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FactCheck: are asylum seekers really economic migrants?

“People are coming here, not now as a result of persecution, but because they’re economic refugees who have paid money to people smugglers.” - Foreign minister Bob Carr, Meet the Press, June 9. There is…

Did Foreign minister Bob Carr’s controversial claim that the majority of asylum seekers coming to Australia are economic refugees go too far? AAP Image/Rossbach/Krepp

“People are coming here, not now as a result of persecution, but because they’re economic refugees who have paid money to people smugglers.” - Foreign minister Bob Carr, Meet the Press, June 9.

There is a political context to this statement as the government grapples with its perceived weakness on asylum seeker policy. Resurrected prime minister Kevin Rudd has backed Carr, saying there were a “whole bunch of people” arriving by boat as economic migrants purporting to be refugees.

The government has commissioned a review into the processing of asylum seekers in a bid to lower the acceptance rate - around 90% of asylum seekers who arrive by boat have been found to be refugees. The government’s view is that many are middle class Iranians and Sri Lankans, in particular, who are fleeing for economic reasons. “There’ve been some boats where 100% of them have been people who are fleeing countries where they’re the majority ethnic and religious group, and their motivations is altogether economic,” Senator Carr said last week.

The government says it has evidence to justify these claims, but so far we have not seen it. Putting aside the politics, the government’s assertions are not backed by the known facts.

Since the adoption of the Expert Panel Recommendations on Asylum Seekers, the “no advantage” test has been applied to all individuals who have arrived in Australian waters seeking asylum since August 13, 2012. This means they receive no benefit compared with people who stay in refugee camps waiting for processing. Because of this, as reported in The Guardian: “there has been virtually no processing of the claims made by the more than 20,000 refugees who have arrived since that time”. This was confirmed in the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee on May 27, 2013. So, if we have not processed claims, we have no idea whether recent arrivals by boat are “genuine” refugees or not.

We also know that the majority of asylum seekers are arriving from Sri Lanka, Iran and Afghanistan. Regarding Sri Lanka, the Human Rights Council on March 21, 2013, adopted the resolution on Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka, which called on its government to “conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law”.

The resolution expresses concern at:

…reports of continuing violations; concern at reports of enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture, threats to the rule of law, religious discrimination and intimidation of civil society activists and journalists.

As for Iran, this year the Security Council – of which Australia is a member state – extended the enforcement of sanctions. The Human Rights Council on March 22, 2013, passed a resolution on the human rights situation in Iran after hearing a report by the UN Secretary General. It concluded that:

…the Secretary-General remains deeply troubled by reports of increasing numbers of executions, including of juvenile offenders and in public; continuing amputations and flogging; arbitrary arrest and detention; unfair trials; torture and ill-treatment; and severe restrictions targeting media professionals, human rights defenders, lawyers and opposition activists, as well as religious minorities.

As for Aghanistan, the Security Council regularly hears from the United Nations mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). In March 2013, it was reported to the council that there remains serious human rights violations and attacks on civilians by armed non-state actors. Regarding the likelihood of these asylum seeker claims meeting the UNHCR refugee definition – “the UNHCR has identified 859,305 refugees in need of resettlement, of whom 180,676 require resettlement in 2013”. Afghanistan remains the number one source country for successful refugee claims around the world.

In summary, these three major source countries for boat arrivals have been repeatedly found by the international community to be unable to protect persons that may fall under the refugee definition – someone with a well-founded fear of persecution on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion.

Finally, on the question of “economic migrants” versus “refugees”, the UNHCR provided an important qualification in their 2011 issue of the UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Guidelines for RSD. They noted the distinction is “sometimes blurred”.

“Behind economic measures affecting a person’s livelihood there may be racial, religious or political aims or intentions directed against a particular group.”

The handbook goes on to note that “objections to general economic measures are not by themselves good reasons for claiming refugee status. On the other hand, what appears at first sight to be primarily an economic motive for departure may in reality also involve a political element, and it may be the political opinions of the individual that expose him to serious consequences, rather than his objections to the economic measures themselves”.

As signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, we have an obligation to hear - without prejudice - the testimony of each asylum seeker before presuming that their claim for refugee status is not valid because of their nationality or ethnic origin.

UPDATE: The government is now processing the claims of around 22,000 asylum seekers who arrived by boat since August last year.

Verdict

Based on the available information, the foreign minister’s statement is incorrect.


Review

The author is correct that it is the political context surrounding current asylum debates that has prompted a shift in language, now likening asylum seekers to economic migrants. This shift in language heralds a potential future shift in asylum policies.

It is true that as the reference to UNHCR in this article notes, Convention-based persecution can lead to economic deprivation, and Australia should be wary of making blanket assessments of particular countries or groups. However on the matter of claims not being processed and the unavailability of data, there are a number of Sri Lankans in particular who have either returned voluntarily or involuntarily on the grounds that they have not invoked Australia’s protection obligations. It may be instances like this that Senator Carr is using to extrapolate to all boat arrivals. – Melissa Philips


The Conversation is fact checking political statements in the lead-up to this year’s federal election. Statements are checked by an academic with expertise in the area. A second academic expert reviews an anonymous copy of the article.

Request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

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367 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Mark King

    Senior Lecturer, Psychology and Counselling and Researcher, CARRSQ at Queensland University of Technology

    Re Melissa's comments, I understood that one of the main reasons Sri Lankans were being returned to Sri Lanka was because the civil unrest and related oppression had ceased, whereas Melissa implies that they were probably economic refugees.

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    1. Melissa Phillips

      Honorary Fellow at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Mark King

      Hi Mark, thanks for your comment. My use of the phrase "have not invoked Australia's protection obligations" should not be read to imply that conditions in Sri Lanka have improved OR that they are 'economic refugees' (which is not a correct legal definition). Instead it means that when the Department of Immigration and Citizenship carries out its initial screening process of boat arrivals it determines that the person in question has not provided sufficient information to warrant further processing. You can read more about screening here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-10/asylum-seeker-enhanced-screenings-dangerous-former-official-says/4744628

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Melissa Phillips

      Hi Melissa and I recall the article you have linked and the enhanced screenings ( or perhaps better terminology may have been fast tracked screening which I suppose you could say would have enhanced a quick finding not in favour of the person being screened ) would seem to have been a quick response by the government to a number of events, they being:
      . ABC reporting from on the ground in Sri Lanka and people being interviewed openly declaring that because their opportunities in Sri Lanka were non…

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    3. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Melissa Phillips

      They are only interviewed for a few minutes. The decision on Sri Lankans was a decree Gillard made in her stupid, ignorant Lowy Speech which no-one ever bothered to analyse.

      The only law that matters one jot is that every person on earth has the right to seek asylum.

      The rest is lies, obfuscations and flim flummery.

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Marilyn
      Julia Gillard no longer has any responsibility for assessment of refugees.

      Bob Carr has claimed they are "economic" refugees, a new low in double speak. How about you attack him with the same relentless vitriol you have lashed our former PM?

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    5. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Melissa Phillips

      Mark is correct. Even the UNHCR concede that it is safe to return. I've posted this link before but it's worth repeating. Michael Zwack:

      "Throughout the world we don't have many situations where a solution has been found and people can either return to their home or settle where they are. Fortunately, Sri Lanka is one country where there's no more conflict. People ARE able to return voluntarily in safety and in dignity"

      http://unhcr.org/v-4eeb1c796

      Sri Lankans are, at best, what might be called "technical refugees". There are too many others with no option to return home and we have a moral obligation to ensure that they are the ones that have access to our humanitarian intake program.

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    6. Dalit Prawasi

      Auditor, Accountant, Trade Teacher

      In reply to Melissa Phillips

      Trust ABC, you got to be mad, specially about information about South Asia. It has a policy of practicing Yoga. When it comes to Indinesia it has an opposite policy.There was a agent from the Third Eye, the Indian intelligence service working in the Fairfax media, I am sure there was amnother one working in the ABC. ABC has a programme on sacred cow kiling in Indonesia and Indian beef exports skyrockets. So beleve in ABC when it comes to sacred news and cows. I am sure India will accept asylum seekers from Sri lanka without any hesutation. They can also go to India which is only 12 miles from Sri lanka. Indian colonial parasites from Sri lanka have gone to India under the Sirima Shastri Pact as well as refugees. Most of the refugees who come now are sponsored by Sri lankan refugees who have settled here since 1983.
      Please leave my comment.

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    7. Dalit Prawasi

      Auditor, Accountant, Trade Teacher

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      There are 40 million refugees and asylum seekers in the world. Let us put these who land here on the same boat. Why do we treat few thousands diffrently. Let us take refugees in an orderly manner like the Liberals did. What is wrong with refugees from Africa.

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    8. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Of course you're right, Marilyn, that everyone has the right to seek asylum.

      I have a genuine question - I'm not trying to be argumentative.

      Does this mean you have the right to seek asylum in a third country after being granted entry to a second? Many Afghani, Iraqi and Iranian asylum seekers fly to Indonesia or Malaysia, are accepted into a resettlement process there, and then make the boat trip to Australia.

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      If your claim is true, then apologies are in order.

      I am aware that your prolific calls regarding the plight of refugees covers much of the 5th estate. I have yet to see equivalent scathing of Tony Abbott and the Libs in general that you have applied to Julia Gillard. I am not claiming you have NEVER aimed your vitriol towards Mr Abbott, simply that I fail to see a fair scattering of bile. No doubt you will disagree, but when one considers Tony Abbott's attitude to women and anyone who is not…

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    10. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Good morning Marilyn, I have asked you this question before but did not receive a reply. Could you please confirm that your belief that every person on earth has the right to seek asylum extends to the perpetrators of the crimes?

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    11. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Marilyn in Australia, the only law that matters is that we will decide who comes to this country. The Australian people have never authorised the government to allow anybody and everybody to come here. The law that matters is The Migration Act.

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

      retired

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Indonesia has no greater obligation to accept refugees than we do. If these people are refugees than we have signed up to give them refuge. Why do some people think that Indonesia has the obligation to provide safe haven to every refugee who appears on their doorstep but Australia is entitled turn them away? What kind of monsters are we? .

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    13. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Marion Wilson

      Actually Marion Indonesia is not a signatory party to the Convention so they actually have no obligation as such to offer safe refuge. Further, Indonesia is seen to treat asylum seekers extremely inhumanely (illegal detention of men women and children, torture etc) so this in fact really puts further pressure on Australia not to refoul asylum seekers to places where they will suffer persecution and torture. The Australian Government of course understands this hence turning the boats back at sea prior to their arrival and hoping this doesn't result in international condemnation which of course it will.

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    14. Bob Simpson

      Project manager

      In reply to Dalit Prawasi

      Dalit, are these figures right? I've heard different ones from the Australian Council for International Development. Where do yours come from. The right figures are the basis of a rational debate. Bob

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    15. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia are muslim nations. Malaysia, in particular, provides citizenship to Muslim refugees, (especially closer to their election periods) to stack up the ruling Muslim-Malay party with muslim voters. In the last election, even foreign Muslim workers were provided with voting rights!!! Hence Malaysia is a wonderful haven for muslim refugees. Malaysia is also a fast developing nation with good economic prospects. However, refugees, and Muslim refugees in particular, are utterly…

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    16. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Marion Wilson

      Yes, I understand Marion. So you're saying refugees can choose to go to a third country? Legally as well as morally?

      I'm puzzled though - why don't asylum seekers fly here rather than Indonesia and Malaysia?

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    17. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      No doubt you're right about inhumane treatment Grant. What is the motive then to fly to Indonesia rather than Australia?

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    18. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      The issue is not that every person has a right to apply for asylum, but those in need of asylum. We need to concern ourselves with the real refugees who have been the longest in refugee camps, as to avoid those with ample of monies to jump the (invisible) que,
      We must also keep in mind that the principle I outlined how to deal with refugees, must be applied to all refugees and overstayers. To me it doesn't matter of they come by boat, plane or otherwise, everyone claiming to be a refugee should…

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    19. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Tampa was a total different issue, as John Howard had requested the Tampa captain to resque the people. Hence, I view it made us responsible for their welbeing.
      I may add, that when it comes to disabled persons, then I view (where they are deemed by the UN to be genuine refugees), then they ought to be provided with a certain priority. Again, my books have canvassed this also extensively.

