Asylum Seekers: How Abbott co-opts Article 31

23 Apr

illegal-boats-0-620x349Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has attempted to justify his use of the term “illegals” for asylum seekers arriving by boat, by referring to  the wording of Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on Refugees.

This is what the Convention actually says:

The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence. (Article 31, (1) )

There is no record of any asylum seeker attempting to enter this country  by boat who has not first presented him or herself to the authorities, without delay, and attempted to show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.

No asylum seeker arriving by boat has ever been found to have attempted to enter this country without contacting the authorities.

There are, however, abundant examples of people entering this country by plane, neglecting to present themselves to authorities, and neglecting to show good cause for their illegal over-stay and presence.

Commentary on Article 31 from the Refugee Council of Australia

Article 31: Refugees unlawfully in the country of refuge

This Article recognises that refugees have a lawful right to enter a country for the purposes of seeking asylum, regardless of how they arrive or whether they hold valid travel or identity documents. As such, what otherwise be considered illegal actions (eg. entering a country without a visa) should not be treated as such if a person is seeking asylum. This means that it is incorrect to refer to asylum seekers who arrive without authorisation as “illegal”, as they in fact have a lawful right to do so if they are seeking asylum.

Asylum is a human right


54 Responses to “Asylum Seekers: How Abbott co-opts Article 31”

  1. Hypocritophobe April 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    The WA grafitti vandals have edited Tonys signs,within 24hours.
    If caught they will get the book thrown at them.

    WA is another planet.They let the plethora bikie and other ethnic crime gangs run the amphetamine trade and yet want car chase drivers,and grafitti artists to get hammerred by the law.Never mind that the violence of meth is rampant throughout the states entertainment districts and suburbia.The police union runs WA.The jails adult are filling with juveniles.Mainly indigenous.
    WA gets hundreds of extra cops every election (with less clerical and other ) work to do and the drug trade flourishes.It is rare to see cop cars in metro Perth unless there is a booze bus, a car chase or a ‘reality TV’ show filming.Even the local police minister has decided not to support a national approach to organised crime.What does that tell you?

    WA is happy to have this billboard up.It suits the local mindset.
    Suburbia is littered with houses sporting roller shutters,security lights and fences, burglar alarms,pit-bulls etc.
    But boy are they scared of refugees.Look at the political mileage the xenophobes get out of the camps over there.Curtin,Northam,Christmas Is etc.
    Abbott is just giving the local community the voice it already has.A redneck one.
    Gillard is no better.Her billboards are government policy.


    • hudsongodfrey April 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm #



      • doug quixote April 23, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

        Up until the last unnecessary two sentences. Can’t help himself.


        • Hypocritophobe April 23, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

          Tell me which Australian government is currently locking up women and children and denying legal aid by stealth?
          Tell me who leads them?
          Tell me whose policy excising the mainland was?
          Tell me which PM has opened more offshore processing centres than Gillard?
          Tell me which PM is expanding Curtin for more women and children to be locked up?
          Tell me DQ.
          Do tell me.


          • hudsongodfrey April 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

            You know the answer because the question is rhetorical!

            here’s another one for you…..

            Tell me what other government we’re likely to get that won’t do likewise or quite likely worse?


            • Hypocritophobe April 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

              Oh no you don’t.
              Does this ALP treat refugees as they should be treated or not?
              And is ‘this treatment’ what the mainstream ALP supporters who voted Howard out, expect?
              Which ALP leader has Australia treating refugees as bad as, or worse, than Howard ever did?
              (Please try really, really hard not to drag in your ‘projection’ of future leaders policies for these Q’s)


              • hudsongodfrey April 23, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

                Oh no I don’t what? Ask the relevant question!

                Why don’t you face facts! Your solution addresses the problem of your own conscience and judgements in relation to our current PM while totally and really quite irresponsibly refusing to even look at what you’re getting us into. And that action has real consequences for real people whose interests you’re ranking secondary to your emotional dummy spit in a way that cannot be condoned.


            • Marilyn April 23, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

              Short of shooting them at the border what could be worse than illegal forced deportations, prisons, abuse and torture.

              Gillard is the only PM who ever used rubber bullets on innocent people.


              • Hypocritophobe April 23, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

                She may also be the only PM who actively oversaw a policy whereby refugees/asylum seekers were not informed that legal representation was available.
                Given she ‘claimed’ to have welfare as the driving force behind her initial policies, I guess that makes her deceptive and duplicitous.Unless of course Marilyn is correct and she is simply a racist pig??
                Or as a last resort defence, perhaps she is a victim of racist union hypnotism.
                (Good luck with that possibility.It did work on DQ,though.)


