How can we hurt you? Let us count the ways…

26 Nov

Politicians from both major parties have set themselves quite a challenge to come up with a deterrent that will persuade asylum seekers that traveling to Australia by boat will result in them facing a situation worse than that they’ve fled. Potential refugees are clearly undeterred by the prospect of life threatening boat journeys: the desire to escape their circumstances is stronger than the very real threat of dying at sea.

It is a comment on the profound emotional, psychological and moral stupidity of leading politicians that they seem on the whole to be incapable of getting their heads around this core reality.

According to Amnesty International

The Australian Migration Act sets out the laws regulating migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. The Act incorporates the UN Refugee Convention and defines a refugee as anyone who:

 owing to 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.

The people our politicians wish to “deter”, many of whom will be granted refugee status anyway, are fleeing circumstances of such gravity that there is no “deterrent” a self-satisfied, self-interested Westerner can impose that will make the slightest difference to their will to live, and the risks they will take to make a life for themselves and their families. In any sane world, these courageous qualities would be appreciated and the people demonstrating them encouraged and welcomed as the kind of citizens who can be expected to enrich a country.

But we are a conflicted country when it comes to the stranger. On the one hand we are signatory to the UN Refugee Convention which in its introduction clearly states:

 The Convention further stipulates that, subject to specific exceptions, refu-
gees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay. This recognizes
that the seeking of asylum can require refugees to breach immigration rules.
Prohibited penalties might include being charged with immigration or crim-
inal offences relating to the seeking of asylum, or being arbitrarily detained
purely on the basis of seeking asylum.
Finally, the Convention lays down basic minimum standards for the treat-
ment of refugees, without prejudice to States granting more favourable treat-
ment. Such rights include access to the courts, to primary education, to work,
and the provision for documentation, including a refugee travel document in
passport form.

We need go no further than the Introduction to find examples of how many of these conditions we continue to quite cheerfully breach. The latest is the Gillard government’s refusal to allow those granted refugee status who are released into the community the opportunity to work, a refusal that in itself can be described as “persecution” or as causing “serious harm.”

 In the Guide to Refugee Law in Australia Chapter Four offers the following criteria for assessing persecution, or serious harm:


Under s.91R(1)(b) of the Act, persecution must involve “serious harm to the person. It provides:

For the purposes of the application of this Act and the regulations to a particular person, Article 1A(2) of the Refugees Convention as amended by the Refugees Protocol does not apply in relation to persecution for one or more of the reasons mentioned in that Article unless: 

(b)  the persecution involves serious harm to the person …  

Subsection (2) sets out a non-exhaustive list of the type and level of harm that will meet the serious harm test. It lists the following as instances of “serious harm:

 (a)  a threat to the persons life or liberty;15 

(b)  significant physical harassment of the person; 

(c)  significant physical ill-treatment of the person; 

(d)  significant economic hardship that threatens the persons capacity to subsist;16 

(e)  denial of access to basic services, where the denial threatens the person’s capacity to subsist; 

(f)  denial of capacity to earn a livelihood of any kind, where the denial threatens the persons capacity to subsist.17 

Persecution necessarily involves two elements: serious harm and a failure on the part of the state to afford adequate protection.

An asylum seeker who is granted refugee status is presumably potentially eligible to become a citizen of this country. We are creating potential citizens whose first experiences in our country have been entirely negative. This does not and cannot augur well for us in the long term.

The amount of financial support offered to refugees who arrive by boat is inadequate to feed, clothe and house them. Denying them the right to work will further dehumanise them. In its cruel and ignorant pursuit of a “deterrent,” the Gillard government has hopefully reached the end of the road in terms of punishment it can inflict for arriving by boat.

This is punishment we voluntarily undertook not to inflict in our role as signatory to the UN Refugee Convention. Our parliament has demonstrated its utter contempt for the UN Convention, while simultaneously bidding for and winning a seat on the Security Council.

There is no moral or ethical dimension to current asylum seeker policy. As many have pointed out, this is a policy and a discourse entirely bereft of values. The question is, can a democracy continue to be a democracy if its political discourse is bereft of values?

Deterrence has never worked. It never will work. If we don’t want people arriving by boat and seeking asylum, we have no alternative but to remove ourselves as signatories to the UN Refugee Convention. The invitation we extend as signatories to this Convention is precisely what asylum seekers respond to, and they have every legal and moral right to expect they will be accepted in this country no matter how they arrive. That is what we have voluntarily agreed to do: unconditionally accept asylum seekers no matter how they arrive. If this is not what we intend, there is an urgent  moral imperative to withdraw the invitation, not to find increasingly cruel methods of punishment for those who accept it.

In implementing an impotent and dehumanising policy of magical thinking called “deterrence,” our parliament has made mockery of us all.







108 Responses to “How can we hurt you? Let us count the ways…”

  1. zerograv1 November 26, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    While I completely agree with your arguement, it appears clear to me that both major parties are taking this hard-line stance, partly to entrap the so-called inherent racism of White Australia, but also because they struggle to find the funds to divert to this part of the government obligation. As with many government guidelines whether they be created by domestic regulation or the UN, the policy lines are often too broadly drawn for the recipient government to comply even if the whole country wanted to. To me, the issue is about allocation – ie a set limit on what a ountry should be expected to do to meet its obligation, no more, no less. This line keeps shifting and should not be decided by how long the queue is but by how capable the receiving land is of meeting the obligation without engendering further impost of its population. Hence Australia in the middle of a gross housing shortage is instead being hounded both externally and internally to take more arrivals. Given the shortage of housing stock, is this right, fair or even a good idea? While I detest the idea of detention centres, having visited a few of them now (at their invitation I might add) the average cost of constructing housing in Australia is relatively expensive compared to some parts of the world primarily because of the red tape and minimum building standards we impose internally here compared to elsewhere. So…where do we draw the line? An open door “welcome all” policy has to be called out for being niave at best – completely overlooking whats involved in doing so…, a harsh “slam the door in the face” stance is isolationist, narrow thinking and discounts the tremendous contribution that new arrivals have made to Australia over the decades. I dont have an answer for anyone on this but my post invites further debate. Its about carrying capacity to me.


    • Jennifer Wilson November 26, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      There’s no doubt you are right about our critical housing shortage. But a few thousand refugees haven’t caused this and won’t exacerbate it. The fault lies with governments especially Howard’s, who for decades neglected to provide housing stock. What we need to do is remove red tape and other impediments to affordable housing, and make governments state and federal take responsibility for the critical situation they’ve caused. Asylum seekers are being used as a scapegoat for years of political failures, IMO. They’re a red herring. We have inadequate housing and other infrastructure, full stop. Governments are culpable, not refugees.


      • zerograv1 November 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

        Agree there too….a wise old lady I know who is well and truly retired but was a high flyer in the trades hall in her working years once said to me that Australians don’t realise that we quietly moved away from responsible government to representative government via legislative tweaks. Its low level minor regulatory creep that caused this and the expectation of the Australian populace of what governments are supposed to do is now at odds with what politicians can do or are allowed by party culture. I don’t know how correct her statement is although would have to agree with her that there is definitely and expectation gap between what the electorate thinks our governments should do and what they actually achieve and propose. Culpability implies responsibility, but if the parties themselves don’t see that as a core responsibility they are prepared to own then we have no solution near or far in sight when matters like this are discussed.


        • Jennifer Wilson November 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

          “low level minor regulatory creep” – that sums it up and how that should make us nervous!

