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Does Indonesia care about turning back the boats?

In the coming days, prime minister Kevin Rudd will visit Indonesia to discuss asylum seeker policy with Indonesian officials, including Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Rudd’s visit will…

Just how much co-operation can Tony Abbott expect from Indonesia leaders on his plan to turn back asylum seeker boats? EPA/Adi Weda

In the coming days, prime minister Kevin Rudd will visit Indonesia to discuss asylum seeker policy with Indonesian officials, including Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Rudd’s visit will no doubt further a national debate that has recently dominated Australian political discourse.

At this stage, the days-old Rudd government has provided little solution to the issue, but has promised to work collaboratively with the Indonesian government to find one. The Coalition, on the other hand, has been extremely vocal in their presentation of asylum seeker policy.

But according to Rudd, if opposition leader Tony Abbott’s policy was to be implemented, there would be a conflict with Indonesia later this year.

Abbott, of course, said there will be no conflict. Shadow foreign minister Julie Bishop said that in private conversations with senior Indonesian politicians and officials, they have confirmed that Indonesia would “co-operate” with the initiative to turn the boats around.

But Bishop’s claims have been met by public assertions to the contrary from many Indonesian officials, including vice president Boediono, foreign minister Marty Natalegawa and Indonesia’s Ambassador to Australia Nadjib Riphat Kesoema.

While it is a little surprising that Bishop herself feels free to reveal the content of such conversations, it is true that the megaphone has often been the chosen device for Australian diplomatic communication with Indonesia.

If Abbott takes office later this year and implements his policy of turning back the boats, it is clear what Yudhoyono will do. He will follow his trademark political strategy: do nothing. There is no political incentive for him to do anything else, which it can only be assumed that Tony Abbott is well aware of.

This, however, is not the real question.

The real question is what Yudhoyono’s successor as Indonesian president would do. Presidential elections are due to be held in Indonesia in July 2014. If no candidate wins an absolute majority in the first round, then a second round of voting - limited to the top two candidates - will be held in September. And Yudhoyono cannot stand again, having reached the constitutionally-determined limit of two terms.

The campaign for the election has already begun. Advertising for the three currently declared candidates – Aburizal Bakrie, Prabowo Subianto and Wiranto - has been splashed across televisions throughout the country.

Most polls are currently showing Prabowo in the lead, though generally with only about 20% of the survey vote. But there are other candidates expected to come forward in the next few months. These include Joko Widodo, the Jakarta govenor; Jusuf Kalla, Yudhoyono’s first Vice President; Mahfud MD, the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court; and Megawati Sukarnoputri - though the recent death of her husband may change her plans.

For all of these candidates, the asylum seeker issue is not a major policy concern. It does have some resonance domestically, but mostly in terms of the desire of asylym seekers to flee Indonesia - and the plight they face in doing so. The “not my problem” syndrome is still dominant.

Indeed, the Indonesian relationship with Australia as a whole is not particularly important to Indonesia’s presidential candidates.

What this means is that the response to Abbott’s plans will be opportunistic rather than principled. They will be influenced by how the issue plays out in local and regional politics rather than in terms of any humanitarian concerns. In other words – it will be a response remarkably similar to Australia’s.

Of the declared Indonesian presidential candidates, currently only Prabowo looks like he has a serious chance of winning the top job. Can we say anything about how he might respond to the opposition’s policy? One Indonesian academic said of him recently that:

He will be very cruel to Australia. He will let the boats go. He will give food and petrol and money to ships and tell them to just go, go to Australia.

This is probably – hopefully - an exaggeration. But Prabowo certainly has no affection for Australia, and would not hesitate to frustrate Australian government policy if there was political benefit in doing so. And his track record suggests he would be quite prepared to sacrifice the lives of asylum seekers to make a political point.

But even if it is someone else who ends up as Indonesian president in 2014, there is no guarantee that their position will be any more favourable to Australia. All the arguments that have previously attempted to explain Indonesia’s reluctance to additionally assist Australia in this matter will still be valid.

These arguments may have been strengthened during the election campaign. It currently seems likely that many of the candidates will campaign on platforms of greater political and economic nationalism than was the case in 2009.

In the Indonesian community, there is currently a rising sense of concern at the influence that foreigners and foreign interests are supposedly having on domestic and foreign policy. No new president is likely to go against this trend, and allow Australia to be seen to be dictating policy to Indonesia.