              • hudsongodfrey April 23, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

                So what Marlyn, are you also joining the ranks of fools who’d blithely have us embrace Abbott?

                As to Rubber Bullets well take a look at the timeline below. I’m just going to suggest that things as bad and many that have been worse have occurred and seem set to continue in some heightened form under Abbott and Morrison….. You ought to be careful what you wish for, if not on your own behalf then at least for the sake of refugees who’re liable to bear the brunt of Abbotts efforts to “stop the boats”.



                • Marilyn April 24, 2013 at 6:44 am #

                  Shut up you moron. Abbott could not be worse than Gillard because he has to bow to the same laws as she eventually does.


                  • hudsongodfrey April 24, 2013 at 9:29 am #

                    No I won’t shut up. It’s called free speech and robust conversation in the marketplace of ideas. You should try it some time if ever you manage to suppress the urge to argue like a fourth grader.

                    Clearly as a schoolchild you skipped class on the day when they taught that governments make the laws as well as abide by them. Several of the issues you’re raising have been back and fourth through the high court and whereas measures like the Malaysian solution were rejected on legal grounds others like some of the deterrent measures could not be.

                    And that legal situation is a pity.

                    But what it means is that Abbott is going to have the capacity, and you know it, to carry on doing exactly what this government has done, pile on TPV’s and ultimately in his desperate quest to keep the impossible promise of turning back boats, make life hell for refugees trying to come here.

                    But you go right on chewing your pencil and skipping classes where anyone ever dares confront you with anything you don’t want to hear.


        • hudsongodfrey April 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

          NO when I say I agree that’s what I mean.


          • doug quixote April 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

            Say what you like; I certainly will. A government has to respond to the situation as it finds it. If a sensible and comprehensive scheme of management is not available due to the numbers in the House of Representatives, and due to an opposition determined to undermine and frustrate the government at every turn, we get what we have now.

            A patchwork system which is unsatisfactory and undesirable is what is left. The Howard government legislation is still in place, and that is what has to be administered.

            There are two main options :

            a) throw your hands in the air and run around squealing about the situation,

            b) get on with making the best of a bad situation.

            There are no solutions, only ways of managing the ongoing situation.


            • Marilyn April 23, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

              Oh fuck off Doug. There is nothing strange about people seeking asylum.

              Jordan manages 2 million refugees without this endless and mindless abuse.


              • Hypocritophobe April 23, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

                DQ is a sock puppet ‘pro-Howard refugee policy’ tool.
                A fisherman with a small worm.

                Gillard could have actively chosen to be ‘the opposite’ to coalition policy on asylum seekers,but she did not.
                She ‘did not’ because she saw hate-peddling as politically profitable.And having a racist red-neck union, ‘having her back’ helped immensely.
                That is it,in a a nut(job)shell.
                The Australian electorate are champing at the bit to ‘under-mind’ her.


            • hudsongodfrey April 23, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

              I say as I have done because I think Gillard has compromised on this issue against her own better interests, as well as against any sense of compassion that she’d do better to show as a human being.

              She’s always going to be outflanked on the right by Abbott on this issue so she may as well just do the right thing and stop the policies of deterrence.


              • Hypocritophobe April 23, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

                I cannot believe a smart bloke like you could survive on a diet of 100% fishing tackle.
                Let alone, engage in a pyramid selling scam, pushing it onto others.

                I guess it really does take all kinds.


              • doug quixote April 23, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

                There is no answer to my posts.

                The usual suspects mouth the same inanities as per usual and ad nauseam.

                They should keep running in circles and squealing; it’ll be good practice for them should Abbott and Morrison get in.


                • hudsongodfrey April 23, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

                  Granted, but I think also that stopping that happen is best served by Labor making efforts similar to those I’ve outlined here to pick up their socks.


              • Marilyn April 24, 2013 at 6:45 am #

                No she did not bow down against her will. This vicious policy is one she wrote in 2002 which caused such disgust to the likes of Carmen Lawrence that she quit cabinet.


                • hudsongodfrey April 24, 2013 at 9:41 am #

                  What do you understand by the difference between the word “will” and the term “better interests”?

                  I’m making the argument that it makes sense not to try and outflank an arch conservative Liberal on the right. Its a point about current day political realities and not about Gillard as a person.

