Australia’s Dilemma with Boat-people baffling the World

Australia’s Dilemma about Boat people.

The swap to process refugees to PNG (Papua New Guinea) instead of on Australian soil is dreadful. If we are concerned about our borders, fearing that an armada of refugees will be landing, clambering over our colour bonded zinc alumed fences & stealing our women and Billabong T-shirts from the Hill’s Hoist. Where is the concern for PNG’s borders?

Not a good thing with Australia already at the bottom of overseas estimation of care for refugees.
Yes, it does improve ALP’s chances at the next election, but at a dreadful cost.
Listen to this.

The problem is ‘us’ rather than the leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott or present Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Our previous PM J.Howard knew our tolerance for the foreign/ unknown was paper-thin and smartly capitalized on it, blowing it up. He sailed into government on the back of the anti-refugee vote.

Sure, we tolerated migrants but at first only those of good and sturdy Anglo stock. We loved the introduction of mutton and cold cabbage. Devon was about as far we dared to go in culinary delights…It took years to accept the ham pierced and wrapped around the gherkin.

Even though, the owners of this nation are black, we, the whites, were quick off the mark to make and paint it as white as possible. The White Australian Policy was introduced excluding 3/4 of the world’s population from living here. Ah well, we tolerated the original owners but they did not count, did they? The indigenous were not given a vote but were gladly accepted getting killed in wars.

When the Poms decided Australia wasn’t so crash hot after all, Continental Europeans were invited (grudgingly). Reffos (refugees) were preferred to swarthy Dagos; at least they were whiter and did not eat stinking garlic and strange looking sweaty gnarled sausages.

They were expected to wholehearted embrace the ‘new country’ from the minute they arrived no matter if this arrival was being housed in corrugated sheds miles away from work, transport or populations. There were riots then as well as suicides. Did it ever cross our minds that brutalizing migrants never works?

I am just giving a short version of migrant/refugee history and this includes that ‘foreigners’ were always viewed with suspicion. They were often seen, as is still today, of raping our virtuous sheilas, stealing our jobs and watering down our Anglo yeoman culture. It was J.Howard who thought all migrants should have the basics of Cricket playing knowledge well grounded. It’s amazing they still wanted to come after that ordeal!

Today, sadly it is often the settled migrant’s siblings who are most vehemently opposed to ‘boat people’ and use the same old and tired arguments of ‘border protection’ etc, conveniently forgetting their fathers or grandmothers arrived by boats as well.

If we keep blaming the politicians we will never overcome this fear of the foreign.

Australia is one of the least populated continents in the world. The Northern Federal seat of Kennedy is twice as big as the UK and larger than Spain; it is fertile and could hold, ah well 80 million people. At present there are about a 100.000 living there. The state of Victoria is about the size of UK as well, fertile and green, could also hold 80 million. At present Victoria holds 5.3 million. So, no nation or country is better equipped to handle asylum seekers, yet no country is so vehemently opposed to welcoming refugees that come here on rickety boats.

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21 Responses to “Australia’s Dilemma with Boat-people baffling the World”

  1. auntyuta Says:

    Why? Is it because we feel our way of life being threatened?
    Do we not spend billions to ‘protect’ our borders? What if this money or at least part of it could be spent to provide some simple housing for asylum seekers. What if we let these people work to build houses, infrastructure and to produce nourishing food, as well as build schools and do training of teachers for children as well as adults to learn English? Does anyone think these people are not capable of doing a day’s work? Why let them rot in camps without being able to work? It doesn’t make sense to me.
    There are many jobs in Australia that are nearly exclusively done by recent migrants from Asia and Africa. They are willingly and gladly doing these jobs for little pay which other Australians are not willing to do anymore!
    How much do people pay these so called people smugglers? Why don’t we go to Indonesia and tell these people instead of giving this money to people smugglers they can deposit it with an Australian Bank. Then they only have to apply for residence in Australia and in due time the Australian government is going to transport them to this country of their choice at no cost to them? If the application is not successful for some reason (maybe because they cannot provide sufficient papers?) then they can withdraw their saved money at any time. At least the the people smugglers would not get the money and these people would not risk being drowned at sea or their application not being successful after a hazardous journey. When Peter and I applied for migration to Australia from Germany in 1959 we were asked to come for an interview to the Australian embassy in Cologne. We had to bring our two babies along too when we talked to the Australian officer.
    Why cannot the same thing be done with prospective migrants in Indonesia?


