Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Labor has officially lost my vote.

Let me explain this properly. As previously mentioned, I have been a Labor voter ever since I could vote. My Grandparents, and all relatives back to Federation have been Labor voters, due in part to their employment at the local Rail Yards, Dock Yards and other trade industries. My family have always been working class, hardworking union members throughout their years, finding comfort in the knowledge that the trade unions were there, fighting for their rights, conditions and safety.

In the past two years, however, Labor has seemed to have lost its way. Labor have been leaning further and further to the right, following the poll trends and the ‘easier options’, and not following their own principles. More and more often, Labor has been conceding to the Liberal view, either siding with the LNP’s decision to introduce mandatory Metadata collection and monitoring (even though the evidence shows that every country that has introduced these regulations are now either seeing their errors, or now having these regulations removed due to their inefficiency and exorbitant costs) Lowering their visionary standards (agreeing to a lower RET, meaning our Renewable Energy Target will be at an all-time, uninspiring level of around 5% by 2020 – Compared to China and America at 80% by 2050, and Denmark’s achievement of 140% a few months ago).

With all of this, I have been fooling myself, in the thoughts that “At least the Australian Labor Party (ALP) is not and “extreme” or “cruel” as the Liberal National Party (LNP) – at least I agree with many of ALP’s policies, compared to none of the LNP policies. This has now changed completely

Tonight, I have reached the decision to vote Greens for the first time at the next Federal election. I base this decision SOLELY on ALP’s decision to now adopt, or consider to adopt, the LNP policy of “Turning Back the Boats”. This decision is not a light decision, or even a decision that people may think ‘does not affect them’. This decision will affect every Australian at some point in their lives.

Allow me to clarify.

Using the field of music, I want to list some artists who were refugees. Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, Gene Simmons, Angus & Malcolm Young, Bon Scott and Jimmy Barnes. Using these few names as an example, I want you to think of this.
Without Freddie Mercury, Queen may well have remained a garage band. All of the music that they created and inspired in others would be silent. Freddie’s roles as an ambassador for AIDS Awareness has potentially saved MILLIONS of lives.
Without Bob Marley, we would have missed out on the introduction to Reggae music into the mainstream. This would’ve stopped the progression to early forms of Punk & Ska. Marley also gave rise to other artists, such as Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Eric Clapton – not just covering his music, but embracing the soul of his music, and taking it to a different audience. Bob Marley also highlighted the dangers of smoking, dying of lung cancer at such a young age.
Without Gene Simmons, KISS would not have introduced us to GlamRock. A rock show would almost certainly be void of pyrotechnics and extravagant costumes.

Angus & Malcolm Young and Bon Scott, although not refugees, were migrants to Australia as part of the migrant wave of the 1950s. Jimmy Barnes was also a part of this wave. Without Australia’s acceptance of these kids, Australia would not have nurtured, and ultimately delivered these talents to the world.

I want you to imagine a world without the music of Queen, without mainstream Reggae or the larger-than-life presence of KISS. Imagine modern rock music without the influence of AC/DC. Music would be rather boring. Now think of everyone that relates to this music. The people that use a particular song to remember something good in their life. A song that perhaps has helped them get through a difficult time in their lives, marked a special occasion, a first kiss, the grieving of a loved one, or even an escape from the world and its nasty abuses. Without this music, where would these people be now?

Now I want you to think about the following names. Sigmund Freud, Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein, Ben Elton, Victor Hugo, Lord Maurice Saatchi, These names have all shaped the world for generations. Modern Psychology, Religious ideologies, Modern Theology, Quantum Physics, Atomic Energy, Relativity, Space Travel, Comedy, Musicals, TV Classics (The Young Ones, Bottom, etc) Classic Literature, and lastly on this list, Advertising.

All of these massive names were refugees.

