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So now we dump people on third world countries

Papua New Guinea. What is the definition of a third world country? A friend of mine, who has a different view to my view on the question of asylum seekers, pronounced today that third world, as a definition, is a cold war construct. Had anyone else said this, I would have simply suggested they get their arse on a plane and visit a third world country. This particular friend has travelled to less developed parts of the world, so I can only assume his political affiliation is blinding him to the realities.

English: Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Au...

English: Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our recycled “new and improved” Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has today announced a policy aimed at breaking the business model of the people smugglers.  Apart from my long-standing objection to calling people smuggling operations a “business model”, the plan is, quite frankly, fucked with a capital F.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a country where 70% of the women will be assaulted or raped in their lifetime. Please click on that link at look at the photo. Child prostitution is on the RISE. Witch-doctors and witchcraft are still prevalent. Amnesty has reported this year on violence against women.

The United Nations Human Development Indicator 2013 lists PNG at 156. That, to me, qualifies as third world.  Nigeria ranks 153 – higher than PNG. Yet I got told today Australia’s ADF is “stretched to breaking point”. Australia is ranked 2 in the UN HDI. Oh yes, we are at breaking point.

Our own Australian Smart Traveller site, as at tonight, recommends “Exercise a high degree of caution“. This may change by the time this article is published, so a screen shot is shown below. We already know the PNG health and education systems are less than we would consider appropriate.

Ethnic disputes continue to flare up around the country. Disputes can quickly escalate into violent clashes. Such clashes not only create danger within the immediate area but also promote a general atmosphere of lawlessness, with an associated increase in opportunistic crime.

Smart Traveller

Smart Traveller

Clearly we have a developing country which is struggling to manage the citizens, let alone take on vulnerable displaced refugees who must start life from scratch.

My first reaction to the announcement today was one of disbelief. Sending people to a country with inadequate systems and infrastructure so we, in our oh-so-privileged, supposedly christian, first world haven, are not (heaven forbid) inconvenienced by the great unwashed from other lands is stupidity. Quite simply, stupidity. I will grant it is stupidity of the highest order, so if we wish to excel at stupidity we are making an excellent effort.

There is a concept called the future. Life is not all about the present, not all about “right now”. Sending people to be “resettled” (read abandon) in a third world country has the very high probability of creating a long term problem. We will simply end up with more or recycled refugees.

Mr Rudd said there would be no cap on the number of people who can be transferred to PNG.

In exchange for PNG receiving asylum seekers, the Australian government made a number of commitments, including to help with the redevelopment of the major referral hospital in Lei and its long-term management needs.

”We’ve agreed to fund 50/50 the reform of the Papua New Guinea university sector,” Mr Rudd said.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/kevin-rudd-to-send-asylum-seekers-who-arrive-by-boat-to-papua-new-guinea-20130719-2q9fa.html#ixzz2ZTfv7rMv

Of course PNG want our financial input. What developing country wouldn’t? I could use a word common in other lands that starts with “B”, but I won’t.  Australia wouldn’t stoop that low – would it?

Julian Burnside published an excellent article yesterday. I wonder what he thinks of today’s developments: I haven’t had time to catch up with his thoughts, he may be deep in legal research at the moment.

In the midst of this seeming solution, neither the government nor the opposition has considered the legitimacy or humanity of their approach. Neither has given the public an accurate and honest explanation, meaning they’ve instead been grievously misled by false statements and gross sensationalism by opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison, and most recently by Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/youve-been-misled-on-boat-people-here-are-the-facts-20130718-2q5rv.html#ixzz2ZTh4g6oY

There is nothing that annoys me more than short-sighted stupidity, especially when it is from the supposed leaders of our nation. We are about to dump vulnerable, often traumatised, displaced people on a country not yet developed enough to provide adequately for the citizens, let alone an influx of refugees.

I have faith in my fellow Australians. So many will not accept this as a solution. Not from Rudd, not from Abbott, Carr, Morrison or any of the other “Christians”.  The Greens may see more of a resurgence than they expected.

Oh, you want alternative solutions?

STOP THE BOATS by me

and

I am pleading with the author for a link – but a combination of his ideas and mine would be workable. It was an article about rather than pay people smugglers, Australia just charge directly. The author had some sensible ideas, but I didn’t save the link!