          I think both parties are enslaved to a western sydney minority who will determine the outcome of the next election.


      • Hypocritophobe November 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

        Howard made building houses into an exercise in investor profit,rather than a way increase home ownership and actual people living in dwellings.When the heat went off the poor could no longer afford to build,and the rich (and investors) stopped building 2nd,3rd 4th houses etc, and began buying established instead.
        We have become a greedy place,with relevant associated high prices and unrealistic inspirations.No longer are collectively willing to share this stolen property.We had simmering racism to start with.
        Along came Howard who legitimised bigotry and greed,the masses swallowed it up, and Labor grabbed the baton.
        Whether we did it as individuals is no matter.Collectively we did.
        The refugee issue is a symptom.It is ‘us’ in our raw form.If Labor ‘lost their way’ under Rudd, they must be scattered particles on the dark edge of space by now.


        • Hypocritophobe November 26, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

          ” unrealistic inspirations.”
          OOps Freudian slip,or maybe not.
          Try ‘aspirations’.


    • Marilyn November 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

      Oh for fuck’s sake, housing? Really? We manage to cope with 5 million tourists, 350,000 foreign students, 200,000 permanent migrants, 65,000 family reunion migrants and hundreds of thousands of temporary workers without pretending it is about fucking housing.

      Why don’t you just say you hate refugees or fuck off.


      • Jennifer Wilson November 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

        I just read your comment out to Mrs Chook who says you are absolutely right and she totally agrees with you except for the last sentence.


      • hudsongodfrey November 27, 2012 at 12:33 am #

        I totally agree with you accept for the last sentence too, for what its worth. After all refugees aren’t a race, and most of these haters would probably draw racially motivated distinctions.

        Also Abbott wants to make them work for the dole, because that’s just the kind of free market egalitarian he is! Moreover he now wants to drop the intake back down from 20K to 14K again.

        It ain’t easy being green. but there’s not much else out there with a moral compass and a pulse!


  2. gerard oosterman November 26, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    As with ‘the forgotten children ,’ ‘the stolen children,’ so it will be with our treatment of ‘boatpeople’. locked up in concentration camps. How our politicians ever came to the notion of unrelentingly punishing those that knock on our door for help will hopefullyl finally end up into some kind of International Court for judgement.
    Over 40 000 have been killed in Syria in one year. This will bring another wave of refugees and In Australia’s case, many will be further punished in our hell holes of detention.
    Future generations will no doubt be aghast at our inhumane stance. We seem to be building a reputation as the supreme bullies of the world.


    • helvityni November 26, 2012 at 11:24 am #

      ….one can’t even sing French songs on Melbourne trams anyone, especially if you are French…


      • hudsongodfrey November 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

        Yes that incident was pretty awful.

        If I’m honest then I don’t know that I’d be all that welcome to burst uninvited into song almost anywhere for no good reason. But that hardly justifies the kind of openly racist rant we saw on the tram footage.

        Oddly I think with asylum seekers what usually happens is almost the exact opposite. The excuse is slighter and the racism more ably concealed behind rationalisms that never fail to assume that we inherently object to boat arrivals.


    • Jennifer Wilson November 26, 2012 at 11:58 am #

      This is a situation that makes me feel sick every time I think about it. I can’t believe the ALP has gone so far down this path.


      • Marilyn November 26, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

        You should, Gillard is a racist to the core and always has been.


    • zerograv1 November 26, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

      “We seem to be building a reputation as the supreme bullies of the world.” Both the LNP and Labor ar embracing policy on the right wing. Since the right notriously embraces larger defence forces and militaristic approaches (compared to the left in Australia anyway) its no surprise that punitive aggressive big-stick policy making is all both sides can seem to produce. The ALP is so far removed from core values nowdays (having been margialised by the green vote) Gillard is not much short of a moderate Liberal in approaches and values nowdays except without the integrity past Liberal moderates have shown and the ALP ircreasingly moves to the centre right as ALP polticians pockets are filled by longevity in government. Money and lifestyle seem to remove them from their roots.


    • Poirot December 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

      Not sure if anyone has posted this…a searching article on Labor’s contortions regarding asylum seekers:


  3. Hypocritophobe November 26, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    This is but one issue which will add to the many which will see an end to Labor.
    (Sooner rather than later)
    (Don’t keep shooting me,please,I am just a messenger) Faux Labor will the ones responsible for giving Abbott government.
    The post election autopsy will no doubt put faces to the arseholes who destroyed Labor.Who needs enemies like Abbott when you have allies like that?
    That’s what faux Labor gets for using Hansonite and Howard policies,sacking a PM, and pandering to the racists and bigots, ( who don’t even vote for you.) and backing down,when they should have stood up. who don’t even vote for you.
    A small amount of good work, and most of that will be undone.


    • Jennifer Wilson November 26, 2012 at 11:59 am #

      I won’t shoot you, Hypo, I agree with you. The ALP bears no resemblance to what I knew as Labor. I am disgusted beyond words.


      • Macabre November 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

        Aw, go on Jennifer – shoot him. He’d probably enjoy it.


        • Hypocritophobe November 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

          You’re on your second and last warning dickhead.Next tiny little dig and I will post the proof of who you are.
          And in that area, you have a lot more to lose than me.
          There won’t be a rock big enough for you to hide under.


          • Macabre November 27, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

            You are a bigger idiot than I thought you were. Shooting’s too good.


            • Poirot November 27, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

              Hello Macabre,

              Yours are the dumbest comments I’ve read on blogs all day…so I’m going to bestow on you this special award.

              (enjoy your dip in the canal : )


              • Hypocritophobe November 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

                Right Click on everyone’s name(pseudo) (only the ‘live’ names will work) next to their avatar including the 2 different ‘Macabre’ avatar-ed ones, and follow them to their source (or just double click)
                Notice anything?


  4. hudsongodfrey November 26, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    While Jennifer says that “there is no moral or ethical dimension to current asylum seeker policy”, I think that there actually is. It’s just that the inferred right to treat an accident of birth as determinant of privilege is such a repugnant reflection of how Australians see themselves that we’d ordinarily call it an immoral and unethical treatment of asylum seekers.

    We’re very much stuck in a rut hoping against hope, generation upon generation that as the older rusted on cadre of conservatism finally lapsed we’d abandon a view of ourselves as a British enclave in the Asian region. Have we waited too long? Have some of our own generations become the enemy?

    Maybe the poem for better policies might go:

    Labor’s bad, Liberals worse.
    If only we’d a second verse.


    • Jennifer Wilson November 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

      HG, I want to know how you perceive the ethical and moral dimensions in the policies. I want to be rescued from my position of dire cynicism.


      • hudsongodfrey November 26, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

        Clearly I’ve described these policies as unethical and immoral to such an extent that there is precious little rescue from the governments direly cynical exploitation of asylum seekers as political pawns. The only catch being that the opposition are even worse.

        All I’m really saying is that I think that there are moral and ethical dimensions to the issue of asylum itself. Therefore any policy that responds to it in a way failing to respond to those considerations is itself a huge moral failure. Something of which I for one have little doubt those who drafted it are fully and shamefully aware.