Now, imagine what Australia is essentially turning around and punting back into the open seas. All of these modern discoveries. Talents that have essentially changed our lives in every sense, overlooked. Potentially being sent back to their deaths. This list does not include the many, many unsung heroes in our society. Surgeons, Doctors, Lawyers, Politicians, Business owners / employers, Athletes, Musicians, Artists, Actors, Activists and even the guy who makes your morning coffee. Every single one of these people could essentially change your day, or your life.

Now imagine that we are now essentially telling the world that, although we are a wealthy country, and managed to avoid the GFC, putting us in a position that was envied by every other OECD country around the world, although we have more than enough room for more people to live in this vast land, we are not only not accepting them, but we are stopping their boats in international waters and turning them back to face persecution, torture, rape and murder.

These human beings do not get on a boat for fun. They do not get on a boat to ‘jump the queue’. Many of them (98% at last estimate) choose this method of entry because they are fleeing in the dark of night. They are unable to get a visa or leave their country as they are fleeing the persecution of their government. They are fleeing imminent danger at the hands of political forces, police, military. Many of these people that I have personally met have left family – wives, children, babies, parents, siblings – because they simply could not bring them, risking their lives to get here and hopefully send for them when it was safe to do so. People have left infants, only to miss out on their formative years – having no contact apart from occasional phone-calls, never holding their children in their arms. This is not a decision that any parent would choose lightly.

Make no mistake, these policies are not “Turn Back the Boats”, rather, they are “Turn back the terrified, scared, inconsolable, injured, damaged, broken, depressed and desperate human beings.” It could also be said that we are turning away unknown prosperity, knowledge, wealth, intellect, skill, artistic talent and life-changing personalities that are the very wealth that Australia was built upon. Without immigration, Australia would be a very bland place (Imagine if since 1788, Australia remained a land of Irish and English convicts. We would have no Italian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Jewish, Nordic, or even Russian people living here. Imagine how boring and plain our choices of restaurants would be? Without Immigration, Australia loses its very identity. Australia would cease to be the vibrant, interesting, amazing, diverse country that has made it the envy of the rest of the world. We would lose our identity as an accepting nation.

“Turning Back the Boats” will have disastrous effects for Australia, and more importantly, it will put the human beings that are on these boats into potential harm.

I will not vote for a party that supports this view, and therefore, I will no longer vote for Labor, and I am aware of several hundred people who have these same views, and will no longer be voting for Labor. I suspect that there will be many tens of thousands of voters who would share these same views, measured against only a handful that will decide to vote ALP over LNP based on this single policy. If this policy is changed to be more accepting and humane, perhaps I will reconsider, however I could not sleep soundly at night, knowing that a vote from me assisted in allowing a party into power who knowingly sends innocent men, women and children back to a country that could essentially rape, torture or murder them, simply for being who they are.

