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Greens- a new beginning on asylum seekers?

Media release from the Greens: 

The Australian Greens have called for discussions with the new Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, to work towards a more sensible approach to asylum-seekers, according to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson on Immigration and Human Rights, says she has written to Mr Bowen to congratulate him on his appointment and to seek to establish a workable relationship with regular meetings in the new Parliament.

"Mr Bowen's appointment provides a new opportunity to convince the Gillard Government that its offshore processing policy and suspension of asylum claims for Afghans is not the answer,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

"The Coalition has made it quite clear that it is not interested in changing its inhumane approach.

"This is an opportunity for the Gillard Government to break free of the race to the bottom on refugees that was displayed in the recent election campaign.

"Australia should not be trying to palm off its responsibilities as a regional leader to the poorest nations in our region, whether it be East Timor, Nauru or somewhere else.

"This week I will be travelling to Darwin to visit immigration facilities and see for myself the conditions in the centres, which have already been the subject of criticism.

"There are a number of key immigration issues the Greens want to work with Mr Bowen to resolve.''

These issues include:
• Lifting the suspension of Afghan asylum claims
• Ending the practice of children in immigration detention
• Abandoning the Government's East Timor Solution and drawing a line under further offshore processing
• An end to indefinite and long-term detention, with judicial review of detention beyond 30 days
• A public campaign to provide the facts to the community and promote the positive and valuable contribution refugees have made to Australia.

"We need to do better in providing information to the Australian people, to help them understand that asylum-seekers are not to be feared, and that their numbers are small compared to the 50,000 overseas visitors who overstay their visas every year,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

"We oppose offshore processing as a solution to deal with vulnerable asylum-seekers. They should be brought to the mainland and housed close to appropriate support and services, where they can be processed quickly, fairly and humanely.

"The Greens will continue to stand up for the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees and champion a more compassionate approach which a growing number of Australians agree with.''

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Marilyn Wins The Prize!

She has managed to get the 'Phuk' word more times into a comment than any previous diarist that I've seen.

Surely there must be a prize for such a great achievement. Are there any ideas for what the 'PHUK' award should be?  A drunken night in an Oxford Street restaurent with Julia? A bar of soap? A range of designer contraceptives?

All ideas welcome!


If fucking swearing bothers you more than tormenting and jailing innocent human beings or bombing them to bits you need to get a life.

I have had the pleasure of discussions with Dillard, something I have no desire to repeat.

Marilyn, you're not Robinson Crusoe!

I urge you to check out my blog fully and then withdraw your silly accusation that I condone tormenting and jailing innocent human beings or bombing them to bits.

You operate principally in Australia. I work across the world.  And I don't need to use filthy language to do it!

To do so works against you, Marilyn!


Fiona: With the greatest respect, Daniel Smyth - and admitting also that Marilyn's more ... ahem .... colourful .... usages are edited out much of the time, she has cause for her vehemence. The behaviour of both of the "major" parties towards boat people has been despicable. And that's putting it mildly. I'd suggest to you - again with the greatest respect - that if anything Marilyn's language does honour to her ethics.

Don't bother, Daniel

Daniel Smythe, dropped by and saw you were back here and happened on this comment and note your efforts to liven this place up.  You might as well forget it.

Obviously in your absence you missed all the dramas in this place which led to some long term posters generally opting out, including myself. I no longer put up threads and rarely bother to comment. But the site was in decline well before that for reasons Ian MacDougall set out some two years ago.

But comments suggesting improvements to this site are not welcome by the triumvirate here and you are lucky if they even see the light of day, which means that the site staggers on, and as Ian MacDougall wrote elsewhere: It is now about as interesting as the minutes of a meeting of the Bullamakanka Progress Association.

I fully concur with your view that language univiting does nothing to advance a cause, no matter how important that cause might be to the person involved. It in fact has the opposite effect. Fiona's statement that it does honour to Marilyn's ethics is pathetic. Foul language is just that, foul language and if anything is an insult to the reader or person it is directed to. It also dumbs down the site. 

I took the trouble to look at your blog and was very impressed.  Marilyn should do as you say, read it and then make her judgements, not before.

BTW: You will probably recall that I am not an atheist.  I don't believe religious belief by definition is a bad thing, nor is it the cause of all evil in the world.  It had been the cause of some, but not all and a lot of people actively practising the tenets of their faith have done a lot of good in the world.  The work done by Christian charities around the world is not insignificant. If all the peoples of the world were atheists, would the world be a happier and better place?  It might be but frankly I doubt it.  Both believers and atheists are capable of doing good, and doing evil.