        • Hypocritophobe November 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

          Oh c;mon HG!,
          Bit hard on the scribes, old chap.
          Who would have thought cruelty could manifest into misery?
          Surely refugees know by now, that here in “Me Topia” we can turn hope back into desperation with the stroke of a pen, and continue their suffering in the all important quest for votes?
          Our UN commitments have been wall papered over, 3 layers thick with bumper stickers saying ‘fuck off we’re full.’We don’t even ask (Not even ask) what would drive people to leave their birth place,where their spiritual connections are.We just assume they are thieves,with an eye on our lifestyle.”What evil intentions they have!”

          This country has become ghoulish rubber-neckers who would rather drive past the train wreck,with all its blood, guts and mayhem, with the first aid kit in tact, than crack the lid and use it for unselfish good.

          Doing the right thing has too many strings attached nowadays.It is just a meaningless anachronism.Just like the ‘fair go’.
          Thanks Julia, thanks Tony.
          Farewell Labor.


          • Marilyn November 26, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

            Gillard is the worst and most racist PM we have had in my lifetime, you people just have to accept that.


            • Hypocritophobe November 26, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

              I am dead sure there are more strings to her bow than racism.
              (Mind you if you closed your eyes and she said ‘please explain, you would get shivers,I reckon)
              And I am sure the spineless faceless men who gutted Rudd, have taught her a few extra tricks.
              I doubt she will get a chance to run through her full repertoire.
              It’ s only a matter of how.Resign,overthrown or thrown out.

              The only reason she is doing all the globe trotting is because she knows this is her last chance to shake hands with foreign leaders, and have a taxpayer funded junta or nine.


              • Marilyn November 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

                Add bigotry.


            • hudsongodfrey November 27, 2012 at 12:23 am #

              I think you’re making an overreaching claim there but your sense of outrage is no less vindicated by this latest direction.

              Technically I suspect vestiges of the White Australia Policy may still have been in force right up until about the time of my birth. And certainly I think Howard was more racist than Gillard, but given the poisonous political atmosphere that has percolated on her watch I rate her as even less compassionate that he was.

              As for the all time title of most racist I don’t know that you’d go far wrong pointing the finger at Billy Hughes, but then we’re talking well before my lifetime.


            • Macabre November 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

              Totally untrue.

              Only a truly moronic do-gooder would post such a stupid comment Her mental age is clearly less than the five years of her lifetime. I lived through Howard and his defence of Hanson and her ilk.


              • hudsongodfrey November 27, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

                So what if people don’t agree with you it helps to simply abuse them? How?


              • Marilyn November 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

                I am 60 years old. Gillard is a racist and as I am the only one who writes here who has had face to face dealings with the craven racist coward I beg to differ with you.


              • helvityni November 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

                And only a moron with a nasty tongue like you, Macabre,writes unpleasant posts like yours. What’s wrong with you?


                • Macabre November 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

                  Oh, you do go on. The very woman who avoids my posts, whilst pressing the ‘reply’ button so fucking often!

                  Fools like Marilyn just don’t listen to anyone, or haven’t you noticed?

                  The fool mistakes Gillard’s lawyerly reserve for racism, as if she’d know a racist from a raceme.


                  • hudsongodfrey November 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

                    Dude what makes you less of a fool than another person is your ability to say something more rather than less intelligent than they do.


                  • Marilyn November 28, 2012 at 3:15 am #

                    You didn’t say a thing useful.


          • hudsongodfrey November 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

            Yes of course you’re right, or was that left, so hard to tell…. Oh hell it’s confusing! I should have known all along.


  5. helvityni November 26, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    The majority of Australians do not want asylum seekers here; therefore our politicians have to become “boat-back–turners” to get and to stay in power.
    Nothing to do with Labor or Liberal; we don’t want “them illegals taking our jobs and houses”….(see posts on ABC Drum)
    Shame on us!


  6. 8 Degrees of Latitude November 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    A masterly summation of the hideous vacuity of Australian policy towards “boat people”. I’m reblogging it and will post it on my Facebook too.


  7. 8 Degrees of Latitude November 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    Reblogged this on 8degreesoflatitude and commented:
    A masterly summation of the effects of a hideous populist policy.


  8. Poirot November 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    Thank you, Jennifer, for this article.

    It gives me hope….I’m still plugging away on OLO which appears to host more bigots by the day. In that respect, your blog is like an oasis in the desert.

    : )


    • Jennifer Wilson November 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      We’re a good community here on Sheep. I haven’t been able to write as much for a while owing to family circs, but I think I have my life as I knew it back again. Thanks, Poirot.


      • Hypocritophobe November 26, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

        JW ‘good communities’ thrive on good leadership, and that fosters mutual respect.I may have brushed the ‘mutual respect bar,on occasion, but I think the quality of your content, input and tempered consideration is respected in a pretty much universal respect by those ‘who get it’.(Real leadership)
        And leaders speak out.Stand up.Empathise.
        You create an environment where the conversational ‘cogs’ get mobile and as we know positive solutions are often not far away, when dialogue is rich and meaningful.Not only that this blog gig is a personal sacrifice, and a selfless one, if I may say.One which you should be highly commended for and thanked often.
        Well done and I hope a more settled period, and happier times lay ahead for you.


  9. Hypocritophobe November 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    The following song has been embraced by the Labor Party since trumping Howards refugee position, and scamming their way into a cosy UN committee for political gain.

    Cruel To Be Kind

    Oh, I can’t take another heartache
    Though you say you’re my friend
    I’m at my wits end
    You say your love is bonafide
    But that don’t coincide
    With the things that you’re doing
    When I ask you to be nice
    You say you gotta be

    Cruel to be kind, in the right measure
    Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign
    Cruel to be kind, means that I love you
    Baby, (you gotta be cruel)you gotta be cruel to be kind

    Well, I do my best to understand dear
    But you still mystify, and I wanna know why
    I pick myself up off the ground
    To have you knock me back down
    Again and again
    And when I ask you to explain
    You say you gotta be

    Cruel to be kind, in the right measure
    Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign
    Cruel to be kind, means that I love you
    Baby, (you gotta be cruel)you gotta be cruel to be kind

    Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh…

    Well, I do my best to understand dear
    But you still mystify, and I wanna know why
    I pick myself up off the ground
    To have you knock me back down
    Again and again
    And when I ask you to explain
    You say you gotta be

    Cruel to be kind, in the right measure
    Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign
    Cruel to be kind, means that I love you
    Baby, (you gotta be cruel)you gotta be cruel to be kind

    Cruel to be kind,(Cruel to be kind) in the right measure
    Cruel to be kind,(Cruel to be kind)it’s a very very very good sign
    Cruel to be kind, means that I love you
    Baby, you gotta be cruel to be kind

    (by Nick Lowe)

    I hope the electorate is equally cruel to be kind to Labor, and I sense the ‘kind-ship’ is about to be delivered in spades.


  10. Hypocritophobe November 26, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    I found out where Labor have been spending their AWU Christmas Vouchers……


    • hudsongodfrey November 26, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

      No doubt to go with one of these….


  11. doug quixote November 27, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    All very well but you go too far. We certainly are not required to accept anyone unconditionally.

    And our acceptance of arrivals is actually amongst the best in the world. Check it out. Certainly there is room for improvement, certainly deterrence has never worked for the hard cases who find their way here; but we are under no obligation to make is easy for those who simply want to establish themselves in a better country, and have the means and the inclination to try their luck as asylum seekers. Those who apparently destroy any documentation to obscure their origins do us and themselves a disservice.

    I daresay Hypo, Marilyn and others will be lining up to disagree; I merely ask that they examine the evidence objectively, and that they curse me politely.