I may well edit this article over the next 48 hours as more information comes to light. To the person who commented my articles “are often provocative”: I bloody well hope so!

Edit: July 20, 2013 Since I wrote this article yesterday, it has come to my attention that while PNG is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, PNG opted out of many of the provisions.

Refugee advocate and lawyer David Manne said Australia had repudiated its obligation to protect refugees and would leave asylum seekers in ”inhumane and degrading conditions”.

While PNG was a signatory to the refugee convention, it had opted out of commitments to provide refugees with freedom of movement, education, housing or employment.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/rudd-slams-door-on-refugees-20130719-2qa5b.html#ixzz2ZZJvPIQk

So, where does that leave asylum seekers actually accepted as refugees? No employment, no housing of education and no freedom of movement, whatever that means. The may not now be at risk of being bombed or shot in their homeland, now they will possibly starve. How are they to be fed? Clothed? Educated? It seems Christmas Island refugees will be exempt from the exemptions.

The expansion of asylum seeker processing in the country comes despite the significant caveats PNG has put on the refugees convention, but now insists these will not apply to people sent from Christmas Island.

Even so these reservations have drawn UN criticism, along with a section of the PNG migration act that allows the Foreign Minister “to determine a non-citizen to be a refugee” without any details on how such determination is made.

The UN concluded in its most recent periodic review, ”Currently, national legislation does not provide an adequate framework to deal with asylum-seekers and refugees in PNG.”

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/numbers-dont-lie-png-solution-flawed-20130719-2q8yr.html#ixzz2ZZL3atGV

The above article also quotes some figures:

The murder rate in PNG is 13-times that in Australia – and closer to strife-torn Sierra Leone, according to most recent World Health Organisation figures – and the government’s response has been retrograde threats to impose the death penalty.

Corruption is also rife. The respected monitoring group Transparency International ranking PNG a lowly 150 out of 176 countries surveyed.

So while I do understand PNG is a beautiful country, there is no escaping the fact it is still a developing country. As Christine Milne (leader of the Greens) has stated, it was ”absolutely immoral” for us to ”dump thousands of vulnerable people into an impoverished country”. She is right.

Edit July 22, 2013: An article in today’s The Age is worth reading.

University of Sydney professor of international law Ben Saul said it was hard to see how PNG could provide refugees with decent housing, education, healthcare and employment given the difficulties the locals had in securing such rights.

”PNG is one of the poorest countries in the world. It can’t provide basic rights for its own people, so do we really think PNG is going to prioritise making these rights for refugees over their own citizens?”

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/png-faces-breaking-point-20130721-2qcrd.html#ixzz2ZlnyIvFD

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50 comments on “So now we dump people on third world countries

  1. […] Island hasn’t worked out so well (not like a raft of people didn’t warn it was a disaster in the making) so now, we are thinking Cambodia might be a better option. Are we […]

  2. […] Australia’s new “no advantage” asylum seeker policies, we have sent an Iranian woman to Nauru. This woman is pregnant with […]

  3. I grew up in PNG, and go back as often as I can – and my response to the announcement was also jaw-dropping disbelief. A few pertinent points, from myself and from PNGn communities on Facebook:
    1. It’s idiotic to plan the “resettlement” of Muslim refugees in a country where pigs are an essential cultural component.
    2. My own extended family have expressed a deep hatred of Muslims (largely fuelled by exposure to US televangelists/FOX), and have stated that they would be killed on sight.
    3. PNGns feel offended, re-colonised, patronised; there is an immense amount of anger towards the government for allowing it.
    4. O’Neill’s decision may well be deemed to violate the Constitution on the grounds of national security – although it won’t happen before the Australian elections, expect a court case challenging the agreement’s legitimacy.

    These are but a few of the relevant points.

    • Given my family are Muslim, I am sorry to hear point 2, but am pleased you shared the reality.

      As for your other points, all I can do is say isn’t it just crazy?

