Blind man’s buff …

Our Kevni has certainly hit the ground running.

The populace were waiting for his predecessor with a baseball bat. We had a long shopping list that we would tick off as we enjoyed that delicious democratic moment. Oh, how I longed for it.

Kevni has a pretty good idea of what’s on the list and in an instant he has announced fixes for everything. The details, naturally, will have to come later. And, of course, we get to pay for it all later.

The trouble with most of what politicians do lies in the unintended consequences. Policy made in a rush, bargains struck in a hurry, are likely to have more than their fair share of side effects.

Oh, but how it’s galvanised the ABC. They were sounding quite down in the dumps before the latest palace coup, it’s a pleasure to hear them now, so up beat as they announce Abbott gaffes as fast as they can invent them. Every cloud …

And what a boon for the advertising industry. Every asylum seeker sitting down to breakfast in Indonesia only has to open their copy of the Age to know that they won’t be staying in Australia thanks to advertising paid for by the Australian taxpayer. Maybe that’s why the Age hasn’t made as much fuss about the new Labor asylum seeker policy as it did about the rather less draconian Howard policy of days gone by. Of course, only a cynic would point out that the advertising won’t reach the asylum seekers, it’s entirely about getting Labor re-elected.

Fleetcare, NLC and local car manufacturers are probably not so thrilled. Unintended consequences have caught up with them already.

Cyclone Kevni, whirling around, generating enormous wind. If you’re going to hit the ground running you really should take off the blindfold first.

The welcome mat …

Welcome home, Allyson McConnell


And how nice to see our hospitality extended to this poor traumatised soul…

A KILLER has won the right to appeal to stay in Australia as a refugee.

The West Papua man who attacked his defacto in 2000, resulting in her death, won a High Court battle yesterday.

He can now to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in his bid to secure a protection visa with tax-payers to pay his legal bills for his High Court action.

The man was granted a protection visa in 1996 but after killing his defacto and being sentenced to seven years’ jail for manslaughter, the man’s protection visa was cancelled by former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock.

Former immigration Minister Chris Evans then determined in 2008 that it was ”in the public interest to allow the appellant to make a further application for a protection visa,” the High Court judgement said.

And an especially warm welcome to all those on the high seas, now arriving at more than 400 a week … just imagine a whole Malaysiafull every week.

The bleeding obvious …

The issue of asylum seekers descending on Australia in little boats is a knotty one.

Most of us wish these people no harm. Open borders, however, is a prescription for spending an unlimited amount of tax-payers’ money. The truth is that there is no way to repatriate anyone who arrives here, claims to be a refugee and asks for asylum.

Australian governments are expert at damping down demand. In health care, for example, it is the clever use of waiting lists that puts a limit on spending. In its highest form the process is so clever that the list itself is short whilst somehow the waiting time is extremely long, referred to a public hospital for a hip replacement, cool, you’re just a few waiting lists away from the waiting list for surgery!

Essentially this is what we do with boat arrivals. We make it a lengthy and unpleasant experience to deter those thinking of trying it.

It’s the worst possible strategy for inducting new citizens.

The Howard years saw the rise of a strategy that made the welcome so harsh that arrivals slowed to a trickle.

The Greens, the love media and a large chunk of the Labor party thought it inhumane. The Green/Labor alliance abolished the strategy.

From what I can gather from the Greens, their stance is – these people are in desperate need, it is our moral duty to assist them by resettling them in Oz, no matter how many, no matter what cost, no matter what impact on our society.

Before we take on this task let’s ask how big it is. Start with some basics.

Draw a line somewhere in the scale of peoples’ incomes, call it the poverty line. Everyone below that line lives in relative poverty. If you have nothing, you are destitute, this is absolute poverty. According to Wikipedia the World Bank estimated 1.29 billion people were living in absolute poverty in 2008. According to 25,000 people die of hunger every day. That’s absolute, for relative Global tell us that over three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day.

If you can afford to pay to be smuggled to Australia you are in better financial shape than more than half the world’s population.

Australia is a rich country. You can check our population with The Australian Bureau of Statistics. I did. On 13 August 2012 at 15:35:58 (Canberra time), the resident population of Australia was projected to be 22,698,652 people.

That is, there are 57 people with absolutely nothing for every single Australian. If all Australians were to live on something slightly less than 2% of their current income and divide the remainder between the destitute then you and they would be living on $3.25 a day (based on Australian average earnings of $68,791 a year.) That’s not too bad, you’d still be in the wealthier half of the world’s population!

But surely, the needy can’t all want to migrate. No not all of them, according to Gallup surveys in late 2010 twenty-six percent of North African adults said they would choose to move to another country permanently if they had the chance. If just one percent of the three billion living on less than $2.50 a day headed our way it would more than double our population.

Once signed up to the UN’s charter on refugees no country has control of its borders. We do though have control over the lives we of those we must take. If the system is to be one of “who dares wins” then the prize must be worth less than the effort.

On the other hand our refugee intake should be of generous proportion, should be well managed and well supported. Those who seek to jump the queue should be sent to the back of it.

The twenty-two recommendations of the Houston Report provide a strategy that could go a long way to achieving a sensible solution. Among them …

Recommendation 8
The panel recommends that a capacity be established in Nauru as soon as practical to
process the claims of  irregular maritime arrivals transferred from australia in ways consistent with australian and
Nauruan responsibilities under international law (paragraphs 3.44-3.55).

Recommendation 9
The panel recommends that a capacity be established in png as soon as possible
to process the claims of  irregular maritime arrivals transferred from australia in ways consistent with the
responsibilities of australia and png under international law (paragraphs 3.56-3.57).

Recommendation 12
The panel recommends that in the future those who arrive in australia through
irregular maritime means should not be eligible to sponsor family under the shp but
should seek to do so within the family stream of the migration program (paragraph 3.71).

Encouragingly, the Prime Minister has said that said she would move immediately to reinstate the Howard government processing centres in Nauru and Manus Island. Family reunion for boat arrivals will also be scrapped as a matter of urgency and all 22 recommendations from the Houston panel report adopted in principle by the government.