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The top 5 signs that your country’s Refugee Policy is a disaster

Australia’s Minister for Saying-We’ve-Stopped-the-Boats – one Mr Peter ‘PDuddy’ Dutton – was out and about this morning defending what he and his government believe is the best and most successful immigration policy EVER.

I decided to check out PDuddy’s claim against the following officialesque list …

The Top 5 signs your Refugee Policy is a disaster

Number Five: Refugees would rather return to possible death in a war-zone

than stay in the Refugee Centres your country provides

The Australian government has worked hard to convince as many refugees as it can to return to their home countries, despite the considerable potential risk to those refugees that doing so entails.

One Syrian refugee – Eyad – elected to return to probable death in Syria a few months ago, saying he would prefer to die with his family in Syria rather than stay on Manus island. On arriving in Syria he was arrested and tortured for 20 days. Following his release, he was allowed to return to his former home village where he was subsequently hit by shrapnel and saw his father die before him.

Number Four: You put refugees in the care of a government that has made

money from selling passports to terrorists & money-laundering

The way that Peter Dutton pontificates about ‘smashing’ the business of people-smugglers, you’d think he’d donned a cape and mask and turned into a one-man regional crime-fighting machine.

What PDuddy conveniently forgets to mention, when boasting of his crime-fighting achievements, is that the Australian government is propping up the Nauru government with our Refugee policy – and that the Nauru government is so beleaguered by corruption claims that the New Zealand government recently cut off aid to them. PDuddy also leaves out the fact that this same government was previously heavily sanctioned by the international community for selling Nauruan passports to terrorists and laundering money for the Russian Mafia.

Number Three: Your Refugee Centres make it onto the UNHRC’s torture list

In March this year, the UN Human Rights Commission released its report on torture, naming Australia as a country who had breached the UN Convention against Torture in our Refugee camps.

Of course our government raced to immediately set up a Royal Commission to investigate the issues raised by the UN. Oh wait – no, that was a Royal Commission into the unions. What our government actually did in response to the UN report was to say that it was sick of being lectured.

Number Two: You are spending more on your Refugee Policy than the

combined GDP of 9 small countries

In 2015, the Australian government spent at least 4 billion on its Refugee Policy – of which 3 billion was to look after offshore refugees (including just under 1600 refugees on Nauru and Manus Island).

This is the equivalent of the combined GDP in 2014 for Tonga, Micronesia, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Sao Tome and Principe, Dominica and Comoros.

By way of contrast, the UN has a budget of $157 million USD for 2015 to look after over 200,000 refugees in South-East Asia.

Number One: A country in the Axis-of-Evil thinks you’ve gone too far

Over 110 countries lined up at the UN this week to comment on Australia’s refugee policies. In fact, so many countries wanted to raise issues at the periodic UN review, that each was given a time limit of just over a minute to speak. Between them they still managed to raise over 300 concerns in just that space of time.

Among their number was long-term member of Bush’s ‘Axis-of-evil’ – North Korea – who said that they:

have serious concerns at the continued reports of … violence against refugees and asylum seekers“.

It’s official – Australia’s refugee policy is a disaster …

In all seriousness – our refugee policy really IS a disaster. It is pure propaganda – truthiness at its finest – to suggest otherwise.

And still Peter Dutton keeps a straight face while he claims that Australia’s Refugee policy:

  • has saved lives – this is doubtful at best;
  • has stopped people smugglers – if this were true, who exactly are they paying to turn around?
  • to be the most generous in the world – this is actually an insult to countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan who lay true claim to this title. We are literally nowhere near.
  • to have protected our borders – from who exactly? From victims of war, terrorism, torture and persecution, who, if they had the funds to arrive here by plane would be allowed to stay? When did we start needing protection from victims? The reality is that these are the world’s most vulnerable people being used as political pawns. They aren’t terrorists. Or economic migrants. They are people with no safe place to call home.