      Thank you so much for sharing a PNG perspective. Please assure your extended family FOX is really not to be relied on for an accurate depiction of the vast majority of Muslims. :)

  4. […] Tony Abbott, probably seeking not to be outdone by Kevin Rudd’s “master political stroke” of the PNG “solution“, as effectively declared war on asylum seekers. We would have a three-star general […]

  5. Amazing developments in Australia since I left that country for good six months ago! I am surprised at your reaction though – with very little foresight you should have seen it coming.
    To all people so passionately suggesting their solutions with government operated free ferries from Indonesia to Australia. For once, get off your dream world and in touch with reality and try to see just one step ahead.
    Imagine that you are lets say one of tens of millions Iranian youngsters, facing economic hardships and strict rules of you government. Suddenly you learn about decision of new Australian government to ferry all asylum seekers from Indonesia to Australia, provide accommodation, education, all for free! All you have to do is to get air ticket to Jakarta, no need for visa, thanks to inter-government agreements, the rest will be taken care of by generous people of Australia. Just claim that you are gay, activist, hard rock fan, agnostic, feminist – any combination will do.
    You don’t have to be genius to understand ramifications of such “solutions”, you have to be utterly ignorant not to see it coming. It happens already right now, you “solution” will just exacerbate it. On positive side, people smugglers will gladly switch to legitimate airlines business, to cater for bursting by order of magnitude air traffic.
    So, how many are you willing to accept – hundreds of thousands, millions ? And what will you do to stop it when you had enough ?
    Similarly latest PNG solution, is inevitable result of shortsighted, stupid decisions made at dawn of Labor government.

    • I am not going to comment, Asef. Clearly you have now left Australia so presumably you did not like us very much.

    • Well, I am going to comment, in part because this post is obviously aimed at me, and in part because it is arrant nonsense from someone who is happy, it seems, to criticize me for coming up with three, count ‘em, three original and practical policy options off the top of my head, whilst… how many suggestions did you come up with again Asef? Oh, that’s right, none! Not an intellectual sausage from you!

      Mate, I am at least four or five steps ahead of you, as well as any and all of the current crop of amateurs and try-hards in Canberra. They, like you, lack the imagination to come up with a decent, practical and humane policy. Discussing this last night with my 18-year old daughter I jokingly mentioned that the only way for Tony Abbott to place himself to the right of Kevin Rudd on this issue would be to announce a ‘bomb the boats’ policy. As I said, it was a joke, but with the Abbott policy announcement I awoke to this morning it didn’t seem so funny any more. Clearly that IS where we are heading unless we put an end to this squalid auction now.

      On the positive side, a figure from a bygone era, an era when we had a civilized body politic, proper journalism, some kind of national conscience and leaders who could actually lead, rather than just slavishly following opinion polls and focus groups, spoke up today. Robyn may be amused to learn I am about to mention Malcolm Fraser, and throw my backing 100% behind his call for a Royal Commission. We need a proper discussion of this issue, and our politicians (and arguably much of our population) are clearly just not up to the task. It needs to be taken out of their hands. They lack the intestinal fortitude for it. Because there are times when a leader has to tell the public, “No. You are wrong about this, and here’s why.”

      Well I’m not afraid to say it. They, the Australian public, you Asef, Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd and every front-bencher in Canberra are all absolutely, utterly and completely wrong about this. There is no crisis. The numbers are insignificant. In Fraser’s day we had much higher numbers and we dealt with them without resort to cruelty and without pre-traumatising our next crop of new citizens. How did we do this? We let them in. They’re here. Their children and grandchildren are an integral part of our society and our economy. And we did all this quietly, without much debate and without anyone blowing the racist dogwhistle in the way popularised by John Howard.in 2001. Were we overwhelmed by a flood of refugees? Millions of them? No, we were not.

      That’s something I probably should have mentioned by the way – any policy, but particularly any good policy, would work better with a media blackout. Now (and this one really will surprise Robyn) Margaret Thatcher understood this. She understood that certain things should not be given what she described as ‘the oxygen of publicity.’ In her case it was terrorism. How do you deal with terrorism? Well you can take the Bush II route, and start invading other sovereign countries all over the place (which in that case would have meant invading the Republic of Ireland), multiplying your enemies as you go, or you can do what she did. She realised that terrorism does what it says on the box. It creates terror amongst the population, the point of which is to get them to force their government to change policy. So, thinking it through, by definition terrorism only works if people know about it. Now in any reasonably free society you can’t prevent reporting on, say, a bomb. What you can do however (and what she did do) is to forbid the media reporting on who planted the bomb, or why. They also were not allowed to report the thoughts or statements of any leaders of terrorist organisations, or even to mention their names. It was a highly effective strategy, and was I think instrumental in getting the IRA to the negotiating table. Because once you do that, terrorism simply doesn’t work any more. As I said, it does what it says on the box, but as with most boxes, it also says ‘batteries not included.’ It only works if you supply the batteries yourself.

