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The Forum > Article Comments > New immigration solution needs legal backup > Comments

New immigration solution needs legal backup : Comments

By George Williams, published 8/8/2008

The reforms announced last week by Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Senator Chris Evans mark an historic shift in Australian immigration policy.

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The more I think about it, the more I see the latest developments as bad news.

Surely the most important thing is to have a very strong border-protection policy that doesnít trap people in limbo. That is; one that doesnít provide any incentive whatsoever for people to try and come to Australia outside of our legal immigration program.

The softening of mandatory detention and the reversing of the onus of proof could very well trigger a host of new arrivals. The main humanitarian issue here is to make sure that desperate people donít get caught up in the horrible saga of people-smuggling, rickety boats and a highly uncertain determination when or if they do make it to this country. This is vastly more important than the mandatory detention or otherwise of a tiny number of people.

If a new onshore asylum-seeker movement is generated by these changes, the policy will have to be very smartly hardened. If no further movement is created, then the new policy is basically meaninglessÖif it isnít going to apply to anyone!

So all-considered, it should have been left alone, and the strong deterrence factor not tampered with.
Posted by Ludwig, Friday, 8 August 2008 9:31:47 AM
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Ludwig,

So long as the Indonesian government cooperates in suppressing people smugglers, Kevin Rudd and the other politicians can posture as great humanitarians at no practical cost. I suspect that the policy will be quickly tightened up if conditions change in the future.

If this were simply an issue of helping a few thousand people a year in pretty desperate trouble, I would agree with George Williams. However, Europe has given us a lesson on the practical results of the policies he promotes. The basic problem is that, even apart from mismanagement, there simply aren't enough resources per person to raise the world's entire population out of poverty. This is obvious from the various environmental footprint sites. It is shown explicitly by a graph that appeared in New Scientist last year (p. 10, 7/10/07 issue): with present technology, it would take the resources of 3 Earths to give everyone a modest European standard of living, even if all the resources were divided equally. Poor people have a powerful incentive to pose as refugees to get into developed countries.

The Migration Watch UK site presents the Home Office figures. For 1997-2004, there were 499,000 asylum claims, not counting dependants. Only about 20% were found to be genuine, even after appeal. The rest only had about a 20% chance of being deported. Once people are out in the community, they can hide with the help of corrupt local employers and officials. Even if they are caught, they cannot be deported if the government cannot prove where they came from (why travel documents are destroyed) or if the home country will not cooperate.

Once the numbers blow out, with a lot of the applicants shown to be fraudulent, plus big social welfare costs and depressed wages for the locals, then we will see the same problems as in Europe: big support for Far Right parties, ethnic hatreds, and possibly even communal violence.
Posted by Divergence, Friday, 8 August 2008 11:47:33 AM
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Regardless of any real or imagined deficiencies contained within the new policy framework, it is still infinitely better than the policy it replaces. The brutality, insensitivity, and plain pandering to the 'boofhead' Hansenites endemic to the Howard regime immigration debacle has left a stain on the Australian character and psyche - a stain that Rudd has gone a long way toward redeeming. Long may he and his competent cabinet maintain the rage
Posted by GYM-FISH, Friday, 8 August 2008 1:05:59 PM
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Well said, GYM-FISH.

Ludwig and Divergence, haven't you heard? The old fear-mongering doesn't work any more. Even Johnny H and Ruddock concede that.
Posted by Spikey, Friday, 8 August 2008 2:12:51 PM
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Spikey,

I have raised some facts and given my sources. When you say that I am fear-mongering, you imply either that I am misrepresenting my sources (which I have given) or that they are wrong. Unfortunately, checking facts is harder than name-calling, but if you want some credibility, you will have to do it.

In this case, as I said, so long as the Indonesians cooperate, nothing much is going to happen. The politicians look noble and humanitarian, but very few asylum seekers arrive by boat to upset the public. Win-win.
Posted by Divergence, Friday, 8 August 2008 2:34:59 PM
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It will be interesting to see if the policy changes affect the status of Mr. Al-Kateb.

Remember the guy? The Kuwaiti-born stateless Palestinian who arrived in December 2000, who we locked up in 2004 for the rest of his life? The Howard Govt policy hadn't considered stateless people, and it's solution was to argue at the High Court that, although he had committed no offence in Australia, that we could hold him in detention for the rest of his life. After all, we had the right to protect our borders.

Would Rudd consider using this exceptional case to help wipe the stain of the Pacific Solution from the face of this country?
Posted by Fidget, Friday, 8 August 2008 2:48:57 PM
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