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Australian Asylum Seeker Debate Far From Over

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Every Asylum seeker that sets out in a leaky boat is a problem for many countries, including Australia. The world is constantly changing, so it is difficult to tell all the cause and effect relationships that have resulted in 50,000 people heading for Australia on 800 boats since Kevin Rudd changed Immigration policy on Asylum Seekers in 2001.

Certainly, the softer, gentler Rudd policy has helped create the current debacle of constant boat arrivals and deaths at sea, in what has become an industry, driven by money made by human traffickers.

Human traffickers apparently loved the Rudd policy. It allowed them to sell the hope of a place in the sun to people desperate to get away from where they were, as long as they could come up with the right amount of money to make it all happen. It was a great business, and it allowed them to cram 51,000 people onto small boats heading for Australia. 50,000 people made it to dry land, sometimes very wet themselves, but alive. 1,000 weren’t so lucky, they either arrived dead or they were lost at sea.

Australians, being generally caring people, want it all to stop. They want the deaths at sea to stop, the boat arrivals to stop, the risking of military lives to stop, the waste of massive amounts of money that threaten our economy to stop, and they want the constant political bickering to stop.

Julia Gillard’s solution was to stonewall all the way through the electioneering cycle, leaving Labor Immigration policy unchanged, because immigration wasn’t on her to-do list. If it was on her to-do list, she wasn’t going to signal what she might do after the election, if she won.

In the past month, after replacing Gillard, resurrected prime minister Rudd threw away the moral compass that he said guided him to strike down what he called John Howard’s draconian immigration policies, and he took Australia off in a new direction, surprising just about everyone. That new direction was to Papua New Guinea, and was followed up by a policy change that came with two promises.

The first promise was intended for the people who get on boats, and their friends and families already here in Australia, who have beaten the Australian system and decided they could continue to use our system to bring the rest of their relatives and friends. He told them the party was over. The second promise was to the “people smugglers,” to tell them their business model was broken.

Asylum Seeker

It turned out the promises, designed specifically to stop the boats, weren’t attached to anything stronger than a wet paper bag, and the boats kept coming.

What Rudd and his Immigration Minister didn’t know, because they had a failure of imagination, is that the people smugglers are entrepreneurs who see government policies and regulations as just another hurdle to be overcome.

The Greens said Rudd had lurched to the right. They accused the Labor and Liberal parties of equal cruelty, and of making a spectacle out of the misery of other people.

Refugee Action Coalition

Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition said after Labor’s radical change of direction, that Kevin Rudd “has channelled the very worst of John Howard’s anti-refugee policy.”

The Australian newspaper said the government had a lack of credibility on asylum seekers.

To what seems like most of the public, the Labor policy change looked like a knee-jerk quick fix to an intractable problem. It was an attempt to stop asylum seekers and people smugglers derailing the election for Labor.

The Stable Population Party, preparing to contest this federal election, has a completely different take on this, because, they say, Asylum Seekers are only a small part of the main issue of population. They believe the whole Asylum Seeker debacle is a big distraction from the greater population debate.

They want to tackle the issue of population holistically, which none of the other parties are doing. They say that allowing 5% of the problem to dominate 95% of the headlines is misleading Australians.

William Bourke, leader of The Stable Population Party makes it clear that population is not “all about refugees.”

Asylum Seeker policy

He said, “Asylum Seeker policy is part of the wider population debate that requires consideration. The population issue is not about Asylum Seekers or Refugees or Boats. Australia’s total refugee intake is only about 5% of our population growth. We don’t think Labor or the Liberals have the right approach, because it isn’t a holistic approach.”

Mr. Bourke said, “It isn’t always this simple, but fundamentally, population drives boats.”

Protesters in the streets of Sydney didn’t like Rudd’s lurch to the right, but it wasn’t clear what they really wanted to do, except allow more people to arrive on boats.

“We must alert and organize the world’s people to pressure world leaders to take specific steps to solve the two root causes of our environmental crises – exploding population growth and wasteful consumption of irreplaceable resources. Over-consumption and overpopulation underlie every environmental problem we face today.” Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Oceanographer

Palmer United Party was asked to comment for the story, but did not respond.

People Who Really Need Help

Throughout the world each year, 57 million people die and 137 million new babies are born, so global population grows by 80 million. 18 million of the 57 million die of starvation or related problems. 10 million of the 18 million are children. Apparently, Australians don’t even know they exist. Or is it that nobody wants to save them because they are poor? Because they don’t know any better, Australians want to save the people who can afford to pay people smugglers $6,000 each to get on a leaky boat.

Who should we save – 10 million starving children and 8 million starving adults or the 10,000 who could afford to pay the people smugglers”

Is this a problem? There are actually more than 18 million people who are starving. The 18 million are the ones that died. Millions of others are holding on, but only just. 18 million of them will die next year, 18 million the year after that, and another 18 million the year after that, until it jumps to 19 or 20 million.

Australia is also actively recruiting and stealing doctors from Africa. When that happens, Australia gets extra doctors, that it doesn’t have to train. Obviously, removing an African doctor from an African hospital can have a devastating effect on those left behind, and it often does. In many cases, it doubles, triples or quadruples the number of people the remaining doctors have to take care of. In some cases, it leaves hospitals without any doctors at all. This is a case of Australia causing a situation that makes people migrate from their own country, taking their problem somewhere else. This issue is a story for another day, but it is an important part of this story too.

Australians think they are doing good by helping a few refugees who have the means to pay to escape from a bad place, and those Australians are willing to protest in the streets, demanding that we open the gates and let everyone in who wants to come in, no matter the consequences for the rest of us – or themselves, in the driest continent. Ask the Aborigines what happened when they had no power to close of the gates to immigration.

The birth rate in Australia is 12.3 births per 1,000 people – it looks like a sustainable number. Compare that with the top 40 countries for birth rate – every one of them, except Afghanistan, in Africa. They run from 30.4 for Ivory Coast, to 50.6 for Niger. This tells you that they are generating many of their own problems. See the complete birth rate table at Wikipedia.

Frosty Wooldridge, an American who writes in the U.S. version of has a series of stories related to the problem of overpopulation from his point of view.


Look for a separate story on the Stable Population Party in a day or two.


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