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Asylum Seekers and Public Manipulation in Australia

By jamesm in Op-Ed
Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 10:18:35 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

As Australia celebrates it's national day, the agonizing plight of asylum seekers continues to be manipulated for political purposes by a government desperate to hold onto the right-wing vote.


This vote, previously lost to the One Nation party, was largely recaptured by the incumbent conservative Liberal party in the recent federal election. In the weeks leading up to the election, a group of 400 mainly Afghan refugees was rescued from a sinking ship by the Norwegian vessel MV Tampa. The captain of the Tampa tried to bring the refugees to Australia, but was refused entry into Australian territory. After a tense standoff involving the Australian military, the Tampa refugees were transferred to a naval supply ship and sent to neighboring countries as part of the so-called Pacific Solution.

The Liberal government capitalized on what was seen to be a "tough" stance on "illegal immigrants". Dramatic television news footage of SAS troops being deployed to "protect" Australia against these refugees was used by the Liberal party for election campaign commercials. And after the events of September 11th, the government fueled ridiculous public fears that refugees arriving as part of desperate and dangerous people smuggling operations might actually be terrorists in disguise.

Unsurprisingly, the commercial media focused on the most sensational aspects of the most sensational stories, reporting whatever would be most likely to sell the most cars or frozen chickens on a given news day. They, along with many politicians, consistently blurred facts and failed to distinguish between terms such as "illegal immigrant" and "asylum seeker". Little mention was made of the estimated 50,000 mostly UK and USA citizens who were in Australia illegally, while somehow, the arrival of a few hundred refugees was manufactured into a national crisis. Australian talkback radio, helmed by a group of very powerful and somewhat corrupt "shock jocks" helped stir the public into a fearful frenzy. The opposition Labor party was stunned into general agreement with the government, fearing massive election losses by any perception of weakness that might be caused by a more compassionate stance.

After election was held, and it was clear that the campaign against refugees had been effective in helping the Liberal party to reclaim the right-wing vote. The Labor vote collapsed as it had failed to offer substantial alternative to anything.

The political aspects of this campaign continue to this day. A group of asylum seekers being held behind razor wire in the Australian desert are about to enter a 2nd week of hunger strikes. The international news media is again picking up on Australia's refugee policy as the hunger strikes spread to other detention centers, while the government continues to use unsubstantiated claims to malign the asylum seekers. In the current situation, one of the claims is that they have sewn children's lips together as part of a hunger strike. A few months ago, the claim was that children were being thrown overboard ships at sea. The commercial media repeatedly reports such claims as fact without any corroborating evidence.

It is becoming increasingly likely that deaths will occur in the hunger strike protest. While the government previously allowed media access to a recent protest where buildings were burned down, the media has been prevented from accessing the current hunger striking protestors. Last night, media at the site were forced to move further away from the protest, with some having their names taken by federal authorities. One (non-commercial) reporter was even arrested for "refusing to leave commonwealth property".

It is clear that the Australian government is cynically exploiting the refugees' tragic plight, with significant assistance from the commercial media's shallow, sensationalist coverage. We cannot entirely blame politicians for being political, or news companies for selling news. We must, however, ask how we have allowed ourselves to become so thoroughly manipulated in the process.

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Asylum Seekers and Public Manipulation in Australia | 69 comments (69 topical, editorial, 1 hidden)
Even more interesting... (4.25 / 4) (#1)
by ti dave on Sat Jan 26, 2002 at 10:58:47 PM EST

Lisa Curry Kenny, MBE OAM

Oh yes, the Australian of the Year is 29 or 30 years old, yet the Young Australian of the Year is 24?

Doesn't seem very consistent to me. They're both young.
How old do you have to be to be eligible for Senior Australian of the Year?
35?

Cheers and Happy National Australia Day to all you Roo-Gropers!

ti dave


"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

Sad (3.66 / 12) (#2)
by paxus on Sat Jan 26, 2002 at 11:00:52 PM EST

In all honesty, i'm not surprised by this story. Australia's treatment of their aboriginees is well documented as being extremely biased, racist, etc. I feel sorry for those Afghan refugees, as their treatment will not be any better. +1FP


"...I am terrible time, the destroyer of all beings in all worlds, engaged to destroy all beings in this world... " - Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita
Not everyone. (5.00 / 3) (#14)
by G hoti on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 11:01:31 AM EST

From the younger generation (Of Australia) this has been ingraind throughout our whole schooling lives, Whilst racism exists (as it does everywhere in the world) I believe things are on the mend. For example the year 2000 marchs arcoss the nation in all capital citys' for reconciliation, The current NSW syllabus require studys in a few subjects including History, Geography and English on a number of issues faced in the past and the present.

The sad thing I find about the situation is that if the English had originaly declared war on Australia the Aboriginal people would have been givin (by law FWIW) basic rights instead of being gently (or not so gently) pushed aside.

We are not all bad. alex

[ Parent ]
Australia's Aborigines (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by S_hane on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 02:02:09 PM EST

Australia's Aborigines were treated in much the same was as American Indians, Native Indians, and many other conquered races were treated during the equivalent era in other countries; and significantly better than, for instance, Natives in the Americas during the Spanish conquests.

Am I trying to justify the treatment that they received? Of course not. I am simply trying to point out that drawing a parallel between the Australia that existed a century ago and the Australia that exists today is pretty much the same as suggesting that America is only attacking Afghanistan because it wants to use the people as slaves.

The parent post gave an extremely accurate, extremely nice summary of what is currently ocurring in Australian politics. Not the key word here. Politics. Many Australians do not feel the same way. In fact, I'm convinced that the majority of Australians that do support the government's actions only do so because they are not aware of the full story.

Remember: most people don't read news on the 'net. Most people only read their local paper and watch their local news. Most people have an instinctive trust of their government, and everything that it says. Most people aren't even questioning the premise that refugees are "dangerous" in some way.

In 2000, somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people marched across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of Aboriginal rights. Significantly, they marched in protest of the government's stance on Aborigines - the same government that is currently in power. To suggest that Australia holds the same ideals as it did during the oppression of Aborigines last century is extremely disingenious.

So instead of mouthing off about how f*cked we all must be because of something our ancestors did 100 years ago, how about you offer something constructive, like suggestions on how we might be able to tell the Australian goverment that it is completely, and utterly, wrong?

Shane Stephens

[ Parent ]

the public manipulated? (3.00 / 6) (#3)
by gibichung on Sat Jan 26, 2002 at 11:04:56 PM EST

It is clear that the Australian government is cynically exploiting the refugees' tragic plight

What is clear is that the majority of the Australian public didn't want to take care of someone else's problem, and the government acted accordingly. I don't see anything wrong with "exploiting" the popular support of this decision.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt

They're people, not a problem. (4.50 / 8) (#4)
by wji on Sat Jan 26, 2002 at 11:49:23 PM EST

If you think they should be left to wander off somewhere and die, say so. Don't hide behind dehumanizing language.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
Who is someone else? (3.87 / 8) (#5)
by jbrw on Sat Jan 26, 2002 at 11:52:34 PM EST

someone else's problem

Just so I know, who is this someone else that the problem belongs to?
---
"We beat the .usians at their own game of zero tolerance"
[ Parent ]

Dead wrong (none / 0) (#39)
by S_hane on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 02:15:23 PM EST

As collective believers in international human rights, and signatories of the U.N. Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the Australian government and public have an obligation to treat the refugees as their own "problem".

The truth of the matter is that the government exploited uninformed concerns by pushing the following myths:

  • If we let these refugees in, we'd be swamped with a deluge of refugees (the truth is that we currently get about 2-4 thousand refugees a year; compare with half a million in America and Germany)
  • The refugees might be terrorists (the September 11 terrorists flew into America with first-class tickets; why would they want to spend several months on an extremely dodgy boat packed with other refugees, very little food, and a high risk of sinking?)
  • Indonesia threw them out so we should too (Indonesia is not a signatory to the treaty, we should not have signed if we wanted to act like fucking barbarians towards underpriveledged people as well).
  • Because we stopped them before they got to Australia, we are not obliged to take them in ("compassion" is obviously not a word in the Australian government's dictionary)

The majority of the Australian public were tricked into agreeing with an action that is questionable at best. If you agree with the Howard government's stance on this issue, then I think you should probably do a bit more reading.

Shane Stephens

[ Parent ]

politics (4.33 / 3) (#6)
by rhyax on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 01:45:10 AM EST

recaptured by the incumbent conservative Liberal party

I'm unfamiliar with Australian politics, is that right? That's an interesting naming system you use if so. :) What is the really liberal party called?

I'm not familiar with Aussie politics either (4.33 / 3) (#7)
by sticky on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 05:01:53 AM EST

But here in British Columbia we just had a provincial election, the result of which was a crushing landslide by the Liberal party. Their platform was based on the all-too-familiar tax cuts, privatisation, social program spending cuts and all of the other conservative tactics. The federal Liberal party, while more towards the centre, is still quite conservative.

Don't confuse Liberals with liberals.


Don't eat the shrimp.---God
[ Parent ]
Liberal party (4.50 / 2) (#9)
by enterfornone on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 07:49:04 AM EST

My understanding is that it's something like this:

Way way back Australia had three main parties, the socialist Labor Party, the liberal Liberal Party and the conservative Conservative Party. After a while the Labor party lost it's socialist roots and became more a liberal party, the Liberal and Conservative parties grew smaller and various other parties came into play. Eventually the Liberal, Conservative and other parties merged into what is the Liberal party today.

