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Public Forum: What’s Wrong with Abbott’s Refugee Policy?

By RAC - 14 October 2013 138

Event starts 6:30pm. Free refreshments from 6pm. Speakers including Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. All welcome.

Location: Haydon-Allen Lecture Theatre (The Tank), Australian National University.

A ‘three-star’ general appointed to use military force to stop asylum seekers. A ‘blackout’ on reporting the numbers of refugees arriving by boat. Sending vulnerable men, women and children seeking our assistance to remote detention camps in neighbouring third world countries. Stripping funds for legal assistance for asylum seekers. Eliminating any right to appeal refugee status in the courts. Forcing anyone found to be a refugee entitled to protection to reapply for a Temporary Protection Visa every 3 years, so they live forever in fear of being deported. What’s wrong with this picture? What can we do to change it?

What’s Your opinion?


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138 Responses to
Public Forum: What’s Wrong with Abbott’s Refugee Policy?
towerofsoup 3:53 pm 14 Oct 13

To be honest, I actually agree with parts of Labor’s plan – not settling people who come by boat in Australia, but only as a deterrent to getting on an unsafe and dangerous boat and risking death to come over here. In concert with some sort of discouragement method, I also think that we need to increase our intake of refugees. So many people are languishing in camps which are not equipped to house such numbers.

We have an aging population, why not shore (hehe, puns) up the tax payers and bring in refugees, allow them to work, pay tax and have access to the benefits and protections we all enjoy, and in return they are supporting an aging population. Scrap the TPV and allow refugees and asylum seekers some security by allowing them to become Australians.

Both parties seem to have forgotten that what they are dealing with is people – desperate, unfortunate people. As has the Australian public. Perhaps I’m just being overly simplistic, but I see a people who are so blinkered by xenophobia that they have lost all compassion.

Robertson 3:35 pm 14 Oct 13

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

What is wrong with an asylum seeker having to re-apply for visa every three years? Just because they are fleeing some sort of oppression or danger now, doesn’t mean that danger will exist forever more! They need to re-assess their homeland once in a while and go back when it is safe. Just because they land on our shores, doesn’t automatically qualify them to become part of our nation.
Your argument is simplistic, generic and sensationalist.
As much as I don’t agree on the blackout policy, it is the military’s right to keep secret military actions to themselves. I mean, if they advertised what and where they were operating, the people smugglers only have to tune into the news to find a way to get through.

The blackout might work back in a world without mobile phones. In 2013, it is just ludicrous.

There is no blackout.

You have to question people who are rushing to declare a month-old government’s policy a failure based on what appears to be made-up information. All the more so when you consider they are cheer-leaders for the political parties that have spent the last 6 years pursuing a policy that resulted in the drowning of 4,500 thousand people.

Queen_of_the_Bun 2:30 pm 14 Oct 13

wildturkeycanoe said :

What is wrong with an asylum seeker having to re-apply for visa every three years? Just because they are fleeing some sort of oppression or danger now, doesn’t mean that danger will exist forever more! They need to re-assess their homeland once in a while and go back when it is safe. Just because they land on our shores, doesn’t automatically qualify them to become part of our nation.
Your argument is simplistic, generic and sensationalist.
As much as I don’t agree on the blackout policy, it is the military’s right to keep secret military actions to themselves. I mean, if they advertised what and where they were operating, the people smugglers only have to tune into the news to find a way to get through.

The blackout might work back in a world without mobile phones. In 2013, it is just ludicrous.

astrojax 2:22 pm 14 Oct 13

wildturkeycanoe said :

What is wrong with an asylum seeker having to re-apply for visa every three years? Just because they are fleeing some sort of oppression or danger now, doesn’t mean that danger will exist forever more! They need to re-assess their homeland once in a while and go back when it is safe. Just because they land on our shores, doesn’t automatically qualify them to become part of our nation.
Your argument is simplistic, generic and sensationalist.
As much as I don’t agree on the blackout policy, it is the military’s right to keep secret military actions to themselves. I mean, if they advertised what and where they were operating, the people smugglers only have to tune into the news to find a way to get through.

so much here at which to take umbrage.

certainty is a core human need – uncertainty creates stress, which is well documented to create many issues, particularly health issues, which is expensive to address; much cheaper to mitigate the risk in the first place with some certainty. and how long is long enough? a month, a year, a decade? how long do we expect people to set about establishing a new life in our community before we decide against sending them ‘home’ when we deem it safe enough to return (as opposed to stable enough to allow a settled life to be resestablished…)?

and since when did the arrival of refugees, or persons claiming status as such, become a bona fide ‘military’ issue?? jesus h. christ with a stick… and do you really suspect the actual status of refugee claimants in australia is being realistically conveyed to people smugglers’ clients? or that they wouldn’t be able to discover some way to access information relevant to these movements of australian government officials if they wanted to? the smugglers are operating from indonesia to the north west of australia, heading here. it doesn’t take elite hacking into sensitive government material to work out where australian officials are ‘operating’…

is that the core element of how we should frame a humane response to the arrival of people, they are people, seeking asylum??

let’s have some genuine input into these conversations about the nett benefit such adaptive, driven people bring to our community in the long term. and while we’re at it, let’s have some humanity input into these conversations, instead of all this alarmist, ‘we’ll be rooned’ choraling from the dominant voices in this one sided debate…

thebrownstreak69 1:34 pm 14 Oct 13

watto23 said :

Just process them onshore, issue TPV’s then let genuine refugees stay and anyone who violates their TPV, send them home straight away.

