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Are we missing something here?

By Steve Laing

When it comes to people arriving in Australia by boat, for some reason (best known to Rupert Murdoch and members of the LNP), many Australians become utterly apoplectic.

In a highly convincing strategy, the LNP – with a little help from their friends in the media – have persuaded a significant number of Australians that without strong border protection, our country and all that its stands for will be overrun by foreigners only here for economic gain and/or to commit atrocities on the local population. Given that this is what occurred from 1788 onwards, I suspect one could argue that there is good evidence to go on.

However, it doesn’t take much to recognize that this isn’t what this issue is really about at all. If we were so worried about people being here illegally, surely more would be getting done about the various backpackers et al who have overstayed their visas, particularly as there are so many more of them. But no, not so much.

Is it because of the economic impact that these people will have on our social services? Given how much we are spending on housing them off-shore, or through attempts to relocate them to Cambodia, this can’t be the case either.

Nope, the reality is that the only reason that this is an issue at all is because of votes. LNP strategists have decided that fear (with more than a hint of xenophobia, and I daresay, though never mentioned in public, a smidge of racism) is a very useful emotion to sway the minds and votes of a large subsection of the community, and Labor have subserviently recognised it’s an argument that they haven’t got the persuasive power to win, so they have simply become complicit. The much-publicized myth is that people arriving by boats, with no identification could be terrorists. And we can’t have that! The current European situation (which is, of course, entirely different in size and complexity to our own current boat people ‘problem’) is supplying much evidence of the problems of refugees (when arriving in large numbers with no clear plan of how to deal with such in evidence, but that is by-the-by). The fact that Australia has taken in significant numbers of refugees who have arrived by boat over time, and there doesn’t appear to be much of a terrorism issue from them, is of course conveniently ignored. Until a dark-skinned person shoots someone, of course, and you can bet it’s the first thing the media check.

And if they aren’t terrorists, then they are almost undoubtedly Freddie Freeloaders using their money to jump the queue. Again, the fact that evidence shows that such persons, with their high levels of motivation and risk taking, are more likely to open up businesses and employ Australians than the born and bred natives is also, conveniently, ignored.

But it is the behavior of politicians that truly gives the game away, with Scott and Tony being the biggest culprits. When Scott became Minister for Immigration, one of the first things he did was stopped providing information about “on water matters”. No mention of the number of boats arriving, boats intercepted, boats turned back. Nothing. Because that kind of information, the numbers of boats actually arriving, would only encourage people smugglers, and Scotty and chums will not do that. So remind me again what the LNP doing when they were in opposition?

By their own logic, Tony and co were apparently quite happy to advertise the porosity of Australia’s seaboard to people smugglers whilst in opposition. Quite happy, of course, to help further build a problem that only they could come in and “clean up”. And since it is apparently the encouragment of people smugglers that results in deaths by drowning, then unfortunately the blame for those 1000 lives lost at sea must equally be the responsibility of those who encouraged those same people smugglers. But no, those deaths were only Labor and The Greens’ fault. Well of course!

Since we are talking about people smugglers, and Malcolm was more than happy to discuss them yesterday morning on Insiders, can anybody please explain to me how the LNP policy of paying people smugglers to not bring refugees to Australian waters is intended to either dissuade their trade, or indeed how that has stopped drownings at sea? Clearly there are still people smuggling boats at sea, so unless the Australian Navy are busy carrying out Health and Safety checks, drownings must still be happening. But secondly, how does financially rewarding people for an activity actually dissuade them from doing it? Maybe they keep track, and if they try and score a second time, something worse happens, but what is to stop the people smugglers telling their mates to get a slice of the pie?

I don’t even want to think of the fate of the refugees travelling on the boats of those people smugglers bribed to go away. I guess that we aren’t tracking their fate.

However, the additional fact that we know that there have been boat turnarounds, and that payments have been made to people smugglers, kills the logic that drownings of sea have stopped. No boats arriving cannot be used as a means of stating that drownings of sea have stopped. Only no boats leaving in the first place could do that, and we know that this isn’t what is happening.

Finally, we have the woeful issue of children in detention. Yes, says Malcolm, we have a number of children in detention, but hang on, it’s now a lot less than when Labor were in power. Wait a minute though Malcolm. Didn’t you also say that no person arriving by boat would ever be settled in Australia? That this was a huge part of the deterrence effect of your policy? A policy that purports to save life, but at a cost of turning a blind eye to rape, brutality, mental and physical health issues at a cost that is beyond extreme when we are staring down the barrels of a recession. So just where have all those children that Labor let in, but the LNP have now got out of detention, gone to? They haven’t gone to Cambodia, and if we don’t admit those who arrive by boat, then they haven’t come to Australia. So just where the bloody hell are they? Somebody is being a little bit tight with the truth, but its fooling nobody.

The reality is that people arriving by boat into Australia could have become an opportunity. A chance to help populate those dying towns in the outback with people proven to be resilient risk takers, undoubtedly prepared to do the hard yakka to build a new safer lives for themselves in our boundless plains to share. Integrating refugees isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either, if you don’t scare the population into believing that they will slit their throats in the night. But because we’ve turned this issue into a cause celebre, a political football, politicians (and the MSM) have painted themselves into a corner where child rape is no more than an unfortunate side-effect of a brutally stupid solution to try to get votes from the fearful.

