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Asylum Solutions: temporary visas with a difference

Anyone who wants to design a solution to the asylum seeker dilemma needs to start by understanding it’s not the product of a single phenomenon: there are five issues, all connected. To create a workable…

As long as push factors such as ongoing civil war in Syria continue, asylum seeker issues will plague Australian politics. EPA / STR

Anyone who wants to design a solution to the asylum seeker dilemma needs to start by understanding it’s not the product of a single phenomenon: there are five issues, all connected. To create a workable policy solution you have to address all five.

The first big issue is the boats: actually it’s not the boats, or the numbers, or even the poor souls dying at sea. It’s that every boat that arrives corrodes the authority and legitimacy of the government.

Since federation in 1901, Australians have wanted their governments to keep our borders “secure”. We had the first federal parliament spending every ounce of its power to work up a deal that would keep out the boats without alienating the British government - we got the White Australia policy as a result.

You can’t turn them around, slow then or stop them unless you have a real alternative in place that deals with subordinate complications that arise from this basic point.

The second issue is our ability to influence the push factors, such as the ongoing violence in places such as Syria, Afghanistan, and the Pakistani city of Quetta, home to the persecuted Hazara minority. Nearly 12 years after our troops first arrived in Afghanistan, Hazaras still form one of the biggest groups of asylum seekers arriving by boat. Given the continuing sectarian attacks on Hazaras, there is not much we can do that is likely to moderate the pressures at this end.

Members of the Hazara ethnic minority have been targeted for attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, causing many to flee and seek asylum. EPA/Musa Farman

The third issue is our waning commitment to the United Nations' refugee convention. We have signed up to a commitment to save the lives of people fleeing for safety and we don’t know how to do it anymore.

Fourth, we have an asylum model that seems designed to annoy everyone involved, from refugee families trying to save their relatives, to the people held hopelessly in camps, to Australian workers forced to act as gaolers for people they are supposed to be succouring, all the way down to the wider Australian population whose callousness blossoms with every iteration of the “get tough” rhetoric.

Finally, we have no way of managing the legitimate claims to filter the potentially overwhelming demand. We are in a situation where a large number of those arriving do not know if they are genuine refugees. Our politicians witter on about a “regional plan” but no-one seems to know what that might really mean, who’ll pay for it, and precisely why the richest nation in the area should be able to outsource its problems to its impoverished neighbours.

So is there any solution to this seemingly never-ending conundrum? There is, but it requires some hard choices and creative thinking on our part.

A proposal

Australia needs to recognise that we will need to increase our intake of refugees to 50,000 people per year for the next five years. In the context of Australia’s total migrant intake of 200,000 people per year, this may be hard, but not impossible. It is however, in the immortal words of Yes Minister’s Sir Humphrey Appleby, politically courageous.

There are alternative solutions to solve the asylum seeker dilemma. AAP/Mark Cairn

We can start by accepting 20,000 people under the family reunion, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and humanitarian-sponsored programs, and not allow these places to be consumed by other arrivals. That leaves another 30,000 to play with.

The critical element for these 30,000 places is they must be made available in a reasonably accessible way, before the frail boat option is all that’s left. Intervention in Jakarta for a process that begins in Quetta is pointless, something the Australian government has refused to recognise for years.

In this scenario, Australia would create something like a bridging visa that could be issued at the point of origin for refugees such as Quetta. The visa would require proof of identity, or good evidence that such proof is not available and some evidence of claim. The Australian authorities issuing the visas would need to work closely with UNHCR to process people, as well as those who are choosing the current UNHCR pathway.

Once in Australia, successful applicants would then be issued with a short-term visa with certain conditions: like a working holiday visa but with some added elements, notably a commitment to leave Australia if found not to be a refugee and to undertake work or training as directed for pay while in Australia.

If deemed a refugee, the arrivals would be allocated a location and work or training for two years under a new national settlement plan that encourages economic enterprise, education and integration. Unsuccessful applicants would be informed as near to the start of the process as possible and sent home or to a port where they have legal access.

These short term permits would allow people to be processed onshore but not affect the existing humanitarian intake. Anyone seeking to arrive without such a permit would be deported or detained.

Leaving any neighbouring country without such a permit would place people at the end of the queue, and they may be placed on Nauru or Manus Island: they can always choose to go back to their last port and apply for a permit. People with a permit would not be placed on Manus Island, Nauru or anywhere else, though they may be sent to specific work locations around Australia (as occurred under the sponsored migration program for decades after World War Two).

Inevitably, there are holes in such a plan - but it at least engages with the key problems in the existing setup. Altogether that has got to be a step ahead of where we are, and we may just surprise ourselves and produce a regional solution out of it that means something.

Join the conversation

236 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. David Paxton

    Veterinarian

    The first sensible proposition I've read. Congratulations.

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  2. Ronald Ostrowski

    logged in via Facebook

    Andrew, you astutely listed the five issues, but I would contend that there is a sixth which needs exploring, and that is the loudly broadcast political debate. There seems to be some assumption that people smugglers, their agents in Australia and the asylum seekers themselves, do not have access to communication outlets which have our old media, the radio hate jocks and the Opposition constantly claiming that the Government has lost control of our borders. Since Abbott and 'I can talk under water" Morrison went into a coalition will the Greens to scuttle the Malaysian Solution they have been out there 24/7 encouraging irregular maritime arrivals. Am I disgusted by this? You betcha I am.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ronald Ostrowski

      Ronald, have a good look at how many boats and people arrived in the six years from 2002 to 2007 and then what occurred afterwrds with Rudd initially at the revoking tiller.
      What's more the idiot was told what would likely happened and what is his glib response now?
      " Oh, my people, my chums, the situation has changed blah blah "
      Of course it is different and he alone drove us to the difference through his egotistical indifference.
      And if you want to be blind to the man'd stupidity, is it because of the flock of birds syndrone!

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, you appear to have the ability to write, which suggests to me that you are not illiterate and therefore you must also have the ability to read.

      Why is it then, that you failed to read the article where it talked about push factors? Or is it that you are such a rusted on supporter of the coalition that you don't like evidence which goes against your ideological position? (on second thoughts, given your denial of climate change, that second option appears to be the most likely).

      Go away…

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    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Of course there are push factors Mike, always have been and yes they will vary from time to time even if there will likely always be an upwards trend because of underlying population explosions in many countries and the competition for life that brings and which can turn nasty and violent.
      All the more reasoning to have a sound process in hand to combat the pushes or to cope with them and that is what Rudd removed at the time and added more pull to any push.
      Can you not see that.
      As for Tony Abbott…

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    4. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      "You will find that during the period of the Howard government, refugee movements all over the world declined - it had nothing to do with the policies of the former government".
      Mike there used to be much debate over whether "push" factors were stronger than "pull" factors. Unfortunately those arguing that "push" factors were stronger have had their argument destroyed by the maths as seen in graphs such as this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Unlawful_Boat_Arrivals_to_Australia(1989-2012).png
      The numbers show a much stronger correlation with Australian Govt policies than with overseas push factors.

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    5. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      Really Steve, so you think that 'destroys' the argument about push factors do you?

      I can't see any analysis in your link about changes in push factors which may have occured around the time of the changes. What were they?

      Come on man, do a little bit of real analysis! There is a very simple law of statistics that every needs to learn and understand. "Correlation does not equal causation". Until and unless you can provide the causal mechanism, correlation is a meaningless cocept.

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    6. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, here are two graphs which taken together show that the massive drop in asylum seekers to Australia with the introduction of the Pacific Solution was primarily caused by the Pacific Solution. There was no corresponding outbreak of World peace for the same period.
      You make an absurd claim that the drop off had nothing to do with Govt policy at the time but fail to back it up with any analysis at all.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Unlawful_Boat_Arrivals_to_Australia(1989-2012).png

      http://www.infosysblogs.com/web2/2013/02/geographical_network_of.html
      (figure 1)

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    7. Dorothy Button

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Greg North

      Mr North,
      It is precisely this argument of yours that looks backwards rather than forwards. Who cares what happened six to ten years ago.
      This article provokes thought and offers reasonable intellingent suggestions for solutions which seems to be in short supply when it comes to the issue of asylum seekers. Your comments are destructive and cut short sensible debate for others. Juding by your comments you not up for general debate anway just the usual abuse, but don't spoil it for others particularly those for whom this is about i.e. asylum seekers.
      Please no more............you lose.

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  3. Natasha turnbull

    Student

    There are about 42 millions displaced people in the world looking for a better life. How many people Australia should take annually to solve the problem?

    Why arbitrarily picked a number of 50,000 not 100,000 , 200,000 or more?
    How would increase in asylum seekers intake stop illegal boats coming?

    Luckily, author of this article is mere an academic talking his feeling good thought bubble. Majority people living in reality want one thing only from the government - stop the boat. We will decide who come to this country.

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    1. Ronald Ostrowski

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      Natasha, to stop the boats you need to tell Morrison and Abbott to shut the hell up and join the Government in a bi-partisan approach to this vexing problem. I also believe that the numbers speculation model is seriously flawed. The push and pull factors are unpredictable. The shrill screams from the radio hate jocks and their moronic redneck listeners are a political reality. A legacy of Hanson, Howard and their old media allies whom we should thank for giving us xenophobia as a political issue, which is welcome by many and scorned by some - but a legacy, nonetheless..

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ronald Ostrowski

      Ronald,
      We had something that was working.
      It was not Abbott or Morrison that changed it.
      If you make a change and get an undesirable outcome, basic logic is that the change was not so good and perhaps a little more logic might be, well maybe trying what we had could still work.
      If then that will not, some serious thinking rather than knee jerk politics is required.
      Tell Rudd to get off his soapbox and get an election underway.