      As for imagining I’m a young Iranian, that’s perhaps not too much of a stretch for me, as I have actually been there and met them. Have you? No, didn’t think so. Well, the first thing you need to know about Iran is that it has a repressive regime. Repressive, not ‘strict.’ That is exactly what the Refugee Convention was designed for. The convention that we not only signed, we wrote large chunks of. How many are we prepared to accept? That is simply not a legitimate question. The convention makes no provision for a signatory country to limit numbers. The limit is the criteria, that you must have a genuine, well-founded fear of persecution. The current policy is in flagrant breach of the convention. There is no provision for sending anyone to a third country, or for trying to prevent them from reaching our borders. It says that if they reach the borders of a signatory country, that country is obliged to process them, and, if found genuine, to resettle them. That’s what everyone else does.

      Other things you need to know about Iran is that it’s quite prosperous, with a well-educated and quite Westernised population. Sure, they have some economic problems. Who doesn’t? But it’s a far wealthier place than, say, Indonesia or Papua New Guinea. What you will not find there is much awareness of Australian domestic politics. They are NOT watching us. Australians have a delusional sense of their own importance and relevance to the rest of the world. Even in Scotland, where I grew up, and with which we share history and language, there is little awareness of the issues which seem so important to us here. They still expect kangaroos in the main street. That’s it. Kangaroos and koalas. That’s all anyone else knows about us. This is probably a good thing, as if European countries for instance, bigger, better-known refugee destination countries like Britain, France or Germany, who get vastly greater numbers of refugees than we do, knew how much we are whinging and whining about our comparatively small numbers, they might well start requiring us to stop complaining and start pulling our weight, as one of the richest and most sparsely-populated countries in the world.

      And, finally, you may not have been in Australia at the time, but the Howard era policies were scrapped because they were a total and utter train wreck. There’s a lot of revisionism these days about how well they worked. Actually, no, they didn’t. The appearance that they ‘stopped the boats’ was the result of a statistical trick and a coincidental decline in world refugee numbers at that time. What they DID do was to give us a batch of refugees, who we still had to accept because they were genuine, suffering from severe trauma. There were many, many cases of mental illness, self-harm, and suicide resulting from those policies. There were even cases of Australian citizens detained for months, even years, because they had a foreign accent and didn’t happen to have their passports on them. Plus the whole thing cost an absolute fortune. In the end it simply couldn’t be allowed to continue. Both the Howard and Fraser policies had the same end result, in that over 90% were resettled. But Fraser’s policy did so without all of the above negative consequences, so the only possible conclusion is that it was the Fraser policy, not the Howard one, that actually worked.

  6. After posting a particularly scathing comment about this policy on a discussion in the Guardian Australia article on the subject by Lenore Taylor, I received the following response:

    “BabelFish, you really have a responsibility to say something about what you think should be done about the 25,000 refugees arriving in a year by boat. Is this OK, should it be deterred in some way, should Australia put its efforts into making it more safe?”

    In the interests of continuing the dialogue Robyn has referred to, here is the answer I gave. It contains three alternate policy options which I believe would be far better than any of the options we have been presented with by the major parties.

    “Well, there are some serious questions in there, so I’ll answer them seriously. I’m not going to argue with Illuminosa’s numbers (7379 boat arrivals in 2011-2012), they sound about right and it looks like he or she has looked them up, but I think I know where you got the 25,000. That represents our historic high, but it wasn’t recently, in fact those levels occurred back in the days of the Fraser govt. (or the Mal-administration, as ‘The Little Book of Mal’ had it).