The Liberal party is, economically at least, more left wing than the US Conservatives and probably more left than the Democrats.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Not that hard (4.50 / 2) (#12)
by BobaFatt on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 08:35:28 AM EST

Hell, Magie was probably left of the US democrats.


The Management apologise for any convenience caused.
[ Parent ]
Liberlism and Locke (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by cam on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 11:24:37 AM EST

That's an interesting naming system you use if so

Not really I think it is unusual that in the US the term Liberal has become a smear. Liberalism is based in Locke's philosophy. From Palmers page, "Liberalism is a philosophy which asserts that there should be as much individual freedom in a society as is compatible with the freedom of others.". Unfortunately the Australian Liberal Party (ALP) has a lot of social conservatives who often transgress that philosophy by attempting to push through legislation on policing moral behaviour.

The Liberal Party's US equivalent is the Republicans and the Labour Party's US equivalent is the Democrats. Both Liberal and Labour have become centrist in the last 20 years as they rely on populist vote. So not much differentiates them anymore. Voter choice is often on the culture of personality now.

The Liberal Party a an introduction to their history and philosophy. The Labour Party an introduction to their history and philosophy. A camparison between the parties platforms. The Australian system supports more than one party, the Liberal government is a coalition with the Country Party, there are also parties suh as the Australian Democrats, Greens etc. At differant times minor parties have held power in the Senate, most notably the Democrats at the Federal level and the Greens in Tasmania.

The best introduction to Australian Politics on the web is Palmers Oz Politics. It is an excellent page which gives a broad introduction to the Australian system and many of the issues past and present which AUstralian has faced in it's political system.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Some corrections. (none / 0) (#27)
by Jacques Chester on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 10:10:01 PM EST

Disclaimer: I am a Liberal. That out of the way, I'll just correct a few small mistakes in your posting, as a person fairly familiar with Australia's system of government.

Unfortunately the Australian Liberal Party (ALP)
To avoid confusion with the Australian Labor Party, the normal form is "Liberal Party of Australia", or simply "The Liberals". ALP is reserved for Labor. You will be severely confused when reading Australian political commentary if you don't follow this convention.
the Liberal government is a coalition with the Country Party
The Liberals are in coalition with the National Party, which was formerly known as the Country Party. The Liberals actually have the numbers to rule in their own right, but the relationship with the Nats is deeply entrenched and prevents a damaging split of the conservative countryside vote.

You may have been confused by the Country Liberal Party, in the Northern Territory. It was a direct merger of the then Country and Liberal parties, simply because at the time (about 30 years ago) the NT had such a small population.

At differant times minor parties have held power in the Senate, most notably the Democrats at the Federal level
It is more accurate to say, "held the balance of power". Typically either the Coalition or the ALP hold the technical majority in parliament, but not enough to actually have over 50% of votes. Hence minor parties can wield disproportionate power in the Senate, whereas they barely appear in the House of Representatives. This is due to the different forms of election for each. Whereas the HoR is decided seat-by-seat, Senate seats are multi-member electorates decided state-by-state. This makes it easier for smaller parties to get into the Senate. This is how the Democrats and Greens continue to survive.

I'm happy to answer any questions by email as well.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]

Debate in the Liberal Party? (none / 0) (#30)
by driptray on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 11:04:22 PM EST

Jacques, IIRC, you are a member of the Young Libs, and so I'd like to ask you whether you are aware of any debate currently occurring in the Liberals over the asylum seeker/detention policy? I can't imagine there being much criticism at the moment, seeing as the policy appears to be playing so well with the public. But perhaps people are preparing positions in case public opinion shifts away from a hard line, as some people claim it is beginning to?

I presume you agree that the "liberal" wing of the party has been in decline, beaten down by the social conservatives and new right economic ideologues, particularly in NSW. Any comments in general from your perspective?


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
Debate? Alas, War. (none / 0) (#48)
by Jacques Chester on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 07:22:24 PM EST

There is debate in the party, but it is not substantive. Most Liberals support some form of the border integrity position, as I do. It's difficult, and it's unkind, but felt necessary. The better solution, as I keep pointing out, is to go to the source - Afghanistan - and start taking on refugees there. They shouldn't have to risk their lives, spend their savings, only to be told that they are illegal immigrants, as many of them will be. Howard is being light on the till. Ruddock has a free hand on this. You will recall that he chose to pick the portfolio back up after the election.

However the focus in the party, at least federally, is the upcoming succession, the Abbot versus Costello match, which also, surprise surprise, breaks down as NSW (Abbot, Howard) vs Victoria (Costello).

I presume you agree that the "liberal" wing of the party has been in decline, beaten down by the social conservatives and new right economic ideologues, particularly in NSW. Any comments in general from your perspective?
I would agree somewhat. Costello forces have started moving lately. At the most recent Young Liberal convention, delegates arrived for the first time from Tasmania. They were flown in, accomodated, given pocket money and kept away from other delegates. At the end of the convention they appeared and voted for Costello supporters to be delegated to the Federal Executive. Nobody was very surprised, but it tipped the balance. That's two more votes for Costello on Exec when things hit the fan. Shane Stone will be their next target. I for one wouldn't be crying too much.

The dries look to the wets, and see people who they feel have more in common with Labor than with them. I am myself a semi-dry, semi-wet, and I'm known as a person who takes a position issue-by-issue. Which helps :)

Sorry if I can't give you a better answer, though.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]

No worries (none / 0) (#46)
by cam on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 07:09:09 PM EST

Jacques, I'll just correct a few small mistakes in your posting

No worries, I have been out of the country for quite a few years now, so my memory is bound to be out of date at times. The main purpose of the post was to pass folks along to Palmers Oz Politics site which is a far better and more detailed introduction than anything I can do.

Thanks for clearing up the errors.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Indeed :) (none / 0) (#52)
by Jacques Chester on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 11:16:10 PM EST

Sorry for sounding so preachy.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]
Listing of Senators and Representatives (none / 0) (#53)
by cam on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 11:38:00 PM EST

but not enough to actually have over 50% of votes.

I found a listing of the Senators broken up by Party on http://australianpolitics.com.au/. Also a complete listing of Senators since 1901. Both show the representation of the parties and how the major parties have lagged under 50% majorities since 1983 with the consistent number of Australian Democrat Senators. The Australian Democrats unlike the Liberal and Labour Senators can conscience vote which is more in the spirit of what the Senate was intended by the founders of federation, it has failed though to protect State rights.

There are also listing of representation in the lower house as well from 1972 to 2001 and from 1943 to 2001. The latter graph shows that it is harder for an incumbant to lose than a newcomer to win. In the last 20 years there has been three changes, Whitlams dismissal, Hawkes "drovers dog" victory and Howard replacing Keating. Not much movement at the top.

Hence minor parties can wield disproportionate power in the Senate, whereas they barely appear in the House of Representatives.

I dont think it is disproportionate, if the major parties allowed for conscience votes and represented their electorates rather than their parties then the minor parties in the senate wouldnt be the balance so often. I know I used to vote for minority parties in the Senate with the express aim of keeping the main parties honest. At the Senate level I distrusted the two major parties.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

The Senate (none / 0) (#54)
by Jacques Chester on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 02:20:26 AM EST

The Australian Democrats unlike the Liberal and Labour Senators can conscience vote which is more in the spirit of what the Senate was intended by the founders of federation, it has failed though to protect State rights.
Liberal and Labor Senators can - and do, from time to time - introduce "private member's bills". I am unclear on the specifics, but it seems that by convention this means that members are free to vote according to their conscience.
I dont think [minor party power in the Senate] is disproportionate, if the major parties allowed for conscience votes and represented their electorates rather than their parties then the minor parties in the senate wouldnt be the balance so often. I know I used to vote for minority parties in the Senate with the express aim of keeping the main parties honest. At the Senate level I distrusted the two major parties.
It is considered disproportionate by some persons for two reasons. Firstly, low-population states such as Tasmania have their votes "multiplied". Two, minor-party candidates often get elected on preferences of major-party candidates. Very few of them make quota in their own right.

That said, the Senate is expressly meant to be different in composition and behaviour. So apart from some tweaking, I'd leave it be.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]

Sitting Liberal Members (none / 0) (#56)
by cam on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 12:37:45 PM EST

Liberal and Labor Senators can - and do, from time to time - introduce "private member's bills". I am unclear on the specifics, but it seems that by convention this means that members are free to vote according to their conscience.

I believe this is a Liberal Party convention only, and part of the Liberalism basis. IIRC a sitting Liberal Party member is allowed to introduce one personal piece of legislation which can be repugnant to the party. Many moons ago (84?) I recall Alisdair Webster in Sydneys North West introducing legislation on anti-abortion. His local party members tried to stop him and remove him because of it, but under liberal party rules he was allowed to. Even though it was highly unpopular within his local electorates party's ranks.

For all intensive purposes party discipline in the Senate is absolute. Australian voters though have moderated it by giving the swinging votes to a smaller party in the Senate which has a moderating force on the two major parties, ie the Democrats and Greens. I think Australian voters have made the system work for them.