Regardless of who wins the next Indonesian elections, it seems highly unlikely they would accept the return of asylum seekers. Does this mean there will be conflict with Indonesia if Abbott tries to “turn the boats back” later this year, should he win government?

The avoidance of conflict lies largely in Abbott’s court – even moreso given his assertion that his foreign policy would be focused on in Jakarta rather than Geneva.

So if Tony Abbott does take office as prime minister later this year, look out for a creative interpretation of what “co-operate” means.

Join the conversation

58 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Henry Verberne

    Former IT Professional

    Abbott is am sure, aware that Indonesia will not tolerate turning back the boats but like many of his confident assertions this is another empty slogan designed to be hairy chested which will resonate with the outrage and fear of some of the voters.

    It is only another device to get him into power and then it will not happen!

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  2. Russell Walton
    Russell Walton is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired

    Of course the Indonesians don't care about turning back the boats, why should they?

    How does a liberal democratic state 'turn the boats back' without the use of force. The entire idea is a xenophobic fantasy, our refugee problem is relatively minor by international standards.

    Perhaps the government could borrow Harry Potter's magic wand.

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  3. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    You would have thought that both Gillard and Rudd would be fully aware of who the possible new Presidents will be and their positions re Indonesian people smugglers thwarting their laws even if some Indonesians are profitting from the support of such actions.

    It is likely that Rudd's gifts will be just more freebies for nothing in return and an LNP government will still be left with this situation to get a solution to, the people smugglers having stopped their trade previously and no doubt there will be a number of actions that can be used again, even refugee camps off shore rather than detention centres and the refugees will have the priveleges of refugees anywhere else on the planet in being able to apply for resettlement just as occurs now with refugees in refugee camps.

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    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Greg North

      There are no people smugglers thwarting any frigging laws. The people smugglers you whinge about merely provide transport and how they do that and who the refugees pay when we refuse to allow them entry visas has nothing to do with us.

      The clowns in Canberra seem to have some in the community believe that there are king pins running around war zones enticing people in comfort and safety to leave their homes and travel half way round the world for no reason.

      It is the refugees who need and demand the transport and that is not smuggling, it has never been smuggling in any country except this one since Ruddock made it all up 14 years ago.

      Fair dinkum, how do people remain so woefully ignorant.

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    2. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      "How do people remain so woefully ignorant?" Beats me Marilyn, they must put a lot of effort into it.

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    3. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      Take a good look at yourself Ian.

      From our point of view you a bloody well ignorant!

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  4. Greg Boyles

    Lanscaper and former medical scientist

    If Australia rescinded the UN refugee convention then the incentive for illegal immigrants to fly to Indonesia, causing their society major problems, would and then board boats to gain illegal entry to Australia would cease.

    I don't blame Indonesian politicians wanting to fuel and provision the boats and send them to Australia - get rid of them.

    WE are the cause of Indonesia's illegal immigration problems rather than Indonesia being the cause of Australia's illegal immigrant problem.

    Rescinding…

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    1. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      To Greg North and Greg Boyle,

      Your analyses are realistic.

      The setting up of a refugee camp, at about the same level as, or even perhaps a little more comfortable than, the many camps in Africa and other countries one sees so frequently on TV, could hardly be argued against, but it would return illegal immigrants immediately, to the level playing field with other unfortunate people in the same situation,awaiting UN assessment. Australia would and should, still play its part in resettling…

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      " If Australia rescinded the UN refugee convention then the incentive for illegal immigrants to fly to Indonesia, causing their society major problems, would and then board boats to gain illegal entry to Australia would cease. "
      That is another option Greg though I doubt we would see a Labor government do that whilst celebrating their UNSC membership.

      As for people flying into Indonesia causing societal problems, I imagine it is far from that for the numbers for Indonesia are even far more minute…

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    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to John Nicol

      " Australia would and should, still play its part in resettling these people, once assessed in regular fashion, alongside those from other such camps elsewhere. "
      That is the key John and just as Australia nor other resettling countries cannot ever guarantee resettlement from any refugee camps, that would also apply for refugees in a regional refugee camp, they also being able to apply for resettlement to any resettling country.

      I would expect that once this situation became known, there would be far less ecomomic refugees paying out large amounts of money to head towards Indonesia.

