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Andrew Bolt

Oct 24, 2009

I’ll put my hand up

Andrew Bolt asks: Where are t

Andrew Bolt asks:

Where are the Howard haters now?

Gee, Kevin Rudd’s Indonesian Solution is such an improvement on John Howard’s Pacific Solution, which he so damned and then closed


Julian Burnside, legal veteran of asylum seeker battles in the Howard years, condemns as ”really regrettable that Rudd feels the need to appear to take a tough line” on boat arrivals. Rudd knows the numbers are trivial and Australia has the capacity to deal with them, Burnside says. But his policy is appealing to the lowest common denominator and ”heading to the Pacific solution in another form”.

”It’s irrelevant to complain about people smugglers,” he says. ”What matters is that people are asking for our help and we should not push them back to Indonesia.”

Burnside regards the Indonesian solution as only slightly better than Howard’s ”Pacific Solution” – unless the Government has ”cast iron guarantees that the people will be treated decently and processed quickly and properly”. It is hard to be confident of that, he says, bearing in mind that Indonesia is not a signatory to the international convention on refugees, and ”warehousing” people is reprehensible and ”totally unacceptable”.

And here:

Despite a stratospheric approval rating, and a crushing two-party-preferred vote that could see the ALP gain as many as 20 new seats at the election, Kevin Rudd has adopted the tough rhetoric of his predecessor- even an Opposition MP has branded him “John Howard-lite”.

But having the Indonesian President intervene on a specific boat is hardly routine. And it is a long way removed from the focus of supporting policing and intelligence gathering in the fight against people smuggling. Indeed, using Indonesia in this way is dangerously similar in its practical impact to the old third country approach. Indonesia, like those other countries, has not signed up to the UN Convention on Refugees.

And here:

Immigration Minister Chris Evans bridled this week at the suggestion that the so-called Indonesian solution of persuading our neighbour to take boatloads of refugees was akin to the Howard government’s Pacific solution.

The latter, he told the ABC’s The 7.30 Report, was about punishing refugees and maintaining the myth they would never be allowed into Australia, although many subsequently were. That, he argued, was different from reaching an agreement with Indonesia for them to be processed as refugees there.

There is no real distinction. In both cases, we palmed off our obligations to another country not bound by the refugee convention. The government says the UNHCR will process the asylum-seekers in Indonesia.

Perhaps the Rudd government will be more co-operative. But if Indonesia is a political solution to Australia’s boatpeople problem, then it is a second-class humanitarian one.

And here:

"Mr Rudd has been keen to talk about our brave new world of co-operation with Indonesia, but his emphasis has only been on intelligence-sharing, and assistance with training and equipment between our neighbouring countries,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

"The focus, clearly, is on how best to track down and stop asylum seekers on leaky boats from getting to Australia, but there doesn’t seem to be much interest in what happens to them once they’ve been palmed off to Indonesia.

"What guarantees does Mr Rudd have from Indonesia – who are not signatories to the UN Refugee Convention – that asylum seekers, particularly children, will be treated appropriately and not placed in arbitrary detention indefinitely?”

The price for Australia’s financial and other aid should be a commitment from Indonesia to sign up to the convention, and a guarantee that they will act to protect rather than punish these vulnerable people.

Is Andrew Bolt truly so ignorant of the backlash against Kevin Rudd’s approach to asylum seekers in recent weeks, or does it just suit his “It’s OK if you are in Labor” claims of Liberal persecution to appear so ignorant?

UPDATE: More from Chris Uhlmann of Your (Biased) ABC.

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7 thoughts on “I’ll put my hand up

  1. Daphon

    Thanks for the links, Tobias. I can’t help feeling something’s going on here that fans of the ABC may not like particularly with Murdoch putting pressure on the ABC and BBC over paywalls. Time will tell.

  2. Tobias Ziegler

    Good questions, Daphon. I don’t have the answers, but Margaret Simons has been writing about this lately and has had some reaction from News Ltd’s Greg Baxter – see her blog posts here and here.

  3. Daphon

    Re: Chris Uhlmann’s article.

    What’s with this ‘cross-fertilisation’ between Murdoch media and the ABC? Many of the reporters and commentators I hear on ABC radio these days are from SkyNews and other Murdoch sources. Doesn’t the ABC have its own news staff any more?

    Now this piece from Chris Uhlmann which was originally published on the ABC website in a different form is now in The Australian.

  4. confessions

    The other thing that annoys me about commentary on this is they forget about abolishing TPVs – arguably the most insidious aspect of howard’s policies. The Pacific solution was one thing, and the ‘Indonesian solution’ doesn’t seem much different to me. But i’m prepared to give the government credit for no longer subjecting refugees accepted as such to uncertainties around their future where at any stage they could be deported back to where they came from.

    The other difference IMO is no more dog whistling from the goverment about the people themselves. I can’t imagine a current minister or backbencher claiming that terrorists on the boats are a 3:1 odds favourites! On those scores alone Rudd is far more preferable to Howard. And is andy really saying he wants Australia to go back to those days when we gave scant regard to the SEWB of genuine refugees, where their futures could be pulled out from under them at any time of our choosing?

  5. monkeywrench

    Confessions: Cherries are always on the menu chez Bolt.

  6. confessions

    Haven’t the murdoch tabloids been the most vocal in their coverage of the asylum seeker issues? Either andy doesn’t know what’s being written in the very paper he works for, or he’s cherrypicking. Again.