagine that it was never going to happen? That some magic force field bubble would have remained in place around the entire continent keeping the Aboriginal people living undisturbed in the ancient way of life?

                      And if such a thing was possible, and you asked the Aboriginal people in 1750 say, to turn it on and protect them from the tragedy that was about to fall upon them … what would have been their choice do you imagine?

                      And then consider that immigration policy is nothing more than the rather miraculous modern day equivalent, but a lot more selectively porous.

                    • Macro

                      And then consider that immigration policy is nothing more than the rather miraculous modern day equivalent, but a lot more selectively porous.

                      It’s just that Europeans don’t like what they did to others happening to them.

                    • Brutus Iscariot

                      Right of conquest.

      • greywarshark 5.1.2

        ‘oz doing our heavy lifting’ by keeping refugees at bay, (playing their trump card of being an island)! So that we can instead import cheap labour who pay their way to get here, and go into debt that they might impossibly be able to pay back some day, if the promised wages don’t come through.

        Whereas refugees have no money or credit to draw on – they have lost everything because of manufactured conflicts in their country that make it impossible to grow their food, housing or water, safety – have lost everything except their poor little souls crying out for a place of safety and something better.

        Yes it is easy to see why immigrants brought in through dodgy agencies, robbing their own people all the way with our connivance, are better for NZ. We don’t expect to do much for them, we are taking them out of poverty aren’t we!!

        Can we be real about this Ad.

        • Ad

          New Zealanders would react the same way as Australians do. We just haven’t been morally tested on it. And if we were tested, it would reveal a heart as dark as any.

          The anti-immigrant sentiment has grown under this government due to their cutting off foreign direct investment in most areas. We play for the cameras and that’s about it.

          Even worse, the New Zealand government would probably do pretty much the same as well.

          It took us nearly two decades to increase our refugee quota – and when we did it was by a tiny amount. We only let the “good” immigrants in.

          That Grey is the reality.

          • Dukeofurl

            Long has time passed when we were considered ‘to be in this with Australia ‘

            Its a 100 years since 1915. They now do their own thing with little consideration for us, we should and do return the favour

          • greywarshark

            The reality is what I pointed out Ad.
            That you don’t seem to have noticed.
            That instead of taking increased refugees in, we have taken poor immigrants in on the basis that we can make money from them.
            So indeed And if we were tested, it would reveal a heart as dark as any.

            But we argue against that, some of us, just as some of the Oz people do. And we win at times. But when pollies and decision makers are as pragmatic as you, they override what is fair and reasonable and doable.

            So go on your way whistling happily while you work, because you have found a suitable paradigm for your mind to cope with this reality.

            (This in Finnish but you don’t comprehend English anyway so it doesn’t matter. And it’s safe to listen to, because the Finnish haven’t been driven out of their country yet,)

            • Ad

              On the contrary, the refugees that get here are among the hardest-working New Zealanders here. And the second generation of them are among the most successful.

              You will find them at the Avondale Markets, Mangere Markets, and Otara markets. There they work all hours God gives them and get their children into universities. I know plenty of them in New Lynn and in the major construction jobs within central Auckland as well.

              Those refugees that get here make a massive contribution to our society.
              Our state could and should bring in hundred more but the increase announced two months ago is in reality tiny.

              The refugees that get here withstand plenty of scrutiny and by and large come out shining. Because they work, they have social cohesion, and they are proud. As they should be.

              If our government displayed some similar actual idealism in this matter, New Zealand would not look so self-serving in its international pronouncements.

    • KJT 5.2

      Don’t like refugees.

      Simple answer. Stop impoverishing and bombing their countries.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1

        That would help with some but most seem to be people who left their own countries fully expecting to be able to claim refugee status once they got to where they were going.

        I really don’t have any sympathy for these people. If they want a better life then they should make their own country better.

        • marty mars

          How? You can’t even make this country better and it’s pretty benign compared to the hell holes these refugees are escaping from.

          The truth is it’s all hot air from you on HOW to do anything you propose.

        • KJT

          Bit difficult when the West keeps “bombing you back into the stone age”.

    • mickysavage 5.3

      Hi RL. In terms of the legality of what is happening the UN thinks it is:

      “A key United Nations body has condemned as arbitrary and illegal Australia’s indefinite incarceration of refugees and asylum seekers, issuing critical statements on five separate cases in a year. But those unlawfully held remain in indefinite detention, where they have been held for up to nine years without charge.