      Indonesia also have a problem of their own making to some extent in allowing for many passport holders to get visas on entry
      http://www.projectvisa.com/visainformation/Indonesia
      and there has been speculation in the past that a number countries with predominantly Islamic religion have relatively free travel arrangements with one another.

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    4. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to John Nicol

      There is no such thing as an illegal immigrant and why do you clowns think we can continually shove responsibility onto other people?

      We are the ones who guaranteed we would care for those who arrive here, not Indonesia or anywhere else.

      As we are the only clowns whinging about some mythical regional solution to the non=question do you realise we would then be responsible for the 8 million refugees in the region.

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    5. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Like I have said Marilyn.....

      You bring nothing more to the debate than an ideological driven political agenda.

      If you REALLY cared about refugees you wouldn't be sitting behind that PC lecturing us about being racists and bastards blah blah blah!

      If you REALLY cared about refugees you would be volunteering for a charity and working in the UN refugee camps at great personal sacrifice!

      If we opened our borders as you are pushing for, and it went bad such that your lifestyle was badly affected, you would be among the first morons to complain the loudest to the government.

      Just be quiet you old dear! You are merely embarrassing yourself!

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    6. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to John Nicol

      They are not bypassing any legal system, they are only allowed to ask for asylum if they are here.

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  5. Tony Grant

    Student

    Tanya Plibersek on Q&A let it be known that Sophie Mirabella (coalition) didn't care for these "People In Boats" their lives! Mirabella in manufactured resentment..how dare you, to that effect.

    I think this point is missed in the conversation on Immigration/Refugees, Mirabella actually said there are people in Labor that really don't want to stop the boats? I can almost hear the "got them" from the coalition but the issue really is one political party would if they could not only stop the boats…

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Tony Grant

      I think you are prattling somewhat Tony, especially re turning sinking boats and that Pell would have anything to do with LNP policies.

      Building infrastructure and rejuvenating towns that are dying all sounds quite delicious and so it ought to be when we have a government that already has us in hock to the tune of $300B.

      And then if Australians do not want to live out in the sticks where it can be quite hot compared to more coastal locations, why would you expect others to, new-comers as you…

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    2. Tony Grant

      Student

      In reply to Greg North

      Yes Greg stick to your "retired rhetoric"...the coalition and "yesterday's thinking"...so boring!

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    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Tony Grant

      Check out the release of the book " The stalking of.......guess who and by whom!, an extract and a hint!
      " Gillard was forced into fighting a ludicrous battle against a man who had been removed from office because he was incapable of governing, who was despised by the overwhelming majority of his caucus colleagues and, most importantly, whose return many feared would plummet the government into the same chaotic state that had prompted his removal. "

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    4. Tony Grant

      Student

      In reply to Greg North

      What?

      I'm talking a global issue and you are into coalition "small talk" see how your generation really buggered up the world?

      Better broaden your knowledge base on Rudd's demise.

      I see that Engineers have joined solicitors and economists as "surplus to needs"!

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  6. Rajan Venkataraman

    Citizen

    Prof Brown

    Thanks very much for this useful primer on the Indonesian view of this issue and the politics at play in that country.

    There are a couple of things that I think need to be teased out though.

    I would have thought that Indonesia - as an aspiring middle power on the world stage - would have wanted to protect its reputation and therefore would be sensitive about thousands of asylum seekers departing its shores (virtually in Jakarta's backyard) every year in unseaworthy boats with…

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Rajan Venkataraman

      " So, what do we know about corruption of Indonesia's security agencies and what factor does this play in the political calculus there? "

      We know that Asia has a significant level of corruption in many countries, Indonesia included and that with over 200M people and something like 4000 islands, central government in Indonesia is in deed very central and so a lot is going on at local levels where little control gets exerted.

      Many people in most Asian countries, officials and Indonesia included would not give two hoots about what foreigners are bringing upon themselves and then there will be those more closely involved with the people smuggling who are only too happy for the income from payments and officials quite happy to get extra income by not doing anything to stop what is going on.

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    2. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Rajan Venkataraman

      It is not their place to stop anyone from leaving Indonesia.

      You and others seem to live in this fantastically weird bubble of air that says countries must force people they don't want to stay there.

      And there are no smugglers, it is a legal right to seek asylum and how they do it and who they pay has zero bearing on that fact that the lazy, racist Australian parliament and media forget.