    BTW, I think housing argument is a very poor one.

    And a genuine refugee will be happy enough anywhere away from his persecutors, for any length of time.

    The troubles which occur in detention centres are not surprisingly caused by those who have reason to suspect that they have been found out, and are likely to face repatriation or deportation.


    • zerograv1 November 27, 2012 at 2:09 am #

      Every nation bar Australia secures its borders, puts restrictions on foriegn ownership of its businesses, resources and property, protects its industry….we are either the benificent example to be modelled or a bunch of fools depending on who you ask….I dont have any trouble with you thinking my housing argument is a poor one. You obviously belong to the “look after everyone else but not your own” club…an unfortunately common disease among people who like to think of themselves as compassionate but also suffer from “well meaning but misguided” syndrome. There are literally hundreds of these servicing the indigenous problems in the outback too…well meaning, nice, but ineffective and to some extent aiming at the wrong goal posts and wrose crete limp dependency everyhwere they go (damaging) but I won’t go any further down that path. The only really strong rebuttal I offer against your post is regarding detention centres….may I ask first though, have you ever been in one?


      • doug quixote November 27, 2012 at 7:49 am #

        That our borders are not secure is the funniest one I’ve ever heard.

        How can people swallow that one?

        Just who enters Australia without us knowing about it? We have the wonderful security of a moat hundreds of km wide in all directions, followed up by hundreds of km of desert in most places and rainforests in others. We have surveillance aircraft and radar scanning beyond your dreams, @zerogravi.

        “The government has totally lost control of its borders” is the biggest of Big Lies.

        Emboldened by the “this is the most incompetent government” Big Lie, the opposition know no bounds to their lies, swallowed whole by an incompetent or supine media.

        Will large sections of the public believe anything they are told? Goebbels thought so, and the evidence is that many will. If it suits them to believe it, they will.

        Well guess what, it just isn’t true.

        What is true?

        1. A good government governing well; by any objective parameter you care to examine.

        2. Border control : excellent to the point of extreme.


        • zerograv1 December 17, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

          Have you ever been in a Detention Centre?


      • hudsongodfrey November 27, 2012 at 9:08 am #

        Seriously what you seem to be relying on is almost the classic false dichotomy. I know that term is used a lot on forums and blogs by people who want to sound clever, but it this case it is marked out by the fallacy that we cannot do two things well at the same time. The notion that if we look after our existing population we can’t look after refugees both assumes both that neither can look after themselves and that resources are too scare to support either. And those things are demonstrably untrue.

        We’ve been taking numbers of refugees in fits and bursts for generations now. From the post WW2 era through the Vietnamese refugee crisis through to the present day all have made valuable contributions to Australian society. The numbers have generally hovered around the 20,000 mark and starting in the late 40’s when our population was on 5.5 million the proportion as a percentage of population that refugees represent has effectively dwindled markedly.

        We have some of the most overpriced cities to live in around the world today, reflecting not so much a battle for resources as an inflated economy that could afford to spread its resources a little more evenly. We may whine about utility bills and vote with our hi pocket nerves, but at the end of the day if the scarcest of our resources, water, runs out then we just up and build an overpriced desalination plant, because we can. And if we can look after ourselves by doing things like that instead of compromising one little bit on lifestyle then we really don’t have to reorganise priorities that much to take a few refugees do we?


        • zerograv1 December 16, 2012 at 10:29 am #

          You are assuming most Australians live in comfort and within their means….the hidden homeless is particularly obvious north of the Queensland border and prevails right across Qld, NT and WA….its blinkered thinking to deny there is a major problem routinely ignored by those in the large cities (Im all right Jack so everyone else must be too syndrome). And to the other reply…anyone that thinks Australia’s borders are secure doesnt know how easy iit is to slip in unnoticed. On my last visit to Darwin for instance I found 45 people partying in the hinterland (I was invited) who happily mocked the efforts to stop them entering. None have visas, why bother when a simple fishing vessel from a nearby country can land on a remote part of the Gulf of Carpentaria, sell the boat to the local fishos and hitch to the northern bush? Cash in hand odd jobs, unreported and completely off the radar. Yeah secure borders ! Suuuuurrrreee! Fortunately this mob dont appear to be up to any harm, they seem to be simple villagers from what I can tell – maybe 6 or 7 familes by the looks? But who really knows (And yes they were reported but no action has been taken providing they remain peaceful according to the local police who have their hands busy with alcohol fuelled violence and long grassers (Note : That means homeless people to those that arent aware))


          • hudsongodfrey December 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

            I’ve spent enough time in the top end to know that the circumstances of our indigenous population dwarf concerns with illegal immigrants. It may suffice to say that just because a thing is illegal doesn’t necessarily make it a priority to stamp it out.

            If you could find them then I have little doubt that a good many are either caught regularly, or we choose to turn a blind eye. Either way it seems fairly obvious that we really don’t have a problem with people who are living peacefully in humble circumstances and providing a ready source of cheap labour for some of the local enterprises.

            What may transpire is that rather than deal with these people’s immigration issues, what local and to some extent national authorities may have recognised is that while their status is not recognised nor may they claim asylum and thus any entitlements. And we may wonder if those are simply questions it suits us for the moment not to answer.

            As for the notion of secure borders, please begin by explaining why a few refugees should make any of us feel so terribly insecure?

            When did we decide to start using strategic language normally reserved for military conflicts to describe the threat of invasion for instances of a few irregular immigrants? Use of the term border security as code for our strange phobia of boat people is a national disgrace.


            • helvityni December 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

              “Use of the term border security as code for our strange phobia of boat people is a national disgrace.”

              Yes indeed, Hudson, makes me think of wars and attacks, invasions..
              Not to worry, no one is invading our country, just few leaky boats carrying desperate, peaceful people looking for a better life…


            • zerograv1 December 16, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

              I’d like to know what you consider to be “Border Security”…could you define it for me perhaps?


              • Hypocritophobe December 17, 2012 at 12:03 am #

                I’ll have a go, Zero.
                Border protecion:
                “A phrase coined by Graham Morris, for John Howard, to be used to scare the gullible, and to appease the bigoted, enough to feel they had become the intimidated, or threatened,(the ‘victim’ of the invaders)(and worse-the POTENTIAL invaders) so that the (then) coalition could recycle the Yellow Peril tactic, and yet not be accused of (A) Having a black arm band view of history and (B) Be accused of plagiarism.
                Do I win a cupie doll?


              • hudsongodfrey December 17, 2012 at 8:46 am #

                Border Security?

                That’s when you repel an invasion of any kind that represents a material treat to your national well-being commensurate with the use of military force. You could certainly use it for an incursion by a foreign military force and at a pinch maybe even for the enforcement of quarantine regulations. We shouldn’t be using such language to exaggerate out of all proportion the threat from very small numbers of irregular immigrants.

                In Australian political parlance the term Border Security has too often become code for denying refugees the right to claim asylum. And in looking for words to say that we have political difficulties in meeting our legal obligations to brown people arriving in boats I do think it would make a difference if we were forced to use more honest language.