      The working group on arbitrary detention is a key part of the UN’s Human Rights Council, on which Australia now sits after a years-long public and diplomatic campaign for the position.

      The working group is an independent body of human rights experts that assesses cases of alleged arbitrary detention and reports to the council.

      Since June of 2017 the arbitrary detention working group has published five opinions critical of Australia’s open-ended detention of asylum seekers and refugees. It has consistently argued Australia’s indefinite detention of some refugees and asylum seekers is unlawful.

      In each of the five published opinions, the working group has recommended Australia immediately release the men held and pay them “compensation and other reparations” for their unlawful detention.

      None of the men have been released. The youngest is 29 years old, the oldest 45. They each face detention without charge – in theory, potentially until the end of their lives.”


      In terms of the refugee issue per se I agree our geographical location mean that it will be less of a problem for us and that it is a growing problem world wide. But I take an absolutist view in relation to legal obligations.

      • Dukeofurl 5.3.1

        The men on Nauru arent in detention, technically they have 10 year resident visas to live on the island and are free to move around.

      • RedLogix 5.3.2

        I’d not presume to challenge your legal expertise mickey, but in response I’d suggest that the entire notion of ‘refugee’ as defined by international legislation was only ever intended to apply to individuals who could point to specific reasons why they as individuals were no longer safe in their nation of origin. It’s reasonable to suggest that the signatories to this agreement would have anticipated this scope.

        But would anyone have intended that the notion of refugee should apply to entire classes of people arriving in a potentially unconstrained numbers for largely economic reasons? Clearly there has to be a threshold here; otherwise it becomes a loophole to defeat the right of any nation to determine it’s immigration policy.

        • Draco T Bastard


        • Macro

          RL – all of those people who are now detained on Nauru and Manus have been processed by the UNHCR, in accordance with the terms of the Treaty, to which Australia as well as NZ is a signatory. Those people are no longer asylum seekers, they are classified as bonafide refugees, and as such, Australia has an obligation to provide them refuge. They are not economic refugees – there is no such category under the UNHCR charter. Each asylum seeker has a different story to tell, and I can tell you, from second-hand experience, (my daughter worked at the Mangere centre and in the Department assessing applications for asylum) that these stories can be truly harrowing. But these stories are not just taken on the verbal evidence of the asylum seeker. Each story is double checked and confirmed by independent research via UN and other sources. It can take up to a year for these background checks to be completed. So an asylum seeker may not be confirmed as a refugee under the UNHCR treaty for sometime. In the case of those incarcerated illegally on Nauru, almost all, have been found to qualify for refugee status. Those who are not so assessed, can be returned to their country of origin, and I would assume they have been. It would be a further crime against humanity if Australia was to return bonafide refugees back to the country of origin from which they had fled for their lives!

          • Dukeofurl

            The vast majority of those on Nauru were returned to their own countries when they werent classified as refugees. Yes the remainder are refugees but arent eligible to be settled in Australia.

            In 2014 there were 1200, this year there are now 190.

    • McFlock 5.4

      I do wonder how Germany would deal with being in Austraya’s location. Their experience with Syrian refugees suggests to me that there would still be friction, but they’d still be hugely better than Aus’ response.

      Unless we’re talking Germany 80 years ago, in which case offshore internment camps would be right up their alley.

      • RedLogix 5.4.1

        OK so I’m a skinhead Nazi apologist now?

        • McFlock

          No, not at all, and I apologise for not making that clear.

          My point was that European nations have had their own influx of refugees in the range of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands each, and different nations have dealt with it in different ways. The German approach has been much more enlightened than Australia’s.

          Then the observation came to mind that that is Germany now, not then.

          Would NZ handle it like the Aussies, or like the Germans do now? Dunno. But the aussies don’t have to handle the issue like they are.

          • RedLogix

            Agreed Germany has been able to absorb a significant number of refugees. Although not entirely without problems, nor is it clear that such enlightenment can be extended indefinitely. But certainly it has been a more generous approach.

            The thing is, Australia is full of immigrants; I’m one. But almost all of them arrived legally, via a reasonably challenging and expensive process; citizenship is valued and respected. Illegal boat people may well arrive by a differently challenging and expensive process, but one that nonetheless devalues the legal path.

            Australia has seen waves of immigrant groups over the past 200 years; and none of them got given an ‘easy ride’. Newcomers were tested and challenged to see if they’re going to ‘fit in’ and join the big Aussie tribe. Some of it was indeed a bit rough, but it worked.

