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Drowning mercy: why we fear the boats

There’s a Latin word: misericordia. It’s usually translated “mercy” or “pity”. Thomas Aquinas took misericordia to be a kind of grief at the suffering of others as if that suffering were our own. Alasdair…

Where does the Australian ‘fear’ of asylum seekers arriving by boat come from? AAP/Scott Fisher

There’s a Latin word: misericordia.

It’s usually translated “mercy” or “pity”. Thomas Aquinas took misericordia to be a kind of grief at the suffering of others as if that suffering were our own. Alasdair MacIntyre, the leading modern exponent of Thomist virtue ethics, sees misericordia as a responsiveness to the distress of others that offers the same concern we would normally show to those in our own family, community or country to total strangers.

Misericordia in this sense is the virtue of the Good Samaritan; it’s the virtue the ancient Chinese sage Mencius describes in the way we would rush to help a child who has fallen down a well, not through hope of reward, but simply through concern for the child – any child.

You might say this particular virtue went missing at sea the day the Special Air Service was ordered to board the MV Tampa. We have been doing our best to keep it from surfacing ever since.

And so it has come to this. Not only are we denying asylum seekers arriving by boat any prospect of resettlement in Australia, we are publishing pictures of their anguish at being told so. Whether this is genuinely meant to deter people from risking death on the high seas, or whether, as Melbourne philosopher Damon Young put it, it’s “immigration torture porn for xenophobes”, it seems we now see the suffering of others as an opportunity to exploit rather than a call to action.

The consensus among the commentariat has been that all this will go over beautifully in an electorate that has long seen boat arrivals as a standing existential threat. As journalist David Marr points out, Rudd is merely the latest prime minister to play on our disproportionate fear of “boat people”. The moves are new but the game itself is decades old.

It’s a bizarre national obsession and it begs for answers: why are we so scared of the boats?

No doubt straightforward racism is a very big part of it. But that can’t be the whole story: if it were, why has the government not been pilloried for talking about raising the overall humanitarian intake? Why is there no comparable outrage over the considerably larger number of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by air? If it’s about respect for Australian law, where’s the outrage over visa overstayers, a much larger cohort than asylum seekers? If it’s driven by opposition to population growth, where were all those “F— Off, We’re Full” stickers when the Baby Bonus was introduced?

So what is it that boat arrivals symbolise that other forms of arrival don’t? Well, here’s a stab at an answer: they remind Australians that we haven’t earned what we’ve got.

Consider John Howard’s “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” line. That same message has been built into all our rhetoric on boat arrivals ever since: we don’t have to take you, and unless you come here entirely on our terms, we won’t. Form an orderly line, jump through this set of hoops, and maybe we’ll let you in. You’re welcome.

This emphasis on sovereignty over mercy serves to bolster the idea that “our way of life” is somehow ours by right, and so within our gift to bestow or withhold however we see fit. A gift, by its nature, must be freely given and gratuitous; it cannot be demanded of us. And it must be ours to give; we can only share what we ourselves are entitled to.

Except, of course, we haven’t earned such an entitlement at all.

Consider what Howard’s former chief of staff Arthur Sinodinos told a Q&A audience this week:

…our obligation…is to give people protection. It is not to guarantee them a first world lifestyle in every case when they come to Australia.

But then, by what right are we guaranteed such a lifestyle? What law of nature or reason determines that we get to live in luxury simply by virtue of the accident of birth?

Consider the slogan bandied about during the Cronulla riots: “I grew here, you flew here” – as if it was a personal achievement to be born on this part of the earth’s surface at this point in history. It’s not. It’s sheer dumb luck. It’s nice to be lucky, but it’s no merit.

I suspect on some level that’s what boat arrivals remind us of: the radical contingency of everything we have. It’s not just that we’re repulsed by undeserved misfortune - “there but for the grace of God go I"; “really makes you think, doesn’t it?” - we’re deeply unsettled by undeserved good fortune too.

As a species we always have been. That’s why we invented doctrines like karma, so we could insist that those born into abased misery or obscene privilege must, somehow, be getting their just deserts. In the modern West we have a similar myth: that “anyone can make it” if they just work hard enough, and so the poor must simply be lazy, undeserving – as if talent and even the capacity for hard work itself aren’t themselves dealt out by random chance.

Australia’s lack of true compassion for asylum seekers has come at a human cost. AAP/Karis Salna

Acknowledging such radical contingency knocks the ground from under out feet. It suggests our claim to our prosperity ultimately rests on happy accident rather than cosmic justice. No amount of “Cronulla capes” and bumper stickers and half-remembered tales of Bradman riding Phar Lap to victory at Gallipoli can change that.

K.E. Løgstrup, a 20th century Danish moral philosopher who deserves to be much better known outside Scandinavia than he is, argued that once we see the gratuitousness of what we have, we can no longer stand on our own rights in order to begrudge others our help. Our individual sovereignty is shattered by the realisation that everything we have is, ultimately, a gift we’ve received, not an entitlement we’ve earned.

Perhaps that’s why the boats scare us: they remind us of a far more demanding ethics lurking behind our comfortable norms of reciprocity and exchange. Perhaps that’s at least part of why we go to such lengths to dehumanise, to demonise, to refuse to see asylum seekers in their full humanity.

None of what I’ve just written fixes the problem or even offers any policy suggestions whatsoever. Understanding our motives won’t stop people dying at sea – as I write this, yet more lives have just been lost.

But the moral demand to respond with misericordia hasn’t gone away. And we cannot act morally, or even see others properly, if we’re more concerned about justifying our own privilege.

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425 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      We do take in refugees year in year out - in 2012 about 17,000.

      Where do boat people get the $10,000 per person to pay for their voyage. That is a fortune in many countries.

      I imagine most people in camps waiting to be resettled don't have ANY money.

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    2. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Well, the people we accept here would like to do the same thing to Australian women; remember "catsmeat"?
      These people are utterly vile, have you seen the beheading of Christians in Syria whick they all cheer, take pics on their mobiles, and shout "Allah Akbar"? Then they display the heads, after cutting them off with knives, like slaughtering a sheep.
      The video is on u-tube. Do you really want these people here?

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to John Newton

      I don't own a house (never have) and I am a carer earning about $480 per week.

      If I sold my possessions they may fetch a few thousand dollars.

      I drive a 10 year old car.

      As for the rape & slaughter of family - it's a moot question.

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    4. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to John Newton

      well lets see, going by the article in the age today.. looks like even the rapists are coming for some fresh meat.

      http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/guard-claims-rapes-attacks-on-detainees-unpunished-20130725-2qndt.html

      anyone going to offer home stay to one of these "poor" refugees..

      seriously the hysteria which goes on and condemns ASIO and any questioning of someone who arrives by boat is irresponsible.

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    5. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Sonia Hines

      I'd be surprised if there are many (if any) uni lecturers, doctors or lawyers on those boats. Might be wrong of course.

      Any one can be oppressed irrespective of position or wealth.
      In fact those may even be a "qualification" for oppression.

      But i.m.o. there won't be many wealthy or even moderately wealthy refugees. May have been at one time.

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    6. Mike Puleston
      Mike Puleston is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Citizen

      In reply to John Phillip

      I have spent 18 months out of the last 48 travelling all over Australia towing a camper-trailer and staying mainly in campgrounds. This has given me the opportunity to talk with hundreds of Australians - other travellers, permanent campground residents, inhabitants of country towns etc. I have had many pleasant experiences - but as an Anglo-Celtic male that's to be expected (my usual travelling dress is baseball cap, checked shirt, shorts and blunnies, and I have a generous beard). I have had some…

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

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Puleston

      Mike, that type of person is in existence across the globe. The popint is that Patrick's (and others') assertion that racism is the main motivator behind the 'stop the boats' policies and slogans is false as is evidenced by he LACK of calls to stop immigration and the acceptance of the 20000 asylum seekers that we do take.

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    8. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Sonia Hines

      In fact, Sonia, and this is generally conveniently forgotten by those who suddenly feign proletariat solidarity with only the poorest refugees, it is well documented that tyrannical regimes are particularly inclined to target professionals and scholars and the like as they generally represent the most dangerous opposition - precisely because they have knowledge and are generally articulate and respected within their communities.

      Wasn't it Lenin who observed that revolutions tend to originate with the educated middle classes?

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    9. Steven Waters

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      the so called rapists or extremists will make up a very small percentage of asylum seekers but we like to focus on that small percentage makes a better controversy. the fact is there are a lot who are fleeing for fear of their lives. the world has become smaller and many now know that we have a good lifestyle of freedom and a right to live your life safely and without threat and so they want that to. it comes down to if you were in that situation what would you do.

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    10. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mike Puleston

      Thanks Mike - that sounds pretty much like my experience.

      I'd add though - and maybe this is hopeful in the longer term - I've had it suggested to me that Australians are prone to racism in the abstract but are generally much more decent when they meet people face to face. I actually once overheard someone saying 'I don't like the Vietnamese...but the Ng family who live down the road are very nice - we know them and their kids...'

      Yet another reason why it's vitally important to avoid the aversion and stereotyping that is taking over and precisely why we need to expose ourselve sto the possibility that our innate misericordia might be awoken by real faces and voices.

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    11. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix,

      more hysterical commentary?

      I know you will find it hard to believe that this is a complex issue and if you really care then try stop Obama sending arms to the rebels which is just making the problem bigger.

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    12. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Yes, Stephen, but I think we dealing with a situation that is transpiring in the modern world, rather than the past.

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    13. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph, you've really got to stop attempting the mind-reading, it just isn't working and doesn't impress rational people.

      You see recognising complexity is not the same thing as agreeing with you. Do try to understand that distinction.

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    14. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Yes we have laws and we have professionals that are assessing the "refugee" issues.. best let them do their job.

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    15. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Mike Puleston

      Quite so, Mike but the politicians would not fall for that boganism, if, deep in their hearts, were not bogans themselves. If they didn't identify with those racist, narrow minded shits.
      Were they not boganists, they'd lead. They'd educate, they'd try and show the error of the bogan's ways, instead of pampering to their hideous slogans.
      Our politicians need to be lead, to be taught by the people, the greater majority of whom are like Patrick, the author of this article.

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    16. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to george theodoridis

      IF Stephen is a racist then you are effectively a murder George!

      You condone the murder of children by people smugglers via a torturous death waiting to lose strength and drown in the sea!

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    17. Urs Baumgartner

      Consultant for Environment and Sustainability

      In reply to Peter West

      Peter

      I believe you should reformulate your question "do you really want these people here?".
      What if instead you asked "could we prevent such things from happening if we provided shelter for the persecuted?"

      That's what asylum is all about: providing shelter for those who need it.

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    18. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to george theodoridis

      George how simple it would be for you if I were a racist bogan.

      But because I don't agree with you I must be musn't I.

      Your language is that of the gutter, the scatalogical references demean only you.

      I retract nothing said in my comments, and if you seek to judge them as racist, go ahead.

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    19. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to george theodoridis

      btw I have consistently said I am very much for immigration and the intake of refugees through the sanctioned channels. I have also said that multi-culturalism has made Australia a far better place over the past decades.

      But you won't want to hear that.

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    20. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Yes, Greg, whatever you say Greg! I'm effectively a murder!

      Life is full of smugglers. Smugglers who smuggled jews out of the jaws of annihilation -my parents and their parents (greek) being some of them.
      Some of those jews were eventually found by the Nazis and had, unfortunately, received the same fate as the rest of them. Others made it to America and elsewhere through Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt etc. Others were hidden in Greek homes until after the war. Many aussie soldiers, by the way, were also hidden, not only in Greek homes (Crete, particularly) but also in a number of other countries.

      Were my parents, grand parents, Schindler and a great many others, murderers, as well?

      You try your very best. You will fail in some circumstances but you will try to save lives. You will try. Not because they are white, not because they are your allies, not because they are of the same religion but because they are lives. Human or animal. You will try your best!

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    21. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to John Phillip

      Marylin, you comparing the current "Country Hoppers" to the Holocaust is a joke.
      My knowledge is that at the times of the Holocaust, those who could flee, fled went to the nearest Country first, then went LEGALLY to other countries around the world.
      A lot different to this current lot who are trying to bully their way into Australia.
      You should support Australia in stopping their Bullying.

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    22. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      There is nothing simple about conversing with a racist bogan, Stephen, particularly one who doesn't think he is.

      Let my scatological "references" demean me. They are the consequences of your abject boganist sentiments.
      These are not views that one gets angry about simply because they are different to one's own. These views -one side or the other- define us as human. They show us as true to our nature, ie, humane, or treasonous to our nature, ie, inhumane.

      You want immigration and you want…

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    23. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to John Newton

      For your information, as you ask how far would you go. The answers are straight forward " [1] If you left Sri Lanka, India is very close.,[2] If you left Syria, Turkey is next door (Turkey is about to join the EU).
      [3] If you are genuine, you go to the first country to register as a refugee, my parents did.

      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    24. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Sonia Hines

      Don't support those who hop from country to country to finally get to Australia.
      Cherry picking your destination does not indicate desperate people.

      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    25. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Mike Puleston

      Mike, you're "racist, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-environment bogans" labels do nothing to address the central issue as to why many Australians oppose the Boat Arrivers.
      YOU should not support those who hop from country to country to finally get to Australia.
      Cherry picking your destination does not indicate desperate people.

      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    26. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to george theodoridis

      Can you be more specific George? Which particular countries are you saying do not provide such ‘pretty documents’ and how far away from them is the nearest UN camp, and why is it impossible for these people to reach one? .

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    27. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Joseph, you must stick to the topic, namely un-announced Boat people, and why so many of us do not want them. The article misses the main point.
      We can not understand that people, spend many months traveling around the world, finally wait for a Boat to be built, and then try and force their way into Australia.
      Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    28. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Ian Fraser

      Dear Peter, if the situation is a you describe in Syria, why not go to Turkey, register, and either return to your home country once the current mess is resolved, or then get processed for settlement by the UN Refugee Organisation.
      We just do not want people who spend many months traveling around the world, finally wait for a Boat to be built, and then try and force their way into Australia.
      Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    29. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Urs Baumgartner

      Wrong Urs, We do not want these people here for a very clear reason.

      We can not understand that people, spend many months traveling around the world, finally wait for a Boat to be built, and then try and force their way into Australia.
      Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    30. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to james burke

      "...finally wait for a Boat to be built..."

      Zeus almighty! Who did you buy your brains from, Burkey?

      Yes, I can see the bastards, trying to "bully their way into Australia!" Fists, stretched out, grenades between their teeth, jihadist babies in their arms... Yeap, them are the bullies, o'right! Don't let 'em in, they'll kill ya!

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    31. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      And precisely what does that comment have to do with anything/ ha sanyone at any stage suggested that we shouldn't have professional assessment of refugee claims?

      Seriously, you must have shares in a scarecrow factory, Joseph.

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    32. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Perhaps you could give them lessons on how to jump sharks before they depart, Greg?

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    33. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to james burke

      james, have you said it three times by now? (I've rather lost counts as much as I've lost interest) - anyway, keep going as it will eventually pass the Tweedledum test.

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    34. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Good work Felix. Keep bombarding the bigots with fact; not that facts have any part to play in how these people think (unless selectively cherry picked).

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    35. In reply to Greg Boyles

      Comment removed by moderator.

    36. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      What on earth does money have to do with it? If you had the money and we were invaded would you use it to escape or sit around and die.

      Fair dinkum, get over the crap about money, it has nothing to do with money.

      And resettlement is not a legal right and not a legal obligation on anyone, the people are already protected.

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    37. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      So if your family face rape and murder you would sit and watch then?

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    38. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Then you should be shocked because I have met dentists, doctors, microbiologists, teachers, chemists and many,many better educated people than most Australian;s simply because they are the first ones targeted for objecting to brutal regimes.

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    39. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      And everything of course is about refugees so let's blame them for shooting JFK and Martin Luther King.

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    40. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Steven Waters

      I have noticed not a word or concern for the victims of the rape or an acknowledgement that it is the government's fault, we did not abrogate legal responsibility for those people.

      Knowing the DIAC dimwits they have housed Shi'ite Hazara with historical enemies like Pashtuns or Wahabi Sunnis.