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    20. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to James Jenkin

      In my view you are a refugee to the nearest safe country and then if you decide to leave from there or not go there at all you lose the status of being a genuine refugee.
      \When my wife and her (late) husband and child had to escape from their country they went to the next country, and applied to be allowed to settle in Australia. They had to leave all their possessions behind, and lost it all. That was some 45 years ago, and my wife takes the position, that as much as she had to accept to follow proper procedures so should others.
      There can be no such right as to demand to settle in australia ro for that in any other country. they must apply and accept certain entry conditions. That was what the Framers of the Constitution embedded as a legal principle in our constitution. We do not want to be overrun by some particular group of people (like an unarmed invasion) merely because they decide they want to settle in Australia, with a total disregard to our customes, etc.

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    21. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Susan Costello

      As a CONSTITUTIONALIST I have taken the time and efford to reseach what the intentions of the Framers of the Constitution were and the legal principles embedded in the constitution. They specifically provided that the Commonwealth could deny criminals from settling in Australia. The courts decided recentlythat a murderer, who entered under false identity in Australia, after having previously been rejected under his real name, could stay because he had a now fathered a child. To me the courts betrayed our constitutional rights, and place Australians in danger, because this murderer could repeat his offence, as well as the court failed to uphold the constitutional principle provided to the Commonwealth to refuse a criminal to settle in Australia.

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    22. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Marion Wilson

      You seem to ignore reality that the proverbial widow with 5 children who is sitting in a refugee camp for endless years and never can accumulate monies to pay a boat smuggler, will rot away. Is this your kind of humanity towards refugees? Like having people drowning comihng to Australia, as you encourage this kind of travel insterad of orderly processing at a UN refugee camp?
      If we are to intake an X asmount of refugees then let it be rfefugees who gtghe lonbgest have been in a refugee camp! That to me is more humane then to let anyone who can gather enough money together to travel to Australia to jump the (invisible) que, and let the proverbial widow with 5 children forever stay in a refugee camp..

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    23. John Schomberg

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      Mr Schorel-Hlavka expresses that common concern about the more needy being 'jumped in the queue'. The reality is that the single male asylum seeker who arrive on our shores is, more often than not, the eldest son of the 'proverbial widow with five children'. In my work I have been privileged to meet many of these people. The back story almost always follows that: the father is dead (murdered or 'missing'); family flees to somewhere safer but not safe; eldest male is charged with the responsibility of making the dangerous journey to Australia, get an education and income to sponsor an application for family reunification.

      The fact is, they are more hard-working, self-disciplined, respectful and friendly than most 'legitimate' Australians their age that I deal with. Perfect citizens, really.

      The 'no advantage policy' will only increase the likelihood of more women and children embarking upon the hazardous journey.

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    24. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to John Schomberg

      You bet John. What many here seem to deny is that last year saw record highs ( http://www.unhcr.org/51c071816.html ) in the number of displaced people with millions (approximately 8 million) being in protracted situations. End of day these people need safe haven and those who call asylum seekers economic refugees, illegals etc if faced with their situation would likely get in boats in an attempt to find safe haven. So we either fix war (highly unlikely given the Americans are currently arming a new Taliban force in Syria http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23139784 or we start accepting the fact that refugees will arrive on our shores by boat.

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    25. John Schomberg

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      The UNHCR's Michael Zwack concedes that there is no longer the threat to safety that the war posed. The repatriation he is speaking of is those who fled the war zone - bombs, bullets and landmines - over the past two decades to 2011. This does not suggest that persecution has ended.

      UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has severely criticised the Sri Lankan Government for not demonstrating a commitment to ending the ongoing human rights abuses and violation of International Law. See:

      http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-sri-lanka

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    26. John Schomberg

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to John Schomberg

      And if I was a Sri Lankan saying this in Sri Lanka - be I Tamil or Sinhalese - I could expect the Army to kick my door in and drag me off without charge or trial.

      As my Sinhalese colleague said, 'Oh no, you DON'T criticise the government!'

      We don't appreciate how fortunate we are.

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    27. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to John Schomberg

      Yep I was at a conference just the other day where Sri Lankans and NGOs working on the ground in Sri Lanka made it extremely clear that human rights violations are rampant in Sri Lanka today and that if anyone were to speak about the government negatively they would be disappeared and killed . Of course Sri Lanka would deny this but then nobody who is committing human rights violations including Australia with its indefinite mandatory detention policies admits that they are monsters.

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    28. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Dalit Prawasi

      "Why do we treat few thousands diffrently."

      Because clearly most Australian recognize the real risk that this few thousand will rapidly become a few tens of thousands or a few hundreds of thousands if the Australian government is seen to be giving the green light.

      And that is just not responsible or acceptible.

      Sorry Dalit but they must be turned away regardless of their circumstances.

      Take our quota of refugees from UN refugee camps instead.

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    29. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Greg, move on, mate!
      These people are so desperate that even though they hear about horrible drownings and the misery and gruesome inhumanness we inflict upon them, they still take the risk. Enormous risks with very real and very fatal consequences. They need to escape, just as you and I would need to escape from obviously unbearable circumstances of persecution, wars, post-war traumas and devastation and, yes, even extreme poverty.

      The world all around us is dealing with this phenomenon. Countries…

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    30. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to george theodoridis

      Well written Greg, what a great treatise on Western countries view of the rest of the world!!
      When we give up our humanity we more closer to the Fascists and communists of days gone by. When we (European and Mediterranean ) fully acknowledge the impact we invaders have had on the black fellers here in this amazing country we may we position to somehow claim some moral superiority. That day is at this time far away !!

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    31. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Martin Male

      Well said, Martin!

      How blatantly obvious is the relief of not having to play politics, and how politics corrupts the human being can be seen most luminously on Malcom Fraser!
      He has shed all that vile rubbish with great relish and alacrity almost the moment he was relieved of it.

      Look at him now, Greg! Side by side with Sarah, with the Greens, with humanity again!

      You want to see a leader? A statesman? A human being? Turn your head towards Malcolm!

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    32. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to george theodoridis

      George I am just as likely to move on as you are......which is to say NOT.

      I simply don't care how desperate they claim they are - they are not welcome here as far as I am concerned.

      If they engage the services of people smugglers then they forfeit any right to claim asylum here on the grounds that they clearly have other options open to them if they have access to thousands of dollars a piece.

      There are millions of other far more deserving refugees stuck in UN camps around the world and who cannot afford to pay people smugglers.

      They get my exclusive sympathy.

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    33. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Martin Male

      Your moral lecturing is falling on deaf ears Martin!

      Sorry Martin but I am not prepared to pay for the sins of my forbears by allowing the developing world to re-colonise my country due to them over populating their own territories.

      It achieves nothing to make Australia like that which asylum seekers are trying to escape from.

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    34. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to george theodoridis

      You people have LOST THE FIGHT!

      The labour party is trying its best to emulate the coalition on so called asylum seekers.

      The majority has spoken on this so accept it and stop trying to live your delusion that this issue is still up for debate!

      Just lay down and 'die' already!

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    35. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      "I simply don't care how desperate they claim they are..."
      Eyes, heart, soul, mind: firmly shut!

      And
      Why do THEY get your EXCLUSIVE sympathy?
      Why "exclusive sympathy?" Why not "equal sympathy?"

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    36. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to george theodoridis

      "Eyes, heart, soul, mind: firmly shut!"

      You are damn right George!

      "Why do THEY get your EXCLUSIVE sympathy?
      Why "exclusive sympathy?" Why not "equal sympathy?"

      Because those pricks are playing us for mugs (in Tony Abbott's words) and I f'ing well take offense at this behavior.

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    37. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      I am ever so pleased to hear that Tony will sick the SAS on to them if necessary!

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    38. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to John Schomberg

      Well let us ensure it stays that way for our children and grand children by not inviting the entire third world to take up residence here.

      Beyond a sweet spot, population size is inversely proportional to democracy and personal liberty.

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    39. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Tony and Morrison think the SAS is their little toy.
      It's their only grunt! Call the SAS!
      Inferior men (and women, like Thatcher and the Falklands) call for the guns.

      But, Greg, since you have shed yourself of everything that distinguishes humans from bricks, I won't go on discussing this with you.
      Talking with bricks only hurts one's thumbs!

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    40. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to george theodoridis

      "since you have shed yourself of everything that distinguishes humans from bricks"

      I only appear like a brick George from the point of view of a 'SUCKER' who will believe any story that anyone tells him.

      You are the kind of person who is liable to become a victim or scam artists!

      And therefore you are the LAST person who should have a say in immigration policy. You simply couldn't be trusted!

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    41. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Susan Costello

      Don't be ridiculous Susan. No wonder Marilyn ignores you.

      By the way can you define for me what committing a crime is? Is Edward Snow-den a criminal? Is Netanyahu?

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    42. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      Is Marilyn not able to speak for herself all of a sudden Ian? I believe my repeated question to Marilyn is fairly straight forward requiring a simple Yes or No. Marilyn continues to state that anyone who wants to come to Australia should be allowed in. I am simply asking for clarification from her as to whether or not that includes the perpetrators of the crimes from which asylum seekers are fleeing.

      To answer your unrelated question Ian, I do not think Edward Snowden is a criminal but I do think Netanyahu is. See how easy it is to answer a question? Now lets hear from Marilyn.

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    43. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Don't hold your breath Susan.

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    44. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      I am starting to think you are correct Greg. I simply cannot understand why Marilyn makes the statements that she does so frequently and cannot offer a straight forward clarification. I wonder whether she too would not extend her welcome to everyone as she wants us all to believe. Hmmmm.

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    45. In reply to Greg Boyles

      Comment removed by moderator.

    46. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to george theodoridis

      Apologies to all if I missed Marilyn's reply to my question George. Care to précis it for me - is it Yes or No. All I can find from Marilyn is her assertion that anyone who wishes to claim asylum is free to enter Australia. In fact, she has previously claimed that our borders should be open to all.

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    47. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Good grief, I am not beating up on Marilyn, Grant. Simply asking for clarification on one of her very strong beliefs. What is wrong with that?

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    48. In reply to Grant Mahy

      Comment removed by moderator.

    49. In reply to Greg Boyles

      Comment removed by moderator.

    50. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Susan Costello

      Susan I have repeatedly asked, not only Marilyn, but many of the bleeding heart academics in here one simple question.

      How many illegal immigrants is too many?

      I have only got a straight answer from one single solitary academic (Leonardo Furtado something or other) who basically said he could see no circumstances where we should start saying "no" to them.

      So essentially they are all for totally open borders for illegal immigrants.

      Theoretically influx could reach hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants per year and these people will still be welcoming them with open arms.

      Essentially they pose a sovereign risk if they were to ever gain significant political power, which thankfully is a remote possibility given recent political events.

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    51. In reply to Grant Mahy

      Comment removed by moderator.

    52. In reply to Greg Boyles

      Comment removed by moderator.

    53. In reply to Greg Boyles

      Comment removed by moderator.

    54. In reply to Greg Boyles

      Comment removed by moderator.

    55. In reply to Grant Mahy

      Comment removed by moderator.

    56. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Susan Costello

      Whatever answer might be given to your question would have to be qualified and has no bearing on the question at hand which is about asylum seekers versus economic migrants.

      On that question the evidence is clear. The so-called boat people are overwhelmingly seeking asylum from persecution.

      Bob Carr, Tony Abbott and the rest of our political gangsters are really trying to redefine the term to suit their own twisted agendas of using these people as scapegoats and tools to gain political points.

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    57. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      Hear, hear, Ian!

      A most unashamedly ugly political tactic by Carr, to make the utterly preposterous claims he has made about refugees! At least I give him the benefit of the doubt that it might be a "political tactic". I sincerely hope it's not his belief, as is, I believe, that of Abbott (Howard's love child) and Morisson (Ruddock's love child).

      I hope your namesake at the head of the new ALP, shows us a more intelligent, humanitarian way on this issue, though I truly have some very unsettling reservations.

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  2. John Newlands

    tree changer

    Sri Lanka has been the subject of TV cooking shows and apparently James Packer will invest in a casino there. That hardly seems war torn.

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    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to John Newlands

      It is not about war, it is about the brutal ongoing persecution and revenge attacks on Tamils.

      There is no war in China or India either yet large numbers from both countries seek asylum here every year.

