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Australia's Having Trouble Shirking Refugee Responsibility

November 13, 2001 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Australia's Having Trouble Shirking Refugee Responsibility
In a sure sign of desparation, AU has approached TV (Tuvalu) about taking 1000 refugees in exchange for aid. They were rebuffed, for what should be obvious reasons. Its the same deal they've shopped around to PNG, FJ, and just about every Pacific island country since the refugees' boat caught fire near CX. PNG has already agreed to detain and process asylum requests on Manus. And the ultimate destination of the Tampa refugees was Nauru. Using Pacific island countries as chess pieces in the political calculations just isn't working -- I think it's highly revealing of AU attitudes toward the Pacific and asylum-seekers.
posted by rschram (55 comments total)

 
Particularly revealing sending 1,000 refugees to sink with the rest of the population of Tuvalu
posted by Voyageman at 11:51 AM on November 13, 2001


Why not you take some in ?
posted by Postroad at 11:54 AM on November 13, 2001


USA Having Trouble Shirking Mexican Responsibility

"Why not take some in?"

Aack. I'm hacked off by this so I'm about to be incoherent.
Australia takes a generous quota of UN refugees every year.
Have you stopped to think that Oz has limited resources for coping with dispossessed people? And that the process of sorting out genuine refugees from queue-jumpers is a long and costly one?
Why should Australia be "responsible" for these boatloads of people because they happen to be closest?
Is it suspicious how these boats catch on fire/start sinking just within 'cooee' of the Aussie coastguard?

Gah. *spit**spit*
posted by Catch at 12:19 PM on November 13, 2001


Why it is Australia's responsisblity to take in anyone who wants to come in?

Why not, say, Sweden? From what I so often hear from Swedes and American leftists, they have a standard of living higher than the U.S. I'm sure the refugees would be most happy to make a home there and share their wealth.

Any Swedish MeFis here? Think you can take in a few?


And to head off the inevitable PC Police, I'm not against immigration - it's what makes America so great. I am, however, against the way "third way" countries like Sweden are so fond of lecturing others about their responsibilities to the world's downtrodden. It's real easy to have a paternalistic federal government when you have a national family tree that runs in a straight line.

posted by nobody_knose at 12:37 PM on November 13, 2001


Uh, I meant "Why is it...", not "Why it is..."
posted by nobody_knose at 12:40 PM on November 13, 2001


Have you stopped to think that Oz has limited resources for coping with dispossessed people?

I'd be surprised if the Pacific Islands Oz is shoving them to do.
Come on Catch, the Netherlands, you know, that tiny dot on the map is flooded by legal/illegal refugees every day.

We all have the same problems. The way Australia is dealing with refugees nowadays is , well almost xenophobic.
posted by ginz at 12:41 PM on November 13, 2001


Ginz: Sweden has a shit-load of refugees, accepts political exiles, etc. Other evil, socialist, european countries as well.
posted by signal at 12:42 PM on November 13, 2001


Signal: I know, you beat me to it
posted by ginz at 12:50 PM on November 13, 2001


There's a big difference between occasionally accepting high-profile political exiles and accepting boatloads (literally) of refugees. It's not even close.
posted by nobody_knose at 12:52 PM on November 13, 2001


woops, sorry ginz, i mixed you up with nobody-knose. my bad!

nobody-knose: dude, stop picking on Sweden, it doesn't accept just "high-profile" people, but lots and lots of all kinds of people. It has the 3rd highest population of Chileans (after Chile & Argentina) in the world, and trust me, there's nothing "high-profile" about most of them. Quite the opposite. Almost any European country you go to is radically multi-cultural, both intra- and extra-european, and accepts skads of refugees. Stop making things up.
posted by signal at 12:57 PM on November 13, 2001


Yes indeed there is.
Only nobody here is talking about exclusively accepting political refugees.
posted by ginz at 12:58 PM on November 13, 2001


There was a BBC interview last week with a bunch of grizzled ranchers in the outback. "These bloody immigrants: where are we going to put them? First 400, then it'll be four million. We'll be overrun."