    Now, like Fraser, I am not particularly worried about the numbers. They are not particularly high given our population, indeed there are many European countries that would kill for a set of numbers like ours. The larger European countries are currently getting six figure annual numbers which, unlike us, they DO NOT SUBTRACT from their UNHCR-mandated quota. Which is just as well really, because if they did they’d be going to the UNHCR, saying things like, “Ok, this year we’ll be taking -150,000.”

    So, if it was just about the numbers, or the fact that people are arriving by boat, I’d say it was a fake issue, a beat up. What is harder to dismiss is the fact that the voyage can be dangerous, and people have died. What about them? And what about the people smugglers and their infamous ‘business model?’* Deterrence is neither possible nor desirable. It’s not possible because we’d have to make ourselves a more unpleasant place than, say, Afghanistan. It’s not desirable because we’d have to make ourselves a more unpleasant place than, say, Afghanistan (yes exactly, for the same reason).

    *(I have to just say here that people smugglers have had a bad press. Oscar Schindler was a people smuggler, remember? Recently I saw Les Murray, of SBS football fame, saying how grateful he was to the people smuggler who got him out of Hungary in 1956. Many modern people smugglers are just refugees helping out other refugees. These people don’t have a business model, and if a safer means of travel to Australia were available they’d breath a sigh of relief. But there are some, probably a minority, who are career criminals making obscene profits. These are the ones who have the business model, and the ones I’ll be referring to from here onwards.)

    Well, I’m going to offer three alternate policies (I almost said ‘solutions,’ but I don’t believe in magic), one courageous and two pragmatic. Any one of them would be far superior to anything the major parties have so far proposed. I’ll give the courageous one last, as it’s the most interesting, but there is precious little political courage in Canberra at the moment.

    1. Expert Panel (logical conclusion):

    It has become self-evident that our politicians are simply not to be trusted with this issue, so why not take it out of their hands? Convene another expert panel, only this time give them control over the entire process. Last time the govt. just cherry-picked the more populist and convenient suggestions, but didn’t do the hard yards of implementing what the panel actually proposed. And just to show I’m not being partisan about this, I nominate Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke. Maybe Ian MacPhee as well.

    2. Privatise it:

    Seriously. Put refugee transport and processing out to tender. Encourage Richard Branson to bid for the contract. Now there’s a guy who KNOWS how to destroy his competition’s business model. I’ve seen him do it time and time again over the years, with planes, trains, buses, credit cards, all sorts of things. The secret is predatory pricing. You go in with a war chest so you can loss-lead until your competition goes broke. He’s done it to countless competitors and there’s absolutely no reason he couldn’t do it again for us. And he’d add his usual colour and movement, it would be fun.

    3. The ‘Fairstar Solution’

    You get a boat, a big, safe boat, and you put a processing team on it and you sail it up the Indonesian archipelago, stopping off at ports where asylum seekers are likely to congregate. When it’s full you sail back to Australia. Genuine asylum seekers will arrive already processed and rested after a pleasant cruise. As with option two, you want to price the people smugglers out of the market, so you charge, I don’t know, ten quid? If you miss the boat it’ll be back in a few months. Waiting is still better than risking your life. This has several advantages for the courageous politician: It looks like a big dramatic gesture, it’s very visual and would present great photo-ops. But it would have to be done in conjunction with a major education campaign to inform the electorate of all of the above.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I am a bit pressed for time as I am curating @WeAreAustralia on Twitter this week. I will come back with more thoughts when I am not so stretched!

  7. When I first heard the news, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe Kevin Rudd would steep so low.
    Then anger took over. I had believed in Rudd’s humanity. How could he disappoint us so much for political gain! Then I tried to follow all this rationalising that was going on. Like sometimes you have to be cruel to achieve the best outcome, for it is for the common good!

    Did you say we have to think not only about today but about the future also? What is going to happen to us if we ignore totally desperate people for ever and ever? When comes the breaking point?

    Of course I had a lot of discussions with Peter about the new developments. Still, I tried to calm down a bit over the weekend. We didn’t talk politics when we saw our friend in Wollongong for one hour over coffee on Saturday. On Sunday I watched the ‘Insiders’ with Peter. But then we did get ready to meet the family for the birthday lunch. Blissfully political issues were not mentioned at all. I did not believe it was the right time for me to talk to anyone about it in this kind of setting.