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    41. In reply to Greg Boyles

      Comment removed by moderator.

    42. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      There is absolutely no such thing as a sanctioned channel for refugees. they only have to arrive at the borders and ask for protection, just like patients only have to appear at a hospital or victims of crime at a police station.

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    43. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      Perhaps you would feel better if only bleeding hearts were permitted in this forum Rudd

      Would you consider than a win for your side?

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    44. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Sonia Hines

      We have 1/2 of Iran's doctors here in Brisbane at the moment. No I don't think professionals really get oppressed, they merely emigrate.

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    45. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Sonia Hines

      Iraq: Medical doctors, university professors, the professional classes were targeted by the coalition of the willing. More than 3000 doctors were slaughtered.
      Dr Salaam Ismael an Iraqi doctor who shared a presentation with Cindy Sheeran in Sydney, with slides to back his story, that is if the tension in his voice was not enough to persuade you, recounted the story of the killing of doctors, ‘because they were aiding the enemy’, but as he said bitterly, they didn’t object to us saving their soldiers…

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    46. Marion Wilson
      Marion Wilson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen John Ralph wants to know where refugees get enough money for a ticket on a leaky boat - just what does that have to do with anything? Does money make a difference to how you treat people? How Australia should treat people? These are refugees not tourists on holidays - they are people fleeing persecution, they grab what they can and run and we who are so fat and comfortable in the safety of the land that we stole from the Aboriginals are pretending that we must defend ourselves from an invasion - that war has been declared upon us by these unfortunate, defenceless people. We are being advised by a man who was involved in the atrocitiesy of Faluga where doctors, ambulances and hospitals were barred from treating wounded Iraqi civilians..

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    47. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to george theodoridis

      "Were my parents, grand parents, Schindler and a great many others, murderers, as well?"

      Get over this Georgie boy. It was some 70 years ago and no longer relevant in our present situation.

      The jews weren't being shipped out in derelict Indonesian fishing vessels and there were a great deal less of them than the estimated 45 million asylum seekers today.

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    48. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Marilyn, you add nothing intelligent to this debate whatsoever.
      Except for this point where you make a great case for not admitting these people. The internal hatreds that often spill over into murder and rape, is one really potent argument for never allowing these people into Australia. Thanks for that.
      There is a revenge killing that goes back to the time of Hagar and Ishmael in the ME. We want that here? Really?

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    49. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Agree. Most American policy has been totally useless since WWII. Not one Australian life should have been lost in Afghanistan.

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    50. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Glad to see you finally admit we're letting the bad guys in.

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    51. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Puleston

      The areas of the world where there is conflict are also places that are heavily populated and still have high birth rates. When all the agricultural land of a country is in use and there are too many people for the jobs available, its citizens have three choices: live in life-threatening poverty, leave, or the best option: force others to leave. This is what persecution is, and it is fuelled by the simple fact that "your" survival and prosperity threatens "my" survival and prosperity.

      When there…

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    52. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      The White Australia policy was unjust, because none of us can choose our race. It did have a beneficial side effect for which I am very grateful.
      By excluding Muslims, the White Australia Policy ensured that our lawmakers were NOT selected by voters who believed that slavery, or the marriage of prepubescent girls was acceptable. And while there was plenty of domestic violence, it was not approved of, and few voters believed that a man had a god-given obligation to beat a disobedient wife. (Sura4…

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    53. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Fraser

      Those in 'detention' are being supplied with safety, food and shelter and even medical care. They are free to leave to any part of the world that will take them.

      The 'detention centres' should be renamed 'asylum centres'.

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    54. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Well written Chris!

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    55. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Urs Baumgartner

      But shelter is what the detention centres are providing and the asylum seekers aren't satisfied. They want a western level of consumption.

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    56. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Immigration is already ruining our country. Our fish stocks are depleted, our flora and fauna treasures are endangered due to habitat destruction. Cities are encroaching on agricultural land. Residential blocks of land are getting smaller and smaller and the journeys to work are getting longer and longer. Children are growing up in little flats with nowhere to play within earshot of their mothers other than the driveways. The eastern states are coming out of a long drought with more to come, and…

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    57. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      "Yes, we have laws at present that do protect women and girls, because our forebears were of Christian stock. But democracy is a numbers game, and laws can be changed." "

      Actually I think your are wrong there Chris.

      The reason we have our current liberal western democracy is that we retained the important christian values but within a secular society.

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    58. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      If we were a Christian state, as in no separation of church and state, I suspect we would not be that much better off than muslim states.

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    59. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to george theodoridis

      Since WWII, the population of the world has more than doubled and every bit of it is overpopulated.
      No country should resettle refugees. It is pointless. Their relatives at home just breed more refugees.
      Instead ALL our humanitarian effort should be directed towards educating girls and supplying modern contraceptive technology wherever it is needed.

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    60. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      If the Shi'ites, Pashtuns and Sunnis cannot live together in the camps, they will not fit in very well in a multicultural Australia.
      Why blame the government for the behaviour of rapists? It is the rapists who are at fault.

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    61. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      But they are not asking just for protection, are they? They want a western standard of consumption for themselves and their relatives. If we resettle 20,000 a year and each one brings in 5 relatives or has five children, that adds up to 1 million every 5 years.
      Australia is already overpopulated.

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    62. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      If I had $10k I wouldn't spend it on getting on an unsafe boat to Australia. But then that's me.

      Money is relevant if they are not genuine refugees.

      And don't tell me you know them all personally and can vouch for them all.

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    63. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Marion Wilson

      My guess is that had it been the Turks of old who invaded, the indigenous Australians may have treated far worse.

      So sue me if I'm curious where the money comes from.......

      $10k is a lot of money.

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    64. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Steven Waters

      I wouldn't continue to have children if I couldn't offer a future to the children I already had.
      There are people living in refugee camps that are still breeding!

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    65. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Part of the problem here chris is that many are living in poverty and do not have access to or can afford contraception.

      That is why I advocate that the west provide free contraception to developing world woman and that family planning services be a mandatory component of any aid given to developing countries.

      If Catholic charities are not prepared to do this in some form then they should not get a 'license' form the Aus government to operate in developing countries.

      And reduction in death rates in developing countries must be compensated for by at least equal reductions in the birth rate.

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    66. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      "It seems that the West has a superiority complex that requires ‘refugees’, or ‘others’ to be unskilled, uneducated and poor."

      Nicely put Peter. They make the case, on the one hand that the better of can't really be refugees but then demonize the poor wretched asylum seekers on the other for not making a go of it in their own countries or being a reservoir of militant Islamists/terrorists on the other.

      It's a lose lose argument for the refugees.

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    67. Catherine Scott

      Senior Lecturer, Melbourne Graduate School of Education at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Of course here in Melbourne the gun toters have surnames like 'Moran'.

      My mother lives in Bankstown, I grew up there. My mother's Indo-Chinese and Arab neighbours have shown her the very essence of kindness, particularly looking after her since my father died.

      Bankstown has always been a 'rough' area and when I was young it was the Anglo-Celts who were getting into fights, causing strife, attacking women. Gang rape was in the papers regularly when I was a teenager and residents in other parts of Sydney referred to my home turf as 'the rape belt'.

      Many of my school mates, male and female, spent a lot of their free time looking for fights or starting them. There was even a tradition of catching the train to Cronulla to brawl on the beach with the surfies. Sound familiar?

      It seems to be the Bankstown way.

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    68. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Catherine Scott

      and your point Catherine?

      from what you are saying there are good and bad everywhere.. So i suspect that there are good and bad refugees. If people come by boat does that mean that they are automatically somehow saints? or as is evidenced by the recent riots and other camp violence that we should let our departments do their job and filter out those that are trouble.

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  2. Christopher Seymour

    Business owner

    I think Clive Palmer actually has a pretty good suggestion for this whole problem.
    Set aside one entry airport in Australia to receive asylum seekers from Indonesia - say Brisbane or Darwin.
    That way asylum seekers don't need an Australian visa before they leave Indonesia.
    Entrants must buy a return ticket - about $400 versus the $10,000 boat smuggler fee.
    Guaranteed review as to whether genuinely meeting the requirements of the refugee convention.
    If not returned to Indonesia.
    Will be much cheaper and safer and displays the compassion that Patrick Stokes talks about.
    Also by having an alternative, Indonesia could properly police any boats that try and circumvent the situation.

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    1. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Yes; a wise professor used to say to me "Pete, the road to hell is paved with good intentions!" Particularly intentions by idiotically myopic, culture-destroying, fact-ignoring, ivory-tower inhabiting do-gooders.

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    2. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      One problem with Clive's plan. It allows for one day to ascertain their refugee status. There are many more.

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    3. John Crest

      logged in via email @live.com.au

      In reply to Peter West

      Good intentions and idiotic consequences.

      The Labor party may as well make it official and adopt it as their motto.

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  3. Duncan Graham

    Journalist

    Then there's guilt, and the gravity people-movement theory that's always governed our foreign policy.- lots of people up there, few down here.
    Our ancestors came on boats, and took over a continent, dispossessing the locals. Now we fear others may others want to do the same.
    This is all most unscientific and primitive, but still real.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Duncan Graham

      Again we took 17,000 refugees in 2012 - stop rehashing the xenophobia tripe.

      We also have a large intake if immigrants each year.

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    2. Valerie Kay

      PhD candidate, public health

      In reply to Duncan Graham

      Yes I always think that the unconscious awareness of non-Indigenous Australians that we took this country from the original inhabitants must play a big part in all this somehow - especially given so many of our white ancestors were poor people who came by boat!
      Perhaps the tendency to stigmatise asylum seekers as 'illegal' and potentially criminal is an unconscious association with our convict forebears!

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Valerie Kay

      I don't think too many of us are burdened with unconscious guilt over the "taking" of Australia.

      As you say many were convicts, and were transported here against their will.

      We may say sorry, but I don't think there is regret for the lives we now live. It's a bit of a hair shirt thing.

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    4. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Valerie Kay

      "Yes I always think that the unconscious awareness of non-Indigenous Australians that we took this country from the original inhabitants must play a big part in all this somehow."
      Valerie, you are just projecting, and you don't even know it. Where do you get these thoughts? The only people I ever encounter with sort of guilt is on TC. The vast majority of Australians have only immigrated here over the past 3 generations. So god knows where they would get this "subconscious" woo from.
      "Especially given so many of our white ancestors were poor people who came by boat!"
      The vast majority of Australians in 2013 are from families who only arrived from the mid 1950s and came by plane.

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    5. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Thompson

      The aborigines who were occupying Australia in 1788 were just as guilty of land grabbing as the Europeans were. They were the ultimate winners of millennia of fighting over finite resources, and they or their forebears acquired their occupancy by killing Aborigines.

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  4. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    There is a lot of misery in the world......a lot of injustice, corruption, violence and natural disasters that claim millions of victims each year.

    Why the select misericordia at the relatively few people who drown at sea in an attempt to reach Australia.

    Why are we made to feel guilty when these are not forced to get on these boats, and who have the $10k per person fee.

    To me if we have a scale of misericordia, it should be directed at so many other groups of people who are suffering.

    Do we show anguish to make US feel better, to display a group sympathy that somehow makes us better people - even though in REAL terms we individually do nothing.

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  5. Peter West

    CEO at Property

    This article over-intellectualises the whole problem of illegal immigrants.
    For instance, it has already cost us over 2 billion! This cost has helped to blow the budget, and (wait for it) is paid for by US the taxpayers.
    Our ancestors, through hard work and faith, built a system that most of the world would like to emulate. They established a fair, decent system, in which most people, given a fair component of intelligence and hard work could achieve a reasonable standard of living. That is why…

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    1. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Peter West

      But first they had to steal the land from the indigenous inhabitants

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    2. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to John Newton

      This situation was more complex than just saying "steal the land". There is a possibility that Australia was first settled by a negrito-type people, and Aboriginals were the second wave of settlers.
      The land was "terra nullius" as that term states as it was understood at that time, in other words, without systems that at the time were recognised as civilisation.
      A lot of Aboriginals married in, so there was a certain amount of absorption, rather than invasion.
      It is rather unintelligent to judge…

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter West

      Peter is that 'Property' in your title a scarecrow factory, or do you buy your straw men bulk on the open market?

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    4. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Peter West

      Well, I just don't quite know what to say, Peter. "The best thing that ever happened to the indigenous people in Australia was the arrival of the English, with their fair systems, decent laws, and so on."

      Dying in their thousands, having their culture and way of life destroyed, not being counted as citizens in their own land until the 1970s, being abused and misused for decades, being discriminated against right up to this very day, having second-rate health and education outcomes....just help me understand which bits of these results are so great, fair and decent?

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    5. Sebastian Poeckes

      Retired

      In reply to Anna Young

      Sounds a bit like the way my English ancestors treated my "Celtic fringe" ancestors - not great fair and decent but the very opposite. However, all that is resolved and the "Celtic" bits of me don't hate the English bits. Time heals all things. Just give the current situation enough time and everything will resolve itself.

      HOWEVER, there must be a willingness for the various parties to assimilate, intermarry, one into the other, for this to happen. The Aboriginal community had the highest rate of out-marriage last time I looked, of any identified ethnic group in Australia. The Middle -Eastern community had the lowest rate of out-marriage. Their adherence to Islam, a notably intolerant religion, would be a major factor in this situation.

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    6. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Peter West

      Hear, hear Peter. Thank you for your insightful post.

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    7. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      You show a total inability to respond to the argument. I don't engage in personal comments. Why can't you respond to the points I bring up. I won't bring up Latin phrases from Philosophy 100, might confuse you!

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    8. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Anna Young

      Well, it's relative. If certain other cultures had got here, there would be none left to claim welfare.
      By and large the British were better than many other powers at the time.
      Queen Victoria passed legislation specifically protecting the indigenous. There is history, history seen slightly, historical bias, history seen in hindsight, cultural perspective history, ethnic history, myth, want more?
      So your selective criticism of what I say is totally irrelevant.
      I stand by every statement I make…

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    9. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Anna Young

      Anna, Aborigines became citizens on exactly the same day all Australian became citizens - 26 January 1949.
      "Dying in their thousands"
      Same as every day for human beings over the past 100,000 years or so.
      "Having their culture and way of life destroyed"
      Without which we wouldn't have Archeology and History. It's called evolution.
      "having second-rate health and education outcomes"
      You might want to check the correlations with any folks, who have no skills, who choose to live in desert shanty towns, totally reliant on welfare. Compare these outcomes with their kin who choose to live in modern urban environments.
      "being discriminated against right up to this very day"
      Diddums. But who isn't? 'Discrimination' is human nature. Special interest groups organise and get some form outlawed. Why do you think we pay gazillions for the "human rights" and "anti-discrimination" Stasi?

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    10. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Newton

      The aborigines who were occupying Australia in 1788 were just as guilty of land grabbing as the Europeans were. They were the ultimate winners of millennia of fighting over finite resources, and they or their forebears acquired their occupancy by killing Aborigines.

      Perhaps you should educate yourself about the reality of life in a hunting and gathering economy. You could start with the memoirs of William Buckley, an escaped convict, who lived with the aborigines for thirty years, before they…

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    11. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anna Young

      You should educate yourself about the reality of life in a hunting and gathering economy.
      The aborigines, in Australia as in other parts of the world, were separated into many groups with hundreds of languages. Hunting grounds needed to be defended. In Australia, as elsewhere, the Europeans found that an efficient way to clear the land of the indigenous inhabitants, was to give firearms to aborigines that they trusted and allow them to take their revenge on their enemies.

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    12. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Chris I can't agree with you here.

      Yes aborigines probably had their fair share of tribal conflict but I believe that it was relatively rare and certainly not on the scale that we westerners tend to engage in conflict when we want something some one else has e.g. oil.

      On the whole aboriginal society was remarkably cooperative compared to a lot of other similar technologically undeveloped societies.

      Compare aboriginal society with New Guinea society over the same period with is cannibals and well established system of generational 'pay back'.

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    13. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      "Hunting grounds needed to be defended. "

      You are not entirely correct Chris. Aborigines were not pure hunter gatherers as they are portrayed by British history books.