Coming from the same town as Captain bloody Cook, I couldn't help but see a certain irony. Anyway, this editorial from The Australian covers both the raw figures and the context in pretty good detail:

Australia is a great immigrant and refugee country now looking mean; it has a long record of regional co-operation but now looks somewhat isolated; it has enjoyed a constructive role at the UN but now appears thrown on to the defensive; it has more secure borders than most other nations but seems beset by a bout of insecurity; and it has a domestic history of managing immigration policy in an enlightened fashion but now seems to have lapsed into an insularity that reflects an older character trait.
posted by holgate at 1:08 PM on November 13, 2001


I admit to ignorance on politics of immigration and asylum. What I find most troubling is AU's heavy hand with Pacific states.

BBC: [Population density in TV is] 403 people per square kilometre compared to 2.4 people to every square kilometre in Australia.

You could say that Howard should stop playing domestic politics and accept the refugees because they're debtors to TV already.

Irene Drewen, self-employed: "Mi laikim ol long stap. Mi bilip olsem ol people blong Manus inap long halpim ol sapos ol i larim yumi halpim ol." (Let them stay. I believe the people of Manus can help them if they let us). [Manus, PNG, October 28, 2001]
posted by rschram at 1:09 PM on November 13, 2001


I admit to ignorance on politics of immigration and asylum. What I find most troubling is AU's heavy hand with Pacific states.

BBC: [Population density in TV is] 403 people per square kilometre compared to 2.4 people to every square kilometre in Australia.

You could say that Howard should stop playing domestic politics and accept the refugees because they're debtors to TV already.

Irene Drewen, self-employed: "Mi laikim ol long stap. Mi bilip olsem ol people blong Manus inap long halpim ol sapos ol i larim yumi halpim ol." (Let them stay. I believe the people of Manus can help them if they let us). [Manus, PNG, October 28, 2001]
posted by rschram at 1:10 PM on November 13, 2001


"Come on Catch, the Netherlands, you know, that tiny dot on the map is flooded by legal/illegal refugees every day. "
Whaddaya want, a medal?

"Blah blah...Pacific Islands Oz is shoving them to...blah"
Nauru is being paid by the Australian Gov.t to keep the Tampa people. It looks like being a small revenue source for them when the bird poop runs out. And can you explain to me how you think Australia could "shove" any immigrants onto an unwilling nation?
and once again, how are these boatloads of people Australia's responsibility?

Total sidenote:
During the Tampa scandale there was an official from the Nauru gov.t here (NZ) who made a quip to the press along the lines of 'maybe we'll put them to work to build a golf course'. Of course, the official disownment came speedily. Hilarious, but you had to be here, I guess. I'm inclined to move there myself if I could think of some industry to start-up. They already have a hotel, though.
posted by Catch at 1:13 PM on November 13, 2001


And can you explain to me how you think Australia could "shove" any immigrants onto an unwilling nation?

They wouldn't "shove" ... but AU has put every option on the table except providing refuge to the boat people themselves. It's a deal at least one unlucky Pacific nation will accept because AU holds the purse strings.

[A]nd once again, how are these boatloads of people Australia's responsibility?

Something about being a voting member of the UN...
posted by rschram at 1:23 PM on November 13, 2001


I know next to nothing about this, but this is MeFi so I'll add something:

Hasn't Australia signed the same treaty as most other nations regarding political refugees? I believe the humane course of action in these cases is to let them in, sort them out, accept the political refugees, and send the rest back. Aren't there international protocols for this?
posted by cell divide at 1:26 PM on November 13, 2001


"[A]nd once again, how are these boatloads of people Australia's responsibility?

Something about being a voting member of the UN..."

[d]on't be coy, rschram. [w]hat exactly about being a voting member of the [un] makes these people Australia's responsibility?

Australia has an agreement with the UN to take in refugees.
These people are not UN refugees.
Strive for better arguments than relying on "something about" and my typing errors.
posted by Catch at 1:36 PM on November 13, 2001


I think it's highly revealing of AU attitudes toward the Pacific and asylum-seekers.

I would like to raise a hand here and say the AU Government, not necessarily the entirety of the population.

Please note we just went through an election that, on a seat by seat basis, was pretty much borderline. Plus, the green party, with their anti-government-outlook stance on boat-people received more votes this year than ever before.
posted by Neale at 1:48 PM on November 13, 2001


Now, Australia's had its periods of xenophobia, but lately they've been much more interested in being involved as a regional power (rather than seeing themselves as a geographically-challenged little brother of the English-speaking world), ready to work in organizations like APEC and deal with neighbors like Indonesia, e.g. heading up the UN mission to East Timor. So I give them points for improvement -- and, given these times, full recognition that I'm judging them at a point when the US itself is in a near-complete immigration moratorium.

