Social Question

TheObjector's avatar

What should Australia be doing about refugees and asylum seekers?

Asked by TheObjector (102 points ) May 1st, 2011

basically, what do YOU think they should be doing. What policies should they start up or change, what do you disagree with?

Do you agree with what they are doing?

I just got interested in this again by the recent Christmas Island incident and the revamped focus on this topic. What are your opinions and views?

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17 Answers

cazzie's avatar

Well, I’ve been to Australia and have some friends there, but I have to say, generally…. Australia would be a really nice place to live if it weren’t for the Australians. I’ve met exceptions, of course.

You remember the Norwegian Captain that had to rescue those boat people who were sinking off the coast because the Australian Authorities wouldn’t be bothered and chose to stand on the shore and watch them drown?

They should be doing at least what their neighbours, the New Zealanders are trying to do. New Zealand is a much smaller island nation and they show much more compassion and welcome to asylum seekers.

marinelife's avatar

I think there is a lot of prejudice in Australia. I think their borders should be more open.

WasCy's avatar

I had not examined this issue much until a few minutes ago when your question prompted me to do a very quick search. Part of the problem with Christmas Island (aside from its remoteness from the Australian mainland, and the resulting difficulty in supervision and administration) is that they seem to be still dealing with a massive influx of refugees from 2008–09 (about ten times the annual average), and according to an article in today’s (May 2, 2011) National Times (politically slanted, to be sure), part of the problem comes from the Labour government’s relaxation of the former Howard government’s hard line against immigration. That is, in order to present a “kinder, gentler” face to the rest of the world, they more or less opened the floodgates… and ensured that they would be flooded with refugees and “refugees” (so-called).

You can read it here. I’m not saying that’s the truth and the end of it and all you need to know, but I do know that Australians are fine friends, and are no more racist than the rest of us. So it’s not about “Australians being bad people”. Bugger that.

HungryGuy's avatar

I say let anyone live anywhere they want as long as they can afford to go there and find a job. This goes for Australia as well as the USA, China, etc.

rooeytoo's avatar

@WasCy hit it exactly, that is what has been happening since labor came into office. It is a huge problem. And I have seen no more predjudice here than in USA or any other countries I have visited. I have no idea how anyone would reach that conclusion.

This recent problem at Villawood is being caused by a group who have been denied visas for whatever reasons so they decide to burn down the detention center. Now I don’t know about you but when I want a favor from someone I do not burn down their house. If I or any Aussie resident decided to burn down a building because we didn’t like what was going on, we would go to jail, it is called arson. I can’t imagine why anyone would feel sorry for them and want to give them citizenship. This government is running up a defecit. It is having problems repairing the infrastructure caused by flood and fire damage. I always have thought charity begins at home so instead of rewarding illegal immigrants for their destruction, I would rather see funds spent on internal problems.

Response moderated
Bellatrix's avatar

I am going to try to keep this as brief as possible but if we are going to have a debate about Australia’s asylum seeker policy, can we make sure is based on facts rather than political agenda, hype and media sensationalism.

Defining terms.

An asylum seeker who leaves their home and seeks protection in another country based on humanitarian grounds but their claim has not yet been assessed. In Australia, asylum-seekers must prove they have a legitimate claim before being granted a visa. After their claim is approved, they are referred to as refugees. link

Why should Australia take asylum-seekers?

Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention relating the Status of Refugees and as such, along with 24 other countries, agreed those who believed their life or freedom was under threat could seek asylum. That those seeking asylum would not be penalised, that they would not be “arbitrarily detained on the basis of seeking asylum”. We agreed asylum-seekers would not be returned or expelled against their will to a country where a person fears for their safety or freedom. link

See also the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission document that sets out Australia’s other international legal obligations link

How many asylum seekers come to Australia and by boat or by air?

