On Asylum Seekers and Current Government Policy

Here in Australia asylum seekers are in the news almost on a daily basis. There has been a flood of boat people arriving under the Labor government, and it appears that they do not know how to slow this down. Indeed, there are a number of related, but different, issues which get entangled here. There are issues about immigration, refugees, asylum seekers, queue-jumpers, multiculturalism, illegal aliens, assimilation, guest workers, and so on.

Different nations will have differing scenarios to deal with. And geographical realities will also influence how this all pans out. Island nations like Australia will have somewhat different border control issues than, say, the US, with its 1950 mile long border with Mexico.

Then there is the major difference between a genuine refugee, fleeing persecution or war, and an asylum seeker who may just want a better life or better opportunities in a Western nation. Plenty of other issues and distinctions arise, and all nations must have some immigration policy and some border protection schemes.

These are complex issues, and much needs to be said about it all. I have just penned an article looking at how the Bible looks at some of these topics. Here I simply wish to point out the obvious shortcomings of current government policy.

Two recent articles highlight the very real failures of the Labor government when it comes to asylum seekers and immigration reform. This article will focus on these two pieces, and hopefully I will pen another piece looking at possible solutions.

The first item was written by Piers Akerman and is entitled “Border policy as leaky as smugglers’ boats”. In it he notes how the current Labor government has set an all-time record for asylum-seeker arrivals. Under Ms Gillard there have been 5547 arrivals (by the close of business on Thursday). The numbers would be even higher today.

Says Akerman, “She owns this benchmark … because she pushed for the softer approach to asylum-seekers introduced by the Rudd government in 2008, and she is responsible for the proposal to open a regional refugee-processing centre in East Timor.”

He continues, “Further, her Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, has permitted the public release of his own department’s guidelines for the admission of purported asylum-seekers. This ensures that people-smugglers can brief their clients in advance on what to say to Australian officials when they land, enhancing the odds – already tilted in their favour – for acceptance as genuine refugees. Not since 2004, before former prime minister John Howard stopped the boats, has Australia seen such an influx of people-smugglers and their fare-paying passengers.”

Her attempts to win support in the area is not going down very well either: “Gillard and her government are deluding themselves and attempting to fool the Australian public with the foolish pursuit of the East Timor processing centre. This can be seen from the total lack of interest in the proposal expressed, most politely, by the Malaysian and Indonesian leaders she met during her recent ASEAN tour, and the reluctance of the East Timorese government to have anything to do with the project.

“Rarely, if ever, has any proposal put forward by an Australian political leader been greeted with such a distinct lack of interest. It wasn’t a question of regional leaders expressing a lack of enthusiasm for the centre – there was simply no support whatsoever for the plan. By creating the impression that Australia has an open-door immigration policy that applies particularly to those who use people-smugglers and arrive by boat, Gillard has been forced to scramble to house the thousands who want to jump the queue of UN-approved refugees and take advantage of our generosity. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship is now racing the tide to build centres in every state, except Tasmania, and every territory, except the ACT, to shelter the thousands of new arrivals.”

He concludes as follows: “Under John Howard, migration to Australia soared with little complaint because the Coalition government firmly maintained controls on who could enter the country. Those who chose to break the rules were penalised.

“Globally, the West is under siege from Muslim immigrants who have decided they no longer wish to live in their traditional homelands, but want to take advantage of the benefits offered by countries with a strong European-oriented culture. Unfortunately, as is apparent in France, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, many of these new migrants do not accept the culture of their chosen country, but wish to retain the cultures of the nations from which they claim to be seeking refuge.

“Under the guise of multiculturalism, the same changes are occurring in Australia. We no longer decide who can come here; we accept whoever arrives, after a minimal identity and health check. Then we help them bring others, defined by their culture and accepted by Labor as family members, though the relationships would be considered tenuous by the norms accepted of our culture. The Gillard government has totally lost its way, and Australia has lost control of its immigration policy.”

The other article is found in today’s Australian with this headline: “Onshore detention centres now bursting at the seams”. This is how the article begins: “Australia’s onshore detention facilities are facing the same accommodation crisis as Christmas Island. The Department of Immigration admits the surge in boat arrivals has forced it to abandon previously determined bed limits.