Certainly this is not a unique problem. The Chunnel has turned into a virtual underground railway to England for immigrants from parts of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. They try all sorts of ingenious ways to sneak onto the freight trains going through -- sometimes an entire family is found strapped to the bottoms of train cars. It's crazy.

One of Australia's problems here is simply being a continental nation: its entire national border is at sea. That means pitiful images of broken-up boats trying to get in being challenged by state-of-the-art naval vessels. The US has a land border that is theoretically (though far from practically) as secure as a prison wall, and we've been there with the boat people thang as well. The solution -- whether Cuba, Haiti, or South Asians via Indonesia -- has to lie in the source, preventing people from needing to leave.

The US has the same principle in mind, that illegal immigrants, if admitted, take "slots" from legal immigrants. The term Australia's been using is "line-jumpers".

Keep in mind, too, that Australia's land area is enormous, but its population is only about 11% that of the United States -- roughly the size of California.

There was a nice quote by Musharraf. Pakistan already has some 3 million Afghan refugees, he noted, and he'd take more if he were paid $150/day apiece. Refugees are a problem for a lot of countries, one reason there's a UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Not because refugees are pitiful people who need tents and drinking water, which they often do, but because they're a huge burden on neighboring nations -- and with modern transportation networks, sometimes nations not so nearby.
posted by dhartung at 2:22 PM on November 13, 2001


I would like to raise a hand here and say the AU Government, not necessarily the entirety of the population.

Agreed, good point. I wouldn't want to commit the sin of an undistributed middle term. (e.g. Australia has an agreement with the UN to take in refugees. These people are not UN refugees.)

Dhartung, your response sets a few facts down that do clarify the complexity of the situation. I still think that whatever cost the government of AU ultimately might pay, it would be much higher if TV, FJ, Kiribati, Nauru, or PNG has to pay it. If one, as did Musharraf, equates the cost of refugees with a dollar value, then certainly the government of AU thinks it's getting a bargain by setting a policy precedent of shipping refugees to other countries in exchange for assistance.

Upon reflection, I have to admit that the avidity of some Pacific governments is partly encouraging AU in this matter. I would speculate that FJ is balking because it doesn't want AU to keep sending new refugees their way in future. I'm sure they could use the money. Others, like Palau and Kiribati, are happy to step in. My central point remains. The government of AU treats the Pacific islands like shit.
posted by rschram at 2:50 PM on November 13, 2001


As said above Australia has signed UN treatys to take in refuges. The aus govt says they will take in rufuges as long as they come through the proper channels, so what are they proper channels? Is there an office in pakistan that afghan refuges can go to apply to come to aus as a refuge?
I saw a program (i think it was the aussie 60 minutes) on tv, (i know not the most reliable source of info) where the reporter interviewed refuges waiting in indonesia to come illegally to aus. the refuges stated that there is a phone number they have to call to apply for refuge status and be allowed into aus, and that phone number is in another country.... because aus doesn't have a imigration office in indonesia....
i may be wrong, cause we all know what tv reporting is like, but doesn't it seem like a good way to stop refuges illegally comming to aus would be to have them apply and be processed in countries like Indonesia, pakistan....

another note...
The argument that aus doesn't have enough resources and space for these people is utter bullshit. People in rural (and the bloody national party) area's are always complaining about hows there towns are going downhill becuase of lack of people. Im sure these refuges would be more then happy to live in rural area's and contribute to these communitys.
I believe we in privilged world have a responsibilty to help the people in unpriviliged world, and Australia is failing in doing so at the moment. How ironic that we are involved in a war with Afghanistan, but wont take displaced Afghan people.
posted by Burgatron at 3:03 PM on November 13, 2001


Why not take them to Tampa, if that's the ship's name? That's the base station for Central Command. I'm sure they can make some space in the MacDill area. Refugees with a car: please note the warnings about parking at MacDill Motel.
posted by mmarcos at 3:13 PM on November 13, 2001


I am continually astounded by one particular aspect of this debate... a particular aspect which gets overlooked time and time again-
WHO IS A REFUGEE?
United Nations High Commision for Refugees-
According to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."

When these individuals leave their country to flee to Indonesia under this convention they can be considered refugees (depending, of course, on whether their fear of persecution is well founded or not).

