Related mostly to recent preoccupations here…



From The Australia Institute, which also gives you Politics in the Pub Wednesday 27 June 2012 -Father Frank Brennan AO -Asylum seeker policy 20 years on (PDF).

Meanwhile we must expect that the boats will keep coming, reminding ourselves that this island nation continent of Australia has far more robust borders than those first  world  countries  with  porous  land  borders.    Consider  UNCR’s  Global  Trends  2011 released last week.  In Australia, there are 28,676 persons of concern to UNHCR;  meanwhile  in  our  two  transit  countries  -  in  Malaysia,  there  are  217,618;  and  in Indonesia only 4,239.  Let’s look to Western Europe.  In Belgium, there are 42,105 persons  of  concern  to  UNHCR;  in  Denmark,  18,009;  in  Greece,  45,720;  in  the Netherlands,  87,023;  in  France,  260,627;  in  the  UK,  208,885;  and  in  Germany, 658,818.    And  let’s  consider  the  two  other  countries  who  join  us  in  doing  most  to accept  refugees  assessed  in  faraway  places  by  UNHCR:  Canada  has  206,735 persons within its borders who are of concern to UNHCR, and the US has 276,484.  In a globalized twenty-first century world, hermetically sealed borders are figments of delusional  or  racist  imaginations.    We  need  to  maintain  a  commitment  to  a humanitarian  migration  program  accommodating  those  who  could  never  afford  a people smuggler.  But we also need to honour our obligations to those who head our way seeking asylum unless and until we can improve our bilateral arrangements with Indonesia  and  our  regional  arrangements  for  a  regional  solution  to  a  regional problem.

What Father Brennan says is as always with him first rate, except that the matter I have raised really is not addressed: what IN PRACTICE is the best way NOW to prevent those drownings? That is where Clive Kessler has the edge. Indeed are not those UNHCR figures for Indonesia and Malaysia respectively a powerful incentive to do whatever is needed to work with Malaysia?

On Monday Australian Story tells a related story.

Introduced by Shane Warne

‘I think she was sent to this planet to challenge me’ – Jillian Symons, mother

Next week’s program tells the story of a young woman unsettling her middle class Melbourne family by going out on a limb to ‘adopt’ a fourteen year old Afghan asylum seeker.

Jaffar Ali arrived in Australia two years ago after escaping from Indonesia in a leaky boat subsequently intercepted near Christmas Island.

It wasn’t Jessie Taylor’s first such intervention. In 2008 she dramatically ‘rescued’ an asylum seeking Afghan soccer team during Melbourne’s Homeless World Cup.

Jessie Taylor is a human rights barrister who grew up in a comfortable ‘right wing’ middle class Melbourne family. Her mother Jillian was opposed to asylum seekers who she saw as queue jumpers.

But when Jessie spots fourteen year old Jaffar Ali, unaccompanied and behind bars in an Indonesian detention centre, she offers him her phone number in case he ever makes it to Australia.

What then unfolds changes the lives and attitudes of everyone in unexpected ways…


Shane Warne with former asylum seeker Jaffar Ali, who features on Australian Story.

Photo: Fairfax Media Library (linked to source).

See also Putting faces to the tragic stories of asylum seekers.


ABC image: Jaffar Ali’s journey was hardly un-Christian, un-Muslim, un-Australian, or un-Anything very much.