                  I can see that I may have confused you by using the name of the leader as a proxy for the party she leads, but as a political position this would clearly stand regardless of who the leader was.

                  I think if that much is clear then it recommends a course of action to be pointed out to whoever in the ALP would listen. And it is a course of action that I hope we’d both approve of.

                  So what remains unclear to me is what there remains about that comment of mine that you would want to attack? And why?


  2. hudsongodfrey April 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Ah Yes Jennifer! But noting the sign Abbott seems to be claiming that the “boats” are illegal rather than the people on them. Cunning Stunt, or just another way of reminding rednecks and bigots whose side he’s on?

    Gillard is a fool on this issue. It doesn’t matter what she does to refugees, short of actually torturing them herself with cattle prods on national television, Abbott is always, always, always going to outflank her on the right. And that’s where the teabaggers live, don’t you know.

    What she might as well do if only out of pure machiavellian political posturing is to visit some of the detention centres have an epiphany and close ’em down. Tap into the sympathies of people like us and she might just look like the sort of woman that Australians needn’t be so ashamed of.


  3. syntheticloveblog April 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    I vote we pass the hat around towards the noble cause of getting Hypocritophobe his or her very own blog so he/she can vituperate eloquently and repeatedly on whatever his or her current pet peeve is and thus leave the other dear readers a bit more space in which to think about the actual contents of the article (I just can’t seem to find WA anywhere) before composing and submitting a witty, while at once telling and insightful response.


    • samjandwich April 23, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      I used to agitate for just such a cause, but latterly have come to the position that, if quality is more important than quality, then we all just about cancel each other out in the visibility stakes. Viva la difference!


      • doug quixote April 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

        Quantity is excessive. Never mind the quality, feel the width.


    • Hypocritophobe April 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      And I vote you ‘man’ up.The photo was taken in WA.
      The story was on national TV last night, stating it was WA.
      The politicians with Abbott are West Australian politicians, standing with him in WA
      Because most of the asylum seeker boats head closest to WA and because a boat arrived in the midwest (Geraldton) of WA, Abbott decided to launch his vile Tea Party one billboard campaign there.
      You don’t have to use facts or your powers of deduction, but if you did, your point scoring crusade from behind a banal fake site, to hide another one of your multiple pseudonyms, would look more appealing.
      Which is worse, the truth or the inability to handle it?
      Because, my ‘funny’ friend, that is your huge intellectual challenge, which personally I doubt you have the ticker to face.


    • Hypocritophobe April 23, 2013 at 6:09 pm #



  4. samjandwich April 23, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    “18C Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin

    (1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

    (a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people;”
    18D Exemptions

    Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith:

    (a) in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or

    (b) in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or

    (c) in making or publishing:

    (i) a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or

    (ii) a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.”

    I call bad faith! Can you go to hell for that?

    Or am I to conclude that his relationship with his god is similarly unfaithful?


  5. Marilyn April 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    There is also the small fact that the refugee convention is enshrined in our law at Articles 36 and 65 of the Migration act and has been since 1992.

    But why would any of the rancid racist cowards in our parliament ever bother with such trifles.

    Their silence in the face of our shocking abuse of innocent people says more about their own revolting cowardice than anything else.


    • Hypocritophobe April 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      And the other small fact that this govt hassled to become a player on the UN security council.

      “Their silence in the face of our shocking abuse of innocent people says more about their own revolting cowardice than anything else.”
      Sadly they have strong voter support in the strangest of places,by the most (alleged) intellectual of people.