However, having arrived at the safe haven of Indonesia they have the right to apply for refugee status within that country. When they leave Indonesia they are no longer leaving it as refugees because they have absolutely no basis to fear persecution within Indonesia. They are making an immigration decision to pay exhorbitant amounts of money to get on those leaky boats and try to make it into Australia illegaly.

According to the Indonesian rep of the UNHCR 14% of refugees who arrive in Indonesia apply for refugee status.... 14%. Of the ones who have serious contact with the UNHCR office there 40% are granted refugee status- ie. only 40% are considered by the UNHCR to be genuine refugees.

How many of these illegal immigrants who arrive on Australian shores are offered refugee status here in Australia? 85%.

Those 'refugees' who arrive in Indonesia are perfectly entitled to seek refugee status there. The moment they leave the safe haven where they arrived after fleeing persecution they are no longer refugees or asylum seekers.

And for every single one of them who arrives on Australian soil and who is granted refugee status here one of these people will never have the same opportunity

I am all for Australia taking in more genuine refugees- let's just make sure we are taking the people who can't afford to make their own way to a country of safe refuge and then make an economic immigration decision to come to Australia as can all of those people who get on those boats.

PS.Im sure these refuges would be more then happy to live in rural area's and contribute to these communitys
How many refugees do you know who live in Rural Australia????
posted by Danielle_T at 3:47 PM on November 13, 2001


If you want to live in Australia and you're a world-class athlete or sportsman, we'll have you. If you're a battered, worthless, rag-wearing scab on a boat then we don't want you. That is, essentially, the Australian immigration policy of 2001. Using relatively poor South Pacific nations as a dumping ground for the world's dispossessed is a mean and tricky stunt. Australia's leaders like to think of themselves as religious men and women, so I ask, what would Jesus do in a situation such as this?

The Australian government recently claimed they were told that refugees were throwing their children overboard in an attempt to thwart efforts to turn a vessel back into international waters. When the truth was revealed, the Prime Minister was forced to admit he was relying on third-hand information from a conversation heard at a function! It turned out that the video footage showing the children being thrown overboard featured no children being thrown overboard, although some adults clearly jumped. Immigration issues aside, what angers me most is the manipulation and disinformation employed in this campaign against the refugees. You can make your feelings heard on the issue here.
posted by skinsuit at 4:11 PM on November 13, 2001


third-hand information from a conversation heard at a function!

????

The news reports which I heard and read were saying that the navy had reported it to him. In fact the SMH reported that the Navy admitted that they have given him the advice. If the PM is expected to check out every report given to him by part of our national defence structures then he may as well stop running the country now and start chasing up reports left, right and centre.

As for Australia not taking in the world's dispossessed... as I mentioned before, we grant refugee status to 85% of those who arrive on our shores (including those who arrive illegally)... a figure much higher than many other countries.
posted by Danielle_T at 4:36 PM on November 13, 2001


I will explain Australia's current feellings towards refugees especially from Middle Eastern countries in very simple terms that all should undertstand ( I myself am not this paranoid ) but the majority of the Australian population seems to be as proven by the fact that the Howard government was re-elected.

SEPTEMBER 11TH 2001.
posted by Zool at 4:39 PM on November 13, 2001


Ah, this old chestnut.

All I can say is that I have said my piece before. I reiterate, it is up to Australians to decide what the criteria are for valid entry to their country. Period. Full stop.

On the other hand, the fact that Australians feel they are under "attack" by immigrants, is by comparison with the rest of the world, unfounded.

As a matter of fact, they are so happy with the current policy, that their previous Prime Minister, John Howard, was re-elected on such a premise (and the other contender, Kim Beazley, wasn't).

The only problem that I have ever had is that the Australian media, and as a result, the possibly uninformed lay-person, had the tendency to mix together 9/11 with the boat people situation.
posted by davehat at 5:04 PM on November 13, 2001


I'm not sure if you are referring to me when you say that some Australians feel they are under attack by immigrants, but if you are then you are certainly wrong. Australia is a multi-cultural nation and I love it that way. I certainly encourage immigration into this nation through the legal channels

My problem with this whole 'boat-people' issue is that for every one of the illegal immigrants who come via Indonesia and seek refugee status here (remembering that 85% of them are granted it) then one of the genuine refugees elsewhere in the world, who can't afford their next drink of water let alone a trip halfway across the world to Indonesia and then a journey on a leaky boat to Australia, will never be granted the opportunity to seek refuge here.