      In fact the top 10 nations are - Iran - acceptance 96
      %, Pakistan - 78%, China - 32%, Egypt - 87%, Iraq - 92%, Sri Lanka - 68%, Zimbabwe - 74%, Turkey - 76%, Fiji - 25%, Lebanon - 6%%, Afghanistan - 100% Syria - 100%, Bahrain - 67%, PNG - 67%, India - 11%, Bangladesh - 65%, Myanmar - 100%, Stateless - 92%, Nepal - 33%,

      These are the people who fly here.

      The grant rates for the Iranians, Pakistanis, Afghans and Iraqis and others come by sea are identical to those who fly here.

      So the argument is bogus.

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    2. Ted Stead

      Consultant

      In reply to John Newlands

      Frank Sinatra and Cliff Richard (along with many others) played Sun City. Does that mean, according to your logic, that Apartheid wasn't happening at the time?

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    3. Dalit Prawasi

      Auditor, Accountant, Trade Teacher

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Time return all back to where they came from, then take refugees from the 40 million refugees as Howard did.

      By the way refugees from Fiji, are they native Fijians or Indians? I would say they are Indian colonial parasites from Fiji.

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    4. Dalit Prawasi

      Auditor, Accountant, Trade Teacher

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      "ongoing persecution and revenge attacks on Tamils."

      You are more like Melissa Phillips.

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    5. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Abhishek Sharma

      Are we (and the rest of the West) expected to be the policeman of the world?

      As Randy Newman wrote - "they all hate us any how- let's drop the big one now"

      An extreme naturally.........

      Either the U.N has a mandate to solve these issues (and NOT individual countries (singular or plural) or we let them sort their own problems out.

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    6. Abhishek Sharma

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Actually the Australian government has been trying to step away from the Fijian situation in recent times. When the latest coup occurred Australia and New Zealand were pretty vocal, but now relations are getting better. I like the hands off strategy better.

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    7. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "Either the U.N has a mandate to solve these issues (and NOT individual countries (singular or plural) or we let them sort their own problems out."
      Stephen, the UN does not even exist, except as a diplomatic forum for world's states. It is better if individual countries help break the problem down geographically. Australia should concentrate of the Asia Pacific region. Europe should concentrate on Africa/Middle East and so on.

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    8. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Mariilyn, we can never accomodate every refugee in the world. Hence, let us look at those the longest in a refugee camp, to give them incentive to learn English (if they not already do so) our culture and customes. With this less apathy by Australians towards refugees will be the result, because Australians will be aware that the newcomers have shown an incentive to assimilate into Australian domestic conduct, irrespective if they may still (and are entitled to do so, provided it is not in conflict of our laws) to practice their own customes and traditions.

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  3. Trevor Kerr

    ISTP

    What's the plan? Insist that Bob Carr responds? Move on to the next?

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  4. George Takacs

    Physicist

    Thanks Sara. Another question worth pondering, if not fact-checking, is this: are many/most of the 130,000 people who migrate to Australia under the skill migration program each year economic refugees?

    It seems to me that whilst many of them come from poorer countries , they generally are not fleeing persecution. So why do people get fixated on asylum seekers possibly being economic refugees, but ignore skilled migration?

    A related question is: if we accept skilled migrants who have had their education and training provided by a country poorer than us, should we at least compensate the country that provided that training? It seems unethical to me that the poor country provides the training at thier expense, then we, the rich country, benefit from that training.

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    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to George Takacs

      What they do is conflate migrants with refugees.

      There is no such thing as an economic refugee under the law.

      Carr is claiming they are economic because they pay their own way, even though everyone pays their own way without being demonised for it.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to George Takacs

      Yeah, kind of reverse foreign aid, isn't it George?

      It's only anecdotal, but my wife is a nurse and she has observed that there are a great many South African nurses coming here - I would have though the poor old South Africans were in more desperate need of nurses and had spent a higher percentage of their limited GDP in training them than Australia. Now, if we offered nursing scholarships, with residency on successful completion, to keen people from poorer countries that would be a different matter...

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    3. Sara Davies

      Senior Research Fellow, International Relations at Griffith University

      In reply to George Takacs

      Thanks George for your questions. On the second one - I agree with sentiment but not sure how it would work in practice. As for the first question - skilled migrants leave and arrive by choice. Their arrival is regulated. On the (Australian) government's part, any attempt to delegitimise skilled migrants as 'economic refugees' would be somewhat pointless as the government allowed this group to arrive. Economic refugee is a term used, historically (i.e. Indochinese refugee population), to cast…

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    4. Dalit Prawasi

      Auditor, Accountant, Trade Teacher

      In reply to Sara Davies

      Indochinese, Iraqis, Afgans etc should be accepted as we were and are involved in their affairs at home. Burt what we got to do with refugees from Fiji and Sri Lanka. They are crooks who exploit our migration laws and our international obligations.
      We need to alter laws.

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    5. George Takacs

      Physicist

      In reply to Sara Davies

      Thanks Sara for the reply. Just to be clear, I was not seriously suggesting we label anyone as an economic refugee. I was just pointing out, in an obtuse way, that as a wealthy country we can afford to have an immigration program skewed more towards accepting those we can help most, not those who we think can most help us.

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    6. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to George Takacs

      We do have the different streams of immigration George, the main ones being skilled, family and humanitarian, the reason for a skilled program being that governments for many years have believed in that being a reasonable way to build up the population whilst also coping with shortages of skilled people.
      Skilled migration has worked on a points system for quite a few years though there have been changes in recent times and it is not country specific, more information @ http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/24overview_skilled.htm

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    7. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      If your wife gets to know some of the nurses from SA Felix, she may just hear a few stories of why SA is not considered too great a country to live in with many safety issues.

      I do not imagine that living in a house behind high security walls and even having a safe room built in is such a comforting feeling, one reason that many South Africans don't go out without carrying a revolver.

      As for scholarships, we do not have so many but as I have alerted George to, studying in Australia may provide a pathway to permanent residency.

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    8. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Greg North

      Actually, most of the South African nurses she's met were ethnic Xhosa, not Afrikaaner, so I don't think they even got a chance at the fortified compound...but the discomforts of SA are not in dispute.

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    9. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, I don't have the figures at hand, but I was under the impression that the source of the majority of Australia's immigrants is 457 visa holders, the majority of whom are from India, China, and Philippines. I think this is a good system, and 1,000 times better than the race-based corruption of Keating-era immigration policy.

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    10. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to George Takacs

      American success is based on , to a significant degree, skilled migration. Australia loses some of its top scientists, researchers, engineers and technologist, actors, etc, etc to America as well. What we lose out is not only the cost of their education, but also their birth cost, medical cost, etc,etc, etc. Our loss is America's gain. Aussies take up residence in America, England, etc for better employment prospects/advancements; i.e. better economic prospects.
      Now China, India, Malaysia, Philippines…

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    11. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      This is a great idea, Felix!! That's what the UK did in the early 60s, 70s and 80s. I wonder if that is still on? Teachers, nurses, engineers, etc were trained on scholarship in the UK; only the brightest were on scholarship. A wonderful system of merit recognition!! Those days most returned to their countries of origin (former British colonies), though. Hmmm... I like the idea of enticing the brightest of all nations to our shores. What a great, great idea. Wish our pollies are listening. O' yeah ... the unions will find something to whinge about, certainly.
      I know for sure that Victoria has began this by enticing the brightest from India, S Africa, China, etc on scholarships to study in our universities. A significant number are filling the our gaps in engineering, physics, technology, mathematics, etc. At least Victorians are trying to redress our declining interest in science, mathematics and engineering.

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    12. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Thanks Raine - seem to me that we'd keep some (direct benefit to us) and lose some (a pretty effective form of foreign aid and a great way to build our international reputation).

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    13. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Marilyn, can you please answer my ongoing question to you that is,
      do you also believe the perpetrators of the crimes should be allowed asylum in Australia as you consistently state that EVERYONE should be allowed in.

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    14. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant, I am not talking about the Convention, I am asking Marilyn to confirm her belief that EVERYONE is entitled to be allowed in.

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  5. Michael Shand
    Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Software Tester

    What a fantastic resource, thanks for your hard work.....hopefull people will make use of it

    I suspect you will get accusations about bias from all sides, just ignore them

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  6. Jerry Vanclay

    Dean of Science at Southern Cross University

    Seems to me the big question is not the correctness, but two implications often overlooked. If we really want to stop the dangerous boats, we should streamline our immigration processes so that these people can test their case, and if cleared, come by air. And perhaps we should welcome economic refugees - look back on migration from Italy, Greece, Vietnam and elsewhere, and reflect of their contribution to our culture and economy - wouldn't it be good to have more?

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Jerry Vanclay

      Subject to the difficult-but-fair questions about the ultimate carrying capacity of the land/environment, I think you make a really powerful point: we are a nation of migrants/refugees and, despite a bit of tension from time to time and high initial costs, we have benefited greatly from immigration - and not all of it has been skilled either.

      I'm waxing anecdotal again, but in my wonderfully wasted youth I worked for a while for Melbourne City Council digging holes and planting trees in the CBD…

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    2. Dalit Prawasi

      Auditor, Accountant, Trade Teacher

      In reply to Jerry Vanclay

      More! -indigestion

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    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Jerry Vanclay

      Jerry, most people do seem all too ready that Australia has a number of aspects that really limit our capacity for resettling refugees.
      That said, all those people prepared to pay a heap of money in getting to Indonesia to get on a boat or otherwise leaving on one from Sei Lanka can go to where they can register with the UNHCR and if it is not a refugee camp, registration is possible in Indonesia.
      The UNHCR would likely have some sort of a process in Indonesia to determine their status though it…

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    4. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      I would be supportive of a UN refugee processing facility in Indonesia or the region and of stream lining of asylum applications to Australia.

      As long as the flow of asylum seekers is ordered and under the control of Australian voters.

      "Subject to the difficult-but-fair questions about the ultimate carrying capacity of the land/environment, "

      That is not the only criteria these days however.

      There is also the criteria of economic sustainability.

      All new immigrants (population growth in general) also impose long term costs on society. Roads, hospitals, government services, electricity distribution and generation, water and food.

      No doubt there is an economic sweet spot where the population size is optimal regarding the balance between generation of economic activity and the imposition of long term costs on society.

      So there should also be a careful assessment of the costs versus the benefits of bringing in yet more waves of immigrants.

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  7. Felix MacNeill

    Environmental Manager

    I believe it is not uncommon for repressive governments to particularly target well-educated professionals, academics, etc. as they tend to make the most powerful and effective opposition.

    Obviously this doesn't mean that all middle-class arrivals are genuine refugees rather than merely 'economic refugees' - but it also means that middle class arrivals CAN be genuine refugees. in fact, I'd suggest it means that their class/economic status is of no real use in the judgement.

    And, if they're actually quite well off, why aren't they getting a visa, flying in and then over-staying: I gather quite large numbers already do this. if they were not subject to discrimination, it shouldn't be too hard fo rtrhem to get away from their home country...

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    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Many of the Iranians are very well educated but brutalised for their religion. Indeed the many Iranians I have been friends with over the years are brilliant people.

      One of the most famous cases in his country was that of the Sabean Mandaeans some years back where the government was claiming they were discriminated against rather than persecuted.

      The courts found that to be wrong because when people cannot buy food or water and cannot attend the same schools as muslims and have no protection in the courts when their kids are attacked with acid on the streets, or have their ears nearly cut off for drinking at school or being raped by muslims at the age of 9 and the father thrown into jail for daring to complain - they are then refugees.

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    2. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Agree with you Marilyn. People who have lived or worked in Islamic countries (note: not Muslim countries... there is a difference) know the brutal ill-treatment dished out on a daily basis to those who are seen as being different. Tourists' view is not the reality in such countries.
      The sad bit is that people who are so accustomed to brutality, oppression and dictatorial leadership (when they ultimately flee to a free democracy) appear to wish for authoritarian leadership and harsh laws. It is often the second generation that understands and appreciates real democracy. Schools and teachers often play a greater influencing role on the second generation.
      I have a few 'Islamic' friends here (professional work mates) who still harbour a desire for Shari'ah law. I find this too complex and contradictory to understand. This is simply beyond me.