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    3. Ronald Ostrowski

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, ole buddy, you LNP guys like to stick with the myth of the Howard success and repeat it over and over to make it true. I have to cut in a put a stop to this by saying that that myth in light of the people smuggler model and the push and pull factors prevailing at the time no longer apply. Most of the irregular boat arrivals eventually became permanent residents or citizens. The smugglers are ahead of the game and have the LNP boofheads outwitted by scuttling boats to engineer an Australian…

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    4. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      "Our share of that figure would be a paltry 170,000 (rounding up to be generous)"

      See, that's just divorced from reality. The second their compatriots hear about how easy it is to start a wonderful new life in the west they'll want in too, and they'll realise that the quickest way in is to present as refugees, whether they are or not. What we'd actually be offering is a perverse incentive to self identify as a victim of persecution, in derogation of our ability to help genuine victims.

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    5. Daniel Boon

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      UN suggest 20 million refugees in 2012; I believe its a conservative figure.

      But I like to consider another statistic ... the number of non-refugees living in Australia (USA, UK and elsewhere) who are on or below poverty line and the growing number of homeless people ...

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    6. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      Leigh

      Why is a refugee intake of 170,000 divorced from reality. We take 200,000 migrants annually right now - why can't 170,000 of them be refugees?

      And I would like to bet that if we started taking 200,000 refugees annually, the backlog in Indonesia will be cleared pretty damn quickly, and there would be a hell of a lot less incentive to get on a leaky boat.

      I get so sick of hearing these nonsensical claims of how we want to stop the boats in order to stop people dying at sea or to break the people smugglers' model. I could do that tomorrow - just fly everyone here. But that isn't what you really want to do is it? You don't want to break the people smugglers' model or stop people dying at sea. You just want to stop people seeking asylum in this country.

      Two things - at least be honest enough to admit what you really want. And guess what - it ain't gonna happen.

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    7. Monica's wicked step

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      If we take refugees from Indonesia, obviously more people will travel to Indonesia and try to enter Australia. Even if we take 200,000, what is to stop another 200,000 entering Indonesia?

      Secondly, those who enter Indonesia have money. what happens to those refugees stuck in camps while refugees with money pay people smugglers to travel to Indonesia?

      Thirdly, if we take only official refugees as our immigration intake, then family reunion and spousal visa will have to stop - and that will…

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    8. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Facepalm. You miss the point, Mike. If we were to admit every person who currently claims to be a refugee, everyone in the developing world will see that as a surefire way to immigrate and improve their life. Hundreds of millions of people would seek to improve their lives by coming here. The end result would not be them living our standard of life, it would be us living their standard of life. The developed world would cease to exist and would no longer be a place of refuge for anyone.

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    9. Derek McKinnon

      Manager

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      "We just happen to know more about some bits of that reality than you do. "

      Do you have ANY idea of what such a statement says about YOU?

      And you make statements like that and still expect people to read the rest of what you write?

      My 5 year old has better manners than that.

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    10. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      Facepalm yourself Leigh. I am not missing the point at all; you are.

      Hundreds of millions of people huh? You have to build a better strawman- that one is so mouldy it smells.

      And the developed world would cease to exist huh? Why is that exactly? Would it be because of all those horrible people coming here? Be careful Leigh, your racism is showing.

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    11. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Monica's wicked step

      Monica - can I just clarify something you wrote so I get it straight.

      You are saying that you aren't racist - you just want to choose who comes, right? And you brought up the issue that asylum seekers aren't white anglo-saxons......... why?

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    12. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to Derek McKinnon

      So because I've studied a particular area at the highest level I'm not allowed to claim to know more *about that area* (and nothing else) than someone who hasn't? Do you also berate the guy who services your car for presuming to know more about mechanics than you do?

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    13. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      There is something of a tradition that people posting here should have the integrity to use their own names, rather than bad puns. Then again, if all I was ever doing was venting spleen and prejudice like Mr Li-beral, i probably wouldn't have the intestinal fortitude to use my real name.

      So, "Leigh", why don't you show some trousers to match the foul mouth?

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    14. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Derek McKinnon

      Derek, why don't you ask your 5 year old to teach you some basic reasoning along with the manners which you lack?

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    15. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      As for manners, Derek: I'd suggest I was pretty restrained, but frankly people continually dismissing us as "mere" academics who somehow don't live in the "real world" gets very annoying very quickly.

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    16. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      No, Mike. It would cease to exist because the economy would be unable to support the standard of living you're familiar with. I suggest you acquaint yourself with DIAC figures on employment and welfare dependence amongst humanitarian entrants:

      http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/research/_pdf/settlement-outcomes-new-arrivals.pdf

      They would keep coming until there was no longer an incentive, that is to say, until our standard of living here was the same as in the places they left. Why not? Who doesn't want a more affluent life with better access to education and health services? Who wouldn't accept if it were offered no questions asked? For Australia that would be in the order of 10s of millions, and 100s of millions for the developed world. Race just doesn't have anything to do with it. That's a hysterical, dishonest and offensive accusation. Grow up.

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    17. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Derek McKinnon

      "....."We just happen to know more about some bits of that reality than you do. "
      Do you have ANY idea of what such a statement says about YOU?..."

      Well Derek, I am of the view that it means he knows more about some bits of reality than you. But then, that's really a statement of the bleeding obvious. You probably know more about some bits of reality than he does. Not on this subject though.

      And you would probably feel pretty pissed off if Patrick tried to school you in your field of expertise. So why are you so agro about the very simple and obvious fact that Patrick does know more about something that you, and has the temerity to say so? Or are you an expert on everything?

      Your 5 year old might have better manners - but it appears that he/she did not learn them from you.

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    18. Decortes Fleur

      Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      That is a great approach to numbers.
      I don't know that morality is the same as having the actual power to make the decisions. I am for making the decisions for practical reasons.
      Building a 100,000 capacity Eco City - fully 'green powered' and self sustaining as a new Architectural and Green Eco Project model would accommodate eventually a strict limit of 200,000 refugees.

      If all the refugees were indentured and actually got to live in and build the Green City for two years - arriving slowly…

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    19. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      "....They would keep coming until there was no longer an incentive...."

      So then - problem solved!

      ".....I suggest you acquaint yourself with DIAC figures on employment and welfare dependence amongst humanitarian entrants...."

      Ahhh yes, that's right. Humanitarian entrants and their offspring stay unemployed forever. Silly me!

      "....For Australia that would be in the order of 10s of millions, and 100s of millions for the developed world....."

      Yeah sure Leigh - hundreds of millions of refugees trying to get into Australia.

      You talk about hysteria - you might want to have a good hard look in the mirror.

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    20. Natasha turnbull

      Student

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      "By what right do we decide who come to our country? " - The answer is our sovereign right.

      I am very cynical about these so called refugee advocates' motivations.

      Prominent lawyer Julian Burnside QC has been belching his refugee advocation credential and his ferocious criticism on Coalition's Pacific solution for years. However, he is happy to accept Rudd's more crude PNG policy "as long as Rudd would win more votes and keep Abbott out" - what a utterly hypocrite.

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    21. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Until there was no longer an incentive, that is to say, until our standard of living here was the same as in the places they left. Being wealthier than other countries isn't a problem that requires solving unless you're a Trot.

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    22. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      Well that's the issue isn't it Leigh?

      The solution to a problem depends on what the problem, how you define it, and what you are prepared to give up to solve the problem.

      There are far too many people out there defining this problem in ridiculously simple and 'three word slogan' terms. It is not nor has it ever been simple.

      If you want to define the problem as stopping people dying at sea and breaking the people smugglers' business model - which most of our politicians are doing - then…

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    23. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      Gosh - Julian Burnside might (possibly) be a tad hypocritical! Ah well, there go all the reasoning and moral and legal arguments up in a puff of smoke.

      "I once met a man who had committed a murder. Therefore all men are murderers."

      Can you spot the difference between this syllogism and the one you raised, Natasha?

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    24. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      "We will decide who come to this country" - and by what right do we do that, Natasha?"
      Patrick FFS. It seems you are immune to learning. Again. The Constitution.

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    25. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      You might want to do some more adjusting Patrick on what UNHCR findings are, most refugees wanting nothing more than to be able to return to their homeland and in deed for some amazing figures, have a look at the roughly two million it might be Afghanis who have returned to Afganistan.
      That is one the reasons why the UNHCR keep camps as close as possible to if not in home countries, the latter for IDPs.
      Figures a couple of years back were something like just 23,000 applicants for 6000 taxpayer…

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    26. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ronald Ostrowski

      That boats virtually stopped coming for about six years is no myth Ronald and have a look at the Immigration department records.
      The Malaysian solution would have been even more of a shambles than PNG and fortunately for our reputation it did not see the light of day.
      Glad you'll be fine with the NBN!

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    27. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Well Patrick, whatever this area you've studied at the highest level, it must have been extremely time consuming, or did you simply forget to go Australian Civics 101 in Year 6?

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    28. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      " Why is a refugee intake of 170,000 divorced from reality. "
      Come on now Mike, you accused me of not being able to read and so did you not read Leigh's reasoning, much the same as Ronnie's here:
      " I for one do not believe that most of these boat arrivals include people fleeing for their very lives as is the case elsewhere in the world. They buy airline tickets in their own countries go through various customs control points unimpeded upon, and legally enter Indonesia and then ditch their documents…

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    29. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      So Patrick, have you philosophised much amongst both the millions in camps and also the many thousands that seem to want to use people smugglers?, perhaps with the people smugglers themselves and all those corrupt local officials who must be turning a blind eye in Indonesia.

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    30. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      And I take back what I said about you being able to read Greg.

      Go back and see anywhere where I advocated us taking 200,000 refugees per year. What I said - very clearly - was that if you define the problem in the terms it is being defined by our politicians, then the solution is obvious. Take 200,000 refugees per year and fly them all here.