As I have said on numerous occassions- I am all for the Aus't gov't raising the number of refugees we take each year... I just want to make sure we are helping the ones who are completely dispossesed and destitute rather than the ones who have found refuge and are now making an economic immigration decision.
posted by Danielle_T at 5:21 PM on November 13, 2001


Keep in mind, too, that Australia's land area is enormous, but its population is only about 11% that of the United States -- roughly the size of California.

Open up an encyclopedia, look for "Australia", and tell us all how much of that land is actually inhabitable.
posted by Jase_B at 5:33 PM on November 13, 2001


Jase_B: Open up an encyclopedia, look for "Australia", and tell us all how much of that land is inhabitable.

Even discounting the places that some people find inhabitable, but I might not, there is plenty of land spare in Australia, by anyones stretch of the imagination.

You do not have to disprove this. Australia's attitude to immigrants is reflected both by the choice of elected leader and the guy who came second.

Please don't try and claim your country is full, I just spent several months traveling round it and there are millions of acres to spare.

The fact is, you don't have to spare them if you don't want to. And you (collectively) don't.
posted by davehat at 5:43 PM on November 13, 2001


i am so ashamed of my country at the moment.....
posted by endorwitch at 5:57 PM on November 13, 2001


endorwitch: So am I.
posted by deanburge at 6:28 PM on November 13, 2001


So, you hear the one about the "White Australia" immigration policy that wasn't ended until December of 1972?

Hard to believe that Australia's policies on immigration could attract any negative attention.
posted by NortonDC at 6:56 PM on November 13, 2001


Australia's attitude to immigrants is reflected both by the choice of elected leader and the guy who came second.

Immigrants and Refugees are not the same thing.

If those boatloads of people were coming in as 'immigrants' then that would be one thing. But they aren't coming in as immigrants... they are coming in and seeking refugee status.
posted by Danielle_T at 7:19 PM on November 13, 2001


I have no problem with genuine refugees coming to Australia through the proper channels. I think we have an obligation to help them out. However I wonder if the boat people are genuine refugees. I have heard varying reports that some of the people in these boats are hard core criminals in their own countries which is why they're desperate to get out. And I'm not talking about Afghanistan where a criminal is a woman who is caught talking to a man.
(I'm sorry, I don't have a url to back this up right now)

Also, I'm concerned that these are not the people in the most need from these countries. It costs thousands of dollars to buy your way onto a boat. Only the wealthiest can afford it. They are not the people who have the greatest need. The poor and oppressed should be the people who we take in.

For everybody who thinks Australia should take these people in without another thought, what if it was your country? Don't we have the right to say yes, we will help you, but we need to know something about you, we need you to come through certain channels first. They have a right to our help, but we have a right to protect ourselves as well.

And for everyone who still disagrees, there's something you can do. Pressure your government to take in more refugees yourselves. Unless it's just something that you would like to be another country's problem.
posted by Jubey at 9:06 PM on November 13, 2001


Hmmm, and exactly how many refugees is the US taking this year?

Some of you people are so "intellectual" but only so long as it's nimby (Not In My BackYard).

Oh and for those who were mentioning Sweden it has one of the easiest immigration policies around. Unlike the US.

And to mention xenophobia and Australia in the same sentence while ignoring the rampant xenophobia in the US makes you look somewhat foolish.

Sheesh - there's a thing about stones and glasshouses that some of you need to remember.
posted by Option1 at 9:22 PM on November 13, 2001


while ignoring the rampant xenophobia in the US
I think he means me! I don't blame you Australia, I urge you to drop out of the UN too, all it ever does is drag you into wars anyway.
posted by thirteen at 10:00 PM on November 13, 2001


Option1, you forgot the part where you quoted facts to back up your nimby statement.

Here are some stats:

Total refugee population / total population / percent:
U.S. 481,500 / 271,990,740 / 0.177%
Australia: 16,700 / 18,322,000 / 0.0911%
Sweden: 18,500 / 8,822,000 / 0.209%

The US has about twice as many refugees /capita as australia, and only a hair less than sweden. So I suppose the Americans here can happily complain about xenophobia an oz. Cheers!