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  8. Jim KABLE

    teacher

    I find it hard to believe that people reading/accessing this Fact-Checking site would not be aware of on-ground realities in the countries from which most of those arriving by boat as asylum-seekers are facing: The Hazara ethnic/religious minority from Afghanistan - where we have troops fighting, too, for goodness sake. (And we know their kinfolk just across the border in Pakstan's Quetta region are being deliberately attacked with bombs and slayings.); The Tamil ethnic minorities - both Hindu…

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Australia alone cannot solve all the planets people problems Jim and that is why we have the UN amongst other bodies.
      There ar limits to what Australia can do in helping and people need to grow up and realise that too.
      Just how many do you think Australia can resettle without making the significant problems we supposedly have even worse.
      The cost of helping people in Australia is also likely several tens if times higher than what it costs the UNHCR and other NGO groups to care for refugees close…

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Jim

      I have just heard on the radio that Malcolm Fraser will be supporting the Greens for their stance on refugees.

      It is imperative that Australia acts to do what it can, even though by world standards it is very little. We have people arriving on our shores in desperate circumstances, it is on our and their future interests that we behave humanely to any seeking escape from persecution.

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    3. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Thanks, Dianna! Greg N. sees only limits - Malcolm sees humanity! (As do we.)

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  9. Bob Simpson

    Project manager

    Years ago, Dr Edward de Bono said to me and a few others that if you follow vertical logic without thinking you will ultimately make an error, and because of the power of mental patterns, will not be able to correct the error, and you will continue to veer from the truth. I think that is what is happening in the political debate. The truth is that people continue to land on Australian soil and claim to be refugees. In truth, how big is this problem upon which we Australian people are investing billions of dollars. Why are we not now asking, "What would the social and economic benefits and detriments be if we simply greeted them as new arrivals who would become citizens, or return to their own country?"

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Bob Simpson

      The Immigration department late last year put out a report that stated something like 85% of refugees were on welfare some five years after arrival.
      That's the refugees and not the irregular arrivals Bob.

      That is one indication of the benefits Vs detriments.

      Just how many do you think will be enough if we have an open door policy Bob? and how would you attempt to control the numbers ? once you felt we were being overwhelmed

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    2. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Greg North

      Unfortunately Greg there are rules in place which prevent them from working - unbelievable I know, but we actually 'release' refugees into the community while we spend years processing their claims and tell them they can't work.

      Spend some time amongst charitable organisations who provide support services to those refugees and you might have your eyes opened. The best way to beat your fear of being 'overwhelmed' by what you imagine to be a steady-stream of ne'er do wells is to get amongst them…

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    3. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Bob Simpson

      I concur Bob. Let's press re-set on the debate and try to have a sensible conversation instead of the scare-mongering, bigotted, judgemental and assumptive one that has been played out over too many years. Aren't we all just a bit tired of the old arguments that get us no-where?

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    4. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Anna Young

      Hi Anni agree with you about re-setting the discussion. I joined this site with the idea we would have conversations, not the same old blah blah blah. I actually am finding this discussion increasingly depressing with the right wingers beating their well known drums.
      Imagine if we can begin to see these people as people their my well me some rorting the system, this is nearly the case in all things, however if we simply tar all with the same brush then we are lessened.
      The cost of the system we are building and maintaining is not dissimilar to the costs of the Berlin wall in many ways!! I must also say @ this time I feel really saddened where we as a country have come to in this "debate"

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    5. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Martin Male

      Sad to say it but I actually feel Australia has come a long way since red neck racist brainless Howard, the Tampa, and the 2001 election. At least now we've almost done away with the illegal propaganda and now we're dealing with the economic refugee propaganda. Haha maybe not.

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    6. Thea Biesheuvel
      Thea Biesheuvel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Writer/Editor

      In reply to Bob Simpson

      See my earlier reply to Grant. Hire some ocean liners, ferry them over, anchor them in our harbours, let them work and pay taxes. I used to carry an "Alien Certificate" to be stamped at each Post Office I found myself during the course of working. The authoriites knew where I was and I became a naturalised citizen eventually.

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    7. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Martin Male

      It's all driven by irrational fear. Every wave of migrants has been through the same fear-driven villification - now we've just attached our collective fear to their mode of transport. And yet, when we look back on our past, the only ones who have a leg to stand on in complaining about migration would be Aboriginal people. The rest of us are surely better off for having diversity in our society. Hasn't our economic growth often been on the back of those waves of migrants? Haven't we come to accept as normal those we once viewed as different?

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  10. Steve Hindle

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    The author has not provided enough evidence to declare Bob Carr's statements as incorrect. The quotations form the UN and Human Rights Council do not quantify if violations in some of these countries are widespread or rare. How widespread are violations against families of the dominant ethnic and religious groups in Iran and Sri Lanka? In the YouTube age it is difficult to believe that so much mass oppression against the dominant ethnic groups could be kept hidden.
    "The government says it has…

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    1. Bob from Canberra

      in his anecdotage

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      I thought that the smugglers insisted that people destroy their documents and any UN assessments before they board a boat.
      If this is the case, surely the Dept Immigration can ask the UN for confirmation of identify and refugee assessment.

      'nearly all asylum seekers are genuine refugees' The evidence is the approval figures from Immigration.

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    2. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      I posted the acceptance rates from DIAC, read them. And papers have nothing to do with anything.

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    3. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Bob from Canberra

      "I thought that the smugglers insisted that people destroy their documents and any UN assessments before they board a boat".
      If you are a genuine refugee, what is the logic in destroying the evidence?
      The UN would not know, that's why they get Australian Immigration to do the assessments.
      As to "nearly all asylum seekers are genuine refugees' The evidence is the approval figures from Immigration". The approval figures include all those given the benefit of doubt regarding the truth behind their claims. As there is no easy way to verify the claims, if the claim ticks all the boxes they are in, whether it is the truth or not.

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    4. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Bob from Canberra

      There are currently already some twenty thousand unassessed people in the system Bob, people without ID and so if they had registered with the UNHCR and told authorities that, it is not going to be such a simple task to photograph them all and see if the UNHCR in Indonesia or wherever have records.

      What Carr is alleging is that our checking processes are likely deficient if so many people are being classified as refugees.

      It seems that Carr and Rudd might just be waking up to the fact that something needs to be done and very quickly to stop irregualr arrivals numbers going to in excess of the roughly thirty thousand a year as it is now.

      Will fifty thousdand or one hundred thousand extra each year on welfare be too many and where for starters will they be housed.

      Rudd personally orchestrated this situation and he needs to be held personally responsible for it and kicked as far and hard as he can from governing anything.

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    5. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Greg North

      "and where for starters will they be housed." as your mob came here illegally Greg I'm happy to toss you out and let in the legals. How many rooms do you have there?

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  11. george theodoridis

    Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

    Great piece of work, thanks enormously, Melissa (and Sara, of course!)
    Bloody politics, ey!
    A bunch of Draculas, diving themselves into two choruses, dancing around a table, tearing people's limbs and slurping their blood. Labor or Liberal have become euphemisms for scavengers.
    There should be some things that are so human, so vital to humans, so steeped in morality and compassion, that politicians should be forbidden from touching. At least this bunch of politicians, from Labor or Liberal…

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    1. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to george theodoridis

      Every time I read a response so marvellously passionate on behalf of human rights as your post above, George, my heart leaps with a kind of joy that someone feels as I do - for our brothers and sisters outside this country with its artificially declared borders and border-controllers and let-us-pull-up-the-drawbridge attitudes and selfish stances. You are right about much of the political body though (and the vested interests pulling their strings) and much of the "mainstream" media scarcely daring to question them/hold them to account.

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  12. Rex Gibbs

    Engineer/Director

    This is an opinion piece masquerading as 'fact checking'. I am sure there are political refugees with a genuine fear of persecution, I am equally sure there are as many economic migrants with a learned and practiced script better than those provided for Indian call centres selling me phone plans. The problem is how to differentiate. Bob Carr is sending the message that the government finally has learned it must have the will to differentiate. It seemed easier to just say say yes and then it seemed easier to just say no. Australia does not need unskilled economic migrants. It does need to aid those displaced by strife. Now it has to do the hard stuff it is entrusted by us to do and it needs to do it far better. It will be very hard. It will not all go well. It must, It must be done better than it has been.

    Shame on the editors of conversation for the head line and the links.

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    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      So give us the evidence of learnt and practiced scripts then instead of spewing out something Ruddock invented without evidence.

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    2. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      "This is an opinion piece masquerading as 'fact checking'"
      That is how I see it too. Fact checking should be based on solid evidence without making dubious assumptions. That has not happened in this piece.

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    3. Andrew Ramsden

      expat

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      Completely agree.

      The fact checkers have missed the point.

      The 'fact' that should have been checked and that wasnt checked is the Governmment's claim about the **motivation** of people claiming asylum, not whether countries from which they have come from are legitimate sources of refugees.

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  13. Martin Male

    Somatic Psychotherapist

    Thank you for this wonderful article. It is refreshing to see the facts laid out so clearly. I have no doubts that the Tamils are being persecuted in Sri Lanka, there have been numerous documentaries showing this from BBC, ABC and Aljazeera to name a few.
    I doubt the credibility of the opposition to be objective and involved in a "fact finding mission" n this matter given their obvious bias and invective perspective. The Sri Lankan government does't allow free press access to all areas of the country. Can we honestly believe that that the Sri Lankan government didn't filter what these politicians saw?

    At this time I actually feel ashamed that Labor and Liberal/ National politicians are expressing these xenophobic and un-humanitarian views. These are people who deserve to be treated as such, not played as some political football in a race to the bottom of the heap!

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Martin Male

      Actually Martin, the latest ABC report on Sri Lanka had no evidence of persecution and to the contrary, there were Sri Lankans openly claiming they had heard they would be paid money just for arriving in Australia.
      That was one reason Carr took a trip there to get information disseminated about what prospective boat people were being told was false.
      Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison have also been there in recent months to find no persecution going on.

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    2. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Greg North

      Julie BISHOP & Sot MORRISON have been there? Where exactly Greg - and who were their minders whilst there? I recall that the Red Cross visited Nazi (exterminatio)n camps - were well-minded - saw what the Nazis wanted them to see - folk being re-settled - in school, playing in orchestras - not a thing out of place - well satisfied they left and wrote up their reports - but oh, things were not in place at all - I reckon Julie and Scott are the Red Cross of 2013! Prove me wrong.

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    3. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/sri-lanka

      Human Rights Watch Greg so now we've dispelled of the JABA rubbish that the likes of the ABC spew from time to time (scares the hell out of me that they're supposed to be intelligent by Australian standards) can you please stop trying to tell people there is nothing wrong in Sri Lanka today. Tell me did the ABC report also mention that if you said the wrong thing in Sri Lanka you'd be disappeared and killed? Because the Sri Lankans I've spoken with lately (all of them) have asserted this point.

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  14. john tons

    retired redundant

    The problem with this example of fact checking is that is depends very heavily on definitions. There exists a group of people who have the financial means to make a deliberative decision about the timing and manner of their leaving. The fact that they come from countries that make a refugee claim credible does not imply that they are necessarily refugees and not economic migrants.
    There are some 40 million people in refugee camps around the world. I would much prefer a situation where we abolished all migration programmes other than refugees and sourced 80,000 refugees per annum from the refugee camps dotted around the world.
    If that were widely known we would find that those with the means to pay for people smugglers would look elsewhere or stay put; they certainly would not take the risk of being stuck in a refugee camp.

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  15. Trevor Kerr

    ISTP

    Displaced persons in Africa are somewhere on the ladder for acceptance as refugees for resettlement in Australia. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/07/08/130708fa_fact_keefe is an excellent, long article that looks into the factors that may turn Guinea into another resource-rich source of refugees. It mentions a fabulous reserve of iron ore, Tom Albanese (Rio) and a super-rich Israeli speculator.
    (There are hints that investigative journalism is a risky business, and is a cut well above the flim-flam served up in our dailies.)
    Can ordinary Australians do anything to keep Guineans, working, in their own country? Would they need wages of more than $2 a day? Would we accept lower returns on our investments to prevent the moral dilemma we find ourselves straddling right now?
    Got shares? Got super? But, Shhhhhh!, don't tell Gina.

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  16. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    "…the Secretary-General remains deeply troubled by reports of increasing numbers of executions, including of juvenile offenders and in public; continuing amputations and flogging; arbitrary arrest and detention; unfair trials; torture and ill-treatment; and severe restrictions targeting media professionals, human rights defenders, lawyers and opposition activists, as well as religious minorities"

    Am I right in assuming that in terms of the above statement we are talking about mostly Islamic countries with repressive regimes or cartels?