Australia actually receives and accepts a very small number of asylum-seekers and provides a very limited number of places for refugees. Since 1976, we have had 25,380 people come to Australia by boat. That is an average of 746 per year. The majority of asylum seekers actually come in by air (between 96 and 99%) and those people are housed in the community. link

If the rejection rates are compared, those coming by boat have a much lower rejection rate link

It should also be noted that around 50,000 people overstay their holiday/work visas each year. They receive quite different treatment to those who arrive by boat seeking asylum. link

Of the more than 43 million people seeking asylum globally, in 2009, Australia accepted less than 23,000. We agree to take less than 0.03% of the world’s asylum seekers. There has been no radical change in the number of refugees we are providing permanent visas for. Since the mid-1980s the number of visas provided on humanitarian grounds has remained fairly static. In 2009–2010, we provided less than 14,000 visas on humanitarian grounds. This is less than 7% of our total migrant intake. link

Government policy

There is very little actual difference between the Gillard government and Howard government policy on asylum seekers.

People are still held in mandatory detention.link

Immigration figures for March 2011 show men, women and children are still being held in detention. link Note the difference between air arrivals and boat arrivals. Those who arrive by air are housed in the community. Those who arrive by boat, are placed in detention. Around 85% of these people have been in detention for more than three months and many, for much, much longer. Many of the people seeking asylum have already suffered trauma and putting them into detention exacerbates their trauma and there are increased incidences of suicide and self-harm amongst detainees. See the document from the Public Health Association of Australia. link

As I said, despite the political rhetoric and mass hysteria about asylum-seeker policy in Australia, there is very little difference between the treatment of asylum seekers by either the Howard or the Rudd/Gillard governments. People are still being detained, children are still being detained, the Rudd/Gillard government is still processing people offshore. They just use different places and mechanisms. While the Rudd/Gillard government promised to move people out of detention more quickly, the statistics from the Department of Immigration show this is not happening. This Wikipedia article gives an overview of mandatory detention in Australia and the changes to government policy under different government. link

Given how few asylum-seekers come to Australia (as compared to many other nations, probably including your own if you aren’t in Australia) there is a great deal of hysteria about giving those who seek safety a ‘fair-go’. Asylum-seekers have become political footballs and while our politicians argue and try to whip up support by promoting lies and propaganda, thousands of people languish in our detention centres and those we are keeping off-shore in Indonesia by preventing them entering our waters.

rooeytoo's avatar

I would like to languish at the government’s expense instead of working for a living. And if I get bored, I could burn the place down and then say poor me, you were taking too long and I have suffered trauma so I couldn’t help myself!

Really how can anyone who behaves in such a fashion expect to be welcomed.

TheObjector's avatar

@rooeytoo
I assume you are talking about the refugees in detention centres if so,
you sound so cold by saying that.
These people have gone through a lot in their own country that has made them refugees, and once they come here, they have to live in cramped and overcrowded detention centres along with supposed bad treatment. I honestly don’t know first hand, but i’ve heard from people who have seen these centres and they aren’t like your home at all, they are tiny compared to what you live in, and with much less facilities, minimum to none internet and phone access, and they have to stay there for months, years for few people.
They do suffer trauma, but none you can possibly understand if you can say something like that.

rooeytoo's avatar

@TheObjector – I don’t understand, if someone lives in a country that is so bad, they fear for their life, so they come here illegally where they are housed, fed and entertained at no cost to themselves. But instead of being grateful they burn down their house because they are not automatically welcomed into the mainstream of the country.

Remember also many have no identification, how does the government know who they are, they could be terrorists. If they were released into society and committed terrorist acts which resulted in deaths of Australian citizens, then what would you be saying???

Doesn’t anyone have common sense anymore??? No one is going to convince me that having temper tantrums and burning down buildings is acceptable behavior.

TheObjector's avatar

@rooeytoo
You made me agree with how they shouldn’t really burn down the place they are in now.
But it was probably an act of defiance to the state of the place they are in. They need space? they need better facilities? Australia accepted these refugees, these people, these humans, to live inside Australia or at least be in waiting. These waiting areas should be appropriate for people to live in happily. As a western, modern country I think Australia is capable of this financially.

cazzie's avatar

‘Remember also many have no identification, how does the government know who they are, they could be terrorists. If they were released into society and committed terrorist acts which resulted in deaths of Australian citizens, then what would you be saying??’