      But, as I have said elsewhere on a number of occasions, that isn't the real problem is it? We need to think about this issue - and stop defining it…

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    31. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      "Prominent lawyer Julian Burnside QC has been belching his refugee advocation credential and his ferocious criticism on Coalition's Pacific solution for years"
      He also constantly tells porkies in the newspapers. Last week,in The Age, he was saying anybody had a legal right to come to Australia because of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which of course, not even the UN says is law!

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    32. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, you can degenerate to snide little personal attacks if you want, but you'd get further if you advanced something adult and substantial.

      Everybody is well aware of the Constitution. Some of us are also well aware of our obligations under international law. Maybe you might like to spend a little time doing UN Conventions 101 instead of insulting others.

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    33. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Greg North

      So, Greg, have you engineered much 'amongst both the millions in camps and also the many thousands that seem to want to use people smugglers.'?

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    34. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      "It is a humanitarian issue". That it is!
      But most people, and I am sure I do this too, tend to react defensively when they feel under threat.
      And I suspect that is what is happening here in Australia. And what has occured many many times in our country's past.
      Enlightenment principles such as rights and equality are also things most individuals would claim they uphold. But not always in equal measure in relationship to the rights of and equality re "others."
      I think that human beings at times…

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    35. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, Patrick's recent TC article-length display of the logical fallacy argumentum ad misericordiam was based on a stunning complex on Australian Civics 101 fails, which have not been attended to. Must be all that ever-more-important Kierkegaard

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    36. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      "Everybody is well aware of the Constitution"
      Of those who post on TC, your "everybody" would be lucky to amount to 5%.

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    37. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      "David, you can degenerate to snide little personal attacks if you want, but you'd get further if you advanced something adult and substantial."
      Such as filling the explanatory and empirical spaces in my sentences with "xenophobes", "Cronulla", "Hansonites", "Anglos", "rednecks", "we will decide...", and did I mention "Howard"? How about lofty statements on distributive justice gleaned from...well god knows what...some numbers.

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    38. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to lavinia kay moore

      I agree with you Lavinia.

      But all we have to do is look at the evidence from history. I remember the concerns people had about 'reffos' and 'wogs' back in the 50s and 60s. But we realised it wasn't a problem at all, they actually made our nation richer, and we got over it. Then there were the Vietnamese in the 70s and 80s. But we got over that as well.

      But it seems we are just damned to repeat the same nonsense again. Only this time it's Muslims. One day we will get over it, and look back on the hysteria of these days and wonder what we were thinking.

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    39. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, word to the wise about "history" and your subjective, incurably fuddled, personal recollections from 60 years ago. They are not the same thing.

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    40. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to David Thompson

      David: the constitution is only relevant to the legal question, not the moral one. Or do you think that ultimate questions of right and wrong are somehow decided by what happens to be written in the law of one country at one point in time? So no, whatever 'rights' the constitution grants are merely legal and conventional, and irrelevant here.

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    41. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      Natasha, "By our sovereign right" amounts to just asserting that such a right exists rather than arguing for it. I don't see any reason to believe that simply drawing a line on a map somehow brings some absolute moral right to ignore the suffering of others into existence. That's not to say sovereignty has *no* moral weight, but merely conventional arrangements of this sort surely can't confer some sort of absolute right.

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    42. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to Greg North

      Agreed, the fact that many potential resettlement countries aren't doing their share is a huge problem, not naming names *cough*Japan*cough*. But we're responsible for our own moral status, not that of others.

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    43. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to David Thompson

      ...and again, 'Civics 101' doesn't decide moral issues, so harping on about it is wholly beside the point.

      "Argumentum ad misericordiam" applies in cases where someone makes an argument like "The defendant cannot be guilty because the poor guy is in a wheelchair" - it's fallacious because "the defendant is pitiable" does not entail "the defendant cannot be guilty." My argument in the piece last week, however (which I didn't get to respond to any comments on unfortunately as I was interstate…

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    44. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      "Being wealthier than other countries isn't a problem that requires solving unless you're a Trot." - or a morally serious human being, I guess.

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    45. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Sadly we seem to be arguing from our entrenched positions!

      Is there a lateral solution?

      For example, why not let anyone who wants to live in Australia?

      What excitement and economic activity this would generate - like immigration over the last couple of centuries to the US.

      Would we be flooded by millions of people, exploiting our 'generosity'? Not if you removed any welfare incentive - for example, you only benefit from the system once you contribute taxes.

      The increased economic activity would generate wealth, allowing us to build infrastructure to sustain more people.

      I can see this really going down well with the electorate (not). But worth a try.

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    46. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Nothing stopping someone from being both if they're a misguided fool, but they'd most likely have to be a Trot in any case, whether they knew it or not. A Trot or a national masochist.

      Which are you?

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    47. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, I think your second last paragraph is a misrepresentation of people wanting to stop the drowning. The proof is in your statement "You just want to stop people seeking asylum in this country." Clearly, you are incorrect in this assertion. I can say this with confidence because NO-ONE has asked for the refugee intake to be cut or stopped - only the boats. It's simple isn't it - no boats = no drowning.
      The Greens have (finally) come up with a refugee intake number of 30000pa. Who knows, maybe that will work. Maybe the author's number of 50000 will work. But whatever number we settle upon, the problem will remain of those who 'miss out' attempting to get here by boat and THAT is the problem we must address.

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    48. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Phillip

      ".... I can say this with confidence because NO-ONE has asked for the refugee intake to be cut or stopped...."

      If you truly believe that statement John, then I can only conclude that you live in a fantasyland completely divorced from the real world. A LOT of people want the refugee intake cut to zero - have a listen to talk back radio (you probably do already) and you will see what I mean.

      And if all you want to do is stop the boats, I have already said that is the easiest thing in the world to achieve. Just give all asylum seekers a free plane ticket. No more boats!

      But that isn't what you really want, is it?

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    49. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Thompson

      "....Mike, word to the wise about "history" and your subjective, incurably fuddled, personal recollections from 60 years ago. They are not the same thing...."

      Thanks David. Perhaps you can put me straight on where I went wrong then.

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    50. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      So, David, any chance of your reply being rendered in a rational human language?

      Firstly, if you're going to toss around the term 'argumentum ad misericordiam' it helps if you actually understand what is required to sustain the charge: "assent or dissent to a statement or an argument is sought on the basis of an irrelevant appeal to pity. In other words, pity, or the related emotion is not the subject or the conclusion of the argument." You might like to notice the words 'irrelevant' and 'not…

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    51. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, you could try saying that two more times - at least that would render it as a Tweedledum truth.

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    52. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      That's right, David, reality is created by YOUR bigoted preferences.

      My personal memory is pretty much in accord with Mike's observation and I've certainly read plenty of competent historical analysis suggesing much the same thing.

      Perhaps you'd like to offer a little variety from your customary evidence-free pronouncements by advancing some competent historical analysis indicating that Mike's personal recollections are 'incurably fuddled'?

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    53. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, I thought we were talking about policy makers - you know the people who really have a say in what we actually do. I havent seen anyone on this blog demand we cut the refugee intake.
      Your final statement, along with your assumption that I listen to talk-back, is you projecting your beliefs about my views onto me. You are absolutley WRONG on those points.
      It seems to grate on you that people who you disagree with are nt the uncaring bastards you choose to believe them to be. You need to be a little bit honest with yourself and admit that doing nothing to stop boat arrivals will, without doubt, lead to more deaths.

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    54. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Phillip

      John

      I am completely honest with myself. I know that doing nothing to stop the boat arrivals will lead to more deaths - only a fool would think otherwise.

      But then, only a fool would think that we can actually stop the boat arrivals with the three word slogan policies and increasing shrill methods being proposed by both major parties in order to pander to the rednecks. They won't.

      This is what I have been saying over and over again. If all you want to do is stop the boat arrivals, that…

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    55. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Thanks for the reply, Mike. Why arent you advocating for the flights idea? It does make sense. If we include those people brought over in that manner as part of the refugee intake I am baffled as to why it would be rejected. - It would have to be cheaper than the current set-up, so you'll win those whose concerns are financial rather than humanitarian, you'll 'stop the boats' and the associated drownings and you'll be maintaining the current level of intake without the fear of an 'inavsion'. The only problem I can see is that there are those who feel the above option would favour the 'que-jumpers' loeaving many stranded in the refugee camps from which we currently draw our intake.
      We do have to control our intake - ewven the Greens acknowledge this now. We just have to find the best way to do it.

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    56. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, you say:

      " Now, if only the ill-informed public will wake up to it as well, and not keep mouthing off about how Howard had it right, then Rudd screwed it up, but Abbott will fix it. Anyone who thinks that needs to get a reality check - which will certainly occur after the election if Abbott actually wins and the boats keep coming."

      Almost worth Abbott winning just to see how little distinguishes the Libs refugee policies are from Rudd's... almost; particularly given how little difference between the 2 major parties, with Abbott's latest claim to match the (Gillard inspired) Gonski recommendation for schools, people may well decide to vote in Abbott.

      I guess there is always a full blooded NBN to vote for, unless Abbott back flips on that as well.

      Meanwhile, until there is world peace, we will continue to see refugees, I rather doubt Abbott or Rudd have a solution to end war any time soon.

      Cheers

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    57. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      1. "David: the constitution is only relevant to the legal question, not the moral one."
      Patrick, are you going to keep adding additional new questions every time your posted question is answered? You asked Natasha only one question - "and by what right do we do that, Natasha?" I answered THE question above you asked, I told you 'by what right'. In giving my answer, surely you must assume that I was aware of many different types/categories of 'rights' out there, with some sorts of 'rights' being…

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    58. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Phillip

      Sorry John, I was obviously not clear in my last post.

      You are correct, it would be a good idea to fly people here - and I support that. I was just not advocating giving a plane ticket to anyone who turns up and says unless you give me a plane ticket I'm going to get on a boat.

