Irregular Maritime Arrivals

Australia is a nation of migration. Our first Australians migrated here some forty thousand years ago. Since then we have seen our nation build on a diverse heritage of cultures that has contributed to our proud nation.

Our immigrant heritage is quintessential to being Australian. It is not necessary to have been born in Australia to be Australian and it would be hypocritical to suggest that any person is undeserving of Australian citizenship simply because he or she wants a better life. However, there needs to be a process of immigration that is fair to all who want to come to Australia and at the same time does not undermine the social or economic fabric of the nation.

History teaches us a lot about migration and social integration. When Xenophobic non-inclusive social integration policies were implemented in the Western Empire in the 5th century, in place of the more liberal policies of the former Roman Empire, the process failed as social instability caused the Western Empire to fall.

There is a global migration occurring right now with more than 50 million people forcibly displaced from their homes currently. Eighty-six percent of the world’s refugees are currently living in developing countries. It is not a uniquely Australian problem with 1,865 people dying while attempting to cross the Mediterranean as of 31 May 2015. A further 166,000 people were rescued at sea by the Italian authorities in 2014. There were an estimated 8,000 people stranded on boats close to Thailand in May 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration. Similarly there an estimated 25,000 refugees and migrants who attempted to cross the Bay of Bengal in the first quarter of the 2015, approximately double the number in the same period in 2014.

Creating a framework that respects the rights and needs of people who seek to become Australians, to enjoy the lifestyle we largely take for granted, while preserving that lifestyle competitively for our own citizens, is perhaps one of the most perplexing issues we face as a nation. It is a delicate balance of performing our humanitarian responsibility to those who are less fortunate than us without compromising our own existence. This issue challenges the very notion of what it is to be Australian in the land of opportunity without a discriminatory class system.

“For those who've come across the seas we've boundless plains to share” Australian National Anthem
Just over half the asylum seekers currently coming to Australia arrive by air. The number of asylum seekers arriving by boat as irregular maritime arrivals has fluctuated with Government policy but did increase significantly during the Rudd and Gillard Governments.

The increasing trend toward illegal entry by boat, primarily via Indonesia, is problematic for three reasons:

  • Firstly, the risk to life in making the perilous journey to Australia in barely seaworthy vessels is profound and unacceptable to both the migrants and the defence personnel deployed to intercept them. The humanitarian implications of this situation are very publicly on display and public policy failures are impacting on Australia’s humanitarian reputation internationally and domestically.
  • Secondly, the sheer number of people trying to enter Australia is placing an unmanageable burden on Australia’s systems to receive, shelter and process these people. Again, the humanitarian implications of this situation are very publicly on display and public policy failures are impacting on Australia’s humanitarian reputation internationally and domestically.
  • Thirdly, the ease of entry and inability to process the asylum seekers adequately is now posing an unmanageable national security risk with evidence mounting that undeserving and undesirable individuals are being inappropriately assessed and managed by immigration and security personnel. Just under ten percent of irregular maritime arrivals are not ultimately granted refugee status.

Australian citizens are being forced to fund the entire program of interception, processing, transport and repatriation either in Australia or elsewhere. In addition, national security is increasingly under pressure and the opportunity for entry by undesirables and the implications for Australian citizens if they are successful are profound.

Genuine asylum seekers are being caught up in a wave of irregular maritime arrivals and Australia is unable to deal with their circumstances in an appropriate and compassionate way and timeframe.

The success of the illegal transportation of people to Australia is providing an incentive to non-refugee aspirants. In turn, this is creating a financial incentive to crews who transport them, placing all in harm’s way unduly.

CountryMinded is obliged to address an asylum seeker policy - “The parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us to understand that violence towards those who are the least powerful among us can take the form of legislative acts or of human indifference and disconnection.” Lilia Fernandez

There are two issues that must be addressed.

First we must deal with the issue of irregular maritime arrivals. CountryMinded is committed to meaningfully deter asylum seekers from boarding boats in Indonesia or any other country in order to seek asylum in Australia.

Second we must address the inhumane and grossly wasteful treatment of asylum seekers. We must mitigate the financial cost of asylum seeker interception processing, housing and repatriation to the Australian taxpayer. Above all though we must demonstrate humanitarian compassion in balance with deterring unacceptably dangerous irregular maritime arrivals.