Anyway, for what is it worth I applaud your efforts on your blog and your failed attempt to breathe some life back into Webdiary.  

Poor diddums Jenny

Daniel so far has done nothing but pick on my language.   Ho hum - I am almost 60 and simply don't care if you don't like swearing.

SMH have finally cracked it for a letter from me today - pointing out that the refugee convention is in the Migration Act and that adverse reports about locking up innocent people have been around for nearly 20 years and they are ignored.

Eyes wide shut?

I suppose all are aware to the sit in going on at one of our local detention centres (Villawood? forget which and have to catch bus quick), but this thread is going to be busy on the ramifications of the Immigration department's continued apparent intransigence re processing of the cases most in need, which of course come from west Asian war zones. I accept that the proposition that this department went feral under Howard.

But the new government being bloody minded is surely the worst possible start for a government intent on presenting itself as reasonable.

I also echo Fiona's comments on the phuck word (Fiona, spell check?).

Ms Shepherd wears her heart on her sleeve, too much for her own good. She is a far more formidable opponent when she draws on her comprehensive arrray of information, knowledge and intelligence on these subjects.

Like it or not, the issue hasn't gone away since June and all Gillard and co are doing is allowing themselves to be boxed in by the coalition on asylum seekers as to options, if they allow themselves to be coerced into sending back to dangerous and hard places a small number of people within our control now, who have a right to expect from Australians with any sense of what being Australian is, what this"fair go"is, that we all proclaim as the defining aspect of a national character.

Marilyn Shepherd, I love you dearly, but you really are a potty-mouthed bitch some times, god bless you…

 Richard: I know your last comment was meant with affection Paul... to all, can we ease of on the language a bit?

Thank you Fiona

Daniel, the day you have had a family you adore illegally deported to the wrong country after being illegally locked up for 4 years and the day you have the 6 year old daughter in that family beg you to shoot her I will stop swearing.

Is the refugee convention practical?

I suspect that those who write the refugee convention saw a two-pronged approach Fresh from the experience of world war two, they were determined to prevent massive evil.

First and foremost was a strong and robust UN. One that would either prevent genocide from starting, or once they started, vigorously and impartially intervene to stop it. 

The second was to take care of the relatively small number of  dissidents who upset their governments. 

Unfortunately the first, more important strategy was never realised..(The US (and other countries at the top of the totem pole), was never in favour of ceding their power to a democratic world.) 

We thus, by law, need to accept and provide the benefits of citizenship to any and all of the 8 million refugees.    

Most people come to Australia by plane. We can insist that airlines do not accept people who don't have visas, and thereby screen people who come by plane to minimise the number of refugees who land on our shores. True a large number of non-refugees land and try to stay longer than they are welcome. But, they do not get the rights of citizens, and will be deported if caught.

Australia is the best country in the world to be a citizen of..

We have a fear of 8 million people arriving at our door-step and having the right to live here. people of a different race, often with little English, and who will likely draw from rather than contribute to the economy for some time.

We fear that though those arriving by boats  are currently a trickle, if we show them our humanity, it will turn into a flood. We know subconsciously that we are breaking a commitment we have made a generation ago, but that only makes us meaner, louder and angrier.

Is this fear well founded, or is it an irrational anxiety? Will the trickle turn into a torrent? What do people think?

Why don't we ask the aborigines?

They had to tolerate the mass arrival by boat of morons with white skin.

Like Paul

You're almost as bad as Paul, Marilyn.

I asked you. Are you avoiding the question? 

 PS Do I detect a bit of stereotyping, Marilyn? Would ALL aboriginals give the same answer? 

Fiona: Which Paul, Jay?

Well yes Jay

I am talking about 1788 and they didn't want the devils here.

Our all white media never stop whining

On Insiders - if the ALP don't act it will be a running sore.

Well fuck me drunk - I reckon the states of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia and others are running fucking sores but they simply never mention that small point, nor the point that anyone is allowed to come and seek asylum or that most are just refugees or that others fly here from all over the world and are never mentioned as "a running sore".

The useless fuckers are no better now than they were over the Tampa, they are all racist fuckwits to their core.

Missing the point

We seem to be missing the point with Marilyn's statistics.

The inhumanity is not in the treatment of the relatively small handful of people who arrive by boat, or the much larger group who are in UN-run displacement camps. Both these groups are relatively safe and cared for for the moment, even if their future is a big black hole. Those really in plight are those still trapped in the country of terror, or who have moved to a neighbouring country (which typically has difficulty looking after its own citizens) and are living hand-to-mouth.