“The latest immigration figures show the Curtin detention centre is housing hundreds of detainees above the announced capacity. The Scherger, Northern and Leonora facilities are also on the verge of spilling over. A total of 747 asylum-seekers were last night being housed at the Curtin facility, in the remote West Kimberley region of Western Australia – despite a previously announced limit of 600 at Stage 1.

“Work on Stage 2, which will accommodate an additional 600 places, is not due to be completed until April. Customs officials last night boarded another unlawful boat northwest of Western Australia’s Middle Osborn Island. The two passengers and single crew member were being transferred to Christmas Island for processing, bringing the number of people on the offshore detention centre to 2894.

“The vessel pushes the number of boats to arrive under Labor this year to 118. The Australian revealed yesterday the Christmas Island facility was already more than 400 people over its 2500 limit with temporary shelter provided by tents and marquees in widespread use on the island.”

Stories such as this seem to be found daily in the media. Clearly there are some major problems here, and current government policy on immigration and asylum seekers seems to need some immediate adjustment, to say the least. Every nation has a right to control its own borders, and every nation should be allowed to determine who comes in and who does not.

But at the moment, it looks like everything is up in the air. People-smugglers are certainly happy about the current situation. But unless some drastic steps are taken soon to change course, our problems will continue to compound and worsen, perhaps to a point of no return.


[1178 words]

12 Replies to “On Asylum Seekers and Current Government Policy”

  1. I notice Miss Gillard and her hair brained ideas gained an allegiance of followers but she’s not so stupid to allow them asylums seekers into her house.
    Daniel Kempton

  2. One thing about this has always puzzled me: If the conditions the ‘boat people’ are escaping from are so terrible that they are prepared to risk drowning and other hazards on the high seas, then surely anything we throw at them when thay arrive – compassionate nation that we are – could hardly be any worse.

    Yet some individuals feel the need to riot or go on hunger strikes because they are not being dealt with as fast as they would like.

    Whichever way you look at it, they are jumping a queue, and should be held, I believe, until their turn in the queue comes around.

    But to be compassionate, can we not build some modest yet reasonable accomodation eg hostel style, where families could live together, rather than prison-like conditions. Perhaps they could do some work to earn their keep.

    Until their entry is approved, they are visitors like any other. Rioters and trouble-makers are suspect as future citizens as far as I am concerned, – showing a lack of patience, gratitude and respect – and perhaps they should be treated in the same way by the law as any visitor would be who engages in the same behaviour, ie asked to leave.

    David Williams

  3. As a pro-life person I often run into people who say if I really cared about people I would be voting for more immigration. Then on the other side there are the 2 child policy advocates who approve of greater immigration.

    I struggle to find answers sometime because I know it is a complicated issue but don’t understand all the ins and outs of immigration policy.

    Thank you for addressing this issue.

    Kylie Anderson

  4. Bill

    I don’t think they are in a hurry to end this sham. Don’t forget that the corrupt Labor machine is full of ethnic branch stacking and more illegal immigrants are probably far more likely to cast a vote for Labor.

    The same in the US. Michael Medved argued in a recent article that there will be so many illegals entering the US and casting votes before or after citizenship that it will be next to impossible for Republicans to win in 2012.

    Damien Spillane

  5. “Asylum Seekers”, “Boat People”, “Economic Refugees” what ever name or label people want to give them, they are only a trivial (but increasing) part of our overall immigration.

    <ahref="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPjzfGChGlE"title="Immigration, World Poverty & Gum Balls" Open door immigration won't save the world

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe that asylum seekers should be treated like people. The current policy that effectively encourages people to give criminals (people smugglers) their life savings, while risking life & limb has done & will continue to lead to the deaths of people unnecessarily.

    Bill I take your point about foreign aid from you other article that you pointed me too earlier. Which is why I tend to give to church mission that I know is having a direct positive impact on in their communities.

    Paul Armstead

  6. David Williams has it exactly right, but in my view doesn’t go far enough.

    Given the almost impossible task of discerning the genuine from non-genuine asylum seeker; surely the best policy is to require a mandatory 10 year stay in detention before claims will even be considered.

    This will completely prevent any non-genuine claimants from coming, and those who are genuine can hardly complain they’re getting a bad deal. A detention centre must be a paradise to live in compared with what they are fleeing from.

    Compassion and common sense all in the one policy; and a win-win situation for all (except the bogus claimants and bleeding-heart lefties of course)!