  6. Marilyn April 23, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    “60 In any event, while it is literally correct to describe the applicant as an “unlawful” entrant and an “unlawful non-citizen” that is not a complete description of his position. The nomenclature adopted under the Act provides for the description of persons as “uinlawful non-citizens” because they arrived in Australia without a visa. This does not fully explain their status in Australian law as such persons are on-shore applicants for protection visas on the basis that they are refugees under the Refugees Convention.
    61 The Refugees Convention is a part of conventional international law that has been given legislative effect in Australia: see ss 36 and 65 of the Act. It has always been fundamental to the operation of the Refugees Convention that many applicants for refugee status will, of necessity, have left their countries of nationality unlawfully and therefore, of necessity, will have entered the country in which they seek asylum unlawfully. Jews seeking refuge from war-torn Europe, Tutsis seeking refuge from Rwanda, Kurds seeking refuge from Iraq, Hazaras seeking refuge from the Taliban in Afghanistan and many others, may also be called “unlawful non-citizens” in the countries in which they seek asylum. Such a description, however, conceals, rather than reveals, their lawful entitlement under conventional international law since the early 1950’s (which has been enacted into Australian law) to claim refugee status as persons who are “unlawfully” in the country in which the asylum application is made.
    62 The Refugees Convention implicitly requires that, generally, the signatory countries process applications for refugee status of on-shore applicants irrespective of the legality of their arrival, or continued presence, in that country: see Art 31. That right is not only conferred upon them under international law but is also recognised by the Act (see s 36) and the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) which do not require lawful arrival or presence as a criterion for a protection visa. If the position were otherwise many of the protection obligations undertaken by signatories to the Refugees Convention, including Australia, would be undermined and ultimately rendered nugatory.
    63 Notwithstanding that the applicant is an “unlawful non-citizen” under the Act who entered Australia unlawfully and has had his application for a protection visa refused, in making that application he was exercising a “right” conferred upon him under Australian law.”
    Now those four paragraphs make the law pretty clear and that was upheld by three more judges in the Full Court of the Federal court in April 2003 after Akram had been deported.

    So far so good on the “unlawful” = “illegal” story.

    So let’s wander off to the High Court appeal which became Behrooz, Al Kateb and Al Khafaji and have a look at the meaning of “unlawful”.

    GUMMOW J: What is the baggage of the word “unlawful”?
    MR BENNETT: Your Honour, none. It is a word used in a definition provisi, it is simply a defined phrase. It is not a phrase which necessarily involves the commission of a criminal offence.
    “GUMMOW J: What is the force of the word “unlawful”?
    MR BENNETT: It is merely a word which is used in a definition section, your Honour.
    GLEESON CJ: Does it mean without lawful permission?
    MR BENNETT: Yes, that is perhaps the best way of paraphrasing – – –
    GUMMOW J: But in the Austinian sense that is meaningless, is it not?
    MR BENNETT: Yes, your Honour. The draftsperson of the Act is not necessarily taken to be familiar with the – – –
    GUMMOW J: Well, perhaps they ought to be.”
    Wow, so the word unlawful is legally meaningless.


    • doug quixote April 23, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

      Very good Marilyn. It needs to be stated and restated.


  7. Anonymous April 23, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    All about “floating signifiers”, words in common usage that migrate from their original meaning to be employed to signify other, even contrary things,in discourse at a given moment.
    “Illegal” as to arrivals would have once referred to say, a sailor jumping ship in Fremantle, maybe to flog counterfeit Swiss watches, now it is coded dog whistle for refugees.
    Likewise “terrorist”. People with psychological problems or chips on their shoulder who machine gun people in movie theatres are not regarded as terrorists,unless they are also foreigners. With the lads who did the Boston bombing, for example it is arguable that they were behaving as they were because of their youth and a generalised sense of alienation, like the recent massacres in the US where guns rather than bombs were employed. US rather than in pursuit of a clearly thought out political agenda, although these men were nominally Muslims and ethnic and religious issues played a part in their thinking, such as it was.
    On another level you could ask why the two brothers are terrorists and not people in Colorado who fire off weapons from drones that kill children.
    Terrorist is an emotive word, if you “own” the rights to the word in public discourse, as the political populist conservatives seem to have with such words just now, your freedom fighter may in deed be someone else’s terrorist, but only if your credibility is the last word in credibility. But a lot can be done to achieve many ends with a such a credibility, which is why spin doctors have such value in today’s world.
    On the one hand a terrorist is someone who indiscriminately kills people regardless of whether they are involved in a conflict, yet if the state kills the innocent it matters differently to whether an individual killed combatants or non combatants.
    I always enjoyed the French writer Roland Barthes’ explanation of how it works in his famous essay, “Mythologies”, but it’s complicated and easily Googleable ( so to speak, which just means locatable ), so will let further inquiry remain at the discretion of other posters.


  8. paul walter April 23, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    Of course, the most obvious contradiction rests in that much cited anomaly that operates between airport arrivals and boat arrivals. For various reasons, boat asylum seekers have some people foam at the mouth, yet these people will not be bothered by people doing the same thing by air.
    People on boats are seen as “untrustworthy” and put through things we’d howl with rage over were it done to us. It must be seen by some that airports offer a “choke”on the sheer numbers of people arriving in a year,
    yet any one getting off a plane could disappear easily into the community and bide their time undetected, if they meant grief for others.