                • zerograv1 December 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

                  The irony is that small boat migration from Darwin occurs too, sometimes just retirees living the dream or escaping the ratrace. Sometimes loners, or permanent yachtsmen that live on them 24/7 .There are a host of places not far from Darwin that will welcome white visitors…simple living, no rat race…etc being the attraction. Im not talking the major well known tourist haunts like Bali, Thailand etc either… one says anything about those (departing Australian) boat people, there is no customs or visa check because they are such small communities. A few hundred people at best on tiny islands as you approach the Indo cluster. A friend gets Palm Oil from one island which he sells at local markets in Darwin to raise funds for his next food locker for the trip. Its not a lot of people but it happens


                  • hudsongodfrey December 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

                    Yes well, who knows what else could be going back and forth on some of those trips, and nor do I suppose without the risk of almost anything going wrong from arrest and extortion to piracy.

                    Or to put it another way; I wouldn’t have thought Palm Oil was that lucrative.


              • helvityni December 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

                Zero, start erecting a plastic dome over this land, re-enforce with iron fence, the plastic might last long enough to scare the riff-raff from this bloody best country in the Southern Hemisphare…


      • Hypocritophobe November 27, 2012 at 10:21 am #

        It seems bizarre that foreign corporations and military orgs can bypass (line pockets,lick balls) the system and yet not get frowned upon,even if the ‘people’ don’t want such establishments or developments.Even if it is NOT in our LONG term interest.
        We have (most of them) foreign mines ripping the guts out of this country changing its biodiversity,climate and social structures forever.We have them, and fracking, and foreign agriculture either depleting or ruining our water in and above the ground.Precious ag land is being allocated to mining making it useless beyond the start point, and eventual rehab process.We have community division where theses things occur.They are for short term gain.They are intrinsically destructive and simply for short term and unsustainable use.
        To whinge about a few refugees and their lack of paperwork,while every second tens of thousands of more humans miraculously appear on earth,to add to the pressure of supply demand and life in general is laughable.
        Pretty soon there will be no room in the room.The elephant will have filled it wall to wall.
        Unless idiots like Gillard and Abbott (all of us) wake up, and allow the real discussion to take place, the future number of boats will outnumber our naval fleet.
        We may indeed need the Yanks up the top.And we may indeed be ‘stopping the boats’ ‘for real’ , using the same military and vigilante methods the Yanks do on Mexicans.

        This whole argument is a distraction.

        So is the current one about Gillard/AWU.
        The Catholic church wants(needs) a bigger headline in the paper than their generational,(decades) universal (across the globe), sex offender (paedophile priests) internal war (sexual assaults and abuse, and cover ups) on vulnerable children.
        Well it looks like they have it.
        And look who is helping to deliver it. Without so much as a peep.

        Bring on the International Criminal Court.But good luck finding enough people within it, who are not connected to Catholicism in some way.Loyalty and image is far more important than children………………That’s a concept both of our political leaders appear familiar with.


      • Marilyn November 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

        We don’t have any borders dingbat, we have 37 million square miles of oceans.

        And how the hell a few thousand people arriving on an Australian island some 2600 from the nearest part of the mainland and then all being flown to the mainland threatens those 37 million square miles of ocean and us is beyond me.


        • zerograv1 November 28, 2012 at 6:23 am #

          To those of you that argue we dont have a problem with border security, I point out that Im not talking about invading pirates hitting our beaches, but the overtaking of ownership of our housing, businesses, industries, mines….hell even our Aussie brands! I said nothing about refugees in that sentence. Are you completely sure we dont have a problem of invasion? I’d think again before commenting.


          • Poirot November 28, 2012 at 9:27 am #


            Oh, I get it – you mean globalisation.

            Well I have to agree that the World Bank, IMF and the WTO have been busy in cahoots with often corrupt governments helping along privatisation and undermining the welfare the general population in many developing countries (see Egypt, for example)

            …add to that to odd invasion by the US and its cronies….and voila!….great conditions for a widespread and chronic refugee exodus.


    • hudsongodfrey November 27, 2012 at 9:38 am #

      When was it ever unconditionally? There is a definition of a refugee that you should well know by now. A displaced person who has a well founded fear of persecution that would prevent them from safely returning to their home is regarded as a refugee, and assessed as such under strict criteria by DFAT officers.

      We do accept arrivals at a reasonable rate, that rate being somehow managed within reasonable quotas despite our apparent lack of control. So arguments to the effect that unbidden hordes will descend upon us from the north should we fail to cruelly deter are demonstrably hyperbolic bigoted falsehoods of the very worst kind.

      On UNHCR figures the view that some people take that these might merely be economic refugees is given the lie to because the numbers correspond reasonably well with observable displacement of people from various war zones and famines (many of which in Africa amount to the same thing with a distinct taint of genocide).

      We could nevertheless ask some other questions about these situations.

      We could ask whether contrary to what a noisy minority seems to articulate the political reality contradicts that rhetoric because we both want and need these people in small numbers to underscore the economic bottom line? Having a certain number of unskilled workers willing to take minimum or below wages acts as a brake on inflation in the service sector of our domestic economy that keeps the cost of living at more affordable levels. This in economy that is buoyant, but running at two speeds due to a mining boom, tends to make sense notwithstanding that some may rightly critique the exploitative treatment of some refugees.

      We could also ask whether some of these people who are years in transit might be as well to reconsider a safe return if circumstances in their homelands have changed. Which is to say on a humane view granted that the costs of detention and resettlement are not immaterial we might prefer to assist them in that endeavour rather than resettling a wholesale diaspora.

      So if we want to make concessions that are quite different to the politically framed contents of the Houston report then we could in my view get rid of long term detention in deliberately cruel out of the way places and put the money to far better use helping genuine refugees enter the community and a few to return home safely if we wanted to.

      Why we can’t even be kind to those we reject is a question that we ought to be able to ask, but don’t and I think that’s wrong!


    • Marilyn November 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      No-one destroys documents, they don’t have fucking documents.

      And for the last fucking time, resettlement of a few thousand refugees as migrants has nothing to do with our absolute obligation to protect any refugee in our territory.

      And who the hell are you to claim that we can just keep them in prison because they are away from their persecutors when we have become the persecutors.

      If you don’t know law and facts shut up.


    • Marilyn November 28, 2012 at 4:58 am #

      What complete and utter crap. Why the fuck would a refugee or anyone else like to be in jail without charge just because they are safer.

      Sometimes your blithe racist stupidity is truly staggering Doug.


      • Jennifer Wilson November 28, 2012 at 7:01 am #

        TO EVERYONE: Cheerful rudeness is OK. That’s all it is, right? 🙂


  12. Hypocritophobe November 27, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    Looking at the latest news I’d say Gillard has a 2 or 3 week career in politics remaining.
    (I think her well meaning ex boyfriend just dug the hole a bit deeper.)
    If so,I hope she takes the arseholes who gutted Rudd down with her.
    And hopefully when coupled with the NSW enquiry the entire NSW right might melt down.
    Yee haw.


    • Macabre November 27, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

      Which latest news is that, Sherlock?

      Julie Bishop’s shovel load of nothing, is it?


    • hudsongodfrey November 28, 2012 at 12:09 am #

      I’m not seeing it Hypo. I doubt there’s enough to the mud slinging to really condemn her for. And stupid old Blewitt is just trying to save his own arse, unless burying cash in the backyard is just one of those things we all do innocently from time to time whenever the mood takes us?