    The West gets crucified by many Muslims for it's invasions and slaughter.

    The irony is that refugees from Islamic countries and Sharia law are seeking asylum in those vilified Western countries.

    The flood of refugees around the world will continue whilst these countries continue to sacrifice their own citizens.

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    1. John Pollard

      Casual Observer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Would be nice if we could choose our intake from the most genuinely needful people of the world. Those who are starving or on the verge of death of in danger of being murdered or raped by militias and terrorists. Most such people come from Africa. They should have precedence and be flown here as an act of mercy. The only limitation should be the number our government sets as our annual intake. Those who pay exorbitant amounts to travel by boat and destroy their identification, are economic migrants by definition, and should be rejected on the grounds that our law insists that a passport and visa must be presented by all new arrivals. Is this crazy? Or is our clinging to unworkable UN agreements making fools of us all? The sad thing is that no doubt some wonderful citizens of Australia are lost to us whatever we do.

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  17. ian cheong

    logged in via email @acm.org

    we wont get to answers on refugee questions until everyone agrees on what is to be achieved.

    Is an open border policy acceptable? Presumaby no, otherwise large numbers of people woulf flow from poorer to wealthier countries.

    Should refugees migrate permanently or temporarily until conditions change in their home country?

    What does the UN do to help make it safe for citizens of earth to live where they are?

    How many permanent migrants should we accept?

    How many temporary migrants can we cope with?

    i'm still looking for a rational position that pro and anti refugee proponents would agree s sensibe.

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    1. Bob Simpson

      Project manager

      In reply to ian cheong

      Ian, what would happen if you had an open policy, which was underpinned by a commonly defined 'good citizenship'? There are obviously big issues to ponder in this question, but how might it work? Bob

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    2. ian cheong

      logged in via email @acm.org

      In reply to Bob Simpson

      USA has problems controlling illegals from mexico and USA does't have much of a social security safety net. Australia with largely unrestricted imigration would expect a large influx.

      current antidiscrimination regime seems to favour cultural fragmentation over assimilation. so i think we'd be headed for a country that looks like marshall mcluhan's global tribalism. not sure the outcome would be good.

      bob, you seem to have thought about this a bit what do you think?.

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  18. Frederika Steen

    logged in via Facebook

    Did I hear it correctly? Scott Morrison on ABC this afternoon having a go at Bob Carr for calling asylum seekers "economic migrants" without providing the evidence?

    What have he and Abbott been doing BUT call asylum seekers economic, illegal, not refugees??? and suggesting that paying for travel or having money somehow disqualifies them from being persecuted and "real refugees"?
    It is high time that politicians , journalist and voters understood that an asylum seeker who is assessed and confirmed…

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    1. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Frederika Steen

      Frederika - What is it about that Scott MORRISON chap - in Sri Lanka where apparently Tamils are king and they suffer no oppression so are economically driven to come here (by boat and all - when they could/should otherwise easily fly here) yet at the same time able to question CARR - for his consonant claims! You are exactly right - pollies and journos won't listen! They have their lines ("Bop the Stoats" on one side - and those devilish "people smugglers"on the other!)

      [Recalling conversation in 1986 in the national capital.]

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  19. Dalit Prawasi

    Auditor, Accountant, Trade Teacher

    1. The author should read all comments to the last article by Ms Phillips, particularly the comment by a well respected saffer @ Meb Uni.
    2. UN, UNHCR or any other organisation cannot create facts. Facts remain facts. Take Sri Lanka, the Indian terrorist outfit branded Tamil Tigers killed tens of thousands of non Indians of the island nation. Indian Empire is a very poverful entity with Indian colonial partasites of the colonies occupying very powerful positions in global institutions. They are…

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  20. Don Williams

    Water Policy Analyst

    Wow, if this is postgraduate fact checking, then perhaps the level of debate on talkback radio isn't so bad after all.

    Firstly, the assertion that is being tested is not clearly stated: is that there are no economic refugees, that the proportion of economic refugees is non zero, but is less than some percentage, or some other claim?

    Then, whatever the assertion being tested really is, we are advised that: 'we have not processed claims, we have no idea whether recent arrivals by boat are “genuine…

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    1. ian cheong

      logged in via email @acm.org

      In reply to Don Williams

      i find a lot of conversation articles are opinion pieces. i think professional journalists do a pretty good job underpinned by journalistic skepticism and ethics.

      the problem is that thoroughly researching balanced information to present takes a lot of time and effort and so doing a really good job still does not fit with the "news cycle", no matter who is doing the writing.

      luckily comments on the conversation are not too voluminous and so it is relatively easy to find a broader perspective.

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  21. Peter Redshaw

    Retired

    I am rather saddened if not disturbed by the direction Carr and labor has taken with this argument. Carr as well as Rudd should know better because of the complexity of the issues that drive people to leave their country let alone seek asylum. This complexity is one of the reasons that drive people to seek asylum beyond the borders of the nearest country to the one they flee from. Otherwise they would not leave in the first place.

    You can not simply be someone seeking asylum because your life…

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  22. Dalit Prawasi

    Auditor, Accountant, Trade Teacher

    From the other post, This is FACTS

    "STOP the Boat and BOATS. First’ Labour boat hijacked by Kevin’s pirates whose boat was hijacked by Julia’s; the first women pirate to reach heights of a far away land. Each time asylum seekers have been thrown over board or have jumped off. However they cling on until the boat gets capsized, hit a rock or reaches the Promised Land, but no one will blow it up with Greens or Independents; so that they earn more in political RIP. Then there are boats laden with…

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  23. Lee Emmett

    Guest House Manager

    Bob Carr's deliberate use of the term economic refugees' is provocative and inaccurate, and does nothing for the cause of refugees defined under the UNHCR Convention. I expect senior ministers to be much more careful in their use of language.

    I would hope that Kevin Rudd, as PM, will use more acceptable terms in his negotiations with the Indonesian government.

    Regional co-operation, particularly in processing asylum-seekers' claims and prosecuting 'people-smugglers', seems to be a more positive course to pursue if there is to be any reduction in irregular arrivals by boats on Australian territory.

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  24. Tim Mather

    Veterinarian at Veterinary Advisory Services

    Perhaps we should be considering this refugee problem from the other end. If we initially accepted all refugees on condition that they sign a paper advising that they will be responsible to 1 learn our language, 2 Learn our political and civic duties so all can live in harmony with other citizens 3 Accept that if they are ever convicted of a criminal offense they will be immediately deported back to their original country. This will have the effect of encouraging contributing citizens to augment our already wonderful country while ensuring they will never fill our jails with potential criminals.
    Incidentally criminality would include carrying or using knives ( or any other weapon,bomb) onto the streets and would include enforcing foreign religious laws onto our legal system!

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    1. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Tim Mather

      While we're at it, lets deport the native-born crims out to Africa or somewhere equally far way. We don't need 'em - they're just a useless drain on our very scarce tax-dollars.

      Oh, and before anyone is allowed to vote, they should have to pass a test about our system of government and the electoral system works - we shouldn't let ignoramouses (or is that ignoramii?) vote.

      And I reckon based on your suggestions, we should also burn down every non-dreamtime place of worship and all learn one of the Aboriginal languages.

      That oughta sort Straya out.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Tim Mather

      Gosh, Tim, you mean 'criminality' should be defined as breaking Australian laws? (your phrase 'enforcing foreign religious laws into our legal system' is, of course a complete oxymoron and so best politely ignored). Remarkable. you really should send that idea to Scott Morrison.

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    3. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Anna Young

      "Oh, and before anyone is allowed to vote, they should have to pass a test about our system of government and the electoral system works - we shouldn't let ignoramouses (or is that ignoramii?) vote. " you just excluded most Australians.

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    4. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Surely not Grant! Our fair-go Utopia, populated as it is by such wise and all-seeing folk that they postively know what motivates someone to leave all they know, all they own and make a perilous journey across the world (and that motivator can be nothing but selfish, unadulterated greed as all rational people know) - surely all such folk would at the very least fully understand their own system of governance?

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    5. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Anna Young

      We could wish but therein lies the problem with democracy. Too many idiots are allowed to vote - many of them are also allowed on the Conversation:-)

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  25. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    Perhaps we could take economic advantage of the refugee influx.

    If we established a "mini-town/city" on the mainland somewhere(?) and set up a garment or some other types of manufacture.

    This might be a win-win situation. Paid employment, economic gain!

    I gather the refugees won't stop coming, so why not have a practical solution.

    If the argument is that it will encourage further influx, then we keep utilising the "workforce".

    It's no good burying our head in the sand about this issue with the government spending millions (if not more) on a problem with no end in sight.

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    1. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Sounds good to me. The reality is countries give aid anyway and much of this aid goes towards development projects so why not apply the same aid process here and build industry. Very pragmatic idea.

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    2. Bob Simpson

      Project manager

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, Grant and Tim, how would you construct this to increase the likelihood of social and economic benefits? How would you minimise bureaucratic involvement to maximise those benefits? Are there community activists, managers and funders who could bring this about? Bob

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    3. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Bob Simpson

      That's not for me to elucidate.

      But we will spend billions in the end on refugees, so why not make some money at the same time....they will pay taxes, need infrastructure etc etc.

      There would be problems sorting things out, but there are HUGE and controversial problems now....so what's there to lose.

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  26. Peter Lane

    Statistical Consultant

    I found your article informative, but it missed addressing two key points. One has been raised by Ian Cheong, namely that there is not going to be a rational response to the refugee problem until there is agreement about what can be achieved in Australia in terms of numbers and status of these people accepted into the country. The second is that the main reason I, and I guess many others, tend to think of "boat people" as likely to be economic refugees is because they are picking a rich country to flee to, far away from their own country. For a Sri Lankan or an Afghani to head to Australia, rather to any of the other countries that are closer, indicates to me that the main driver is the desire to improve economic well-being. Of course, Australia should share in looking after refugees to other countries, either financially or by temporary or permanent immigration, to ease the burden of those countries bordering the sources of the problem, but that is a different issue.

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    1. Bob Simpson

      Project manager

      In reply to Peter Lane

      Hi Peter, (and Ian)

      What might happen if we changed the language from "refugee problem" and "boat people" to a question on how we would welcome people who want to come to Australia, become citizens, and work productively for the common good? No matter how they came!

      What would be the 'net' social and economic benefits, or detriments?

      Thanks for the discussion.

      Bob

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    2. Peter Lane

      Statistical Consultant

      In reply to Bob Simpson

      Bob: I don't see your point. There is a visa system for such people, which is controlled to avoid letting in too many people, changing the nature of Australia, avoiding too much competition for jobs, and so on, as legislated by this and previous governments. Refugees are outside this system.

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    3. Thea Biesheuvel
      Thea Biesheuvel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Writer/Editor

      In reply to Peter Lane

      No Peter, I was there once! My family wanted to get as far away from trouble as we could manage. Just going to a neighbouring country is no solution.
      We were dirt poor when we arrived and remained so for at least another 20 years. Today there are thirty three descendants, all qualified in some way, earning a good living, paying top taxes and contributing to our social environment.
      We didn't 'like' Anglicans and the 'white' Australia policies and Aussies mistrusted us. Both sides have reached a compromise and live happily together. So what if we become an Islam nation? The harm done by Christianity is no advertisement

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    4. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Peter Lane

      Changing the nature of Australia? Oh, right - that would be because we're all same, same and always have been until now when these rotten boaters keep paddling to our shores. They'll ruin our pure blood lines, won't they?

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    5. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to Thea Biesheuvel

      Well done, Thea. Congratulations on your success. Good on you for your contribution to this nation. The point is that you did come to Australia, in spite of "the harm done by Christanity..".

