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The end of the Pacific solution

December 8th, 2007

Without a great deal of fanfare, the new government has ended the shameful ‘Pacific solution’ under which refugees were held in offshore camps, located on the territory of neighbouring countries which the Australian government bullied and bribed into hosting them. Most of the refugees held at the Nauru camp have been allowed to settle in Australia.

Defenders of the Howard government can make whatever claims they like about this evil system, whether to say that it was justified by results or to claim that Labor’s policy isn’t really all that different. The fact remains that this was a cruel and brutal response to community panic; panic the government itself did a great deal to stir up, and even more to exploit politically. Those responsible, most notably Howard himself and Phillip Ruddock, will carry the stain of the Pacific solution to their graves and beyond.

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  1. December 12th, 2007 at 10:07 | #1

    Actually John, I have contributed nothing to this debate except pointing out your obvious Godwining.

    Good to see you’re still good for nothing except Ad Hominem attacks though.

    You get really narky when people point out your oh-so-cunning ploys, don’t you?

    It must suck to be less smart than you think you are.

  2. jquiggin
    December 12th, 2007 at 10:28 | #2

    Marvellous! The non-denial denial rears its head.

    Your foray into politics really has helped you, Yobbo. But you might want to rethink your use of the term “loser” as an insult.

  3. December 12th, 2007 at 11:04 | #3

    Yobbo certainly seems to be hot this morning.

    Haiku, Captain Arne Rinnan may or may not deserve an award for services rendered unwittingly to the Liberal Party, however as a ship’s captain he is not worthy of the legacy left by the sort of men his ancestors were.

    Captain Rinnan made a course change after a group of castaways entered onto the bridge and became quite aggressive toward him and threatened to harm his crew.

  4. December 12th, 2007 at 11:15 | #4

    Why would libertarians support concentration camps / detention centres?

    Or it liberty only for some people? And is “intrusive” government A-OK for the others?

  5. December 12th, 2007 at 11:22 | #5

    Sorry to comment here a bit late.

    Yes. John is right. It was a “cruel and brutal response to community panic; panic the government itself did a great deal to stir up, and even more to exploit politically”.

    And that is the nub of the question. So we may have discouraged a few asylum seekers. But at what cost?

    Yes, it was Gerry Hand that started the policy of detaining Asylum Seekers. I disgreed with that policy then as I do now. But it was not trumpeted for political gain.

    But what Howard did – and I am sorry – it is TOTALLY UNFORGIVABLE. It was to use the Asylum Seekers as a way to stir up xenophobic sentiments amongst a section of the electorate for political gain. That is what did the damage.

    I agree with what Tim Dunlop say:

    The problem with the previous government’s approach was as much to do with the politicisation of the issue as anything else. Of course any country has a right to decide who is allowed in and who isn’t, within the bounds of its own laws including the international treaties to which it has committed itself. That was never in dispute. The fact is, as these things go, Australia has very small asylum seeker “problem� and it was always easily manageable on those terms.

    Despite this, the Howard Government sought to blow the issue up into an imminent threat, tied it shamelessly and recklessly to the issue of terrorism, and quite happily used asylum seekers as political pawns, a means to the end of showing how tough it was on “border protection�. (This punitive approach to policy is almost a hallmark of the Coalition Government as this story today about the pursuit of those on welfare also indicates.)

    The new Rudd Government could do worse than simply take the heat out of the issue by treating it proportionately and dealing with any cases quickly and efficiently rather than letting individual cases drag on indefinitely. The efforts to end the “Pacific solution� are good early indication that they will do just that.

  6. December 12th, 2007 at 11:51 | #6

    Individual cases drag out indefinitely only because the illigal immigration/refugee industry lodges endless appeals on behalf of hopeless cases. No Australian has such legal muscle made available to them for free, no Australian would ever get so much court time.

    Pulling the plug on 5th columnist advocates would end the indefinite appeals.

  7. Chris Lloyd
    December 12th, 2007 at 12:23 | #7

    Michael, my thanks to refugee advocates for helping Howard win the 2001 and 2004 election was sarcastic. I am not a Howard supporter.

    I do not agree that there is no common sense reason why asylum should not be sought at the nearest safe port. I realise that there no legal reason, and this is what the boat folks are exploiting.

    You mention that people like me have a poor grasp of the facts. I have not seen any salient facts in this discussion that would change my position. And I would rather like to be able to change my position bearing in mind the blog-company it forces me to keep.

    Melanie has pointed out that Australia is not as generous as folk lore suggests. But that is not the issue for me. I do not object to us increasing out refugee quota. I do object to people rorting the system and being assisted and encouraged to do so by well-meaning lobbyists.

