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Restoring integrity to Australia’s immigration system

Marilyn Shepherd writes: 

The cost has been about $3 billion over the past 10 years.

14 people have died in detention without ever being charged with any crime.

On SIEVX alone 146 children, 142 women and 65 men died while at least 7 died after we turned them back to Indonesia, I believe over a dozen others have been killed after their forced return to their countries.

At least 247 Australian's were illegally detained including 10 children whom the department claimed "were visiting" their parents, some for as long as 9 months.

Over 300 permanent residents were deported while several citizens were illegally deported and have had to be brought back and compensated.

At long last the ALP have decided to rectify the horror they began in response to a mere 194 Cambodians who arrived in 1992 while Gareth Evans was dealing with the Cambodians for peace.

We all need to applaud Kevin Rudd and Chris Evans and his team for this great step forward.


New Directions in Detention: Restoring Integrity to Australia’s Immigration System
Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

(Speech delivered on Tuesday 29 July 2008 at the Centre for International and Public Law, Australian National University)

At my first meeting with Department officials as Minister for Immigration, I asked who was detained at the immigration detention centre on Nauru and at what stage were their claims for asylum.

I was told there were eight Burmese and 81 Sri Lankans there. Virtually all of this group had already been assessed as refugees but had been left languishing on Nauru.

When I asked why the eight Burmese had not been settled in Australia in accordance with international law there was an embarrassed silence.

Eventually the answer emerged. The Howard Government had ordered they stay put. They had been left rotting on Nauru because the Howard Government wanted to maintain the myth that third country settlement was possible.

Sadly, Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers had sunk this low.

The treatment of asylum seekers has been controversial in Australian political debate for many years. The length and conditions of their detention has been a particular focus of criticism.

The Rudd Labor Government was elected on a platform that included a commitment to reform and a more humane treatment of those seeking our protection.

We quickly ended the Pacific Solution – closing the offshore processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island. We abolished temporary protection visas – the symbol of the former Government’s continued punishment of those found to be owed our protection.

We acted quickly to resolve the legacy cases. Cornelia Rau has finally been compensated for her treatment and Robert Jocovic – the man found destitute in Belgrade after being deported on character grounds – has been given a permanent visa to get on with his life in Australia.

The challenge for Labor, having tackled the worst excesses of the Howard immigration legacy, is to introduce a new set of values to immigration detention – values that seek to emphasise a risk-based approach to detention and prompt resolution of cases rather than punishment. The best deterrent is to ensure that people who have no right to remain in Australia are removed expeditiously.

The Labor Party went to the last election with a commitment to maintain a system of mandatory detention and the excision of certain places from the Migration zone, and both commitments will be honoured.

Control and management of our borders is integral to the nation’s security. The extensive patrolling of our borders by Defence, Customs and other law enforcement agencies has been maintained at existing levels.

The Labor Government has reinvigorated efforts to work closely with countries to our north to combat people smuggling and prevent attempts at dangerous sea journeys by people seeking to enter Australia unlawfully.

We look to extend assistance to those countries to develop their capacity and enhance projects in home and transit countries to assist people displaced by conflict who may be vulnerable targets of people smugglers and traffickers.

An architecture of excision of offshore islands and non-statutory processing of persons who arrive unauthorised at an excised place will remain.

Those unauthorised arrivals will be processed on Christmas Island.

Labor believes that the excision and offshore processing at Christmas Island will signal that the Australian Government maintains a very strong anti-people smuggling stance. It also reinforces in the minds of our neighbours that strong commitment and the value we place on their cooperation.

Although no decision has been taken on the boundaries of the current excision zone, the Rudd Government believes that a strong border security regime is in the national interest and supports the integrity of our immigration system as well as our humanitarian and refugee programs.

Labor rejects the notion that dehumanising and punishing unauthorised arrivals with long-term detention is an effective or civilised response. Desperate people are not deterred by the threat of harsh detention – they are often fleeing much worse circumstances. The Howard Government’s punitive policies did much damage to those individuals detained and brought great shame on Australia.

Strong border security and humane and risk-based detention policies are not incompatible. They are both hallmarks of a mature, confident and independent nation.

There has been strong criticism of the processing of protection claims by those persons whose unauthorised arrival was at an excised offshore place.

These criticisms include that there is a lack of transparency, that there is insufficient provision for independent advice and assistance for people in making their claims, that there is no independent review of departmental decisions and there is a lack of independent oversight of the process.

In instituting a new processing regime for those who arrived in an excised place and claim protection, we seek to remedy those deficiencies.

Henceforward, asylum seekers will receive publicly funded advice and assistance, access to independent review of unfavourable decisions and external scrutiny by the Immigration Ombudsman.

These measures will build on strengthened procedural guidance for departmental decision makers.

In totality, these robust processes will deliver outcomes in which we can be confident and will reassure the world that we are meeting our international commitments.

The integrity of these processes will reinforce our capacity to expedite the return to their home country of people found not to be in need of protection.

The previous Government was forced into major changes to its detention practices in 2005 following the Palmer and Comrie reports and heightened political and public pressure.

The changes certainly improved key aspects of the immigration detention system, reducing overall numbers detained by encouraging the Department to issue Bridging Visas to avoid placing people in detention. However, the changes were largely superficial and never fundamentally reformed the system; many of the concerns expressed over the past decade remain.

The basic premise that people who were in the country unlawfully – whether they be unauthorised arrivals or people who have breached their visa conditions – were subject to mandatory immigration detention remained central to the government’s policy.

Even though the number of unauthorised boat arrivals had slowed dramatically, long-term detention became the reality for large numbers of detainees; mostly people who had breached their visa conditions and utilised our thorough appeal processes to try to win the right to stay in Australia.

Today I want to announce that Cabinet has endorsed a policy containing seven values that will guide and drive new detention policy and practice into the future. These values will result in a risk-based approach to the management of immigration clients.

The Government’s seven key immigration values are:

1. Mandatory detention is an essential component of strong border control.

2. To support the integrity of Australia’s immigration program three groups will be subject to mandatory detention:

  • all unauthorised arrivals, for management of health, identity and security risks to the community;
  • unlawful non-citizens who present unacceptable risks to the community; and
  • unlawful non-citizens who have repeatedly refused to comply with their visa conditions;

3. Children, including juvenile foreign fishers and, where possible, their families, will not be detained in an immigration detention centre (IDC);

4. Detention that is indefinite or otherwise arbitrary is not acceptable and the length and conditions of detention, including the appropriateness of both the accommodation and the services provided, would be subject to regular review;

5. Detention in Immigration Detention Centres is only to be used as a last resort and for the shortest practicable time;

6. People in detention will be treated fairly and reasonably within the law; and

7. Conditions of detention will ensure the inherent dignity of the human person.

Labor’s reforms will fundamentally change the premise underlying detention policy.

Currently persons who are unlawful may be detained even though the departmental assessment is that they pose no risk to the community. That detention may be prolonged. Currently, detention is too often the first option, not the last.

Under Labor’s reforms, persons will be detained only if the need is established. The presumption will be that persons will remain in the community while their immigration status is resolved. If a person is complying with immigration processes and is not a risk to the community then detention in a detention centre cannot be justified. The Department will have to justify a decision to detain – not presume detention.

Labor believes that the retention of mandatory detention on arrival of unauthorised arrivals for the purpose of health, identity and security checks is a sound and responsible public policy. Once checks have been successfully completed, continued detention while immigration status is resolved is unwarranted.

The key determinant of the need to detain a person in an immigration detention centre will be risk to the community – a modern risk management approach.

The detention of those who pose unacceptable risks to the community is self evidently sound public policy. Those with criminal or terrorist links or those whose identity is unknown may be so categorized.

Detention of those who repeatedly refuse to comply with visa conditions can also be justified, particularly immediately prior to their planned involuntary removal.

Detention in these three circumstances is necessary in ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.

The other detention values will ensure that detention policy reflects the values of Australia’s democracy.

They honour our international treaty obligations. They give greater voice to our commitment to the rule of law. They acknowledge the centrality of the humane treatment of the individual.

The detention of children behind razor wire and the obvious damage done to them caused outrage in the Australian community. The Howard Government could not defend that practice but never abandoned the option of again detaining children.

Labor’s detention values explicitly ban the detention of children in immigration detention centres. Children in the company of family members will be accommodated in Immigration Residential Housing (IRH) or community settings.

The expansion of community housing options and the resolution of definitional issues around what constitutes detention under the Migration Act will be pursued as priorities.