      "So what if we became an Islamic nation?" Not now, Thea, when Islam is in turmoil, with unenlightened Mullas interpreting the Shari'ah laws along gender lines and practising religious apartheid.Perhaps in another 200yrs from now, when Islam has undergone some modicum of evolution. Right now, I'd shudder at…

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    6. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Hi Raine I strongly disagree with your comment that "Christianity has gone through this transformation hundreds of years ago;" This is trite and untrue. There are many fundamentalists Christians throughout the world, who I would argue are more "backward looking that I believe Christ ever taught, specifically the US and here.
      It was not that long ago that nuns wandered the streets in their strange attire, not dissimilar in many ways to the fundamentalist Muslims. We had towns where there was a religious…

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    7. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to Martin Male

      Have you seen nuns recently (at least in the last 40 years), Martin? Have you heard of nuns (in Catholic Tertiary Institutions) questing some fundamental tenets of Christianity (that "Christ died for our sins" or the "resurrection of Christ") and their literal interpretations? Imagine a mullah or an imam or even a lay person questioning, leave alone debating fundamental Islamic tenets; stoning to death or a world-wide fatwah may be in order!!!
      Have you heard of pedophilia in Islamic countries…

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    8. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Martin Male

      One point here Martin, nuns did not cover themselves from head to toe including their face AND they were adults who made the choice themselves to take that vocation. Girls from quite a young age are forced by their parents to cover up in some Muslim communities, they are not free to make that decision for themselves.

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    9. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Thea Biesheuvel

      Gee Thea, you didn't like Anglicans or 'white' Australian policies but you came here anyway. Why didn't you go to an Islamic country?

      You are now saying you would be happy for Islam to take over Australia. I find that a rather strange comment. Which countries in this world have the greatest turmoil? Hmm. Let me think...

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    10. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to Susan Costello

      Well Susan, actually very young girls (as young as 4 and 5) are actually covering up here in Australia. Take a walk in Auburn, Lakemba, sections of Parramatta in NSW and parts of Dandenong in Victoria to name a few. In all honesty I am not against practitioners of any religious faith but worry mostly about the fanatics and fundamentalists of various religions, including the likes of Fred Niles.

      That young girls are coerced into covering up and to believing in the "haramic' nature of the female form is an unacceptable value system. In other words the creation of an underclass of women is wrong; it is apartheid.

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    11. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Yes I agree with you Raine, it is completely wrong. I used to see families on the beach where the men and boys were running around playing and swimming in shorts and the girls and women were sat on the beach fully covered. I found it frightening and depressing.

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    12. Peter Lane

      Statistical Consultant

      In reply to Anna Young

      Anna: of course Australians are not all the same, and that is not the point. The visa laws are in place to control immigration, so that society can handle the influx of people wanting to come here. The population here has reached 23 million, and is still growing strongly even with the current controls. Every additional person puts more strain on the whole infrastructure. If you were to say that all boat people were to be allowed in whatever, the stream would become a torrent, and all the services of this society, from power generation to disability support, would deteriorate rapidly.

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    13. Peter Lane

      Statistical Consultant

      In reply to Thea Biesheuvel

      Thea. You emphasise my point quite well, I think: you have done very well for yourselves economically by coming to Australia. I'm sure everyone suffering persecution in their own country would prefer to move to somewhere where they can prosper, but that is not the goal of the refugee system: it is to help them to escape from persecution. The route for economic migration is via the visa policies that each country puts in place. Despite the length of time in this country, I see you haven't picked up on the Australian choice of a secular society. The fear of religious domination of a country by immigrants (much exaggerated in my view) is one of the drivers of conservative xenophobia. The prospect of turning Australia into an Islamic nation would horrify me, and I expect most Australians, as would turning it into some form of orthodox Christian nation.

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    14. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      I am intrigued how this discussion about immigration has now become a religious argument about Islam. My point was this Christianity ( or in fact any fundamentalism ) has no more moral superiority than any other way of living. I believe all people have the right to express their views and live their life as they choose, along with the responsibility this includes. No one has the right to demand others live as want.

      There are many recent example of Catholic priests being excommunicated for "questing…

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    15. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Martin Male

      Same old rhetoric different "other" really Martin. Racists seem to incite the same fear based and often off topic arguments to justify doing evil to others. One key facet of racism is denial - these types have become so good at denying their own racist views that they actually believe themselves that they aren't racists. And yet here we are listening to Anglocentric, culturally dominant arguments usually pitched by whites people who belong to this dominant group that are actually invaders sitting on illegally occupied land. Scary aint it?

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    16. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Martin Male

      Since you brought up homosexuality - ask yourself what "treatment" gays get in Muslim countries .....

      the death penalty in many, imprisonment in most.......stoning by a mob if you're unlucky.

      Ask the moderate Muslims what their attitude to homosexuality is, how would they treat a gay son or daughter.

      From what I can gather, most of the refugees are from Muslim countries - do they believe in the death penalty for gays, the submission of women, sharia law etc.

      It IS a relevant issue to bring in the Muslim equation. We need to know what sort of people are coming into Australia and will they be a harmonious addition, or a unstable minority.

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    17. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      That one depends on what Muslim country you are talking about. Gays are very accepted in Indonesia for instance. You also miss the point that regardless of views when Muslim people come to Australia they do not have the power to influence policy here which is what your entire debate is about (i.e. being over run by Muslims - oh yeah and the "other" with the intent of spreading divisionism).

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    18. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      As I have previously stated I don't agree with persecution by anyone!! I am not advocating any religious values!!

      "From what I can gather, most of the refugees are from Muslim countries - do they believe in the death penalty for gays, the submission of women, sharia law etc. "Firstly most refugees are not from muslim countries. I gather you have not actually discussed with any Muslims as I have and found that they don't agree the fundamentalists as I would argue do the moderate Christians. Maybe get out and talk with your fellow Australian before casting aspersions on them?

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    19. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      I do find it quiet disappointing how often these discussions become full of deceptive words and personal attack.
      Yes!!! Lets pay the rent;)

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    20. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Not until Catholic women are accepted as equal members of the church and it's subsidiary organisations.....

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    21. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      I did not say to "overrun" - I said to destabilise.

      We have had our first Muslim Labor minister sworn in last week.

      I'm not suggesting anything sinister about that whatsoever, just making a point.

      Where Muslim values come into contact with our "relaxed" lifestyle, there is the potential for conflict.

      Australia has spent decades de-religiousising (my new word) our society to the point where we are now on the threshold of legalising gay marriage - abortion is legal etc etc.

      We do not want to run the risk of going backward by having an element of society that wants to overturn progress.

      I am not anti-immigration, but I am for making sure that the reason many immigrants want to come to Australia remains so.

      We don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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    22. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Past Christian hypocrisy? It continues right now to this very day with very little indication that it's planning to evolve any time soon.

      I agree with Martin - it's fundamentalism of any sort that's the problem. Plenty of that amongst religions, philosophies, politicians and economists of every flavour. Absolutely no need to pick on one, just because it's currently the fashionable one to fear.

      Now if they could just get their groove on and make sure the fun comes before da mental, we might just survive this humanity malarcky...

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    23. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Martin Male

      I think you'll find the "crimes" listed above above are either enshrined in law or society.

      I'm not imagining that.

      A quote from the President of Senegal..

      "Senegalese President Macky Sall said that though Senegal was a ''very tolerant country which does not discriminate in terms of inalienable rights of the human being'', it was not ready yet to decriminalise homosexuality.
      ''This does not mean that we are all homophobic,'' he said."

      Yeah right.....

      Even moderate Muslims are dangerous people at times.

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    24. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Peter Lane

      Or they come in and need to purchase everything that is needed as they start their lives from scratch, and as they introduce different kinds of foods and practices and services that we might not currently have and as we get to build more infrastructure to service the growing population....voila! Economic growth, no?

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    25. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Peter Lane

      If you fear an orthodox Christian nation Peter, I wouldn't be voting for the LNP. That fear is much more likely to materialise than us being over-run by Islamic radicals.

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    26. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      While we are sorting people, can we also sort out the "sort" that are a blight on an otherwise compassionate nation? I'd like to move a motion that we excommunicate all bigots and racists from our fair soils.

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    27. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Yep but let's not mince words and front up to the intent - i.e. Yellow Peril rhetoric, so overrun leads to being destabilised right Stephen? Just that I hate the way racists can't be honest about things.

      Re:
      "society to the point where we are now on the threshold of legalising gay marriage - abortion is legal etc etc."

      And how exactly is a few more Muslims going to change any of this? Stephen do you really think that the dominant culture of Australia is suddenly going to become Muslim. This flies in the face of all evidence from every other asylum country. For instance, take France where they have masses upon masses of Muslim migrants and refugees but where they became the first western country to legalise gay marriage.

      "We don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater." Safe to say the baby is safe.

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    28. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Martin Male

      Are you sure that Muslim refugees don't top the list?

      You seem to know moderate Muslims - what is their belief on abortion, homosexuality, equality for women.

      You talk about "moderate" Christians - as far as I know the Catholic, Anglican etc Christian churches have entrenched doctrines that have yet to be overturned by moderates.

      It's all very well to be a "moderate", but they are members of broader churches that are immoderate in the modern world.

      If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck!!

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    29. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Anna Young

      Very funny Anna.......I may start to laugh very soon.

      As a gay man born in the 50s I know all about bigots and prejudice.

      I've had the fight with Christianity, I don't want to have it again with Muslims.

      When you personally know about bigotry and prejudice on a national scale - call me.

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    30. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Ah woe is me mate. Well I'm an indigenous person who spent years imprisoned by the state (actually just successfully sued the pricks for illegal imprisonment and torture and soon will be dragging their arses to the UN so let's not even talk about the evil of religion). Here's the thing Stephen - if you understand oppression then how can you support the oppression of others? things like false imprisonment (indefinite mandatory detention) of men, women, and children, and how can you for a second justify not having an open boarder policy for those fleeing persecution and violence? Or have you really forgotten what it was like or were you never really on the receiving end of imprisonment, beatings and torture? What happened to you doesn't even come close to what many of these poor bastards lived through so don't play the gay card while at the same time being a racist - it simply doesn't wear and is imbued in hypocrisy.

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    31. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      When you personally know about bigotry and prejudice on a national scale - call me.

      Haha yeah what's your number?

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    32. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Bully for you.......

      Here's the thing - I don't like Muslims, I don't like Catholics - I don't like religion one iota full stop.

      Whether you don't think it's valid, it has caused me pain and suffering over the years - particularly as a kid. Some things stay with you forever no matter how hard you try and "get over it".

      I have a right to an opinion and if you disagree, that is your right too.

      If whoever comes to this country can arrive without the bigotry and prejudice of a religion or social mores, then I would welcome them with open arms.

      If they come with centuries of moral judgements and religious indignation, then they can piss off as far as I'm concerned.

      If that's being racist - then call me a racist.

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    33. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Yeah well they don't like queers bro - such is the nature of divisionism and ignorance. For the record I don't like religion either but that sure as hell doesn't give me the right to sit in a wealthy country and deny others the right to survival free from persecution and torture. Your point is they are going to overtake and oppress you - I mean this is a crazy argument at best. So for me that tiny minority who hold extremist beliefs are welcome - they can let go of the hate once they are here. And yes you are a racist and more than most should know better.

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    34. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      My argument is that there is already a % of Australians who hate gays, hate blacks, treat women badly and so on.

      Personally I don't want to see ONE more.

      To me the worst person who can come into Australia is someone uneducated AND religious.....they are in my opinion TROUBLE.

      I am not a racist, I embrace multi-culturalism.

      I worked for the state government in Melbourne for many years, where in the office there were 37 different nationalities, which gave the place a great vibe.

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    35. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      My argument is that there is already a % of Australians who hate gays, hate blacks, treat women badly ---- ah yeah you've possibly just described 50% of white Australian males:-)

      I am not a racist, I embrace multi-culturalism. Well no you don't actually or you'd make room for Muslims. What you embrace is tolerance but certainly not multiculturalism - yeah and some of my friends are white re all those nationalities (what the F is it about racists that they keep dredging this garbage up)

      Stephen your argument is still narrow and racist in the strictest of terms because you are attributing certain beliefs and ways to all in a certain group. You miss the point completely that most Muslims are extremely moderate and that is why they are fleeing groups like the Taliban who wish to impose Shariah law, keep women in veils and practice wholesale religious and other discrimination.

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    36. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Anna Young

      Well that is news to me Anna. I was not aware that we were being overrun with asylum seekers / refugees from the USA.

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    37. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      The beauty of disagreement.

      Btw - I am not a racist as I am attacking religion, not a race of people.

      Moderate Christians or Muslims are hypocrites, or simply NOT Christian or Muslims.

      The Q'ran & Bible outline the belief systems of both religions.

      If you call yourself a Christian or a Muslim, until both "manuals" are re-written and/or re- codifed, then it's either believe in the lot or call yourself a half-Muslim or a half- Christian.

      You don't get to shop through the books to cross out what you don't like.

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    38. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Sorry Stephen you are clearly a racist and what you are attacking is really more an archetype than a religion.

      "You don't get to shop through the books to cross out what you don't like." You clearly don't understand how religion is used as an ideology to gain power when you say this.

      Stephen totally get it man. Some people don't like what you stand for. People persecuted you. Some people would have hurt you for being what you are etc. Yeah well try being some little kid that just lost their…

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    39. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Thea Biesheuvel

      "So what if we become an Islam nation?"

      We are not an Islamic nation, or for that matter a Christian nation. We are a nation built on the principle of the separation of State and Religion. To change that you would have to change our whole Constitution and that is extremely unlikely. For a start it is hard to even make small changes in the Constitution let alone enormous ones like that.

      Christianity may be the dominant faith of the majority of people in this country who profess to belonging…

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    40. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Peter Redshaw

      And that is one VERY GOOD reason why we should remain cautious about islamic immigration in particular, but any religious ideology in general.

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    41. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Or immigration form cultures that do not adhere to separation of church and state in general.

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    42. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      And don't give us that bull$hit that this is a racist attitude.

      It is not!

      It is a pragmatic political attitude!

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    43. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Greg, does that include Americans, as there are many of the religious right in America who still struggle with the concept of separation of the state and religion. After all American Presidents still lead statements by saying God we Trust and it is also on their currency. In fact I would suggest it would be virtually impossible for America to elect a President who did not wear God on their sleeves. So it is not simply Islamic countries who struggle with the concept of the separation of state and…

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    44. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Peter Redshaw

      "Greg, does that include Americans"

      Yes it bloody well does.

      I don't want Australia being turned into a bible bashing christian state any more than I want it turned into a muslim state!

      "it would be virtually impossible for America to elect a President who did not wear God on their sleeves. "

      I agree and it therefore makes me extremely uncomfortable when Rudd and others make their Christianity an election issue!

      "Oh and as for your statement that we not agree to immigrants from cultures that do not adhere to separation of church and state"

      Peter that is not what I said.

      What I said was that we need to be cautious about immigration from Islamic countries.

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  27. Charles Latimer

    Governance and Policy Adviser

    Simply because someone travels to Australia claiming to be a refugee from an authoritarium regime does not mean their claims have any genuine validity. In this case, simply because Iran is a strict fundamentalist religious society does not mean it is similar to Nazi Germany, Afghanistan or a failed state. If the fact that a country has a strict regime and people do not like living there, is used to define claims under the UN Convention for eligibility, then there are a significant number of additional countries where economc migrants could simply claim to be refugees to leave - Vietnam, Laos, Saudi Arabia and so on to name a few. The UN Convention has been manipulated beyond the purpose for which it was intended. On a related point, the closest peaceful land to Sri Lanka is India which has a large Tamil population. It is worth noting that the Tamils prefer to travel here instead - economic advantage perhaps rather than refugee?

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Charles Latimer

      So, Charles, what in practice would be your alternative criteria - showing your physical scars?

      I don't dispute that you raise a reasonably enough problem, I'd just like to hear a sane suggestion for dealing with it.

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    2. Bob Simpson

      Project manager

      In reply to Charles Latimer

      Charles, what you say is logical if I work through your pattern of thought, and accept your pre-suppositions. BTW, what are they? Is any measure done to evaluate the social and economic benefits of letting 'refugees' easily become citizens against the economic and social costs of the policy protocols we have in place? Bob

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    3. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Charles Latimer

      Charles re:

      "The UN Convention has been manipulated beyond the purpose for which it was intended. " Actually this is patently false. The status of a genuine refugee is defined using the convention and cannot be manipulated. I.e. if an asylum seeker was not fleeing war, persecution, death etc they simple would not qualify.

      "It is worth noting that the Tamils prefer to travel here instead - economic advantage perhaps rather than refugee?" " It is worth noting" asylum seekers have the right to seek asylum anywhere they deem fit. So imagine for instance, would you as a Tamil seek asylum in India where you would become a third class citizen living within a caste system or would you seek asylum somewhere you had a chance of not starving to death? If that is what you mean by economic advantage.

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    4. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Bob Simpson

      Bob certainly there has been economic and social cost analysis of mandatory detention versus allowing asylum seekers to be free in the community. Economically and socially mandatory detention is about as dumb as it gets.

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    5. Charles Latimer

      Governance and Policy Adviser

      In reply to Bob Simpson

      If it is question of economic and social evaluation then it is a migration issue not a refugee issue. There are many countries with relatively tough laws and restrictive customs but that does not automatically mean those wishing to leave are asylum seekers. The UN Convention on Refugees originates from 1951, post WWII and the experiences of that era however the definitions are in fact relatively open to interpretation and claims can be exaggerated. The fact that a number of Tamil men have returned voluntarily to Sri Lanka does point to economic migrants utlising the refugee system to try and gain entry. The fact that people smugglers and their families have also gained entry demonstrates the weaknesses of the current approach.

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    6. Charles Latimer

      Governance and Policy Adviser

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      In relation to Tamils and India, that's not actually accurate, the state of Tamil Nadu has a very significant Tamil population and they are certainly not third class citizens. It is the second largest state economy in India and is the official homeland of the Tamil people. The Tamil language is the official language of that state. As regards the UN Convention on Refugees, the process has been flawed for many years and claims have been lodged successfully by persons who subsequently were found to contine travelling back to their homeland to engage in political activities, or worse still, were identified as being people smugglers.

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    7. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Charles Latimer

      Charles, 35 million people in Tamil Nadu live on around $1.50 a day re seek asylum and starve. So given the choice what would you do?

      Re: "As regards the UN Convention on Refugees, the process has been flawed for many years and claims have been lodged successfully by persons who subsequently were found to contine travelling back to their homeland to engage in political activities, or worse still, were identified as being people smugglers." So what you're saying is that this system as with any…

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    8. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant, I would like to know where you obtained the figures of 35 million people in Tamil Nadu living on $1.50 a day. Can you provide the link please.

      Based on your above assertion, do you agree then that they are coming here as economic refugees to escape the $1.50 a day in Tamil Nadu?

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    9. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Susan Costello

      http://www.scad.org.in/ NGOs etc make for reliable info but if you like I can also post links to other serious issues in Tamil Nadu. So for instance UNICEF tells us the 35% of the population live on less than $1 a day. link here http://www.unicef.org/corporate_partners/files/India_General_Information.pdf (let me know if you'd like more - had you bothered to look rather than substantiate your racist agenda you'd find all this yourself)

      Nice try with the economic refugee tag (btw it is utter BS…

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    10. Susan Costello

      Public Servant

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Calm down Grant, I have no racist agenda (whatever that really means), I was simply asking you to clarify some points made in one of your many posts here today.

      I lived in a developing country for many decades and have seen racism on a level there that I have never seen in Australia. Claiming that everyone who questions policies is racist is a very easy, simplistic way to bully people. Please stop it.

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    11. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to Susan Costello

      Agree with you, Susan. It appears to be fashionable these days to flaunt the "racist" label at any one who wants to have a debate about values and different points of view.

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  28. Rodney Edwin Lever

    retired journalist

    Well, so what? All of us are descendants of asylum seekers. Our migrations began in 1780. Are we so superior to other people seeking a better life?

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    1. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Rodney Edwin Lever

      Yep that perhaps isn't a great example for the xenophobes here - the first load of boat people over ran the place and genocided the original Australians.

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    2. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Maybe that's why everyone is so afraid of boat arrivals....we know what happened when the first lot arrived....

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    3. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Love your wit and soooo true!!! You need to remember it is never I it is always them:)

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  29. Raine S Ferdinands

    Education

    The influx of refugees world wide has and continues to be a challenging issue. On the flip side, there wouldn't be the America, Hawaii, Canada, or Australia as we now have if not for the teaming numbers of economic and political "refugees" and migrants of all sorts. In most cases, new comers have blended in well, accepting the laws of the land and contributing in a multitude of ways towards the prosperity of the host nation.
    Recently I was in Indonesia and a local Indonesian friend mentioned (among…

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    1. Thea Biesheuvel
      Thea Biesheuvel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Writer/Editor

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Couldn't agree more Grant. Australians used to see 'reds' under their beds, now it's Muslims in the Mall. (come to think of it, Raine is probably a person who did/does both.

      We should hire two big ocean liners, anchor one at the tip of Malaysia, the other at the tip of Java, ask the wannabee passengers to pay their fare, sail them safely over here, anchor them in Darwin Harbour or Garden Island until processed and let them loose to earn a living and start paying taxes. It would be more humane and cheaper for the nation and cut out these middle-man crooks.

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    2. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Thea Biesheuvel

      I'd definitely second that and we could perhaps also hide a few under the beds of xenophobes here just so they can confirm their twisted world views.

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    3. In reply to Anna Young

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    4. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to george theodoridis

      Sorry, George. This discussion board doesn't have a sarcasm font. I most certainly wasn't being serious.

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    5. george theodoridis

      Brain Deconstructor at Synapse Collapse

      In reply to Anna Young

      Anna, profuse apologies! Guilt is fathomless!
      I'm reading all this from afar and haven't been following the stream of collective consciousness too closely!
      Mea culpa, mea culpa,
      Mea máxima culpa!

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    6. Andrew Smith

      Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      I wonder what Carr and Rudd would say privately on the issue?

      Would it be they have to be tough against refugees because that it the issue politicians, media and Australians expect, while refugees don't vote?

      Did Carr actually offer any direct evidence of his claims, or is it more about most want to belive his claims? ("economic migrant" has become a common insult for refugees insinuaing they cannot be trusted etc.)

      Carr I am not so sure about, he has strong views (not proven) that immigrants, population growth etc. are bad for Australia like John Tanton in the USA ("white nativist" who influences a network of anti population growth advocates in the USA, and anglo world e.g. Sustainable Population Australia of which Carr is patron), who have been accused of distorting and purposely confusing data on immigration , demographics etc. , while being coy about their "social baggage" re." foreigners"......

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    7. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to Anna Young

      I am sooooooo glad that Grant, Thea and Anna are true believers of the 'fair-go' Australian sentiment. It both delights and pleases me to know why I am an Aussie. Wanting to reach out to those who are seeking help, the desire to share with those who have less, and most importantly to make room for the other are all fabulous ethos that make Australia and Australians a great nation of great people. I am proud to be an Aussie. I sincerely applaud all three of you.

      Unfortunately, I may sound no better…

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Andrew Smith

      Carr would not be the first politician to support policies which run counter to his personal beliefs.

      And we know Rudd will say anything expedient to his ambitions.

      Meanwhile, people drown, or if they manage to reach our shores are incarcerated indefinitely. If they are released are then banned from working.

      All of these so-called 'disincentives' are costing taxpayers' millions and only furthering suffering.

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    9. Anna Young

      Project Manager

      In reply to george theodoridis

      No need for apologies George - had I thought for a second anyone might interpret my comment as supportive of that very senseless slogan, I would never have posted it. Better it be removed than risk anyone taking it seriously! That said, your linking the sentiment to particular parts of the media is, sadly, quite right and one of the reasons I increasingly despair.

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  30. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

    logged in via Twitter

    As a CONSTITUTIONALIST (See my blog at www.scribd.com/inspectorrikati) I have been concerned about the failure of various governments to protect our borders. This, even so when it came to the Tampa I was making it clear that since the Titanic commission no country should leave anyone at the perils of the sea.. I recommended to the then Prime Minister John Howard that all refugees should be handed over to the UN (United Nations). As such set aside a parcel of land, like they do with Embassy's) and…

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    1. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

      lol the moment you mentioned "CONSTITUTIONALIST" (wow capitals too) people stopped reading:-) Gad man you've just made John Howard look like a left wing pinko. Perhaps team up with Pauline - I believe she is shock jocking in this years election.

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  31. David Clancy

    Lecturer, Biomedical Science

    Are Rudd and Carr decent people? Sure, there may be an election coming up. But are they wrong, 100%?

    Why are they saying this stuff?

    Because they want a solution. A solution to the deaths by drowning, now in the hundreds, of men, women and children.

    Read Hassan's story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/jun/03/night-refugee-boat-sank-victims#undefined
    'Greener pastures' turned into watery graves.

    Sensible solutions welcome.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to David Clancy

      There are many millions of people around the world with sad and tragic stories.