:)
posted by phatboy at 10:37 PM on November 13, 2001


I think every country has a responsibility to help out these refugees, not simply the country that happens to be closest.
If you're one of those countries who has put their hand up to help out Indonesia's boat people, you have every right to point the finger. But until then, really, what are your grounds to complain while doing nothing to help yourself?

Australia IS taking in refugees. They're just coming in faster than the system can handle and the boat people are also figuring out ways of achieving their objectives at the detriment of others who are waiting in queues. (like dropping their children in the water. This does nothing to help their cause).

They will now have to wait longer because these people are screwing it up for everyone. Why are their needs more important than other refugees who don't try and get in through the back door? And what gives anyone the right to tell Australia how to handle these affairs? If you really wanted to help, offer to take some of these people yourselves.
posted by Jubey at 10:55 PM on November 13, 2001


a responsibility
I see people throwing this word around, rather than "I think we should" or something similar. Where does this responsibility come from? It really feel like an improper useage. Unless Australia had something to do with displacing these people, they really are not responsible. I assume this will now desend into descriptions of moral responsibility, which I consider to be an equally invalid concept when applied to non-living things like countries.
posted by thirteen at 11:20 PM on November 13, 2001


Three cheers for Australia for what she did for East Timor! Free and happy now, largely thanks to the Aussies. I'm sorry, but picking on Australia, of all countries, and it's par-for-the-course immigration policy, seems a bit pernickety. Australia is, by all accounts, the nearest thing to Paradise on the planet. It's no wonder they want to keep a low profile, else we all moved there tomorrow. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:25 PM on November 13, 2001


There was a BBC interview last week with a bunch of grizzled ranchers in the outback. "These bloody immigrants: where are we going to put them? First 400, then it'll be four million. We'll be overrun."

Coming from the same town as Captain bloody Cook, I couldn't help but see a certain irony.


What irony is that? We have had a negative impact on the land. We pulled out the trees and replaced them with salt pans. Also, there aren't any "ranchers" in Australia. Mention it here, and you would probably get blank stares (unless one has access to US TV, which one generally doesn't, in the outback)

They no doubt interviewed some Jackeroo's, station hand's and farmers out in the outback who may never have visited a big city in their life, went to school by radio until they got permission to leave at the age of twelve, represent part of Australia's history that, whether you like it or not, is slowly dying, and gee, what an easy hit for an foreign camera crew.

BBC: [Population density in TV is] 403 people per square kilometre compared to 2.4 people to every square kilometre in Australia."

Sorry but I must correct what seems to be a basic misunderstanding here. TV isn't taking in these refugees. They are hosting them having offered to do so and being paid for doing so. TV is a desperate country. They have practically no revenue stream and it will soon become virtually zero. A stupid situation, imho, justification being, fwiw, that the Liberal goverment wants these refugees to be processed under UN laws, rather than the less-stringent Australian refugee-processing laws.

I don't think you could put figures on how many people set out for Australia via the dubious services of people smugglers and actually get here, but it would be a sobering percentage indeed. I think we all agree that this is a terrible situation but I'm making this as a side point, because I don't believe that it is the goverment's sole motivation here by any means. But still, all countries could take a bigger role in stopping people smugglers.

Australia is the final stop for refugees. Go any further and you hit ice. You either do that or turn around.

The government of AU treats the Pacific islands like shit.

I strongly disagree with you on this score. Please feel free to render examples with factual merit.

The argument that aus doesn't have enough resources and space for these people is utter bullshit. People in rural (and the bloody national party) area's are always complaining about hows there towns are going downhill becuase of lack of people. Im sure these refuges would be more then happy to live in rural area's and contribute to these communitys.


Burgatron - Oooh no, we have space, plenty of it. You want space? Come to Australia!

The Greens party estimates that the last time Australia had a population that it could natively support was in 1972. You see, space isn't equal. Step out of a thin line of suburbia that reaches around the edge of Australia and whoops, you are in desert! How long does it take me to drive to the desert from my city home? A few hours. People are leaving rural areas because (partly due to globalisation) these rural areas can't support them any more. If they ever could, they are now farmed out.

Yes, let's send the refugees to the DESERT!! That should help them sort out any of these fiddly trauma-related problems they might have. Problem solved!


Davehat - "Please don't try and claim your country is full, I just spent several months traveling round it and there are millions of acres to spare."