      They did have territories, if you want to put it that way, but they could equally be described as municipalities of sorts. And there were, on the whole, friendly relations between municipalities and indeed sharing and cooperation in times of drought etc.

      And aborigines did indeed practice rudimentary forms of agricultural…

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    14. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Clearly, you haven't read the memoirs of William Buckley, an escaped convict who lived with the aborigines for 30 years, in Victoria before they had much contact with the recently arrived whites.
      I am sure that the aborigines were cooperative when times were good. But how did they keep their population size stable without contraception? A high death rate, that's how.

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    15. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Chris no nation or peoples is perfect, not even we descendants of British colonists!

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    16. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      So what if the aborigines used 'firestick farming'? That doesn't ensure that there were never periods when one group's survival depended on taking over the land occupied by another group, whether they were firestick farming or not.

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    17. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Chris as far as I am aware there are no European accounts of widespread and destructive conflicts among aboriginal tribes as there was among European powers at the time.

      Yes there were undoubtedly fairly minor skirmishes perhaps among individuals of different tribes with personal grievances.

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  6. Kristen Sheridan

    logged in via Facebook

    Thank you for this article. I have forwarded it to my local mp. Looking at the comments it seems the next one should be something like "The myth of the queue". I hope that at some stage it is perceived a political advantage to regain our sense of humanity. As a woman, entitlement and privilege are battles I fight on a daily basis. It is therefore absolutely abhorrent that Australian's attack asylum seekers based on this perception that we are somehow the gate keepers to safety and can decide when 'justice' is 'deserved'.

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    1. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Kristen Sheridan

      Kristen, you clearly see the current Boat Arrival issue through some of your heart-wrenching life time experiences.
      Those are not the basis for our objecting to the present Boat Arrivers.
      We can not understand that people, spend many months traveling around the world, finally wait for a Boat to be built, and then try and force their way into Australia.
      Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    2. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Kristen Sheridan

      Kristen: Of course there is a queue! 'When you number is called please come forward with your luggage properly packed, ad not overweight and we will fly you to ---
      If you live in Afghanistan you would travel to Kabal, if you have access to a computer, look up the address of the Australian Embassy, produce your documents, including your governments permission to travel, take your numbered ticket and join the orderly queue.
      Except of course if you look up the Australian Embassy in Kabal, you will find that the address is not given, for security reasons!

      There is no queue,just living death in refugee camps where people are fair game for, the desperate, the criminal the bored police/military., .
      Just be patient, you will die here, your grand children will diehere, be patient!

      ,

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    3. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Kristen Sheridan

      The asylum seekers already had safety. They want a western standard of living, without restricting their reproduction.

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    4. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      No one has the right to have sex unless they are ready, willing and able to provide a future for any children that may be conceived.
      Afghanistan looks mountainous and arid in photos, yet it has 30 million people and still has a high birth rate. The Afghans have outbred their resources.
      When all the agricultural land of a country is in use and there are too many people for the jobs available, its citizens have three choices: live in life-threatening poverty, leave, or the best option: force others to leave. This is what persecution is, and it is fuelled by the simple fact that "your" survival and prosperity threatens "my" survival and prosperity.

      The Afghans should stay in Afghanistan and help build a democracy there. They have made their bed and they should lie in it.

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  7. Malcolm France

    Consultant Veterinarian

    I often find philosophical writings difficult to follow - but this was great. Regardless of one's position on the asylum seeker issue, Patrick's article was lucid and thought-provoking.

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  8. Henry Verberne

    Former IT Professional

    I can appreciate the argument and must admit it has some force. But There is outrage in some quarters over a kind of invasion.

    Practically though, how should we respond? Just let them come, encourage them even? Chances are the numbers would increase substantially from current numbers. If so the deaths at sea will probably rise accordingly.

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

    Grumpy Old Man

    Patrick, you say that much of the fear of the boats in no "doubt straightforward racism." You then go on to argue that the counter to that with, "Why is there no comparable outrage over the considerably larger number of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by air?" Clearly this is because racism is NOT the key motivator here. It is an important rallying cry or dog whistle for some of the less thoughtful and more reactionary refugee advocates/activists.
    If you are going to make the statement that racism is at the core of this, you need to provide some facts to support such an assertion. All you have done is blown the whistle and then retreated from the position.

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    1. Forgetful Orange

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to John Phillip

      This is what I thought. If you're going to be in no doubt that an issue is largely due to racism, then please provide me with some reason to find this true.

      I find it odd that no one can hook into the reality of the psychology involved here. Please listen to my half-baked theory and comment:

      If you're 1 of 2 children and are brought up handsomely & have a good relationship with your sibling. And then an arbitrary decision comes that 2 more are to join you and then another 2. And you have to…

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  10. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Tim Dunlop argues at The Drum that border security is a symbolic attempt to assert national sovereignty in a world where sovereign national states have very little authority left over and against the power of global corporations:

    "National security" is the last shot in the locker of governments who have actively ceded control of nearly everything else they do to corporations".

    I think he's right. That's why Howard's words ("we will decide...") resonated so deeply with economically disenfranchised Australians or those who felt marginalsed. "We", us, Australians, assert our national rights.

    All over the world this issue is raising its head - the French persecution of the Rom, Greek persecution of refugees and the rise of Golden Dawn and so on.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Nothing new in the world about national sovereignty and security - wars have been fought since time began over territory.

      National security is just a new way of saying it.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      Thanks Anthony - there are few things to match the brutality of those who know in their deepest hearts that they'v elost their power and ceded their true sovereignty for a 'mess of potage'!

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    3. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Anthony Nolan

      "...is a symbolic attempt to assert national sovereignty...'

      A good point Anthony but I would feel a great deal better if they would put the same sort of effort into wresting our sovereignty back from the corporations.

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    4. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      Yes. Me too. Global governance, a Tobin tax, global equity are the directions in which we need to head.

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  11. Judith Olney

    Ms

    Thank you for this article, its good to see some genuine thoughtfulness, instead of the race to the bottom of a particularly disgusting political barrel.

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  12. Jim KABLE

    teacher

    Thank-you Patrick! Exactly so! I have often thought that the xenophobia of Australians (Anglos especially but learnt by others of more recent origin here) is a subconscious understanding that this land - so easily - then - stolen/taken from the hundreds of Indigenous countries spread across this land in 1788 - could therefore equally easily be stolen/taken by others somewhere into the future! I am with Misericordiæ and with Mencius! Compassion for our fellows!

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    1. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Over 1000 drowned at sea? Compassion? The Labor Party has blood on its hands. It was misplaced compassion that has resulted in deaths and misery!
      Like most socialist policies "sounds good, let's do it"!. No thought for unintended consequences, ever!
      Oh and what party are the illegal arrivals going to vote for? Political mendacity is part of this story, as well as the well-paid lawyer-advocates, who were getting a bit hungry.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter West

      That's right, Peter, if they hadn't set out to sea they could have lived happily and safely in their own countries or in Indonesia. Meanwhile, back in the real world...

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    3. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Dear Jim, sadly there are many in Australia whose are perplexed by the support for the current Boat Arrivers.
      We can not understand that people, spend many months traveling around the world, finally wait for a Boat to be built, and then try and force their way into Australia.
      Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    4. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      If they hadn't been invited here by the Rudderless fools they would be alive!
      There's probably 200 million people who would like to come here. But it wouldn't be the Australia we know today.
      By this logic we have to accept anyone who jumps into a boat and comes here.
      No country does this. The Middle East in particular, very draconian laws regarding foreigners. I just don't understand the mindset that has killed possibly 2000 people in the name of humanity, it just flies in the face of my understanding of both humanity and logic.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter West

      Yup, that should have raised the ASX price on your scarecrow factory by at least 10% Peter.

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    6. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to james burke

      James: how much are being paid for each
      'Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.'It is irrational on first reading and repeating it makes it no better.

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    7. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Xenophobia is the irrational fear of foreigners. That was Britain's problem in 1938, wasn't it? The British demonised Nazism because of their irrational fear of the foreign, and their racism. They should have been open to Nazi immigration and tolerant of Nazi beliefs, giving them the right to vote and participate in choosing Britain's lawmakers. They failed to appreciate that, by giving citizenship to Nazis, whose moral values were diametrically opposed to their own, they could diversify and enrich their own culture. Shame on them, the bigots!

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  13. Garry Claridge

    Systems Analyst

    In regard to to "misericordia". I believe most people will better emphasise with drowning than with persecution. As most Australians will not have witnessed the conditions for persecution, whereas they will have been brought up with the fear of drowning.

    So, the question presented is - how to deal with this lack of empathy for persecution?

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    1. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Garry Claridge

      Dear Gary, you draw a thin thread to pose a question to which you should clearly know the answer.
      Your tactic is most destructive, rather you should inform us with facts so we might clearly understand your position.
      We cannot understand that people, spend many months traveling around the world, finally wait for a Boat to be built, and then try and force their way into Australia.
      Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    2. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Garry Claridge

      The asylum seekers are the creators of their own persecution, by outbreeding their resources.
      When all the agricultural land of a country is in use and there are too many people for the jobs available, its citizens have three choices: live in life-threatening poverty, leave, or the best option: force others to leave. This is what persecution is, and it is fuelled by the simple fact that "your" survival and prosperity threatens "my" survival and prosperity.

      When there is conflict, people find allies from among those with whom they share a common language, religion or culture. That does not make the cause of the conflict sectarian or racist.
      Parents in undeveloped countries create the conditions for conflict when they try to provide for their own future security by having four or more children. It is not reasonable for them then, to demand that those who have practised greater restraint, rescue their able bodied sons from the situation they themselves helped to create.

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  14. John Crest

    logged in via email @live.com.au

    Why don't the people who can pay to fly to Indonesia and then pay for a boat to Christmas Island spend that money getting to a refugee camp?

    Then they can be adequately assessed alongside refugees who are there for other than financial reasons.

    That would then also ensure they have a chance of resettlement in our great country.

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    1. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to John Crest

      Sure. Just follow the signs and turn up to the well-equipped refugee camps where there is adquate space to live, supplies of food to eat and the processesing is neat and efficient.....oh, no sorry that's a parallel universe.

      I think when you're fleeing for your life, leaving behind all you know and taking a leap into the unknown in the hope of a better future (and I don't mean in an economic sense) it's reasonable to not get too bogged down in the niceties of bureaucracy.

      These people are not going on holiday and refugee camps are not like a travel agent who'll helpfully get you on your way.

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    2. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Anna Young

      Dear Anna, if they are not going on a Holiday, then how do you describe it?
      We can not understand that people, spend many months traveling around the world, finally wait for a Boat to be built, and then try and force their way into Australia.
      Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    3. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to james burke

      James will you stop repeating the same hopeless argument over and over again?

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  15. Ian Gostelow

    Phd Candidate, LH Martin Institute at University of Melbourne

    Australia's oceans are treacherous. If we do not know this consciously, we feel it. The current wave of boat people are not the first, and will not be the last, to lose their lives in our seas. We are largely helpless to stop this. Maybe luck, or fate, plays a role... but death at sea is a defining part of our national legacy. The Australian National Maritime Museum helps tell this story.
    Whatever policy, whatever slogan, whatever naval blockade is put forward - the best you can do is manage the…

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  16. Barbara Midwood

    Australian

    This article expressed my feelings for these poor people as humanity exactly. By its actions my government shames me.
    However, I do have some concerns about the issue:- Is this country so indefensible that it can be invaded by such unsophisticated means?
    My second concern is about Islam itself. Islam attempts to change the host country through demanding the introduction of Sharia law, unwilling to accept as millions of previous migrants have done our own well-wrought Australian Law.
    'Islam means peace' is a well worn furfy which does not bear scrutiny, as world history since the time of the birth of Islam demonstrates. My comments do not reflect racism - just a profound wish for the newest group of migrants to adapt to the Australia we all love and not attempt to change it.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Barbara Midwood

      Barbara

      I guess at any given time the boats could be easily sunk......

      Your comments re Islam and Sharia law are reasonable i.m.o.

      Whilst I love the whole multi-cultural approach to living in Australia, it might be nice to think that we could take the very best from the intake countries, and leave behind the very worst.

      Of course best & worst are subjective terms.

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    2. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Barbara Midwood

      Barbara, these are the strangest comments I've heard. Islam does not "try to change their host country".

      Outright misinformation. Do orthodox Greeks try and change Australia? Or Catholic Italians?

      Islam is not a monolithic ideology in which all believers think, act or believe in the same way.

      You think this is a stealth "Invasion"

      Really?

      People are not invading, there fleeing for their lives.

      You hope they do "not change Australia"?

      Which Australia?

      The Australia of…

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      All religions endeavour to insert themselves into whatever country adherents are residing.

      It is precisely b/c " Islam is not a monolithic ideology in which all believers think, act or believe in the same way." that we a lot of the world is in the predicament it is.

      What are the boat people escaping - religious persecution.

      I agree with Barbara - we do not want to import that here. Can you guarantee it won't happen.......

      Not talking about "nice" and safe religions....just those that have extreme views.........perhaps not all that many really.

      It could be a case of the Trojan horse...........

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Barbara Midwood

      Barbara, if the means are indeed, as you say, so unsophisticated then it doesn't constitute a particulay dangerous 'invasion' does it? I think you'll find our defence systems, including radar and early warning systems, are precisely designed to detect and intercept actually dangerous invasions - these tend to involve quite a lot of cunningly engineered metal contrivances like war ships and aircraft and troop carriers full of tanks, not small fishing boats.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, at what point will a few percent of our population being Muslim lead to the establishment of Sharia law?

      Lots of people want lots of things but we have this funny little system called democracy and the rule of law - imperfect, but generally able to manage small minorities.

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    6. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      As you are a student of history, you will know that it takes a small minority to destabilise democracy.

      As I've said a thousand times I dislike religion of all creeds.

      Islam (even MODERATE) Islam runs contrary to many of our own held democratic beliefs. The Quoran can be a bit of scary read - as can the Bible......

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    7. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix the problem is you have a very short term view of this and are not considering the long term implications of sustain policies fir future generations - your children and grand children.

      Sharia law is not a likely prospect at this point in our history.

      But if high islamic immigration is maintained at high rates for 100 years then that small minority of muslims may will become a significant minority. Perhaps with sufficient voting power to bring the Islamic Brotherhood or some other group into power.

      Which may well start re-shaping Australia in the Image of Iran or Pakistan etc.

      There is nothing wrong with islamic immigration per se as long as we ensure that we are excluding the extremists and fundamentalists etc. That require a lower rate of immigration and proper screening of all immigrants, not just islamic ones.

      Much as a business carefully screens prospective employees to make sure they will contribute to the business rather than hinder it.

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    8. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      No Stephen, sometimes a small minority can lead a much larger mass of people in a new direction and create a tipping point, but only if they embody or inspire a nascent idea in the mass of the population. Unless and until a vast number of people convert to Islam, it's just not going to happen. If such a strange event should ever occur then I guess democracy would just have to take its course.

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    9. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Greg, can you please explain how even a 'significant' minority will bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power against the wishes of the majority?

      Do try to think clearly and understand basic arithmetic, whether in the short or long term.

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    10. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      What can happen in the interim is that those significant minorities can effectively Balkanise a country which feeds ethnic tension.

      This has already happened in parts of Europe, e.g. Sweeden that now contains muslim enclaves where emergency service personal wont travel without a police escort.

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    11. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      In the same way that you significant minority of bleeding hearts managed to briefly 'open' our borders with the inevitable tragic results that we are now seeing.

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    12. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Fear of the unkown is just a downward, self-perpetuating spiral.

      I know plenty of not-nice and un-safe christians (of various pursuasions as they do not all think and behave as one) and I know plenty of nice and safe people of other (and no) religions who think very similarly.

      There are a range of laws currently in place that impinge on a number of personal freedoms that are based on Judeo-Christian ideology. Is it fair that there are people born in our country who have to put up with discrimination because of such ideology?

      By your logic, should we ban christianity in Australia.