Jefferson believed Government gains at the expense of liberty which is why the US has a bill of rights. The founders of federation believed Federal Government gains at the expense of the States. This has been very true for Australian politics in the last century. The Senate was supposed to protect the States, since the Senate hasnt, I would put in a States "Bill of Rights" which I think would help localize Representative politicians and stop overt Federalism.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Australian Political Parties For Dummies (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by Beechmere on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 09:20:41 PM EST

Liberal Party. Mostly conservative, middle-aged, middle and upper class. They have most of the money in Australia. Labor Party. Blue collar workers, low-income or retired. They demand social security at any cost. Democrats. Young voters, uni students, anyone with an arts degree, bleeding hearts. Greens Democrats, but with beards and sandals. One Nation Red-necks, anti-immigration, tough-stancers

[ Parent ]
Australian for "liberal" (3.00 / 4) (#8)
by Lode Runner on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 06:45:56 AM EST

When the hell are Australian liberals (not the "Liberal" government, I mean LIBERALS) going to rescue these poor people? Not today, because they're presently too busy complaining about an apparently much more serious human rights crisis in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

These poor boat people. Nobody's going to come and rescue them. Australian liberals have pretty much acquiesced. For all their sanctimonious talk about human rights, we see that when push comes to shove, they don't want Afghans and Kurds and Iranians in their (out)back(yards) either. Better just quietly drop the whole matter. Newsflash: you're not liberal, you're a bunch of poseurs!

It just makes me sick, the way liberal Australians harp on U.S. "war crimes" against murderous al-Qaeda fighters and then are so quiet about a much larger human rights tragedy on their own soil.

Let's get this straight: Australian liberals are spilling more ink demanding that Taliban/Al-Qaeda fighters reap the benefits of the Geneva Convention, while they ignore the plight of the Taliban's victims on their own continent?

Hey, maybe it's like one of those Foster's "Australian for..." beer commercials here in the States. "Australian for 'liberal'" apparantly denotes refugees starving themselves in concentration camps because "liberals" are too busy lecturing Americans on how we should treat the refugees' original tormentors.

I'm a hypocritical, ignorant American, so I can be ignored. I'll let others finish my argument more effectively: Australian journalist Meera Atkinson's, Salon.com article, "America the scapegoat" shows us these hypocritical Aussie lefty whingers for all they're worth.

Hmmm... Australia Day's here. Laperouse may have been a week late, but French-style superciliousness seems to have taken hold anyway.

p.s. - here's the usual disingenuous disclaimer that I have nothing against Australians (I really admire Peter Singer) but rather I disagree with their government's policies and the bulk of the Australian political spectrum's complicity in those policies.



Not the liberals (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by enterfornone on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 08:40:10 AM EST

Most Australian "small l" liberals are just as much pro-US as they are anti-immigration. Australian main left wing party is totally supportive of the US war and of the Liberal immigration policy.

Most of the US bashing comes from the socialists, who are also the most vocal supporters of refugees. They are a minority, but a very loud one (Australian libertarians on the other hand are almost unheard of in the mainstream).

I like Singer too, tho he's hardly representative of the average Australian.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
how do you classify yourself? (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by Lode Runner on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 11:13:05 AM EST

Because, having had to put up with FUD and slanders like this makes me really wonder about where you fit into this scheme. You don't strike me as a socialist, but the alacrity with which you rise to criticize and make unflattering generalizations about the US (see your comments in the aforelinked article) is also unmistakable.

From what you've written here on K5 it is clear to me that you'd rather spend you time criticizing the USA than our nest. Look at your response to this post. And where is this expose of Australian rights abuses you promised? I mean, you could've taken a little break from whining about Afghanistan to hammer out a couple MLPs.

I don't give a short shit about the rantings of the Australian branch of the Trots 'n Taliban Left. Rather, it's people just like you, the moderates with their low-grade and casual anti-Americanism that grate my nerves. It's not the criticism (that is in its own rights useful and if inappropriate can easily be deflected), it's the prejudice that gets to me. The Atkinson article is aimed squarely at people like you.



[ Parent ]

People like me (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by enterfornone on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 11:25:33 AM EST

Yeah I was going to do an article, just haven't gotten around to it. I do have a life beleive it or not.

But I think I've been just as critical of the Australian government as I have been of the US.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Free Clue Service (5.00 / 3) (#19)
by pw201 on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 02:17:13 PM EST

You don't strike me as a socialist, but the alacrity with which you rise to criticize and make unflattering generalizations about the US (see your comments in the aforelinked article) is also unmistakable.

--- BEGIN FREE CLUE ---

The world outside the USA does not regard the word "socalist" an insult.

--- END FREE CLUE ---



[ Parent ]

Liberal party policies (4.00 / 2) (#23)
by iwnbap on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 08:00:11 PM EST

- The party supports the mandatory detention of refugees.
- The party is mostly silent (has released ambigous statements, and none from senior levels) about the Australians held in Cuba.

I suspect you misundertand; the moniker "Liberal" was adopted in the 1950's when the meaning was entirely different to the US today; it essentially connoted individual freedom - the government should be "liberal" and not tell people what to do. The word's etymology comes from the word for freedom. If you think "right-wing concept of individual freedom" rather than "lefty hand wringing" when you hear "Liberal" you'll be on the right track.

The amount of press the refugees have received had dwarfed that of the Cuba/Hicks situation by about 10 to 1. Furthermore the left-right split is a bit odd here. My impression is that the lefty-hand-wringers are opposed to the detention, the no-big-taxin-big-spendin-govmint-ites are also mildly opposed, (since it costs so much to detain them, and it _is_ counter to their locke/individual freedom philosophy) however the lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key-ites are all for it, ad vocally.


[ Parent ]
liberalism etc (none / 0) (#25)
by Lode Runner on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 08:47:26 PM EST

I think the first two lines of my post demonstrated that I understand that there's a difference between what Australians mean by "liberal" and what Americans mean by "liberal".

I don't want to haggle about the semantics of the whole liberal/liberatarian/liberalist/righty vs. lefty thing at this point, so let's suffice it say that in ther context of my post, "liberal" describes an Australian who leans to the left of center on most political issues. It all makes sense from the American's perspective, though perhaps not yours.

Well, we are divided by a common language. I should have used "leftist" instead of "liberal". One man's liberal is another's libertarian. John Walker Lindh's parents are California liberals who are apologetically arguing that their son was on some kind of spiritual journey. They're liberal, as in open-minded to leftist change.



[ Parent ]

Interesting (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by S_hane on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 02:35:02 PM EST

Your media reports Australians yelling at America about the treatment of the Cuban prisoners, yet it does not report Australians speaking out against their own goverment in their own country.

Conclusion: Australians must not speak out against their own goverment in their own country! No, they must all implicitly believe what they're told!

Just because your media doesn't report something, doesn't mean it isn't happening. I'm an Australian; I don't give a fuck about what's happening in Cuba. I also spend a significant portion of my life campaigning against the stupid, inane things our current goverment is doing.

So while we're on the topic, lets turn this thing around: America is complaining about Australia turning away a mere 400 refugees (and finding homes for them), while at the same time they deport 80,000 immigrants using "expedited removal" (more than they accepted), and keep another 20,000 in jail (see this page)? Sheesh! What "hypocritical ... lefty whingers"!

I find it quite ironic that you have fallen victim to exactly the problem that this story mentions: people believe what they hear (or don't hear) in the news; and the news only reports what is sensational.

Shane Stephens

[ Parent ]

Government's tough stance (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by enterfornone on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 07:58:28 AM EST

One thing you didn't mention is that despite the government's "tough stance" we are still paying to house these refugees in detention centres and in neighbouring countries.

On the other hand, a number of welfare organisations have offered to support these refugees if the government was to release them from detention and let them stay.

So instead of a humane solution funded by volentary contributions, we have an inhumane solution funded by the taxpayer.

One of the few pro-immigration parties in Australia is the Liberal Democratic Party. They didn't have enough members to run in the last federal election. If you care about this issue consider joining so they can run in the next.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.

Humane Treatment by Welfare Organizations (2.00 / 6) (#11)
by FcD on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 08:35:07 AM EST

You should look at the ICRC-run camps in France, where refugees are free to come and go as they please. One day, about 800 of them decided they wanted to invade England. They told the ICRC camp director who decided to do nothing to stop them. Thousands of police had to be mobilized, with dogs, and the Chunnel had to be shut down for the better part of a day. One Afghan refugee was later decapitated when he jumped on a train.

If you think hunger strikes and camp burnings are bad, wait till they start turning Australia into a miniature Kunduz.

Afghans, accustomed to life in Afghanistan, must be pretty desperate to stay in the "West". However, they are no longer "refugees" as the conflict in Afghanistan is over. They should be sent back.

[ Parent ]

Send them back or take them in (5.00 / 2) (#18)
by pyramid termite on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 12:02:42 PM EST

... and make the decision in a couple of weeks. Keeping them locked up for months is inhumane; being a refugee is not a criminal act. And yes, the US government needs to stop doing this as well.
On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
Exactly! (4.00 / 1) (#41)
by S_hane on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 02:41:05 PM EST

Thank you, finally a post that does not involve finger-pointing or accusations.

We should do exactly this. And we should stop making laws saying "this part of Australia is Australia if a refugee lands on it, but this part isn't."

And America may well need to do the same thing. But it's just going to keep happening if we spend more time accusing each other of being "more badderer" than actually thinking of solutions. Not that I can think of any at the moment ;-)

Shane Stephens

[ Parent ]

Meanwhile in the UK... (5.00 / 2) (#21)
by Paul Johnson on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 05:51:04 PM EST

<I>Little mention was made of the estimated 50,000 mostly UK and USA citizens who were in Australia illegally, while somehow, the arrival of a few hundred refugees was manufactured into a national crisis</I>
<P>
Fascinating. Over here in the UK we have a precisely reciporical situation. Illegal immigration and asylum seekers are supposed to be a major crisis, but the biggest national group of illegal immigrants are the Australians.
<P>
Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
Definition of parties. (5.00 / 2) (#22)
by toastman on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 07:06:12 PM EST

just for all you non-australians out there.

The Liberal Government are not liberal. They're conservative.

The current opposition is the 'Australian Labor Party', who are the liberals in the real sense of the word.

Definitions of parties (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by leonh on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 11:43:10 AM EST

The labour opposition believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

The liberal government don't know the difference between right and wrong.

The national party wasn't aware that there was a difference.

The democrats are awaiting the press conference to announce their position on right and wrong, but only if their leader Natasha can be filmed against a poster of the former leader Meg Lees which makes Meg look fat.

Basically the Australian political spectrum is centre to right wing. The comment that the liberals hold sufficient power on their own is only partly so - they may do in the lower house, in the upper they require the support of the Nationals. Legislation must be able to pass both houses to be effective.

I raise my eyebrows at the supprise the australian left show at the manipulation by the liberal party. Historically, the liberals gain their power by division - they are usually a minority party that gets into power by playing divide and conquor games. The preceeding election it was bash the unemployed. Now it is bash the illegal immigrants.
In both cases, a fairly substantial effort was made to demonise those targets. John Howard is the kid who points at the school fatso, and then while you are looking steals your lunch. Kim Beasley ( former opposition leader) was that fatso. But John understands democracy well - that in order to let him take away rights from the majority he must persuade them that he is taking away the privileges of some straw man group like refugees, or unemployed, or aboriginees. (remember the ATSIC bashing anyone?). So the real election issues of why education and health services are falling to bits, why we have over 6.5 % unemployment in the best period of postwar growth never even got looked at. The left couldn't even win with that in their favour? Maybe we did get the better government after all!

I guess that the old labour guys from the fifties must be nodding ruefully about all this - they've seen it all before with Menzies and the reds under the beds. Wonder what old Doc Evatt would say? Commie infiltrators or fifth column Afghans?

Pity also to choose these people to vilify - Australia glorified and respected the old Afghans that drove the camel trains through South Australia to the Northern Territory - they were vital for communications and supplies in the harsh rural stations.

just my opinion.
yours may differ.
so be it.

[ Parent ]
Labor? Small-l-liberal? Nah. (none / 0) (#62)
by daniels on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 08:22:35 AM EST

Big-L-Liberal means the Liberal Party (i.e. right-wing conservative), while small-l-liberal means "liberal" in the dictionary sense of the word.

Labor aren't small-l-liberal in any sense of the word now; I'm quite pissed off with them. I'm not yet eligible to vote, but when I am, I can't forsee it being for them.

Any political party that is willing to give up on principles for votes doesn't deserve anyone's vote. They should've just stuck to their line, because they copped it hard from both sides in the election - the Left went over to the Greens or someone sensible (it's hard to include the Democrats in this category now) because they blindly followed the Liberals in an obvious grab for votes, while the Right went to Liberal because they just blindly followed the Liberals, but did a quite poor imitation ("Well, erm, they're nice blokes and all, and I think they should stay, but let's put them in detention centres and kick them out ... er ... that doesn't really work, does it? Well, um, what Johnny said").
--
somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now
[ Parent ]
Oh dear. (4.50 / 2) (#24)
by static on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 08:36:09 PM EST

Is this a diatribe against the current government or against their treatment of illegal immigrants, some of whom are asylum seekers? It's hard to tell.

I'm sure the situation is a whole lot more complex than everyone thinks it is. They are people who have entered or have tried to enter Australia illegally. That some of them are also asylum seekers is likely - but not all of them are and that causes problems and delays in processing their claims. Mandatory detention clearly has it's problems, not the least of which is funding these places. The issues with the UN treaties (such are how and why we signed them in the first place), our so-called reputation, just how many people Australia can environmentally cope with and what we're supposed to do with those denied entry are yet other problems. And I haven't mentioned Indonesia's role in this picture, either.

But the biggest issue I have with the discussin about them is that people are confusing issues of humanity with issues of immigration. Those who were on-board the Tampa were clearly using issues of the former to achieve the means of the latter - which I find disgraceful and highly immoral. (And I have little respect for the captain of the Tampa who should have gone to the closest port - Indonesia - but instead chose to go out of his way to take them towards Australia.)

I fully agree with the Government's current stance: those protesting are trying to blackmail the immigration department into setting them free. I don't care who is in power so long as they won't accede to that. Putting them in the community whilst their claim is being processed does not work: we already know those denied just vanish.

Wade.



They were asylum seekers. (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by jamesm on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 09:30:13 PM EST

You write:
But the biggest issue I have with the discussin about them is that people are confusing issues of humanity with issues of immigration. Those who were on-board the Tampa were clearly using issues of the former to achieve the means of the latter - ...
All but seven of the 131 Tampa asylum seekers sent to New Zealand have since had their claims assessed as valid.

See: New Zealand grants a new life to its Tampa refugees.

I have heard of television reports that only one asylum claim is now outstanding, but don't have an online reference.

[ Parent ]

(N)Oh dear. (1.00 / 1) (#34)
by martingale on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 05:14:27 AM EST

(begin sarcasm)
That's a rather nice beginning:

Is this a diatribe against the current government
or against their treatment of illegal immigrants,
some of whom are asylum seekers? It's hard to tell.

I can do that sort of thing too:
Have you asked your neighbour already whether he has
stopped beating his wife, yet?
(end sarcasm)

There is no doubt that the original post is against
both the government and their treatment of the
refugees, as the current policy reflects an
administration which is now in its third term
in office. By any stretch of the imagination,
the current mess cannot be attributed to the
decisions of the preceding labour government.
Thus when judging immigration decisions, we are
also judging the fundamental values of the government.

It's easy to accept immigration minister Ruddock's
nomenclature of these people: they are illegal
immigrants, queue jumpers who take the quota
place of some poor soul who waits patiently,
often for several years in their home country for
word of acceptance by the local Australian embassy
or other UN accredited organization.

It's also a whole lot of nonsense. Afghanistan,
pre 9/11, was not the place where you would sit
around patiently for a letter to arrive in the mail. The
refugees we are talking about, and not all of them are
Afghans, are desperate people who gave in to the
extortionist demands of people smugglers for a chance
at a less painful life (Would you personally brave
dangers and diseases to go establish yourself in a
distant land whose language you do not speak
and whose culture you don't understand, separating
yourself from family and friends in the process,
simply for tax relief?).

The current government decided to draw an election
line in the sand, with a simplistic NIMBY (not in
my backyard) solution: stop people from entering
the territorial waters, and legally they'll be
someone else's problem. This is not a solution.
Over the next twenty five years, the world's
population is projected to grow to anywhere
between 8 and 14 billion - nitpicking about a
couple of hundred people now which can easily be
absorbed by the country compared to the millions
absorbed by the rest of the world is high profile
shortsightedness.

What do we get for the hundreds of thousands of
dollars saved in processing costs through the
existing Australian infrastructure? Well, there's
millions of dollars spent bribing small pacific
islands to take some of the refugees on their own
soil for processing, there's millions of dollars
of future tourist income lost (of course that can
be blamed on the current terrorism fears), there's
the damage to the goodwill of Australia's
neighbours like Indonesia (but I suspect that can
be rectified over time through investments and
trade), and so on.

What's my point? It doesn't matter anymore if this
is an issue of *humanity* (morality) or *immigration*
(legality), the damage is there and growing. The line
in the sand needs to be wiped away quickly.

There is nothing wrong with processing the
comparatively minimal numbers of people arriving
directly on Australia's shores according
to the same standards used by other western democracies.
We've done it before, we can do it again.

[ Parent ]
Umm.. (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by S_hane on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 02:57:10 PM EST

They sold all their worldy possessions, avoided an oppressive regime, paid a ridiculous amount for the 'priveledge' of travelling in a rusty, decrepit old boat packed to the gills with other people, got to Indonesia, got kicked out of there, sank, got picked up, and tried to go towards Australia instead of back to Indonesia (where they would just have been kicked out again).

Obviously they're just trying to manipulate us.

Get this into your head: We have a moral and legal obligation to accept those of these people which are legitimate asylum seekers. Statistics suggest that this will be approximately 92% of the people on the boat (figure from here).

I also find it extremely hard to believe that 400 people will environmentally stress Australia.

And before you bag out the captain of the Tampa, read this. Certainly not as clear cut as you attempt to suggest, huh?