            But in the past decade or so Australia this process has broken down; partly because multiculturalism means it’s no longer PC, and partly because many immigrants from an Islamic background regard themselves as a morally superior people and simply don’t want to ‘fit in’. Cultural ghettos in North Melbourne and West Sydney have become areas the rest of Australia avoids if at all possible. (We innocently stumbled into a shopping mall in Nth Melbourne in our first year and were quite unsettled at the hostile vibe.)

            As a result the wider population is no longer all that accepting of large numbers of newcomers, and certainly not ones arriving via what is seen as in illegitimate process.

            • McFlock

              Travelling around Melbourne suggested to me that ghettoisation isn’t a new thing in Aus, going at least as far back as “Celestial Alley” in Melbourne’s “Chinatown”.

              Vietnamese, Lebanese, Greeks, Italians, all had their base suburbs for those fresh off the boat.

              And the large numbers are sweet FA compared to the numbers headed to Europe. Nobody says it’s painless, but some nations do demonstrate that a nation doesn’t have to be dicks about receiving asylum seekers etc.

              The wider population in Aus is indeed most interesting. They seem to be concerned that the latest run of immigrants will treat them the same way they treated the Aborigines.

              • RedLogix

                Vietnamese, Lebanese, Greeks, Italians, all had their base suburbs for those fresh off the boat.

                Hell yes; and why would it be any different? Almost everyone prefers to live around and near family, relatives and community you identify with. This doesn’t necessarily means you irrationally loath all outsiders, but a preference to be near people you understand and feel safe associating with, is completely normal.

                And within two generations the groups you mention above all pretty much became ‘Aussies’ while still retaining their own cultural markers. But the sense you get from Muslims in Australia is not the same; they seem determined to remain separate.

                • McFlock

                  I dunno – some parts of Melbourne (e.g. some stores and restaurants around little bourke st) are definitely English as a minority language. Not just the owners: packed house of customers. Australian, but not Aussie.

                  This isn’t a bad thing, either.

                  Islamic immigrants just aren’t that exceptional in the great salad bowls of cosmopolitan nations.

            • Macro

              Red you need to understand just who and what defines a Refugee in terms of the UNHCR to which Australia is a signatory and has been since 1951.

              A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

              Someone who presents them self at the border without adequate documentation to enter a country can claim to be seeking asylum. The fact that they make this claim does not automatically make them a refugee, and if their claim is found to be false they may be sent back to where they came.

              Almost all those people who are now domiciled in Melbourne, (and I agree, having recently visited, that it is quite mind blowing the numbers that now inhabit the city) are people who have arrived in Australia with adequate documentation. If Australia wants to limit the number of arrivals, then they need to place more restrictions upon the issuing of visas. However, these arrangements for entry to one country are usually on a quid pro quo basis, and Australians, who also like to travel, may find that placing restrictions upon entry to foreigners would result in restrictions upon them travelling as well.

          • greywarshark

            Thank you McFlock for keeping the niceties up while we argue against mechanical management of desperate human beings. Any deflection from understanding of the pragmatic TINA is an excuse to stray from the point at issue it appears.

            • McFlock

              RL’s interpretation was reasonable, given that I’m perfectly willing on occasion to call a fascist a ****** fascist piece of **** 🙂

              But in this case I was juxtaposing Germany’s approach with Australia’s, and then afterwards the thought occurred that what a difference a few decades makes. Although to be fair, at that time Australia still enslaved Aborigines in chains and didn’t recognise them as people, so maybe it’s just staying the same…

    • Draco T Bastard 5.5

      Why? Australia has already considered the potential refugee status of these people and decided no. It’s that simple.


      NZ cannot stand on any moral molehill here; if our geography was located a lot closer to the Equator we’d have exactly the same controversy on our hands. We’d handle it no better.


      Many people on the Left just don’t seem willing to accept that we can’t accept people as they turn up, that our limited land denotes a maximum sustainable population.

      Nor is there anything sacred about NZ’ers right to travel to Australia.

      I keep thinking that it would be better if that special category was simply dropped and that NZers would have to go through all the same procedures as everyone else. We’re not special in any way.

  6. “But this rider is despicable, abhorrent, and a direct repudiation of Australia’s obligations to consider refugee applications seriously. All for political advantage. There should be a special place in hell reserved for these sorts of politicians.”