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    13. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Well, Greg, if you're so scared of this country being balkanised, you had better remove all the Greeks and the Turks, the Albanians and the Bulgarians, the Cypriots, the Germans, the Austrians and the Hungarians, the Ruskis and the Americans, the Chileans and the Argentinians, the Cubans, the Tibetans and the Chinese, the Vietnamese and the Laotians, The Malaysians and the Indonesians, the PNGeneans, the Irish and the English...
      They've balkanised this place into unmitigated multiculturalism. Dreadful, really, simply dreadful!

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    14. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Barbara Midwood

      Dear Barbara Midwood, if you consider the following, you may see it is unnecessary to feel ashamed, as the entire issue is created by the un-announced Boat Arrivers.
      We can not understand that people, spend many months traveling around the world, finally wait for a Boat to be built, and then try and force their way into Australia.
      Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    15. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      Dear Michael, the information you have appears to lack the time and money many have spend touring the World.
      We can not understand that people, spend many months traveling around the world, finally wait for a Boat to be built, and then try and force their way into Australia.
      Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    16. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Gosh, must be gettimng nearly as bad as some of Sydney's Western suburbs, Greg!

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    17. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to james burke

      I don't think something becomes any truthier once you go beyond the saying-it-three-times line, james

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    18. Sebastian Poeckes

      Retired

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      Well, last time I was in the UK I found myself right beside a very noisy demonstration led by heavily bearded, white clad people of Middle Eastern appearance who were shouting the slogan on their placards - "To Hell with democracy. Sharia law for Britain."

      It sure looked like the Muslims were trying to change their host country to me.

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    19. Sebastian Poeckes

      Retired

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      If my memory serves me correctly, the National Socialists in Germany did not ever achieve a majority at the ballot box during the 1930s either. But look how that turned out.

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    20. Sebastian Poeckes

      Retired

      In reply to Anna Young

      Frankly, Anna, yes! And ban all the other imaginary friends as well while we're at it. Get religion out of politics altogether.

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    21. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Anna Young

      "Fear of the unkown is just a downward, self-perpetuating spiral. "

      Well perhaps you should tell that to muslims around the world Anna dear.

      Nativity and failure to learn from history is also a downward spiral.

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    22. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      There are many non-Muslim men who would enjoy the power that Sharia gives them over the female members of their family, and would assist the Muslim population in breaking down the protections Australian women have at present.

      How can Australian women expect any justice in our courts if there are Muslims serving on juries? Muslims believe that the legal testimony of a man charged with rape or assault is worth twice that of his victim. Can we guarantee that Muslims will reject large chunks of their religion if given a better life in Australia?

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    23. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Look at the numbers of Muslim that were in Britain in the 70's and look at how many of them there are now.

      Why not simply exclude Muslims?

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    24. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anna Young

      Christianity should be given a lot of the credit for the freedom and safety that we all enjoy.

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    25. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      "Why not simply exclude Muslims?"

      Sorry Chris but that is going too far.

      There are good muslims just as there are good christians.

      Consider the turks Chris, most of whom are muslim and quite a few of which are both muslim and secular. They are fighting against their islamic government.

      The problem however is that antipathy towards human rights, particularly with the fairer sex, seems to be a particular (but not exclusive) problem with islamic cultures

      Just as pedophiles seems to be…

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    26. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Secular values, which include the more sensible Christian values, are largely responsible for our freedom and safety Chris, not Christian values exclusively.

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    27. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Some absolute Catholic values like forgiveness and the sanctity of confession have given us pedophile priests and their victims!

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    28. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      "There is nothing wrong with Islamic immigration".

      We can judge Muslims by what they choose to believe. Read the Qur'an. "Prejudice" means: any preconceived opinion or feeling, favourable or unfavourable. (Macquarie Dictionary). So to have a favourable or accepting attitude towards Islam, without first reading the Qur'an is to be guilty of prejudice.
      Can you guarantee that Muslims will jettison big chunks of Allah's will, if allowed to immigrate to Australia?

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    29. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Yeah well Chris let's just remember, from a recent Four Corner report about pedophile priests, that some Catholic parishioners ostracised the victims of pedophile priests when they spoke out.

      I agree that backward medieval values are a particular problem with Islam, but it is not an exclusive problem with it.

      We also need to keep a careful eye on our own doctrine thumpers, particularity the catholic ones as it turns out!

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    30. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      I like the Australia of the 1970's. Change is not necessarily good. I would hate Islam to have any influence on Australian values, except for the rules against alcohol.

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    31. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      You are confusing the behaviour of individuals with the doctrine. Christianity is opposed to sex outside marriage with anyone.

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    32. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      "both Muslim and secular" is a contradiction in terms. You can't be both Muslim and secular at the same time.

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  17. John Crest

    logged in via email @live.com.au

    "No doubt straightforward racism is a very big part of it".

    Evidence please.

    This is The Conversation, not Fairfax: we have been promised "academic rigour".

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    1. sue macrae

      retired

      In reply to John Crest

      This entire article has missed the point - stopping people getting on the boats to drown at sea. It is not about racism. We shouldn't even be too concerned about camps for boat people as the idea is to have no boat people. Refugees have safer ways of getting here and must not be encouraged to use one that is so likely to end in tragedy. This article is a prime example of how the way to hell is paved with good intentions.

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    2. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to sue macrae

      Sue,

      Imagine living under war time conditions or a harsh, totalitarian regime. How "orderly" and "easy" do you think it is to leave? Does one ask the Taliban for permissions to flee for you life, when they want opt kill you and your family or destroy your community.

      "Dear Mr. Taliban, could you please sing my refugee application form?" Many people tried to flee the Nazi and Communist regimes, only to be turned away.

      A little history about Australia's treatment of people fleeing such regimes…

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    3. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to John Crest

      John, your "racism "assertion misses the main point.
      Namely why so many of us do not want the current crop of un-announced Boat people on our shores.
      We can not understand that people, spend many months traveling around the world, finally wait for a Boat to be built, and then try and force their way into Australia.
      Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.

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    4. John Crest

      logged in via email @live.com.au

      In reply to james burke

      I'm not sure you're intelligent enough to post here james (sic).

      Please re-read my post. More carefully I'd suggest.

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    5. james burke

      SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      Michael, you have to take your blinkers off. I do not care if immigrants are Blue, Black, Yellow, White, Green or Polka Dotted, or whatever.
      I am not Racist. But I do not want the current batch of Boat Arrivers here, as I have stated before.
      .We can not understand that people, spend many months traveling around the world, finally wait for a Boat to be built, and then try and force their way into Australia.
      Such expense does not indicate desperate people.
      No excuse for the current selective "Pick-and -Choose" crowd who are trying to Bully their way into Australia.
      Try and absorb that message.

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    6. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      What do World War policies have to do with the present treatment of asylum seekers? Those in 'detention' centres are perfectly free to leave and go to anywhere in the world that will take them. They are not prisoners!

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  18. Razor Sharpe

    Menstrual cycler

    This is all about scaring the sh it out of stupid people.

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  19. Roger Peters

    Psychologist

    A wonderfully crafted article. Well done

    Rog

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  20. Razor Sharpe

    Menstrual cycler

    The list just grows and grows, Teflon Tony, Mr Bean, The Mad Monk, Captain Catholic, Master of the Silly walks, Dr No, Negative Neville. Father Fail, Rambo and now Rear Admiral Abbott. It truly frightening that this moron could be our next PM.
    Even though he has a head like a racing tadpole. The attention span of a lightning bolt, a pompous arrogant attitude and famous shi t eating grin and clearly suffers from Clue deficient disorder.
    He is mad, bad and sad, offer nothing, other than being the biggest nut job to ever walk the corridors of parliament....

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    1. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Razor Sharpe

      "Rear Admiral Abbott... head like a racing tadpole..."

      Oh, Razor!
      It has been such a long time I had my belly dancing so uncontrollably! What a vigorous exercise you've given it! Lost enough kilojoules to match the budget deficit of Greece!

      I thank you in equal measure!

      Racing tadpole! Shit that's good!

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  21. Peter Bright

    Retired

    I am wondering if the real, but unspoken, cause behind Australia's vicious treatment of the afflicted is its fear of Islamification.

    I understand that whereas Jesus' disciples were urged to go into the world and peacefully preach the gospel,thus leaving listeners free to accept or reject, Islam requires that its adherents actually take over.

    Is this why so many Australians are so savage?

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Peter Bright

      Peacefully - get real.

      Christianity is littered with brutality and mayhem.

      Don't rewrite history for god,'s sake.

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    2. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Peter Bright

      Jesus' disciples were also urged to do a lot of other things that his avowed followers in our Parliament totally ignore.

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    3. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      It is neither reasonable or logical to attribute to Christianity behaviours that contradict its principles. Christianity is not defined by popes, priest, crusaders or kings. It is defined by the teachings of Christ and his disciples in the New Testament.

      Bad things happen when Christians fail to follow their holy book
      Bad things happen when Muslims DO follow their holy book.

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    4. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Bad things happen when people follow doctrine, be it christian or islamic, rather than evidence and logic.

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    5. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      "Thou shalt not kill" is doctrine. Human actions often have unpredictable results, so it is dangerous to ignore the experience of the ancients. That is not to say that the ancients were male and that no religion is going to attract many adherents if it doesn't place male interests ahead of female interests.

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  22. Richard Brown

    Impact100Melbourne

    We are a nation built on immigration. Unfortunately this tends to be forgotten with xenophobic views clouding common sense and the leaders of our country do not set a great example.

    All of us have a role to play in the success of our immigration policy. It's too important to leave to politicians.

    That is why a few of us have started Impact100Melbourne with the aim to raise at least $100,000 through at least 100 people. This $100,000 is pooled to make one large impact grant to a small Melbourne-based…

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Richard Brown

      Admirable....but again stop promoting the myth of xenophobia.

      As with all things a number of people may believe in X, but then some people believe in aliens, levitation and that banks are people friendly.

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    2. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Richard Brown

      No one has forgotten that Australia is a nation of immigrants. But it still has a carrying capacity, as does the world. Immigration is ruining Australia.

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    3. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Xenophobia is the irrational fear of foreigners. That was Britain's problem in 1938, wasn't it? The British demonised Nazism because of their irrational fear of the foreign, and their racism. They should have been open to Nazi immigration and tolerant of Nazi beliefs, giving them the right to vote and participate in choosing Britain's lawmakers. They failed to appreciate that, by giving citizenship to Nazis, whose moral values were diametrically opposed to their own, they could diversify and enrich their own culture. Shame on them, the bigots!

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  23. Decortes Fleur

    Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

    Enterprising Australians with Ocean Liners and 'small craft' could take over the boat people business.....between Indonesia and Australia and make millions and millions of dollars.
    The money (profit) spent on 'safe passage' at $5,000 a head, could go to building accommodation...but THIS IS THE QUESTION where do the Hazara Afghan people belong now if after almost a decade their now country is not safe for them to live in?
    24 Australian soliders lost their lives in Afghanistan trying to free ETHNIC…

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Decortes Fleur

      Do you think the Hazaras have nice and modern views on homosexuality and the place of women in society?

      Do they have strict religious beliefs that promote the sanctity of men in the community?

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    2. Decortes Fleur

      Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      They have to AGREE TO SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE TO GET A JOB ON A BUILDING SITE? Really? /When asylum seekers are taken into captivity there is no professional psychological profiling and workshopping or documenting of cultures and views, religion, skills, education, qualifications, orientation and history, birthing rituals, customary law, language and 'comprehension' of freedom of speech, taxation, expectation - or even what sport is played and what traditional diet is known in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan…

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      So, we should be deporting most of the hierarchy of the Catholic church then, Stephen?

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  24. Felix MacNeill

    Environmental Manager

    Thanks Patrick. Given that nobody ever turned a profit or was awarded a flat scren television for taking an adult moral stace, I expect you'll be howled at quite noisily for daring to suggest we might behave as moral beings rather than bowels. I look forward to reading the moral wriggling.

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  25. Chris Saunders

    retired

    It is wrong to say that Australians are mean spirited and lack misericordia. Australia per capita accepts more asylum seekers than anyone. They also have a generous immigration policy that accepts wealthier people wishing to live here. It is also wrong to say that Australians are more concerned about justifying their own privilege. Australians are very aware of the fragility of their privilege. This includes acute awareness of the finite nature of resources and the misappropriation of those…

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  26. john tons

    retired redundant

    The refugee question is exacerbated by global over population. As limited resources become scarce people manufacture reasons to deny some of their fellow citizens access to the basic necessities. One only has to read accounts of hat life used to be like in many of these countries under stress to discover that the systematic persecution is comparatively recent. This is not to claim that persecution is invariably due to population pressure but that at least inthe past people could flee persecution and find somewhere else. The reality for us in Australia is that we are beginning to wake up to the fact that there is a nexus between our lifestyle and the size of our population - we can take more people but only ifb we are prepared to reduce our standard of living and whilst that standard of living may be undeserved - few are willing to sacrifice their quality of life.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to john tons

      Agree - perhaps there is only heartbreak ahead.

      Over population, water shortages, more heat, less food.

      Wowser......could be tough being anywhere.

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    2. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to john tons

      Our standard of living is deserved. We have reduced our baby booms to fewer than two children per woman for 36 years now.
      If the parents of the asylum seekers had done the same, for as long, would there be so much 'persecution"? I think not.

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  27. Fred Payne

    retired

    For me its not about the asylum seekers, but the people smugglers who are making huge profits and putting hundreds of lives at risk.
    Perhaps Clive Palmer's suggestion is not so silly

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  28. Greg Boyles

    Lanscaper and former medical scientist

    "No doubt straightforward racism is a very big part of it. But that can’t be the whole story: if it were, why has the government not been pilloried for talking about raising the overall humanitarian intake? Why is there no comparable outrage over the considerably larger number of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by air? If it’s about respect for Australian law, where’s the outrage over visa overstayers, a much larger cohort than asylum seekers? If it’s driven by opposition to population growth…

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  29. Suzanne Arnold

    Co-ordinator

    So how many asylum seekers do we take ? And can you explain the benefits of our immigration program being run by people smugglers ?

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  30. Watson Z

    Nothing

    I would like to see a rich Australian aka Greg Norman take his luxurious ship to Indonesia fill it with people 'refugees' ,no charge, and return to Sydney Harbour . I wonder what sort of reception they would get? As the decent people we are , maybe we should put some fast response and rescue boats in the oceans between Indonesia and us and actually save people. Australia is a large place with a miniscule population, we are kidding ourselves if we think we can keep it this way in a rapidly expanding world population. Did the aborigines decide who comes to this country? I am am so sick of the politics played on this. WAKE UP AUSTRALIA

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Watson Z

      Australia IS a large place - but one with limited arable land.

      And given future predictions things WON'T improve.

      So we take all the boat people as they arrive. It maybe 20 thousand this year, perhaps 50 thousand the next, then who knows - remember there are 10 million refugees and about 40 million in other categories.

      If Australia does not control the influx, we will be overrun. That is not hysterics, it's probability. Desperate people as we keep hearing do desperate things.

      WAKE UP AUSTRALIA

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    2. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      WAKE UP BLEEDING HEARTS you mean.

      I think a clear majority of Australians instinctively realise that Australia has limited arable land etc and what is fundamentally driving opposition to open borders.

      But I suspect that many enunciate this concern in limited terms that are easily misconstrued as racism by the other side.

      I get a very clear impression that the bleeding hearts are dominated by malcontents - those that are at the lower end of the social ladder and looking for ways of sticking it up the 'toffs' further up. And the asylum seeker cause is ideal for them.

      Not that I could possibly be regarded as being all that high up in the social pecking order - I drive a 10 yo car too.

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    3. Watson Z

      Nothing

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen Does Indonesia have this fabled supply of leaky boats that millions of refugees will get on? I don't think so .What a joke it is to think we will be overrun by leaky boats. The effect on your life by boat people is nil and will remain that way probably till you leave our wonderful planet.

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    4. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Watson Z

      If refugees can afford $10K PER PERSON, then 150 refugees could afford to buy quite a reasonable boat for the money >>> no leaks.

      My life won't be affected in reality that is true......nor will climate change. So what.

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    5. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Watson Z

      Well given the population of Indonesia is 200 million or so I think it is reasonable to assume that there is a considerable supply of "leaky boats".