    So now I start thinking again, trying to understand how could it come to this, that the gap between rich and poor people and between rich and poor countries widens more and more? Are any peaceful solutions still possible?

    I am an old 78 year old woman with no qualifications. I find your posts very, very interesting, dear Robyn. I feel privileged that I can access all this information, and I am very grateful that you go to the trouble of publishing so much. But I must admit it takes for me a bit more time before I can access all the bits of information that you provide. Still, I am very glad that it is there to peruse. Thank you very much, Robyn.

    Your grateful friend, Uta.

    • Why are we opposed to refugees coming by boat? This is what Gerard Oosterman asks in his post which I just answered as follows: ” Is it because we feel our way of life being threatened?
      Do we not spend billions to ‘protect’ our borders? What if this money or at least part of it could be spent to provide some simple housing for asylum seekers. What if we let these people work to build houses, infrastructure and to produce nourishing food, as well as build schools and do training of teachers for children as well as adults to learn English? Does anyone think these people are not capable of doing a day’s work? Why let them rot in camps without being able to work? It doesn’t make sense to me.
      There are many jobs in Australia that are nearly exclusively done by recent migrants from Asia and Africa. They are willingly and gladly doing these jobs for little pay which other Australians are not willing to do anymore!
      How much do people pay these so called people smugglers? Why don’t we go to Indonesia and tell these people instead of giving this money to people smugglers they can deposit it with an Australian Bank. Then they only have to apply for residence in Australia and in due time the Australian government is going to transport them to this country of their choice at no cost to them? If the application is not successful for some reason (maybe because they cannot provide sufficient papers?) then they can withdraw their saved money at any time. At least then the people smugglers would not get the money and these people would not risk being drowned at sea or their application not being successful after a hazardous journey. When Peter and I applied for migration to Australia from Germany in 1959 we were asked to come for an interview to the Australian embassy in Cologne. We had to bring our two babies along too for health checks by a doctor and then we talked to an Australian officer who told us a bit about Australian conditions
      Why cannot the same thing be done with prospective migrants in Indonesia?”

      I copied my comment here for you, dear Robyn, in the hope you’d like to read it. Uta.

      • Thank you for sharing your comment Uta.

        You make a lot of very valid points. I am sure there is a more beneficial solution than this crazy scheme they have come up with.

    • Uta, I am so glad you found the information provided helpful to you in deciding how you feel about the issues.

      Some of my friends think the concept is OK – but I am far from being convinced although I know people like Archie and Brooksy have hearts in the right places – like many people they are desperate for a solution that will work. I don’t suddenly turn from them simply because they are hopeful, which I hear some others have done. I think we need to continue the dialogue and then hopefully we might reach a reasonable solution that respects humanity.

  8. […] approvals people have been voicing, here is a summary of my reaction to these objections. Thank you Robyn, Victoria and “Happy Feet Noely” for helping me thing things through, from both sides […]

  9. Thank you for writing this, it’s important and good to hear compassionate voices who do not agree with this new ‘solution’.

  10. Dumping refugees on PNG? What’s next, just dumping them into the ocean?

    • This is supposedly the preventative measure. To prevent more drowning at sea.

      • Yeah, they can die somewhere else where we don’t have to soil our hands to rescue them. They don’t care about drowning refugees. 20,000 kids a day starve to death and all we do is cut foreign aid.

      • I really am at a loss to determine how we solve the global and ever-worsening problem. Such a dramatic increase in displaced people in such a few short years.

  11. Ugh, it sets my teeth on edge whenever I hear of a 3rd world country being used as a dumping ground!

  12. Alright, here’s what has happened: The race to the bottom is over. We have officially arrived, and with a last minute lunge for the tape, Kevin Rudd got there first. It has, to all of our eternal shame, probably won him the election. So Kevin, enjoy it while you can. There is no honour in it, and after the election I’ll be coming after you. And I am so much worse than Tony Abbott, you can’t imagine.

    • You realise you are now under surveillance? We are being subversive – you from the left and me from the right. Should we wave to the FBI, do you think? How solid is our democracy, really?