It is clear that we need to reform the processing of asylum seekers to end the extraordinary waste that is now expended in the industry that has sprung up around the detention of these people. The current bureaucratic process is ineffective and the

Department has no demonstrable capacity to competently assess the legitimacy of the claims by asylum seekers. It is apparent that this aspect of the asylum seeker issue is not being addressed, while it is perhaps the bigger source of apprehension for the Australian public.

Subject to an initial security and health screening, we would require that if asylum seekers are to be granted temporary visas, they only be allowed to enter the community on strict social contracts. The conditions of these contracts should compel them to close digital monitoring until such time as the Australian Government is satisfied they pose no threat.

These temporary visas should provide conditions in relation to settlement and assimilation into the Australian community, compelling a commitment to Australian culture, and compelling a productive contribution to the Australian economy. Specifically this is aimed at minimizing the risk of socially isolated enclaves.

It is sensible for this social contract to encourage asylum seekers to be relocated into regional communities where current social infrastructure is underutilized as a means of justifying ongoing investment in regional services and as part of a faster and more successful social integration. It would provide stable labour that in many cases would be potentially skilled and highly motivated to support regional business.

Any breach of this kind of social contract should result in termination of the visa.

CountryMinded will pursue policies in regard to asylum seekers and border security that:

  • Restrict Australia’s migration zone to the mainland.
  • Commit any boat found in Australian waters, that is seaworthy and carrying asylum seekers, to be turned around and escorted out of Australian waters. Any immediate humanitarian needs of passengers or crew shall be met at interception and vessels adequately provisioned.
  • Vigorously prosecute suspected people smuggler ring leaders and organisers who benefit substantially financially and their defence should not be subsidized if they have means.
  • Seek to coordinate joint prosecutions of asylum seekers with authorities in countries of origin including harmonisation of laws, including seizure of assets provisions.
  • Ensure faster provisional processing of asylum seekers claims and screening for health and obvious security risks. Successful refugees should only be granted temporary visas and conditional release into the community on a strict social contract subject to close electronic monitoring for a probationary period in lieu of detention.
  • Deploy refugees on temporary visas in work for the dole type programs, particularly in the construction of their own housing and infrastructure requirements. Skilled migrants should have their skills assessed and augmented. Regional programs should be given priority.

Showing 9 reactions

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  • commented 2016-07-02 12:20:44 +1000
    If you are to address “irregular arrivals”, you need an international effort to address the stagnation of refugees in accommodation in Turkey, Jordan, Indonesia etc.. People have to know that they are not only safe, but have a future. If people could have their status fairly and rapidly assessed either in their country of origin or their first country of refuge (where it is often obvious who are genuine refugees), and demonstrate an effective and adequate path to a new future, we could reduce the incentive to pay everything they have to smugglers, allowing people to use their capital to restart their lives without being a burden on their new hosts.

    However, it is a fact that not all entrees seeking illegal transport, are seeking asylum, or have a case for asylum. Indeed it is somewhat disingenuous to claim to be “seeking asylum” when you’re trying to avoid the normal route of entry where such claims should be made. Internationally we are seeking increasing levels of immigration purely for economic reasons, something that cannot be avoided. Seeking redress from either asylum seekers or economic migrants is often pointless—any assets they may have had, or have been able to borrow, will have already been paid to smugglers. More effort needs to taken against the latter, including prosecution for criminally negligent homicide, given the continual loss of life and disregard for safety.
  • commented 2016-07-01 23:15:00 +1000
    You seem to have conflated our immigration program with our humanitarian program. This is a major hindrance to making genuine progress in this and most if not all other areas for Australia. It is also what the major parties including the Greens have been doing and how the liberal party in particular, misdirects concerns of rapid population growth here delivered by our high immigration policy onto boat arrivals.

    We need to revert to our overall long-term average immigration program of around 70,000 a year (down from the current 200,000+ per year) – i.e. back to pre-2000 levels. This will reduce hostility towards irregular arrivals seeking asylum and allow processing them more expediently/humanely as well as allow our immigration department the breathing space they need to properly vet prospective migrants and asylum seekers.

    We also need to recognise that rather than seeking to resettle growing numbers here, it is more cost effective and humanitarian to be working towards improving conditions for people in situ such that they are not having to flee their homes; that is their overwhelming preference as it is for all of us. This also frees up capital to help the needy here as well as investing in things like better education and training, health, affordable housing etc.