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    6. Watson Z

      Nothing

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Your statement on leaky boats is false i'm afraid Stephen .Every boat is in perilous condition when it leaves Indonesia. Why are immigrants seeking asylum ,not aloud to have any money? 10 k might seem like , but its all they have.

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    7. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Watson Z

      Stephen's life may not have been affected by boat people. The effect on my life by boat people is not at all nil. They have dominated the political discourse in this country for some time now and this in turn has brought about the most skewered of public debate as evidence in this thread where compassionate open door policy people argue it out with racists, pro-labor people argue it out with opposing party supporters and where reasoned responses and questions are ignored. Boat people are paid…

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    8. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Watson Z

      Should asylum seekers in African UN camps be excluded from immigration places, because they don't have 10K, by asylum seekers that do?

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    9. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Watson Z

      Collectively there's about $1.5 - $2 million per boat load.

      That would lease a very nice boat and crew.

      Baot people can have as much money as they want....not really the point I'm arguing. But if the do have money they don't spend wisely

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    10. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Watson Z

      Don't be absurd. Australia is already overpopulated. What exactly do you think you would achieve by shifting hundreds and thousands of asylum seekers into Australia, other than the destruction of our environment, and the conversion of Australia into another overpopulated third world hell-hole.

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  31. Steven Waters

    logged in via Facebook

    nick zenephon has just made a complaint to the auditor general to investigate rudds media campaign. Rudd is using our tax money to get himself re elected under the guise of we have to save the boat people from drowning. then in the next breath he wants to torment them with picture of asylum seekers hopes being dashed. this man had no principles and will compromise anything to keep his beloved position as god.
    when Rudd was last in power it was well known he put many other counties off side with…

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  32. Suzanne Arnold

    Co-ordinator

    so naive to imagine that Muslim tsunami will not cause problems in this country. Look at the UK, look at Europe. Check out the violence after Friday prayers and the goals of Islamists. At a time when we should be limiting the world's population, the Muslim populations are exploding and there's no environmental considerations . Those who support unchecked numbers of asylum seekers are visiting immense problems to this country.

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    1. Watson Z

      Nothing

      In reply to Suzanne Arnold

      We are sowing the seeds of hatred in our community for Islam . Do not tar all muslims with the same brush this is simplistic and dangerous. Its like saying all Australians are smart.

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    2. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Suzanne Arnold

      You are right. We don't sow seeds of hatred, the hatred is already in their philosophy. Once Egypt, Syria, most of the Middle East was Christian.
      Europe was invaded, they got to Paris and Vienna, and it was thought the whole West woould fall. We've forgotten this. However, the Crusaders are still hated in the M.E.
      We [the kuffir] can be lied to, treated like animals, killed, because we have no status in their eyes.
      Of course there are nice people in all religions and races. But there is no voice of outrage from Muslims when atrocities are committed by the radicals, because the dominant meme is "submission".
      We worry about Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Jews? Never, because they don't have a chauvinistic, world-dominating (by any means, including violence) philosophy.
      I have some Saudi friends, and some Jewish friends, and of course, I like them; however I don't invite them to the same dinner party.

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Suzanne Arnold

      Suzanne, who are these mythical people who support 'unchecked numbers of asylum seekers'?

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    4. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Watson Z

      I don't think most Australians are tarring all Muslims with the same brush.

      I think that the vast majority of Australians would consider that Muslims like Wahleed Ali are an asset to this nation.

      But very clearly Muslim cultures are VERY different from western culture in areas like womans' rights, seperation of church and state and others.

      It is perfectly reasonable for Australians to express concern about muslim immigration on these grounds.

      Some educated Muslims no doubt despise the political and social nature of their country of origin and willingly embrace core western values.

      But there is also no doubt Muslims who think that things in their country of origin are just fine and that the west should follow their lead.

      We ought to be ensuring that we are getting most of the former and few of the latter.

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    5. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      "But there is also no doubt Muslims who think that things in their country of origin are just fine and that the west should follow their lead."

      But are immigrating for other reasons - for better jobs and better pay, to spread the influence of Islam, e.g. those radical muslim clerics who preach hatred in Western Sydney's mosques.

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    6. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Waheed Ali reveres a man who raped a nine-year-old girl. I don't consider him to be an asset to the nation.

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    7. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Watson Z

      We should hate wife-beating, slavery and the marriage of pre-pubescent girls. We should hate the denial of legal equality to women.
      Islam is defined by the words dictated by Mohammed, an illiterate trader. He claimed that his words were not his own but had divine origins.
      We can certainly judge Muslims by what they choose to believe. Read the Qur'an. "Prejudice" means: any preconceived opinion or feeling, favourable or unfavourable. (Macquarie Dictionary). So to have a favourable or accepting attitude towards Islam, without first reading the Qur'an is to be guilty of prejudice

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    8. June Reichenback

      Retired Nurse

      In reply to Chris Watson

      They chop off the hands of offenders in some countries for various crimes, I think this vile person should have the offending part of his anatomy chopped off too, maybe this would send a message to all others to think twice before they contemplate this act.

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    9. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to June Reichenback

      And of course if ever "we" (non-muslims) needed refuge from some of these countries we'd be given marching orders cos we are infidels.

      But of course it is "us" who are the racists and bigots.

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    10. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      I find that very hard to believe Chris. Is there anything on the web you can point us to that supports this?

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    11. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      But if there is any truth to this Chris Wahleed will certainly have lost any respect I had for him.

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    12. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to June Reichenback

      The man who married the six year old and consummated the marriage when the child was nine, was the same man who dictated the Qur'an. To be a Muslim, you have to believe that the pedophile's words are not his own, but are the words of our creator and therefore have higher authority than any human government. Just on his say so.

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    13. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Muslims revere Mohammed as the perfect example of human behaviour. It is a basic tenet of the religion. The words Mohammed dictated define Muslim beliefs.
      In order to be Muslim Ali has to believe that the pedophile is Allah's spokesman.

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  33. Fred Pribac

    logged in via email @internode.on.net

    Thank you for taking the time to write this article - it makes some cogent points.

    As for this line - "... half-remembered tales of Bradman riding Phar Lap to victory at Gallipoli" .

    Can I steal it for some lyrics in a song?

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  34. George Takacs

    Physicist

    Patrick,

    Thanks for helping to crystallise thoughts which have been bouncing around in my head for some time. As the child of two post-war migrants, I have been aware for some time of how it is just a happy accident that I enjoy a standard of living that, amazingly enough, so many other Australians whinge about. Meanwhile, relatives on my father's side of the family, still living in the Ukraine, endure a much lower quality of life than probably 95% of Australians

    Another amazing thing is how…

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  35. Thomas Stace

    Senior Lecturer in Physics at University of Queensland

    "...the considerably larger number of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by air?"

    As a matter of fact, this is not true. According to the Department of Immigration, since 2009, arrivals by boat ("Irregular Maritime Arrivals" - IMAs) and arrivals by air (non-IMAs) have been very similar. In the last 18 months, IMAs have exceeded non-IMAs.

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  36. Stephen S Holden

    Associate Professor, Marketing at Bond University

    Just another point to perhaps hammer home Patrick's point - we're all boat-people or descended of boat-people, even Australia's Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander population. And the irony? They boated in through what we now call PNG!

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  37. Peter West

    CEO at Property

    Another comment just made me mad! Our prosperity is because of a "happy accident"??
    This is not only naive, intellectually shallow, but (words almost fail me) so totally inaccurate as to be unbelievable (like most of the article).
    Our prosperity is based on Western values: strong property rights, strong commercial law, values of fairness, basic human rights.
    Also our scientific and engineering/industrial base, and the development of modern science (almost totally Western European derived philosophy…

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    1. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Peter West

      No, we definitely prefer bodies in barrels (Australia), bikie gang violence (Australia), union strikes (Australia).

      And goodness knows all the good stuff in the world and all innovation came out of the west. (We just wont talk about the Moors or Ottomans or Chinese or Japanese or Aztecs or....shall I keep going?)

      Peter, most of the things you prize so highly were the evolution of a range of different cultures and certainly not limited to 'the west'. Indeed, there are plenty of incidents throughout history and down to the present day in which your espoused "Western values" are quite noticably absent from the West's actions.

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    2. alexander j watt

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Peter West

      You misunderstand the argument. You benefit from all these as a mere accident of your being born amongst here. You can't take personal credit for all the achievements of those who made Australia great. And it is nasty to not want to share those things around with those who are less fortunate through no fault of their own.

      Btw Patrick Stokes you should come down here below the line and spar with some of these weak arguments that are being given voice, you'd be much better at it than the likes of me.

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter West

      Good on you, Peter. This article is preposterously vacuous and just nauseating. Can't you just see Patrick, David Marr, and other "Melbourne philosophers" air-kissing in a Sth Yarra/Woollahra cafe, sharing photos of their nordic kin, weeping as they took turns reciting passages from Teutionic and Scandinavian philosophers? Perhaps we might find them clutching cloves of garlic, lest they encounter people from "Cronulla", "xenophobes", "definitely racists", or John Howard.

      The abortion made out…

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    4. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to alexander j watt

      So what you are suggesting is that none of us can pass down the benefits of our achievements to our own offspring. It is only an accident of birth that our offspring have well-off parents, so their inheritance should be shared with the rest of the world.

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    1. Henriette Vanechop
      Henriette Vanechop is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to george theodoridis

      It has been suggested that people are paying a thousand dollars per person to board those "boats". At the time they part with their money, do they know the quality of boat and crew provided ? If they don't, and do not feel safe and wish to cancel, and use their money for a flight over,. after obtaining papers, can they ? CAN THEY ?

      As for the crews, are they informed of what they are expected to do ?

      Are those people swindlers, or just gullible ?

      Prevention would probably do THEM all a favour.

      Our national anthem, and the tourism industry, paint a very rosy picture. Are would be immigrants aware of the vastness of non-arable, flood-prone land and bush-fires ? when one looks at the map, for sure it is easy to believe there is space for plenty more people.

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    2. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Henriette Vanechop

      Henriette, at the time they part with their money they do not have the luxury of engaging in bartering and sound business deals. They are trying desperately to escape conditions which they can no longer tolerate. They are not afforded the luxury of choice of ocean liners. The boats used are confiscated and destroyed by the australian govn't and that's why you will only see the worst of them having a go.
      As for the crews, most of them are also hopeful refugees; or at least, hopeful escapees from a life of misery.

      And you're quite right: Prevention would do them all a favour; and there are many, many ways of preventing these disastrous voyages. Humanitarian ways, intelligent ways, compassionate ways, ways that would raise our own morale and spirits as much as theirs.

      But they require humans, not dung-loving cockcroaches to take the lead.
      Alas!

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    3. Ian Alexander

      Reader

      In reply to george theodoridis

      I'm assuming that Peter West must be a Poe.

      Nobody could be as wilfully ignorant, racist and stupid as this joker in real life.

      And please...black skivvy and jacket. Nobody could be that far up themselves.

      (In the off chance that he is real, can somebody please tell me which company he works for? I'd be keen to express to his Board of Directors why such a person is unfit to be a CEO)

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    4. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Ian Alexander

      Oh dear, is that all you can say? Can't get past the personal abuse and deal with the issues in an intelligent, reasoned manner.
      I really don't have to say anything, I think you say it all about yourself!

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter West

      Peter, given the muck you've been dishing out at other groups of people, it's pretty whimpy to complain if someone dishes a bit back at you.

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    6. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Rubbish! Point out one personal attack. The fact that a lot of people here are totally intellectually inept, and I'm trying to educate them, and all they can do is attack me, yes I'll use it "ad hominem" = against the man, not the argument. The lowest form of debate, that's why I say it's so sad, sad, poor, stupid man.

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    7. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Here are a few of your ad hominem attacks Felix:

      "If they hadn't been invited here by the Rudderless fools they would be alive!"

      "Joseph, you've really got to stop attempting the mind-reading, it just isn't working and doesn't impress rational people."

      "Seriously, you must have shares in a scarecrow factory, Joseph."

      I suggest you clean up your own act Felix before you go accusing others of attacking people.

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  38. Henriette Vanechop
    Henriette Vanechop is a Friend of The Conversation.

    retired

    It has been suggested that people are paying a thousand dollars per person to board those "boats". At the time they part with their money, do they know the quality of boat and crew provided ? If they don't, and do not feel safe and wish to cancel, and use their money for a flight over,. after obtaining papers, can they ? CAN THEY ?

    As for the crews, are they informed of what they are expected to do ?

    Are those people swindlers, or just gullible ?

    Prevention would probably do THEM all a favour.

    Our national anthem, and the tourism industry, paint a very rosy picture. Are would be immigrants aware of the vastness of non-arable, flood-prone land and bush-fires ? when one looks at the map, for sure it is easy to believe there is space for plenty more people.

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  39. Michael Hughes

    logged in via email @curtin.edu.au

    Wow, and I thought the Conversation was a forum for intelligent, informed debate. It seems, reading many of the comments here, that I may as well be reading any old online news website where baseless claims and ignorance prevails in the comments sections. Except the Conversation seems to have the added problem of massive egos battling it out.

    The article observes that there is a distinct lack of compassion in the treatment of people arriving by boat - despite refugee conventions and laws of…

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Michael Hughes

      Once a lecturer, always a lecturer.

      Again this is a forum where not everyone agrees - but you seem to think your opinion of what is right and correct is the only valid option.

      Choosing to taint us as non-compassionate or dispassionate is easier than having a good look at what is being said.

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Michael Hughes

      "The article observes that there is a distinct lack of compassion in the treatment of people arriving by boat"
      In fact, the article observes nothing but itself, and its clones. This self-observation is then projected onto the rest of country, about whose residents the author is clearly clueless.

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  40. Michael Bolan

    Systems practicioner

    Excellent take on how our guilt causes us to behave like sociopaths. Of course many government policies turn out to be sociopathic (Cornelia Rau, Aged 'care', stolen generation, aboriginal health, the intervention and so on).

    One major problem with this is that our leaders are constantly lowering the bar on how people can be treated. Seen in line with governments' obsession with 'security' this represents a threat to Australian freedoms and living standards, when governments can treat people like cattle for no apparent reason other than 'sending a message'. History demonstrates that this is a dangerous direction for any country.

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  41. Margaret Hinchey

    logged in via email @lifequestoz.net

    As a Sister of Mercy (misericordia) I was heartened to read Patrick Stokes'article. Some of our Sisters have recently returned from PNG. They saw firsthand how unprepared that nation is to deal with Australia’s failure to abide by its UN Refugee Convention obligations to asylum seekers and refugees. Only a few towns have electricity, running water and sewerage services. Even in these places, electrical and phone systems regularly break down. Roads are often impassable. Violence especially against women is widespread We have appealed to the Prime Minister to reverse this policy, so far without response. I wonder too if Australians' deep seated fear of boat people has something to do with our subconscious awareness that we too came in boats and took away the land from the First Peoples of our nation?

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Margaret Hinchey

      "...subconscious awareness that we too came in boats and took away the land from the First Peoples of our nation?"
      Sistah, don't be going projecting your Catholic guilt on to the rest of us. Deal with your issues in private, please. You Go Girl.

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    2. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Margaret Hinchey

      The aborigines who were occupying Australia in 1788 were just as guilty of land grabbing as the Europeans were. They were the ultimate winners of millennia of fighting over finite resources, and they or their forebears acquired their occupancy by killing Aborigines.
      I certainly feel no guilt about European settlement. The white British introduced the western industrial economy and democracy to Australia. They had to build it from scratch. They didn't sail into an established society with education, health and welfare systems in place and demand a share of a living standard created by another culture.

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    3. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Chris, as mum would say, two wrongs never made a right. The point is most of us are stuck here either by choice or descent and we are all aware at how fortunate we are to live on the backs of the giants of the past of both peoples who made it possible and in the present of being afforded the opportunity to carry on their good work. We are now facing the dilemma (if it comes to that) of having to share more of that good fortune with others. So what was done in history is surely superseded by what we plan to do now. Even if your plan to limit populations works out effectively in the future, our dilemma is a present, pressing one.

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    4. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Sorry Chris I can't support you here, you are on your own.