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  7. Fred Payne

    retired

    Didn't the coalition object to the 'Malaysia Solution" because the human rights of the people sent back could not be guaranteed? I'm having a bit of a problem understanding how these rights will be better protected by turning the boats back.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Fred Payne

      I think you will find Fred, the main focus is on wanting to stop boats leaving so as to save potentially hundreds if not thousands of lives.

      It is the spreading of stories about what the Labor government has been offering by way of initially bribes of $$$ to return home and now welfare $$$ for just getting here that entice people as far away as Sri Lanka to get a boat organised, there being a couple of instances where fishing boats have been stolen and even some crews gone missing in that occurring…

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

    Environmentalist

    Thank you for this piece of analysis, Colin Brown.

    Both Rudd and Abbott have overstepped themselves on this appalling situation for refugees. While I do not support Labor's current immigration policies, I am more concerned at a possible Abbott led government. Although, there would be much entertainment to be elicited from watching Abbott negotiate the world stage, the cost in human life would not be worth it.

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    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I don't know why there is this national obsession about nothing much though.

      There are 7 billion people on earth, 2 billion are hungry, 1 billion are homeless, 800 million are without clean water, 45 million are displaced but we WHINGE AND CARP INCESSANTLY ABOUT 25,000 ASKING US FOR HELP.

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    2. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      I REPEAT.

      You bloody bleeding hearts are not in the slightest bit genuinely concerned about refugees.

      You have a political ideology, as irrational as it is, and you will do and say anything to get you political way regardless of the long term consequences for your children and grand children.

      If you were genuinely concerned about refugees then you would follow the example of your Jesus Christ, give away all your worldly possessions and devote the remainder of your lives to helping refugees outside of Australia in refugee camps where the most desperate refugees can be found.

      But no.

      Your only aim in in life is to sit behind your PC in your comfortable office and lecture the rest of us about the issue.

      Arm chair humanitarians with a political chip on your shoulders and NOTHING more!

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    3. Russell Walton
      Russell Walton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      We're islanders with an insular mentality and many Australians are easy prey to scaremongers even though the number of refugees reaching Australia is relatively small by international standards.

      The Coalition can't stop the flow of refugees either but I'll bet that the refugee 'crisis' will disappear from the Murdoch media if Abbott becomes PM.

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    4. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Russell Walton

      Russell why don't you provide some evidence that the number of 'boat people' will remain at low levels in the long term if we let you bleeding hearts get you way and 'open' the borders to them!

      I think we have seen plenty of evidence thus far that the numbers will increase massively and rapidly if we do take a soft stance towards them!

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    5. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      And there is nothing immoral in Australians being concerned that, if we let this get out of control, our immigration program will virtually dictated to us by people smugglers and those who engage their services.

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    6. Russell Walton
      Russell Walton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Greg, you're making a straw man, I didn't make any predictions as to future numbers or suggest 'opening our borders'. Claims by Coalition politicians that they have a solution is simply populist posturing.

      The only effective deterrent would be to sink the boats or force them out to sea and provide them with the directions to NZ. Our neighbours in SE Asia have adopted similar methods in the past, however I don't think that's a realistic option for a Western liberal democratic nation.

      If the Americans and their allies refrained from invading and destabilising Third World countries the flow of refugees would be reduced considerably.

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    7. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Russell Walton

      They have a choice Russell.

      Luckily the Sri Lanken illegal immigrants can be returned without any impediment, presumably due to the Sri Lanken government's cooperation.

      But the rest get an ultimatum.

      They can stay in detention for the remainder of their lives or they can disclose what country they came from and volunteer to return to it.

      At least with the latter alternative they can make another attempt to apply for asylum through the proper UN channels.

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  9. Marilyn Shepherd

    pensioner

    Why do people give this sort of filth oxygen in the first place? It is illegal, it is immoral and it is murderous so what is the point.

    It's beyond astounding that just after the UNHCR reports the greatest refugee crisis around the world in the last 20 years the only response from Australia's racist two packs of cowards is how to deny help to most of them.

    WE have obligations, we are not exempt from the law and we have to stop this garbage now.

    We look and sound like the white trash of the Pacific lecturing to the brown neighbours and acting as if they are colonies of Australia.

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    1. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Why don't you show us all how it is done Marilyn!

      Sell your home and donate the proceeds to a refugee charity and work for them as a volunteer at great personal sacrifice.

      Unless you are prepared to walk the talk NO ONE here is going to take you irrational lecturing seriously!