Shane Stephens

[ Parent ]

BBC report is not surprising. (none / 0) (#43)
by static on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 05:40:45 PM EST

It is a good find. I had put together the same story from several other reports, most of them on the ABC news site.

I agree the captain was put in a very difficult position. You can't completely absolve the refugees of that - they forcefully insisted he change course and take them to Australia!

    Get this into your head: We have a moral and legal obligation to accept those of these people which are legitimate asylum seekers. Statistics suggest that this will be approximately 92% of the people on the boat

The first problem I have with these asylum seekers is that their actions are screaming "take us now! we don't care that there are others seeking asylum!" The second problem is that we have to treat them differently if they make their way onto our shores.

Wade.



[ Parent ]
Myth (none / 0) (#55)
by S_hane on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 06:01:05 AM EST

Unfortunately, the impression that these asylum seekers are "queue jumpers" is another myth promulgated by the Australian government.

Keep in mind that these people left Afghanistan before the destruction of the Taleban regime, when it seemed that this regime would last for a very long time.

The Taleban was only officially recognised by a handful of governments. At the moment, the only one I can think of was Pakistan.

Significantly, this meant that there were no Australian, American, New Zealand (etc, etc, etc) embassies in Afghanistan. There was _no_ valid way for these guys to sign up for "asylum seeking".

As one person once put it to me "What queue are they jumping? It's not like there's people lining up at some office in Afghanistan which says 'apply here if you feel you're being oppressed by your government'!"

It's not that these people don't "care" about other asylum seekers, it's just that there was no other way open for them to seek asylum.

Another issue is that we don't have refugee 'quotas' in Australia. No country that is a signatory to the refugee treaty does. It's part of the treaty. Hence, these people aren't exactly "taking other refugee's places" either - there's room enough for all.

The second problem that you bring up is exactly a reflection of the fact that there isn't a legal recourse to being a refugee in many countries.

Obviously the situation isn't perfect, but I think it's always better to err on the side of compassion. Most of these guys have been through situations we can't even imagine. It's shaped their entire life, not to mention the way they react to situations. Is our society so degenerate that we can't recognise this, and adjust our viewpoint accordingly?

Shane Stephens

[ Parent ]

Contested points. (none / 0) (#57)
by Jacques Chester on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 07:24:37 PM EST

I would not say that the Liberals lied, not directly. They have instead "expanded the truth" (ha!). To whit:

There was _no_ valid way for these guys to sign up for "asylum seeking".
Ah. But here's the first part of the problem. There was. Afghanistan is a landlocked country, meaning that these refugees needed to cross someone's borders. Did they apply for refugee status there? They could have. Sure, there were no anzac missions there, but the UNHCR is active in refugee camps all around Afghanistan.

This is the "queue" to which Ruddock refers. Those people have proven refugee status. Yet the ones arriving via boat have clearly not followed that process. They instead travelled to a second country in the hopes of going to a third - Australia. If you go and read your treaty, you will notice that this is, approximately speaking, not covered.

What makes it "legal", in a manner of speaking, is that Indonesia is not a signatory to the same treaty that we are. Is there outcry about that? Hardly. What also makes it "legal" is that these refugees destroy their identity papers, which is a fairly definite sign that they view this as a one-way trip. Real refugees - people who left only because of persecution - hold on to those papers, because those papers allow them to reclaim their property when they go home. As it is, the asylum-seekers could be Tajiks, Uzbeks, Pakistanis ... how would we know?

As one person once put it to me "What queue are they jumping? It's not like there's people lining up at some office in Afghanistan which says 'apply here if you feel you're being oppressed by your government'!"
Yes, of course, this is obvious. This is why the refugee treaty says that you apply for asylum in the next country you get to. You are confusing refugees and immigrants.
Another issue is that we don't have refugee 'quotas' in Australia.
Yes, as a matter of fact, we do.

The UNHCR can process refugees in situ, then well-meaning countries can volunteer to take on as many of UNHCR-approved refugees as they like. Australia, not sharing land borders with anyone else, and its nearest neighbour not being party to the treaty, generally finds that it deals almost solely in pre-approved refugees. Since we volunteer to take these people, rather than processing their claims after they arrive, we can choose to admit as many or as few as we bloody well please. That was the point of the "pacific solution", by the way: it pushes responsibility back onto the UNHCR. The clear message is that you will be UNHCR approved or you will be kept out.

Obviously the situation isn't perfect, but I think it's always better to err on the side of compassion.
I think it's important to be compassionate. I for one would like to see Australia expanding its voluntary quota and start flying people out of the camps in Pakistan and elsewhere who already have UNHCR approval. But compassion cannot come at the cost of looking at the situation without misty eyes. We must be compassionate, yes - but we must do so, to go Howard Youff here, "on our terms".

Disclaimer - yes, I'm a Liberal. No, I don't pack horns, hooves or a tail.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]

Not that simple (none / 0) (#58)
by S_hane on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 08:26:14 AM EST

    Ah. But here's the first part of the problem. There was. Afghanistan is a landlocked country, meaning that these refugees needed to cross someone's borders. Did they apply for refugee status there? They could have. Sure, there were no anzac missions there, but the UNHCR is active in refugee camps all around Afghanistan.

I'm not sure that this is quite a simple as you are making out. Remember that these people are being transported by people smugglers, and that these people smugglers have an active interest in not getting caught. It's quite likely that once they sign up to this particular course of action, the refugees aren't able to visit the UNHCR refugee camps around Afghanistan. Further, to note that something exists does not necessarily imply that the people it is intended for are aware that it exists.

Basically, these camps are there, but do the refugees know they are there? As you can see, this issue certainly isn't as clear cut as "these must be queue jumpers"...

    What makes it "legal", in a manner of speaking, is that Indonesia is not a signatory to the same treaty that we are. Is there outcry about that? Hardly. What also makes it "legal" is that these refugees destroy their identity papers, which is a fairly definite sign that they view this as a one-way trip. Real refugees - people who left only because of persecution - hold on to those papers, because those papers allow them to reclaim their property when they go home. As it is, the asylum-seekers could be Tajiks, Uzbeks, Pakistanis ... how would we know?

Of course there's an outcry about Indonesia's position in this. However, when you get down to it, what they sign is up to them, not us.

As for papers, are you sure that you are not assigning motives to the refugees? Could they, just perhaps, have destroyed their papers to escape political persecution?

    Yes, of course, this is obvious. This is why the refugee treaty says that you apply for asylum in the next country you get to. You are confusing refugees and immigrants.

And it must also be obvious that the refugees all have a thorough and intuitive understanding of the refugee treaty. And, thank you, but I am not "confusing refugees and immigrants" - our illustrious news sources are plenty good enough at that for all of us.

These people are not well-informed, malignant cititzens of some shady underworld. They are frightened, under attack by members of their own country, and desperately trying to find a way to escape. Try and look at things from their point of view for once.

One final point: my understanding is that we do _not_ have quotas for refugees; only for immigrants. Could you please point me to a government document that proves me wrong, if this is not the case?

[ Parent ]

Further replies. (none / 0) (#59)
by Jacques Chester on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 11:08:36 PM EST

I'm not sure that this is quite a simple as you are making out.
No, of course it's not. But neither was it as simple as you made out in your previous post. The issue, at all stages, is fraught with moral ambiguities. This is why both the "free the refugees!" and the "send 'em all home!" crowds really piss me off. It's not easy. It's not simple. And there's no Disney movie ending available. At least we agree on that much.
It's quite likely that once they sign up to this particular course of action, the refugees aren't able to visit the UNHCR refugee camps around Afghanistan. Further, to note that something exists does not necessarily imply that the people it is intended for are aware that it exists.
We'd both be speculating here, but the UNHCR has already processed quite a few refugees (thousands, last time I heard). Besides, the refugees are arriving at UNHCR camps one way or the other - either in Pakistan or in Nauru. Really, the decent thing is to make it clear that paying people smugglers is a dead-end.
Of course there's an outcry about Indonesia's position in this. However, when you get down to it, what they sign is up to them, not us.
Oh. I got the impression that taking on refugees was a moral, rather than merely legal, obligation. Does this mean that if Australia was not a signatory, you would not be upset by our policy?
As for papers, are you sure that you are not assigning motives to the refugees? Could they, just perhaps, have destroyed their papers to escape political persecution?
Destroying those papers means that you cannot be identified. How do you go home? How do you find family? How do you access your savings? Reclaim your property? Act as parent to your children? To my knowledge, there is no historical precedent for the destruction of identity papers. It just so happens that arriving undentified improves the odds of being accepted, and that recently, asylum seekers have started to do it. If you can provide a better theory, I would like to know it. Until then, the limited information available suggests to me that the people-smugglers received legal advice and told their customers to ditch their papers.
And it must also be obvious that the refugees all have a thorough and intuitive understanding of the refugee treaty.
As we so often say: Ignorance is no excuse. Besides, I would say that if you pay a people smuggler, you have already realised that the standard immigration options are not available. That is a failure of government policy.
These people are not well-informed, malignant cititzens of some shady underworld. They are frightened, under attack by members of their own country, and desperately trying to find a way to escape. Try and look at things from their point of view for once.
Don't confuse me. My heart goes out - they have suffered hardship I will never understand. But they were gypped, ripped off, but we can't undo that. If we are soft on the people-smuggling route, we encourage the smugglers to lie to other desperate people. The only option worth considering - the only option, in my opinion - is to maintain border integrity whilst setting up missions in those camps and in Afghanistan. Howard has gone even further, offering help for asylum seekers wishing to go home. But legislation is not reality. Banning people smuggling will not stop it. You need to choke its money-supply, its economic basis. Compare and contrast with our insane drug policy to see what I am getting at.
One final point: my understanding is that we do _not_ have quotas for refugees; only for immigrants. Could you please point me to a government document that proves me wrong, if this is not the case?
To be honest, I don't have the time. Read that as you will, I can only quote to you from admittedly fallible memory. I would be happy to see you shoot me down on this; approaches to truth and such :)

Thanks for the meaningful reply.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]

Response to Further Replies (none / 0) (#60)
by S_hane on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 10:53:30 AM EST

    Really, the decent thing is to make it clear that paying people smugglers is a dead-end.
On this we are in 100% agreement. Now, if we can just figure out a way to do that...
    Destroying those papers means that you cannot be identified. How do you go home? How do you find family? How do you access your savings? Reclaim your property? Act as parent to your children? To my knowledge, there is no historical precedent for the destruction of identity papers.
This link reports the destruction of identity papers during the Kosovo crisis. In particular, the papers were destroyed by those performing the opression, not the opressed. This link discusses reasons why people may enter a country with false papers. Presumably, these arguments can extend to no papers as well. This link talks about 5,000 people on the Afghani border with no identity papers who refuse to enter refugee camps because they don't want to be deported. Hence, I would claim that the destruction of identity papers is common even for those who don't want to claim asylum, as is the existence of people who never recieved identity papers.
    You need to choke its money-supply, its economic basis.
Again, I agree. Significantly, stopping people from entering Australia once they get here ("border integrity") is unlikely to impact upon the people-smuggling operations in countries such as Afghanistan. Hence, denying these people entry is not the solution.

As for the quota, it seems that not even Howard is sure if we have one; and if we do what it is.

Shane Stephens

[ Parent ]

Nitpicking. (4.00 / 5) (#28)
by Jacques Chester on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 10:46:39 PM EST

Disclaimer: I am a Liberal

continues to be manipulated for political purposes by a government desperate to hold onto the right-wing vote.
I don't think that the Federal party is really worried about that right now - the real game inside the party is the forthcoming Abbott & Costello Battle Royale. But South Australia's elections are coming up, and the SA Liberal branch is very keen to scoop up those votes.
... a group of 400 mainly Afghan refugees ...
We don't know that. None of them came with any papers of identification. Basically they can't prove that they are Afghans, but neither can the Australian Government prove that they aren't. This dramatically slows up the processing of their claims, allowing them more time to appeal.

Furthermore, their refugee status is unestablished. No doubt many of them will be. But not all. That's why "asylum-seekers" is a better term.

... was rescued from a sinking ship by the Norwegian vessel MV Tampa. The captain of the Tampa tried to bring the refugees to Australia, but was refused entry into Australian territory.
In case you didn't know, the captain of the MV Tampa was threatened with violence if he did not head for Australian waters. Otherwise, he was closer to Indonesian waters. Under international law he was meant to take those asylum-seekers back to Indonesia, but was forced to head towards Christmas Island.

In short, there was no legal basis for the MV Tampa to enter Australian waters, and no legal basis to claim asylum in Australia. This is why those asylum seekers were shipped to pacific nations - to prevent their claims being assessed in Australia.

The opposition Labor party was stunned into general agreement with the government, fearing massive election losses by any perception of weakness that might be caused by a more compassionate stance.
What Labor discovered, to its great chargin, was that its working-class heartlands supported the Howard line. Thus it was caught between a rock and a hard place: its core voters backed the hardline, but its most vocal supporters backed the softline. They copped it from both directions.
A group of asylum seekers being held behind razor wire in the Australian desert are about to enter a 2nd week of hunger strikes.
Our friend refers to the Woomera detention centre, which was built because Port Hedland was too full to hold any more. It is in the desert to prevent escape attempts such as happened in Sydney. As for the hunger strike, it points to either cynical manipulation, or desperation, or both. Some commentators point out that the vast delays in processing have been caused by endless appeals against decisions by lawyers of the asylum-seekers. If they are concerned about the length of assessment, they should take the first or second decision and live with it. If you cannot prove genuine refugee status, you are an illegal immigrant; thus says the law.
In the current situation, one of the claims is that they have sewn children's lips together as part of a hunger strike.
And yet you believe that there is a hunger strike. Why can there be one but not the other? I too am suspicious, but I am as suspicious of the hunger strike as I am of sewn lips. It strikes me that everyone is lying.
Last night, media at the site were forced to move further away from the protest, with some having their names taken by federal authorities. One (non-commercial) reporter was even arrested for "refusing to leave commonwealth property".
Media are not above the law. Federal police - indeed, any police - are entirely within their rights to request your name and address at any time for any reason. You may of course refuse to answer other questions. Besides, the reporter who refused to leave Commonwealth land was trespassing, trespass laws being the same body of legal strata which stop me from walking into your house any time I please. Again, the media are not above the law. One of the principles of liberal democracies is the rule of law. We do not apply it perfectly, but we must at least try. If that means ruffling the feathers of journos used to easy (permitted) access, so be it.
We must, however, ask how we have allowed ourselves to become so thoroughly manipulated in the process.
Clearly your article shows that not all of "us" have been "manipulated". The media, the Liberal party and so forth; they are playing to existing feeling amongst the Australian populace. That's not so much manipulation as it is pandering.

It is also democracy - something which is uncomfortable. Democracy, by its definition, means that the majority opinion wins. You may not like that, but if you support democracy, you made that choice. This is why liberals, classical liberals, fear democracy as much as they admire its good properties. Majoritarianism can be as tyrannical as the lone despot.

What then, do I propose as the "answer"?

In my opinion, the Australian government needs to set up missions in Afghanistan and in the various refugee camps outside her borders, and begin processing claims in situ. This is the best and fairest method of assessing claims. Currently thousands of genuine refugees in those camps have already been cleared by the UNHCR, and I would see no harm in taking them on as part of our quota. But people who do try to circumvent that existing process have made a grevious error.

The next step is to shut down the people smugglers. These dispicable individuals lie, cheat and kill, inasmuch as they risk the lives of desperate individuals. Let us not kid ourselves: Indonesia is failing to do its portion, and we need to lean on that wayward nation to get it play fair.

Finally, Australia would do well to increase its immigration quotas, both for skilled migrants and refugees. Furthermore these people should be dispersed widely - cramming people into Sydney and Melbourne has caused nothing but trouble and misery. Send them to where they will do good: the remote and underpopulated parts of the continent. Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory, as well as rural New South Wales, rural Queensland and rural West Australia could all use population injections.

Immigration works, and it is honourable to take on refugees. But both must be accomodated within the framework of the law, or there can be no accomodation.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.

Manipulation (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by jamesm on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 11:52:58 PM EST

I don't think your post is niticking, and thanks for the considered response.

Just a couple of points, you write:

And yet you believe that there is a hunger strike. Why can there be one but not the other?
Perhaps I wasn't clear originally. I'm not disputing the existence of the hunger strike, just the claim that has been made by politicians that children's lips were sewn together, which has been reported without investigation in the media. This, along with similar claims, is hugely damaging to the asylum seekers, who have extremely limited means with which to respond.
That's not so much manipulation as it is pandering.
No, I believe that the government is manipulating public perceptions of the issue. They are making damaging claims, in full knowledge that the commercial media will pick up on them, fuelling ill-informed and fearful public outrage. This is not just pandering, it is caclulated political manipulation via the media.

This is what I personally find so disturbing, that these politicians are supposed to be our leaders, and that they would exploit complicated, tragic situations for such cheap political gain.

[ Parent ]

Manipulation/pandering for political gain? (none / 0) (#35)
by doug363 on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 06:10:41 AM EST

No, I believe that the government is manipulating public perceptions of the issue. They are making damaging claims, in full knowledge that the commercial media will pick up on them, fuelling ill-informed and fearful public outrage. This is not just pandering, it is caclulated political manipulation via the media.

I feel that it's short-sighted of you to think that only one side of this debate is actively attempting to manipulate public opinion. From my observation of politics in Australia, both sides are equally guilty. I think there has been some disgusting journalism surrounding this issue: attempting to get people angered; attempting to make people feel guilty; and generally failing to properly separate allegations, rumour, and the journalist's personal bias from fact.

That said, I don't think that the government is using this to gain brownie points with the electorate. Howard has made many decisions which are unpopular (you need look no further than the GST on this), and having just won an election, there's no reason for Howard to really care all that much about his public perception on this issue. Voters (as a collective) have short memories - events 6 months before an election are often overlooked. Rather, I think that the government's motivation on this is quite clear: They believe that the decisions that they are making are morally right. Howard is known for being a conservative, and most left-wing/liberal types despise him (you don't seem to be one of his biggest fans from the tone of your article). So the most logical explanation for the government's actions is that Howard and the government have a different moral/value system to his opponents (shock horror). Sure, disagree/yell/scream all you like, but really, there isn't much reason to believe that the government wants this to be an issue, and so I believe that accusations of political point scoring (by the government at least) are unfounded. If you want further evidence of this, have a look at Phillip Ruddock's taste for publicity before he was Immigration Minister. He was known for being very quiet, and not into press conferences at all.