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Of course many could be settled here very comfortably. The political parties just use the boat people for political ends, whipping up xenophobia.
      Anyway, it seems the liberals have been snookered by the ALP in their own game. I think your idea to advice people to invest the money going to smugglers into an Australian Bank instead an excellent idea. It take an (ex) German to come up with practical workable solutions! 🙂


      • auntyuta Says:

        He, he, Gerard, this remains to be seen if anything like this would meet any government’s criteria!
        I just read what barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside has to say. He says boat arrivals are less than 0,7% of all yearly arrivals. To keep one person in detention for one year costs 200,000 $ in our cities and more then twice this in outback centres or off shore places. (I reckon Papua New Guinea might be a lot cheaper!)
        Burnside says after one month for security and health checks asylum seekers should be released into the community allowing them to work or to receive Centrelink benefits, settling them in regional centres who would gladly welcome the influx of people to these reginal towns who struggle to survive.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that would be common sense. But common sense seems to be in short supply. The difficulty seems to be to turn around peoples perception that the boat people numbers are not large, they are miniscule. It is not a real problem for such a country of ‘boundless plains’.


  2. roughseasinthemed Says:

    Can’t believe the white Australia policy is still going on. Amazing. I remember it from years back when my uncle was a ten pound pom and my partner and some of his mates from South Wales went in the late 70s. Then, to be fair, it did change and Redfern became full of Vietnamese.

    It’s one of the ironies of life that big countries are invariably underpopulated and small ones overpopulated. A generalisation, but living in the fifth most densely populated territory in the world, one that applies to me. If you look at Europe, Belgium, Netherlands, and to a lesser extent, the UK, are all relatively high up the list. Spain less so, like Australia, it has vast areas of country that have no people.

    When you start to look at bigger countries with a high population density, Bangla Desh comes first, followed by India, and then China. Bangla Desh isn’t that big, just the biggest that hits six figures in sq kms in the top 20. India makes top 50, and China is 83 in the rankings. The rest of the big countries are way down the list.

    Having said all that PNG is pretty low on the list 209, compared with Australia at 233.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The original White Australian Policy was abandoned officially in the seventies. The population now is very mixed and from just about all over the world, that’s why it is so ludicrous to be so worried about boat people in desperation trying to come here. We should be worried about their drowning but this is not the main concern which is a way over the top whipping up of xenophobia, being overrun by hordes of Afghans or Iranians, etc.
      We went to those countries waging dubious wars that made millions of refugees. When some in desperation try and come to Australia risking their lives, we make out as if they have evil intentions for Australia
      . Terrible.


      • roughseasinthemed Says:

        I should have added that every year there is an influx of raft people from Africa trying to get to Spain and thence to northern Europe for a better life. Or just anywhere really.

        What so-called developed countries (ie greedy capitalist ones) should do, is put some reasonable infrastructure in instead of going to war for oil, leaving the place a dog’s breakfast, and consider more environmental moves. In my dreams.


  3. berlioz1935 Says:

    Gerard, you are painting a good picture of the history of post-war immigration into Australia and the present sad state of affairs.

    Even the language they are using explaining the new measurements are offensive, like “this country has enough”. What about PNG? They soon will have enough of the asylum seekers.

    The “boat people” will get a culture shock. Perhaps this is intended. You are right, it can’t be the number of people that come. There is plenty of land that can be populated.

    You say, Australia is a huge country and “small” parts of it are as big as European countries. The problem with Australians is they have no idea how huge Australia is. When they go to school and they see a map of Australia the map is the same size as the map of any other country. Since we have no neighbours here we have no way comparing our country with another.

    The numbers in boat arrivals are minuscule. If we are worried about the drowning, as they say, they should go to Indonesia and pick the recognised refugees up and bring them here. I wrote to PM Gillard but got no response.

    When we came to Australia they came and picked us up (assisted migrants) and we were economic migrants. We all want a better life, what is wrong with that? Didn’t the Angle-Saxon go to Britain for a better life?

    Contracting out the asylum seekers is cheaper. To hell with the consequences for them and the people of PNG. The shock of the new measure “might” do the trick and it will reduce the boat arrivals.

    And you asked, why? Because we stole the country in the first place and we don’t want to share it with others. The population has increased despite ourselves. We are racist, but we will not admit it.