  13. Hypocritophobe November 28, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    Right Click on everyone’s name (in red text) next to their avatar including the 2 different ‘Macabre’ avatar-ed ones, and follow them to their source (or just double click)
    Notice anything?
    I’m sure you can join the dots, readers.If not I will, and the silly little man can explain his silly little idea,of playing good cop bad cop, (and feigning womanhood to throw others off his scent) just because he cannot handle criticism of his pet political party.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) November 28, 2012 at 9:33 am #


      When, under Ubuntu Linux, I right-click the red userID beside the mushroom-coloured ‘macabre’ avatar and select ‘copy link location’, I get this: http://(ingeneral)/ . If instead I select ‘open link in new tab’, I get a ‘Server not found’ notice showing the web address as being ‘www.(ingeneral).com.’, whilst ‘http://www.(ingeneral).com/’ simultaneously displays in the address bar.

      When I right-click the dark grey ‘macabre’ avatar and select ‘copy link location’, I get this: http://ingeneral/ . If I likewise choose ‘open link in new tab’, I am now delivered to the web page shown in this screenshot:

      The only difference between the addresses visible to me being the parentheses used in one of them. Each link, when I started composing this post, yielded a ‘Server not found’ notice if you tried to follow it. Now, around half an hour later, the red userID link associated with the dark grey ‘macabre’ avatar delivers one to the movie website shown in the Twitpic screenshot.

      Apart from the fact that something has been changed in relation to one of the linkages while I have been compiling this post, what do these observations tell us? I am only able to offer the opinion that some interests may see value in disrupting/discouraging discussion on this blog in particular, especially since it shot to greater prominence nigh on twelve months ago.

      You may have to join up some dots for me, Hypo. Please feel free. I am fascinated.


      • helvityni November 28, 2012 at 9:38 am #

        I know who Macabre is.


      • Poirot November 28, 2012 at 9:44 am #

        Hi Forrest,

        glad you’ve joined the fray.

        Actually if you click on (or in my case, hover over) one of the avatar names of another regular here, the (in general) comes up in the bottom left hand corner of the screen in the same way it does for Macabre…I don’t know what that means, but every other (red) avatar I hovered over cited the person’s address as in yours,for instance comes up as your twitter id
        …(in general) with brackets comes up for two different avatars ( as well as “in general” without the brackets for the other Macabre.

        I’m sure that’s suitably confusing, but I’m a tad intrigued. Check out the other red avatar names.


        • Hypocritophobe November 28, 2012 at 10:16 am #

          Helvi obviously gets it.If you others don’t,then you are overcomplicating it.There are more bits of time and circumstance which join the dots.

          Being nice in the first place and not parading up and down like a self righteous one eyed dweeb,would have been the mature thing to do.BTW.
          Is there anyone who thinks Gillard will PM for much longer?


          • Poirot November 28, 2012 at 10:41 am #


            It seems two avatar names come up up with “(in general)”, One of them is a Macabre and the other one is “…”. also the other Macabre comes up with “in general”.

            So am I to presume that “….” is also Macabre.

            If this happened on OLO we’d just out the sock-puppet, but there seems to be so sort of code on sheep that precludes this recourse. (which is why I’m beating about the bush)


            • Hypocritophobe November 28, 2012 at 10:57 am #

              A growing list of uncalled for remarks changed the circumstances.


        • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) November 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm #


          You are quite right to observe that my userID here on ‘Sheep’ shows as related to my Twitter userID. That is one of the registration options offered by WordPress for posting here. What I don’t understand is how my nice blue-coated avatar gets to be associated with the posts I put up here while my Twitter avatar remains as that of an egg on a purple background. (On occasions my Twitter avatar has appeared here on ‘Sheep’ in place of the blue-coated Gravatar one, again for reasons I don’t understand, as there was never a conscious selection involved in producing that result.)

          I might add that I have been unable to upload an image to my Twitter profile to replace the egg. Otherwise you would perhaps be seeing a picture of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump beside my tweets.

          One question I do have is as to whether a Gravatar avatar used on ‘Sheep’ remains unique to a particular registration or component thereof?

          Another is as to how the link constituted by the red userID beside any given avatar can be re-assigned so as to deliver one to a website through, or in association with which one has presumably NOT registered when registering for posting here on ‘Sheep’? Is there some WordPress-wide profile that operates super-imposed over the one presumably established when registering upon ‘Sheep’ that can be altered by a ‘Sheep’ user? If so, where does one access that profile, just as a matter of curiosity?

          As of course you know, Poirot, I also post on OLO under the userID of ‘Forrest Gumpp’. I don’t have as extensive a posting history on ‘Sheep’ as some others, having first posted here at around the time, if my memory serves me correctly, that userID ‘Doug Quixote’ once mentioned he first did, just after Jennifer’s publication of the defo threats that, in general, kicked off the ‘#MTRsues’ tweetstorm. I do have a somewhat longer posting history on OLO than here, for such as see any need to compare literary style or viewpoints on issues to confirm consistency of pseudonymous identity. I suppose for those with a Twitter account a search of @GrahamY or my own tweet timeline would confirm my OLO/Twitter identity from such things as screenshot Twitpics of OLO glitches and Twitter/OLO conversations with Graham Young related thereto, and thus, in turn, my OLO/Sheep identity via the Twitter bridge.

          What stands to be gained from sockpuppetry, other than the undermining of one’s own credibility if once discovered?


  14. Hypocritophobe November 28, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Here’s a precedent to watch.If bikies get this through, I hope the ‘real’ lawyers representing refugees are watching.
    Because up until now the government has been cherry picking which parts of the UN to comply with.

    I also hope the Palestine vote bites Labor on the arse.
    Twice.Once for sucking up Americas clacker and voting with them to politically fellate Israel, and once for the arrogance and then backflip Gillard displayed.I’d say her stand was a direct response to a ‘request’ (demand) from the Yanks.
    I’ll bet her rarely seen ears are ringing, from the haranguing she got from caucus AND the yanks.
    How dare she step outside the guidelines of the American Constitution….


  15. doug quixote November 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    For Marilyn’s benefit, they are not in gaol but in mandatory detention. They can request at any time to be repatriated to their home country, if it will take them. They can also request to be deposited outside Australia’s migration zone.

    If they are genuine refugees with a fear of persecution they will quite happily remain in immigration detention; though do-gooders will try to stir them up to demand better treatment, release into the community etc etc etc, Usually this is to promote the do-gooders’ own agenda, namely open borders and open slather for anyone who cares to wander in, for unfathomable ideological reasons.

    Sound like anyone you know, Marilyn?


    • Poirot November 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

      In general I’m a little over people lazily employing the term “do-gooder” as some sort of hackneyed substitute for cogent argument..


    • Marilyn December 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      Doug, where should we dump them moron brain? They are human beings th e same as you arsehole with the same rights as you.

      And I would much rather do good with people than be a racist arsehole doing bad.


    • doug quixote December 1, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

      Simple enough; the DIAC is professional and has expertise. Do you think I make this stuff up? All on my own? No, I’ll leave making stuff up to you and the other would-be do-gooders.

      The government acts on professional advice based on many years of experience and expertise. What, Madam, do you do.


  16. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) November 30, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    Earlier in this thread, on Wednesday, November 28, 2012, at 1:41 pm, I asked:

    “One question I do have is as to whether
    a Gravatar avatar used on ‘Sheep’ remains
    unique to a particular [user] registration
    or component thereof?”

    I have since discovered that it appears, at least under some circumstances, as if it may.