My name is Patrick, and I am not a Liberal voter and never will be.
I have been known to have many a heated argument, defending policies with friends, family and strangers.
I wanted to raise with you some issues which have recently become apparent within MITA, the Melbourne detention facility, at the hands of Serco.
As a regular visitor to the Broadmeadows Detention facility, I find it heartbreaking to hear of the constant denial of the basic human rights and common dignities afforded to the detainees.
This nation has been built on the blood sweat and hardworking backs of immigrants. We have all grown up with people from other countries surrounding us, either in our schools or our communities.
It is what makes Australia such an amazing and unique place to live. Until recently, we have been an envy of other countries all around the world. When travelling, I have always been proud to tell strangers that I was Australian.
This has ended now. I am now vocally ashamed to be Australian. When did our values as a country change so drastically?
We have essentially turned our back on the very piece of international law that has built our country into the great power it is, the UN Convention of Refugees, 1952. The piece of legislation that saw so many of our Italian, Greek, Maltese, German, Polish and many other nationalities settle here after World War 2, and has assisted so many other people to settle here when their countries were being ravaged by wars, famine, terror and disaster.
Friends of mine who travel now tell people they are from New Zealand, as it has become too shameful to admit that they are from a land who does not respect people from other lands or with other beliefs.
I currently visit the Broadmeadows Detention Facility (MITA) specifically to spend time with the ASIO negatively assessed Tamil men. These men have been held in detention without charge (at least, none they have been informed of) for five or six years, and in some cases, longer than six years. This is at the same time as we have Domestic Violence Perpetrators serving 3 month suspended sentences. Drink Drivers serving 2 years but being released on good behaviour, and rapists being released on parole, often reoffending, as seen in the Jill Meagher case.
In recent months I have been listening to many in the media and even politics complaining that Indonesia has breached International Law by executing the two men, but there has not been any mention that our current government do the same every single day, leaving people in detention for over six years without charge.
In recent months, at the hands of Serco, I have heard of basic rights being stripped from these people, with the worst being the right to religious freedoms, and being denied weekly visits to temple. Originally this was due to be completely removed, however after many visitors voiced our disgust at these plans, it has now been offered fortnightly instead of weekly. Even this is a rather low ‘kick in the guts’, as many of these people are already broken and hurting, and now have their only avenue to be heard by their maker denied to them.
Other restrictions that have been put in place over the past few months are to have journeys to the market to purchase ingredients to cook meals with reduced, home visits to friends and family in the community restricted and reduced (all people must be vetoed by Serco, or the visit is cancelled), and most recently, restrictions on visits from members of the community. These visit restrictions are the harshest yet, and I believe are even stricter than a maximum security prison. These include calling between 9am and 1pm the day before and booking a place (which is often already ‘booked out’ – yet upon arrival, we have noted only 8-10 people in a 60 person room), paperwork must be filled out each and every visit, we cannot mix with others in the visitors room and must remain seated. all visits are limited to 2 hours, as all visits are given a time-slot. if you are late, or the paperwork delays your entry, your visit will be shorter.
Previously, we could arrive within visiting hours, produce ID, and enter the room. All detainees were welcome to enter, and did not need to be requested. For many, it was the highlight of their day to be able to mix with the community and to forget about their hardships for a few hours over a cup of tea as we chatted. This also allowed new arrivals from Nauru or other mainland centres to mingle, meet and socialise, giving them some much-needed human contact, friendly smiles and a hug when required. I have seen many people progress from a tightened ball of no-confidence into a happy, outgoing and smiling individual in a matter of months. It gave them hope to keep going, the strength to push forward, integrate into the visitors centre and even meet other detainees from different cultures and form friendships.
This new system has effectively ended this small glimmer of joy in their lives, and for no benefit to anyone, including Serco. The mental health ramifications will soon begin to show, and I have grave concerns for many people there. New arrivals from Nauru are now reportedly kept under guard, not even allowed to mingle with other detainees, let alone visitors. We cannot visit them, as no one can get their names to nominate them.
This effectively makes Nauru into a sick version of a Big Brother house. They are totally isolated from the outside world, monitored in every way, and if removed from the BigBrother house for medical reasons, are kept guarded, so as not to ‘ruin the game’.
further to the dehumanisation of these innocent persons, Serco have now, on top of monthly room searches, in which all of their belongings are inspected, upturned, mattress flipped etc (much like a prison cell inspection), they have now added full body pat-downs to each detainee.
This includes all Men, Women and Children (I have yet to hear of how young is too young, but I have heard of 6-8 year olds being subjected to this)
I have just been informed that one single woman had her room upturned by three male guards, then was given a pat-down by a male guard. She was extremely uncomfortable, but could not decline.
 
These searches are not due to information that these people have drugs, weapons or even a mobile phone, rather, they are routine and expected at least monthly.
 
As a trained and licensed security guard, I have always been told that ALL pat-downs need to be same-gender, which is mainly for comfort reasons, religious reasons and of course the protection from potential lawsuits, should someone claim they were inappropriately being touched.
This was basic training, given on day one of all training, and yet Serco seem to be overlooking this. I can only imagine what other regulations they are skirting around…
 
I ask you this. Would you be comfortable hearing of your wife or children being subjected to a physical pat-down by a n overbearing male guard, with no charge or guilt, but merely because they could?
Of course, I mean no disrespect with the previous question, only to highlight my point that this practice should not be condoned, regardless of your views on asylum seekers arriving by boat or by plane etc.
This needs to stop.
A group of us have already met with management of MITA, and have been told of the ‘wonderful things that are being done for detainees’ etc. I see these responses now to be total lies and fabrications.
further communications with the management team to clarify some of these allegations have gone unanswered.
Could you please pass this on to anyone who is asking the questions in the Senates Estimates committee?
I would like to know, how all of these restrictions are meant to be ‘saving money’, when in actual fact, it will cost us much more in regards to the mental health, wellbeing and dignity of these people.
the effects of our inhumane treatment of these wonderful, amazing people will be felt for generations.
thank you

With Christmas quickly approaching, and family gatherings only days away, I felt that I should make a post.

I didn’t want to post all about the stereotypical stuff, but instead, I wanted to remind people who not everyone in our society has the luxury of a family to be with, or even food to eat.

For many, Christmas time is not a happy time. This could be for many reasons. Perhaps it serves as a reminder to them that their own family or friends circle has disowned them, has lost contact or simply wants nothing to do with them anymore. It could be a reminder of bad life-choices they have made, perhaps with alcohol or drug abuse, causing children and family to actively disassociate themselves.
For others, it could be a reminder of a less than ideal childhood. Christmas is often a time when domestic violence, child abuse and family disagreements flare up, showing themselves in their full, ugly glory. For these families, Christmas is almost dreaded as it nears, with family members bracing themselves for the upcoming explosion of negativity in their homes.

There are people in Australia who are spending their first (or indeed their 5th or 6th) Christmas alone. They have no family here with them, perhaps living on their own with few friends around them. Some may not even be able to speak English, and are experiencing complete isolation from others in ways that many of us cannot even fathom.

Other people reflect on this time as a reminder of what the ‘average family’, or what is portrayed on television and in films should be, and how different their own family gathers are. They see the cracks in their family, the negativity and the hatred between certain members, and this can bring on sadness and even depression for many. No amount of “But it’s Christmas!” or “Fa-la-la-la-laa’ing” will change these thoughts, no matter how hard people try.

I myself have come from an abusive home growing up. This is no secret, and I have posted about this in the past on this blog. Mostly, it was verbal abuse or at least emotional abuse. There was some physical abuse as well, but it was not as bad as many others have received, and the physical was definitely a distant second to the emotional and verbal abuses. All of these things have forever tarnished my christmas experience, as my most vivid memories of christmas involve the christmas tree being thrown across the room and broken, presents beings stomped on before they could be unwrapped or on one occasion, opened before us and then destroyed. As a child, my memories of christmas should be of happy times with small gifts from loved ones, and not of these things. Now, even the sound of christmas music brings these terrible memories back into my mind.

Of course, my story is hardly the worst, and I am not trying to win any awards for this. I only mention it here to point out that people who may seem happy and strong on the outside may not always be the same on the inside. Christmas can amplify these emotions and memories for many.

The point I was hoping to make with this post is, if you see someone who is seeming down, or know of someone who may be spending christmas alone this year, perhaps offer them a seat at your table, or even a hot cup of coffee and a chat. Sometimes its the smallest of gestures that can change someone’s perspective on a situation. This is the season for giving, and respect for our fellow persons. Do not do this out of pity, but do it out of kindness and love. Everyone should be able to have at least one happy christmas memory, and it is never too late to start creating them.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

I have been embarrassed to be an Australian since this bunch of manic sociopaths cheated and lied their way into parliament. Today, I am officially ashamed to be Australian… a county that has been built on immigration since 1788, and being one of the most multicultural countries in the developed world… simply denying settlement of those who are fleeing murder, genocide, rape, torture, persecution and even “disappearance”, and then offering an olive branch by using the children in detention as a bargaining chip for your disgusting offer?