      Refugees living in appalling conditions in Sudan or elsewhere in Africa, living in fear in any number of countries where ethnic violence and retribution are part of everyday life (and death).

      If we estimate that there may be 10 million+ refugees, the reality Australia can only give help to less than .05% or so.

      To me it would be better to offer the chance of a good life (in Australian terms) to 10,000 refugees…

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  33. Pat Moore

    gardener

    I asked for a response (on an immediately deleted post) by the polemicist posters arguing for an open door immigration policy by trafficked 'economic migrants'/'asylum seekers' based on the following question/statement asked by a poster previously in this thread, namely:-

    "So what if we become an Islam Nation."

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    1. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Pat Moore

      That one is easy Pat, and the answer is "as if that could ever happen." Such a concept is fear mongering at its worst and stems from yellow peril rhetoric where Australia stood to be over run. Firstly you'd note the only Muslim problems Australia has had resulted in a mob of hundreds of white Australians bashing anyone who looked Muslim (i.e. vaguely brown) during the Cronulla riots. Secondly, in countries such as England where there are a few extremist problems (albeit greatly overplayed by press…

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    2. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Well written Grant is a delight to have some open and clear discussion here. Personally I doubt Christ would be happy with much of what has been done in his name, nor would Mohammad!

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    3. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      Grant, first allow me to express my sincere apology for the hurt the system caused you. You do come across as a very ANGRY and HOSTILE individual and perhaps an expected outcome of your experience. I''ve stated elsewhere, too, that hatred and antagonistic feelings are more damaging to oneself. So I wish, for your sake, that you'll attempt to let go of past injustices, brother.

      You are not the only one to experience discrimination (in varying degrees). We are ALL scarred people. My sentiments about…

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    4. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Oh Raine please. The point being here is that you lived in Islam as an outsider and now tar all people from that region with the same brush. The thing is there is no one Islam and that is why majority groups are killing and persecuting minority groups who are less radical and who are typically the ones who are seeking asylum. I know plenty of Muslims in Australia and the vast majority of them hold very tolerant values (actually typically more tolerant than white Australians I know). Absolutely, I…

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    5. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      You make many false assumptions, Grant. I cannot afford to stain ALL muslims and neither do I wish to do so. You miss represent my expressed sentiments. I have an in-depth theological understanding of Islam (including Sufism), Judaism, Catholicism and Buddhism even though I come from an Anglican background and an amply qualified scientist by profession. I bet I could outdo you (Intellectually) on the theological aspects of any of the above stated religions. All religions, at least the ones I studied, are based on subjective human interpretations at different times of our human history. There is no God out there except in the sum total of humanity. Others may chose to differ from this expressed view.
      Please stop labelling people who happen to have a different opinion from from yours. This article is about opinions and factual discussions on asylum seekers. It is not a scientific article and neither is it a space to label people who express a different opinion. Good bye brother, Grant.

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    6. Grant Mahy

      Unemployed

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Got me there brother - I am absolutely sure you could outdo me (Intellectually) on discussions of religion. I'm an atheist or something there abouts by Western standards. My field of study is human rights - we're the guys that work at the coal face and very much deal with earthly realities.

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    7. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Grant Mahy

      "Absolutely, I do not agree that it is okay that women are forced to wear veils but I also respect having spoken to many of these women that they choose to do so because it is part of their faith."

      I would question that.

      You might get some indentured asian sex workers expressing similar views but, from the perspective of western law and values, it still amounts to sexual slavery.

      The question is do those woman, particularly adolescent girls, have a clear and unfettered choice as to whether or not they wear Muslim garb.

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  34. Liz Minchin
    Liz Minchin is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Queensland Editor at The Conversation

    It's terrific that this article is attracting so many readers & passionate debate - but we have had a number of reports of derogatory/abusive language, used towards other commenters or towards politicians from various political parties.

    Please remember to keep your comments **on topic** and respectful of others' right to a different opinion. Our Community Standards page is here: https://theconversation.com/au/community_standards Do read it if you haven't before.

    We'd prefer not to close this article to further comments, but please bear in mind that any time I or others editors have to come on here to moderate, it's time we're not commissioning or editing new Fact Checks or articles... Your help in keeping the discussion open & constructive is greatly appreciated.

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    1. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Thanks for this timely reminder Liz. Some of us have unwittingly hijacked this agenda to pander to fear. Fear is a weak and illogical human emotion and I am, to some extent, guilt of that.
      Human suffering is real and those of us who are in a safe position need to be more reflective and less fearful of those who are in dire stress. Hope Rudd's coming visit with the Indonesian President will shed some light and possible / workable solutions for all refugees.

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    2. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Watched Q & A last night......a great program with the Indonesian panel very informative and interesting.

      It was a valuable insight to see the equation from another aspect.

      A bit like America, Indonesia is a complex society that is sometimes easy to criticise from the outside, but is a fledgling democracy facing up to a turbulent past.

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  35. John Kelmar

    Small Business Consultant

    If these people were really seeking asylum then surely it would be cheaper for them to just move to the country next door. The so-called asylum seekers would also fit into the local lifestyle far more easily than they would in Australia, have less difficulties with the language, culture, and religion, and be closer to their homeland when conditions changed.

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  36. Greg Boyles

    Lanscaper and former medical scientist

    "Based on the available information, the foreign minister’s statement is incorrect."

    Based on what Melissa?????

    You have not personally examined the claims of the people Bob Car was referring to so you are in no better position to claim his statement was false than he was to claim that all of the were economic migrants.

    Again we just can't get away from this partisan framing of this debate can we Melissa.

    You lot make claims against us and we make counter claims against you lot.

    And around and around in circles we go.

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    1. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Perhaps I should be addressing Sarah rather than Melissa.

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  37. G. H. Schorel-Hlavka

    logged in via Twitter

    As a CONSTITUTIONALIST I hold it important to understand that the Framers of the Constitution specifically authorised the federal Government to keep criminals out. Also, to set conditions to ensure only desirable persons would be allowed to enter. What we have however is a non-violent invasion where we have lost control, who shall or shall not be allowed to be admitted. it are the people (call them refugees or economic migrants) who not dictate us, This because about 90% end up in Australia. We lost…

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  38. James Armstrong

    logged in via Twitter

    Everyone will continue to have their own personal interpretation of who is or not a legitimate 'refuge' as long as the the point of reference is the extremely loss and subjective criteria in the Refugee Convention viz "is unable or unwilling to return or to seek the protection of that country due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion"
    Under this extremely loose and subjective criteria…

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  39. John Pollard

    Casual Observer

    Dear greg and grant and others. Yours is not a conversation nor a debate, but abuse, pure and simple. The message is lost and even as entertainment it becomes.......BORING!

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    1. John Pollard

      Casual Observer

      In reply to John Pollard

      Oops! Please don't end this conversation yet, as it's really important. I still haven't been able to find a satisfactory position on this issue myself. Just like the abortion debate, it's a tough one! I just hope we can keep it civil or many readers will lose interest.

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  40. Frederika Steen

    logged in via Facebook

    DEar Moderator/s

    I am totally turned off by the chit chat which strays from the article 's important issues... can't these boys find other ways of filling their empty days?

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  42. Liz Minchin
    Liz Minchin is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Queensland Editor at The Conversation

    I said this politely a few days ago, now will have to be blunt.

    Personal name-calling, abusive language, attacking other people as Nazis, racists, bleeding heart idiots (etc) is not on. We have Community Standards to uphold https://theconversation.com/au/community_standards These are designed to look after the vast majority of people who come to this site looking for a contest of ideas, not a contest of abuse.

    If you choose to call people names, please be aware: your comments will be deleted…

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    1. Liz Minchin
      Liz Minchin is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Incidentally, you can report possible abuses of our Community Standards by clicking on the 'report' link at the bottom of specific comments, or by emailing reportabuse@theconversation.edu.au.

      One of us editors will do our best to take a look as soon as we can - bearing in mind we're a small team, working on more stories than ever, and with 1.3 million unique readers a month to answer to!

      Thanks for your help.

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    2. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Hi Liz thank you. I have been appalled at the level of personal abuse from comments on this article. I must say I have seen it to a lesser level on other articles. It simply demeans those who post it and turns the rest of us off!! It certainly doesn't lead to a conversation or a reviewing of our own ideas.

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

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Liz

      What is the point of continuing to post if in your cleansing you throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      There have been posts removed which were not in breach of the community standards and related to topic.

      Apologies for not being on topic, but I do not receive response to my emails and know of no other way to exercise my and other contributors right to clearly defined rules of engagement and a fair go.

      report
    4. Liz Minchin
      Liz Minchin is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Hi Dianna,

      Sorry for the delay replying - I didn't get an email if you sent one, saw this response from you on my dashboard just now.

      You would have got an automatic notification email when a couple of your comments were removed earlier saying that sometimes in removing a long thread, other comments can go too. That sometimes even includes posts by people saying "that comment is really off topic", which might be totally true - but once the off topic/abusive/etc content is gone, it makes for…

      Read more
    5. Ian Rudd

      Retired accountant

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Liz,
      Besides vitriolic language employed by some posters there are some, including those using the insulting language, who clog the the site (and our emails) with far too many comments all basically saying the same thing.

      Can these people be taken of the air, so to speak, for some time at least?

      Also, I can't find that "Report link" button you refer to.

      report
    6. Liz Minchin
      Liz Minchin is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Martin Male

      No worries Martin, hopefully people get back to debating the issues, including considering other people's perspectives.

      I've never met anyone who has all the answers on every issue - although if you come across them, let us know, as we always could do with more expert FactCheckers... ;)

      report
    7. Liz Minchin
      Liz Minchin is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      Report is in quite fine print, directly below each post - next to the time stamp.

      Yes we can block people's accounts and yes that is under active consideration at the moment. I'm not keen on doing it, because I'd like to think everyone on here is an adult and can learn to moderate their language.

      But there are only so many chances we can give people before it puts off the majority of people who are civil and respectful. I've written two reminders of our Community Standards on here now: let's see what happens next.

      report
    8. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Hi Lz thanks again for the provision of this great venue for the exchange of ideas! It seem that those who have created the discontent here have simply moved to another article to continue their rants, if though they are completely unrelated to the topic ie Abbott struggles with questions about repaying....
      Thanks

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    9. Liz Minchin
      Liz Minchin is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Martin Male

      Hi Martin,

      I'm not sure which article you're referring to, as I only see the comments on articles I've been linked to.

      Funnily enough, given how much of today it's taken up, I didn't actually work on this asylum article. However, I am part of the small FactCheck team, so am doing my best to keep an eye across as many FactCheck comments as possible, in between editing and commissioning.

      If you or anyone else want to hit report on a post you think is way off topic - and it does sound like that could be an example of that - then hopefully an editor linked to that page will get a chance to take a look.

      If there is a pattern of particular people being consistently abusive or off topic, they can be blocked as I said earlier. It's just a pity that it might come to that, for everyone's sake.

      report
  43. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    Anyone can make any claims they like on these forums. However, I believe truth will out; taking time to investigate, which is the point of Davies' and Quiggin's work, stands up to scrutiny. Their findings can be verified.

    The size of Australia's borders negate any feasible deployment of sufficient numbers to guard every inch of coastline - hence other means are required. Such as achieving cooperation with our neighbours.

    As for population growth, an issue raised by others - I support sustainable…

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    1. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I disagree.

      The vast majority of illegal boats head to Christmas Island so concentrating patrol efforts in that region would likely be very effective!

      Even more effective would be to just give up Christmas Island to Indonesia - it is more trouble than it is worth.

      That whole patrol region would then be Indonesia's responsibility. and I have little doubt that the boats would stop coming given Indonesia's lack of interest in coming to the aid of illegal immigrant boats in distress.

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    2. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      I only know of 1 single boat from Sri Lanka that made it to our shores recently over the past 10 years or so.

      So at present it is not necessary to patrol our entire northern shoreline intensively.

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  44. Greg Boyles

    Lanscaper and former medical scientist

    All this outrage about illegal immigrants drowning at sea is rather amusing to me.

    If thousands of Australian recreational fisherman, for example, set out to sea in leaky boats for a days fishing and then phone the Australia navy for rescue when they got into trouble then there would be howls of outrage from the vast majority of Australians at how irresponsible the fishermen were and that they should re-reimburse tax payers for the cost of their rescue etc etc etc. Or perhaps even calls to leave…

    Read more