    Back in September I compiled a posting history for my posts to this blog, ‘No Place for Sheep’ (NPFS). I compiled it manually by copy-and-paste transcription in a series of Ubuntu Forums Private Message posts (I am registered there as Forrest Gumpp), in order to take advantage of the ability to post links in a document that can be (selectively) shared, that is a feature of that forum. That way I can bring up an old post instantly if I need to refer to it. This partially replicates the features of the user history function accessible to all viewers of the OnLineOpinion (OLO) site for posters there. Part of my NPFS one can be seen in this screenshot:

    The highlighted link in that screenshot was to a post of mine to the NPFS ‘Belconnen, Baptists, and the lawyers’ thread of 26 January 2012. In that thread was a post by userID ‘AJ’. (See: ) I noted the avatar beside the userID was a Gravatar avatar identical to one currently appearing beside the userID ‘zerograv1’, as in the first response in this NPFS ‘How can we hurt you …’ thread. When I hovered the mouse over the avatar beside userID ‘AJ’in the older thread, first there momentarily appeared at bottom left of my screen what I take to be a Gravatar imageID (as in this screenshot: ), then shortly to be replaced by an enlarged mouse-over display showing as userID ‘zerograv1’ (as in this screenshot: ) with a somewhat more general Gravatar URL displaying at bottom screen left.

    It is obvious, given the identicality of the avatar and its associated Gravatar URL displaying at bottom left in each case, that ‘Sheep’ userID ‘AJ’ was somewhere able to amend a ‘Sheep’/WordPress user profile to show ‘zerograv1’ as the new userID whilst retaining the same avatar. I don’t question that user’s reasons for making the changes, I just wonder how such profile changes can be effected. However, not all avatars throw up an enlarged mouse-over display when the mouse is hovered over them, even where in a sub-set of cases seemingly identical avatars have had different userIDs displaying beside them as time has gone by, and I wonder, too, why this may have been so.

    Like JW in another place with respect to other things, I ask: Why, why, why?


    • zerograv1 December 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Just a point of clarification, AJ is my housemate who no longer blogs here. We use the same household email account.


      • Hypocritophobe December 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

        “They all say that.”

        AJ doesn’t happen to be hiding from a Bogeyman in London?


        • helvityni December 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

          Hypo, AJ is Zero who is…..oh well, whoever, can’t be bothered repeating the long list pseudos, she is only too easily recognisable….


          • zerograv1 December 17, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

            Please enlight us Helvi, go on I dare you…I wont mind…and hey Ill even applaud your first awkward attempt at humour


  17. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) December 7, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    An article, ‘The myth of temporary protection visas’, of 14 June 2011, from , highlights the fact that “… all the evidence points to [TPVs] being a factor in INCREASING the number of boat arrivals.”, rather than them constituting any ‘deterrent’. In doing so, it casts a new light upon boat arrivals in the period leading up to the implementation of the first ‘Pacific solution’ around the time of the Tampa incident as they may have influenced the Australian public’s perceptions of this movement of people. That ‘new light’ may be seen to be of particular relevance given that the Federal opposition proposes the re-introduction of TPVs should it be returned to government at the next Federal elections.

    I think it is fair to say that a very clear majority of the Australian public saw, and continue to see, boat arrivals as a migration issue, rather than as a refugee/human rights issue. Within the generality of boat arrival being seen as a migration issue, there has been a significant focus upon its being an effective circumvention of Australian migration policy and law. In this context Jennifer Wilson’s call for Australia’s removal of itself as a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, irrespective as to what may be considered as the motivation and/or moral basis for that call, could be a key first step to ending this impasse.

    One aspect of boat arrivals is that most are effected from Indonesia, a non-signatory to the UN Refugee Convention. Arrivals may be of diverse national origin, but have in common the almost ‘ritual’ experience of transit through Indonesia on a seeming ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ basis, followed by a clandestinely-organised relatively short ocean crossing to Australian territory, or perhaps more accurately, into the ocean waters patrolled by Australian vessels surrounding the islands proximal to Indonesia where boats notionally attempt landfall.

    Asylum seekers, and their transit, are not Indonesia’s problem unless they seek asylum IN INDONESIA (which they are not doing). Whilst ever ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ remains a viable option for transit through Indonesia, the ‘business opportunity’ represented by people smuggling remains safe and profitable for its practitioners and any associated graft networks.

    Whilst ever Australia remains a signatory to the UN Convention Indonesia knows it is protected from having to negotiate in any substantive way with Australia in relation to responsibility for regulating the transit of persons through Indonesia. Indonesia does not have to argue its own cause. That minority of Australians who seem to be against the very idea of upholding Australian sovereignty, emboldened by the decades-long top-down imposition of so-called bipartisan migration policy, and obligation to a UN Convention, have, and will continue, to effectively argue Indonesia’s cause for it at the cost of those Australians least able to bear it, the under-employed and welfare-dependent.

    If once Australia withdrew from that Convention it would be free to constructively negotiate bilaterally with Indonesia, or any other country, with respect to unregulated boat arrivals attempting to enter Australia. As already noted, this presently almost ritualistic short-ocean-crossing traffic is not Indonesia’s problem. Was Australia to negotiate bilaterally with a country such as Kenya, for example, to temporarily accommodate and provide subsistence for any and all persons intercepted by Australian authorities in unregulated boat arrival attempts, subject to the proviso that all so intercepted would be permanently denied entry into Australia at any time in the future, the traffic would likely almost immediately cease. Provided also that intercepted would-be boat arrivals unable to secure acceptance as refugees anywhere else whilst being so accommodated would remain free under such bilateral arrangement to return at any time to where they had come from, such an arrangement would ensure that only those literally in fear for their lives would tend to seek the refuge of, or subsequently remain resident under, that accommodation.

    Better that a poorer country not contributing to the traffic should benefit at Australia’s expense in the process of bringing it to a halt, than that an approach of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ should continue to be effectively rewarded, with all of the opportunities for privatised profiteering and upward filtration of facilitation payments that such an approach inevitably seems to entail.


    The ‘Unleashed’ article author claims that prior to the introduction of TPVs in late October 1999, “… almost all asylum seekers who came by boat were men, and there were few women and children.”. After the introduction of TPVs, the proportion of boat arrivals constituted by women and children increased dramatically. That author states:

    “… I have spoken to women who got on boats
    after TPVs came in who said they would not have
    done so had their husbands in Australia been
    able to access the family reunion program. …”

    To many Australians, I would suggest, these evidenced facts bespeak of asylum seeker status having been sought as an alternative pathway to the achievment of intentional whole-family migration to a destination of choice chosen in advance, Australia, for which the initial applicant, a pre-October 1999 asylum seeker, would not have otherwise qualified. By these women’s own admissions, wherever they had been staying at the time of the initial ‘family asylum seeker’ pioneer’s boat entry into Australia, was safe enough to remain until family reunion rights could be exploited from the Australian end. At which time they would then have flown in quite conventionally, in possession, courtesy of the Australian government, of all entry documentation required.

    Once the right to family reunion migration ceased to apply to ‘asylum seeker pioneers’, all family members had to qualify for asylum seeker status entry into Australia, to achieve their understandably intended objective of family reunion coupled with permanent residency, albeit one achieved at the expense of the, as perceived by many Australians, circumvention of Australian migration policy. All had to undergo the ritual short-crossing boat journey to acquire that asylum-seeker status. Any other attempts at entry without appropriate documentation by the conventional means, air, would have resulted in immediate deportation by return flight to the point of embarkation. Just as, of those who, entering Australia in the conventional manner by air in possession of a visa, if they overstay, remain liable to deportation upon discovery.