The set of values adopted are designed to drive the development of a very different detention model.

The values commit us to detention as a last resort; to detention for the shortest practicable period; to the rejection of indefinite or otherwise arbitrary detention. In other words, the current model of immigration detention is fundamentally overturned.


The Immigration Department has commenced work on an implementation plan to give effect to these values that will be developed in consultation with community interest groups and agencies such as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) and the Ombudsman.

Under Labor’s reforms, in determining the ongoing detention of a person the onus of proof will be reversed. A departmental decision maker will have to justify why a person should be detained against these values that presume that that person should be in the community.

In our view the critical and harsh aspect of the Howard Government’s mandatory detention policy was not the initial detention phase but the continued and indefinite detention that occurred while lengthy immigration processes and appeals were completed.

Recently, I personally reviewed – in conjunction with the Commonwealth Ombudsman – all of the long-term detention caseload, those who have been in detention for more than two years. In doing the review I sought to apply the values endorsed by Cabinet to the consideration of these protracted and difficult cases.

Of the 72 cases reviewed, 31 were placed on a pathway to visas, 24 will be removed from the country and 17 people were subject to ongoing legal proceedings at the time of the review.

The lessons from this process were instructive.

Firstly, in my judgment, at least 31 of the 72 should not have been in detention.

Secondly, in two years and sometimes much longer, we had failed to successfully remove from the country 24 people who should be removed. The integrity of the system demands prompt removal of people who have no legal right to remain.

Thirdly, extensive and slow legal processes were resulting in people remaining in long-term detention.

Fourthly and most importantly, it was clear that if you asked the question ‘is there a need for this person to be in detention?’ you got a very different outcome to that provided by the current system.

In future the Department will have to justify why a person should be detained. Once in detention a detainee’s case will be reviewed by a senior departmental official every three months to certify that the further detention of the individual is justified.


I will also be seeking to engage the Ombudsman in the review of cases much earlier than his current review after two years of detention. Subject to consultation, a review by his office after a period such as six months would seem more preferable.

In the meantime I have asked the Department to review all current detainees and apply the same principles used during my review of the 72 people held in long-term immigration detention.

Our new model will not solve all of the complex and protracted issues that delay resolution of immigration status. There will still be people in detention, but we should see fewer people in detention for less time. The section 501 character cancellation caseload represents a particularly difficult ongoing cohort. However our new processes should ensure much better outcomes overall.

The cost of long-term detention and the case against the current system are compelling.

The impacts on both the physical and mental health of the detainees are severe. Recent research undertaken by the Centre for Health Service Development at Wollongong University dramatically highlights the deleterious health impacts of long-term detention.

The cost to the taxpayer of detention is massive and the debt recovery virtually non-existent. In 2006/07 it cost some $220million to operate Australia’s immigration detention system.

Enormous damage has been done to our international reputation. On 14 occasions over the last decade, the United Nations Human Rights Committee made adverse findings against Australia in immigration detention cases, finding that the detention in those cases violated the prohibition on arbitrary detention in article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Immigration department staff have been left bruised by the policies they have been asked to implement and the public has lost confidence in the fairness and integrity of our immigration system.

A great deal more work needs to occur to develop a modern and robust system for management of people in immigration detention.

Immigration detention not only needs to be for the shortest duration possible but also in the least restrictive form appropriate to an individual's circumstances. The current detention options, beyond immigration detention centres, are limited and inadequate and the infrastructure is ageing and inappropriate.

The Government is interested in broadening alternative detention strategies, most particularly community-based options. The work of the federal parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Migration will be critical in examining alternative pathways and taking forward a reform agenda.

The detention infrastructure available to Government is seriously inadequate. The closure of the infamous Baxter and Woomera centres, while welcome, has meant the major capacity to house detainees beyond Villawood is the new centre on Christmas Island. Its ability to accommodate 400 people with a surge capacity of 800 makes the Christmas Island facility essential to responding to any major increase in unauthorised arrivals. Designed in 2001, it represents a maximum security environment.

Labor has moved quickly to convert the old Phosphate Hill facilities on Christmas Island to provide for children and families in a community environment and fencing around these facilities has been pulled down.

Small groups of unauthorised arrivals will be accommodated in the Phosphate Hill facilities with the new centre to be brought on line when numbers demand.

Urgent works are commencing at Villawood out of current budget resources prior to a major redevelopment. The HREOC criticisms of existing facilities at Villawood are totally justified. Priority is being given to the Stage 1 section and the management support unit. These facilities make management of the detainees extremely difficult and contribute to their alienation.

The management of detention centres has been at the centre of the concern about treatment of detainees. Labor determined in opposition to return management of detention services to the public sector.

On coming to office in December last year, the tender process for the management of detention centres was well advanced. The Immigration Department has invested $13 million in the tender process to date and tenderers have also expended considerable costs in preparing their bids.

The post Roche Report (2005) regime has greatly improved oversight of facility management. The new service delivery model for which tenders are sought has a strong focus on human rights, effective programs and activities for people in detention, high delivery service standards and best practice governance arrangements. The Department has also engaged in extensive consultations in developing the new model.

The absence of alternative public service providers would require the extension of the current contract arrangements for a minimum of two years. The cancellation of the tender process would expose the Commonwealth to potential compensation claims from the tenderers.

After weighing up all the issues and costs, and giving detailed and serious consideration to the options available, the Government has determined to finalise the current tender process. The Department has extended the existing contracts while the current tender process is completed.

The broader policy issues of public versus private sector management of detention services will be addressed following an evaluation at the end of the term of the contracts concluded as part of the tender process.

Our focus moving forward will be on the implementation of the new detention values and new models for detention. The work of the Joint Standing Committee will help lead that conversation.

In the broader community, interest in these matters has waned as the number of unauthorised boat arrivals has significantly reduced. It is worth noting that of the current detention population of 357 – the lowest numbers since March 1997 – only six are unauthorised boat arrivals. The vast majority of our detention population are people who overstayed or breached their visa conditions.

We will continue to expect that people who come to our country enter and leave in accordance with their visa conditions; we will continue to pursue the prompt return of those found not to be owed protection. As a result we will continue to have a detention population featuring non citizens who are a risk to the community or who are refusing to comply with immigration processes.

And with massive displacement of persons in the Middle East and Asia, caused by conflict and natural disasters along with well established people smuggling operations, the potential for large numbers of unauthorised arrivals remains real.

Australia’s national interest demands we continue our efforts to prevent people smuggling to our shores. The key determinate of our success in combating people smuggling remains the cooperation and capacity of our northern neighbouring countries.

The Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Bob Debus and I will lead a senior Australian Government delegation to four South East Asian countries next week to build on the work already serving us well.

The policy initiatives I have detailed today are the beginning of a new approach, introducing new and more compassionate values to our detention policies.

Labor believes that this framework will both meet our border security needs and deliver appropriate treatment for those who arrive unauthorised or breach their visa conditions. Those who need protection will get it, those who do not will be expected to promptly leave Australia.

The Rudd Labor Government will reform our immigration detention policies and the treatment of asylum seekers in a way that reflects the compassion and tolerance of the Australian community.

In the future the immigration system will be characterised by strong border security, firm deterrence of unauthorised arrivals, effective and robust immigration processes and respect for the rule of law and the humanity of those seeking migration outcomes.

Thank you.


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Marilyn Shepherd, thanks for the information about refugee numbers in Syria and elsewhere, and it's difficult to disagree with your comments about the scale of the refugee problem.

I don't mean to pester you, though I have for asked this a couple of times now, so I apologise.

However, would you like to show us a link to a source confirming the deaths of either "the dozens" of refugees deported from Australia, or even the "nine" reported by the Edmund Rice Centre who "may" have been killed in 2006, or of the two children deported from Australia who were "certainly" killed, as claimed by the Edmund Rice Centre?

I mean, that's two years since that claim was made initially, and I've heard nothing of it since then 2006 when the Edmund Rice Centre first made it, and that their claim is at any rate at variance with your claim of the deaths of "the dozens" of refugees deported from Australia.

Such an appalling thing if true should be brought actively to the attention of the Australian public, and I would be the first to heartily congratulate you on bringing such a terrible thing to our attention.

Please help us with information this important matter.

Also, given that, should Chris Evans have rescinded Mr al-Masri's deportation order? Don't you feel his failure to do so, in view of your standpoint on refugee matters, tends to subvert his credibility?