  9. samjandwich April 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    Hello Wednesday,

    Ok, I’ll grant this is a little insensitive to a lot of people. nonetheless on the subject of the Australian government’s approach to asylum seekers I don’t think it’s unreasonable to point to a strong phenomenological similarity between this:

    Click to access ccs-info-service-providers.pdf

    and this:


    • hudsongodfrey April 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

      Okay so in a way you’ve linked to the wrong thing if you want to make your point clear by the second link, (you just need to go back a page to the one with a little writing giving the image context).

      It does make it a bit harder messing about trying to guess someone’s point even if they do think the issue is too sensitive to approach directly. I’d really be interested though if you were able to put a few more words around the ideas you’ve had that make it clear why these things are linked to asylum seekers.


      • samjandwich April 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

        Sorry I am a little opaque at times, but how about “we’ll fuck you up, then we’ll make a cursory and insulting attempt to tell you how you can expunge your fucked-uppedness, but doing what we say”

        Yes I know it’s drawing a long bow… but it does seem that subjecting people to mental torture, then offering them assistance to get over it is somewhat akin to a rapist telling the person they’ve just raped to “clean themselves up”.

        I’m just trying not to beat around the bush about how serious I think it is that we would incarcerate asylum-seekers in places like Nauru, on the basis of a pretence.


        • hudsongodfrey April 24, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

          Thanks Sam, at least I’m starting to follow where you’re headed with that now.

          I’ve posted that link because the one you gave was pitched to service providers and what I wanted to say and indeed what you had to say kind of doesn’t gel with because we’re concerned with the message we’re giving to service recipients, aka refugees.

          As for whether it really says we’ll abuse you then we’ll tell you how to clean yourself up (or words to that effect), I don’t think its that blatant but there’d be a sense of cognitive dissonance I’m sure for refugees who don’t quite understand the mixed messages that they’d be getting within a relatively short time of arriving in Australia.

          I hope refugees are given to understand that they’re liable to be treated differently by different people at various different times, and process that a little better. Better that is than being treated one way by an abuser one minute and then expected to forget the whole thing the next, as sexual abuse victims seem to be trying to convey in that collection of photographs. Sadly refugees like all migrants also have to deal with the fact that Australians in general have quite conflicted attitudes towards immigrants of any kind and maybe particularly discordant ones about people of their particular colour and/or background.

          Let me also just say that a couple of the refugees I’ve known closely enough that they were willing to share their stories with me told me of horrors that I sincerely and respectfully think put most cases of sexual abuse in the shade*. So I don’t know about those still coming today, but I’m sure if I neglected to mention it that people working in the immigration department complex case support area** would point out some of what messes these people up starts a long time before they arrive here.

          I think we all know that our adding to it is very wrong indeed and not in the least bit excused by those observations. I argue that I wouldn’t do it to my friends who came as refugees and therefore condemn long term detention in the strongest possible terms.

          A possible difference is that a nation of people isn’t as singularly abusive as a rapist is, and I hope when they do arrive the existence of at least this support can be seen as some kind of positive as can the many kindnesses small and large done for refugees by those of us Aussies who aren’t racists.

          *Some of those stories themselves involved rape, and needless to say much worse things, but they aren’t my stories to tell and I didn’t want to stray off topic.

          ** Complex Case Support is a sincerely weaselly name for a department. Why not call it what it is, Refugee Support? It’s as if there’s something shameful about our humanitarian programs.


          • paul walter April 24, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

            I might have misconstrued it for an enlightened counselling program- in some cases it may well be that- but the circumstances surrounding asylum seeker detention over the last decade and a half are so problematic that sam jamwich’s contention that the glossy has been part of a snow-job is actually quite tenable.
            hudson’s comments were constructive, including the elaboration on the second link.
            Nice that things are less adversarial than usual.


            • hudsongodfrey April 24, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

              Thanks for saying so and to Sam for venturing the thought. I’m not for a moment saying that our detention regime isn’t repugnant by the way, perhaps more so in the light of what some refugees have already endured. I do however also think that we have to be pretty careful about the analogies that are drawn at times in terms of what we can see less sympathetic others twisting them to say.

              But yes it’s a relief when your meaning isn’t being twisted by others even for the briefest time.


          • Marilyn April 24, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

            That is only support for those we invite here as migrants, asylum seekers who come by boat get zero.


            • paul walter April 25, 2013 at 2:16 am #

              Even worse, then.
              We present a civilised front, that’s the main thing!


            • hudsongodfrey April 25, 2013 at 10:27 am #

              CCS has three main client groups:

              Refugee entrants
              Special Humanitarian Program entrants
              Protection visa holders and persons who hold or have held a Temporary Protection visa.