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    5. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Margaret Hinchey

      Thanks, Margaret, for submitting a first-hand account about PNG's suitability as a nation to host asylum seekers. Its a pity you were mocked, though that, I suspect, results from a failure to understand paradox. So here's some words of encouragement for the journey!

      "The mighty will be toppled from their thrones, and the downtrodden raised up. The hungry will be filled with good things; and the rich sent empty away." (Mary's Prophecy)

      "Every valley shall be exalted and all the mountains and hills laid low; the crooked made straight and the rough places plain" (Isaiah, 40:4)

      "On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone" (Psalm 91:12)

      "There can be no peace without justice." (Martin Luther King)

      And, last but by no means, least....

      "In my weakness, I am strong." (Paul to the Corinthians)

      Keep up the great work for justice and peace for asylum seekers!

      Shalom

      Michael

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  42. Ben Wadham

    Senior Lecturer at Flinders University

    There is a fair element of white masculinity in this construction of the problem. Two blokes and the women behind them - I see Julie Bishop as a kind of Iron Lady - a Maggie T... trying to show how they can wrestle control of the nation. Mange the boundaries. Control the leakage. Be strong and decisive. Hence the complete failure of compassion. Tony's military masculinity is like George Bush in pilot gear on the air craft carrier or Putin taking a submarine to the depths, or John Kerry 'reporting for duty' statement in Presidential elections a few years back. The military masculinity is reinforced by Tony's idea that his fraternity can work with the ADF fraternity to control the region and save us from invasion. Above all else it places civil military relations in jeopardy and reinstates us as white colonial nation profoundly threatened by difference.

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Ben Wadham

      "There is a fair element of white masculinity in this construction of the problem."
      Oh, there I was thinking you were referring to the author and his white northern European milieu of scholastic misericordia.

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    2. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Ben Wadham

      My God. Its a worry. What's the opposite to white masculinity? Black femininity?
      White colonial nation? Just wonder what you lecture in "Gender politics" -- lot of jobs there.
      No country has open borders, African, Asian, Middle Eastern. Try and get a visa for China!
      They're yellow colonial nation? Really, this has to be the stupidest post here. I'm sorry I even have to reply to it!
      God, my sister got couple of degrees from Flinders, no wonder we never got on! We're paying yr salary?

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  43. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    The wonderful thing about being a progressive is your feelings are so fine and elevated you never need to concern yourselves with the consequences of the policy positions you urge.

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  44. james burke

    SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

    This article IS NOT EVEN CLOSE to the reasons I and many other people hold on the issue of un-announced arrivals.
    I am a refugee from way back. Glad we accept refugees, but NOT Country hoppers who transverse many countries to reach Australia, and then try and . force their way in.
    No sympathy with their bullying tactics

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  45. Joe Nwogi

    logged in via email @sogetthis.com

    Is there something wrong with the soil in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq or Syria? Does it not grow food? Is it contaminated?

    Not that I've heard.

    Is there something wrong with the water in these countries? Do they not have enough? Is it poor quality h2O that leads them to flee?

    From what I know, their water seems fine.

    Is it the air? Is it the air they breathe causing their problems? Is it affecting their minds in mad, uncontrollable ways?

    Their air doesn't seem to be any different to ours…

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    1. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Joe Nwogi

      Absolutely right!

      I suspect that many on the Left hate themselves and extend that to our culture, and the capitalist system which has lifted millions out of poverty.

      The virtue of free markets also require at least a measure of personal freedom, and a combination of circumstances which have produced the prosperity we have today; however, corrupted by socialistic welfare, it's possible the system will not survive in its present form (which will solve illegal immigration)!

      It's sad that the unenligntened here can only indulge in personal vulgarity. I just hope I never descend to that level.

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter West

      Peter, I think that's a bit unfair on the "left" in general. "The left" stands for understanding the world in order to change it. I'd say our popular discourse malaise is more confined to people who are "out of the loop" on the socio-cultural realities in Australia, such as academics. Notice who they cite for all their social scientific insights? Dead Nordic misanthropic scribblers, their male descendants, and their white, blonde, male, academic kin. They wilfully misunderstand the world they live in, which I somehow suspect justifies their projects not to change a damn thing.

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    3. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to David Thompson

      Haha! No I'm not unfair on the Left. I just dislike the fact that they claim the high moral/intellectual ground, but basically they are just thieves and looters, and stupid.
      Also their faulty and misplaced philanthropism often causes more pain and social dislocation than gain.
      By and large they are big spenders on the public purse, they're immoral, greedy, and nasty people.
      They claim to be the party of humanitarianism, but commit any atrocity to achieve their nebulous goals of "equality".
      I could say a lot more on this theme, watch this space. It's a pity the "world improvers" can't be consigned to the "dustbin of history". Along with their carbon tax that is causing the poor of Australia to turn off their electricity.

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    4. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter West

      In practical terms (ie reality) the Left has been consigned to the dustbin of history. What we have here is the fag-end of academic leftists in their own special form of radical politics and class warfare - duelling discourses and letters of outrage to The Age!

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  46. Nev Norton

    Farmer

    Interesting article, that seems to seek to pillory those Australians that want to maintain the status quo, with an underlying support for open borders, even though he indicates not to have a solution or policy.
    Clearly the amount of asylum seekers we take is but a mere drop in the bucket. I doubt that any of the actions being implemented or proposed by Labor or the Coalition will ever halt the flow of Asylum seekers attempting the risky voyage, even if we were to triple our intake the pull factor…

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    1. Neil Mcnally

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Nev Norton

      One day in the future,the shoe may well be on the other foot..and Ozzies will be sorely tested when NZ refuses to accommodate them and shoots their decrepit &$& down rather than let it land..sarcasm..but more than a gram of truth!!

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  47. Graham Shepherd

    logged in via Facebook

    The comments say as much as the article. Obviously a significant proportion of literate people see no obligation to help refugees and, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, deny even that they are refugees. What are the fears? None stand up to scrutiny as some commenters have pointed out. A simple test about our inherent racism is to ask ourselves in turn, if it was New Zealand in trouble would we let them in? If it was PNG in trouble would we let them in? We all know the answers, even…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Graham Shepherd

      Thanks Graham - seems to me that leadership is about recognising and fostering the best in us, so that we grow better and stronger as a result, even if we grumble a bit along that way. But all we seem to be getting is competitive appeals to the worst in us and a rapid lowering of all the standards that make civilisation worth the trouble.

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    2. Neil Mcnally

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Shepherd

      Now you are talking..I do hope the fearists read every word of your comment..thank you.

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Graham Shepherd

      I'm assuming that through immigration and "legal" refugee intake, Australia accepts people from those countries that constitute the "boat peoples" homelands.

      So there is no inherent racism in denying "boa people", the criteria being they are entering Australia illegally.

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  48. Pat Moore

    gardener

    There's a Greek word catharsis...to purge, to cleanse, to clear of shame or guilt. It seems this crisis is causing an outpouring from the collective Australian psyche which consists of two separate streams of response which seem to depend upon your ancestral and class history and experience. If you've had an Irish background, two generations of ancestors dying in wars, if you've sweated through generations of poverty, taxes and tears, if you're connected to the land through generations of farming…

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    1. Neil Mcnally

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Not a sharing person..and you no doubt believe in a god too!

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  49. karen griffiths
    karen griffiths is a Friend of The Conversation.

    retired teacher

    This site is called "The Conversation"-some of you need to log off and go over to the site called "The Abuser!" Great and relevant article over at IA on overpopulation. [Apologies to TC.]

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  50. John Clark

    Manager

    Patrick - An insightful contribution by a professional. If I might respond on a layman. Agree totally that our position is an accident of birth, and we have the burden of guilt by the knowledge that we have not earned it. Each generation becomes more distant from those less fortunate. It is widely accepted that we manage adversity better than success. You are further correct in stating that this is a fundamental characteristic of our species (and all others), not because we are Australians…

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    1. karen griffiths
      karen griffiths is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired teacher

      In reply to John Clark

      Agree John. Another issue to discuss is the concept of being 'lucky.' Often it is hard work that creates the luck! Hard work to-remain secular, maintain high standards of education, apply best practise to what we do[farming, medicine...], question our politicians, demonstrate against injustice, hold conversations, build homes and families, balance economy with society, pursue corruption etc.

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    2. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to karen griffiths

      A different thought. It appears that the root cause of people opting to become refugees, is that they are fleeing persecution based on religious beliefs. The Shiites hate the Sunnis and cannot live together amicably. Buddhists dislike Christians and Protestants despise Catholics.
      Is it not time we tried to solve this question of imaginative belief? Although, as every civilisation in the world has devised some sort of God in which to believe, it would appear that religious persecution is a large…

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Perhaps the answer lies in the past.

      Israel was created.....why not create separate states for the various sects. One for Sunni another for Shia etc.

      They can't seem to live together and insist on treating each other with persecution and contempt.

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    4. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Clark

      'we have the burden of guilt by the knowledge that we have not earned it" SPEAK FOR YOURSELF.
      We have earned our high living standard because we have reigned in our reproduction for 36 years to lower than replacement level. If the refugee source countries had done the same, there would be no refugee crisis.

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    5. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Where there is competition over scarce resources, people find allies among those who share their religion and culture. That does not make the conflict sectarian or ethnic. It is just that more for "them" means less for "us".

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  51. David Wright

    Electrician

    To the author:

    It is not fear, it is anger! It is too simplistic to simply label opponents of immigration and asylum seekers as racist, as you will NEVER understand why people hold the view.

    The anger comes from this:
    We have NOT consented to the arrival nor the acceptance of these people in a formal political manner, and in most notably, in the 2001 election, the Australian people have been seen to vote against asylum seekers.

    "WE DECIDE ON WHO COMES TO THIS COUNTRY AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THEY COME" !

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    1. Neil Mcnally

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Wright

      Sorry..WE have consented to providing safety and sanction to refugees(United Nations,I think),but of course you and yiour ilk choose to adapt that agreement so that NONE arrive except through the line-up-and-wait til you're dead regeme

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    2. David Wright

      Electrician

      In reply to Neil Mcnally

      What I am saying is that we as the people must consent to the arrangements. It needs democratic approval. I understand we are signatories to the UN treaty on refugees. HOWEVER, we are being exploited. I believe it is time to rescind this treaty.

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  52. Dr Graham Lovell

    logged in via Twitter

    We cannot have a sensible debate on refugee policy because the antagonists on both sides refuse to put all the cards on the table. Here are some of the issues that are not open to current discussion:

    1. There are more refugees wanting to come to Australia than we can possibly accommodate without severe disruption to our society. Here we are talking about multiple millions.
    2. Even if we only took all the people willing to come to Australia by boat and by air, this would have a significant impact…

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    1. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Graham there are other possibilities we can explore other than resettling large numbers of asylum seekers here.

      How about getting western countries contribute more aid spending in their regions to alleviate poverty which flows on to persecution and political instability.

      How about getting all western nations to provide developing world woman with free contraception of their choice.

      Even if Australia took in 1 million asylum seekers per year, at great cost to our own society, it would barely make a measurable impact of the global asylum seeker problem given the rate at which it is growing!

      You soldier settlement scheme is nothing new that we have heard so far Graham......just more of the same that is driving the tension in this heated debate in Australia.

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    2. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Of course there are other possibilities beyond the ones I canvassed, but do you really think that more aid spending and free contraception will solve the problem?

      I agree that my comments are likely to drive up tensions, as you suggested.

      Yet we are avoiding the issue, and therefore not making any progress. This is my criticism with all articles, like this one, that argue that we should free up our refugee intake policy. Where is the discussion of how we will handle the social and political consequences? Or are you arguing that it should it be left unsaid?

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    3. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      "Of course there are other possibilities beyond the ones I canvassed, but do you really think that more aid spending and free contraception will solve the problem"

      Graham a few hundred thousand or a million asylum seekers out settling in Australia out of 45 million plus is going to improve the lives of the remaining 44 million plus.

      Aid spending might succeed in improving the lives of a larger proportion, combined with free contraception, if it is part of a comprehensive global aid effort.

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    4. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      "Graham a few hundred thousand or a million asylum seekers out settling in Australia out of 45 million plus is going to improve the lives of the remaining 44 million plus."

      This forum needs an edit facility

      Graham a few hundred thousand or a million asylum seekers settling in Australia out of 45 million plus is not going to improve the lives of the remaining 44 million plus.

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    5. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Do we then Graham cut out our immigration policy and take refugee's in their stead? This will still cost us an extra lot of money and resources, as immigrants tend to be selected from the educated and wealthy now a days.
      Another possibility with global capitalism is the training (voluntarily) in some specific activity which is engaged in worldwide such as oil and gas rigs which require high-tech operators and whom at present we bring out on 457 visas. Or, maybe our present outsourcing industries…

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    6. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      I agree that there is no easy solution, and Australia can't solve the world's problems. Some problems can't be solved.

      You mentioned "global capitalism." That is not the problem: the problem is untramelled free trade. Indeed, the current (tri-party) support for the mantra that puts free trade ahead of people is wrong, and destructive. It massively limits government freedom to manage the economy for the benefit of those who elect it.

      In this regard, I just don't know how we will be able to employ…

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    7. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Yeah well 'free trade' is yet another ABSOLUTE position from a different branch of social bloody scientists that is causing collateral damage in Australian society!

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    8. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      I was under the impression that lowered tariffs in Australia was a deliberate strategy by the west to encourage industries in developing countries to export to Australia and other western countries and so grow these industries which they 'were good at', to provide a wider base of employment in these countries and subsequently aid them to raise their standard of living. I thought this was to be a direct strategy to enable these countries to work their way out of poverty. Such tariffs in Australia…

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    9. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Nice thoughts, but really the era of mass employment (at least under the current arrangements) is over.
      Witness the collapse of Detroit in the US, our car industry, and so on, where similar forces are displayed.
      There is no way the demand for "warm bodies" is needed in Australia right now.
      Our immigration should be only on skills that are in demand. There is a lot of unemployment in rural areas right now, with 30% on government assistance in many country towns. We can't even employ a lot of Australians, and it's going to get worse, with money printing around the world.
      Social security was originally for seasonal workers and the temporarily unemployed. A lot of illegal immigrants don't speak English, have a lot of kids, and live on social security after years here.

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    10. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      You hit the nail on the head with your analysis of the impact of the trend to lower tariffs: both the developed world and the developing world have (in general) benefited. This applies even though I suspect that the massive benefits that have ensued for the developing world was a side effect of the attempt to increase our standard of living, rather than being primarily altruistic.

      However, near-zero tariff policies have not been an unmitigated success for either the developed or developing world…

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    11. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Peter West

      I agree with you that there are very few developed countries that need more "warm bodies". The analysis found in the New York Times best-seller, The Betrayal of the American Dream, 2012, provides a telling account of the massive loss of jobs in the US, and the failure of "better education" to solve the problem - jobs just keep being shifted overseas, and wages keep falling.

      I agree that we need an economic solution that deals with this issue, and have discussed this above. However, we are all "citizens" of the world, and our neighbour, who has proved to be a good friend, Indonesia, is stuck with lots of refugees who want to come to Australia. What is going to be our response? Can we just turn our back on Indonesia's problem? Can we ignore the plight of those who are fleeing persecution? What would we want if we were in the same position?

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    12. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      The refugees are in Indonesia only because Australia keeps offering a western standard of living. Stop resettling refugees and send them back to their home countries. If Afghanistan is so dangerous, how come its population keeps increasing?

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    13. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      You haven't mentioned population growth! Haven't you noticed that the areas of the world where there is strife, are also the places that still have high birth rates?
      The price of labour is as subject to the laws of supply and demand as everything else. By trying to establish their own security by having larges families, parents in undeveloped countries are creating a huge pool of unskilled labour, all competing against each other for jobs.
      If they had been doing what Australia has been doing for the last 36 years - keeping their birthrate to fewer than two children per woman - they would be in a position to demand a better deal from the capitalists.

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    14. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Both India and China via slightly different means (but by appealing to both men and women) attempted very seriously to limit population growth. The salient factor is the availability of employment. Now that these countries have a better industrial base, employment is much more widespread and their population measures will only now start to bear real fruit with China ‘s population expected to start to decline by 2028 while India will continue to rise to 1.6 billion and then go back to 1.5 billion…

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    15. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      "Can we ignore the plight of those who are fleeing persecution? What would we want if we were in the same position?"

