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Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Rudd Solution: Capitulating to Australia's xenophobic miasma

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has capitulated to the miasma of racist rhetoric that has dominated Australia's media and political landscape for over a decade. Today he announced that people arriving without visas will not be allowed to settle in Australia. Instead, they will be relocated to and settled in Papua New Guinea, itself a developing nation beset with its own issues of violence and corruption.

The Rudd Solution is treating Papua New Guinea like a colony. Not unlike when Britain would ship its criminals, many of whom were merely victims of poverty, to the convict colony of Australia. Of course, asylum seekers are not criminals, they are victims. Many are genuine refugees who are fleeing persecution and war. Obtaining a visa is generally not something they can apply for while their families are being raped, imprisoned, tortured or murdered.

PNG already hosts around 9,000 refugees who've crossed the border from Indonesian West Papua. To throw thousands more into a small, developing nation could very well prove disastrous. Australia is a large country with the capacity for a larger population. We should not be exporting our 'problem' to any other nation, and in particular to one that doesn't have the capacity to cope with it.

The announcement is aimed at stopping asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat. But it's for political point-scoring, not because of compassion. If it was based on compassion, Papua New Guinea wouldn't be the destination, as it is rife with crime, corruption and poverty, with many of its residents living behind security fences. Additionally, the question has to be asked if it will only facilitate smuggling through the Torres Strait to the Australian mainland. Australia's northern-most island, Boigu, is only 6km from PNG.

Australia's national anthem welcomes people who've come boat and opens its arms to the world. The lyrics of the second verse of Advance Australia Fair now ring hollow:

'Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us combine 
to Advance Australia Fair 

With this policy Australia will be renowned for all the wrong reasons. Rudd has made a mockery of Australia having boundless plains to share with those who've come across the seas. There is no courage in this policy. It is cowardly. Australia is shirking it's international and human rights obligations.

It effectively removes Australia from operating under the auspices of the Refugee Convention to which it is a signatory. It is not ethical, humane or right.

Around 90% of asylum seekers in Australia are found to be genuine refugees under the UN Convention on Refugees. The government claims that Australia takes the highest percentage per capita of asylum seekers in the world. This is misleading as it refers to those found to be genuine refugees after applying for asylum. It doesn't allow for displaced persons who have entered countries but not yet applied for asylum. In this case, Australia ranks 69th in the world. Refer to the Refugee Council of Australia's publication, 'Australia's Refugee and Humanitarian Program 2012-13', Table 22,

By having Australians believe that we are the highest ranked country in refugee resettlement contributes to the misbelief that Australia is being swamped by asylum seekers and adds to the fear-mongering and xenophobic hysteria.

If this policy proceeds, then in parallel, Australia should at least increase its refugee intake significantly, and include those who are languishing in Indonesia, Malaysia and other parts of Asia. Nonetheless, Rudd has abandoned Australia's commitment to human rights.

Prior to Rudd's announcement, there was speculation of Australia either withdrawing from the Refugee Convention or attempting to amend it.

Firstly, withdrawing would open a whole can of worms and would unlikely stop asylum seekers. After all, it hasn't stopped millions of refugees flooding into countries which are not signatories to the convention.

In terms of modifying the convention, well, it doesn't need it. The Convention is not the problem, the problem is persecution and war. Asylum seekers are desperate people who will do anything to live in safety and provide a life of hope, education and opportunity for their families; something that every person is entitled to.

There are over 42.5 million displaced persons worldwide. The solution has to be an international one. It isn't as simple as Abbott's inane claim of turning the boats back. It was the Howard administration, in which Abbott was a Minister, that began using asylum seekers as political footballs and demonising them as a threat to Australia. They were treated as criminals and terrorists: a disgraceful dehumanisation of a persecuted people. Unfortunately, this demonisation has continued under the Labor party during the Gillard and Rudd administrations.

Australia's approach to human rights is misanthropic, not philanthropic.

The Howard government took a hard-line based on the popularity of One Nation's white pride policies. Howard introduced the Pacific Solution, then excluded hundreds of islands from the migration zone. The Gillard government took that further, and bizarrely excluded Australia itself from its own migration zone. Now the Rudd policy.

Such unsympathetic, parochial policies of appeasement have been implemented for political popularity. Instead, humane solutions should be established in conjunction with our neighbours, particularly Indonesia, and on a global level with the UN: not to incarcerate refugees but to assist them.

Rudd claims the new policy will stop the boats, effectively saving lives. It is a tragedy whenever any asylum seeker perishes in the treacherous journey to Australia. However, banning refugees from entering Australia goes against everything that the UN Refugee Convention stands for. It goes against basic humanity.

It would be better to encourage other nations to sign up to the Refugee Convention, assisting in the proper processing and settlement of asylum seekers. Australia is setting a terrible example of how to treat people.

Asylum seekers ARE people. They are the victims of persecution. We don't need 'border security' to protect us from asylum seekers. They are not a threat to Australia. The ongoing demonisation of desperate people who have no defence, must stop and genuine, humane solutions implemented.

Rudd's latest advertising campaign.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A little list of Liberal waste

With Abbott claiming that the ALP has been wasteful, it is pertinent to target the wasteful spending of the Liberal Party as well as some of their deceitful claims, such as misrepresenting the carbon price and the NBN.


National Broadband Network - Abbot's 'fibre to the node' plan will supposedly cost 80% less than Labor's, but under it houses will NOT be connected to optic-fibre.  Instead people will have to pay up to $5,000 out of their own pockets to run optic-fibre from the node, meaning few will get the benefit of optic-fibre while most will continue using a 60 year old copper network. The $20 billion spent by Liberal is a complete waste. Labor's 'fibre to the premises' (FttP) genuinely connects premises to the optic-fibre network, benefiting all of Australia.