      I have to say I KNOW you are REALLY pissed off as this is the second shortest comment you have ever made on this site – and the shortest was the one earlier on this article when you were too stunned at the decisions of the day to say anything much at all.

      • You are, as usual, very perceptive. I am incensed. I am not surprised though. Tony Abbott, on the other hand, looked gobsmacked. He has been comprehensively outmaneuvered by someone far more wily and devious than he. Kevin, unlike Tony (or Julia) has read his Machiavelli. But so have I, and I am determined. This will not stand, not in my name, not now, not ever. Kevin, you really need to stop making me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

        If I have to personally ensure that this gets noticed in places like Europe, that they turn their attention to how we are wriggling out of our responsibilities and breaching our treaty obligations, while they accept, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of irregular arrivals, without decreasing their UNHCR-mandated quotas and without whinging about it, then so be it! I suspect they will have little patience with our antics.

      • Oh, and I don’t feel I’m doing my job right unless I’m attracting the attention of the security services. Welcome to the ranks of the dissidents. ;-)

  13. Not to question the validity of your opinion overall as I agree with it but to define a nation as third world based on traditional practices such as witchcraft is a little simple. Witch-doctors are traditionally healers and herbalists and while ‘primitive’, they are integral part of Papua New Guinean culture and shouldn’t be given a negative connotation, despite the Kakua’s association with cannibalism, which I think is overemphasised in the media.

    • Marnie, I don’t believe I classified PNG as third world based only on witchcraft. As an atheist, I don’t see any difference between witchcraft and mainstream religions such as Christianity, Islam or Judaism, other than in the practice. The mainstream religions tend to do a little less beheading these days, although that was not always the case.

      As you are new to this site, you may not recognise the import of my reference to Nigeria. My family are from there and witchcraft and witch-doctors are still very much a part of the culture, even among those who also believe in mainstream religions.

      The fact that people are still being beheaded for believing or disbelieving in witchcraft does certainly, in my view, support the third world status when taken in consideration with the HDI and Amnesty evaluations.

      I do understand the role of traditional healers. This is still a major factor in, for example, the fight against AIDS/HIV in countries like Mozambique where the NGOs involve the traditional healers in the process. Understanding the role does not mean I condone many of the beliefs or the behaviours or see them as appropriate or humanist.

  14. Great and true words Robyn. What a Demoralising sad day. This day is not about Humanity and nothing at all good, it is a day to prove who can be the meanest and full of selfishness they can be. It is all about winning the election. Not about what Labor or who use to stand for the people all that has gone to the wind. It is all about two men who both have dreams of being the big guy of the land called Australia and both will try by any means they can. To hell with anyone else in the way.
    And yes PNG do have so many problems. They will also use any excuse they can think of to get there own power over others, which is mainly rape women and children to make them feel like powerful MEN.

  15. I can see your points and while valid, I feel your conclusions are wrong. Just! As my conclusions ( A Post of Writing Dangerously About Refugees wp.me/p1gCe-7ru ) are correct – Just.

    The interesting thing about all this is that you, from the right are opposed to this solution while I, from the Left, am in favour of it.

  16. A people smuggler, who is known to police, said the conditions on Nauru and Manus Island were not a deterrent for asylum seekers.

    “Because those people can at least live there, right? They will live there for 10 years, for 20 years, but they will live. They won’t be killed, they won’t get bombed. At least they will survive, right?” he said.

    Domestic policies of the Australian Government cannot compete with the threat of death in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, the main driving force creating demand for people smuggling, he added.

    The people smuggler says his links stretch back through a network that spans Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Dubai, Malaysia and Indonesia. He also said, making refugee status harder to attain would not deter asylum seekers.

    But he did say arresting all the people smugglers might work, but since they bribe local Indonesian authorities they would not get arrested.
    If Governments could shut down the borders to Malaysia and Indonesia, he said, that may block the passage to Australia.

    I offer this as a background, that should resonate with all Australian families. If we walked in their shoes for just five minutes.

    Do not be fearful of them; they could be us in 50 years or less.

    I suggest the government get off its fat arse and set up processing in the refugee camps, along side the deliberately poorly funded UHNCR, clear the backlog with 457 visas ( most have been declared refugees by the twenty or so UNHCR officers who cover the entire middle and far east region), and fly any fresh arrivals back to Malaya on one-way visas.