There are times when I get angry about politics, but this issue is beyond that. However, until the opportunity is presented to shine a light into the dark corners, fear will win out. Don’t expect any revelations whilst the Coalition are in charge and our MSM has been beaten into submission. In the meantime, thanks to the actions of many of our state premiers, I hope that our common humanity might, for once, prevail.



  1. mars08

    Well of course they are “undoubtedly Freddie Freeloaders”

    Well, at least if you ask the bullies, bogans, bigots and bed-wetter they are!

    But it can all get so horribly confusing. Apparently they come here to get free housing, iPhones and big LCD screens and rort the dole… while “stealing our jobs” at the same time. Quite crafty really….

  2. diannaart

    No argument from me, Steve. Appreciate your time taken to present this article.

    I must admit to feeling a small glimmer of hope with the announcement that Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews has offered to properly house the much maligned people in detention camps – not sure if he just means Nauru – but this is the first glimmer of light from the ALP on refugees.

    Since Howard, the treatment of asylum seekers has been a regression by stupid costly policies from the Libs followed by more stupid and costly policies by Labor, to date, where even babies are feared by our Federal government.

    Now, this being an election year and all, Labor could announce policies that focus on the huge cost of current refugee wrangling. For example, Labor could announce that as the majority of refugees over the past 15+ years are assessed as genuine, it would make more sense to close down the costly refugee camps and, instead, resettle those who have been detained for so long, right here in Australia, and, work with Indonesia and similar nations to provide clean safe housing and prompt assessment in those nations thus stopping people from getting on boats to begin with.

    See, Labor is gonna look bad no matter what they do, but this way by focusing upon the economics of problem they can look a little better, save some dosh or at least put it to use in creating solutions instead further problems and, bonus, gain increased friendly relationships with our northern neighbours.

    It is not rocket science.

  3. Terry2

    Well, the good news, according to the Australian Border Force people, is that the little boy who was allegedly raped was not five but ten and the media are getting their reporting all wrong and giving a false impression of the tropical nirvana that these people are living in on Nauru and Manus.

    Now why would the media get it so wrong ? Could it be because of the shroud of secrecy at these island locations and the fact that responsible media are not allowed to visit and anybody – doctors and staff – who know anything can be jailed if they spill the beans ?

  4. Clean Livin

    NSW is going to fine fishermen who do not wear life vests whilst fishing off rocks, because they DROWN!

    To test the current government reasoning, should not these people be sent to Nauru?

  5. mars08

    @diannaart… hardly surprising, right?

  6. Backyard Bob

    I’m sorry, but Andrews’ statement about housing asylum seekers seemed like cynical bullshit given that it cannot actually happen. Unless he was actually trying to publicly embarrass his Federal colleagues, in which case, more power to his arm.

  7. kerri

    A good article but for the comment that the MSM have been beaten into submission!
    I disagree! The MSM have leapt at any opportunity to support the scaremongering as it makes good copy!
    I believe the MSM are, albeit unwittingly (or half wittedly), not only complicit in the scare mongering but in many ways responsible for it! The MSM no longer report the story but believe it is their role to create the story!
    Citizens are also complicit for buying the BS rags that pass for journalism in this century.
    People need to stand by principles rather than fall for sensationalist crap!
    The pub test is long forgotten.

    Incidentally Mars08 can we start a campaign to have ScoMo renamed “The Bedwetter”? I would love to see that!

  8. diannaart

    I saw that ByB

    and tweeted Bizarro World just got stupider

  9. Mick

    Steve Laing, you make a good point about Abbot’s opposition habit of spewing out all the details of how many boats and how many people (and therefore how many potential dole-bludging, job stealing terrorists) were arriving and how frequently. Then when in Government, it was all on water matters. I’m astonished at the fact that my opinion of the current political approach can sink lower and lower when it already reached an unmeasurable depth so long ago.

    I was reading the Gulag Archipeligo by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn at the time of the election campaign to oust Gillard/Rudd and the early stages of Abbot’s rule, and the parallels between the rising Soviet Bureaucracy and their Gulags and the Abbot/Morrison prison silence approach to refugees was unsettling.

    I recommend reading that book to anyone, for it’s insight into what really happens in government run fenced-off deterrence concept-centres.

  10. Diane

    “So just where have all those children that Labor let in, but the LNP have now got out of detention, gone to? They haven’t gone to Cambodia, and if we don’t admit those who arrive by boat, then they haven’t come to Australia. So just where the bloody hell are they? Somebody is being a little bit tight with the truth, but its fooling nobody.”

    This is one of the things that frustrates me so much – the fact that no MSM journalist will confront Turnbull et al with this point! There’s a whole slice of the voting public that either doesn’t care enough to look beneath the platitudes and slogans to find the truth,or is just too lazy to do their own thinking when the MSM conveniently tells them what to think.

