A possie in Aussie

May 20, 2009

The researcher, the liar and the whingeing kid: the boat people debate

SBS ‘Insight’ on Tuesday evening discussed the situation of refugees fleeing to Indonesia through the eyes and stories of recent boat arrivals as well as Australian citizens and permanent residents in Australia whose family members are stuck in Indonesia and other places.

Some important points from the program:

On whether refugees hear about Australia’s policies from people already here and therefore decide to try to get here:

From Roslyn Richardson, researcher, Charles Sturt University:

Well my research specifically looked at the messages that people send back home and what I found, was not that they were necessarily saying ‘come here because our …. Come here because the policy has softened’ or something like that.  The messages they are sending home are often mixed, on one hand they will send home the message that ‘I was in detention and that was a pretty horrible experience.’  But they also send home messages like – I had one family who… one woman who her husband had been executed and she said to me ‘I like that my son can play on the street and I don’t have to worry about him being taken away by the authorities and killed.’  You know, it’s these types of messages that people are sending back, they are not necessarily sending back ‘Come here.’  And also they can loose contact with their family members back home.

I looked at was the messages that refugees might hear about Australia before they come here. I looked at how they interpret this information and I ALSO looked at what messages they’re now sending back overseas. And what I found was basically exactly what those refugees have just said, is that quite often in fact there was only two refugees in my study of 27 who actually chose to come to Australia. More often than not, this is not just my study but it is reflected in international literature, the UK home office did a study in 2002 and said exactly the same thing, that it is smugglers that choose destinations. They dictate a destination or they lead people to believe that this destination is favourable.

On the Coalition vs Labor party policies:

CHRIS EVANS: The thing to point out is there is no policy debate currently between the opposition and Labor Party on these matters. They’ve endorsed the abolition of the Pacific solution, they failed to commit to returning to TPVs and they have endorsed and signed off on our changes of detention values. Unless they’re prepared to argue they want to go back to the solution, unless they’re prepared to argue to go back to TPVs and unless they’re prepared to argue to go back to locking up kids there’s no policy differential at the moment. All they want to say it’s your fault and it’s because you’re soft, but there’s no public policy alternative offered to what I think are humane changes. We’re a tolerant democracy, we can treat people properly as well as sending the message we don’t welcome people smugglers or people arriving unlawfully.

Members of the opposition hardly made any sense- Sharman Stone sopunding muich like an offended school child.

Kevin Andrews, former Immigration Minister, was caught out yet once more:

Kevin Andrews:I know and Senator Evans well knows that there is regular intelligence about what is happening in our region, particularly what’s happening in Indonesia, where we have a quite sizeable AFP presence, and there is intelligence that comes back to the Australian government about these things, but we had officials from the immigration department saying last year that this was leading to increased activity on the part of people smugglers. We had Steve Cook from the international migration organisation based in Indonesia, a totally non-government organisation, saying this was leading to increased activity of smugglers.

Jenny Brockie, compare: We actually contacted the international organisation for migration, they responded formally in writing saying they flatly denied it, Steve Cook said that, they said he never made the comments and that they were inaccurate and distorted. That’s the response we had.

KEVIN ANDREWS:  Well, I can only report the comments reported in the media widespread in Australia.

JENNY BROCKIE: We went to the source, not to the media. The source is saying they didn’t say it.

KEVIN ANDREWS: The reality is that a number of sources have said that this has led to an increase in the numbers coming, now, look at the facts, 736 people have come in the last 10. 5 months compared to 25 in the previous yea, they are the facts.

Seems like the old Coalition members can’t shake the lying habit.


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