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    59. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      "I don't see any reason to believe that simply drawing a line on a map somehow brings some absolute moral right to ignore the suffering of others into existence."
      I can't imagine any human being who has ever drawn breath has even had this thought. For one thing, you are not describing anything like 'sovereignty'.

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    60. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      It's not about not wanting to accept ANY asylum seekers, it is about accepting a small amount which are
      1. Cheap to afford: i.e educate, clothe, house, integrate
      2. Able to be taught our culture, way of life etc
      3. Not bringing 100s of relatives over
      4. Actually participatory in our economy

      And HAVING POLITICAL CONTROL OVER OUR OWN NATION'S DESTINY. Not leaving it up to people in developing countries to overwhelm us.

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    61. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      No one can use their real name on here because they are constantly defamed or abused by the other side. The message boards are not in the least policed.

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    62. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      We don't WANT any more people.

      We are forced by international convention to take a few, over our national sovereignty and interests.

      Renounce the UN treaty NOW!

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    63. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      The developed world would cease to exist because the number of people coming here, as impoverished as they are would make huge demands on welfare services, utilities, roads, hospitals and schools.

      Put simply our standard of life would be averaged down. Yours too...
      But I suppose there are levels of existence you are prepared to accept that are lower than the ones I am prepared to accept.

      This is an economic argument. Your mentioning of racism is a red herring, and a rhetorical ploy. This is a simple move of the left when a leftist is beaten in argument.

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    64. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Wright

      ".....We don't WANT any more people...."

      So no babies for anyone in your family then? Or that ok? We just don't want any more of THOSE people. And you claim that any mention of racism is a red herring.....

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    65. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to David Thompson

      Hi David,

      Yes, there are different kinds of right that are relevant in different contexts and I'm happy to defer to others on whatever legal rights the constitution does or does not give the government of the day. I was going straight to the moral sense of ‘right’ because this is pretty clearly a debate about what is right or wrong, not what is legal. (And I’m not qualified to discuss the legalities in any case). And the moral sense of the term is, moreover, the foundational sense.

      The constitution…

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    66. Nev Norton

      Farmer

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Patrick, I'm fascinated by how people think about morals, and how, if it all rational thought and outcomes balances or moderate moralistic actions, and at what point can a moralistic action create a perverse outcome, and would that perverse outcome render that original moralistic action false. Your thoughts.

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    67. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Nev Norton

      In short, do good intentions count?

      Depends where you sit I suspect Nev. Our historical approach to seizing/saving Aboriginal children was done with genuine good intent. Just wrong. We can draw some comfort perhaps - but I don't think it helps the victims or undoes the mischief.

      So no - from underneath, good intentions with bad outcomes are just bad outcomes. Victims again. Good intentions that avoid the central issues of power are doomed to bad outcomes. At best an admittedly partial answer and tends just moves the problem around.

      Don't forget folks, the guards at Auschwitz thought they were doing "good" too....Being right lets us do anything at all.

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    68. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Nothing to do with what we want or what the law says. Why don't you show us how all this works in practice, genius. Let's see you renounce our immoral laws, flip most of the country the bird and fulfil this moral obligation of yours to import every Mo, Saed and Ali who feels vulnerable and wants in. I hear it's a cutthroat business, but the money's good.

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    69. Nev Norton

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I'm not sure that good intentions and morals are necessarily the same and i can see in your own examples where the morals of the situation can run counter to the good intentions, but I can see your points.
      I do agree though that there are many different positions possible as far as morals go, or are there, are the base morals simply tempered by thought, to produce our own moralistic positions. If we strip away all the colours that influence us, do we then all have an underlying sameness, and is it enough to make decisions based solely on the premise of pure morality.
      What drove my previous post was Patrick's statement where he said "it's got nothing to do with what we want and everything to do with what we're morally obliged to do." coupled with what I so often see on the Greens facebook page where I guess mainly young and idealogical people carry the same sentiment as Patrick's.

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    70. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Patrick, my post anticipated every point you have made here. And I rebutted them all in that post, thinking it would save time. But here we have all these erroneous, ill-informed, and irrelevant points again. The only difference is you have gone into detail proving you don't understand basic concepts like 'norm/ativity, morality, right, law, and on and on. Your whole perspective and rhetoric is just the same old ancient sky-fairy stuff. Unable to progress from the idiocy of sky-fairy moral claims…

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    71. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Wow. You just hammer that racist card, when you can't make any more arguments, right Mike? After all it's pretty easy.

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    72. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Where was the asylum seeker at your house. What's his/her name, how much are you paying for their upkeep and when are you chucking your daughter out of her room to make space for the extended relatives?

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    73. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      "And academics live in the same reality you do...We just happen to know more about some bits of that reality than you do."
      ROFL. Well, Patrick, why don't you some day write an article on those bits?

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    74. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to David Thompson

      No, David, simply rejecting stuff you clearly know nothing about doesn't count as 'rebuttal.' I've tried to give the most charitable construal of your argument possible and engage with it seriously; you've responded with "Wah, mean academic uses big words." But by all means, continue to try to hide your obvious ignorance of moral theory behind vague assertions about polis and demos.

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    75. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Another goal post move! Having failed morality, now, you're going to try moral "theory". And you really think you've trumped John Howard? Oh dear.

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    76. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Patrick, we are discussing a real life political community of adults, not a bunch of avatars playing "Second Life".

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    77. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to David Thompson

      *sigh* Yes, David, moral theory. Or moral philosophy, if you prefer. Either way, that's how we determine the content of morality, and you clearly know nothing about it. The goalposts are exactly where they always were; you just thought we were playing tennis instead for some reason.

      You're absolutely right about one thing though David: this is a real issue affecting real people. And the very real, very concrete suffering of those fleeing persecution demands a morally serious response.

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    78. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Daniel Boon

      Daniel, I dont see it as an either/or issue. I certainly abhor the attitude towards those Australians on the lowest socio-economic level. Living on a pittance is not fun. It is not really living.It is existing. And sometimes not even that.
      But if our governments and economic managers did more to get those high rollers/mining magnates/ and other wealthy with huge incomes to pay taxes they can well afford, surely we could do both. That is, treat our sick, our elderly and unemployed etc with the respect they deserve, and also open our doors to those escaping horrors most Australians have no concept of.

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    79. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      I don't want to see any more of my beloved country devoted to supporting more and more humans. But those who have built it, are entitled to replace themselves, and leave their legacy to their own descendants, not to foreigners with values contradictory to their own.

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    80. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Well Chris, I take a wider view than that.

      I don't want the human population to keep expanding either - we will be much better off when there are far less people than there are now. But I also know that people emigrating to Australia does not add to the total human population, it only redistributes the total more evenly. It is breeding which increases population.

      I am neither selfish or racist (unlike some). I don't mind sharing what I have with people who have less, and my values are human values - I don't consider that absorbing some of the culture of other nationalities in any way diminishes me - exactly the opposite in fact.

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    81. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      It isn't just the number of people on the planet that counts. Bringing people from third world countries into a western country, increases their consumption of the world's resources overnight. To give them a western level of consumption without first requiring a western level of reproductive restraint, is damaging to the planet.
      I am suspicious of the motives of those who want to increase the refugee intake, and insinuate that who don't agree with them are racist and selfish. I just can't forget…

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    82. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Watson

      "....To give them a western level of consumption...."

      To 'give' them western levels of consumption huh? I guess you are correct - much better to keep them in poverty rather than allowing them to have the benefits that we enjoy.

      "....without first requiring a western level of reproductive restraint, is damaging to the planet....."

      Are you on drugs? No need to answer that; the rest of your diatribe is answer enough.

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  4. Berhan Ahmed

    Academic and Community Leader at University of Melbourne

    Thanks Andrew for the alternative solutions to a simple humanitarian solution Australia has been handling since the first arrival from Europe. This is. Humanitarian problem and needs a humanitarian solution and not political solution. I commend you for your article and I hope your article will stimulate more similar discussion and articles dissecting the national and international challenges. Smile, Berhan

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    1. Derek McKinnon

      Manager

      In reply to Berhan Ahmed

      Humanitarian solutions are to stop the boats and stop people dying.

      Stop the fake compassion - you just want to be seen by the rest of the world as belonging to a nice country and you don't care how many people have to die in order to achieve that.

      The "humanitarian" solutions you talk about have created the problem. Time for politicians to toughen up and solve the problem.

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    2. N Wilson

      Biologist

      In reply to Derek McKinnon

      Yes, perhaps you can tell Abbott and Morrison. They in no way wanted boats to stop, because Boats Mean Votes. Ranting about losing control of the borders etc requires there to be boats and lots of them.

      I say wanted, rather than want, as they *may* realise that they have gone too far. Their promise to Stop The Boats will be much harder, if not impossible. Obviously, they wouldn't care about breaking a promise, but they would care about losing support.

      The situation is escalating now, but perhaps…

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Derek McKinnon

      Derek

      So your definition of the problem - and the solution - is to stop the boats and stop people dying is it?

      So I guess you would be in favour of us flying the refugees direct so they don't have to get on a boat and possibly die.

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    4. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Derek McKinnon

      I am not sure how you come to the conclusion that Berhan Ahmed doesn't care how many people have to die...
      Or that the poster only felt fake compassion.
      But I wont accuse you of projecting your own inclinations onto others. That would be presumptuous! And possibly insulting.
      Like you I disagree with opinions here.As you no doubt do. But just say that. I dont think making assumptions about other posters advances the conversation. Do you?