  11. townsvilleblog

    I feel that the main opposition is because most of the refugees are muslims who won’t assimilate with us when they arrive. Also they live by religious laws and the laws of the land are secondary to them

  12. Mick

    That may be true, Townsville blog, but this country was founded on non assimilation with local laws. Ask the First Peoples about assimilation. It was discredited before it was enforced and was enforced anyway.

    Catholics don’t feel that national laws are above God’s law. Neither do those of Jewish faith. And if the national law interferes with the agenda of the federal politicians of the day they change them, retroactively. Looking at people and seeing Muslims is not the approach we need. Muslims played a part in building the Australian nation on Indigenous lands. They have been here for a hundred and fifty years.

  13. jimhaz

    Were it 4 years OK under the ALP – I would support the majority being returned (depending on why and how long they were on the mainland), as I feel the ALP would provide better offshore facilities and care.

    Not sure I could say the same for the LNP however as they appear to purposefully maximise the cruelty they can get away with.

    Either they have been successful and the boats have pretty much stopped (a few boats p.a is not really a problem ) allowing them to be more compassionate by loosening up “exceptions” policy, or they need to continue to use people as examples as their policies have not worked. They don’t have a leg to stand on – the people in question will stay due to community pressure.

  14. Annie B

    The Australian Border Force is an embarrassing joke – decked out in their gestapo type uniforms.

    But not at all a joke, that they blame the media ( who are blameworthy 99% of the time ) … for ‘getting it wrong’ … “it was not a 5 year old boy who was raped, but a 10 year old boy.”


    It was the further allegation that it was two children who had ‘skin to skin’ contact – which exonerates the ABF from any further liability and can have them make such a gross statement on their own wicked behalf.

    The bottom line ? – they don’t give a tuppenny stuff, …. and they never will. … As one of the Rabbutts’ dreamed up ghastlies, this “Force” ( the use of that word is enough to tell us all what it hopes it will be ) … should be reconstructed from the ground up – and Dutton removed forthwith.

    But hey – that would take a bit of compassion and a smidgin of guts from the current PM – something I don’t believe he has.



    ” or they need to continue to use people as examples as their policies have not worked. They don’t have a leg to stand on – the people in question will stay due to community pressure.”

    Not sure what that means – but reading it as stated, you are putting the onus on the community at large. …. If I am wrong, please correct me.

    It is not the ‘community ‘ — — the Australian population ( largely ) who want this. It is the dictatorial stands by the current government, who rules the day and makes the decisions, because ‘we put them there’ ( by mistake btw ). And that would be their mantra ” you voted for us – ( we will do what we bloodywell like )”.

    Yep – Fascism reigns in Australia.

  15. diannaart

    Annie B

    …it was not a 5 year old boy who was raped, but a 10 year old boy.”


    I am gob-smacked that little has been made of this obvious disparity. So, are we to assume that it is acceptable rape is held to such judgemental terms? I guess so, prostitutes apparently don’t mind ‘rougher than usual handling’ and now 10 year old boys are considered less a victim than 5 year old boys.

    What this illustrates, is the very thing feminists have been arguing for decades; there are crimes in which victims are either wholly or partially blamed – mostly it is women and young girls, but as I have been banging on, ad nauseam, men and boys are as much penalised by patriarchal attitudes as anyone.

    It is only the boys at the top who have any real freedom (and the women who think their lives are best served supporting these dodos) – the rest of us, be damned. We women and men and children of the general community are not all that important.

  16. gee

    This was never about border control. this has always been about the politics of fear and manipulation of the electorate. the true tragedy is that there are enough truly stupid people out there for it to work, even worse, they are completely oblivious to how truly stupid they are.

  17. Annie B

    To – gee

    Sadly, I tend to agree with you – a lot. The “politics of fear”.

    When much else fails, this seems to be what many political regimes resort to. When they don’t get their way, even by a small numbers of protests, they resort to fear tactics – which unfortunately seems to work. The driving force is to stomp out any opposition by the public – and they do that by promoting fear.

    Look at the numbers of people who believe what they read ( no matter what it is ) on Facebook and other social media. And what they hear in newscasts, when it comes to news ‘reporting’ on medical issues ( which TV news should never do, and are not qualified in any way to comment on ). Often those stories are thrown about without one syllable uttered by any doctor on the subject.

    Well – that’s fear perpetrated by the media, for their own sick reasons.

    And so it is with governments. Keep ’em down, and keep ’em compliant, is their mantra. Especially by the LNP.

    Turnbull’s latest rant is about home ownership – that EVERY home owner should be very very wary of the oppositions’ recent stand on negative gearing. Sooo many people would only hear how afraid they must be … they wouldn’t consider it applies ( from Labors’ point of view ) to people who buy up housing to rent out … that’s what negative gearing is about ( making profit from rentals, via tax deductions ). It has NOTHING to do with one-off home ownership. …. but many one home owners will creep into corners and shudder – just because Turnbull uttered a few politically inept statements – with that peculiar clout he seems to have.

    Guess he just looks better than Abbott, speaks with contrived conviction, and smiles more widely ? We must not fall for that goody-two-shoes look, that Turnbull has perfected – over many years.

    Ye Gods ………

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