Eliot, stop trying to pretend you are sincerely interested in any information Marilyn Shepherd has to offer. She could bring the tablets bearing the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai and you'd still dissemble, because that's your sceptical nature, although that's not necessarily always a bad thing either.


The one interesting line the discussion has taken comes with the proposition from Ian MacDougall that the problem is semantic and interpretative. Is the specific wording for the law Marilyn refers to "black letter" or merely advisory or normative in nature?

Bear in mind, it's no shame to have a certain interpretation of something that opposes someone else’s, particularly given metaphysical uncertainties, when people like Justice Kirby and say, Dyson Heydon, the rival supposed top brains in the country, regularly do the same thing?

The problems come with wilful misinterpretation (perversion) , of course; something easily done in the heat of the moment, as people do easily fool themselves with their own self justifications into misunderstanding and alibiing for their own natures or motives, or even existence of such.

Me, too....

Ps; hint: Have always felt Marilyn Shepherd's position to be morally correct and the other, even including my own watered down one, to be based on practicality/expediency. I have therefore never felt comfortable with the "refugees be buggered mentality". Yet, am aware of what it is that makes many including myself, uneasy about a certain idealistic interpretation of the law and its implications for us, in a corrupt and violent world.

Yet Shepherd's is the inevitable, unfortunate, unpalatable moral conclusion, and a challenging one it is.

As we continue our voyage aboard this Ship of Fools we, too gradually learn, a minority of situations do inevitably transform into "no-win" situations.

Jenny for christs sake


Here is a vision of hell we have helped to visit on Iraq.

The process is as easy as pie, our officials simply don't want to do it.

There is only one criteria for refugees, it is the convention in our law.

There is no such thing as limits or quotas or any of the other tripe Ruddock told us.

It is all made up. Syria has 2 million Iraqis, we take 400 and can't get it right.

Pakistan has 4 million Afghans, we got 430 on the TAMPA and turned it into a catastrophe.

Whether you like the bloody convention or the law or not matters not a toss.

Ruddock wasted $3 billion on his lies. Imagine that. In the meantime we sent less than $8 million per annum to help 20 million refugees and then wonder why they leave where they are in squalor.

The problem you and many others have is this strange, romantic vision of the poor and destitute in camps that we have to help but here is a newsflash - we don't and we never have taken any of them.


Drop the blasphemy Marilyn

Marilyn, as a Christian I find blasphemy offensive. Got that? Good. Now remember it when addressing me. I think you would know by now I am a religious person. So in blaspheming to me you are showing lack of tolerance. Not a good look for one of your professed viewpoints.

This country does control the numbers of people who immigrate here which includes refugees. What other countries do is their affair. I would assume when things settle down in Iraq, which won't be till those bent on disrupting the rebuilding change their ways, many of those Iraqis in neighbouring countries will want to go home, and why not? People do tend to like to be amongst their own in their own country if possible.  

BTW There is nothing romantic about being destitute and poor and frankly I think they are some of the most deserving.  Whether we take them or not is not the point.  Though on reflection there are a lot of Zimbabweans now working in this country so clearly some economic refugees manage to get here legally.

The Australian government may not commit much, but I am sure there a lot of caring Australians like me who do. Government aid is not the only form of overseas aid to the poor and destitute, fortunately.

Now be a good girl and try not to blaspheme to me. I will accept for heaven's sake as a comment header if that will help. 

Ah Greg, it's like talking to a brick wall

SIEVX foundered in our Zone of Endeavour mate, that is a fact established in full by the Senate investigation, so I have no idea why you even want to debate that point any more.

As for the refugee convention, yes it is a convention between agreeing states but we have enshrined the right to protection in our law if you want to bother reading the RRT decision I posted.

As such any person on earth has the right to seek asylum here. I don't believe I have ever said everyone will be accepted but the stats from DIMA show that 95% of those who you lot claim came illegally are still here while those who flew here only had a 9% acceptance rate and presumably went home.

And there were no cases of people smuggling. Each and every court case in Australia said "this is clearly not a people smuggling operation". Read the post of the statement from Amanda Vanstone in the senate in 2000 and you will see.

Have a read of these transcripts mate, you will see what the judges said.


Now I had this debate with Harry/David years ago and posted 89 boats of cases where the so-called smugglers got lawyers, charges and a trial and sentence.

The passengers described as desperate by the judges got thrown into detention without charge, without a lawyer or trial or any rights to a proper review of their cases but miraculously 95% of them are still here.

The childish, tiresome drivel still being served up years after it has been debunked as Ruddock's lies and bullshit wears down the nerves because there is an ample amount of evidence now that Ruddock made everything up.

Ian it is a fact

The refugee convention does not say that people have to go to the first country as often claimed, it was written precisely to avoid that happening as many countries around Germany were being overwhelmed.

If the asylum seekers of the world were doing something remotely wrong the prisons all over the world would be full of hundreds of thousands of criminals.

Article 14 of the declaration of human rights states that all people have the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries and the description of a refugee is very clearly articulated.

Where and how people travel is utterly irrelevant and always has been.

We have people who get here from Russia, Moldovia, China, Malaysia, Peru, Brazil and all corners of the globe and they are not abused the way we abuse those few people who came on boats.

Because it is legal.

No have a read of the 1967 additional protocol which we enshrined in 1973 which takes down all the artificial barriers in the 1951 convention.

Any person anywhere in the world has the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution. Simple. That also means us if we are over run by the Arabs or Asians that so many seem to be convinced might happen and we need to make damn sure someone would help us.

Here is another tip - our nearest neighbours are Indonesia, New Zealand and New Guinea or the Antarctic. Mr genius Ian, perhaps you could explain where we would go if we were invaded - especially as not that many Australians actually have passports.

Restoring truth to the refugee debate

Webdiary moderators, I used to post here until I gave up on the fairness of your moderation under the mad rule of Roslyn Ross. I just found it a waste of time since it was clear to me that what you called "moderation" was just censorship of views you didn't like while giving a free run to Roslyn. Shortly after I left Margo Kingston got involved and after a few short exchanges where Margo stood up for the values she established and you had espoused, but had not followed, she sent Roslyn Ross packing. For me at the time though it was too late. I had been treated shabbily and dishonestly (as demonstrated when a moderator accidentally posted a comment of mine as a DNS with the reasons for saying it should not be posted: you can check what post that was as I sent you a number of emails about it to which you did not reply. You did not even reply to me when i appealed to your stated values) and I resented that. Even so, having been burnt by that experience I would like to return to the debate. My first post on my return is to Marilyn with whom I disagree on much but for whom I have great regard for her sincere convictions however ill conceived I believe they are.

If you are prepared to post this comment then do so in its entirety. If you are not then please extend to me the courtesy, which you did not do two years ago, of responding to my emails asking why you do not do so to the earlier comments which you did not post.

However I know that you will do so for those are Webdiary's values of being Ethical, Accountable and Transparent.


I know that you are passionate in your convictions even to the point that you conflate what you wish to be the law into being the law but let's get a few facts right .

The Refugee Convention is not "the law". It is a treaty between the Executive arm of government and other governments. That does not make it "The law". It does not become the law in Australia until the Australian Parliament ratifies it and legislates it into our domestic law, and ,even then, under our democratic constitution what the Parliament does it can undo, The High Court (and yes, even Justice Kirby has agreed to this) has held that what Ruddock did was lawful because he acted within the authority given to him by the Australian Parliament.

So let's forget this fantasy that you hang on to that the Refugees Convention is the law and start respecting our democratic legal system.

Also how about giving up on the SIEVX fantasy. When you write:

On SIEVX alone 146 children, 142 women and 65 men died while at least 7 died after we turned them back to Indonesia,

you are being completely dishonest . The SIEVX foundered 80 kilometres off the coat of Java, thousands of kilometres from Australia without any Australian naval ship within 100 kilometres of it, let alone turning it back. We did not turn them back, You know that because it has been discussed in detail on Webdiary and yet you say what you have said.

You are right though about the people smuggling racket that Ruddock put an end to. The game used to be that if the bloke got in he got a PPV and then after a short time he could bring his whole family over. Completely circumventing our immigration laws. Ruddock's legislation introducing the TPV put an end to that little scam. And the Labor Party agreed to it, didn't they?

Still reeling Greg

Don't worry Greg, you are not the only one still reeling from the onslaught of RR. How can any of us ever forget?

I Wish Her --- Far Away ...

I too remember the RR era with a clarity I would prefer not to have. It was indeed a shameful time for WD from which the site has never fully recovered. I also decided then that I could not afford to be associated with the site.