    Mansel Rogerson

  7. What would Jesus do? Consult the Hebrew good book and read:
    “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you;you shall love the stranger as yourself” Leviticus 19:34.

    I will respect international law giving people fleeing persecution (like genocide) the right to cross our man made border, and treat them will dignity and care and respect their human rights which are the same as my rights. Just look at the statistics and take note that the majority – some times 98%- of Hazara boat arrivals turned out to be proven to be refugees. Why don’t sceptical commentators trust that government officials are checking the claims carefully, and that the Minister only gives permanent protection to those who cannot go home? Have you not read what the detention of innocent people does to their mental health? There is no valid reason for detaining asylum seekers beyond a period of identification, registration and health checks. Just think about it. Better still, go talk to a person who came as a refugee and listen to their tragedy.

    Frederika Steen

  8. Hi Frederika,

    Leviticus 19:34 refers to foreigners currently living in the land and does not refer to their conditions of entry, so it’s not very germane to this topic.

    Our national effectiveness for God can hardly be enhanced by taking in large numbers of foreigners with an even more unGodly world-view than the average Australian (which isn’t saying much) and even then not requiring them to conform towards to the average. This is just asking for trouble as the German Chancellor recently had the candour to point out.

    And as for the majority of asylum seekers being genuine; you mention the case of the Hazara (Afghanistan) refugees. Have you looked at a map recently? How many safe countries are between Afghanistan and Australia? Even if these people are in genuine danger in Afghanistan they are obviously economic refugees in coming to Australia (not that I blame them for this, but rather our ludicrous policies which lure them here). It will put them in less danger to refuse them entry because they will then settle in safe surrounding nations rather than embark on a dangerous sea voyage to Australia.

    And have you seen the massive decrease in immigration detention after Howard’s Pacific Solution was enacted and then the huge increase after this policy was ended under Rudd?
    Is this just a coincidence, or rather did this policy have something to do with limiting the number of economic refugees coming over here?

    But all this is in response to your specific comments. As Paul Armstead correctly points out above, asylum seekers are only a small part of our immigration policy. The legal immigrants comprise most of our intake, and this is what we should be concentrating on.

    Fred Nile has actually made a fantastic suggestion here: to replace some of our legal immigration intake with persecuted Christians worldwide who would like to come to Australia. This would both strengthen the Godly worldview in Australia as well as help our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

    I take it from your reference to the Bible that you identify yourself as a Christian. I therefore hope you would support a policy such as this.

    Mansel Rogerson

  9. Mansel, Australia does in fact resettle some persecuted refugee Christians from Africa, the Middle East and SE Asia, but the criteria for refugee resettlement ( 6 000 places a year) is persecution, not religion. It saddens me that you infer that Muslim asylum seekers/refugees are unGodly, when I personally have observed their faith fulness and devotion to prayer five times a day and marvel at their observance of Ramadan to focus on God. I was raised in a Christan family which taught me acceptance of difference in matters of culture language and faith. We were foreigners when we immigrated 60 years ago and integrated very successfully with the help of welcoming Australians. I wish there was equal welcome for the boat people foreigners today.
    Mansel, the countries you mention are not required under international law to protect and process asylum seekers like my Hazara friends. In Indonesia for example, asylum seekers are illegal and are put in jail – even women and children. Imagine the conditions. Indonesia has not signed the UN Refugees Coinvention and Australia has – in 1954 under a Liberal Government. Calling people who usually are confirmed to be genuine refugees “economic refugees” is trivialising the persecution they have suffered. It is not right to make light of persecution and losing your country. Please, why don’t you make contact with some Hazara people and ask them why they had to escape. It will be a humbling experience.
    Frederika Steen

  10. Thanks Frederika

    But now you finally spill the beans. You talk about “what would Jesus do” in one breathe, but in the next offer us this interfaith foolishness, with all religions being equal. Sorry, but if what Jesus said is true (and we need to look at what he said just as much as what he did) then we cannot buy the idea that people of other faiths are just fine and not in need of a Saviour. So please don’t drag Jesus into this discussion if you don’t want to believe that what he said is true.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  11. Frederika,

    To understand any issue, including immigration and asylum, you first need to have the correct worldview, and this is found only in the Bible. I urge you to read the gospels, particularly the exclusive claims of Jesus in John 14:6.

    Mansel Rogerson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *