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The Boats! The Boats! An obvious solution.

The Boats! The Boats!  An obvious solution.

Clearly, immigration to Australia is very important (we were all immigrants originally, even the Indigenous population) and more importantly, we don’t mind taking in and sharing with people who want to come here.

Australians, on the whole, are an easy going, generous and welcoming people.  Although that is a very nice way to be described, it also makes us an easy mark for criminals, miscreants, greedy and otherwise unsavoury and undesirable sorts that would take advantage of our good nature for their own dubious ends.

Sadly, there are many that want to come here because, due to matters outside of their control, it is no longer safe for them to continue living in their home country.  These people are genuine refugees and deserve to be helped by an understanding and compassionate world, providing them with a means to escape their unfortunate circumstances and to be given the opportunity to make a new life for themselves and their families in a safer place.  I have never heard an argument with this precept.

Our challenge is in identifying exactly what the situation of a refugee may be, or if indeed they are a refugee at all!  Yes, this should be done quickly and comprehensively, but that is often completely impossible.  This is particularly so if the ‘refugee’ has destroyed their own papers or complicates this process in other ways, such as by providing false information or refusing to cooperate at all.

As the son of parents who were both refugees to Australia (at different times and from different countries) I well know that when someone really, truly, desperately seeks to find a better life, they have no problem cooperating with their would-be hosts.  In fact, I know that these refugees are passionate about becoming ‘Australian’ and are enthusiastic about completing any and all the necessary functions that are required to get started on their new and brighter futures.

Australia has wrestled with immigration policy since Federation.  Even before this, we were a colony that was used as a dumping ground by the British who wanted to be rid of their criminal, poor and unwanted individuals and sending them to the other side of the world seemed an ideal solution.  Luckily for us, we made this a better place to live than Mother England in most ways and today, more of them emigrate to Australia than Aussies go to England, and for good reason.

We have made some pretty shocking mistakes, such as the White Australia Policy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Australia_policy), the way we dealt with political prisoners during the Second World War (The Dunera – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10409026 ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMT_Dunera) and the way we have treated our own indigenous population since Settlement.  However, we have also done a lot of things right, things that we can be very proud of and that are our strength and our future in a very uncertain world.

Picture of aboriginals and aussie together

Australia is an island.  This is a fact of life and probably our single, greatest strength.  We share no borders with anyone and getting here undetected is difficult and very dangerous.  Once arrived, the obstacles faced by an invader are formidable and likely to be fatal.  The chances of surviving and remaining undetected are miniscule.  And yet thousands of determined people have been making this trip and there are very good reasons for that.  For the most part they are not faced with much danger here because they ensure that they are detected, then intercepted, and then escorted to a safe berth by our Navy.  Admittedly, they do suffer huge dangers at sea and many are lost to the waves, even on the very edge of our territory, such as the tragedy at Christmas Island so vividly illustrated (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Christmas_Island_boat_disaster).

crocodile1So far we have not been able to remedy this influx of illegal entrants, and the conditions they suffer when they are landed, although preferable to dying of thirst in our deserts or being eaten by a crocodile, are for some just as bad if not worse.  This has been and continues to be a complete failure of politics, policy, human rights and common decency.  It is a political football that has and will continue to be the bane of any Federal Government, not matter which side of the fence they represent.  Yes, the Howard Government did manage to get it under control and yes, Kevin Rudd was responsible for undoing that structure and solution and instigating the current disaster we have on our hands.  But it is very, very wrong to blame Kevin Rudd for this gross mistake.  He told the Australian people what he was going to do and we elected him with a ruling majority and a mandate to carry out his misbegotten plans.  So, if you are looking for someone to blame, go stand in front of a mirror.  And even if you voted for the Coalition, you are still guilty unless you can truly say that you did everything you possibly could to prevent the outcome of that election going in favour of Kevin Rudd and Labor.

Picture of a mirror

Now that I have apportioned the ‘blame’ for this disaster onto all Australians (including me) I want to offer up, for discussion and investigation, a possible solution to the problem.  Firstly, I don’t see it as a ‘problem’.  It is a symptom of the worlds’ condition, mixed with our geographical location and our eternally good nature.  It is not a problem that can be dealt with politically or militarily with any hope of success.  The push is simply too strong.  I see it purely and simply as a management problem.