It doesn’t matter what measure you pick …

  • financial
  • humanitarian
  • doing our bit globally
  • stopping crime in the region
  • making our country more secure, or
  • just plain common decency.

… there is not a single measure that doesn’t point at our government’s Refugee Policy as being at best an abject failure, and at worst a complete disaster that will haunt us in years to come.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.


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  1. Kaye Lee

    TONY ABBOTT in Sri Lanka: “Obviously the Australian Government deplores any use of torture. We deplore that, wherever it might take place, we deplore that. But we accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen.”

    And here’s two gunboats so you can keep those difficult things away from our view

    SCOTT MORRISON: “I make no apologies for the fact that we are endeavouring to work with the Sri Lankan government to stop boats coming to Australia. That’s the point.”

    Shit happens but there’s no way we’ll let these bastards spoil our Stop The Boats billboard.

  2. Kate M

    It is pretty amazing how much ineptitude they fit into one policy area.

  3. mars08

    “It doesn’t matter what measure you pick…”

    Now you are being a little bit sneaky, aren’t you? You left at least on item off that list… How about…. grabbing a handful low-hanging votes in marginal seats?

  4. Kaye Lee

    ‘The triumph of evil requires a lot of good people, doing a bit of it, in a morally disengaged way, with indifference to the human suffering they collectively cause’.

    The following link is a great letter

    If You Read Just One Open Letter Opposing Labor’s Cruelty To Asylum Seekers, Make Sure It’s This One

    At least Labor MP Melissa Parke is standing up:

    ““The truth is that we – Australians, through our representatives and our taxes – have established and are funding two island prisons on which people convicted of no crime are being held indefinitely in circumstances that are not just prone to, but actually productive of terrible human suffering… more than $1 billion per year of Australian taxpayers’ money is being spent to torture asylum seekers in a grotesque faux caring deterrence exercise.”

    But then she had to take it to caucus. Read how they pretend to care but squibbed it.

  5. Bighead1883

    The disaster began when John Winston Howard illegally attacked Iraq in company of other war criminals.
    The bogans here in OZ salivated at the carnage and wallowed in the human misery.
    The MSM bewailed the heroic murder of civilians and when it ended and those who assisted the Coalition of the Willingly Genocidal found they couldn`t emigrate or even become refugees,so Australia`s off shore concentration camp regime began-the bogans were orgasmically happy and shock jocks and MSM felched their orgiastic behaviour for all to see.
    The nation was in mirth and merriment at the suffering of those we`d bombed murdered raped and tortured in our detention centres that we began it all again.
    It came to a sad end when Kevin 07 came along but after 30 or so months of no Nauru or Manus the frustrated began to bewail their displeasure.
    The forces of the Dark Lord Emperor Rupes once again began their assault and the public turned proper bogan again and killed off the concentration camp ender and appointed their anointed Inquisitor to begin the flaying and delousing of spirit and human dignity once more
    Yes this is what our Lord and Masters the United States of Zion want and this is what they receive
    All Hail Emperor Rupes,for we are entertained

  6. RosemaryJ36

    We are barbarians!

  7. mark delmege

    and thats just in SA.

  8. Adrianne Haddow

    This government has so many crimes against humanity on its score card, it beggars belief that they are attempting to win a place on the UN security council.

    Their attitudes toward asylum seekers reflect their attitudes to the over- representation of indigenous people in our prison system, and the number of deaths in detention that occur in that group.

    It would be interesting to see how much the combined costs of both off-shore detention and the incarceration of indigenous people take from the budget, that surprisingly no longer appears to be in dismal deficit.

    What does a right wing government do with an inconvenient truth ?
    Lock it up out of sight and pass laws that prevent anyone from speaking about it.

  9. guest

    It is interesting to see the role of islands in Oz history. Tasmania and Maria Island come to mind, along with Norfolk island. To toughen up on Indigenous people in Tasmania, they were rounded up and sent to islands in Bass Strait, where they died of broken hearts – or disease.