This comment is by far the most inaccuarate comment represented in this thread. By all means Davehat, point out where you saw this mystical place. Was it in a National Park? Did you see a place after rain, that looked like a paradise, but only gets rain every twenty years? Go on.

OT - Our environment is stuffed. We have treated it like shit for so many years that the desert has grown (not the nice "living desert, either, but the kind that is a real wasteland, supporting no kind of life) You wonder why so many people voted for the Greens in the election, that would be it.


I will explain Australia's current feellings towards refugees especially from Middle Eastern countries in very simple terms that all should undertstand ( I myself am not this paranoid ) but the majority of the Australian population seems to be as proven by the fact that the Howard government was re-elected.

SEPTEMBER 11TH 2001.


No. This started before then. In the weeks leading up to that event, the newspapers constantly bleated the same headline. "Gang rape cases shock nation" I'm not condoning this by any means. I am trying to set a picture of what has affected the nation's sentiment towards refugees. Any Australians want to disagree with me on this? Can any Australians find a link to these news stories (I can't) Are there any Australians on these boards who are not understanding me (I'm not trying to speak in code, I'm trying to find a news link online)

Also the riots at Woomera. Now I don't take Burgatron's line that we should stuff these people in the desert. I don't think they should be there. They aren't criminals. We here in Australia who are pretty much used to the outback underestimate the feelings of people who come here from crowded countries and want to be close to people who have been through this situation also, who can help them. Yes, some would abscond. But from a humanitarian perspective people would be better off.


As a matter of fact, they are so happy with the current policy, that their previous Prime Minister, John Howard, was re-elected on such a premise (and the other contender, Kim Beazley, wasn't).


I don't think Beazley would have gotten in. This is not the only issue the election was fought on, and unfortunately, I found Beazley to be a dissappointing representative of the party. The trouble was that he really didn't buck Howard enough, but agreed with him on many issues, without seeming to have any of his own. So understand, a lot of people did not vote for Beazely, because his policies were too much like those of Howard's, and that is certainly true of the refugee issue. So don't assume that everyone who wanted Beazely out is against taking in more refugees, likely quite the opposite, they wanted a Labor leader who is capable for standing up for their beliefs and the beliefs of the party.

I've got to this stage, and I've run out of energy to discuss why I think Australia is doing the wrong thing, why I think we should take the refugees (should I in fact need to) I haven't even finished talking about what the average person in the street thinks, or why (people don't seem interested, but I am, how do we battle these problems if we don't know where people are coming from?)
posted by lucien at 11:27 PM on November 13, 2001


You're absolutely right. Responsibility was the wrong word to use. Australia didn't cause this situation, therefore they're not responsible for fixing it at all, and if people are going to take the stance that Australia should do something, then shouldn't all countries be held as equally accountable?

We are simply getting lumped with it because we happen to be the closest, to the point now where boats sink nowhere near Australian waters and we're still told it's all our fault, simply because they drowned trying to get here. Hello, you took that risk in trying to enter a country illegally. Nobody forced you.
posted by Jubey at 11:29 PM on November 13, 2001


You're absolutely right. Responsibility was the wrong word to use. Australia didn't cause this situation, therefore they're not responsible for fixing it at all, and if people are going to take the stance that Australia should do something, then shouldn't all countries be held as equally accountable?

We are simply getting lumped with it because we happen to be the closest, to the point now where boats sink nowhere near Australian waters and we're still told it's all our fault, simply because they drowned trying to get here. Hello, you took that risk in trying to enter a country illegally. Nobody forced you.
posted by Jubey at 11:34 PM on November 13, 2001


sorry.
posted by Jubey at 11:35 PM on November 13, 2001


Danielle_T: Point taken, I omitted the word illegal, which rather invalidates any further points made. Incidentally, none of my comments here are personally targetted at anyone, sorry if you felt that they were.

lucien: This comment is by far the most inaccuarate comment represented in this thread. By all means Davehat, point out where you saw this mystical place. Was it in a National Park? Did you see a place after rain, that looked like a paradise, but only gets rain every twenty years? Go on.

The point of mine you pick up on (which, admittedly, looks ignorant devoid of its surrounding context) was, by any means, rather flipant. Sorry. It was a statement regarding Australia as a whole, all 7,692,030 km² of it, not the 5.3% of it that is national parkland nor the 70% of it that are the range lands, arid, tropical or otherwise.