WD would be well advised to be on its guard against a return to that period. I doubt that it would survive next time. 

Wishing her far away

Well, of course you would, Paul. Along with everyone else who shows up everything you say as just plain silly.

If we all went far away, you'd be left here with the two or three who think what you say makes sense, all agreeing with each other's delusions. What a good Webdiary that would be!

Troll alert!!

I seem to remember Roslyn Ross as an honest poster compared to certain nincompoops, who could not even work out that Saddam Hussein was lynched during the Islamic holy time of Eid, Even after a certain poster produced a newspaper comment from Prof Amin Saikal, I think, to that effect.

A time of shame for Webdiarists of the right, and surprised some of you wood have the unabashed front to resurrect those disastrous times for yourselves, even after this time.

Front and facts Paul

Paul:  Nothing shameful at all was done or happened to Roslyn Ross on WD from my recollection. She left of her own accord after Margo put a temporary limit of 500 words on her comments due I understand to the pressure she was putting on editors by the length and frequency of her comments which were in that regard, unforgettable.  She could not accept that and exercised her right to leave.

The fact is that Roslyn was no angel.. She directed very long wordy condemnations of those who did not agree with her on the issues of the ME, Israel in particular and the Iraq war.. It was an unrelenting barrage of  words, loaded with personal judgements, bordering many times in contravention of WD rules. I for one copped it at times and it was very tedious, though I mostly ignored it. In fact I set that aside and engaged with her on many other issues on which she wrote excellent pieces. But she was her own worst enemy, not others here. No one treated her shamefully at all -quite the contrary - most were very tolerant as we are of Marilyn's idiosyncratic style - and for the same reason.

But others like Greg clearly resented what he saw as unfair treatment at her hands and the moderators and left because of it. I can sympathise with the position he found himself in.  As I recall Greg posted some very interesting comments on various issues back then, and if he felt driven away because of peronal attacks by Roslyn, then that is unfortunate.  

Being passionate about an issue as people like Marilyn and Roslyn are/were, does not give them the right to personally denigrate, ridicule or call names those who do not share their strong views.  If that is allowed to creep in then you have ample evidence on other sites of the depths to which abuse will descend, removing any chance of intelligent discussion.

Frankly the sort of nasty tis tisn't type personal exchanges you see in these forums between people who claim to be educated and informed and intelligent reminds me of kids in a playground. The only word for it is childish.

But it also is a sad reflection on those people and their level of humanity.

It is not true that words cannot hurt. They can and I am really surprised that people who had terrible childhoods like Marilyn and Roslyn can write anything that might even remotely be hurtful to another.

Something was said to me and things happened to me in my childhood as it did to them - and my childhood was totally lost as a result. like theirs. What that experience taught me very early in life is to be very sensitive to how I treat other people, be it by words or deeds. That is why I have so little tolerance for abuse here and avoid dishing it out - I know people can be hurt.

Now someone here asked me about trolling and I thought, how do you define, and then identify a 'troll'?  Since you have called for a troll alert, could you tell me how you define one. That by the way is a genuine question.  

Sorry Marilyn - this is off your thread but as Paul's was posted here, I am responding here.

Off the rails?

Some Diarists may have noticed that I come and vanish. Usually because the comment has become too puerile, too personal, too petty to be bothered with.

The abuse is far more widespread than those few who Jenny named,

In recent times along with personal attacks that in my view clearly breach the WD charter, there has been cases of blatant, undisguised racism.

This is of more concern to me than are personal attacks. Having attempted to raise the issue through private emails, and suggested possible solutions, including opening this issue up for discussion and redefining, or affirming the charter as it stands, with clear guidelines that would in my view make the moderators’ thankless task much more simple, much less subject to individual decisions, without effect, I consider daily whether or not I wish to continue my association with WD at this time.

Perhaps I am the only one who sees in recent posting that there is an unease with the present situation?


Under the law and the refugee convention anyone on earth has a right to come here and seek protection from persecution. That is the law dear.

Which part of that is too difficult?

The place where you are wrong is that people don't come here just because they are poor, among all the thousands of cases not one person was ever found to have done that.

However, if you want to talk about migration people do indeed have to apply for a visa to get here if they are only visiting. But they are not refugees dear who have an entire convention outlining their rights under the law that Keating and then Ruddock chose to throw in the bin.

To apply for a refugee protection visa in Australia a person has to be in Australia. The law dear goose Jenny.

How can you be so good on the environment and such issues and such a blind fool over one tiny group of people, most of whom live here now as citizens in spite of Ruddock's lies and delusions.


Now read this document and tell me where it says in the definition of refugee that people must wait in line, apply for a visa first from the people who are tormenting them or must not pay to get here.

I don't make this stuff up you know, dear goose.

Control is necessary

Marilyn, whether you agree with it or not, there has to be an orderly system for bringing refugees into this country. It is not about lists, but it is about fairness to all those waiting in hope for a new life in another country. And I believe the poverty stricken are just as entitled to consideration as those who claim persecution. It is no easier to die of starvation than from an act of violence, in fact it is probably in many cases worse.

If the tiny group you are referring to are the ten thousand you say arrived here of their own accord in the years between 1998-2001, with presumably the intention of then seeking family to follow (how many in total exactly would that lead to) - and you cannot see how that might push others even more deserving out of the way , then there is no point in this.

I assume you agree that we do have to have a quota, that we cannot take everyone who wants to come. So under that quota, how would you explain to a persecuted family that has fled - say from Lebanon - that sorry, we cannot take you because we have had ten thousand people arrive who paid smugglers to get them there, and now they want to bring their families out, so sorry, you will just have to wait until we absorb all those.

You say no one came for economic reasons yet you cite numbers being sent back. One assumes their claims, like the case study you linked to, were found not to be proven. So why were they coming if not as a result of persecution?

If your link does anything, it shows just how difficult the task is for people who have to assess these applications. They have to wade through a mine of information, some of it probably true, and some of it probably not. I am sure there are times when they get it wrong and send people back who did have a genuine case, just as it is probably true to say that they let others stay who may not have had as good a case as some of those left behind waiting. And their job would not be made any easier by someone who does not even give their right name.

I never said people are required to wait in line. But I do say is that when there is limited capacity to take people, then those who break the rules/law push others aside. What is so hard to understand about that?

I think the difference between you and me is that I care about those left behind who have no means of escape, while you concern yourself with those who manage to pay to get here. So my resources go into helping those who have no hope of escape at all, like those living in the shanties in Darfur. The young Egyptian in the case you linked to clearly had resources and choices most of the severely persecuted of the world can only dream of. Is he more deserving than them - from reading the case, I think not.

Now stop calling me names, or I will ask the editors to in future consider DNPing you. I do not call you names. Calling people names and trying to ridicule them is insensitive and surprising coming from one who claims to care about people. I have weathered much in my life so can handle it, but others cannot and might be vulnerable. I should not have to tell you that of all people.

Refugees' rights

Marilyn: "Under the law and the refugee convention anyone on earth has a right to come here and seek protection from persecution. That is the law dear. Which part of that is too difficult?"

Here we go again. Please show me where in the International Refugee Convention it says that refugees have a right to nominate their country of final settlement.

Information needed

Marilyn, before you give up entirely, would you like to show us a link to a source confirming the deaths of either "the dozens" of refugees, or even the "nine" reported by the Edmund Rice Centre who "may" have been killed in 2006, or of the two children who were "certainly" killed, as claimed by the Edmund Rice Centre?

That would be very good.


Jenny, Jenny, Jenny

I give up. Your blinkers are on and that would seem to be it for you.

The reality is that anyone on earth is allowed to come to Australia anyway they can and seek protection from persecution.

Got that bit now? Anyone on earth.

They do not need papers. That is enshrined in the refugee convention.

They must never be punished for method of entry to a country. Is that too difficult?

Ergo they broke no law at any time and surely to god the fact that no one was ever charged with breaking any law proves my point after all these years.

There's only one of us here

Marilyn:  Jenny Jenny Jenny. There is only one Jenny the Goose Hume here and probably you thank goodness of that.

The reality is that anyone on earth is allowed to come to Australia anyway they can and seek protection from persecution. Got that bit now? Anyone on earth.

Now you are being selective. 

The reality is that not everyone on earth can just come to this country and stay. That is why we have visas.

And that is what the government has to sort out. Who is a legitimate refugee from persecution and who is not. To assume that all arrivals coming in leaky boats are seeking protection from persecution is just that, an assumption.  Some come not to escape persecution but for economic reasons.