    Whatever might be thought of it, withdrawal from the refugee convention would speed the resolution of this issue, depriving any political party of any ability to remain hypocritically critical of its opponents’ policies while at the same time remaining in possession of an excuse for being unable to remove the perceived incentives to those seeking entry and residence in this manner that is at the root of this issue.


  18. Hypocritophobe December 7, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    People looking for a better life are not welcome here.
    Unless they are white South Africans,Chinese miners,agricultural land pillagers,aquifer emptiers, American military types, cashed up Asian students etc.
    The rest can f*ck off,We’re obviously full.


    • helvityni December 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

      Hypo, I have always said it, even boxers are fine and any black man if they can run fast…
      Any politician, be they Rudd, Gillard, Turnbull know they are on losing streak if they start accepting too many foreigners of darkish skin…our taxi-drivers will not even pick up our well-known artists, if they have a black skin, if they happen to be Aboriginal…


      • Hypocritophobe December 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

        Yes I know Helvi.
        The irony of the Gurrumul incident is that the taxi driver involved ‘may’ have been Indian.Probably brought here on a 457 visa,because the NSW right probably dictated that “Indians’ make good taxi drivers.
        Apparently Sri Lankan’s don’t?

        It seems Australia is dumb,drunk and racist.


      • doug quixote December 8, 2012 at 12:19 am #

        They have acquired a bad reputation. Clearly not all black/brown skinned people are undesirables. You may recall the murder of a young black youth in Florida : Obama said that if he had a son he’d look just like that youth, gunned down for wearing a hoodie in the wrong neighbourhood apparently.

        I really don’t know how you reverse that general perception, other than for Aboriginal people to be of excellent behaviour at all times. Difficult, with many having alcohol issues; and a problem for them is that they are so recognisable.


        • Hypocritophobe December 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

          Did it ever actually occur to you that dispossession is the cause of the symptoms which fuel the perception?
          The perception is our baggage to understand, and deal with, not theirs to carry.
          It’s impossible to educate people who accept no responsibility for a predicament created by the same culture, which favours their race/culture.

          In this country most people automatically assume the worst of Indigenous people and Muslims.If the occasional racist stereotype email getting through to my Inbox is any indication of the bigotry and racism perpetutaed then Mabos daughter is correct.
          It will generations before any noticeable shift occurs.If ever.We breed a new generation of indigenous haters regularly.Primary school age kids mouthing the same ignorant hurtful words their ancestors did.
          Until any real positive measurable change , the lazy can just sit on their hands and enjoy the spoils, and continue the denial.

          What you said about Rudds apology goes a long way to understanding ‘your’ perception of the issue.


          • doug quixote December 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

            I agree.


          • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) December 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm #


            You say:

            “It will [be] generations before any noticeable
            shift occurs. If ever. We breed a new generation
            of indigenous haters regularly. Primary school
            age kids mouthing the same ignorant hurtful
            words their ancestors did.”

            Just a little ray of sunshine for you:

            The fourth paragraph, particularly.

            The link was one I found useful in this post on OLO, , one in a series of posts in an OLO thread promoting a little bit of mischief in the national capital. A better place to start would be with this post, , the first in the (almost uninterrupted) series of eight by me in that thread. For some time when you are a bit bored with nothing to do.

            The Kerry Gilbert mentioned in the sixth paragraph of the link is almost certainly a relative of the (English-writing) Wiradjuri poet Kevin Gilbert (deceased) mentioned in the third post in the OLO series. She is evidently a survivor.

            Long sentences are a bit of a feature of my posts in that series, but this, one of Kevin Gilbert’s poems, outdoes any sentence of mine: . I don’t think it is well known. It is called ‘Kiacatoo’.


            • Hypocritophobe December 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

              Sadly the story in KGs poem is a very common one.
              And not one which reflects well on us(non indigenous Australians NIA) as would be custodians,as an alleged humane and civilised people, or as a mature people strong enough to view history as it really is.For ‘white fellas’ it is easier to ‘write our own version.
              The truth is too ‘black arm band’ for most.
              It seems empathy is a stretch too far.
              “Naaaargh, not me mate,I wasn’t there”
              ( An excuse not often directed at the Holocaust)
              The Pinjarra massacre in WA,Yagan,Shot Hole Canyon etc, barely known about, let alone taught accurately or acknowledged widely.
              And whether people accept it or not (to paraphrase another living Mabo) the ripples still impact on the current generations.Where many of NIA see drunks etc, the honest see generational ‘sorrow’ being duly anaesthetised.
              There is little empathy from people so ignorant so as to cling to stereotypes and demand that it’s simply a matter of individuals ‘choosing’ a different life.If only it was that easy.
              I have said it before,most people(non indigenous) would prefer to cross a street simply to avoid eye contact with an indigenous person,let alone greet them positively.Let alone converse.
              Judging,denying and/or ignoring is the quick easy option.
              If the taxi driver who refused to pick up Gurrumul took that decision based on our cultural stereotypes of indigenous people, or of direct and negative experiences, it still lays the blame for that situation at the feet of us as a community.
              This has to be one of the longest and most painful/unnecessary struggles in modern anthropological times.
              And given the significance of the continuous age of the indigenous culture itself is something the world should (probably everyone else but us does) hold in total awe.
              Imagine the unlimited depth of knowledge available if we showed a genuine goodwill.
              The image of Howard experiencing an entire indigenous audience turns their back comes to mind.
              Only in reverse.
              Until proved otherwise (as a nation) we have turned our backs on them on the issues which really count.
              Now that we have said sorry, and that they have accepted that in good faith, we need to show what that ‘sorry’ means in real terms.
              Thanks for the ray of sunshine FG.Much appreciated.
              What we need now, is a spiritual heatwave.
              Teaching the truth to our children instead of filling their precious pumpkins with religious crap would be a good start.
              Revisiting what Tickner had to say, a worthy move.Or even saying hello,how are you going, now and then.

              And then we have modern mining and developments..FMG issue etc.
              Brings to mind a song…..
              “Even a dog can shake hands”, Warren Zevon


  19. Hypocritophobe December 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    Is he for real?
    Nauru is the evil plan of both Tea Parties and now Morrison, who has constantly recommended the option,does not like what he sees.
    Is he an alien life form ?
    Talk about wanting it both ways.I wonder if deep inside he would just like to blow these refugees clean out of the water.

    He created a monster and now does not like the smell of its breath.

    It’s hard to believe that it’s entirely possible to custom design a God to fit, like a glove, the most vile and disingenuous of human behaviour.


  20. Hypocritophobe December 14, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    A man with a conscience has emerged.

    Let’s all hope for a domino effect.


  21. Hypocritophobe December 15, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    Oh goodee another shipment of political footballs just in time for Christmas,
    and What an appropriate name for the island of choice.

    How’s that off-shore deterrent factor working for you faux Labor Gillardites?
    Stopped the boats yet?


  22. Hypocritophobe December 15, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    This should have accompanied that post above

    And just to put it all into perspective for the Howard fans masquerading as ‘anything but’.
    Count the numbers involved.Maybe Julia and Tony could team up with their bipartisan strategy and move to italy.Close to the Vatican and all.

    “Tens of thousands of migrants landed on Italian shores last year in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings.”
    Obviously all just business execs looking for a pizza shop franchise.I mean why would anyone in their right mind leave the green and peaceful rolling hills of the Middle east?


  23. Hypocritophobe December 31, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    Why do become become refugees?


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