I certainly wasn't referring to a bit of Australia I saw on some two week trip up the East coast (having said that, there's plenty of space around Nimbin......) and would hope that I am not being seen as someone who is posting in total ignorance.

I am not for one minute suggesting that somewhere such as Ulluru and its surrounds could accomodate one more person than it does already just because the scenery looked a bit green when I went there (which, to my surprise, it did).

As a matter of fact, they are so happy with the current policy, that their previous Prime Minister, John Howard, was re-elected on such a premise (and the other contender, Kim Beazley, wasn't).

Another one of mine. I certainly wasn't trying to imply that Kim Beazley would have been a better leader. I was, again, rather flippantly (must remember to switch my flippant filter on) pointing out that the biggest issue at the Australian election, at least as far as I could make out, was that of illegal immigration. Furthermore, both parties seemed, as you yourself point out, to be trying to get elected with essentially the same stance. Your point that this put many people off voting for him is an incite that I failed to pick up on myself.

Hope that clears up my earlier comments.
posted by davehat at 2:18 AM on November 14, 2001


Wow, please read "insight" for "incite" above. That'll learn me to depend on spell checkers!
posted by davehat at 4:03 AM on November 14, 2001


ginz said "Have you stopped to think that Oz has limited resources for coping with dispossessed people?"

if Oz has limited resources, it wouldn't be throwing millions at poorly resourced countries to get rid of the refugee problem.

if Oz has limited resources, it wouldn't be boasting of a $5.6 billion surplus in the budget. (yet higher education are facing further funding cuts)

lets face it.

policy makers of Oz still live in a WHITE AUSTRALIA, while paying lip service to being a multicultural society

they have nothing to be sorry about.
posted by parameswara at 7:31 AM on November 14, 2001


sorry ginz. i really meant Catch
posted by parameswara at 7:34 AM on November 14, 2001


Holy shit!
Parameswara has proved that Australia has unlimited resources!!
Whoohoo!

Dear australian Gov.t. For Christmas I want a Mercedes Benz and three billiion pineapples. I know this will be no problem as you have unlimited resources.
yours sincerely, GINZ, erm, CATCH.

No more world hunger eh? Party my place everyone.
posted by Catch at 12:09 PM on November 14, 2001


What's in a name, eh? Perhaps I should change my nick, it's seems to be too confusing
posted by ginz at 12:56 PM on November 14, 2001


No, no, although I am sure you would smell as sweet, etc, it's not your nick, it's just that many of us here are easily confused.
(points at self, spins finger around ear)
posted by Catch at 1:18 PM on November 14, 2001


Australian Immigration Official Says AU 'Not Desparate' on Refugee Issue

Whoever said they were? Oh, it was me!

This is the snazzy Immi website for gov.au How can they spend so much money on web designers when they claim they can't take on any new refugees? :)
posted by rschram at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2001


The Australian Prime Minister now entering his third term, John Howard, has described himself as the "most conservative leader the Liberal Party has ever had". [Aside: the "Liberal" Party is not, and probably never has been in any meaningful sense, liberal. They're Republicans, writ small.] The right-wing three-way fracture between the "family values" religious wingnuts, the corporation stooges, and free market ideologues is glaringly obvious in their ranks, and the ideologues like Treasurer Costello usually lose out. The PM stands far over on the wingnut side, with one foot in stooge territory.

He and his fellows are hypocritical, small-minded, ungenerous, and ignorant of science, philosophy, history and literature to the point of constituting an actual serious danger to the Australian way of life.

I don't expect to be believed, yet, and I would love to be proven wrong, but I predict that the worst is yet to come and will come in the form of: gross cuts to publicly funded education, leading to the McDonaldsizing of universities and public schools, and the closure of further arts and research science courses; funding boosts to wingnut factories, ie private schools, bible colleges, 'business colleges' (where 'business' is defined as 'indoctrination into self-centred, greedy, shallow, short-term thinking') and suchlike; removal of unfair dismissal provisions and hiring discrimination protections, and restriction of workers options to collectively bargain; corporate leeching on a grand scale, using the tax system to funnel money from the lower and middle classes' tax payments into the upper classes' pockets; and the worst possibility of all, diplomatic stuff-ups over refugees, religion, and other issues that will lead to hostile relations with Indonesia.

It might start to really suck to be Australian, over the next few years.

Ash.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:34 PM on November 14, 2001


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