Arriving unauthorised because your country is an economic basket case is not the same as fleeing persecution. You said certain numbers are sent back. No doubt some were sent back when they should not have been, but I assume that many that were were just that, deemed economic refugees.

And there are millions of them looking for a better life. Should they be refused and preference given to those fleeing violence in their country, violence that so many of the men are so good at perpetrating on each other, to the detriment of the women and children caught in between. Those shouting gun toting screaming men shooting at each other day and night in the streets make me sick. What hope of any security for their families while they do that? But you'll never stop them, not in a million years.

And what they don't need is people like that uber goose David Hicks going over there to join in in their internecine wars for the fun of it.  

Now saying that will bring the foxes after this unter goose no doubt. Time for take off methinks.

Richard:  Perhaps not, when Marilyn has a gander at this.  Pass the sauce.

The "dozens" of refugees killed in Afghanistan

Marilyn Shepherd: "For heavens sake Eliot, have you been in a vacuum for the past 7 years?   Edmund Rice Centre and the ABC have shown many people stories of people being killed after we sent them home."

In 2006, the Edmund Rice Centre reported this:

"A delegation from the Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney recently visited Afghanistan and found that as many as 9 men returned from Nauru may have been killed, and 3 children of people sent back from Nauru can be confirmed as having been killed."

- which would be dreadful if confirmed.  Though nothing more is ever heard of the claims.

By contrast, you stated this:

"About 400 were forced back to Afghanistan and Iraq and had to flee again but dozens were killed."

The most recent news I have on this issue from the Edmund Rice Centre is this from 30 July 2008:

"We have particularly serious concerns for rejected asylum seekers who were sent back to Afghanistan and are now living in danger in that country. The 'Pacific Solution' has not ended for them."

All the information I can find about the refugees "who may have been killed" date from mid-2006. But nothing after.

I can find no mention of "dozens" of refugees from Nauru being killed at all. And there seems to be no independent or confirmed reports about the Edmund Rice Centre claims, and no apparent follow up that I can see..

Given the seriousness of the claim, and the obvious concern you expressed for your reputation as an impartial, and reliable informant at "Eliot, it was the department", Marilyn Shepherd on August 5, 2008 - 2:22pm, could you link us to a source confirming the deaths of either "the dozens" you claimed, or even the "nine" reported by the Edmund Rice Centrewho "may" have been killed in 2006, or of the two children who were "certainly" killed, as reported by the Edmund Rice Centre.

It would be a very compelling piece of information if you could provide it.

Best wishes.


Read this Jenny. The men come first so that if there is danger they are the ones who will be caught, injured or harmed and the wives and children are stashed somewhere safe in the meantime.

Under the refugee convention it is accepted by all of the world that family reunion rights are paramount but in 1999 Ruddock stole away those rights. The men didn't make the women catch the boats, Ruddock did because women in middle east countries cannot get passports or documents to travel because many of them have never been registered at birth.

Here is the rub - you are compliaining still about the men not going to get their wives. RUDDOCK LEGISLATED THAT THEY WERE NOT ALLOWED TO. Do you get that?

What on earth sort of country would do such a dreadful thing to people that they have to risk their lives to attain something that is their right in law?

When the women and children did arrive in Australia we were so concerned about them being at risk we locked them up and Ruddock went all the way to the High Court to make sure it was legal to keep families separated.

I know you are not a stupid woman but try and concentrate and stop blaming the victims of Ruddock's cruelty.

Now as Evans and Rudd have cancelled the temporary visas for the men who could not leave the country and be re-united with their families there will never again be women and children at such risk.

See how easy it all is when you bother to think for a minute about what you are on about.

Of course, the men could have left but having been granted refugee status here they could not apply anywhere else in the world and Ruddock's law said they could not come back if they left.

Just imagine that if you can. Sondos Ismail survived the horror that was SIEVX but her three little girls drowned in front of her eyes. When we found out here Ruddock said she could not come here and her husband was not allowed to go there.

One man who did go to get his wife and children in Indonesia after being told not to died on that boat with his family.

What sort of mongrel country says to a man or a woman in some cases "yes you are a refugee and can stay but do not expect to see your family again.

A Family Reunion after 7 years
Today at 12.45pm at the International arrivals lounge at Tullamarine,
the doors opened and a young boy pushed his luggage trolley through. He
instantly saw his father, dropped the trolley and ran to him, sobbing
and hugging him through the rails. He was 3 when he last saw his father.
The other children and their mother followed- a time for tears and joy
after years of separation.

My last on this issue

Marilyn: I carry no flag for Ruddock and the way he applied his immigration polices. Never had.

But at the same time I do not envy anyone in Government trying to set a workable and controlled immigarion policy. I assume you believe there should be immigration controls. If not then we do have a problem.

I have no objections with anyone coming to this country provided they abide by the laws of the land, which include certain freedoms for women; that they do not bring abhorrent practices such as the right to honour killings; or bring their grievances against other groups in their home countries with them and try to settle them here - and provided the country can sustain them. Just how many people this country can sustain is becoming increasingly uncertain - the same with the planet.  Perhaps if you worked in our embassies overseas you would appreicate just how many people do want to come to this country, for many reasons  - and there is no way this country could sustain even a fraction of them. 

I think that it is very easy to sit outside the political decision making process and implementation of policy and judge. I do not accept that the people in DIMA are not basically good people trying to implement whatever policy is forced on them to implement. And yes they make bungles, as do the DOCS people  - there are always some bureaucrats that get it wrong, or who, like some soldiers in wartime, set about applying the rules in a harsher way. That does not make all DIMA people callous and uncaring, or as I have seen them called here, criminals.

There are millions of people in the world who are refugees. Most would like a better life as our ancestors who came here before us did. Given that you have to have some sort of immigration controls and management system.

I just have a problem with any man leaving his family and parking them, not in safe places, but in places like Indonesia. That would be one of the last places on earth I would park a family. Why not leave with them, and travel with them? Clearly the fact that families can get to Indonesia suggests a lot of planning, some financial assistance and help to leave. Millions of other refugees have no hope of even getting that far.     

I am sure that all those others left behind and wanting to come are in just as desperate a situation as the people you see who arrived without clearance to do so.  I wonder how they feel at having to take a back seat. Recognising the problem unauthorised boat arrivals create does not say one endorses how Ruddock handled the situation. I would have done what you would, let the families come - got them out of the hands of the profiteers in misery, and not locked them up for years. But at the same time I can understand why the government would see arrivals this way as breaking down an orderly immigration policy and see where that could lead to.      

What I find abhorrent is the way it is the men in so many of those countries who are in fact causing the hatred amongst themselves and then find it necessary to leave, leaving their families behind.  As I said earlier the family and clan feuds in the ME, and not just the ME,  are reminiscent of those written of in the Old Testament - where retribution was the norm. It is also reminiscent of the clan wars in Scotland in much of its history. It is also common in indigenous societies, even our own. Jsut visit Dubbo. It is always the women and children who are left to suffer the outcomes of the way men will brawl and fight over petty issues in a violent way. Who is out on the streets of Lebanon shooting at each other over the heads of women and children huddled in their homes? Who is it on the streets of Gaza doing the same? Who are the main enemies of the Shias in Iraq, and the Sunnis as well but each other? And in Pakistan it was the same where I saw how the tribal violence played out when I lived there. Stay in your home in those tribal areas after dark ladies because that is when the men start shooting at each other. Nothing has changed there in the forty years since, far from it.  Except now they plant bombs full of bolts and nails in the markets.

When the men stop shooting each other up and people start trying to live with each other in peace, then maybe the world will not have so many refugees.  A bit of adherence to the principle of the sanctity of human life would not go astray.  But what a forlorn hope that is when you look around the world.

And that is all I have to say. I come from a family who took in more refugees in our own society probably than most - all total strangers and I more than likely give more money than most here to those in need all over the world.   So I do not believe I have anything to prove in the compassion stakes.

Jenny, you didn't read

The men came first on the boats to find a safe place and expected that the women and children would fly here as they had done for 50 years.

The men tried their damndest to protect the women and you have turned yourself inside out pretending to have hurt feelings so that you could abuse a man who is dead.

 The reality is that under the law any person has a right to travel to any country any way they can and seek protection.

With the men already living in Australia as refugees but denied the right to sponsor their families for up to 5 years what are women and children are supposed to do.  Stay and be bombed to bits.