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    2. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Marilyn I, and I am sure I can speak for many who think similarly on this issue as me, AM NOT AGAINST taking in a sensible and reasonable number of genuine refugees from recognized UN refugee camps where they have been waiting patiently and respectfully for years or decades to be resettled.

      But I will not tolerate being manipulated and blackmailed into accepting people who can afford to fly to Indonesia, pay thousands dollars per head for a boat seat and then lob on our shores, after having deliberately discarded their passports, and all but demand that we let them in.

      As far as I am concerned they can PI$$ off and get to back of the line!

      If they are prepared to put their lives at risk by getting on an unseaworthy boat then they can equally put their lives at risk by going back to their country of origin and then request asylum through official channels like the millions of other refugees in UN camps around the globe do!

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  10. John C Smith

    Auditor

    STOP the Boat and BOATS. First’ Labour boat hijacked by Kevin’s pirates whose boat was hijacked by Julia’s; the first women pirate to reach heights of a far away land. Each time asylum seekers have been thrown over board or have jumped off. However they cling on until the boat gets capsized, hit a rock or reaches the Promised Land, but no one will blow it up with Greens or Independents; so that they earn more in political RIP. Then there are boats laden with oral claims (no valid tickets) for the five million dollar lotto. Indonesia got nothing to do with this lotto. As soon as we reject these gamblers’ claims, these asylum seekers and refugees will not buy tickets. So there is no problem with Indonesia and illegal arrival of crooks, terrorists, murderers the loving subjects of Australian bleeding hearts and the business clients of the Human Rights entrepreneurs.

    Stories say, pirates whatever the boat they row will destroy anything that floats, moves or stationery.

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  11. Bede nielsen

    Manager

    At the reported cost of well over $300,000 each asylum seeker, how do we keep affording them?

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    1. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Bede nielsen

      IT is not hard for any rational person to see that 'opening' our borders will soon result in the cost of community and government support of uninvited immigrants hugely exceeding, due to a blowout in numbers, the current cost of keeping a smaller number of uninvited immigrants in detention.

      $131 million in government support plus $605 million in charity support = close to $1 billion annually / about 10,000 or so people on bridging VISAs = $100,000 per immigrant.

      http://thestringer.com.au/australias-pathway-to-poverty-bridging-visas

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    2. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Plus all the indirect costs that large numbers of immigrants impose on Australian society - roads, hospital beds, water, poles and wires upgrades, destruction of koala habitat, welfare payments when the economy contracts,..........

      The same debate that we have recently had with big business and there 'big Australia'.

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    3. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      "The same debate that we have recently had with big business and there 'big Australia'."

      Which we must now repeat with the bleeding heart lobby!

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    4. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      On and on you prattle. If only the quantity of your comments could make up for their lack of quality it might be possible to put up with them.

      Ah, but it's not to be.

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    5. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      Take a look in the mirror Ian.

      You and your lobby do your own fair share of prattling!

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  12. Peter West

    CEO at Property

    I travel round the world a lot, it's funny I have to present my passport everywhere! I wasn't sure how long I needed to be in one country and neglected to have a valid outward bound ticket, was forced into a room and made to purchase one after a 3-hour wait! It I had not had a credit card I would have been on the first plane out! (or jailed).
    Indonesia has no interest in solving our problem, they're brothers after all! I'm a bit tired of the same old "we're racist" etc, argument, without any consideration of the security or financial cost issues. Go to some other countries, and see how they treat foreigners! "Never be allowed to own property, never be allowed to be involved in politics, never be allowed to vote" and so on.
    Our own strangths are being used to undermine our own country, of course it's great for vocal religious minorities and a potential gold mine for future Labor supporters.

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    1. Terry Mills

      lawyer retired

      In reply to Peter West

      On the Jakarta Q&A, which I found quite fascinating, the Indonesian commentators were saying that the asylum seekers were usually flying from the Middle East to Malaysia and as Muslims were given visa free entry. They then transited to Indonesia, evidently still visa free, and were taken by bus to departure points for transit to Australia; that, presumably applies to those with money who are not interested in becoming refugees until they are picked up by Australian authorities.

      I think SBY's announcement of a regional solution and talks with countries of origin, transit countries and destination countries is a good start; pointedly he cautioned against and unilateral action by any country (are you listening Tony ?)

