Some may die and all will cost
We may soon be back to where we were before John Howard got tough:
INDONESIAN authorities are bracing for a huge influx of boat people, anticipating as many as 10,000 asylum-seekers are waiting in Malaysia to transit through the archipelago and on to Australia.
And his commenters heed the call, quickly condemning the Government for failing to stop the flow of boats and lamenting the welfare system that (apparently) ensures that any boat person who reaches Australian waters will never have to work again.
Things in the source article that Andrew does not bother to mention include the following:
“It could be 10,000,” said senior commissioner Eko Danianto, head of the people smuggling unit at the Indonesian National Police.
“They comprise a mix of nationalities, not only Afghans. There are also Sri Lankan, Myanamerese (Burmese), Iraqis.”
On Saturday, Malaysian authorities arrested 36 Afghans and six Pakistanis being smuggled to Australia via Indonesia. On Sunday, a boat carrying 194 asylum-seekers, mostly Sri Lankans, was intercepted near Christmas Island.
The UNHCR’s global trends report for 2008 estimated “the number of people forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution worldwide stood at 42 million at the end of last year.”
And things have got worse in the first part of 2009 with “substantial new displacements, namely in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Somalia.”
People on the move from Pakistan include many originally from Afghanistan who have already been waiting for years in insecure situations for it to be safe to return.
And Bolt also pays no attention to this information:
However an Australian academic, Dr Roslyn Richardson, of Charles Sturt University, has said asylum seekers know little about Australia before their arrival here.
Dr Richardson said strong deterrent messages from Australia did not cut through.
“People smugglers do not pass on detailed policy information,” she said yesterday. The asylum seekers knew little of Australia, let alone its immigration policies.
In her study, the reasons 27 refugees gave for coming to Australia centred on its comparative cheapness and accessibility.
The research contradicts Federal Opposition claims that policy changes last year led to a surge in boats.
Any individual case in which asylum seekers show knowledge of Australia is trumpeted by Bolt, but systematic research on the issue is overlooked.
The global rise in asylum seekers is a serious challenge and the Australian Government must play a role in addressing it, along with helping overseas law enforcement to combat people smuggling and prevent asylum seekers from being at further risk through dangerous boat travel. But as is all too common, Bolt selects the information he presents to his audience to give a slanted and oversimplified account of the causes and the solutions.
UPDATE: Today’s “Crikey Says” offers some analysis of the current global refugee crisis – and the political opportunity it might present those who want to play on fear.