Processing While U Wait

By DeusExMacintosh

The sinking of a boat carrying 200 asylum seekers last week near Christmas Island has reignited debate over Australia’s policy deadlock.

The government has renewed a call for a refugee swap deal with Malaysia to deter people smuggling. However, the opposition is demanding that an immigration detention centre on Nauru be reopened.

Meanwhile, authorities say 17 bodies have been found, with another 70 feared dead after a three-day search. The boat sank in Indonesian waters, 120 nautical miles (220km) north of the island last Thursday.

One hundred and nine people were rescued but the search for survivors was called off late on Saturday.

BBC News


  1. kvd
    Posted June 29, 2012 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Painful but accurate DEM. But in all fairness your middle panel should have had a pic of our Parliament in session – because there’s enough dismay and contempt to give a share to the lot of them, with some left over for the media pundits.

  2. Posted June 29, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink


    Coming out of your link, I have always felt that there was something feigned about the concern for the safety of would-be maritime arrivers, given that Australia, in the name of ‘We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come’ has studiously avoided addressing the refugee issue on its own doorstep (which is the one which poses the leaky boats risk) in favour of selecting its refugees (other than those who arrive and make a claim when they get here) from, it seems, as far away as possible.

    Whilst at heart ‘We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come’ is an understandable reaction, its moral basis is quite flimsy – it’s just based on “‘we’ got here first” – which is, in any event only a relative truth. That to me is the key to why it is asserted so shrilly. Of course this principle has a pragmatic basis – I’m not taking homeless people into my house, either – but it does not create a pragmatic solution to the problem (even if that is only [!] a moral problem) of the plight and consequent deaths of the desperate people who get on boats.

  3. Posted June 29, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    What a brilliant pic of the PM. You are very witty. The boat was in international waters, but in the Indonesian ‘rescue’ zone. Unfortunately, they don’t have any rescue boats up to the task, which gives us a good excuse to leave them till the last minute.
    I think the Greens deserve credit for their compassion and analysis of the facts. No one addresses the issue that troubles most Australians…we don’t want people coming who are religious hardliners, who bring their ethnic and sectarian troubles with them, who over breed, and who are intolerant of the minorities and behaviours we have learned to accept.

  4. Tim Quilty
    Posted June 29, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Do we really have a large illegal migrant population arriving by air? I feel this is a red herring – surely mostly this group are tourists and students who outstay ther visas for a while, rather then asylum seekers intending to remain permanantly?

    If everyone who arrived illegally requesting asylum was put onto TPVs allowing them to reside and work, but they never became eligible for permanant residency or citizenship, or family reunion visas, we would be meeting our international obligations to provide protection while removing a lot of the “pull factors” that get them onto boats.

    Couple that with an increase in intake of actual refugees from the “queue” around the world and I don’t see much for people to object about.

  5. Posted June 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    LE: There is no fuss about the illegal plane people, for two reasons:
    1/. They do not destroy their identification paperwork, in fact they are quite open about who they are. (We are not getting a pig in a poke).
    2/. They rarely want to remain forever. Any who apply for asylum mostly do it after they are busted for overstaying, & do it merely as a delaying tactic
    3/. They are self-supporting. While the bulk of boat arrivals are still on welfare 5 years later, air arrivals are mostly self-reliant, either spending foreign exchange here, or working, paying tax (often at the higher rate) & actuall contributing to society.

  6. Posted June 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    The thing I found most interesting about the link to “The Conversation” (and the points were all interesting) was the “fudging the figures” on deaths, and the pointlessness of actually applying for refugee status if they come from certain regions – so if you honestly fear for your life where you are, a leaky boat looks a safe option by comparison.

    As to the pitiful number of people in Indonesia actually doing the processing … they probably have more people expediting the expenses claims of MPs.

  7. Posted June 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Not an issue I have followed in detail but I have the reaction I suspect many people do–we had a policy that was working, the Rudd Government changed it to be more “compassionate” and now we have a deadly mess.

    I have followed public opinion patterns, and the Howard Government managed to run the least Eurocentric immigration policy in our history, at a relatively high rate, with the least public angst (as measured by opinion polls) about immigration since the early 1970s.

    The worst thing, it appears, one can do regarding public support for immigration is to give the impression that ordinary voters have no say. Illegal immigration means subverting what say ordinary voters have, since they only get a say through laws enacted by their elected representatives.

    We certainly do cherry-pick our migrants. It shows in our student results, for example. Which, on all sorts of grounds, starting with social harmony, seems a good idea.