    Here are two articles which cover the ground I’ve glossed over above in more detail:

    http://www.votesustainable.org.au/media_release_sustainable_immigration_policy_required_for_social_cohesion

    http://www.votesustainable.org.au/refugee_posturing_by_politicians_morally_misguided_sustainables
  • commented 2016-06-27 23:03:29 +1000
    I was impressed by most of your policies… Then, THIS! Terrible!

    Seeking asylum is NOT illegal – and nor should it be! These people are seeking help and Australia is not just letting them down, but actively doing more harm.

    Detaining them in squaller, for FAR TOO LONG. Empoying a less-than-ethical company to terrify them, control them, beat them!

    Absolutely disgusting!

    And your policies are no different in their approach to the people seeking our help. You only attempt to lessen our financial burden! Shame on you. Treating them like criminals! You’ve lost my vote. You’ll be down the bottom with the Libs!
  • commented 2016-06-24 13:47:59 +1000
    “The increasing trend toward “illegal” entry by boat, primarily via Indonesia…" – it is purely not correct that there is anything illegal about seeking asylum – any which way people arrive, other than a government change in definition, contrary to international laws and morals.

    And, your policy to turn people around and send them back via the ocean – so your policy and your supporters are okay about sending babies, infants and kids in former Abbott’s orange lifeboats one way towards another country and hope they don’t die of malnourished, sea-sickness or drown along the way – or like what happened, just sink when left to flounder in the high seas by both Liberal and Labor governments. No sense, no morals, no dignity and definitely no ethics in that policy of “turn backs…”.
  • commented 2016-06-23 15:06:10 +1000
    “Our first Australians migrated here some forty thousand years ago”. More like 100,000 yrs ago. They developed agriculture by about 50-60,000 yrrs ago, and their histroy/culture destroyed by the irrational “exploration” by the English.
    Reference Bruce Pascoe, “Dark Emu Black Seed: Agriculture or accident?” and Lynne Kelly “The Memory Code”.
  • commented 2016-01-21 11:13:18 +1100
    There goes the political correctness again. We are not responsible for the (morally) poor choices of other countries. Nor are we responsible for lining UN pockets. Please have the respect too realize: many have now examined Agenda 21, we are not IDIOTS.
    If you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to present the problems caused by “country shoppers” in a truthful manner, you are wasting our time.New parties should at the very least be TRUTHFUL and expose the bigger picture for realistic outcomes.
    These people are human parasites, Australian taxpayers are already overburdened supporting the breading habits of the previous influxes. Now that the percentages have increased, we, as in Europe are seeing a huge increase in child exploitation including paedophilia, kidnappings, horrific child murders. The reality is: these people do NOT belong in the civilized world. Our countries and cultures are divided for good reason. The future safety of Australian children and animals should be at the forefront. Inclusive of their rights to live in an unpolluted, affordable home/area.
  • commented 2016-01-21 11:13:17 +1100
    There goes the political correctness again. We are not responsible for the (morally) poor choices of other countries. Nor are we responsible for lining UN pockets. Please have the respect too realize: many have now examined Agenda 21, we are not IDIOTS.
    If you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to present the problems caused by “country shoppers” in a truthful manner, you are wasting our time.New parties should at the very least be TRUTHFUL and expose the bigger picture for realistic outcomes.
    These people are human parasites, Australian taxpayers are already overburdened supporting the breading habits of the previous influxes. Now that the percentages have increased, we, as in Europe are seeing a huge increase in child exploitation including paedophilia, kidnappings, horrific child murders. The reality is: these people do NOT belong in the civilized world. Our countries and cultures are divided for good reason. The future safety of Australian children and animals should be at the forefront. Inclusive of their rights to live in an unpolluted, affordable home/area.
  • commented 2015-12-30 00:25:14 +1100
    If Australia is going to use an offshore processing facility. Do a deal with Indonesia to have the refugees by the Australian Government there. No processing here and if the boats do come return them to Indonesia to be processed there by Australian Government officials.
  • commented 2015-12-28 08:51:35 +1100
    “The increasing trend toward illegal entry by boat, primarily via Indonesia, is problematic for three reasons:” I was very interested in your policies until I read this. Not a good way to start, maintaining the demonising language, People seeking refuge by boat, coming across the seas are not “illegals”