The men did nothing wrong, the women were the ones forced to suffer because of that lunatic Ruddock.

And Kathy went I am pointing out facts in law and detail why the hell would anyone want to abuse me and disagree.

Richard:  I think we're all a bit frayed around the edges tonight.  Or is it just me?  I'm going to bed.

Well gee chill girls

If the cap fits dear ladies wear it.   The amount of nonsense in Jenny's post in the week that a young man was murdered was enough to choke a horse.

Richard:  The cap did not fit, and I wish I'd seen that post before it was published.  Everyone's entitled to their opinion without being belittled.   Sorry if that sounds undiplomatic, Marilyn, but I've run out of diplomacy today.  If you've a beef with someone's argument, argue it.  The personal put-downs aren't necessary.

Try the Edmund Rice Centre Eliot

For heavens sake Eliot, have you been in a vacuum for the past 7 years? Edmund Rice Centre and the ABC have shown many stories of people being killed after we sent them home.

Last year alone the ERC discovered that 12 Afghans had been killed including 3 little kids after being forcibly returned from Nauru. They were killed for the precise reasons they said they would be.

An 18 year old boy was forced back to Pakistan and was murdered a couple of years ago, another man was forced back to Colombia and didn't last a month before being murdered on his doorstep.

Many of the men here had family members die of cold, starvation or bombings after Ruddock stopped the family reunion which every other country abides by.

A couple of old nuns did most of the work in a report called Deported to Danger and the film of it will be shown on SBS next month.

Watch for it Eliot, it is called A well founded fear. Iranians were sent back and never seen or heard of again. Vanstone sent home a Chinese woman in 1997 when she was 36 weeks pregnant even though she begged to have her baby here because it would be forcibly aborted. It was at 38 weeks.

See Eliot, we are the savages really.

Jenny, what a brainless goose of a post

During the history of refugees in the world all the men went the dangerous way so that the wives and children could travel the safe way. Are you so ridiculous you don't get that?

If Ruddock had not cancelled family reunion rights for one small group of men the other 10,000 would not have been on the boats. Talk about stupid, Jenny, which part of that don't you get?

To make matters worse the liberal government were told by many of their own members in March 2000 that the result of the denial of family reunion women and children were being forced to come on boats or be left behind for up to 7 years. The men did not know that Australia had decided to breach the refugee convention by denying family reunion, they were only told on release from jail.

And you ridiculous woman, how many times do you have to be told that it is not illegal to come to Australia without a visa, it is written into the Australian migration act to make it perfectly legal.

All refugees until October 1999 had family reunion rights and it generally happened very quickly, now it will happen again and we will not have the desperate situation of women and children left to rot by us.

Try and think with your brain dear instead of the mindless rhetoric spouted by Ruddock.

Jewish men went first, Iraqis go first, it is the way these things are always done and always have been. The Iraqis, Afghans, Palestinians and others who came here didn't get a choice you know. They weren't out on a holiday jaunt looking for a f.....g pleasure cruise.

And what has Indonesia got to do with anything? They are not part of the legal protection regime and the Australian government have always known that. That is why people could not stay in Indonesia.

After 7 years of people being told this I bang my head against walls in rage at your bullshit.

A nice touch of abuse there Marilyn

Marilyn: Well in true Marilyn style Editors that is a nice little touch of abuse. Let me see now, I have progressed from my earlier title bestowed by our raging Marilyn of a goose and a half to:

Brainless goose, ridiculous, stupid woman, ridiculous again, sprouting the mindless rhetoric of Mr Ruddock - invited to think with my brain - well geese don't have much of a brain Marilyn so I am excused there I guess.

Now all that just tells me that you are far too close to all this to be objective and if that is how you talk to the pollies, then I cannot blame them if they do not listen to you.

So the men come the hard way so their families can travel the safe way - what - on the leaky boats? There is nothing safe about a leaky overloaded boat.  The very least the men could do is come with them and try and ensure that that did not happen.

Rage if you like, call me names if you like but the facts speak for themselves.  But this goose, in the interest of your health will leave you to it. It really achieves nothing to rage, certainly fails to convince which might be why you say you have spent seven years trying yet seemingly failed.      

Richard:  Jenny, I've had "one of those days" (especially this arvo) and obviously wasn't paying proper attention.  My deepest apologies.

Facts and no (judgemental) name calling.

 It is fine to point out facts  Marilyn, but why do you need to resort to name calling?

You know ,brainless goose, stupid woman, ridiculous etc...

Tell me Marilyn, if I referred to you as a brainless goose would you really want to engage in any meaningful dialogue with me?

Coming the hard way

So the men come the hard way so their families can travel the safe way - what - on the leaky boats? There is nothing safe about a leaky overloaded boat. The very least the men could do is come with them and try and ensure that that did not happen.
Jenny Hume, please go back and re-read Marilyn's post Jenny, you are dead wrong. Despite the heading it is not abusive. Then re-read your post Figures and what they say or don't say, and ask yourself if Marilyn had some provocation.

Marilyn's argument, which she supported with evidence, is that the men (usually at greatest and most immediate risk) left first or the family fled together. The men then caught the dangerous, leaky, boats while the families made their way to Indonesia, or waited there in the reasonable expectation that they would be reunited under the reunion progam before too long. What happened when Ruddock ended the reunion program is that a very large number of women and children were left in limbo. Many chose the boats as the only option left. It was the only option because of Ruddock's change to the family reunion program. Without that, they would not have been driven to the boats.

Your response appears to totally misunderstand Marilyn's clear argument, and denigrates the men who were doing the best they could for their families. Marilyn, I understand, knows and counts as friends some of the men and families that you abused. She also probably has a greater understanding of their circumstances and motivations than any of us armchair critics.

Sorry Michael, don't agree

Sorry Michael, don't agree. If the women and kids are left behind to fend for themselves on leaky boats, then they are left behind, simple as that.  And I do understand what Marilyn is saying, I just see it differently. I do have a problem with men who leave their wives and children in that situation but you obviously don't.  I cannot see how that is doing the best by them. OK you and I and Marilyn and I differ on that. And your accusation that I abused the men or their families is ridiculous. Having a negative opinion about what people do does no constitute abuse. 

Richard, it is OK. I think in fact my better half put that comment of Marilyn's up anyway. At least he cannot be accused of bias.  

I know Marilyn is sincere in her concern for refugees and I do admire the work she does for them.  But she fails to understand that people can have different views about the actions of people who come here illegally, while at the same time be sympathetic to their plight and agree that the manner in which they are detained for years is not right.

But this goose is off to bed. Only brainless birds stay up after dark, so maybe she is right after all about geese and brains.  I really don't know. We only ever had one goose, bought for Christmas dinner, but no one had the heart to chop his head off because he greeted us in such a friendly manner every morning. Seems there has been at least one smart goose.

Friendly manner - maybe our Marilyn should study geese a bit more closely. Now there's a thought. 

Ian M (ed): Jenny, Only brainless birds stay up after dark? What about owls? Mopokes? Nightingales?

Chill, Marilyn

Marilyn, why do you feel it necessary to denigrate and abuse those who do not agree with you?

I know that you are a passionate caring person, but did you really need to treat Jenny so shabbily? She is not your enemy after all.

Being aggressive serves no good purpose .

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, you know (winks).

Time to reassess?

Perhaps the time has arrived when the rules for contributing to Webdiary, and the manner in which they are applied are discussed and/or restated.

It seems to me that in recent times on several threads there are frequent examples of the parameters not being met.

While Webdiary management has the absolute right to run Webdiary as they wish, the contributors lend their names to the site, and it is my contention that we have the right to have clear, concise parameters that are consistently applied.

In bygone days newspapers had a ‘style’. ‘Style’ overrode every other consideration. Nobody, not the chief sub, not the editor, not the CEO, was exempt. If parts of the style were brought in to question it could, and occasionally was, changed after wide consultation.

The point is, every body was bound by it. Nobody in the chain could decide that the status of the contributor, the topic or personal relationship could be used as a reason to stray from the ‘style’. The result was consistency.

Unless everybody is working to this clear and immutable template, the best that can be expected from moderators is inconsistencies. If a moderator can decide if a contribution is only ‘a little bit abusive’, or ‘a little bit racist’, or ‘this person has reason to be racist’, the result will inevitably be such as we have seen in recent weeks.

I frequent unmoderated sites where some of these comments posted would not have survived for an hour. They would have been pulled, with a notation along these lines: peter hindrup 10:20 pm. This post was deleted.