    After all, easily the most serious social harmony problem from immigration was dropping a large number of Muslim Lebanese into Sydney in the late 1970s.; which has had all sorts of ongoing issues. (Christian Lebanese have proved to be no problem.)

    People who deliberately sail past lots of jurisdictions because they either are not signatories to the Refugee Convention or are otherwise congenial are cherry-picking their destination, after all. Does raise the issue of why their wishes count but lots of folk seem to think those of most Australian voters don’t.

  8. Posted June 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Lorenzo @10 “we had a policy that was working, the Rudd Government changed it to be more “compassionate” and now we have a deadly mess.”
    Surely the increased numbers merely reflect the world wide increase in the number of people seeking refuge?
    Another thing never mentioned is that our armies have contributed to the problem by assisting the USA to destabilise countries from which many refugees originate.

  9. Posted June 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Ybgirp #11
    Negative on that. The world wide increase of the numbers of people seeking refuge is has not increased in ratio with the number of people arriving in Australia. Not by a long shot.

    Our armies have contributed to the problem? That would only apply if the massive increase in numbers of arrivals were people actually from those countries to which our army has brought freedom from oppression.
    So, no, our army has not contributed, not by a long shot.

  10. kvd
    Posted June 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] forgiving your terrible pun about “not by a long shot” I agree with your comment. And I’d take it further to say that Y’s “our armies” misdirects the responsibility: “our policies” might be more accurate.

    Anyway, I like that DEM’s last word in the graphic is “people” – or rather “PEOPLE”.

  11. Posted June 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] From the UNHCR:

    More than 5.7 million refugees — 4.6 million of them with UNHCR assistance — have returned to Afghanistan since 2002, increasing the population of the country by some 25 per cent.

    So, NATO intervention in Afghanistan has led to a massive net drop in the number of Afghan refugees.

    So, your claim is the opposite of the truth.

  12. Posted June 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    So, your claim is the opposite of the truth.

    No Lorenzo, just incorrect.

    One of the large issues *I* have with the current crop of “boat people” is that they overwhelmingly appear to be able-bodied single men in their late 20s early 30s from overwhelmingly Muslim countries. This may not be correct – I wouldn’t know where to look for that information – but if it is, then it does seem to indicate large numbers of men from cultures with strong pressure to marry at a relatively young age who appear to have paid large amounts of money or incurred large debts to people traffickers in order to improve their own personal circumstances whilst abandoning their wife and children.

    I remember reading a newspaper interview with a Libyan businessman about how concerned he was for his wife and children caught in the war back home… given from his comfortable home in the Dubai suburbs.

    Left a rather nasty taste in the mouth.

  13. Posted June 29, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Permalink


    I don’t know about the gent in Dubai you refer to (which seems to be about a different situation) but I think it is tolerably clear that lots of men make perilous journeys as refugees with the hope of being able to get their family to follow them by a safer journey later.

  14. Posted June 30, 2012 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    And their families do what in the mean time, Marcellous?

  15. Posted June 30, 2012 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Probably it depends where they are and what the situation is, DEM. Wait. Manage as best they can. Get looked after by relatives, if lucky (remember, not all families are merely nuclear). Huddle in a camp, if they are so [!]lucky. Hope that daddy will soon be able to summon them to the new land, or at least send money back to them, etc etc. Maybe there are some deadbeat refugee dads out there, but my original comment comes from plenty of examples I have read over the years of separated families, reunited families etc.

  16. JC
    Posted June 30, 2012 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    We certainly do cherry-pick our migrants. It shows in our student results, for example. Which, on all sorts of grounds, starting with social harmony, seems a good idea.

    Yes we do. A the young son of my mother’s relatives moved here and applied for permanent residence.

    I saw an example of the English proficiency test that people have to sit for in order to gain permanent residence. It’s really an IQ test with various sections being problem solving and critical thinking.

    You need to score above a certain level and it’s actually quite high.

  17. Posted June 30, 2012 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    On the social harmony thing, the average rates of imprisonment (per 100,000) for crimes is:

    Australia 167
    Turkey 171
    Cambodia 172
    Local-born 193
    Iraq 227
    Fiji 229
    Lebanon 254
    Romania 325
    Vietnam 378
    Sudan 448
    Tonga 531
    Samoa 586
    Indonesia 653
    Nigeria 1079

    So, migrants mostly lower the overall crime rate (going by imprisonment rates). But being Muslim, Pacific Islander or a source of lots of boat people, not so much.