It's a carbon PRICE not a carbon tax - read the legislation:
  • The Clean Energy Act 2011, Section 100, Subsection 10: If a carbon unit is issued to a person in accordance with this section, the person is liable to pay a charge for the issue of the unit
  • Subsection 11 says 'Subsection (10) has effect only so far as it is not a law imposing taxation within the meaning of section 55 of the Constitution'. 
The only lie around this has been Abbott's continued lying about it being a tax.


Speaking of ... Abbott has committed to the same reductions in the carbon production that Labor has, yet he will rescind the carbon price and replace with a system that will cost more while rewarding big business at the expense of tax-payers. His idea of storing carbon in the ground has been described as nonsensical.

Below is a chart showing the reductions since the introduction of the carbon price:


Abbott claims he will manage the economy as though it were his own household. He earns $242,000 per annum and has recently taken out a $700,000 mortgage, meaning his debt to income level is almost 300%. The Australian debt to GDP ratio is under 20%. To compare that to Mr Abbott's debt, it would be like him only holding $48,400 in debt, rather than $700,000. Let's hope he doesn't manage the economy like he manages his household. Don't buy into the scare campaign about Australia's debt:


The International Monetary Fund rates Howard as the most wasteful of all Australian Prime Ministers. 


In 1997, the treasurer Peter Costello, sold Australia's gold reserves for $2.4 billion. The sale drove down global prices to an 11 year low. Today the gold would be worth $7.4 billion.


Costello sold off $70 billion of Australian assets. It was from this that the Liberal Party was able to claim a surplus, not from 'good financial management'. These assets had been earning money for the Australian government, the sales gave a short-term injection of funds, but has robbed the government of continued earnings from them.


Howard spent $2 billion on advertising while in office, which included $118 million on GST and $120 million on WorkChoices. Compare this to Abbott's whistleblowing over Labor spending $69.5 million on carbon price advertising.


The Pacific Solution cost $1 billion over 5 years:

During this time, Howard held 1,637 asylum seekers in detention at an average cost of $500,000 each. It was an inhumane and expensive program designed for one thing: political point scoring. Howard equated asylum seekers with terrorists to cultivate racism and xenophobia in the psyche of the Australian population. Howard nurtured a culture of fear in which he could ride in like a knight in shining armour, wielding his 'border protection' policy to save Australia from the waves of potential terrorists flooding in. Well, the 1,637 of them anyway.


Asylum Seekers - the Howard government covered up, or deliberately lied about a number of tragedies which cost lives of asylum seekers, including:

  • MV Tampa - The Howard Government sent in the SAS to force 438 distressed and traumatised asylum seekers to board an Australian Navy vessel and be relocated to New Zealand or Nauru. Their boat had sunk and they'd been rescued by the Captain of the MV Tampa. Defence Minister Peter Reith claimed that this group of asylum seekers could be harboring terrorists. All members of this group were found to be legitimate refugees and resettled in either Australia or New Zealand. During the Tampa crisis, Howard excised 4,600 Australian islands from being considered part of Australia's migration zone for the purposes of seeking asylum. In essence, escalating the crisis and denying legal rights to asylum seekers who had the temerity to land on an Australian island. This policy required asylum seekers to reach the mainland before applying for refugee status. The policy was eventually overturned by a decision of the Australian High Court in 2009, which ruled it illegal.
  • The 'Children Overboard Affair', in which Howard claimed that asylum seekers had thrown their children from a sinking boat in order to force the Royal Australian Navy to rescue them. A subsequent Senate inquiry concluded that not only were NO children thrown overboard but that the Prime Minister himself knew that no children had been thrown overboard. The Senate Inquiry found that Howard deliberately misled the public in order to "exploit voters' fears of a wave of illegal immigrants by demonising asylum seekers" for political gain through appearing strong on "border security" (as detailed in the Senate Inquiries findings). 
  • Siev-X - On 19 October 2001 during the Australian federal election campaign, a boat over loaded with asylum seekers began sinking as they made their way to Australia. 353 asylum seekers drowned. The Howard government claimed the sinking occured within Indonesian waters and was therefore Indonesia's responsibility. However, SBS reporter Geoff Parish proved that the sinking occured in international waters and that Howard knew this when he made that statement.

WorkChoices - reduced real wages and conditions for most workers, particularly those in two of the biggest employment sectors: retail and hospitality.


Iraq - there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction and despite numerous prominent warnings, including from Andrew Wilkie and UN Weapons Inspectors, Howard still went to war. It was an illegal war which has so far cost Australia in excess of $3 billion.


Afghanistan - the Howard incursion into Afghanistan has cost Australia around $7 billion.


Lies - Howard claimed there would be 'no new taxes, tax increases or indirect taxes' during his first term of government, yet he introduced:

  • Termination Payments Tax, Franchise Fees Windfall Tax, Family Trust Distribution Tax, Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Tax), Radiocommunications (Receiver Licence Tax), Radiocommunications (Transmitter Licence Tax) and others during his first term of government from 1996 to 1998. For a full list of Acts implemented during those years refer to the following site:

More on Howard's deceit and legacy can be read here:


The Liberal Party attacks jobs, victims of persecution and sells off assets while trying to claim the high moral ground. While the Labor Party has certainly moved away from its grass roots, being as right-wing as the Liberal Party was 20 years ago, the Liberal Party has now moved even further to the right, embracing hate and negativity while ignoring, mocking, misrepresenting and demonising the real needs of the people.