There are several countries that are major players in our problem, being Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia and to a lesser extent, New Zealand.  What I suggest that we do is get all of these countries to sit down together to solve this problem, in this way.

  1. We first agree to work together respectfully, cooperatively and effectively!
  2. We procure an island somewhere that is geographically central, has a port or a place for a port and is large enough to house a substantial population, including industries, an airport, community facilities, a hospital, a prison and refugee accommodations and so on.
  3. It will be administered by a cooperative of the countries that it serves, and will seek to become exemplary in its function and successes so that other parts of the world will seek to emulate it.
  4. It must also have governmental facilities for security, immigration assessments and education.
  5. Education will be a high priority with customs and language at the top of priority list.
  6. Anyone that wishes to be located there en route to another country will be welcomed.  This will apply to all comers, without fear, favour or prejudice.   It will become the perfect haven for any refugee, providing safety, security and opportunity.
  7. Every ‘applicant’ will be ‘scored’ for suitability for their successful migration forward to their country of choice.  Of course, that country must be prepared to accept that individual or else another country must be chosen, that will accept them.  In the event that no country will accept this individual, they must seek to return them to their country of origin.  In the event that cannot be achieved, then that individual can stay and work on at the transit island, being able to earn ‘trustee’ status and to be productive and in a position to perhaps show themselves as being a worthy immigrant at some time in the future.
  8. Bad behaviour will cause negative scoring, or punitive action as well, depending on the circumstances.  Arriving as an illegal immigrant (after being apprehended in Australia and transferred to the transit island) will incur a substantial negative score at the get-go.   Destroying identity papers would be another negative score and so on.
  9. Progress to emigration and transfer to a host country will be done strictly according to scores.  Therefore, if the government of the days says it has vacancies for an intake of 500, then the highest scoring of the qualified applicants will be offered that position.
  10. People who are caught in between will not be permitted to wallow and waste away.  They will all be well cared for, required to work if they can, be given responsibilities, attend compulsory education courses and to behave in a decent and sociable manner at all times.
  11. Failure to participate will result in negative scoring at best, or incarceration at worst (for the commission of a crime).
  12. Eventually all applicants will learn the way to work the system, thereby enabling them to move forward to eventual resettlement. In the meantime, they will be safe, have opportunity for advancement and we will have solved our boat problem once and for all.

Why would anyone pay to embark on a dangerous and illegal journey to Australia if they could simply ask to be taken to the transit island (for free, say on a ferry) and without incurring any negative points for doing so?

Picture of a large island1

To me it seems like a no-brainer.  What do you think of this?  Remember, I am no expert and realise that I may have oversimplified things a bit.  I am merely putting my idea out there for discussion.  Maybe, together, we can create something truly wonderful that will make the world a better place.  It has to start somewhere, so why not here?

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One Comment on “The Boats! The Boats! An obvious solution.”

  1. Greg July 24, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Totally agree on the requirement to work as soon as you get to the transit area. It must be soul-destroying not being allowed to work, earn money,or do anything useful. Seems the most obvious thing in the world to me that if you just gave them a purpose, they would not be rioting, burning their “houses”..and all the self-harm etc.

    The other part must be to speed up the processing of their application. I know the Government doesn’t want queue jumpers but keeping them in some God-forsaken hole in the middle of nowhere for who knows how long is such a waste of human life and apart from anything else, must have a good chance of getting them to REALLY hate Australia from the very start. Seems SO counter-productive. By the time they are completely angry with Australia, and all who sail in her, THEN they finally may let them in. Now THAT’s the kind of new immigrant I want here: a mistreated really angry, maybe mentally disturbed person probably by this stage unable to get a job… and this is on top of all the experiences they may have already gone through in their so far happy lives in such holiday destinations like Afganistan and Sri Lanka.

    You just have to put yourself in their shoes and realise what a terrible situation they are in. Maybe your island is the way to go. I just know that what the successive governments have done up to this point has become a complete and utter mess,

    “When you’re up to your neck in alligators, its easy to forget that your original objective was to drain the swamp”.

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