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  5. Decortes Fleur

    Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

    The photograph of bloody injured Hazara is TOTALLY CULTURALLY offensive. Why show blood - we are exposed to this image early in the morning. Its not as though you would have to search far or pay more for better images to illustrate the writer's work. KABUL is a beautiful place....please try harder!
    We know its a nasty subject. It would be equally offensive to show bloated dead bodies or rotting garbage on Manus Island Would CONVERSATION remove this image?
    Andrew Jacobowicz's article is interesting…

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  6. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

    logged in via Twitter

    Andrew Jakubowicz it seems that your recommendations overlook that no matter what intake will be provided for people smugglers are not going to give up and the loss of human life will continue unless we put an end to it in the manner I have been recommending for years.
    See my publications at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/152230873/Chapter-Refugees-UN-Control-Solution and http://www.scribd.com/doc/156355893/130727-Refugees.
    As CONSTITUTIONALIST I am too well aware that the White Australia policy…

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  7. Kian Bone

    Solicitor

    I think this article makes two very interesting points:
    "We have signed up to a commitment to save the lives of people fleeing for safety and we don’t know how to do it anymore." - Is this an indication that the current Refugee Convention requries another revision like the protocols introduced in 1967?
    "We are in a situation where a large number of those arriving do not know if they are genuine refugees." - Many asylum seekers simply have no idea of the legal definition of a refugee (or complimentary protection)

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  8. Valerie Kay

    PhD candidate, public health

    Thank you this is very interesting. I have a few questions - first you make the issue of the temporary visa nearer point of origin sound reasonably simple, but wouldn't it still be difficult to administer, particularly to administer fairly, given the very large numbers of refugees in some countries nearer to the point of origin?
    Following on from this, it doesn't seem likely that this would stop people coming to our region, so it seems we still need regional solutions such as processing centres…

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  9. John Crest

    logged in via email @live.com.au

    "Australia needs to recognise that we will need to increase our intake of refugees to 50,000 people per year for the next five years."

    Why does it?

    And why did you choose 50,000?

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Crest

      I agree John - 50,000 is a bit of an arbitrary number.

      How about this as an idea then. We completely scrap all other migration programs, and take as many as 200,000 refugees annually. Many of them have useful skills anyway.

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    2. John Crest

      logged in via email @live.com.au

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Makes about as much (or as little) sense as the original number.

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Crest

      Not so John. It makes more sense.

      The more we take, the less incentive asylum seekers have to pay people smugglers a fortune in order to get on a leaky boat and risk dying at sea. And isn't that what you want?

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    4. John Crest

      logged in via email @live.com.au

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Partly, yes.

      Does it afford the second part of what I want - a sensible (for Australia) refugee intake?

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    5. John Crest

      logged in via email @live.com.au

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      A number that does not place a burden on our budget or finances.

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    6. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Crest

      Then you have failed miserably in your definition of what is sensible, because there is no such thing.

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    7. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Crest

      John, thanks for finally revealoing what you believe this nation's sense of moral pride is worth.

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    8. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Crest

      "....It's sensible to me..."

      And that pretty much says a lot about you then.

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    9. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, I'm actually very attracted to this sort of thinking. But mainly because of the presumptions such thinking relies on. And even we test those presumptions, I still advocate doubling the humanitarian intake. BUT, my support only holds if we do the work by our standards and processes, with no legal link/recourse to any international body. That is, I think the Australian people and government can make a spectacularly grand contribution, if all the UN riff-raff got out of our face. Ah, but those…

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  10. Trevor Collison

    Retired

    Congratulations Andrew for such a sensible proposition. I believe that what you are saying boils down to treating refugees as the future valuable resource that they will become, and invest in them, rather than treat them as a drain on our resources. That's a novel concept for our post "baby overboard" politicians! (and a slender majority of the general population?). In fact it is what Australia has always done well, with migrants of all types, including refugees. Sadly the "White Australia" policy shut the door to non-whites, but the migrant/refugee policy did at least carry on for white people.

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  11. Daniel Boon

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Andrew, how many people live in your house?
    What if the 'local authority' placed people into your home at your expense, how would you feel and react?

    There is a significant disconnect from reality ... have you seen Professor Albert Bartlett's 'arethmatic, population and energy' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOrvGDRLT7A ... ?

    Do you comprehend carrying capacity; peak oil; peak population?

    Affordability of living is biting here in Australia; we are arguably 6-8 years away from similar plights ...

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Daniel Boon

      Daniel, I presume then that, in order not to appear hypocritical, you will be volunteering to have your garage converted into a detention centre, replete with guards and barbed wire?

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    2. Daniel Boon

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      How did you join the dots to come up with that statement Felix?

      My observations (all along) are that people who support open slather refugee intake, do so in their homes as opposed to encouraging refugee entry and making the greater populace pay ...

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Daniel Boon

      Well, Daniel, I joined the dots by suggesting that, if you're going to raise silly strawman arguments like 'why don't you house them at your home?' to those who suggest a more generous intake, the matching argument to those who advocate stricter controls is 'why don't you have a detention centre in your garage?'

      One silly argument deserves another.

      And, by the way, by what strange form of arithmetic do you suggest that proposals, such as Andrew's, to raise intakes significantly but still to finite numbers and for a finite period constitutes 'open slather refugee intake'. It's just that kind of rather hysterical language that is helping to turn this debate toxic. Scott Morrison would be proud of you.

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  12. Andrew Wakeling

    Actuary

    If you really want to stop the boats then open the airports. It is a long way from Iran to Australia and it is rather silly to do most of the journey in a modern safe airliner but the last few miles in a deathtrap boat. Treat air and sea borne arrivals exactly the same way. On current reported prices it would probably be cheaper by plane.

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    1. Daniel Boon

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Andrew Wakeling

      Its not without merit ... people allegedly spend more to bribe/pay their way on boats ... a return airfare would be cheaper ... and if a news article is true, many returned people prick the 'living in Australia' balloon ...

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Andrew Wakeling

      Yes, I agree. If they can afford to fly here, show evidence of some other savings, and qualifications indicating they could start making a contribution after a reasonable settling in period, then I say, let them come.

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    3. Aleksandra Hadzelek

      Lecturer in International Studies at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to David Thompson

      What you decribe here is migration, not asylum seeking / escape from persecution. The interchangeable use of these terms by the media and the politicians leads (deliberately) to confusion and no proper discussion can be had until we separate the two and treat them as different.

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  13. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    Andrew, you have a basic glaring false premis to your proposal, it being Australia, Australia, Australia written all over it and whilst sure enough we are seeing increasingly more and more movements in our direction, you do mention the UNHCR as being a parallel organisation.
    " In this scenario, Australia would create something like a bridging visa that could be issued at the point of origin for refugees such as Quetta. The visa would require proof of identity, or good evidence that such proof is…

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    1. Trevor Kerr

      ISTP

      In reply to Greg North

      Quetta? Stop, right there. Imagine the kind of armoured compound we'd need to provide for civilian officials in which to work, let alone live. 'Honey-pot' comes to mind.

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  14. Natasha turnbull

    Student

    Let me put it this way, deep down people like Andrew have racist view about Muslim countries.

    These people advocate for Australia or other western countries to take more largely Muslim asylum seekers, in effect they are saying Muslim countries like Saudi, Kuwait Jordan, Dubai etc are not good enough for taking these asylum seekers and our white societies are superior in moral and compassion.

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      No Natasha, he is saying nothing of the sort.

      He is saying that people who seek asylum here should be afforded the appropriate protections. If you would like to think about it a little harder, ask yourself why those people (mostly Muslims) are seeking asylum in Australia rather than Saudi Arabia? Don't think too hard - I will give you the answer - they don't want to go there.

      Second question - why do you think that is?

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  15. Ian Gostelow

    Phd Candidate, LH Martin Institute at University of Melbourne

    We're not full, but if we are to expand population further we need to make better efforts in decentralising urban populations.
    Refugee numbers are increasing and Australia is well placed to do more to support refugees, as per Andrew's comment on "potentially overwhelming demand".
    Which goes to the critical point of resettlement. We should increase our refugee intake and 50,000 is a reasonable proposition.
    But before we do so a clearly articulated resettlement policy that makes better use of developing critical mass in declining regional areas and reducing population excess's and convergences in our major cities is part of the fourth issue raised.

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    1. Daniel Boon

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Ian Gostelow

      Says who Ian ... where are your references? [ "we are not full" ]

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Daniel Boon

      Well Daniel, there were more people born today than died (that may not be correct, but just assume that today is a typical day).

      That means the population increased today - just like it did yesterday and the day before, and like it will tomorrow.

      Can you follow the logic here?

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Daniel Boon

      So you agree then - we obviously aren't full because our population is still increasing.

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    4. Daniel Boon

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      sure can Mike ... exasperating peak population ... more people fighting over diminishing resources

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Daniel Boon

      Daniel, I think key the silliness underlying your argument has already been raised somewhere else in this ugly debate: relocating people does not actually increase their total numbers.

      Yes, it would increase Australia's population, and that's a matter that needs some care - which might be why people like Andrew suggest a significant but not vast and only temporary increase to our refugee intake, preferably counter-balanced by a roughly proportional reduction in our other (probably excessive) migration intakes.

      'Peak population' arguments are important and perfectly valid, but they hav elittle relevance to this question.

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    6. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Relocating people may not increase their total numbers, but it certainly increases the consumption of the earth's resources. Every extra immigrant, refugee or otherwise increases Australia's carbon footprint.
      In Perth every extra person increases the consumption of fossil fuel energy just by having a drink of water.

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andrew Jakubowicz

      I think I have spotted the problem with your plan Andrew.

      They would need to be able to find the boats first. And given that they are thick as two short planks - like the rest of them who think they can 'turn back the boats' - they are more likely to wander aimlessly over the ocean and end up needing to be rescued themselves when the Meth and Woodstock and Cola runs out.

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    2. Nev Norton

      Farmer

      In reply to Andrew Jakubowicz

      Andrew said "In western Sydney there are lots of guys with guns, their brains addled with ice and machismo, itching for some biffo; see Comancheros etc. "
      I don't know about that Andrew, given most refugees are Muslims and the demographic for bikie gangs members is middle eastern muslim youth, and not forgetting the MBM (Muslim Brotherhood Movement) is now a major player in bikie gang land equal to the Rebels and growing in stature, I really couldn't see that ever happening.