    Yep. Political poos imo. The aussies are a disgrace – they are at the forefront of treating refugees like shit and then hand wringing and weeping when something bad happens like suicide and deaths – but they only cry while the cameras on.

    • Dukeofurl 6.1

      Lets be fair in other respects they take far more ‘approved’ refugees than we do , even for the bigger size of the country.

      Have a guess at the numbers, its nearly 19,000 per year. Its the boat people who arrive and arent allowed to settle.

      The breakdown is 9400 through UNHCR and others who arrive under own steam and are classified as refugee status and family reunions.

      For the 10 years till 2015 Australia settled 140,000 refugees

      • marty mars 6.1.1

        Yeah sure their halos are on straight lol. Smokescreen mate – did you read the actual post?

        • Dukeofurl

          The post covered a lot of things , Ive mentioned 3 different bits.

          Does 140,000 refugees mean nothing to you – because ?

          • marty mars

            I read your link.

            I’m talking about “and a direct repudiation of Australia’s obligations to consider refugee applications seriously. All for political advantage.”

            You may think everything is sweet as, I don’t.

            • Dukeofurl

              So how many are in detention on the 2 islands?

              Would that be less than 1% of the 140,000 over the 10 years. Im not saying its sweet as, just the context is important.

              Im not into the details but didnt someone else here say they have been considered under the rules for assessing refugees and didnt qualify so they remain as a different category – asylum seekers?

              • “The mainstreaming of xenophobia regarding refugees was perfected by Australian politicians more than 20 years ago. Along with a media-savvy mix of dog-whistling against ethnic groups with little social power, refugees have been accused of being dirty, suspicious, lazy, welfare-hungry, and potential terrorists—and they’ve been accused of refusing to assimilate, despite the country’s largely successful multicultural reality.”


                The numbers are a small part of the story imo

                • Dukeofurl

                  I dont disagree with you about Australias xenophobia.

                  macro , who seems to be well informed on the Nauru situation says all have been processed against UNHCR criteria.
                  Those that dont qualify largely have been returned to their home countries, some have gone to US, those that remain are refugees but arent eligible for settlement in Australia –
                  Australia , like NZ has always selected those who it wants to settle from the UNHCR – some 9500 last year. The UNHCR doesnt decide who goes to what country.

      • marty mars 6.1.2

        The truth

        “What we’re seeing on Nauru, we’ve seen time and time before, as a result of extreme violence, war, famine and terror.

        Tiny children draw pictures of blood, weapons, barbed wire and sadness and tears to try and make sense of what they’re experiencing.

        These extremely traumatised kids have been robbed of the joys of childhood and consequently fail to thrive.”


      • marty mars 6.1.3

        “With the US-Australia refugee deal now in doubt, an unprecedented coalition of more than 70 organisations has joined forces to call for immigration camps on Nauru and Manus Island to be immediately closed, with all refugees and asylum seekers brought to Australia.

        Noting the “humanitarian crisis” in the camps, a joint statement by the groups said the “situation has reached crisis point, and immediate action must be taken”.”


  7. RedLogix 7

    Somewhere there has to be a middle ground between ‘shoot the boats out of the water’ and ‘open borders for all’.

    It’s lazy and dishonest to make virtuous noises about ‘tropical rape camps’ and ‘despicable and abhorrent’ … and then remain silent on the position you would positively advocate for.

    Yes illegal immigration is a massive problem (and the USA is about to have a caravan of at least 5000 Hondurans arrive at their Mexican border within days) … but exactly what does anyone propose in response? Open borders everywhere?

    • Bill 7.1

      Well, since capital is liberal and nation states exist on one level as ‘pens’ to keep labour segregated at various levels of hardship…and since degrees of economic oppression would lose effectiveness in the absence of borders…and since it ought to be anyone’s right to live where they feel “home” and not be subjected to either military or economic “bad shit”…and since military enforcement of economic agendas wouldn’t really work if nation states weren’t in existence….yup. No borders.

      But if you want to hang on to liberal capitalism and to nation states as repository poop bags for the shit that flows from that, then no. Open borders in that situation would be problematic, as opposed to no borders in a different situation.

      Worth noting, that in that different situation – where capital had lost the structural concomitant that allows it to rule and diminish and harm, that people would have little or no compelling reason to flee from here to there or wherever.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1

        Well, since capital is liberal and nation states exist on one level as ‘pens’ to keep labour segregated at various levels of hardship…and since degrees of economic oppression would lose effectiveness in the absence of borders…and since it ought to be anyone’s right to live where they feel “home” and not be subjected to either military or economic “bad shit”…and since military enforcement of economic agendas wouldn’t really work if nation states weren’t in existence….yup. No borders.