There is a social hierarchy, and the displaced and terrorised typically fit in at the bottom. In many countries, the bottom is pretty low. Consider Afghanis who fled to Pakistan. With Pakistan now in its own crisis, consider the plight of these people.

I'm glad Kevin Rudd doubled the aid. But the 380-man team proud that they were treating 200 people a day did not fill me with confidence.

The UN rarely runs camps

Countries set up and run camps, the UN only does emergency work except with the Palestinians.

Why is it though that somehow those "over there" are always more deserving than those over here or in Europe, the US or Canada and other countries?

Doubling the aid to 20 million Pakistanis from $1.70 per to $3.50 per person is worthless when Bowen announces $50 million more wsted on jialing another 1,000 Afghans rather than simply stop locking up innocent people.

I am reading a newly released book called The Pacific Solution by Susan Metcalfe who spent years visiting peolpe on Nauru and it is appalling the treatment we dished out to poeple out of sight and out of mind and more appalling the number of people who nearly died through our negilgence.

How about the story of the UN human rights worker from Afghanistan who was grenaded by the Taliban for advocating education for women - he lost an eye and leg and was lucky to live.  He was on the boat rescued by the Palapa and nearly drowned.  His stump bled for weeks and got infected before they finally brought him to Australia for treatment.

If anyone in the world was a friend who needed help this man was it so what did we do?   Locked him up on Nauru for years and tried to send him home to Afghanistan - it took Tim Costello to intervene on his behalf.


And now instead of admitting that with more and more forces and civilians being slaughtered in Afghanistan the best we can do is keep locking them up here as if they are our enemies.

Message to Marilyn

Hi Marilyn, could you please send the link(s) to the material you posted earlier? It's unpublishable as it stands because of formatting problems.


Senate estimates Q & A


Each question has a precise before the answer so the questions are easy and the answers are a click away.

Fiona: Thank you.

Afghanistan applications should be fast tracked

The Australian National University professor says daily life for Hazara people in Afghanistan is dangerous and full of risk, and their refugee applications should be fast-tracked, not suspended.

"There's no excuse for people in decision-making roles not to understand the risks that Hazaras face," he said

It is about time our political leaders took a good look at this. How many Australians want to send people back to what must be a very uncertain future?

We will need to see if those in the Liberal or Labor parties really want to race to the bottom. We should give our politicians a conscience vote and see how many will side with the Greens.


I agree.  At the present time, refugee status should be automatic for Hazaras from Afghanistan.

But nothing demonstrates more clearly than the plight of the Hazaras that there is no such place as Afghanistan, and the total absurdity and delusion of what the United States and its allies have been trying to do there.

Which, in reality, though not in words, is to give a Pashto government unhindered control over Hazaras, to continue out of sight to do what they have been doing to them for a couple of centuries.

The only workable solution  is to establish and enforce international borders between the nations of Afghanistan. Hazarajat must be independent.  Its independence must be guaranteed.

Either that, or get them all out of Aghanistan, bring them all, all four million Hazaras, to Australia.  It must be one or the other, and the choice should be clear.

And incidentally, Australia faces a grim future with its decision-making roles crawling in the gutter, populated by people of the kind John Pratt's comment mentions.  How does it happen?

We are amazingly stupid is why

All our whining media are carrying on about "over crowding" in detention as if there is some legal basis for it and as if it is not because we are illegally racking, stacking and packing the Hazara for politics and nothing else.

There would not be over crowding of course if we stopped locking up innocent people without trial or charge.

The most nauseating thing about Gillard's disgusting speech is this:

We should also understand that what drives the peaks and troughs in the numbers of boats trying to get to Australia has less to do with what we do here and more to do with the conditions people are escaping - conditions like war, genocide, imprisonment without trial, torture, harassment by authorities, the disappearance of family and friends, and children growing up in refugee camps with no prospect of ever again seeing their home.

And then she said "we must stop them".

WD: a new beginning?

Do some of you remember the time when the comments list on WD changed completely within an hour or two? Do you remember the time when there were hundreds of comments per article? Do you remember the time when Webdiary had momentum, drive, passion?

I learned a great deal during my time when Webdiary was rocking and rolling, especially from Margo. It saddens me so much to see WD now.

I guess it's obvious that what worked three or four years ago isn't working anymore. Surely that should cause people to think about changing the format rather than continuing on with the same tired routine.

I have suggested some changes such as using photographs and allowing regular contributor's comments to appear as they are submitted but my suggestions have been rejected and the same old, same old, still applies.

The fact is that I run a modest blog which has the same Google ranking as WD. I run it by myself (no moderators) and write all the posts. I seem to get nearly as many comments as WD does and they come from all over the world. It seems I must be doing something right (though I don't claim to be an expert!).