I suggest that Webdiary could adopt the practice of indicating that a post had be received, but rejected. peter hindrup 10:20 pm. This post was rejected. This way the contributor knows that the post has been received. There is, I believe no reason for the moderators to have to explain the decision in any way. With clear guidelines set it is up to the contributors to work within the guidelines.

Some time ago I submitted a copy of the most complete, concise basis for constructing an argument/debate that I have seen. It was not used. I request permission to resubmit so that it can be considered for adoption into Webdiary’s ‘information to contributors’.

In the event that it was adopted a moderator could refer a contributor to the copy as an indication to them that they need to take more care with their contributions.

Richard: No, Peter, this is not the time to reassess. Webdiary already has a set of protocols, put in place by Margo, that a number of people work hard at following. Having read the information about Webdiary provided here, contributors have the right to post or not, according to their desires to do so.

Right now with Fiona in transit, David and Scott busy, Ian and I have our hands full. Quite frankly, given my workload both here and elsewhere over the last few days, I would simply ask that contributors make our lives less stressful by trying to post according to our guidelines and ethics, in the spirit of what's gone before.

It would also be great to see a few more people writing pieces. Any ideas, folks?

Dozens were killed

Marilyn Shepherd: "In total 1500 people were sent to the Pacific islands and over 1100 of them were refugees. About 400 were forced back to Afghanistan and Iraq and had to flee again but dozens were killed."

That's terrible, Marilyn. Do you have a source which could corroborate that "dozens were killed"?

That would be a scandal of major dimensions. Could you say what your source is for that claim?


Jenny, you are dead wrong

Jenny, why does the bleating about boat people continue? That hey are almost all living here now with us is proof they were doing nothing wrong but the proof of the numbers supplies by the department shows clearly that it was Ruddock who directly caused the increase in numbers by bringing in TPVS.

In all the years before 1999 when Ruddock denied family reunion rights only about 330 children ever came on the boats, that is in 10 years, but after he did it that increased by ten fold to over 3,300.

89-90 - 224 people,

90-91 - 158

91-92 - 78

92-93 - 194

93-94 - 194

94-95 - 1071 - this was when the Iraqis and Afghans started to flee Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. At this point we knew what was happening and increased the intake from Iraq to over 2,500 per annum to stop them having to come on boats.

95-96 - 589 - see it worked and the number halved.

96-97 - 365

97-98 - 157

98-99 - 921 - almost all Iraqis, Iranians and Afghans who are now citizens but from October 99 they were denied family reunion so

99-00 - 4175 - mostly the wives and children from Iraq or Afghanistan who risked being killed if they stayed behind. As it is many of the other families have had to wait up to 10 years to see their families again and many have been murdered in the meantime, often by us and our allies.

00-01 - 4137 - same story.

01 - 1212 - again mostly women and children joining husbands or risking death in their homelands.

In total 1500 people were sent to the Pacific islands and over 1100 of them were refugees. About 400 were forced back to Afghanistan and Iraq and had to flee again but dozens were killed.

Indonesia forced home another 800 and we kept 250 on Lombok until early this year where they were not allowed to work, many died, some became prostitutes and they lived with persecution and squalor.

Do not ever again tell me about the boat people and the floods and how they stopped coming.

I forgot to mention that about 370 died.

Figures and what they say or don't say

Marilyn:  Well thank you for the time you put in sending those figures but what do they really say? What I read you as saying is that after Ruddock had made family re-union more difficult that between1998-2001 some 10 000 people in all set out for this country without permission to enter- I assume by boat since that is what we are talking about here.

(Indicdentally I would not call that an insignificant number and had it continued at that level who knows what the ultimate number would have been, but clearly enough to mean a lot of other people waiting in camps to come legally would have had to wait longer - unless of course you believe that there should be no control on immigration numbers at all.)

Further I read you as saying that most of these boat arrivals were the wives and children of men who had previously fled or been allowed to come up to 1998.

Did so many men flee and immigrate up to 1998 while leaving so many women and children to whatever fate might await them, be it in their troublesome home countries or on the high seas in leaky boats at the mercy of people smugglers. If so, then am I the only one that has a problem with that? 

Is that what Al Masri did? Did you way that he fled after two female members of his family were killed, and leaving behind his wife and own children? Or is that incorrect?. If that and all that you say is true, then it seems leaving the wife and kids behind is the norm and in very dangerous situations.  But of course women do tend to be forced to take a back seat in some of those ME countries while the men go and do their thing, be it settling petty scores with another clan over a mango, or strapping a belt to one's waiste to make a point or heading for another country.  Take Israel off the agenda and believe that will make a difference. It won't.

It seems you don't think Indonesia has leaned on Australia over Papuan refugees - a bit of political blackmail going on with potential boat people the pawns?  Well clearly you have more trust in the Indonesians than most.

knuckle-walking jerks

Paul Walter: "If someone moved in and bulldozed my house' with or without my family and me still in it' to give to it to some knuckle-walking jerk just off the plane from Russia or America to boost the breeding program, I'd be picking up a weapon, too."

Paul, hi! When has that happened?

Also, if some 'knuckle-walking jerk' fired a rocket into your house, or perhaps blew up the kids on the school bus, or murdered your wife, or announced grandly that you would soon be 'wiped from the pages of history' (or whatever), would you still be picking up a weapon?

Also, isn't it good the truce between Hamas and Israel is holding?

Now, if we could only get Hamas to stop killing Palestinians, too.


Eliot: " Hi Paul, when has that happened (gosh, he's a pixie!)."

What? Picked up a weapon because someone bulldozed my home?

Not yet.  But then I'm not a Palestinian.

Advice from Immigration Department good for some, not others

Marilyn Shepherd: "The minister was approached but not by the family and possibly he was given the wrong advice again by the department."

Who approached him?

When Howard's Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, cancelled Dr Haneef's visa, he was held responsible (quite rightly), despite any advice he got from his Department.

What are you saying? That Rudd's new Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, should not be held responsible in the same way that as his predecessor?  For 'special' reasons?

Or was Mr al-Masri not as deserving as, say, Dr Haneef?

In January, Chris Evans announced he would not proceed with an appeal to the High Court in the case of Dr Mohamed Haneef's visa after it was restored.

That was on advice from his Department.

'However, I have sought advice from my department on the ramifications of the Full Federal Court decision for the operation of the character provisions of the Migration Act,' Senator Evans said.

Was that the wrong advice from his Department?

What do you think was so different about Mr al-Masri?

But they won't be coming Jenny Hume

"But I confess I find it hard to understand how some of these young men flee, leaving their families to battle their own way out, with all the dangers that poses. A woman and her children, left alone in another country to deal with bloody people smugglers who simply shove them on a leaky boat and push them out to sea. "

Obviously the great myth of fleets of ships full of asylums seekers still persists. It's not too different from the hordes of Chinese who were soon to descend upon us during the Menzies era. As to leaky boats – the AFP are out of that business now.

Unless you refer to Qantas and other airlines who deliver tourist overstayers in the thousands. You only have to watch that entertaining telly show about customs and immigration to see how vigilant they are – or aren't.

A myth

Michael, the increasing number of boat arrivals was not a myth and there was no indication that that would not have continued to escalate.. Clearly the detention policy combined with Indonesia's desire to be back on side had an effect. No matter what your views about the policy that was the effect. Don't forget who introduced the rigid detention policy. Oh yes, Labor can be just as tough when it is perceives a message has to be sent.

And don't think deals were not done over the West Papua refugee issue. Indonesia could send the boats back our way anytime it chose, so I refuse to believe some arrangement was not arrived at between Howard and Yudi.

I hardly think tourist overstayers are in the same category as asylum seekers setting out in a leaky boat. Few of the latter would have the resources to get here by air anyway. It is an entirely separate issue.

I see some industries want to bring in islanders to help with the harvest. Instead of detention any arrivals by those boat could be set up in housing in the area of greatest need and given say four days fully paid work a week, then three day dole equivalent with the requirement that they undergo intensive English class one day a week. Living and working in the community and learning English in the process would at least mean they would have a better chance of joining the mainstream workforce after they got permanent residency. It seems stupid to me to lock people up for years, thus making any integration more difficult, in fact making some of them mental basket cases. Giving paid work, medical cover and English training and at the same time alleviating the shortage of labour in some industries would make more sense to me.

Are we human beings or Australian?