        Which is a load of of bollocks. We need to restrict money as well as people. Each nation has the right and the responsibility to ensure that it’s not over-populated and to maintain it’s own culture.

        • Bill

          Well, since when did any country contain only one culture?

          And in a world of no borders (I think you’ve missed the obvious point that liberal capitalism collapses in that scenario) why would affected people suddenly not make decisions around population and resources?

          • Draco T Bastard

            And in a world of no borders (I think you’ve missed the obvious point that liberal capitalism collapses in that scenario) why would affected people suddenly not make decisions around population and resources?

            So, in a world without borders we’d still have borders?

            Borders exist because the people affected by excessive immigration choose for them to exist.

      • RedLogix 7.1.2

        Climate change, ocean pollution, offshore tax avoidance, illegal immigration … name any of the big intractable problems we frequently talk about here, and they all have one thing in common. They’re all problems at a global scope, all problems the nation state by itself struggles to respond to.

        • Bill

          And so we get (perhaps) to a discussion of centralised world governance versus a more organic global democracy – ie, imposing order from above versus allowing order to (more or less) naturally arise and develop.

          I prefer the latter (as you know) because power is dispersed – not concentrated.

          • RedLogix

            Well at the moment in the absence of effective global governance we have instead the tyranny of unconstrained capital and the last desperate hurrahs of empire building.

            You’re entirely justified in being suspicious of a single global institution. If the nation state can be authoritarian and capricious, how much worse a single, unchallenged global power? Yet just as the answer to bad nation states is not ‘no govt’ … the answer to the possibility of bad global governance is not necessarily ‘no global governance’.

            We look on failed nation states with weak and dysfunctional govt with horror and pity at the crime and chaos; yet from a global perspective this is exactly the position the whole of humanity stands in.

            • Bill

              The idea of decentralised, dynamic democracy is not at all the same as “no governance”. In fact it’s kind of the diametric opposite of that – it’s ubiquitous governance.

              Regardless, we agree that nation states are no longer fit for purpose (if they ever were).

              • RedLogix

                My position is simple; a global federation of the nation states in which it’s members cede some of their powers (but not all) to a universal body. But just as the nation state itself does not supersede local democracy, nor the sovereignty of the individual … neither does global govt have to imply the end of nations.

                First up the right to make war. We have no choice; the extreme lethality of AI and associated tech improvements (autonomous killing machines) rapidly coming down the road will compel us.

                Climate change. We have no choice, the rules must be clear and imposed evenhandedly on everyone.

                The oceans are dying.

                Mass movements of people fleeing desperate circumstances.

                And on and on.

                Much of the pragmatic infrastructure needed to achieve all this is in place now. Looked at from a purely practical perspective we already live on a global planet, with a myriad mechanisms operating at that scale. This internet thingy for a start.

                But we’re missing the key political part; exactly how do we go about achieving an authentic democratically accountable federated govt that embraces all the nations? The obvious place to look is the UN, to see what’s worked and what hasn’t.

  8. Stuart Munro 8

    It’s true that refugees are a sticky problem, and one that many countries have greater problems with than NZ.

    But camps are not a very good solution. They are a fair short term response to short term dislocations, but they create new and greater problems over time, so that only an unusually stupid government would choose them when other options are available.

    Repatriation is another option, but as numbers increase the practice is increasingly criticized. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/22/europe-rebuked-for-removing-afghans-to-one-of-worlds-most-dangerous-countries

    Nevertheless, it avoids the problem of criminalizing and incarcerating children, who, being born in the incarcerating state, have some legitimate claim to naturalization.

  9. Gabby 9

    The real solution to refugees is invasion.

  10. Well the Nauru camps are not good at all, but the Aussies see them not as refugees but as illegal immigrants. I suppose that’s why the inclusion of a ‘ kicker’ . But then we have Australian crims that are of NZ descent. They get sent back here to NZ.

    Harsh as it may seem we are not like Australia with close proximity to those who want to land on our shores illegally. We do not experience that and therefore our opinions are shaped differently. I guess the camps are a cheap and nasty way of holding because transporting them back comes out of the taxpayers money,- as foreign govts are loathe to foot the bill for repatriation of their own citizens.

    All in all,… its a hard world out there at times.

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