With what experience I have, I am happy to try to help WD get back some of the passion and drive which it once had but surely, unless WD changes, moves with the times, this is an impossility.

I'm sure there are others like me who, remembering how it once was, would help if Webdiary could be seen to be helping itself!

P.S. I promise that this is the last time I will raise this issue if there is no encouraging response from WD members or the management team.

Keeping the passion

Hi Daniel,

Keeping the passion has always been a challenge.

I like the format of Webdiary and I appreciate the work done by the editors, and other who have kept it going.

I'm not sure pretty pictures or a different format is going to bring back the passion of the early years of Webdiary. There is so much competition today, including twitter, facebook and other places online where one can place a comment.

No, I think Webdiary is like a community, a place to discuss ideas and learn.

It would be great to see more people join the community, only better writing will bring them to the site.

When was the last time you made a contribution?

Those of us who like to spend time on Webdiary should be writing pieces that will draw others.

It is a bit like the seven year mark in a marriage, it is hard work that keep it going.

Sure there are some pretty faces out there but is still nice to come home.


Thank you for those kind words, John


A Picture Is Worth A Thousand...

Thanks for putting one image on WD, Fiona!

At least I've achieved something.


Fiona: Actually, I thought it was a double image, Daniel ;)

Michael, what are you on about?

Did you read the article I posted? The reality according to the latest figures by DIC's is that almost all those who come here apply and they are allowed to.

They don't have to stop in any place they cannot be granted protection.

It's that simple.

A small truth would help

Are asylum seekers ‘queue jumpers’?

There is a view that asylum seekers, particularly those who arrive in Australia by boat, are ‘jumping the queue’ and taking the place of a more deserving refugee awaiting resettlement in a refugee camp. The concept of an orderly queue does not accord with the reality of the asylum process. Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) notes that:

Implicit in this view is that Australia should not be bothered by people seeking protection under the Refugee Convention and that genuine refugees should go to other countries and wait patiently in the hope that Australia may choose to resettle them.

The reality is that only a small proportion of asylum seekers are registered with the UNHCR:

UNHCR offices registered some 73 400 applications out of the total of 861 400 claims in 2008. This number has decreased compared to 2007 (79 800 claims). The office’s share in the global number of applications registered stood at 9 per cent in 2008 compared to 15 per cent in 2006 and 12 per cent in 2007. As the overall number of applications has continued to rise, states are increasingly taking responsibility for refugee status determination.

Once registered with the UNHCR, many refugees seek resettlement to a country such as Australia. Refugees do not have a right to be resettled, and states are not obliged under the 1951 Refugee Convention or any other instrument to accept refugees for resettlement. It is a voluntary scheme co-ordinated by the UNHCR which, amongst other things facilitates burden-sharing amongst signatory states. Resettlement therefore complements and is not a substitute for the provision of protection to people who apply for asylum under the Convention.

According to the UNHCR, less than 1 per cent of the world’s refugees may be resettled in any given year:

Millions of refugees around the world continue to live with little hope of finding a solution to their plight … resettlement benefits a small number of refugees; in 2008, less than 1 per cent of the world’s refugees directly benefited from resettlement.


Thank you for the link, Marilyn.

It was so heartening to see our public servants so forthrightly discrediting the populist ranting of their masters.  It restores my faith in the public service.


If this is happening, if people who dodge and flee to escape arbitrary arrest, maiming and murder are being discriminated against because to flee in terror is to fail to follow orderly process, that is a disgrace.  If, in that flight, they reach Australia, they must be given refugee status.  To imprison them or send them back is culpable and we need to prosecute and jail any officials who are doing that.

If, on the other hand, their flight was successful, they reached a place where they were safe, but then decided to move on to a more prosperous country, and paid the captain of a boat to bypass normal controls on international travel and sneak them in, different rules should apply.

That "refugees do not have a right to be resettled" seems the small truth that is being overlooked.  If they do not have that right, but do it anyway by avoiding normal border controls, they are no longer refugees but attackers, whatever sob stories they may tell (and you can be sure that like every criminal they invent fabulous stories proving innocence and that they are the injured party).  They have deliberately thrown away any refugee status they had.

It must not be a question of orderly process, and being registered with the UNHCR.  The relevant question is whether or not they are, in fact, never mind about process, in fact, genuine refugees.

One expects that that will often be a difficult question to investigate.  The investigator may get it wrong.  But it is not made wrong by the sob story, and an unprofessional credulity on the part of someone else, but to which the investigator was not subject.

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