              From the website


              • Hypocritophobe April 25, 2013 at 10:43 am #

                So if what Marilyn says is true, ASIO ans others use the ‘small print’ to deny access to this.Which is precisely why the ‘access to legal representation’ is (probably) deliberately not mentioned unless it is specifically asked for.
                Look how quick the group of Sri Lankans was sent back.
                Surely refugee advocates MUST be present to ensure the full right of international law is spelled out to ALL arrivals.Something smells like rotting fish.


                • paul walter April 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

                  Good posting, that’s exactly it, in the underlying macro.


                • hudsongodfrey April 26, 2013 at 11:48 am #

                  Well if the website is true then the people we’re denying these services are limited to those in detention and those who we do send back.

                  I recall hearing or reading somewhere that there are medical services provided within the detention facilities, but clearly they’re inadequate in terms of what we know about detentions’ damaging effect on people’s mental health.

                  So they’re valid points you’re making but they’d be rightly directed in different areas. Areas which Sam rightly points out may be working against one another. Detention centres seem to say to CSS, “we mess ’em up then you fix ’em up!” and that coming from two departments within the same government should clearly be seen as both morally questionable and rather hypocritical. Otherwise we can’t take Sam’s point as it was meant.

                  What ASIO and others are conspiring to deny some asylum seekers is access to Australian residency even if they do qualify as refugees. The secrecy around ASIO doing so raises suspicions that they’re doing it to deny as many as possible this status.

                  Whereas the point you’re raising about Sri Lankans is slightly different because in order to ensure that only real refugees take advantage of asylum we have at some point to be able to reject claims that are less than genuine. Apparently we’ve done this with Sri Lankans but done it in a way that denies them any right of appeal to what is a departmental decision rather than a legal hearing. Justice is therefore not seen to be done, and as long as we know that’s what we’re critical of that’s fine. I think some people tend to confuse deference towards protecting people who come to us for help with something like the presumption of innocence provisions of criminal law, simply because denial of refugee status and therefore residency is seen as the kind of adverse outcome that mirrors a conviction. Whereas under any other circumstances rocking up without a visa may entitle a non refugee to no special consideration or sympathy whatsoever.

                  I don’t think we should approach things so negatively as to forget that it is a very good thing that Australia is a signatory to refugee conventions and maintains an active humanitarian program. The unique problem that we do have is a historical perception problem with boats from the north and racist attitudes to their occupants. It has lead us to a position where the observations we’d make about the assessment procedures for asylum seekers and how their implemented are laced with distrust for people who are clearly operating within one part of the humanitarian program in a very inhumane fashion. There’s no doubt in those terms that Sam had a point. When it comes to making decisions about who does and doesn’t get accepted we have rightly come to distrust everyone from public servants and private companies who subject asylum seekers to harsh deterrents, to ASIO for their unaccountable secrecy, to the very public themselves who continue to elect governments that keep enacting the same cruel policies.

                  And we’re not going to get away from that within the space of the time between now at the next election.


    • Hypocritophobe April 24, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

      Not sure about that nexus….
      But I do know that Australians spend a lot of time moaning about those worse off than them,who get assistance of any kind.We whinge about welfare recipients and refugees etc.More-so if it involves indigenous people,foreigners or those with darker skin than theirs.
      There are also plenty of these attitudes being imported from White S Africa and in smaller doses, from parts of Europe, as these newcomers enforce their views on the communal thinking.There is apparently no honeymoon period whereby the new arrival bigots wait to assimilate.
      It’s funny how those sorts of views are not challenged,even though the SA ones crreate mega-dramas in the top end where many have acquired cattle stations where indigenous people interact with land on cattle leaseholds.Barry Court (brother of ex premier Richard Court) arranged for hundreds of these farmers to invade WA and NT in the 1990’s and 2000’s.The social consequences are growing as the attitudes pervade local councils,and other positions of power and business.
      In short we are big on noticing dark skin culture and condemning the sub cultures they bring, and demand they assimilate on our terms and abandon their religious beliefs,dress codes etc, but turn a blind eye to a little bit of Apartheid in our own backyard.
      And with two Tea Parties playing the race card, for political gain, it aint getting better any-time soon.


      • Marilyn April 26, 2013 at 6:19 am #

        And now Ranjini’s children are both suffering from PTSD in prison at the ages of 9 and 7.


  10. Hypocritophobe April 26, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Latest development


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