      That is all very well Graham, but it wont solve the world's problem if we end up making Australia as politically unstable and violent as the countries from which asylum seekers are escaping through an irrational knee jerk mass immigration program.

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    16. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      I agree. It will not help the world's problems if Australia becomes politically unstable and violent.

      We need a mature debate that considers both sides of this question (and all the other sides as well)!

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    17. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      I agree.

      And withing the racist and nazi slurs by some university professors from their ivory towers!

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    18. margaret m

      old lady

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Fact o consider tmost of those countries do not have an old age PENSION scheme the mortality rate is high parents need children to care for them when they are too old to work.

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    19. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      The education of girls and the supply of modern contraceptives are the ONLY efforts that can make a difference.

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    20. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      The temporary protection visas were a good idea, but only if there is no prospect of them being converted to permanent residency when there is a change of government.

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    21. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to margaret m

      The motives to have large families are well studied and well understood, but it can't go on, can it?
      People who try to establish their own security by having large families, even when they cannot guarantee those children a future are selfish and the cause of 'persecution'.

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  53. F Kearney

    International Affairs

    The article does raise some good points. Visa-overstayers for example vs. boat people. But is the assumption that people are not incensed by visa-overstayers really valid? Why not write an article on it and find out. Perhaps there is not the media mechanism and endless articles to respond to, perhaps philosophising on visa-overstayers is not quite as career-worthy.

    Xenophobic, racist, sociopaths.... These terms, used in the comments and the article are powerful. The easiest defense perhaps against…

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to F Kearney

      "Xenophobic, racist, sociopaths.... These terms, used in the comments and the article are powerful."
      The problem is that the posters dumping this guff are overwhelmingly white, bourgeois baby-boomer teachers/academics types, completely unaware that in 2013, Australia is close to the the most multi-racial/ethnic/cultural place on earth.
      Who do the "Xenophobia" chanters on this thread really think the "xenos" is that Australians fear/hate? What is the evidence? Hilariously, even the author has refuted his own claims, when he actually does adduce some evidence.

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    2. F Kearney

      International Affairs

      In reply to David Thompson

      Ummm..... the point was to refute. Is it really that difficult to follow?

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  54. Jason Begg
    Jason Begg is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Perpetually Baffled Lawnmower Man

    "... and bumper stickers and half-remembered tales of Bradman riding Phar Lap to victory at Gallipoli can change that."

    Classic.

    Excellent article getting to the angst (or lack of) of the matter. Thanks for posting.

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  55. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    Thank you Patrick for this article. I have been continually bombarded with very racist anti boat people over the past few weeks. ‘THIS is OUR country!’ To which I reply:’Really!’
    ‘No doubt straightforward racism is a very big part of it. But that can’t be the whole story: if it were, why has the government not been pilloried for talking about raising the overall humanitarian intake? Why is there no comparable outrage over the considerably larger number of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia…

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    1. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Well there is nothing new here.

      Just more harping on about.....the....same....old....bleeding heart talking points.

      The same....old....racist.......slurs.

      "‘THIS is OUR country!’ To which I reply:’Really!’"
      Well what Australia Peter.

      A global commons where anyone can come and go as they please?

      You dip shits harp on about it previously belonging to aborigines (with which I agree as a matter of fact).

      So when aborigines declare that "it was our country", why don't you give the the same reply Peter....."REALLY!"

      Consistency is not a strong point of bleeding hearts!

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    2. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      I am suspicious of the motives of those who want to increase the refugee intake, and accuse those who don't agree with them of racism and xenophobia. I just can't forget the laws of supply and demand.
      A larger refugee intake equals a greater demand for goods and services and those who provide them can sell more stuff at higher prices. At the same time, the increased number of workers competing for employment exerts a downward pressure on the wages and conditions that employers have to offer. More sales, higher prices and lower wages add up to bigger profits.
      The increased demand for housing is hardly in the interests of those young people trying to get into their first home, but it's great for those who own more than one house.
      So, the cynic in me wonders just how much of the urge to rescue asylum seekers is based on concern for their welfare and how much is based on the profit motive.

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  56. David Thompson

    Marketing Research

    Unfortunately, this whole article is an exemplar of one those logical fallacies they teach in Phil101: argumentum ad misericordiam

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  57. Leigh Burrell

    Trophy hunter

    I was going to count how many times the author used the word "we" but it all became too much effort. Just to be clear, he's actually describing us - rotten, lazy, heartless racists that we all are - not himself. Perhaps it would have been more honest to use the word "you" instead.

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  58. james burke

    SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

    Yes, unfortunately you are wrong, Marion. Money does have an impact here.
    Our beloved (loosely stated) Prime Minister even agrees with what I wrote, this week, he got the Foreign Minister (Bob Carr) to mouth the Federal Government's new Policy THAT acknowledges that most of the "So called Refugees " from a couple of countries are actually only "Economic " Travelers. Words to this effect straight out of Bob Carr's mouth.

    We should not be bleating about Economic World Travelers - you need to grasp the reality that the crowd who are trying to force their way into Australia are in many instances NOT GENUINE REFUGEES.

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  59. james burke

    SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

    Marylin, You say, :"the DIAC dimwits they have housed Shi'ite Hazara with historical enemies like Pashtuns or Wahabi Sunnis."
    Your slur is a poor reflection on yourself.
    We DO NOT NEED IMMIGRANTS WHO want ot bring historical enmities to our shores.
    If they insist on that, send them home without processing. Do not blame any Australians for rejecting such foul behaviour from prospective migrants.

    Your is clearly view is the reverse, quite demented.in fact.

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    1. John Smith

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to james burke

      I would simply ignore Marilyn at all cost for the sake of any debate.
      Living in denial is one of the biggest issues I have observed for someone with such leftist views.

      http://www.independentaustralia.net/about/ia-contributors/marilyn-shepherd-bio/

      For one who actively supports amnesty international, do you think arguing with such a person would change her views?
      Don't waste your time, they are just but a minority

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  60. james burke

    SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

    Sebastian Poeckes commented:

    "If my memory serves me correctly, the National Socialists in Germany did not ever achieve a majority at the ballot box during the 1930s either. But look how that turned out. "

    ACTUALLY SEBASTIAN, TONY BLAIR and his Labor Party IN BRITAIN in his last election got 22% of the TOTAL Vote of the entire Electoral Base.
    Look how Britain turned out under his Leadership ( remember Iraq, etc)

    That is Democracy - Voluntary Voting Style.

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  61. Robert Shield

    Production Manager

    Sadly, Patrick, as soon as someone mentions "the boats" the point of the any argument is lost and all the howlers arrive.
    Your argument was that no-one has any right to claim any sort of prestige because of the country of their birth, hence, no the right to choose who comes here.
    This concept (privilege of birth for those who missed it) extends to intellect, beauty, skin colour and, the biggest prejudice of all, apparently, height. It is as stupid to be proud of your nationality as the colour of your eyes.
    As many in the audience are too proud of themselves to even recognise this truth, let alone respond to your assertion, I think you are right!

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    1. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Robert Shield

      So we can't pass on the results of our achievements to our own offspring because it is only an accident of birth that they have us as ancestors. We have to give the fruits of our labour to any complete stranger that wants them?

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  62. james burke

    SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

    Felix MacNeill commented:

    "I don't think something becomes any truthier once you go beyond the saying-it-three-times line, james"

    Some merit in what you say. Maybe for the Non-Hysterical folk on this planet.
    Though it might be justified for the Blinkered, Hearing Impaired, Know-all brigade, who are often quite unaware of the wider scope of facts that often encompass a situation.
    Getting a simple message into their Brain is indeed an art form.

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  63. james burke

    SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

    Felix MacNeill commented:

    "james, have you said it three times by now? (I've rather lost counts as much as I've lost interest) - anyway, keep going as it will eventually pass the Tweedledum test."
    Maybe, BUT will it pass into the BRAIN of any of the Rabid TWIT-HEADS, the
    Hysterical folk on this planet.
    The repitition might be justified for the Blinkered, Hearing Impaired, Know-all brigade, who are often quite unaware of the wider scope of facts that often encompass a situation.
    Getting a simple message into their Brain is indeed an art form.

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    1. Martin Hirst

      Associate Professor Journalism & Media at Deakin University

      In reply to james burke

      Actually james burke your repetitive drivel only proves two things:
      1 Patrick is right in his central thesis
      2 If intelligent 'small footprint environmentalist' types like you are so deeply xenophobic then Australia has a long way to go to grow up philosophically.

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    2. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Martin Hirst

      3. You bloody philosophers have a long way to grow up when it comes to understanding ecology and carrying capacity etc.

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  64. margaret m

    old lady

    We fear the boats because it suits the LNP strategy for us to fear the boats and the Media has papers to sell and market share to get.

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  65. john tons

    retired redundant

    Not sure if MacIntyre in entirely relevant here. His views have seem to be overtaken by modern social contract theory that looks at justice from the perspective of distributive fairness. This is not so much about queueing ( we can agree that the idea of a queue is a myth) but how limited safe havens are to be distributed. Should we turn refuge into another commodity that can be bought and sold? Should people be able to buy their way into safety? This applies not just to people who buy a passage…

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    1. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to john tons

      Also, the Convention was framed at a time when the world's population was less than half its present size, and reliable contraception was not available. It is not fair that people who have restrained their own reproduction should have to give up their living standard to provide for large families.
      No one should resettle refugees. It is pointless, as their relatives back home just breed more.
      All our humanitarian effort should be devoted to educating girls in undeveloped countries and supply ing modern contraception wherever it is needed.

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    2. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Chris Watson

      Chris, I see a basic flaw in your suggestion that young women in these countries should be educated in contraception in order to limit reproduction. The Taliban and similar regimes were criticised because they did not want women educated, so how are you going to do that?
      Women are only one factor in reproduction. Why don’t you include the education of men and their access to contraception in your proposal? As patriarchal men as a whole are authoritarian figures with power over the women in…

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    3. June Reichenback

      Retired Nurse

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      I agree wholeheartedly, men in countries where the Taliban have the most control are to blame for a lot of their own countries problems. That in this day and age women are not allowed to get an education is terrible.

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  66. June Reichenback

    Retired Nurse

    I find when my friends and I discuss asylum seekers coming by boat their main gripe is that they seem to expect everything, a job, a house, mobile phone etc when so many Australians do not have these and have no hope of ever getting them.

    There is also the worry that most of them seem to be from Muslim countries bringing their hatreds and wars with them and do not seem to assimilate to our way of life, in fact they seem to expect us to go out of our way and fit in with their rules and regulations etc.

    I am not racist, my husband is a migrant and my daughters-in-law are from New Zealand and Thailand but I also do worry about allowing unlimited Muslims into our country who are not willing to fit into our way of life. Just look at the riots we had last year, this is not what we expect from Australians, new or old.

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    1. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to June Reichenback

      June the important issue is our core secular Australian values.

      Despite some in here poohooing the idea of Australian value, we do indeed have them and they are pretty much universally agreed upon Australians.

      It is just that those values are implicit. But every last one of us knows what those values are if we put our minds to the task.

      Here are some of them:

      1) Separation of church and state
      2) Rule of secular law
      3) Equality of the sexes
      a) Forced marriages prohibited
      b) Under age marriages prohibited
      c) Female genital mutilation prohibited
      .
      .
      .
      4) Free and fair elections
      5) Religious freedom

      Perhaps we need to have a referendum, all agree on the exact details and formally codify them in our constitution.

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    2. margaret m

      old lady

      In reply to June Reichenback

      I think many people have those concerns but do not express it because exactly the issue of being called racist but there are countries in europe that are having issues. A look at Greece the extreme end unemployment etc we have unemployment issues with lack of housing pressures on our hospital system if the globalisation and the LNP idea of smaller government abdicate their responsibility to the community to provide I do not want to see any more division, anxst etc than the media and Abbott and co have already whipped up. I think it is time to remove ourselves for the global commitments including the convention.

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    3. Martin Hirst

      Associate Professor Journalism & Media at Deakin University

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      So Greg Boyles not much future in the landscaping business, or are you just a lousy landscaper?
      Seems to me you spend for too much time here, barking and yapping and snapping at heels.
      Go play in the yard with a tennis ball, at least then you'll be getting some fresh air.

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    4. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Your proposal to put into the constitution a list of things that we want to continue to exist in Australia is an interesting suggestion.

      It looks like a good list to me as a statement of intent. However, goodness knows what the High Court would do with "free and fair elections": I am happy with our current democractic arrangements, and don't want an activist High Court given the freedom to intervene in that matter.

      Good starting point for a discussion, however.

      Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Australia is an attractive destination for those seeking refuge from persecution. This could make it even more attractive.

      However, formally excluding Sharia Law from a place in Australian society seems to address some level of concern amongst the Australian people about increased Muslim immigration. It is a bit like France's exclusion of face-covering headgear - also controversial.

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    5. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Constitutions can be changed.

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    6. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Martin Hirst

      At least I know the meaning of a hard days work Martin.

      Unlike you bloody university professors sitting in your ivory towers lecturing at the general community of which you have little or no understanding of or empathy towards!

      How about we cut your university funding and force you to go an get a real job!

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    7. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Not that puting those values in the constitution is a guarantee that sharia law will never be implemented in Australia.

      I mean look at what president Morsi was trying to do in Egypt - so much for Egypt's constitution.

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    8. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      A real job among us 'mere' landscapers and cleaners etc

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    9. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      I am sure the bleeding hearts will regard the formal exclusion of Sharia law as 'racist'.

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    10. margaret m

      old lady

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      I see you have much to say and feel stongly about this issue many people are bleeding hearts as you point out but easier for all who are open minded to read your comments to think about & possibly concede there is a broader perspective we need to consider more helpful if you refrain from the labelling, condesending or ridiculing. Having said that I had better watch what I say and how I say it too

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    11. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Your value number 5 is in direct contradiction to 1 and 3.

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    12. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Greg Boyles didn’t appear to me to indicate he wanted to put it in the constitution at all, but merely that those are the values. And as a CONSTITUTIONALIST I very much can understand what he is on about. I see absolutely no conflict with he was saying, this is because the Framers of the constitution made clear that people are allowed to practice their traditions and customs and religion provided it was within the confines of law. Greg boyles for example referring to “Female genital mutilation prohibited…

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    13. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Martin Hirst

      Greg Boyles didn’t appear to me to indicate he wanted to put it in the constitution at all, but merely that those are the values. And as a CONSTITUTIONALIST I very much can understand what he is on about. I see absolutely no conflict with he was saying, this is because the Framers of the constitution made clear that people are allowed to practice their traditions and customs and religion provided it was within the confines of law. Greg boyles for example referring to “Female genital mutilation prohibited…

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    14. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Greg, see my comments in response to Martin Hirst and Dr Graham Lovell.
      I for one, as a CONSTITUTIONALIST, have no issue in what you stated. Regretfully we do have people who make comments without knowing what they are talking about and seem to place themselves as superior to others, which I view they are not.

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  67. Michael Leonard Furtado

    Doctor at University of Queensland

    Bravo, Patrick, not for arousing the hysterical response above (which, of itself, is evidence enough that your carefully constructed argument has hit the mark with some) but for quietly reminding us, like Thomas Aquinas, of the following:

    1. that while we are good persons we are also prone, through free will, to sometimes do evil;
    2. that our hard work or good fortune does not automatically entitle us to deny access to any bounty in excess of our needs to others whose needs may be greater than…

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Hi Patrick - I hear what you say, and of course in a perfect world we would all be good little vegemites who love one another with honesty and compassion. Sadly human nature touches us all and we fall from grace the minute we take our first breath - or sooner or later.

      I wonder if the shoe were on the other foot and Australians were fleeing our homeland, how many of the countries we discuss in this issue would take us in if we all started arriving on their borders.

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    2. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      "8. that, most arresting of all, if we have no peaceful means of overturning a tyrannical act, we might even be driven to commit tyrannicide justifiably"

      Are you a revolutionary are you Michael prepared to overthrow a democratically elected government, if necessary, if it does not implement the asylum seeker policies you think it should?