    The Howard Government sent one-way 28 day travel visas to Syria, according to the Edmund Rice Centre. I wonder where they are today?
    That would be a message to tell refugees to stay off the boats..

    • Thank you John.

      As for the 50 years – you mean like this? http://teamoyeniyi.com/2013/06/09/what-goes-around-comes-around/

      Thank you so much for your contribution, John.

    • Thing is there are no people smugglers except in the minds of our rancid media and politicians. When a protocol specifically protects refugees from punishment because of who they pay, we don’t get to use it as a tool to punish people.

      And guess who forced this through parliament in 2004 as a further protection for refugees?

      Kevin fucking Rudd.

      UNHCR Summary Position on the Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime
      1.      UNHCR has followed with interest the recent adoption of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, including the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (“Protocol against Smuggling”) and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (“Protocol against Trafficking”). The Office is pleased to be present at the High-Level Political Signing Conference held in Palermo, Sicily, from 12 to 15 December 2000.
      2.      UNHCR shares the concerns raised by many States that criminal and organized smuggling of migrants, on a large scale, may lead to the misuse of national asylum or immigration procedures. However, given an increasing number of obstacles to access safety, asylum-seekers are often compelled to resort to smugglers. UNHCR is also aware of cases of trafficked persons, particularly women and children, who may, under exceptional circumstances, be in need of international protection. The Office therefore participated in the preparatory work of the Ad Hoc Committee in Vienna, supporting its efforts  to elaborate international instruments which would enable governments to combat smuggling and trafficking of persons, whilst upholding their international protection responsibilities towards refugees.
      3.      The Protocol against Smuggling, for instance, contains a number of provisions which may impact on smuggled asylum-seekers. The authorization to intercept vessels on the high seas, the obligation to strengthen border controls and to adopt sanctions for commercial carriers, or the commitment to accept the return of smuggled migrants may indeed affect those who seek international protection. A number of comparable provisions of the Protocol against Trafficking may have a similar effect.
      4.      During the sessions of the Ad-Hoc Committee, UNHCR therefore emphasized the need to reconcile measures to combat the smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of persons with existing obligations under international refugee law. The Office welcomes the adoption of a saving clause in both Protocols, designed to safeguard the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, in particular in relation to the principle of non-refoulement.
      5.      In addition, UNHCR appreciates the adoption of provisions for the protection of smuggled migrants, such as the obligation of States Parties to take appropriate measures to afford smuggled migrants protection against violence and to take into account the special needs of women and children. The Protocol against Smuggling is also clear in that it does not aim at punishing persons for the mere fact of having been smuggled or at penalizing organizations which assist such persons for purely humanitarian reasons. Indonesian fishermen do not deserve to be charged or jailed.
      6.      In conclusion, UNHCR hopes that States Parties will respect the international legal framework set out by both Protocols through the adoption of  similar safeguards in all bilateral or regional agreements or operational arrangements implementing or enhancing the provisions of these Protocols.
      11 December 2000

      • Thank you Marilyn for such a terrific contribution! I will let your comment stand with just a thank you as you are much more conversant with the details than I will ever be!

  17. I agree with you Robyn. PNG can hardly handle it’s own people, what about the poor refugees?. I think they should be able to work in Australia and then be granted a visa on their own merit and value to the Australian society, after learning English and training of course!
    A lot of countries take on refugees and a lot more than Australia does…

  18. I cannot find the words to even begin to talk about how much this hurts my heart. My father lived in PNG several years ago… My story is not a good one. He was emergency air lifted out of the country. He was beaten as he tried to protect a young girl from a gang rape. The gang turn upon my father. (the story is much longer, but they are the brief details) As a family we have seen first hand how ill suited PNG is for the role that has been thrust on them. Not only that the anger I feel at the Australian political system for even suggesting this is a solution for refugees.

  19. I have to admire your ability to get these pieces out quickly Robyn, excellent effort. I’m still spitting chips. My daughter came home a little while ago, hadn’t seen the news, asked what was going on. All I could do was point at the television and swear. I will have more to say!

  20. I didn’t mean provoking in a good way. Polarising would be better.

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