I don’t think there is a good answer to the problem, but what you’ve described here is probably the least worst solution.

watto23 1:06 pm 14 Oct 13

Whats wrong with labor and liberal party policies…..

I think the TPV is part of a solution, but this paranoia that somehow boat people are also terrorists thus we have to keep them out is ridiculous. If anything, boat people are under more scrutiny than plane arrivals.

Its like the coalition voters saying the Pacific solution worked, when world refugee numbers also dropped during that time. Then Labor jumped on board because they realised it was a vote winner.

There is no moderate solution in Australian politics right now, the greens is also a bit too impractical IMO. Off shore processing is a waste of money too. Just process them onshore, issue TPV’s then let genuine refugees stay and anyone who violates their TPV, send them home straight away.

Or we can instead spend billions paying other countries to sort out refugees, rather than spending that money actually helping Nauru or PNG.

Queen_of_the_Bun 12:11 pm 14 Oct 13

This is such a troubled area.

My heart agrees with the Greens’ policy of “just let them all come”. But my head says, we can’t do that.

It worked after WW2 because people couldn’t fly to Indonesia and then get on a shitty old boat for an extremely dangerous voyage. In those days, people had to go through the process and were then put on a safe vessel with passports and valid travel papers.

In those days too, the people smugglers were Oskar Schindlers who risked their own lives and safety in their own countries to get people to safety in other countries for no financial reward.

Today, people smugglers are highly organised villains who lie to their unfortunate cargo about the type of boat they’ll be in, the conditions they can expect when they arrive, and either take their identity documents off them or encourage them to destroy them. They then send them off on a fishing boat designed for about one-tenth of the people on board, with a crew of similarly duped Indonesian teenagers, and the phone numbers for AMSA, Customs, and 000.

The asylum seekers deserve help and compassion. And the two recent sinkings in the Meditterranean show that this is not just Australia’s problem. But we have to find a way to deter people from coming on boats.

It’s too dangerous for them. And from someone who has worked across a few different areas of government, not only can Australia not afford to tie up all our Customs and Naval personnel in search and rescues, we also need to do a better job of housing the homeless, treating the mentally ill, and training the unemployed workforce we already have here without adding 100,000 more vulnerable, traumatised, often illiterate people each year.

I have always been a Leftie. But working in these areas has hardened me up. I’ve been on Manus Island with little kids grabbing my hand and saying “why us?”. I couldn’t answer their question. Because it wouldn’t be right to say, “why not you and why not those poor kids who were born in refugee camps in Kenya and are now turning 25 without any hope?”

wildturkeycanoe 12:01 pm 14 Oct 13

What is wrong with an asylum seeker having to re-apply for visa every three years? Just because they are fleeing some sort of oppression or danger now, doesn’t mean that danger will exist forever more! They need to re-assess their homeland once in a while and go back when it is safe. Just because they land on our shores, doesn’t automatically qualify them to become part of our nation.
Your argument is simplistic, generic and sensationalist.
As much as I don’t agree on the blackout policy, it is the military’s right to keep secret military actions to themselves. I mean, if they advertised what and where they were operating, the people smugglers only have to tune into the news to find a way to get through.

thebrownstreak69 11:36 am 14 Oct 13

We need more time to see what effects the policy change is having.

I think there are still significant improvements that could be made, and we should be focussing on working out how to change the system to help those that need it (who are currently being treated as criminals).

Spiral 11:29 am 14 Oct 13

DJ Mac said :

There is a blackout on the numbers coming in.

Is that true?

I was under the impression the figures were just being released each week instead of for each event. Has that changed again?

If not, then it isn’t a blackout of the figures and I would question the honesty of anyone claiming it to be so.

I have children in primary school and if they don’t attend, I get notified as soon as practical. I also have a child in college. I get a report once a week about any classes he misses. I doubt anyone would accuse the college of having a blackout relating to missed classes.

neanderthalsis 10:55 am 14 Oct 13

mossrocket said :

It works?
I guess that’s all that needs to be wrong with it for the Greens to take offence…

And it was largely based on the former Labor Government policies that the Greens were effectively in coalition with.

Roundhead89 10:37 am 14 Oct 13

“What can we do to change it?” Simple. Make it a lot tougher.

460cixy 10:32 am 14 Oct 13

And your grievance is what exactly?

DJ Mac 10:25 am 14 Oct 13

How do we know it is working? There is a blackout on the numbers coming in. Also there is evidence that the numbers coming were dropping off even before the election. So how do we know if the (supposed) drop off in numbers is related to the changes to the policy rather than the “push factors”? The policy has not been in place for very long at all so how can we actually say if the policy has made any real long term difference?

Without complete information we can’t actually make a judgement on the policy.

Personally I am concerned about the implications in terms of Australia’s obligations under international law in relation to the treatment of refugees, but I was concerned about Labor’s policies in relation to that too.

mossrocket 9:57 am 14 Oct 13

It works?
I guess that’s all that needs to be wrong with it for the Greens to take offence…

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