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19 responses to “Breaking the stalemate on asylum seekers and refugees: How?”

  1. jules

    If you search google for the phrase “stop the boats” between 1990 and the end of 2007 you get about 330 results, about 350 from the start of 2008 till april fools day the next year (2009) and from then till now there is 78 000 results.

    76, 000 from when Abbott got elected, and about 37, 000 or 43, 000 for a search of his name and the same phrase, depending on whether you use Tony in the search or not.

    Thats in less than 2 years.

    To break the stalemate on asylum seekers you have to shut that idiots chorus up first.

  2. Robert Merkel

    Mark, I think we’re stuck with the Malaysian solution for the time being. But there’s no reason why the government couldn’t simultaneously start talking about asylum-seekers in more sensible terms, so that at some point in the medium term future – if (as admittedly appears unlikely at this point) the government wins the 2013 election, perhaps – space is opened for a more rational approach.

  3. wizofaus
  4. Wozza

    Yes, well it depends on what you mean by “evidence-based policy”, and you don’t fill me with confidence by quoting pollsters asking a very leading question as if it means something (“The questions the Essential Research Poll recently asked about degree of concern regarding boat arrivals showed a full 10% less were “very concerned” about boat arrivals when presented with just one fact: that the number of arrivals this year is less than half that of last year.”)

    I wonder what the response would have been if the “one fact” had been posed differently. That asylum seeker arrival numbers by boat in 2010 were the highest in 20 years, on their own more than twice the total arrivals in the previous EIGHT years, perhaps. Or that the rate of influx of asylum seeker boats has not slowed since the Malaysian deal was signed. Both are equally “facts” – both equally arbitrarily chosen and arguably misleading too, of course; my point is that a leading question is just that.

    This is not a comment on the substance of the asylum seeker issue. It is a cynical view that “evidence-based policy” too often turns out to mean when examined “policy-based evidence”. Especially where the Australian left is concerned.

  5. Wantok

    I the absence of any constructive cooperation from Indonesia, where most embark for their brief but perilous voyage, the Malaysian solution seems to be the most viable as a possible deterrent to the people smuggling business and as a resettlement opportunity for 4000 refugees. I cannot believe that Scott Morrison still promotes the Nauru solution and I am disappointed that our media have not been prepared to go to Nauru and see just how bad things are there: power rationing; poor health & education facilities; water imported and rationed.

  6. John D

    If my vote was driven by a desire to stop the flow of refugees I would vote Abbott. Julia could go on with all the harsh rhetoric she liked but I would still back Abbott to be a nastier bastard.
    The point I am making here is that all Julia has achieved so far with her migration is to piss off a fair slab of her supporters without taking many votes from Abbott. Having your supporters pissed off is dangerous because it means there is no-one out there arguing her case.
    Labor has succeeded in the past because it has been an alliance of middle class progressives and hard core workers. My take at the moment is that Labor needs a mix of progressive policies in areas such as immigration and the environment to convince the progressives it is worth supporting and policies that improve the relative position of the workers.
    The Malaysia solution may actually stop the boats while making things better for a large number of refugees. However, if it fails, it might be smarter if plan B simply went for broke and simply got back to processing boat people in compliance with UN rules.

  7. PeterTB

    but I would still back Abbott to be a nastier bastard

    Whereas I would back him to stop the boats because the people smugglers and their prospective customers are far more likely to believe him than they are to believe anything that Gillard says. And for good reason.

  8. wbb

    Refugee policy can only be righted when bi-partisanship returns. Will take many years. While the Liberal’s are lead by someone like Abbott who is prepared to go all out pandering to fear and loathing no good policy prescriptions will gain any traction.

  9. paul walter

    Leaving aside the peculiar comment offered up by Peter TB, I return to news on tel tonight and the contrast between David Manne and Bowen. But legal narrowism will probably “out” in the end, regardless of any wider rights or wrongs.

  10. Steve at the Pub

    I’ll endorse Peter TB’s statement.

    i.e. Abbott = a fair dinkum action man A-hole. The people smugglers will take him seriously.

    Gillard must be laughing stock to the smugglers. She is yet to put one piece of talk into action.

    The way the Malaysian solution is currently looking, we won’t be sending anyone there, but will have 4,000 of our migrant intake chosen by what is arguably one of the most corrupt governments around.
    That it will pan out this way does not do much for my opinion of Gillard.

  11. Tom Davies

    Letting more people (refugees or not) into Australia would be one of the best ways to make the world richer: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2011/08/the_efficient_e.html

    That there’s a good reason for wanting to restrict immigration numbers seems to be taken for granted.

  12. wizofaus

    Tom, while I certainly agree that the world would be a much better place with open borders, I’m not sure it’s fair to say politicans take it for granted that we need to restrict immigration without questioning why. For a start, governments would have a to do a far better job of sustainable planning for future growth in order to enable our infrastructure, natural environment, housing affordability and social fabric to handle the potential influx of migrants Australia would get if the only barrier to entry were the ability to afford a plane ticket and a basic police check. But I certainly agree that the world as a whole would benefit, and Australia in particular, if we took in a lot more refugees/asylum seekers than we do currently.

  13. John D

    My American son had this interesting quote on the Tea Party:

    Just walked out of a session at the American Sociological Association Conference on the rise of the Tea Party in which one of the authors found little support for the ideas that the tea party were about tax burden, racial discrimination, or the Christian Right but rather the best predictors of a tea party group appearing in a given county were a) the degree of economic inequality (ie you could see how bad things could get); b) the forclosure rate per capital; and c) the bankruptcy rate (independent of (b)).

    I suspect similar things could be said here about Tony’s Tea Party. The supporters have a gut feel that things are going bad but haven’t got hard stats or an understanding of how the mining boom is stuffing up their lives. So they get conned into believing that what is wrong are things like boat people, the carbon tax and gay marriage.
    The mistake that both Obama and Gillard are making is that they are responding to what tea party supporters are saying instead of trying to deal with what is really hurting them.

  14. PeterTB

    to make the world richer

    Is that the objective?

    Then let the British recolonise.

  15. paul walter

    Yes, Peter TB, I’ll bite. ” There’ll always be a Britain”.
    Re-reading Mark, you real get pissed with both parties, one for gormlessness and the desire to put vested interests first, the other for using for all its worth, down to loss of life and substantial and egregious suffering for asylum seeker survivors, for a bit of mileage in tandem with the tabloid msm- at the cost of media and political credibility within the country.
    The issue itself has lost all touch with reality, a few thousand or more is a drop in the bucket, against our immigration intake. Watching the Enzedder Hazaras on Insight, I thought they’d actually make pretty fine Aussies but were moved on because of the hysteria. The problem is that both parties are neolib and unthinkingly committed to the paradigms that legitimise its discourses, market forces, struggle”red in tooth and claw”, the valorisation of the individual as a cult fetish,”small” (weak) government that does not intrude on the Murdochs, Kochs and GoldmanSachs of the world, who encourage the conflict to keep people’s minds off the looting going on meantime under the smoke and noise of emotive, confected trivia. This always involves village square metaphorical pilloryings involving demonised “others” and “undeserving”social lepers at home, of various kinds and it’s not limited to OZ, its pretty much global.
    How to change things?
    I don’t know.
    Perhaps, in time, we’ll grow out of it, as David Marr came close to suggesting today. But not before the feudalist “Iago” types have been identified and finally expunged from active politics and Labor finally puts society ahead of its mates.
    As for us we know that even in good times we have to leave bs detectors on in case themedia finds another way of ramming the Alan Jones bull shitter types and their lies down our throats.

  16. John D

    Well said Paul.