  18. kvd
    Posted June 30, 2012 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    [email protected] I just love stats like this! Quoting a rate per 100,000 for various nationalities, when the total prison population is 29,000

    And those nasty Nigerians, with a ‘rate’ of 1079 per 100,000 – dreadful! Which turns out to be the grand sum of 40 persons.

  19. Posted June 30, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    [email protected] The Nigerians were mostly drug offences (which raises a whole other issue), but there is still the issue of selection processes, if you have a high rate of incarceration for a small group.

    [email protected] Public policy is about playing the odds, and the odds with some groups are better than others. Also, European experience has not been good with second-generation Muslim males. Admittedly, there are institutional reasons much more applicable to Europe than here why that is so, but it is something to watch.

  20. Posted June 30, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I’m not an immediate fan of the “LE principle” @22

    I’d wager that neither would LE be a fan of her own principle, not if she was one of those on the receiving end of a machete being wielded by some violent type who is dealing with his latent violence issues.

    If some male refugee has had a rough time in whichever failed state he’s escaped from, I am not prepared to allow him to have a “different attitude to violence” from the Australian mainstream.

    Australian citizens have an expectation that they will be protected from mindless violence. It is unacceptable for the government to import people who are apt to start wielding machetes, & turning parts of our cities into “no go” areas.

    But such people have to be “recognised & managed” that is for sure.


  21. Posted June 30, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] The incarceration rates rather suggest that the institutions of law and order in Australia are also

    not prepared to allow him to have a “different attitude to violence” from the Australian mainstream

    At least, not as expressed in their behaviour.

    While I concede the death penalty has a deterrent effect, I have come to be not a fan because of all its associated problems.

  22. Posted June 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Lorenzo @26 –
    The reasonable expectation I expressed was for Australian citizens to be free of savage violence – not to be subject to it & then see their attacker do a stretch in Ozzi pokey.

    It is unacceptable for imported failed state wrath to be unleashed on the Australian population.

    This latent rage (or whatever) can be dealt with by the individual, as the females don’t seem to work out their issues by brandishing a machete to cause mayhem on commuter station platforms.

    Thus my sympathy for the males is nil. If one is shot dead whilst attacking an Australian who was otherwise quietly enjoying their life, then good riddance, & utter shame on whoever approved that criminal’s entry into Australia.

  23. Posted June 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]

    I couldn’t find where you got that Tonga figure from (I searched the PDF version and also checked the most obvious Excel file).

    As for “a source of lots of boat people” the argument seems to be circular: Indonesian figure (437 in absolute numbers) must include all the crew of the “people smuggling” boats. According to Michael Duffy in the SMH earlier this year:

    “as of last September, almost 200 had been convicted and another 251 were due before the courts.”

    Some of the 200 will have served their terms and some of the 251 might still be in immigration detention rather than prison, but crew must make up a large part of the 437.

  24. Posted June 30, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] The Tonga figure was a hangover. I had originally done 2010 figures, updated them and hadn’t noticed that, in the 2011 figures, Tongans dropped below the numbers the ABS reports separately.

    Indonesia is not a source of a lot of boat people. But yes, their high ranking seems to be directly due to being people smugglers.

  25. Posted June 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    This post is depressingly plausible.

  26. Patrick
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure what that Conversation piece added to anything.

    The simple obvious part is that the boat people has nothing to do with Australia’s refugee policy as such, as should have been blindingly obvious to anyone with half a brain after Howard managed to increase immigration from dark-skinned people by a massive amount whilst reducing immigration from boats, for about 10 years.

    The whole caring and moral responsibility bandwagons are just pathetic and an excuse for emoting instead of thinking. I could have slapped Sarah Hanson Young (and she would have cried then). I could have slapped Oakeshott and Windsor, too, but no news there.

    Whatever your views on immigration, and I for one am in favour of continuing to increase overall numbers including humanitarian numbers (of course I am, I loved Howard), we simply need to make it as clear as we actually can that boat people go to the back of the queue and will whenever possible be sent back.

    Ken Parish wonders if the offshore processing illusion (for it was largely that) would have been soon seen through by the smugglers but I suspect it is never going to be nearly as easy a sell as actual Australia.

    In any event it was idiocy to stop it and Labor’s subsequent contorsions on this have been just pathetic.

    Most of the wondering above (why doesn’t Europe have this problem?, why are we so hung up on boats? what’s wrong with us?) is largely rubbish, more emoting instead of thinking.

    Why don’t we have a Front National getting 1/5th of the national vote? Why aren’t we bankrupt? Why are we better at rugby and worse at soccer? Our facts are different, is all.

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