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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

gridlock « Previous | |Next »
August 13, 2012

The independent expert panel on asylum seekers will report today. It is headed by former Defence chief Angus Houston and has a refugee expert, Paris Aristotle, and Howard government diplomat and former foreign affairs chief, Michael L'Estrange. Presumably it's recommendations will be based on good research and these will support off shore processing in some form.

But in what form? Will it be able to find a way through or around the impasse or Mexican standoff between Malaysia or Nauru? Do both? Will we continue to have gridlock in Canberra on this issue after the report is made public and the Gillard Government responds?

RoweDImmigration.jpg
David Rowe

Will it propose the re-imposition of temporary protection visas? Hopefully not. Will it approach the asylum seeker issue from the perspective of border protection designed to deter and contain asylum seekers. Hopefully they will reject the Coalition's "turn boats back" as a slogan.

Or will its perspective be wider and its recommendations outline steps for a viable regional solution in the Asia Pacific?

What became clear over the parliamentary winter break was that clear over the winter break that neither the Opposition nor the Greens is likely to shift from their entrenched positions and that their boundary lines are set in concrete. Our way is the only way. So the Gillard Government is going to have to compromise due to the politics of fear, and that will mean a further shift to the right.

Australian could increase its annual refugee and humanitarian resettlement program and seriously consider a doubling of the current intake.

Update
The independent expert panel's report is public. It has recommended that Australia process asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru as part of a "comprehensive regional network".

The people swap deal with Malaysia should "be built on further" rather than discarded out of hand. If it was to work, protection measures and safety guarantees for the fate of asylum seekers sent from Australia to Malaysia were needed. The argument in favour of offshore processing was that onshore processing encourages people to jump on boats.

The panel has abandoned the language of deterrence in favour of a more nuanced incentives and disincentives approach and it accepts the evidence that people seek asylum in Australia because there are few, if any, feasible alternatives in transit countries. The journey is the only option weighed against the alternative of decades in legal and social limbo in transit countries.

The Gillard Government says that it will reintroduce its migration bill, with amendments, to the Parliament tomorrow. How is that going to resolve the gridlock? Since the Greens have rejected the offshore processing recommendations, the only other option is a compromise with the Coalition who up to now have refused to compromise on their deterrence approach.

Update 2
The Coalition, it appears, remains opposed to Malaysia as a platform for regional processing albeit with increased monitoring and protections. Regional processing in places like Malaysia has been red lighted by Morrison. They have little interest in Houston's long term strategy of devising a regional processing framework because it holds that Nauru (and Manus Island) alone is an answer.

The Coalition are cherry picking the package to suit their stopping the boats line whilst saying that the Gillard Government was responsible for the loss of life at sea and that they were too incompetent to reopen Nauru.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:49 AM | | Comments (35)
Comments

Comments

"their [Greens and Coaltion] boundary lines are set in concrete. Our way is the only way"

So is the politics of deterrence.The definite mandatory detention of all so-called “unauthorised” arrivals, was introduced in 1992. refugees and asylum seekers are dressed in the clothes of criminals, and national sovereignty has become the core focus in Australia's response to forced migration.

It's a global problem.The UN refugee agency released their 2009 annual figures into people forcibly displaced worldwide, showing an all time high of 43.3 million people uprooted by conflict and persecution since the mid-1990s.

re the politics of deterrence and border protection.

This portrays asylum seekers as enemies or “illegal immigrants” whose coming threatens Australia's national borders and national security. They must be stopped from coming because they are a threat.

Abbott and Morrison's position remains fixed and unalterable: the government is elected to govern, so it is the government's responsibility to find a solution. The pressure is on the Gillard government because the boats keep coming and the causalities increase.

The only position the Coalition will support is their own because it works. Of course, it will only work if they implement it because the Gillard Government is too incompetent .

The Coalition (Scott Morrison) responds with a "green light/red light" line in response to the independent expert panel's Report. The panel has green-lighted Nauru and they have red-lighted Malaysia in its current form. It's just a matter of picking up the phone to Nauru.

The Report's focus on a comprehensive regional network is ignored.

This government will most likely run out of time to see what ever system it installs work. It will most likely become the Coalition/Kattastrophe Party that will either maintain it,modify it or completely change it. So it is the stop gap solution or the solution that gets the media off their backs. Whatever, Labor has no legs now to blame the problem on the Coalition. Labor owns the problem till it ceases to be government and must wear it.

There are 2 problems.

Firstly, the issue of asylum seekers/boat people itself is trivial.
Essentially a non-issue, a non-problem.
We have a few thousand people who attempt to come to Australia to escape sub-human conditions and on whose behalf we are, or should [note the moral term] be committed ethically and by our existing global treaties, to process and look after with the maximum of efficiency and minimum of fuss. We are well able to do so.
In the global context and in the context of our immigration policy and population policy this issue is, to repeat, trivial.

But we have the second issue.
Unfortunately but deliberately so.
Where bigots and xenophobes have created such a fuss and noise over nothing that the so-called AS issue has been blown up out of all proportion to function as a distraction, a wedge, a dog whistle, so that the party of the xenophobes can ignore far more pressing matters of reality.
Its a classic example of distraction.
And could be solved by the simple process of telling Abbott et al and the media, particularly the media, to STFU and lets get onto more pressing matters.

Fred,
You make the same mistake you always do.
You think everybody should think like you do.
You disregard the fact that others feel strongly about it.

The Gillard Government will remove family reunion concessions for people who arrive by boat, as recommended by the Report.

Oh I know - some - others feel differently, I only have to listen to shock jocks or ABC RN or read a Murdoch paper or watch commercial TV to hear their incessant voices.
We are saturated with noise re asylum seekers.
But that does not turn a few thousand desperate and needy people worthy of our compassion and care into a major major crisis.
The crisis, so -called, has been confected for cynical political reasons.
And we are all the poorer because of it.

I totally agree with your comments, Fred. It seems that neither of the major parties can (or want) to put some perspective into the argument or try to defuse the toxic debate. I think there are several reasons for this.

Then again, unannounced boat arrivals CAN be an existential threat. The indigenous people around Sydney Cove in 1788 could attest to that. I suspect quite a few of our fellow citizens fear it could be karma coming to bite them.

BTW. I am in no way trying to compare a relative handful of powerless, scruffy asylum seekers to the might of the British Empire.

People dont want them here because they are muslims. Lots of people dont like muslims. People dont think they are needy because they pay big prices for boat rides here. People feel we are being conned. We have 1000's of homeless people in Australia and people would rather the resourses are used for them.


Thanks for the concise explanation, Les.

But I rekn we already know why some ppl "feel strongly" strongly about the topic. And why some politicians take those feelings into account.

However not everyone thinks like they do...

A key question about Labor's embrace of the Pacific Solution: how long can asylum seekers who are sent to Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island expect to stay there?

What happens to them once they have been granted asylum?

Neither PNG nor Nauru are transit nations, so their role in regulating the flow of asylum seekers to Australia within a comprehensive regional framework can only be interpreted as punitive.

A deterrent. Deterrence basically diverts people from Australia's doorstep to Manus Island and Nauru.Do they have adequate facilities to process refugee claims? What are the guarantees that they will be looked after properly? Will they end up in limbo.

Do Manus Island and Nauru met the requirements established by the High Court's ruling re Malaysia.

fred,
The ALP has surrendered. The ALP's objection to Howard's use of Nauru was that it would not work as a deterrent because many of those found to be refugees on the South Pacific island ended up in Australia anyway.

Her solution? Leave them there for as long as they would have languished in a Malaysian or Indonesian camp. The report says that refugees would be resettled, "not in advance of, but at the same time as would have been the case had those claims been processed through established regional mechanisms".

Those "mechanisms" aren't yet in place for the for the 80,000-plus asylum seekers in Malaysia, or the significant numbers in Thailand and Indonesia.

The High court had ruled that Australia has ''legal commitments'' to ensure endangered people were protected in Australia and not sent to ''situations where there are inadequate protections or safeguards''.

Dos Nauru and Manus Island have these adequate protections or safeguards?

"Leave them there for as long as they would have languished in a Malaysian or Indonesian camp. "

Greg Sheridan in The Australian says that:

These boatpeople are coming through Southeast Asia only to get to Australia. The only way to discourage them is to make it clear that if they come by boat without a visa they will never get permanent residency in Australia and never be allowed family reunion rights.....there must be a waiting time in Nauru and Manus Island of 10 years or more, to match the disincentive that people in camps already face.

Why do this? Because today's boatpeople do not have a clear refugee status.

Yes Labor has surrendered.

Could be that we are at the beginnings of the coalition running the country......funny

fred says---

the issue of asylum seekers/boat people itself is trivial.
Essentially a non-issue, a non-problem. We have a few thousand people who attempt to come to Australia to escape sub-human conditions...In the global context and in the context of our immigration policy and population policy this issue is, to repeat, trivial.

It’s not numbers that are crucial in popular thinking about this issue – it’s the symbolism of people trying to sneak in and so violating the sense of national sovereignty. Asylum seekers should come through the appropriate channels rather than queue jumping.

The hostility comes from the 'sneaking in and queue jumping, which is over and above the racial prejudice towards Muslims and the antipathy towards Islam.

Ah yes.... the magical queue....

Annon,
Yes exactly. And without a solution we are only at the beginning of the numbers.

Greg Sheridan just wants to lock the "asylum seekers" up in Nauru with bread and water with their outside contacts, being the guards that kept them in line.

Nauru is a prison--akin to a concentration camp. They need to be punished because they are not really asylum seekers--just illegals.

Greg Sheridan just wants to lock the "asylum seekers" up in Nauru with bread and water with their outside contacts, being the guards that kept them in line.

Nauru is a prison--akin to a concentration camp. They need to be punished because they are not really asylum seekers--just illegals.

Just caught a brief few moments of the repeat of last night's ( I think) QA.
Prof. Peter Singer was in the process of suggesting that people movements were an international problem (rather than Australia's exclusive responsibility?), requiring of an international approach (to get the US to stop its interventions, that drive asylum seeker movements that the rest of us apparently have to clean up after they've been created by the hegemon?).
Next to him, Pru Goward had the next hit, immediately piping up with the "queue jumper myth".
It was at this stage that I switched off, no sign of compromise from the opposition, whatsoever: for silver spoon Goward I could feel nothing but contempt.
So, am left with a couple of points I need help with.
Firstly it is obvious that Goward and the Hansonists do not recognise the specific difficulties faced by refugees fleeing from war zones, some created by our own processes, instigated as part of the faux security phobia.
As GST says, should a clear process not be developed and implemented immediately, the situation involving 80,000 suffering people will be allowed to stagnate, which I take it is behind the thinking of the Greens, who want onshore processing to avoid more backsliding.
Yet as annon said, in putting the unpopular case, things as to arrivals then seem to become open ended and the problem permanent also and the big political parties realise the wider public wont accept this, regardless of whether this is humane or not.
So, therefore, why is Labor alone again singled out for blame, but not an obstructionist, reactionary opposition.
The coalition, in the absence of serious domestic issues to its tastes, are looking for oxygen for a rabid populist election issue for a campaign that would lead to an Abbott government doing (almost)all Australians infinitely more harm than Labor could do.
So, why can't people see the issue in the context of political jockeying as to the next election, rather than just blaming Labor?
It is the opposition that are intransigent on this, far more than the ALP government, surely?

"...why is Labor alone again singled out for blame...?"

Because, as legend has it, the Howard government had turned back the unwashed brown hoard and saved the mortgage belt from disaster. Since Gillard came to power our quiet suburbs are again under threat from a FLOOD of boat people!!! WE'RE DOOMED I TELLS YA!!!

"So, therefore, why is Labor alone again singled out for blame, but not an obstructionist, reactionary opposition."
The politics of asylum seekers hurt the ALP and favour the Coalition.

Why? One possible reason is that there is a deep sense of insecurity in the Australian electorate because of the depression in parts of the global economy, and the Coalition has been able to tap this insecurity better than the ALP. They have able to twist it, or shape it into an an issue about defending our national borders. Sovereignty is about national security.

Gary... our attitude toward the current crop of asylum seekers predates the GFC. The hysteria goes back at least as far as the poison dwarf's Tampa stunt. Hey... and did you KNOW that the sick bastards were throwing their babies in the water just to get their way! How disgusting is that!

Gary,
Probably because they are the government.
The only good thing in this is that you lot are just key board tappers and not actually in charge of anything.

The Coalition is sticking to its precooked message --no to Malaysia even though it was a core part of the Houston Report. With suitable safeguards this is designed to give hope to those in regional camps and reduce waiting times across the board.

They are opposed to a comprehensive regional agreement on managing refugees - as the long-term solution--because that means more refugees coming to Australia. The Coalition is so opposed to asylum seekers coming to Australia that they are opposed to an increase in the humanitarian refugee intake.

Since the expert panell did not wholesale share the Coalitions' pre-existing views, then it was therefore obviously wrong.

paul walter+mars08,

good point mars08. I'll have another go. If Gillard succeeds in getting the boat people issue off the agenda, then that leaves the Coalition without a powerful weapon to attack and undermine the government.

Hence the current Coalition attack on Gillard with its dog whistle that she is to blame for all the deaths at sea.

Les,
it seems that you are opposed to a long term regional solution that was proposed by the expert panel. The proper response is the iron fist to protect our national security.

None of the Australian governments have offered very little to the countries in the Asian region to “bring them to the table” and see shared benefit in a negotiated asylum and processing agreement.

The Coalition is not interested at all in alleviating the high asylum load in the South East Asian region – Indonesia and Malaysia. Simple deterrence is their position.

The Gillard Government just talks about a regional solution and has done very little towards building regional capacity to respond to the economic and social pressures that confront asylum seekers.

Mars08 says"our attitude toward the current crop of asylum seekers predates the GFC. The hysteria goes back at least as far as the poison dwarf's Tampa stunt"

Back further. Think White Australia policy.

Nan... in fairness, there have been periods in the 20th Century, when the vitriol towards refugees has been quite muted. Times when our political leaders left the dog-whistle in the bottom drawer....