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    3. Graham Mantle

      Would be if I could be (but retired)

      In reply to Andrew Jakubowicz

      The easiest way to stop the boats stop the drownings and put the smugglers out of business would be to let the asylum seekers come by plane. If they are paying $6,000 to $10,000 to get on a leaky boat, they could be required to deposit the cost of their return to origin with the Australian Government and if found not to be eligible refugees, they would be sent back at their own cost.
      What nobody seems to acknowledge is that turning boats around is not in Indonesia's interest. These are people in…

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    4. Daniel Boon

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Graham Mantle

      can I mention the unmentionable ... that it is in Indonesia's interests to facilitate refugees ...

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    5. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nev Norton

      Nev

      I am pretty sure the English and the Spanish were both christians - that didn't stop them killing one another did it?

      But wait, I hear you say. The Spanish were Catholic and the English were Protestant. Exactly - now apply the same logic to Muslims and see what you come up with.

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    6. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, the Spanish were a State allied with the papacy. The English weren't all that keen on subjecting themselves once again to the Vatican. You do the math.

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    7. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Andrew Jakubowicz

      I did not mean to affect you so Andrew and amke you wanting to need an Ice pack rather than some ice and a lay down.
      Sure Sydney and quite a few other cities and even regional areas have their drugs and crime issues and I am just thankful not to be living anywhere near any bad areas though we did have a bloke killed with a shot gun up our way not long back, apparently something to do with drug transport disagreement or whatever.
      But aside from practising some script writing for the next SBS series…

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    8. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Graham Mantle

      Graham, you'll still have the problem of how many can Australia take and how many should we.
      How do you decide.
      " Another aspect that would warrant publicizing among asylum seekers is the fact that the boats are destroyed on arrival, so think about the quality of transport you are paying for. It is non reusable. "
      It's not as though the people using people smugglers go to a bonafide travel agency and in fact at least one woman who has lost her son in attempting to get to Australia by boat advised that she was shown something like a cruise boat in a photograph.
      We must be talking of real gullible people.

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    9. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Daniel Boon

      I have mentioned it many times Daniel that if Indonesia really wanted to stop the smugglers, they could do a lot more than they are.
      The reason they aren't is that the Indonesian central government has limited control on what is happening out in the provinces and there are local authorities getting a bit on the side not to do anything.

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    10. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, just on the issue of an academic practising for their next media gig. I found Andrew's contribution to "One Upon a Time in Canramatta" to be superlative. It was a rare instance in my life-time of an Australia social scientist actually being a social scientist, and sharing with the nation. Andrew's narration of how it was the marginalised - 'other' - of the very same Vietnamese who escaped here by boat, who had once again learnt they could not trust a state.
      Once again, these Vietnamese people…

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  16. David Marnie

    Manager at Rural

    I wonder who would better contribute to our country....50,000 refugees or 50,000 business migrants out of our 200,000 annual migrant intake.... I suspect those people who are refugees rather than the worlds plutocrats...and this approach is consistent with our history of who has settled here....until recently at least.

    At least this article offers an alternative way. Congratulations.

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    1. Natasha turnbull

      Student

      In reply to David Marnie

      I remember a survey published last year showed that 92% of Afhgani refugees were still unemployed and lived on the welfare system after 5 years in Australia, other refugees such as Sri Lankans were little better at 76%.

      Skill migrants or economic migrants contributed to our society by paying taxes.

      Some people's naivety is truely breathtaking. Or worse they just ignore the reality to romanize the refuge issue to feel their inner warm glow.

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      Look Natasha, we know you are a coalition shill, and think that Tony Abbott walks on water and everything that Labor has to say must be wrong. But you can't simply make up numbers. If you 'remember' a survey, find it and link to it please.

      As for paying taxes, I note that your claim to be a 'student'. So how much tax do you pay, and do you receive any government benefits? Just curious.

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  17. Derek McKinnon

    Manager

    "..all the way down to the wider Australian population whose callousness blossoms with every iteration of the “get tough” rhetoric."

    Callousness is allowing a system to develop that results in hundreds of deaths a year.

    Compassion is designing a system that stops that.

    Your solution is no solution as it does nothing to affect the basic causes. More people want to come to Australia than we can accept. Accept 100,000 a year and you would eventually find another 100,000 a year coming via boat (admittedly less the several thousand who die along the way - encouraged by callous people who don't care how many die as long as they can feel like they are on the high moral ground).

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Derek McKinnon

      You see, Derek, that's the big confusion here: boats don't RESULT in hundreds of deaths a year, they merely relocate their occurence.

      Out of sight might be out of mind, but it still exists.

      So please, before you start the silly inverted-snobbery about 'high moral ground' please explain to me why death by drowning while attempting an escape to freedom is somehow worse than death by Taliban hit squad at 'home'. For that matter, for those who have at least got out of, say, Afghanistan to, say, Indonesia, and given that we're talking a modest risk of death by drowning versus a near certainty of a long, unpleasant limbo in a country that doesn't want you, offers you no support and allows rogue police or others to mistreat you as they feels inclined, which option would you choose?

      Boats don't create death, they merely offer a fighting chance of escape.

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    2. Aleksandra Hadzelek

      Lecturer in International Studies at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Thank Felix for spelling it out really clearly for those who don't seem to understand what circumstances these people are fleeing from.

      Of course none of us who never lived through a war can really imagine how these people feel and what they are capable of in order to save themselves, but I think that unfortunately in Australia we don't speak enough about the atrocities that the asylum seekers are trying to escape from.

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  18. Bronwyn OBrien

    Admin Assistant

    Really interesting suggestion. I just have a couple of questions.

    Once this bridging visa was issued at the point of origin, how do the really destitute asylum seekers get to Australia? Would this visa only be available to those who can afford a safe mode of transport?

    When you say 'allocated a location', what does that mean? Where exactly will they live whilst in Australia? We already have a massive public housing shortage here.

    I would hate to think we had a system that only catered for the wealthy, and where many more people are going to added to the already long queue for accommodation.

    Great article.

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  19. Peter Ormonde

    Farmer

    No a priori objection to a TPV style of approach if that is really what is on offer and that it is actually a genuine attempt to help - rather than another bloody "deterrent message" to people smugglers and the self-moving queue.

    I'm not quite as dark as yourself when it comes to our "blossoming callousness" ... I actually think the reverse is true. I think people are steadily becoming both tired of this issue and also slowly coming to realise that it will take more than slogans, "strong…

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, people became so tired of the Vietnamese boat people that Fraser stopped them coming, instead hand-picking from SE Asian refugee camps. When they started coming again, Keating built desert concentration camps to lock them up, and changed the laws to make that detention potentially forever.

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    2. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Where did you actually study this history of yours David?

      Either way - the slightest evidence that Australia "cherry-picked" the folks queueing up in Thailand and so forth to get out please? The slightest evidence whatsoever regarding the Keating allegation as well - my understanding is that detention for unlawful entry was first introduced by Gerry Hand in response to a particular problem with Cambodian refugees... wrong then, but twisted by Howard and Ruddock, running before Hanson into this appalling policy swamp ....so again ... the slightest quote, reference, source other than your own individual history please.

      Betcha can't.

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, you sure are difficult to follow on a lot of really unexpected topics. I'm just coming to that age, where for the first time stuff that might be considered proper topics for historians happened during my politically-aware memory. I can start debating without notes from about the late Hawke years. Now, from what you've said here and there, I gather that during the Fraser years, you were pretty much on fire. I'd gather those years are even more historically accessible to you than the Hawke years…

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    4. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, all this happened, and so much, much more of the same. The bizarre thing, this was all front page news, lead TV news bulletins. Yet your whole generation forgets it all. In denial.
      1. April, 1975 – Fall of Saigon: PM Gough Whitlam tells Cameron (Immigration) and Willessee (Foreign Affairs) “I’m not having hundreds of fucking Vietnamese Balts coming into this country with their political and religious hatreds against us.” The rabid vitriol against any Vietnamese refugee being allowed into…

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      Wow, that's one of the most impressive pieces of irrelevant spleen-galloping I've seen in ages.

      Haven't seen that kind of seamless use of slogans since I studied the wonderful 'paper tiger running dog lackey' language so beloved of Chairman Mao and his widow.

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    6. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Geez David ... being a pedant I went and had a look at the Fraser effort at criminalising people smuggling.... it's here: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2004A02313

      Now what is it about do you think? Bringing in illegal arrivals - folks without visas, asylum seekers? .... not a bar of it... number of passengers per vessel -no overcrowding, no death trips... lots of stuff about planes and basically part of a deal to make the management of the exodus from Vietnam manageable and less lethal…

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    7. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, oh there is still far, far, more that I have given you in those two posts to keep you going for some time yet. But I just want to say up front, I never said you were "here to help canonise Malcolm Fraser" (though you do); nor have I ever given even a hint of trying something so basically meaningless (to me at least) as 'portray Fraser as John Howard Lite'? For one thing, my "dominant culture" and white way of thinking about chronological time, cause effect, and stuff, I might be able to come…

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    8. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Nice froth ... now "cherry picking" vietnamese refugees and the Keating desert gulag please, history wallah...

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    9. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "cherry-picking"? Peter, I hadn't even thought this before I read your post. Now, I don't ask as a boast, but more out of shock at the implications for how hopelessly amateurish and low-rent this whole public debate is, especially among academic and multi-degreed types, among whom you'd think this stuff was chip wrapping. Not to mention Pulitzerr-comparable political journos, who were covering this stuff from wo to go at that very time?
      But do you think you could find, even on TC, as comprehensive…

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    10. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      my grievous error David ... your expression was " hand-picking from SE Asian refugee camps." I fruited it up ... an occupational hazard.