    Melanie, “You can hardly blame people for..” being boat people. I do not blame them and said as much in my comment. I can assure you that I am not hard-hearted. But I do not believe they are refugees in the common meaning. There are hundreds of thousands of real refugees that are more deserving than the Tampa pirates.

  8. Ian Gould
    December 12th, 2007 at 12:25 | #8

    Libertarianism is essentially an ideology invented by white middle class Americans to justify discrimination against blacks.

    Of course, they say it’s all about freedom. Guess what, so did the Nazis and Fascists back in the day.

    They weren’t anti-freedom they were just opposed to giving special rights to privileged groups (like those darn Jews) and supported direct democracy by electing a leader who was in touch will the will of the people and wasn’t part of those damn liberal political elites.

  9. melanie
    December 12th, 2007 at 14:03 | #9

    Chris Lloyd, what system are they rorting? There are plenty of countries that accept people who just turn up at the border (the UK being one of the major ones) and don’t vet people for ‘suitability’ beforehand. There are plenty of vulnerable people willing to believe any old garbage told to them by traffickers. I have absolutely nothing against being hard on the traffickers, but I do think we should be more generous to their victims.

  10. Chris Lloyd
    December 12th, 2007 at 14:23 | #10

    “There are plenty of vulnerable people willing to believe any old garbage told to them by traffickers.” They are told that they can get into Australia if they hide the truth. And under your system, they are likely to hear the same back along the grapevine.

    The system they are rorting is the system that allows them to unilaterally decide which country they would like to live in, regardless of the wishes of the host, and regardless of whether they are really in mortal danger. I realise that the UK have a more lax policy. They are foolish to do so.

    We are not going to agree on this. But it is very clear from the discussion that this is not a black and white issue of morality. It is a matter of effective policy and, in my view, not taking a naive view of human nature.

  11. melanie
    December 12th, 2007 at 20:43 | #11

    CL, ‘not taking a naive view of human nature.’ No, we’re not going to agree on the difference between naive and humane. My problem is that I’d rather have some of these “illegals” in my community than some of my fellow Australians.

  12. December 13th, 2007 at 00:03 | #12

    CL,

    I guess it comes down to what you mean by a “safe port”. In my thinking, in this region, Australia proabably is the safe port given that many of our near neighbours are not signatories to the refugee convention and asylum-seekers could expect very little by the way of ‘safe port’ in them.

    It seems the objection is to people who show some initiative, determination and regard for their futures.

  13. jquiggin
    December 13th, 2007 at 12:34 | #13

    I’ve deleted a couple of comments that violated policy and a reply from another commenter. Nothing more along these lines please, and no debate about editorial decisions on what gets published here.

  14. Chris Lloyd
    December 13th, 2007 at 18:32 | #14

    ..looked like a civilised discussion to me when I looked John. You must have deleted all the juicy bits! Guess I’ll have to drop over to Catallaxy for a climate change discussion if I really want to see some fireworks.

  15. April 17th, 2009 at 02:20 | #15

    # 53 Ian Gould Says: December 9th, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    So if the Pacific solution prevented the arrival of refugee boats from Indonesia, the reversal of that policy should mean they’ll start arriving again.

    Let’s wait six months and see if that happens.

    If it doesn’t, I’m sure the policy’s defenders will acknowledge their error. Right?

    I am sure the PS policies attackers will acknowledge their error in the light of recent events. Right?

    Its a pity that people had to die in the experiment that falsified Ian Gould’s theory. As I (hypothetically) predicted time and time again through the latter half of the noughties.

    On a trivial personal note: I got no joy (and plenty of grief) from going into bat for Howard’s hard-line policy. But I was not ashamed to justify a policy that stood a good chance of saving lives and was supported by the sensible majority.

    I always assumed good faith, well-intentioned if wrong-headed, on the part of those criticizing the Howard line. Perhaps this charitable assumption can now be belatedly reciprocated?

    More seriously, I take it that no more people will have to be drowned for Gould and Pr Q to accept that a hard-line on people smuggling has been, if not outright proven, morally legitimated by this latest tragedy.

  16. April 17th, 2009 at 09:44 | #16

    Mostly agree with Jack. But I just thought the Howard policy was correct and the attacks on both Howard and Ruddock were totally shameful and irresponsible.

    In the past few weeks we have had more boatpeople than in a year of the Howard policy being in place. And now three deaths that are indirectly at least attributable to the ‘softened’ policy. This is real ‘brutality’.

    There are 10 million refugees seeking asylum in the world today. If we cannot admit all we need to be selective. And we need to have in place a policy that discourages queue-jumping.

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