      And here I was thinking you were strictly a many of peace.

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  68. james burke

    SMALL-FOOTPRINT ENVIRONMENTALIST

    Martin Hirst commented:

    "Actually james burke your repetitive drivel only proves two things: 1 Patrick is right in his central thesis 2 If intelligent 'small footprint environmentalist' types like you are so deeply xenophobic then Australia has a long way to go to grow up philosophically. "
    JB replies: Martin, your logic is priceless. That means ZERO. That repetition proves or disproves anything is a moronic step in logic.
    That Australia needs to grow up.... is certainly true in many ways,certainly start with yourself, look in a mirror, add water , and watch the weed grow.

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  69. June Reichenback

    Retired Nurse

    I thought this was meant to be a civilised discussion, it seems to me some of these comments are bordering on insults. I know people can get a bit hot under the collar, depending on their side of the argument but please keep it friendly.

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  70. Decortes Fleur

    Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

    Koala Bears are persecuted, cruelly discharged from their homelands, by warring tribes, 'grunt' bar room brawl mortgaged folk and 'new Australians' who've fled war and often Facist Supremacy we fought before.The unprecedented need to access - and destroy- a geophysical wealth - and exploit it for less then it is actually worth is RUSH hour for climate change in Australia.
    Our precious wildlife, forests, rivers and sea coast, feed the ecosystem GIFT so profoundly measured by Patrick Stokes of Deakin…

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    1. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Decortes Fleur

      "Genuine respect for the earth - and human rights of people - frames Misericordia in the prism of A living planet."

      We are rapidly approaching the situation where the human population is so large that we can't do both.

      It will be one or the other and if we choose the latter then the Earth will conspire to bring about a human population crash anyway.

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    2. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Decortes Fleur

      By "human rights" I assume that you mean the human right to behave selfishly and irresponsibly without ever having to reap what you sow. Or the human right to create the conditions for conflict by having large families, and then demanding a share of a culture created by others. The others being people who have restrained their own reproduction. How about some human responsibility?

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  71. Watson Z

    Nothing

    Indonesia's population is 88% muslim, it is a country practising western values and western laws. There is no sharia law . It has the largest amount of practicing muslim's of any country. It is fair enough to say most muslim's coming here by boat will not influence us or our laws in any way.

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    1. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Watson Z

      "Indonesia's population is 88% muslim, it is a country practising western values and western laws. There is no sharia law ."

      And the only way they can keep that state of affairs is because the Indonesian government does not exactly have a glowing record on democracy and human rights.

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    2. June Reichenback

      Retired Nurse

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Maybe that is where the Muslim asylum seekers should stay and re learn the Koran that the Indonesians practice.

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

    Environmentalist

    First I would like to apologise for coming late to this article - my health has prevented much of my usual life routine.

    Terrific article, raising many of my own thoughts on the anguish of refugees.

    I believe the author, Patrick Stokes, summed up well with:

    "And we cannot act morally, or even see others properly, if we’re more concerned about justifying our own privilege."

    Justifying behaviour, meaning bad behaviour - since we don't need to justify the good, justifying our good fortune…

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      And we do support it through a managed and appropriate immigration and refugee program.

      We are not ungenerous in accepting people into our homeland.

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    2. Decortes Fleur

      Writer Researcher Producer at creative industry

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Assylum seekers here are the NEW PARSI of old in India and Persia.
      Whinging poms, so called, or The English, are not crashing our borders in the north - they are in the east and south everywhere.
      Australia gives....and accepts. Pale skin tourists tend to drink beer. Boat People or ASIMA are mostly non drinkers....but we know little else about them. Some heart renderingly innocent, others heinous.
      ASIMA In the tropics, protected, de-loused, given health checks, put to the test, faced with real…

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    3. June Reichenback

      Retired Nurse

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Will you still believe this when we have riots in our cities from warring Muslims, they can't get along in their own countries so what makes you think they will here?.

      I for one do not want my grandchildren to grow up in a country where they have to fear for their lives because of terrorists, and who knows how many are coming here in the guise of refugees.

      Only this week a bomb was left at a Sydney police station courtesy of suspected terrorists. This is a mainly Christian country and I am not afraid to say that even though I am not a practicing Catholic ( Who have a lot to answer for also ) I would prefer to keep it that way, we should have a cap on religions known to cause trouble elsewhere.

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      SJR

      "we do support it through a managed and appropriate immigration and refugee program"

      Provided you fly in and not arrive by boat - which is the problem Stephen we are trying to address.

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Decortes Fleur

      There are a lot of 'ifs' in your response, basically IF PNG does the right thing, IF Australia comes up with the necessary dosh IF... there is suitable infrastructure (which does not at present exist).

      When we could simply assess refugees locally and far more cheaply right here and reap the benefits as we have with preceding boat people like the Vietnamese for example.

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to June Reichenback

      Well, I am not a Christian or even religious and manage to not bomb or harm anyone every day, even though my ancestors arrived by sailing ships many years ago.

      Most people, irrespective of their religion, want a decent life for themselves and their children, something Australia has the resources to provide, in return we get inspired and enthusiastic Australians. Of course if you only offer hate - don't be surprised when that is what you receive.

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    7. June Reichenback

      Retired Nurse

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Yes Dianna but as I said previously where do you draw the line. 1, boat a day, 5 boats a day, 10 boats a day, 20 boats a day?, open borders and the flood of boats will star to arrive, what then?.

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    8. June Reichenback

      Retired Nurse

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      No body mentioned hate, I don't hate Muslims just what most of them seem to stand for or have you forgotten 911 and the Bali and Boston bombings.

      We have to have a better way for people to be eligible and arrive safely or we are just asking for trouble later on.

      Why do our young women and men give up their lives in Afganistan to try to make that country a safer place to live and the young Afgan men flee?, they should be staying there to help our people instead.

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    9. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      We HAVE earned our high living standard. By restricting our reproduction to fewer than two children per woman for 36 years. If the source countries of the refugees had been doing the same, there wouldn't be the levels of 'persecution' to flee from.

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    10. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, most people want to own their own house, does this mean you will vacate it for a refugee? It is your willingness to assist to some extend limited? Well, consider that if we accept X number of refugees, then why should we have certain people claiming to be refugees dictating they should be allowed to settle before those who already are waiting for many years in refugee camps? That really is the cardinal point that most people seem to overlook including stokes. This is not about not allowing…

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  73. Chris Watson

    logged in via Facebook

    "Misericordia in this sense is the virtue of the Good Samaritan;" The author of this article offers no analysis of what this virtue is with reference to asylum seekers.
    The Good Samaritan of the Bible came across an injured man and, after giving first aid, paid a third party to look after him until he was recovered.
       The Good Samaritan did nothing to protect the man from possible future assault. He did NOT take the man into his own country to compete for a livelihood with his neighbours. Or…

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  74. Steven Waters

    logged in via Facebook

    the rapist make up a small proportion and we have similar proportions that do the same. there are bad apples in every bunch. there are also refugees cutting themselves and committing suicide so if it were that bad surely they would have opted to go back. there are 6000 refugees waiting in Indonesia for the 600 places that we allow each year so they are on our door step with no other place to go. every day about 13 asylum seekers arrive in Australia by plane similar to the numbers that arrive by boat but we don't go on about them like the boat people. the polies and media have beaten this up into a frenzy and made it a political football. we don't want free loaders here but we shouldn't be punishing true asylum seekers like we are.

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    1. June Reichenback

      Retired Nurse

      In reply to Steven Waters

      What do you mean 600 a year?, Australia has upped it's intake to 20,000 and there are certainly more then 13 asylum seekers arriving each day by boat, the last week there has been on average about 60 a day so do the maths.

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    2. Nev Norton

      Farmer

      In reply to June Reichenback

      June, you may want to revise that figure, the figure I read was 1200 in week one of the PNG solution (The Australian)

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  75. Manuel Montes

    logged in via Facebook

    ‘Serenity Prayer’, not straight-off ‘Misericordia’, where the Australian Refugee Issue is concerned:

    The most accurate translation For the Latin word ‘Misericordia’, compounded around the verb root for ‘accord’ and the noun ‘misery’ (to ‘accord with someone’s misery’), is probably ‘empathy’, though this, stripped of religious connotation (unlike ‘pity’ or ‘mercy’). But another Latin saying is relevant, Spanish anyway, in the context of the Refugee Issue argued in this article: ‘buscar cuatro…

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  76. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

    logged in via Twitter

    Patrick Stokes, I will from onset admit that I have no particular good impression about Deakin University and certainly not when it comes to philosophy. My native English wasn’t English and neither did I have any formal education in the English language but at least as a CONSTITUTIONALIST I seem to have a better understanding then what you seem to have about Australians.

    QUOTE
    Consider the slogan bandied about during the Cronulla riots: “I grew here, you flew here” – as if it was a personal achievement…

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    1. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      G.H., this is a rant that the morons of Cronulla would hail as their flag post.
      You paid taxes because you've gotta pay taxes no matter where you live. Some of you would have also escaped paying taxes. Some of you would have sent all your earning overseas.

      It is an accident of birth, mate! Nothing fucking more. Nothing but an accident of birth that you were born with the colour of skin, you were born with, the spot on the planet where your mother disgorged you, an accident of birth the sorts…

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  77. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

    logged in via Twitter

    Let us also consider the following
    The Netherlands with 6% of population now Muslims is scrapping multiculturalism

    Http://conservastivepapers.com/news/213/01/26/the-netherlands-to-abandon-multiculturalism/#.UX7M272qk C

    And consider the traditions/customs of some countries:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLzx-HDvtYk

    I'D RATHER KILL MYSELF 11 YEAR Old Yemeni girl Nada Al-Ahdal RUNS AWAY
    Forced Marriage CHILD BRIDE

    A compelling video that I view everyone should watch to understand…

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    1. Chris Watson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      "practice their religion free from any Commonwealth interference as long as it is done within the law." At present it is not illegal to have large families and marry the children off to overseas relatives so that they can be brought in on spousal visas.
      And once they are citizens, they have the perfect legal right to choose politicians who will change our laws to suit them. There are Sharia courts operating in the UK.
      It is absurd to admit Muslims and give them all the rights of citizens, and then lecture them on how they must use their votes.

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  78. Nev Norton

    Farmer

    I think it is fair to say nobody wants to see people undertaking these perilous voyages, especially not women and kids. The flip side of this coin is that we need to be mindful of the longer term damage done to the existing fabric of societies, particularly in relation to Islam all in the name of multiculturism. Like it or not there seems to be a tipping point as a percentage point of population where Islam threatens the continued existence of the host nation in it's pre Islamic state. It is instructive…

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  79. Pat Moore

    gardener

    Difficult to understand the attitude to our one & only country that many have expressed here, with a blithe, give away, fire sale mentality of our diminishing cultural and environmental integrity, our way of life. Some of you may feel that you "haven't earned your place here" and it's a generous lucky dip into a bottomless store, open to whoever chooses to come. But many others know as sure as generations of death and taxes that we have 'earned our place here'. This disconnected, open to all comers…

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  80. Chris Saunders

    retired

    Comments have been made here of a possible left/right political divide dominating the debate of this issue, where the right are heartlessly hardlined and the left dopily compassionate. It seems to go beyond politics however, and can be seen as a debate between those who proclaim moral outrage at any proffered solution because of their reluctance to make Sophie’s choice and those wanting an ordered (safe) refugee intake policy, subject to some flexibility, and willing to make Sophie’s choice. Then of course you have all the riffs on that basic divide.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      Probably a reasonably accurate reflection of the Oz community in general.

      Let's face it, both major parties have now taken a strong stance on the issue. Whether this is merely political nous or a genuine attempt to resolve a perceived dilemma remains to be seen.

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    2. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Hi

      we know what they want and what they will do to get it.....

      different reasons I surmise, one for vengeance (is mine sayeth KRs god), the other cos it's his destiny (sayeth his god).

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    3. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, I don't know what they want but I know what they are. To paraphrase the Greek Alcaeus, (whose utterance was borrowed by many Romans), we see the truth of a mind when under the influence of wine (in vino verities) but also in power (in potentia veritas).

      The more power people have the more you see what they're truly like; and these two fools (two, plus all their assemblage) feel that only they must act according to their true character but also that aussies love to see them exhibit that power. That type of power. Brutal, power, more brutal than that by the real brutes of the jungle.

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Precisely, my friend.

      And the cost to Australia in implementing either the 'set and forget' PNG plan or the 'call in the dogs of war' oneupmanship get tougher strategy.

      The former scheme will cost Australia into the billions (at our loss of proposed infrastructure projects) even though currently the numbers of boat people are not impossible to assess and establish here onshore - much more financially viable and humane, and not often we get that opportunity to do both.

      The latter scheme will…

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    5. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I do think there are a few differences.

      The main reason I believe is religion scepticism.

      There is a fear (and I am not immune in one sense) of the Islamic/Muslim world. Rightly or wrongly the world has not been the same since the rise of Islamic terrorism and the whole Islamic world is tainted by association.

      There is also a significant issue with beliefs and codes. There is again significant issue taken with the Islamic belief system, and that fact that many moral and social issue divide…

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen

      At 2012 Muslims totalled 1.7% of the population, compared to Buddhists who are a hefty 2.1% - if you are so frightened of religion why are you not concerned that we may have Buddhism forced upon us? I mean 2.1% - we're practically invaded.

      Frankly, in Australia if there is any religion to be feared it is the evangelistic brand of Christianity that scares me - they have far more numbers than Muslims and they are active politically - parliament still starts with a Christian Prayer, we are still arguing over reproductive rights and both Family First and the Australian Christian Lobby have power here that really should have your alarm bells sounding.

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    7. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Hi again

      perception is everything so they say........and my points are based an the international image of Islam.

      Frankly ALL religion worries me......let's get rid of them all (religions that is)

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Hi back atcha

      I loath religion, with particular issues surrounding all the Abrahamic based religions as especially detrimental to an equitable world.

      However, I do not see how aiding a minority of refugees who may be Muslim, Buddhist, Calathumpian or even (god save us) atheist is threatening the sovereignty of Australia. As I clearly demonstrated we are more under threat from extreme Christians than any other religion. Therefore, I find your argument against providing humane aid for refugees completely illogical.

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  81. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    According the Australian Bureau of Statistics the Australian population was 22.32 million in 2011.
    The projection is that on 28 July 2013 at 09:51:32 AM (Canberra time), the resident population of Australia is projected to be 23 million.
    The Boat People, asylum seekers, arrivals have been less, considerable less than 25 thousand a year, yet Australian’s are ‘afraid’!
    The Yanks are afraid of their own shadows, but this is ridiculous!

    Quoting/paraphrasing Julian Burnside a lawyer and human…

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      But, Peter, your solution is reasonable, humane and cost effective. Therefore, simply not tough enough. Australia has to be tough, so tough that we out-tough the world's dictatorships, miltias and other miscreants. Because the only way people learn is if they are disenfranchised, demoralised and deterred.

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    2. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      George, Diana, and Peter, still denying the queue. This is still angst and outrage avoiding Sophie's choice.

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      Chris

      There is no neat orderly queue in the countries refugees are fleeing from.

      http://www.sbs.com.au/goback/about/factsheets/10/are-refugees-who-arrive-by-boat-queue-jumpers

      Indonesia does not want the people who have arrived on their shores nor have they implemented any schemes to assess or assist refugees, therefore no queues in Indonesia either.

      A tiny percentage of people manage to secure boats to escape the misery of indefinite interment in refugee camps and this minority threatens you?

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    4. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      As has been reiterated frequently on this thread there are many already processed refugees seeking asylum waiting in UN camps to be accepted by a third country. That is 'the queue'. Whatever legalese argument (re your thread) you might like to hide behind, you are still avoiding Sophie's choice.

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    5. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Thank you for your thoughtful contribution to this discussion. Certainly there is little to be gained by the current policy of detention and denying new arrivals the chance to work.

      On the other hand, it is quite unlikely that, if we opened our borders more freely, new arrivals for permanent settlement would be limited to 25,000 a year. The international pressure is greater than during the period of the early 20th century immigration to the USA, and here over a million immigrants arrived in 1907…

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