      Point is your were clearly implying some sort of selection process...aside from a chronic lack of evidence. You also accused Keating of "build(ing) desert concentration camps to lock them up, and chang(ing) the laws to make that detention potentially forever."

      Now as a bit of a student of such matters these are new allegations to me and I wondered where they came from. I am still wondering. Evidence a bit scant is it?

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    11. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter I have made it quite clear, I have ALL this stuff at hand. This is how I form my views and opinions. I make sure I've got the facts straight. However, I am not going to use TC to download every twist and turn of the the 30 year long discourse that Rudd is only controlling at the margins in one post. Besides the fact, it would bore ME to do so, and take too much time. So, when I'm here I'll post what seems pertinent at that time. But the first thing we need to do is introduce you the REAL facts of Fraser and the boat people. A real story, and I've already said, should be known by heart, especially by those who lived it.
      But given it looks like you're not going to be able to spot even the most obvious disco-flashing lights. I just looked down that list. There are least eight items that should make smoke billow out your ears, and blue-lights flash out your behind.

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    12. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Glad it's to hand ... shouldn't be hard then...

      (1) any evidence that we hand-picked refugees in Vietnamese refugee processing stations

      (2) same for Keating's gulag of desert detention centres.

      To hand eh... one for typing ... I hate to think what the other one's doing... Stop it immediately and track down your evidence.

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    13. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, since you're obviously going to turn all Pauline yourself to these news facts, you find too inconvenient, with no more comment, than "I don't like it", Progessor Higgins will spend some of his pro bono quota here tonight, as he has stumbled upon an ingenious way to speed up time, if Professor Higgins exchanges his phonetics methods - basically, you reaching a similar sounding narrative as mine - for the old Athenian who hemlock ensured he dialected no more. From the info, I included in that…

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    14. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Can't see anything about cherry-picking or hand-picking or any other sort of selective process as you suggest.

      I can see no evidence of the gulags straddling the Simpson either ... this handy evidence rather than a quick search ...

      The technical term is sprung, David.

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    15. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, Huh? None of three Julian Burnside quotes I've set you are about those things.

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    16. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Saw Tribune got a mention in there, Peter. That must have brought the memories flooding back.

      Sorry, but I just couldn't resist.

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    17. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, how can a post, which sets out a systematic history of the very origins of the debates we are having in 2013 about 'boat people be "irrelevant"? How can it be "irrelevant" to post proof that claims by certain vested interest groups in 2013, which rely on a presentation of the 1970/80s responses and discourse as far superior to 2013, are false?

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    18. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Not false David - just nothing about hand-picked Vietnamese refugees or Keating gulags yet...so irrelevant.

      Stick to the assertions at hand.

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    19. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/2012-2013/Detention

      "In response to this second wave of boat arrivals the Port Hedland Immigration Reception and Processing Centre opened in 1991 in order to accommodate some of the (mostly Cambodian) asylum seekers. The removal of asylum seekers to this relatively isolated centre on the site of a disused mining camp in north-west Western Australia attracted criticism from the Refugee Council of Australia…

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    20. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      No there is nothing new in this ... as I pointed out above I am aware of Gerry Hand's ill-advised response to Cambodian refugee boats. I am also aware of the initial response of Fraser's government to uninvited arrivals.

      What I am interested in is any actual evidence for the initial claim above that Australia hand-picked refugees from the Vietnam exodus and that Keating established desert concentration camps.

      Still haven't.

      I just think folks who want to invent or revise history should have some evidence to back their view - not saying it didn't happen - just some evidence would be nice.

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    21. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Port Hedland...Processing Centre...isolated...disused mining camp...north-west Western Australia..criticism from the Refugee Council of Australia...Darwin...Roebourne...time limit was subsequently removed...indefinite detention...in custody for over four years

      You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

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    22. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, for the third time now, I posted a sample of these false facts about the past being used in 2013. I asked you to comment on them to at least signal you are at least willing to become more informed about current debates, even if doing so might deeply wound your long held prejudices. So far, not only have you refused even to acknowledge their undeniable existence - let alone their broadcasting as we speak - but you demand (i) we just sweep all this under the carpet and (ii) move away from it…

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    23. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, these facts you now claim unawareness of, are only very, very recent awarenesses, provided by me. Each time you demand answers to a new set of questions, you are merely goal-post moving. But at least I have seen some definite learning happening. But the Fraser period seems to frozen you both intellectually and perhaps ethically too. Again, fear of facing.

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    24. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      David ... one last time ... one simple question... the same one I've been asking all along ....

      Do you have any evidence to support your contention that the Australian Government hand-picked Vietnamese refugees ?

      I will accept the contention re the "desert concentration camps" - although no one who lives in any of these places would regard them as "deserts". It is simply hyperbole stretched beyond its geographical underpinnings after all ... a quibble ... Wrong then, wrong now.

      Always liked Gerry Hand but this was a major political and policy blunder in hindsight ... the wrong thing always is. Even if it "works".

      Wonder what happened in 1994 to make it just stop. Have a look at that.

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    25. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      OK, Peter, it seems it all too scary and confusing, so I'll break it down into smaller bits. Let's start with Julian's claims about how different things were when Mal was the boss. Just the first two re-posted for now. All you need to know is in my chrononology posted two days ago.
      1. "And how many of us pause to remember how different it was for 85,000 Vietnamese boat people 30 years ago? They were resettled here swiftly and without fuss, thanks to the simple human decency which Malcolm Fraser and Ian Macphee showed."
      http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/2829188.html
      2, ""It is easy to forget that the Fraser government received about 25,000 Indochinese boatpeople each year, without a murmur from the community."
      http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/2829188.html

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    26. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      This is evidence of "hand-picking" ? Different altogether ...

      I have my own recollections of the decency and humanity that greeted the initial arrivals - particularly from the media - but to his and the government's credit Fraser didn't retreat into xenophobic canutism... he and John Menadue worked out a way to manage the unmanageable, but in the process to settle significant numbers of refugees - both in Australia and elsewhere. In essence a humanitarian response in the final analysis and that is how history - and a heck of a lot of Vietnamese Australians - will remember him.

      But keep trying - I agree with your parents re Fraser myself - just don't make stuff up like suggesting things such as hand-picking refugees from camps and keep an eye on your hyperpole's geographical underpinnings.... Port Hedland - desert indeed!

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    27. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      This stunningly naked and so lame bait and switch, basically outs you as a liar in your claim, you are "not here to help canonise Malcolm Fraser". But worse is what it says when you say "I have my own recollections of the decency and humanity that greeted the initial arrivals..." You do know the word for a person who remains dogged in their biased views, no matter how much evidence of reality to the contrary is presented, don't you? Bigot.

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    28. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      No David, read carefully and quote fully - as I explained I'm with your old folks when it comes to Malcolm and yes I recall Macphee's initial reactions and the headlines on Murdoch's tabloids and TV... but it didn't end there. They fixed it. Humanely. Eventually.

      And not by hand-picking refugees as you allege.

      Now David your duds are flapping around about your knees and it is not a pretty image at all... so please go and hop into some trackies or something comfy and find something more significant to argue about.

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    29. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Now, about these recollections of daisy chains and national kumbaya days. Perhaps you were involved in a group hug of sheer delight at your moral fabulousness with Julian and the gang. After all, Julian's recollections are pretty much yours. Julian says:
      3. "The debate about asylum seekers was poisoned from the beginning by the Howard government, which spoke ominously about “border control”, and referred to boat people as “illegals” and “queue-jumpers”.
      http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/youve-been-misled-on-boat-people-here-are-the-facts-20130718-2q5rv.html
      But hang on, doesn't my little chronology post above prove this recollection is either a fabrication or lie?

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    30. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Hello Peter. This may seem out of left field given the focus of most postings here, but it has relevance.
      In the last Guardian Weekly there is a leader article regarding the crisis concerning Syrians fleeing the awful situation in their country. The number of internally displaced and refugees who have made it to neighbouring countries is in the millions.
      The writer speaks of the need for wealthy countries, including the UK to take refugees for permanent settlement because if nothing is done, the…

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    31. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to lavinia kay moore

      One of the heartening things about the refugee dilemma is the tolerance of those countries which have little choice other than to accept often regular waves of displaced persons from next door.
      Jordan is a case in point. Pakistan hosts the world's largest number of refugees from memory. Tends to be the nature of catastrophes that they happen in regions where catastrophes are commonplace.

      According to the UNHCR - developing countries host 81 per cent of the world’s refugees compared to 70 per…

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  20. Nev Norton

    Farmer

    I think there is no solution such as Andrew would propose, or anybody else as far as i have seen. The only solution or perhaps more accurately the reality of the situation is that arrivals authorised or irregular will continue to happen no matter what, given our actions as a society are governed by guilt, compassion and tolerance coupled with the never ending conflict afflicting the middle east, admittedly some by our own hand. I think we will simply continue taking asylum seekers in ever greater…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Nev Norton

      Alternatively, Nev, maybe life within a more tolerant, secular society will (given a bit of time) in fact calm the more extreme elements of Islam. our history suggests that, while there will be a few bumps and problems along the way, we'll cope with any new groups of people as we have coped with plenty of others in the past. I mean, I'm old enough to remember when 'wog' was fighting words - now it's pretty much a term of endearment!

      After all, though it's taken us a while and the job is by no means finished, we've done a reasonable basic job of civilising Christianity

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    2. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Nev Norton

      Your's might be a better suggestion than you think, Nev. Better, surely, to afford more compassion, even if it entails studying the Q'uran and submitting to Allah, as you suggest, than kow-towing to the zealous fervorinos of those who seek to defend a supposedly freedom-loving Australian Christian civilisation that they manifestly do not represent in these columns.

      I for one would single out Scott Morrison as first in line to qualify as a fervent and home-grown jihadist par excellence. Somehow both stereotypes - of his mouth-frothing vitriol and that of an equivalent Caliphist - morph into one when I watch and listen to them on the telly.

      Scribble a beard and turban on him and voila...you have the perfect mirror image of precisely the kind of fatwa-imposing fanatic that we are terrified to death of overrunning our supposedly fair-minded and tolerant country!

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  21. Ahmad Khumaidi

    Law Postgraduate Student at Flinders University

    Similar opinion, or proposal, of providing asylum seekers and refugees with particular visa regime, an easy or fairly accessible one, has been putting on the discussion table by some academics and humanitarian activists for quite some time. This time, I think that Andrew's proposal is a good solution not only to provide alternatives for Australia to show better management of its obligation to the UN Refugee Convention but also to send a message to those who are seeking asylum that legal way to seek…

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    1. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Ahmad Khumaidi

      Ahmed you say,

      "The fact that such immigration regime always considers security factor as its top priority consideration in granting a visa, to give asylum seekers such an opportunity to apply a temporary visa from their home soil will be the last option for any ruling Australian government."

      Sadly you are probably right. It's the job of the rest of us - maybe 10 to 15% to drive it home to the sheeple that terrorism should not be our No. 1 priority and since 911 has been a deliberately overblown problem nurtured by the US and the rest of the Western governments.

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    2. Ahmad Khumaidi

      Law Postgraduate Student at Flinders University

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      Yes, like it or not, security issue will always be one of the crucial elements for assessing visa application, especially if we talk about terrorism. Indeed, the 9/11 can be an overblown in some aspects; yet, the psychological impact of such devastating event is huge. And don't forget the Bali Bombings, it also has a huge impact on Australia's policy making. I would say, this fear-driven immigration policy will be likely still in practice for the next decades as long as there there are conflicts…

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  22. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    An actual workable solution with room to adjust as circumstances change, Manus & Nauru as emergency back-up or somewhere to hold more 'difficult' refugees, where their status appears dodgy.

    Of course the 'bleeding-heart-accusers' will fail to understand the reasons behind this idea.

    Also, the Lib/Labs have gone too far with their downward spiral of 'might-is-right' ideas, to admit that maybe they could do a lot better than either party has managed for the past 15 years.

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  23. Thomas Fields

    "progressive" watcher

    I have a solution: Let the "progressives" fund all these extra quotas from their own salaries.

    *Hears crickets*

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      I have a solution. Let the "insert-one-dimensional-label-of-your-choice-here-s" fund all the overseas concentration and local camps from their own salaries.

      Oh, hang on, that's already happening...only it's being forced on all of us, isn't it?

      *hears toads*

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    2. Thomas Fields

      "progressive" watcher

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Australians are under no obligation to fund anything outside its borders. The UN is not elected by Australians, therefore we have no obligation to it.

      If "progressives" want to fix the world's problems, they can do it out of their own pockets instead of conceiving the Australian tax payer as its own personal bank account.

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    3. Aleksandra Hadzelek

      Lecturer in International Studies at University of Technology, Sydney

      In reply to Thomas Fields

      Well, such is the reality of democracy that we elect a government to soend our tax money on our behalf. I don't like the idea that my tax money funds a lot of military spending, and if it were up to me I would put all of my tax contributions into schools and hospitals. But it's not up to me, isn't it?

      The only thing that is up to me is to vote for the political party whose policies are the closest to my own individual preferences.

      I find these proposals about financing something from one's personal bank account, or hosting refugees in one's home etc., completely childlish and unproductive.

      As individuals, we do not live in separation from other individuals, we are part of the society. As a nartion-state we do not exist in separation from the rest of the world. We can attempt to setting some boundaries - and we do - but we will never fully distance ourselves from the rest of the world. Unless we want to be a North Korea.

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  24. John Clark

    Manager

    Andrew, A well structured description of the problem, but there certainly are holes in the proposal. Nonetheless, it is more constructive than most posts, and does apply logic that could result in a solution emerging. Strange that such proposals are predicated on increasing the number, witness the now discredited "expert" panel. To those respondents seeking bi-partisanship, we now have it, but it is yet to be seen if the smugglers react as expected (hoped?).

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  25. Graeme Alastair McLeay

    Retired

    A good summary of the problems.
    Agree let's up the intake to 50k .There is no 'queue', so let's create one. This will at least give desperate people some hope. Return people who arrive by boat, plane or whatever to UNHCR sanctioned camps and back load the planes with an equal or greater number of refugees who have waited for years.This would "stop the boats" and we could then get on with looking after our refugees on Australian soil instead of creating gulags and locking children and innocent people up. Then we could be proud of Australia: oh, and it would be cheaper too!

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  26. Ian Rudd

    Retired accountant

    Andrew, a well thought out proposal which tries to take on the moral as well as the practical aspects of this issue. I also like the fact that you have drawn attention to the refugee intake in the context of our total immigrant intake most of whom are recruited to this country to help fulfill our economic goals and satisfy property developers and other corporate interests.

    To those on the right who object to granting asylum to "boat people" on the grounds that Australia has the right to choose who it allows into this country I will say that we already choose to accept 200 000 or so into this country so why can't 50 000 or so of them be allowed in for humanitarian reasons?

    Perhaps it is more about a combination of selfishness and racism than it is about protecting our borders.

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      And what do you say to those on the left?

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    2. Graham Mantle

      Would be if I could be (but retired)

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      So what about doing another 'Snowy scheme'? Much better for all concerned to have a worthwhile objective than argue over welfare entitlements. The European 'reffos' were proud of what was achieved with their involvement. Whether it's water, high speed rail or whatever, we should get on with it and make use of all the additional labour that asylum seekers (and people who are losing other jobs) offer.
      We aren't less able to fund a huge enterprise than we were then. If they could be sure a government wouldn't sell out on them (like withTelecom and electricity), Australians would even invest.

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    3. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Graham Mantle

      Graham,

      There are all sorts of productive ways to employ people including, as you mentioned a high speed rail system. We could begin in a serious way to roll out renewable energy supply and distribution, claw back some of the ground lost over the decades in our education system and many more such things that don't necessarily revolve around profits and material consumption but are for the common good.

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  27. Michael Leonard Furtado

    Doctor at University of Queensland

    Is it just me (or does some fond illusion mock me)? Are we...dare we be approaching a consensus on this question? Can the asylum seekers be flown in and processed according to the figures agreed upon by both sides here? Have we actually moved on (God be praised!) from calling one another bleeding heart socialists, air-head academics, 1960s lefties, Islamophobes, racists and xenophobes?

    Guys (and gels) keep at it because the discussion holds out a glimmer of hope even while the pollies keep upping…

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  28. Barry Bell

    logged in via Twitter

    Sensible & comprehensive article -- thanks for this Andrew. No partisan raving either -- nice change.

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  29. Steven Waters

    logged in via Facebook

    after the Vietnam war over a million refugees fled to many countries. many ended up in camps in Asian countries and were subjected to poor conditions experiencing rape, violence and many diseases. the UN stepped in and started a program to empty the camps and resettles them in western counties. Australia received about 137,000. there are a lot of similarities now except they are coming from various countries. many are coming from Iraq and like in Vietnam after a conflict that the west got involved…

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Steven Waters

      John Menadue has been writing some sense of late - worth a google.

      He was running Immigration at the time and played a major role in developing the regional response on Vietnam.

      Decent human being. Very rare in Immigration.

      If you can't find anything let me know and I'll track some down.

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Steven Waters

      Steven, Malcolm Fraser let only 2,000 Vietnamese boat people reach Australian soil over a 7 year period. Before you make any damning comparisons between today's realities and your glory days of the Rule Of Moral Mal, you'd better do the Math first.

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  30. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

    logged in via Twitter

    Patrick Stokes, while you claim that the constitution is a legal one, as a CONSTITUTIONALIST I hold that it also includes moral issues, as for this certain provisions are inserted in the constitution. Delegate Mr Howe during the 1897 and 1898 debates persisted successfully to have the Commonwealth dealing with Old age and invalid pensions as he held that it was a moral issue that only the Commonwealth could properly cater for this. He also made clear that many became paupers beyond their own fault…

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    1. David Winderlich

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      The IQ on this forum is higher than on the standard online discussion. Participants quote research and link to graphs. Gold stars everyone.
      The EQ however seems as low as anywhere. Can we disagree without abusing each other?
      And if you do hold strong views on this issue - for the record I am all for the boat people, it wouldn't hurt to remind yourselves that insulting those who disagree with you is unlikely to open their hearts or minds.

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    2. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      Dear G H

      Thanks for your point about the presumed morally sacrosanct nature of the Constitution. The fact is that it is a living document, several aspects of which have been changed by the citizens of Australia at referendums as well as by judicial interpretation of the High Court.

      The Founding Fathers made allowance in the Constitution itself for both contingencies in which conflict might arise in matters of how to proceed both constitutionally and, as you appear to point out, morally…

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    3. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to David Winderlich

      Hi there, David

      Nice reminder, though I'm not sure GH intended an insult.

      More to the point, in my view (unless I misread him), is his apparent insistence that the Constitution with its originally flawed treatment of Aborigines and corny constructions of whiteness, is not just a legal document but a moral one.

      The Constitution may only be moral, in my view, if we were to change it, as we have done, to reflect contemporary standards of morality and even then there would be argument amongst…

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  31. Michael Hay

    retired

    It seems to me that all the comments imply that the refugee/asylum seeker is Australia's to fix. But the problem is a world-wide one and there is a world-wide organisation which should have the capacity to become involved.
    Just imagine if the UN delegates were to discuss how many of the seekers each country in the UN would take on a humanitarian basis and thus find homes for the millions of displaced persons already seeking a place to go to.
    In the 1970's, as Malcolm Fraser points out, Vietnamese…

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