As an aside, my take on this situation is that there are a few stirrers in the camp (who may have had their application for refugee status rejected) that are ruining the reputations of the rest of the asylumn seekers. If some of the allegations of lip-sewing and whatnot are true, I would be very disappointed in the government if it actually let these types of people in the country. (The thought of people like this having children and being in Australia sickens me. I don't care what situation they're in - these types of actions are barbaric.) That said, the government needs to look at ways of speeding up processing of refugees. There were some good ideas I read in previous posts, such as processing more people at overseas refugee camps and the like. I do think that some sort of detention may be necessary for those who arrive unidentified by boat, and possibly some sort of quarantine if people have been exposed to infectious diseases, but I have no personal experience with the matter so I can't really say.

[ Parent ]

Lucidity. (none / 0) (#50)
by Jacques Chester on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 08:13:32 PM EST

Rather, I think that the government's motivation on this is quite clear: They believe that the decisions that they are making are morally right ... Howard and the government have a different moral/value system to his opponents (shock horror)
Thank you for a lucid point. There are many in the party for whom border integrity is about their principles rather than votes. Ruddock may be running the detention centres, but he's also the leader of the parliamentary chapter of Amnesty International. He was in human rights activism before it was really fashionable.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]
Ruddock and Human Rights (none / 0) (#69)
by gilmae on Thu Feb 07, 2002 at 08:41:24 PM EST

I'm going slightly tangential here. When you hear about the conditions in the refugee detainment centres it always sounds awful. Even after the grain of salt is taken to offset the bias of the source (always seems to be militant liberal activists) it must be pretty horrible in those centres. If that is the case, how can Phillip Ruddock reconcile this with his human rights past.
I've never been to Woomera or Port Hedland or any of the others, so anything I know about them is obviously heresay and is treated as such. But I have to think that if living conditions in those camps were at all comparible to living standards in the wider community, the minority of detainees grabbing attention with stunts like sewing lips together would be told to sit down and shut up.

[ Parent ]
Cynical manipulation, and other issues (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by driptray on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 12:38:09 AM EST

What Labor discovered, to its great chargin, was that its working-class heartlands supported the Howard line. Thus it was caught between a rock and a hard place: its core voters backed the hardline, but its most vocal supporters backed the softline. They copped it from both directions.

Yes, you are describing the "wedge" in "wedge politics".

Some commentators point out that the vast delays in processing have been caused by endless appeals against decisions by lawyers of the asylum-seekers.

There are any number of "commentators" who are nothing but Liberal Party stooges. Alan Jones, Piers Akerman, etc. Do you know the proportion of asylum seekers that appeal?

Media are not above the law. Besides, the reporter who refused to leave Commonwealth land was trespassing, trespass laws being the same body of legal strata which stop me from walking into your house any time I please. Again, the media are not above the law. One of the principles of liberal democracies is the rule of law. We do not apply it perfectly, but we must at least try. If that means ruffling the feathers of journos used to easy (permitted) access, so be it.

Isn't this naive? If the govt wishes the people to have an informed view of the situation, it would be inviting journalists into Woomera, and showing them around. Instead it is deeperately trying to keep them out, so as to prevent any reporting that might seek to present the "detainees" (what a euphemism! - how about "prisoners" instead) as human beings rather than some form of groups scourge. The fact that it uses trespass law to achieve its aim is somewhat worrying, and the fact that you defend this due to the sanctity of the "rule of law" is absurd.

Clearly your article shows that not all of "us" have been "manipulated". The media, the Liberal party and so forth; they are playing to existing feeling amongst the Australian populace. That's not so much manipulation as it is pandering.

Pandering is when the govt follows an opinion spontaneously expressed by the public. Manipulation is when the govt helps to create public opinion, and then panders to the fruit of its creation. The govt is not playing a passive role here - they are egging things on, ratcheting up the rhetoric, driving the wedge ever deeper.

It is also democracy - something which is uncomfortable. Democracy, by its definition, means that the majority opinion wins. You may not like that, but if you support democracy, you made that choice. This is why liberals, classical liberals, fear democracy as much as they admire its good properties. Majoritarianism can be as tyrannical as the lone despot.

Again, this completely ignores the way in which "opinion" is shaped by those with the powerful voices - govt and media proprietors to name a couple. Put simply, majority opinion is a commodity like anything else.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
Pandering? Or Manipulation? (none / 0) (#49)
by Jacques Chester on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 07:50:08 PM EST

There are any number of "commentators" who are nothing but Liberal Party stooges. Alan Jones, Piers Akerman, etc. Do you know the proportion of asylum seekers that appeal?
I lived in Sydney for two years. I read the Sydney Morning Herald and listened to 702 Sydney. Does that make me a "lefty"? Hardly.

Mind you, Akerman and Jones bore me.

But I would be interested in seeing figures on appeal rates and suchlike.

If the govt wishes the people to have an informed view of the situation, it would be inviting journalists into Woomera, and showing them around. Instead it is deeperately trying to keep them out, so as to prevent any reporting that might seek to present the "detainees" (what a euphemism! - how about "prisoners" instead) as human beings rather than some form of groups scourge.
There are several possibilities. Firstly, the Government does want the refugees to "win" by having demands met. It would encourage trouble in future. Secondly, the sewn lips might be a blatant or overblown lie. Third, perhaps things really are so bad that they feel the electorate would turn on them. Fourth, they expect that some journo with Walkley-lust would go bananas with comparisons to concentration camps. Or, "all of the above".
The fact that it uses trespass law to achieve its aim is somewhat worrying, and the fact that you defend this due to the sanctity of the "rule of law" is absurd.
Here we go our seperate ways. It would be better for the Government to swallow and let people in. In the meantime, I restate my point: the media are not above the law.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]
An Australian's Point of View (none / 0) (#29)
by bertok on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 10:52:29 PM EST

The harsh reality is that Australia simply cannot afford to accept any significant number of illegal immigrants. If we don't make an example of those that try to break the law, millions will follow in their footsteps. Keep in mind that unlike the United States and most of Europe, Australia has a population of only 19 million, 25,700 km of mostly uninhabited coastline, and a large number of overpopulated third world countries only a few hundred kilometers away.

I'm an Australian citizen, but I was born in Hungary. Our family came to this country in 1986 as political refugees. Australia welcomes immigrants, but only in a controlled fashion.


huh? (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by enterfornone on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 12:25:33 AM EST

So because we have a tiny population and lots of uninhabited land we should take less refugees?

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Re: huh? (none / 0) (#45)
by bertok on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 06:22:26 PM EST

Yes! Most of that uninhabited land is desert, and the rest is already used for farming. Sure, Australia is big in land area, but it's the second driest continent behind Antarctica. Most of Africa is lush compared to what this country looks like to the west of the Great Dividing Range.

[ Parent ]
Yes, we should.... (none / 0) (#68)
by gilmae on Thu Feb 07, 2002 at 08:25:57 PM EST

...because once we take them they have freedom of movement. They can go anywhere they want. That 'anywhere' seems to be a subset of Sydney suburbs. Cause you know, give someone a choice between Lakemba and the Simpson Desert and I am sure they will ask you for a tent, camel and water bottle without the aid of thinking music. Sydney's infrastructure, espicially Western Sydney (that's the real western Sydney, not Balmain and Marrickville) is a bit strained as is. What it really needs is an influx of, say, two or three thousand refugees of various heritage.

[ Parent ]
Another Australian's POV (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by MVpll on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 11:53:31 AM EST

The "making an example" argument is crap, I'm sure all those "potential immigrants" are glued to their non-existant televisions each night to see Mr Ruddock's latest garbage spewing moment.

People-smugglers have been around for a long-time, before Britain smuggled it's convicts to Australia for sure. Why is the government only making a concerted effort to stop them now, surely the majority of Australians were always against these people?

As you state you were (are?) a refugee, is it ok for me to subtely (or otherwise) hint you are a child-molester/dole-bludger/thief/terrorist, as some paperwork was unavailable or inconclusive from Hungary?

From start to finish the propaganda released by the Howard government has been utter crap and I hang my head in shame that so many Australians are swallowing it whole instead of retching in the streets.

If successive governments hadn't ensured Australia was bent over backwards in preparation to be screwed by "globalisation", they could actually enact legislative changes that would benefit all of Australia and allow a much higher intake of immigrants and refugees without pretending they are sub-human political toys.



[ Parent ]
A third. (none / 0) (#44)
by static on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 05:53:16 PM EST

Two brief points:

  1. Australia is ecologically different from North America, from Europe and from Asia. The country cannot support hundreds of millions of people.
  2. Woomera was built because the existing detention centres were full. When it was constructed, it was reported several times that the numbers of boat people are increasing. The government is trying to stop it increasing without bound.

Wade.



[ Parent ]
Political refugees, eh? (none / 0) (#61)
by daniels on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 08:15:55 AM EST

Ah, so your family came here as political refugees. Tell me, were you constantly repressed and in fear of your life? If so, did you stay there for a few years fighting the tape?

