Australia: asylum seeker policy — 1

See also Andrew Bartlett: Boat people issue dominates Australian coverage of PM’s Asian visits and Our Obsession with Stopping Boat People.

I’ve been frustrated, but not surprised, that the majority of the coverage – at least amongst what I’ve seen – has been focused on the issue of a few thousand asylum seekers who arrive here in boats, and so little on the significant economic, human rights, environmental, social and security issues which are important in our future relations with our neighbouring countries.

According to the UNHCR’s global trends report of 2009, Malaysia has over 76 000 refugees and asylum seekers, plus another 100 000 people of concern. This report estimates there are over 400 000 in Thailand. There must be some bemusement about how big a panic Australia goes into about trying to stop a few thousand from reaching our shores – yet as this report notes, we are dragging the chain even on resettling 500 from Indonesia, which makes it more likely refugees will take their chances on a leaky boat.

Working to economically strengthen our region and building better ties is a valuable long-term way to reduce human rights abuses and improve the capacity of other countries to better deal with asylum seekers. Strengthening trade opportunities and education opportunities are just a couple of key areas which have also been on the agenda in talks between Australia and neighbouring countries, but it seems stopping boat people is what matters most.

Hat tip to Bruce for that.


2 thoughts on “Australia: asylum seeker policy — 1

  1. I write as J & I prepare to venture to the 50 Year Reunion of the Class of 1960 at Lismore High School. 70 of 98 are attending.

    I have I think posted here earlier about my J’s role in getting an Afghan refugee and his family accepted for citizenship. I am very proud of what she did for him. He was a boat person, fleeing certain death from the Taliban who had murdered his brother and had put him on their list. His extended family raised the money by whatever means they could.

    His wife and 2 girls spent 2 years in a refugee settlement in Pakistan. So much for ‘queue jumping’!

    He and his wife now run their own cleaning business and their 2 girls are thriving at high school, both aspiring to be doctors.

    We’re delighted to be able to share citizenship with people of this courage and personal warmth. We’re thrilled that Oz could give them a second chance at life together as a family.

    We’re heading off to Boston in 2 weeks, in the aftermath of a big swing to the GOP, some of it based on appalling motivation. I will give Fox News my standard 1-hour exposure, trying to suppress my gorge. Fox News is something else again.


  2. Pingback: Australia: asylum seeker policy — 2 « Neil's second decade

Comments are closed.