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    2. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Terry Mills

      Given the Muslim solidarity, there is no way any talks are ever going to have a positive outcome!
      Yes, they'll talk, and stall us for ever. Obviously these illegal immigrants have plenty of money, just flitting around to shake us down with our UN "obligations" and social welfare programmes. "You're paid to make babies!" Wow! Another little arrival for a non-integrated ghetto.
      Time to get out of the UN, one of the most corrupt and anti-Western organisations around.
      Of course it's not likely as its another gravy train for craven, toadying, obsolete politicians.

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    3. Russell Walton
      Russell Walton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired

      In reply to Peter West

      Peter West,

      I agree to some extent, however we're bound by our liberal democratic principles, while our neighbours in Asia aren't, they can be as racist and xenophobic as they choose, we have to practise what we preach.

      I can't see how any democratic nation can "solve" the problem, the Coalition claim that it can, is populist nonsense, as is the expectation that we'll receive any help from SE Asian nations.

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    4. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Peter West

      And the really sad part is that is is some of OUR OWN are using our strengths to undermine our country.

      In some countries such individuals might be regarded by many as traitors or subversives!

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    5. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Terry Mills

      "pointedly he cautioned against and unilateral action by any country"

      Yeah well I suspect that this was probably pushed for by Rudd rather than coming spontaneously from the Indonesians!

      You speak of unilateral action by Australia, but what about the VISA free entry for muslims!

      Although probably originally well intentioned, this is a policy has a direct impact on Australia and indeed Indonesia itself.

      One of the Indonesian panelists commented on Indonesia having to chase and feed the hordes of illegal immigrants that collect in Indonesia as a result of their own misguided policy! And that it is costing their own nation dearly.

      If cooperation on modifying or rescinding their VISA free entry for muslims is not forthcoming soon then may be we should seriously consider some unilateral action, such as turning back boats, in order to send Indonesian politicians a message!

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  13. Pamela Curr

    logged in via Facebook

    some thoughts...
    Those advocating that wealthy rich politically stable Australia, withdraw from the UN convention of respected global citizen countries, may not find it NOT so comfortable to be a citizen of a pariah nation. Perhaps a little food for thought for all of us who so easily move around the world at will with our lovely little Aussie passports challenged by no one.

    Q and A in Indonesia had some fascinating insights and was incidentally far more entertaining than the usual Australian…

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    1. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Pamela Curr

      "may not find it NOT so comfortable to be a citizen of a pariah nation."

      Given the state of Europe, with economic collapse and no go muslim enclaves, I think that many Australians would be happy to be citizens of a pariah nation!!!!!!

      Europe is not one of our major trade partners anyway so who gives a crap if they shun us!

      China and Asia in general is our major trading partners and none of them are signatories to the UN refugee convention!

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    2. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      52 comments and not a solution even mentioned ! Lots of hot air, unpleasant writings and much arguing from fixed positions. No wonder we have governments that are unable to produce a debate - it would never be elected if it did not follow our national desire to whinge and then slur each others point of view.
      How about starting with some infrastructure ideas in order to employ such people who are granted the right to stay in The Land of Oz.
      The problem of asylum seekers, whether economic refugees or political ones does require some global thinking as well as regional discussion. With millions of displaced persons in the world there also need to be some solution to the reasons why refugees want to leave the country of the birth.
      Rational discussion on these matters would be better than the pitiful commentary which fills most of the 52 posts.

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    3. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Michael Hay

      "With millions of displaced persons in the world there also need to be some solution to the reasons why refugees want to leave the country of the birth"

      Yes Michael, the reason is that those countries and regions are over populated. There are not enough resources to go around and so, as has occurred countless times through human history, those groups within a society that do not have political power are marginalized and their access to resources restricted.

      This leads to poverty and a yearning to escape and make a better life some where else.

      But it does not serve ANYONE'S interests, least of all Australians, to make Australia like that which the refugees are escaping from.

      The solution to the refugee problem STARTS with fertility control in the source countries. NOT with immigration to Australia!

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  14. Tony Grant

    Student

    Indonesian...no!

    Tanya Plibersek to Sophie Mirabella Q&A last Monday...you (LNP) don't care about people in boats (health and safety).

    News on all channels...scenes from the middle east/Afghanistan another bomb goes off...Muslim "Bad"...wow....look at the boat people...look like Muslims?

    Australians care about the health and safety of these boat people...if that were the only election issue to vote for Abbott's mob 135 plus seats!

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