"...civil war of humanity”. One aspect of this civil war is how it encourages us to treat all issues from the perspective of our identity as national citizens rather than human beings. This allows us to view immigrants as the “other” and to fear their arrival rather than see them as human beings who have need like ourselves. In the 20th century Europe moved from a situation of national conflict and tight border controls to building a European Union which now follows an open border policy amongst its members. This has not led to the destruction of Europe but its enrichment. Building a Human Union will have the same effect for humanity. The problem of immigration will progressively disappear.

Why do we allow abstract borders to determine the rights of other human beings? If we believe that all human beings have equal rights why is it that some have more rights than others when it comes to travel?

Eliot, why do you nitpick so?

Will you get your hand off it? The minister was approached but not by the family and possibly he was given the wrong advice again by the department.

Don't even consider trying to pin this disaster on Chris Evans, that would be a disgrace even for your low moral compass.

I think we need to be consistent

Marilyn, I have no doubt there is incompetence in DIMA, and in other departments as well but in the end it is the MInister who should carry the can.

People here held Downer responsible for AWB's antics, not the Departmental officials who clearly did not do their jobs properly; and Ruddock and Vanstone ultimately had the flak sent their way over immigration deparment bungles. No one here accepted that Downer should not be held accountable for things he should have known, and probably in fact did know.

Ministers, including Evans, have to be held accountable for departmental stuff ups. When I was in the public service many years ago, eveyone knew what sort of Minister was at the top, his attitudes and what standard of performance was expected. Heads rolled if one did not deliver sound advice and on time.

If approaches were made to Evans by you and/or others on Masri's behalf, then clearly Evans listened to his Department's advice, and not yours, just as Ruddock and Vanstone did in the past. When he was in opposition he would have known about the Masri case - so when the name came up again he should have sat up and taken notice and made sure he got it right. Favourite saying these days in the big house: Get it right.

I think too much faith is put in the Rudd government. I believe if Rudd had boat loads of people arriving on our shores, his policy would soon shift. It is easy to make changes when there is no Tampa on the seas heading this way.

But don't get me wrong. I would be a soft touch. I would let them all stay. I reckon that anyone who flees their country must have good reason. No doubt there are bad elements amongst them, but I reckon give them a five year chance to demonstrate they really want to start a new life and if they make no trouble then they stay. If they start making real trouble, then detain them like you would anyone doing the same, and deport them then.

But I confess I find it hard to understand how some of these young men flee, leaving their families to battle their own way out, with all the dangers that poses. A woman and her children, left alone in another country to deal with bloody people smugglers who simply shove them on a leaky boat and push them out to sea.

Were representations made to the new Minister?

Marilyn Shepherd: "Until Evans cleans the thugs out nothing much will change as their knee jerk reaction has always been to deny, deny and deny even when Vivian Alvarez was found alive and it was shown they knew she was Australian they denied all wrong doing."

Were representations made to the new Minister on behalf of Akram al-Masri since his deportation?

Eliot, it was the department

DIAC is full of the same criminals who deported Australian citizens, locked them up in Baxter or Villawood and illegally deported hundreds of refugees on false documents and dumped them in the wrong countries.

Several Palestinians were dumped in Thailand for example, Iraqis in Syria, stateless Palestinians in Jordan and Afghans in Pakistan.

Until Evans cleans the thugs out nothing much will change as their knee jerk reaction has always been to deny, deny and deny even when Vivian Alvarez was found alive and it was shown they knew she was Australian they denied all wrong doing.

 It is a deadly culture in that place with the chief criminal, Andrew Metcalfe, still in his job.

Too bad for them that I really, really hate being called a liar by those bastards and that I keep the emails on important matters.

 There is an appeal for funds for the widow and children who are obviously in grave danger.

Why didn't new Government revoke deportation order?

Interesting background report from Paul McGeough on the Masri clan today:

 Under Yasser Arafat's rule, the Masri clan had control of the General Intelligence Department, or Mukhabarat, through the appointment of General Mohammed Masri.

Interclan rivalry over the appointment and the power and resources that flowed to the Masri clan as a result has been cited as a cause of the enmity between the Masris and Kafarnehs. Their ongoing feud prompted the Masris to erect a four-metre-high wall around their enclave in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.

But the clan is fighting on other fronts. It has vowed to inflict death on the Dughmush clan, which was responsible for the abduction last year of the BBC reporter Alan Johnston, and it has made threats against Hamas since the party took control of Gaza last June.

 Is there any reason why Rudd's government didn't revoke Akram al-Masri's deportation order, I wonder?

Could we invite others to live here? Obviously, their situation in dangerous there.

Israeli government must take resposibility for IDF actions

Richard: "Okay, I've toned this down a bit, but Eliot, perhaps you could respect the sensitivities here and tone down a bit too?"

Fair enough, in view of Marilyn's personal connections with Mr al-Masri.

Let me say for the record, I greatly appreciate Marilyn's efforts on behalf of that unfortunate man, and it's excellent I feel that someone with such connections can keep us informed of developments there outside the usual media coverage.

The good news coming out of Israel is that Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, decided last night to transfer 150 Fatah militiamen, who had fled the Gaza Strip, to the Fatah controlled West Bank:

"On Saturday night about 190 members of the Fatah-aligned Hiles clan had been granted humanitarian passage to Israel after fierce fighting with forces loyal to Hamas, the radical Islamic movement that governs the Gaza Strip."

Marilyn Shepherd: "Hamas did not kill Akram, they actively tried to stop the killing."

I appreciate that, Marilyn, and I'm terribly sorry for your loss.

Hamas are the political authority in Gaza, of course, and must take responsibility for what happens there under their watch, musn't they?

You know? Like the Coalition is responsible for what happens in Iraq, such as suicide bombings and the like? That's a pointy you have made on many occasions here.

Also, the Israeli government must take resposibility for IDF actions, and perhaps the actions of Israeli citizens, wouldn't you say?

Clan killings

I do not for one minute believe that if Israel had never come into existence that the clan killings that go on in that region of the world would not now be taking place.

If today's report about the Masri and other clans is correct, and I have no reason to doubt it, what hope is there for peace of any kind in Gaza or the West Bank. To kill over a mango and a bump by a donkey cart - I can believe that - I saw enough in Pakistan to see how petty incidents inflame different groups/clans to violence. And resentments linger for generations.

Any reading of the Old Testament tells us that this has been going on for a very long time in that region of the world. A Palestinian State should be set up, but I would not expect the level of violence to diminish. These folk have to learn to live with themselves as much as with the Israelis.

As regrettable as the violent death of any person is, I do not really think the Australian government can be in any way held responsible for the fate of any member of the Al Masri clan, or of any other clan for that matter. We could bring them all out here, but would that make any difference in their behaviour toward each other? Of course not. The Serb Croat feuds taught us that doing a geographical does not change the mindset.

DIAC still lying

The department are claiming this claim was not lodged.  And that no lobbying was done.
Hmmm.....Funny about this series of emails and the hour long meeting I had with Soliman and Linda Kirk.

Brilliant and well done.  Fingers crossed - how is Akram?

From: soliman2196@hotmail.com
To: shepherdmarilyn@hotmail.com

Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2008 18:03:52 +1100

Dear marilyn,
today i handel AKRAM application to the office of senat. linda,once we recive the latter of support
i will send it  to the australian empassy in tel aviv. please follow it up.
thank you.

From: shepherdmarilyn@hotmail.com
To: soliman2196@hotmail.com
Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2008 16:37:18 +1030

Joshua Peak
Office of Senator Linda Kirk
Unit 3/69 Fullarton Rd, Kent Town 5067
Adelaide Ph: (08) 8431 1755 Fax: (08) 8431 1622
Canberra Ph: (02) 6277 3844 Fax: (02) 6277 3121

Soliman, Senator Kirk will meet with us at 1 pm on
Thursday .   Let me know if that is OK with you.


Geoff Pahoff, thanks for alerting me to my folly; I now see the establishment of the State of Israel had nothing to do with the Zionist movement.

Certainly not Zionist terrorist groups, who bombed British colonial authority and Arab targets with a view to making Mandated Palestine ungovernable.

And not that there's anything wrong with enjoying the fruits of terrorism, as long as one eschews any legacy or association with such deplorable tactics.

Therefore, I'm happy to accept that any reference to Israel as a "Zionist State" is, by definition, wrong-headed and bigoted... er, notwithstanding notable Israeli nationalist heroes such as David Ben-Gurion were passionate Zionists.

Well um, all that aside, it was obviously so very wrong, wrong, WRONG! of me to refer to Israel as "the Zionist state".

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