Prejudice is the conjurer of imaginary wrongs, strangling truth, overpowering reason, making strong men weak and weak men weaker.

These people sit there, powerless and disaffected in barbed wire camps and are all treated as criminals. I’m sure it comes as a shock to them.

“Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand” – N. Peart

Not every village has a town hall with registered birth certificates and not every country has a state department that issues passports fairly. Of COURSE they don’t have documents when they arrive.

rooeytoo's avatar

@TheObjector – Australia doesn’t have much choice since they arrive in leaky boats and would die if they weren’t allowed in. Australia in the last fiscal year granted residency to 13770 which is a pretty huge number in a country with a population as small as Australia. How many more can be taken in and housed, fed and assimilated into the community?

@cazzie – You call me ignorant or prejudiced, thank you, I call myself a realist. And I won’t call you names just because I disagree with you. Anyone who sets a building on fire because they aren’t getting their way, still don’t seem to me to be the sort I want as a neighbor. I am working and paying taxes to house these folks and they are burning the place down instead of saying thank you for the food and roof over my head, I will be patient. And if I am allowed to stay I will be grateful for the public housing you give me and the welfare payments you provide so I can eat and buy my big screen telly. Meanwhile the people who lost their homes and families in the floods are being asked to pay rent for the temporary housing that was trucked in, not to mention the electricity they use and no one is buying their food for them. They are still making mortgage payments on homes that no longer exist.

Charity begins at home.

cazzie's avatar

@rooeytoo I didn’t call you ignorant, but your statement was prejudiced.

rooeytoo's avatar

@cazzie – “Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand” – N. Peart”

Since I am prejudiced I assumed the rest of the quote referred to me as well. Semantics I guess, but I don’t have time to discuss any more at the moment, I am off to work to pay taxes so we can rebuild a new languishing spot for the poor traumatized souls to burn down.

rooeytoo's avatar

Just came across this and it seems relevant to the question:

“In Queensland, 200,000 persons were displaced because of the floods and cyclones in February 2011 .
Two hundred and forty nine million dollars ($249,000,000) were raised in the second largest public appeal since
the Victorian bushfires of two summers ago. More than $300,000,000 was raised Australia-wide for those fire victims.

In BOTH cases money still has NOT been distributed—or it has been allocated to public areas which it is assumed were NEVER intended to receive money that was raised for the benefit of individual Australians and Australian families displaced by either fire or flood.

On Christmas Island, illegal immigrants —boat people—call them what you will, SET FIRE TO THE ACCOMMODATION THEY were given by the Australian government and now they will be housed in hotels and motels ON THE MAINLAND while tax-paying Australians are still displaced in the thousands!

DID YOU KNOW??

Three hundred boat people have been housed at the RAAF Sherger Air Base in Weipa.
All are being accepted into Australia.
All are men.
All receive the pension same as our pensioners -
All get the same amount again for hardship payment – this equals twice what our pensioners get!
All receive an extra $50 a day for spending money.
Security staff are employed to watch them.
Chefs are employed to feed them (one quarter of a tonne of chicken a day alone is cooked.)
They won’t pick up their own rubbish.
There was a massive dispute because they didn’t like the radio station..
Another dispute because batteries were flat for the Nintendo games.
Tents set up for mosque prayers had to be air conditioned.
The Bores/Wells set up to run RAAF Sherger adequately, are now dry because taps are left running all day long.
Sewerage systems now blocked with condoms (???) supplied to them…. (and all of them are men remember).
Dept of Immigration & Citizenship (DIAC) wants the Dept of Defence to pay all of the bills, so that the Government can hide the costs of allowing three hundred refugees into the country, from tax paying Australians.

Now.. The PM wants to introduce another tax to pay for the floods, because the Government does not have enough money to look after its own taxpayers.”

plethora's avatar

I think Australia should tell all of them to keep on paddling.

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