  4. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes Berlioz 1935.
    Back in those days the Australian Government were advertising overseas to try and entice people to migrate. Now many are coming out of a much greater need. The need to survive and escape terrible wars.
    I can’t believe some of the dreadful comments in the media. Many boat people have drowned and are still drowning and it is made out as if this is some ploy by them to gain a better outcome or more sympathy.


  5. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Gerard, you might be talking about the U.S. We are a nation of immigrants, in spite of so many busily trying to deny it. The flow if immigration throughout history is constant. It changes through the ages, with whole eras being referred to as “the Italian immigration”, or the “Chinese ditto” Each group of people trying to make a better life for themselves has a moniker. And like Australia, the original owners of this country have been ill-treated and put away in camps, even though the “camps” might be large sections of land no one else wanted. It will ever be. We are all afraid of change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that’s right. The U.S is another example of being a migrant country. It is also The U.S that, per capita, accepts more refugees that the rest of the world.
      One reason ,after opening the fridge, we have ‘Black Forest Ham and Greek yoghurt’ greeting us at times. Of course, Pollock and Steinbeck and thousands of others complimented the environment, as well as the indigenous artists that were here well before all the migration…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Andrew Says:

    If it is any consolation Gerard, about 10 years ago I did the Australian immigration online screening test to see if I qualified. I scored a grand total of 0 points and was ineligible. It seems you don’t want people over 40 unless they have squillions of dollars to bring with them in their tucker bag. Ageism is also rampant. At least I didn’t end up half way up Mount Hagen. Oh. Actually I did. But I was birding not a refugee. PNG is very species rich so perhaps you could give all the boat people binoculars and ask them to do species counts.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Well, you are right Andrew. Australia welcomes people with open arms but with open endlessly deep wallets a condition for a visa. Just fly in and stay. Tens of thousands are doing this anyway.


  7. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Although I was aware of this scheme in Australia, it was an eye-opener for me (from the other side of the world) to listen to that interview. Not that we are free of racism here, but the policies and problems are a little different.
    You are right, this has little to do with space or loss of jobs – red rags waved by politicians – and a lot to do with culture. People are comfortable with others from similar cultures and afraid of the unknown. There’s a subconscious estimate of one’s own culture as The Best, with the inevitable conclusion that other cultures are not-so-good to outright-bad. We are mostly motivated by selfishness and fear that what we hold dear will be changed, and we lack the courage to look over the fence and embrace anything new.
    Familiarity would help to dispel that fear, but the government PNG policy only increases it.
    I like both the idea suggested in the interview and the one by auntyuta above.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you Hilary,

      The idea behind Australia’s punishing treatment of refugees that come by leaky boats is to prevent the people getting on boats in the first place. With 45 million refugees that have nothing to lose, it is the height of being totally out of touch and silly to expect that many will not try and escape the horrors of endless wars and upheavals.
      Actually, it was the Afghans and their camel trains that opened up outback Australia many decades ago helping to establish telephone lines between Adelaide and the North of Australia.
      One reason we are now being overrun by hundreds of thousands of wild camels.


  8. Patti Kuche Says:

    Australia, former penal colony, must feel thrilled and all grown up in now having PNG as its very own dumping ground!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I am sure the Papuans will be kinder and more inclusive of the boat people. It is a country struggling with independence and with having one half of the country being at the mercy of Indonesia with thousands fleeing persecution by the Indonesians, they already know what it means to be escaping torture and oppression. .


  9. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Dr. Advice simplifies it: “why can’t we all just get along?” Obviously that is easier said than done. We live in a multi-ethnic community which offers the opportunity to learn from one another we could not otherwise have. Since we live in the tech center of California, most of our neighbors have some part in that industry. A lot of Vietnamese were coming into this country when I was teaching, and many of that group went into restaurant, or hair salon businesses, however, more now are going into medicine. So immigrants can be a great asset in helping countries grow. But there are many who still disagree. California’s farming would be in a sad state without the Mexicans, and now that we are older and require more help in gardens, handyman repair work etc., we find that no one works harder than they do.


  10. Blogs and Other Input on Refugee/Asylum Seeker Issues - Face to Face Intercultural Says:

    […] Australia’s Dilemma with Boat-People Baffling the World (July 2013) […]


  11. auntyuta Says:

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