Tuesday, August 6, 2013

who sez?

With respect to asylum seekers some people, politicians and voters alike, are failing to separate the boat issue from the obligation to protect people from genocide and the like.

Who sez the candidates or the media should frame debate in such a limited way?

Rudd’s goal is to create a disincentive to boat travel. It is an admirable goal, but his solution is not the best. PNG may well be a threat from our own privileged and more informed viewpoint, but to those who are desperate, PNG is a chance because it is a relative unknown. It certainly fails the protection test.

As for Mr Rabbit’s solution – getting the navy to get tough is downright impractical and innately stupid. Perhaps Joe Hockey’s bellicosity is even more infectious than I had already feared.

As much as I disliked Gillard, she had one idea in common with Malcolm Fraser, in that she felt for people who lacked the means to travel by boat.
Fraser has recently reminded us of his response to the fall of Saigon: We must create a queue.
We must create a queue because for many people the reality is that there currently is none.
The promise of a queue and the expectation people must wait their turn might provide a disincentive to boat travel, but its greatest virtue is it will remove the inequity inherent in placing the richest refugees here, before placing those without the means to beg, borrow or steal a boat ticket.

Having created a queue – e.g. with a “local branch” in Indonesia - let’s take people from a far wider range of camps to provide a more balanced and diverse intake.

Sorry Rudd, your ‘solution’ sounds as desperate as the Malaysia solution, the only difference being that you did your homework first.

The Greens, it has been said, can afford to have more generous policies because there is no practical way they will ever have the means to implement them nor will they ever be held to account for them.

The notion that we should provide 30,000 people in one year with temporary visas and the right to work is utterly over the top.
Forget the government-dictated definitions of unemployment – there is a 15% unemployment rate already amongst current citizens. We don’t need the competition.

On the other hand, Human Nature will always prevail. Where people do not have the right to work, a black market of one sort or another will emerge.
Black markets by definition contribute nothing to tax revenue.

I’m torn between concern for myself as a jobseeker, and concern for what is morally desirable for refugees, but Human Nature will always prevail. I can’t help but feel that currently offered government policies must, to some degree, create a divide between “us” and “them”.
There, I’ve outed the elephant.

No I do not propose that we stop taking anyone in, but that we get our act together and start planning realistically for asylum seeking as a fact of life, and planning realistically for a higher population density, and planning to let people do jobs that might not be high tech but which benefit society as a whole.

The date for the bollocks ballot has been set at September 7. The only thing I know for sure is that I will be signing up to vote early, or vote by post. None of these nongs is worth queuing up to vote for.


  1. Similar to my sentiments about the disorderly arrival of refugees. Get a good mix happening and they will settle into Australia and be much more welcomed than they are. At a camp, here is list of countries where you may be accepted and next to the name is the possible waiting time.

    But there is no political advantage in that.

    1. Hi Andrew, given that you seem to be "over" the election already, thanks for your comment - especially because I didn't realise the list even existed.