If you did, then and only then can you play the holier-than-thou card, but I'll still call you a heartless bastard.

They are fleeing murderous regimes. God forbid that others should do the same! And why can't we afford to accept them? Is it because of that 25,700km of mostly uninhabited coastline? Or maybe it's because of the almost-entirely-uninhabited slightly-inland. Yeah, that must be it.

Have you any reasoning behind this train of "thought", or are have you just been a good little Young Liberal, and practised rote learning on Johnny's ads?
--
somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now
[ Parent ]
To state the obvious. (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by Apuleius on Mon Jan 28, 2002 at 07:10:04 PM EST

Australia has a generous welfare state and a stance sharply against immigration. The United States has a miserly welfare state and a far more welcoming stance toward immigrants. This is not a coincidence.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Voter: It's Australian for "Xenophobe"! (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by daniels on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 10:36:41 AM EST

Sadly, this appears to be correct; rooted in our history. Most Australians seem to have "patriotism" mixed up with "closed-mindedness" and "xenophobia". Hell, we even treat the Aborigines like shit, as if they were refugees (sorry, "illegal immigrants"), yet we're the invaders. Hell, we were proud of our (now dead, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, ho ho ho), White Australia policy until the 70's, when we realised that a bit of culture past awful sweet and sour pork wasn't an altogether bad thing.

In the later 90's, a political force out of traditionally right-wing Queensland sprung up; its hair was red, and its name was Pauline Hanson (here's some irony: One Nation, as its name implies, claimed to be unifying the nation. Hardly "Unity in Diversity" [Indonesia's motto]; how do you get unity by blaming all your troubles on a sizeable group?). She was basically a one-(wo)man juggernaut, blaming all our troubles on Aborignes, immigrants, single mothers (ironically, she herself is a single mother), and anyone who wasn't perfectly white, a farmer and married with 2.3 kids and a dog. She rapidly gained ground. Why? Because it's somehow ingrained in this "Australian spirit" that we keep being reminded of to be quite closed and xenophobic. I can't think of a single instance where "Australian spirit" (replace spirit with the appropriate word if needed) hasn't been invoked in the same sentence as xenophobia.

Yet, aren't we the "lucky country"? The land of a "fair go"? That's what we'll waffle on about, yet we have a habit of tainting refugees (OK, asylum seekers) as terrorists! That's pretty odd, considering that they are (were) fleeing the very regime that supports all this terrorism. We put them in inhuman conditions and tell them, "Piss off where you came from, but just wait a while while we grandstand on it for a couple more votes". They don't even bounce them, they decide to lock them up for a while.

They're pretty comfortable, apparently. All the luxuries of home! Yeah, like a desert (Woomera was created to be as far away from anywhere as possible, and was a "secret town" until 1982), barbed wire, abusive guards, and more. Nice. I wonder if Howard/Ruddock would be willing to swap them for a couple of nights. Kirribili House (our Prime Ministerial home) for Woomera, or even Port Hedland? Doubt it.

This is a "crisis" of the government's engineering. Sort of like Wag the Dog, except now we're actually fighting. If you punch someone in the face long enough, they'll eventually kick you in the balls. AusSAR pointed out to the Tampa that there was a sinking ship; whether it asked it to pick them up or not is still under debate, but it still said, "Look, they're there". The Tampa picked them up, except the Government then refused permission to land. The refugees refused to go back to Indonesia, so they were at an old-fashioned stalemate. Conscious of the fact that it needed a couple of soundbites and a couple of nice newsreel shots for its campaign, the government sent in SAS troops to "overpower" the crew (reality: they asked politely, and the crew weren't about to argue with sub-machine guns) and command the ship. While, of course, silencing anyone else with a differing opinion (and yet we pay out Malaysia for the same thing - but don't say anything).

Just when you thought things couldn't get any more ridiculous, Howard bought out a bankrupt nation (Nauru, whose name you may recognise from the heady 80's, or associate with the word "phosphorus"), and basically gave it fresh water in turn for accepting refugees. This "Pacific solution" was absolutely ridiculous, as it basically involved saying "We can't take anyone, but the tiny islands can cram them in!". As it turned out, they were having trouble enough supporting their *own* population, but a couple of bucks under the table quickly shut that side of the argument up. Bribery, pure and simple.

Eventually, this appeal worked. Howard got his soundbites worked in, as he always does. This time, however, he was on the "right" (read: popular) side of the argument, as opposed to the Patrick Stevedores debacle, where Peter Reith and Patrick forever became intertwined with dogs and balaclavas.

So, there's the last year in Australian politics, conveniently presented in the shell of a nut. Unpopular PM realises he's stuffed, makes desperate power play in the form of creating a crisis where there was none, and gets returned with a thumping majority.

Man, that's a pretty damned good plot. Someone should make a film out of it.

Oh wait, they have.

At least we have a hope for the future. Maybe it's just my school, known for its (mainly left-wing) political activity more than any other school, but the student movement is very active against stuff like this. Organizations such as Resistance, etc, have a somewhat formidable presence. Sadly, the popular media choose to distort the facts as usual - what's more important, 500 protesters getting injured because of crowds being trampled by horses and being thumped by long batons, or a sole policeman being punched in the face? If you're a sensationalist newspaper, the latter. Clearly. *sigh*.

The only thing worse than that is the few who come along because they feel like it, or who are just there because their friends are. Thankfully, they're a small minority. Much smaller than the government would have you believe.

DanielS, born and bred Australian 16-year old student.

[1]: Most of the links provided by The Age, because it's the most objective newspaper I can think of; also the one I read every day.
--
somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now
A place awaits you at Melbourne University (none / 0) (#64)
by Jacques Chester on Sat Feb 02, 2002 at 12:14:11 AM EST

Especially with politics like that.

Disclaimer: read my other posts in this thread. Etc. I was at Sydney Uni for two years, I've met dozens of "you", so to speak. Resistance exists at University too. But you'll quickly learn about NOLS, Activist Left, and Resistance's reduced role. Resistance ignores an old treaty between the parliamentary parties not to distribute to highschools. DSP rhetoric about being the "only" party to listen to youth (or appear in highschools) is mildly deceptive. Labor, Greens, Demos, Libs - they'd love you to join in highschool. They just agreed to stop fucking up highschools the same way that politics skews Universities.

This brings us to rule number one in politics: distrust your master, especially if your master is the DSP.

I read your entire posting. The links were good. That they came from The Age comes as approximately nil surprise. I read its spiritual sister, the Sydney Morning Herald, every morning for a few years, alongside the Australian. I found the SMH to be an organ of the vocal soft-left. No "fuck capitalism" but lots of "what awful xenophobes Australians are". Here's a clue: insulting people does not make them want to agree with you. But I still read it. It kept me up to date on the local issues.

There was an article about the DSP's history I was going to point you to ... I have mislaid it somewhere. I will try to find a link for it. The DSP is not a very nice bunch of people - when you get to Uni, try Activist Left or NOLS instead. I'm not doing this to recruit you - hell, I'm a Liberal - just to warn you.

I like you. You're young, full of piss and vinegar. I was too, once upon a time. Hold on to that, it's worth something. But remember: all people in politics are human. All political causes are about humans and human wants and needs. When you forget humanity for ideology, you forget why politics should be entered at all.

Jacques Chester, born and bred 21 year old student.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]

Angling for RMIT, actually (none / 0) (#65)
by daniels on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 04:49:24 AM EST

I'm angling for RMIT, but I do go to school literally across the road from Melbourne Uni; thus a lot of the politics is really a flow-on effect, I 'spose. I'm not a member of Resistance, nor am I a member of any political party. I'm left of centre, rather than Left. I don't want to smash capitalism, I just want to see the refugees/asylum stop getting screwed over by the government, and then spat on by a supportive public.

I do also read The Australian; The Age and The Australian are the two best dailies in Melb (apart from The Chaser, of course). The Herald Sun is complete and utter crap, and I refuse to read it on the general principle.

-d

--
somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now
[ Parent ]
I don't know RMIT (none / 0) (#66)
by Jacques Chester on Sun Feb 03, 2002 at 07:59:16 AM EST

But Universities are all broadly similar: vocal, broad spread of left, and a lonely little outpost of Liberals.

What the left often fail to understand is that by beating down all campus Liberals, they tend to drive off everyone but the nasties and loony right. I've seen it happen before my eyes. My personal secret is to tear a page out of various books and be friends with my enemies.

Oh, we swap lies of course. But it's all very polite.

Run in campaigns. It's an eye-opener. Run for NUS. If you get in, email me, I might see you there.

--
In a world where an Idea can get you killed, Thinking is the most dangerous act of all.
[ Parent ]

Just a tech uni (none / 0) (#67)
by daniels on Wed Feb 06, 2002 at 07:13:12 AM EST

RMIT is just a tech uni - basically Engineering/Sciences/IT. Nowhere near as political as UniMelb. I personally don't agree with "beating down" anyone. Not Liberals, not lefties. "I may not agree with what you say but will fight to the death for your right to say it", or something. And I may well see you in NUS, but not for at least 2 years (doing VCE over 3 years).

Cheers,
Dan
--
somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now
[ Parent ]
Asylum Seekers and Public Manipulation in Australia | 69 comments (69 topical, 0 editorial, 1 hidden)
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