    Now, of course, we have Christmas Island, Nauru and Manus Islands. We wonder why Kiwis from New Zealand, some of whom grew up in Oz, were on Christmas Island and have now been transferred to Perth (a place as far from the rest of Oz as we can get!). And we give ourselves much kudos for keeping our borders safe from such people as …well, as people seeking asylum in leaking boats, dragged back to other islands such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka, where they must play the waiting game – or die!

    Oz itself is a large island and seeks to cut itself off from the rest of the world with unilateral policies of isolation and separation and denial, and yet would reach out to other parts of the world with ANZUS agreements and FTAs where we think we might gain some advantage.

    But within the larger island are smaller islands, of wealth and disadvantage, of lifestyle and homelessness, of acceptance and rejection. There are gulags everywhere, enclaves of separation, emphasised by the changes which impinge on us: population growth, migration, inequality, bigotry, political clout, climate change, vested interests, racism, ignorance, damaged environment and depleted resources…

    We see how all this is just too hard and the difficulty is dressed up in deceptive simplicity: Stop the Boats; Repeal the Tax; leaners and lifters; entitlements; Great Big Debt; innovation; agility; growth and jobs; lower taxes; efficiency; Green tape; Red tape; wealth and prosperity; everything’s on the table; security… Weasel words all.

    Somehow the mind grows numb with ennui.

    To quote one of our poets:

    ‘And the injured look on our faces as we finally go under will be
    Not the least of our charm…’

    Or: ‘Somewhere the country’s saviour cries in his (sic) sleep.’

  10. philgorman2014

    Where are our much-vaunted values and principles when we need them most?

    Thank you once again Kate for your cogent summation of a dastardly set of policies. Dress them up as you will the heart of these policies is the deliberate stoking up of naked racism. Our politicians and the mainstream media excel at rhetoric concerning high moral principles but the realpolitik is all about vested interests and rank populism. The one moral argument they employ is actually a classic Big Lie.

    Instead of principled leadership politicians employ morally bankrupt populist strategies to gain or retain power. They appeal to peoples’ basest instincts: fear of “the other”, tribalism; extreme nationalism and the longing for paternalistic authority. They deliberately infantilise the population. Why? Because it requires the least effort and it nearly always works. It’s up to us to call them out to make sure it stops working.

    I love this multicultural country and its people, and I think it grossly unbecoming to wrap oneself in the national flag. That’s the antithesis of what Australia is about. That’s why I grieve for Australia’s deliberately cruel and inhumane treatment “the other” as represented by people exercising their human right to seek asylum here.

    The oft repeated slogans, shock-jockery and opinion pieces around ‘stopping the boats to save lives’ are perfect examples of the “Big Lie”. Any serious reflection reveals the paucity and hypocrisy of the ‘saving lives’ argument.

    In Australia people still have some agency and their risky decisions are generally respected, even admired, even when made for the sake of exploration, adventure or recreation. Jessica Watson, OAM, a courageous 16 year old girl who circumnavigated the globe in the dire conditions of the Roaring Forties is rightly feted by Australians.

    Desperate acts can also be heroic and noble acts involving calculated risk and sacrifice. How much more admirable it is to risk all for the sake of the family’s survival. People fleeing repression have been robbed of all but their agency to act as responsible adults. They will naturally do their best for their family’s future well-being.

    In the quite recent past families risking their lives to escape totalitarian and repressive regimes to find better lives in the “Free West” were publicly welcomed as heroic contributors to our nations. No talk of “economic migrants” then. Their stories were used as effective propaganda to reflect the superiority of “our” values. How do we reward such determined and enterprising families now? Where are our much-vaunted values and principles when we need them most?

    It is miserable, hypocritical and shameful to hide our real reasons for “stopping the boats” behind a false façade of humanitarianism.

  11. Pingback: The top 5 signs that your country’s Refugee Policy is a disaster – » The Australian Independent Media Network | olddogthoughts

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