The UN are watching. The World is watching. Scott Morrison, you are a vile little man, and I personally cannot wait until you see the Hague and are sentenced under International Law for your total disregard for Human Rights, the incarceration of unaccompanied minors and children as young as 6 weeks old and Common Decency toward fellow men and women.
http://www.abc.net.au/…/the-senate-has-agreed-to-re…/5945576
Senator Scott Ludlam speaks volumes about the justices of this disgusting bill… Scott Morrison simply wants more power for himself, with no regard to the innocent lives he is essentially placing into limbo. Using the children currently in detention as a bargaining chip for his own sick agenda, is simply deplorable…
http://youtu.be/ha0Zni_7sDE


Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
 tells it as it is… a disgusting, vile, appalling and embarrassing turn of events…

For members of Parliament to hand out others phone numbers and have the children in detention call the senators and tug at their heartstrings, and play on the political minefield, and not get them out of detention (which could have been done at any time by Scott Morrison) in exchange for introducing TPV Visas, which will give people 3 years of uncertainty, no ability to work, and after 3 years, the very real possibility of being sent back to the hell that was their home, is simply disgusting. How dare they give out phone numbers. How dare they use the children as negotiators for their sick games…

If the government had nothing to hide, and the detention centres arren’t as disgusting, abusive, dangerous and potentially life-threatening, enough for the children to need to beg for their release, then why do they constantly deny the UN, Gillian Triggs, Julian Burnside QC, Labor, Greens and other parliament members, Media (that aren’t Murdoch press) entry to talk with the people there? What is so bad that they find the need to hide it from the world??
http://youtu.be/IACpF6Nth6s

Continuing with my Novel

Posted: September 30, 2014 in Personal
Tags:

so, a few months after revealing I was working on my Novel, I thought I would update you all on its progress. (see here)

I have now passed the 60,000 word count, with plenty more to go. I have jotted down the framework, plot points and points of interest that need to be included. There will be seven sections in total, some longer than others, as they are significant parts to the story.
I am currently half-way through the second section, with the first section already edited and at a point where I can move forward. I wanted to treat each section as a separate story, so as to avoid a huge headache when editing and checking for continuity etc. so with all of this in mind, I feel that I am well on my way.

As in the previous update, I thought I should include a teaser paragraph for you all… To put this into some sort of context, a character has now started writing a novel within the story, so this is the introduction to her novel.

“We departed our home, the only place we had known and was familiar to us, and departed on a journey into the unknown. Although aware of our destination, the journey would be long and riddled with unknown obstacles. It would deliver us to the shores of a faraway land, devoid of friends, family or persons known to us. An entire family, born again into an unfamiliar world. Yet, we make this journey of our own accord, under no duress. We do not flee to evade the law, and yet we are destined for the penal colonies of yesteryear.

I am surrounded by people, and yet feeling alone. My best friend is far from me, and now the distance will forever grow. My yearning to be held in the safe confines of our tree, sitting together and forgetting about our troubles will never leave the depths of my heart, and my memories will never fade. Forever will I be reminded of my friend, each time I gaze upon an old tree by the water.”

I am looking forward to updating you all on the upcoming stages, as they are completed!

I would like to apologies in advance. I have been reading some absolutely disgusting comments in various publications regarding the current situation in Australia regarding Refugees, Detainees and Asylum Seekers being held in Detention Centres. It is not the Australia I was born into, grew up in, and live in… What we as a country are becoming is a racist, bigoted collection of haters.
This is not The Australia I want to be associated with.

Not in my name.

Just to make sure that people understand the last few weeks in the media (as the LNP are trying to change the discussion, with talks of raising the Terror Threat Level, Gillard on trial etc)
The latest death in detention was because the man was DENIED medical treatment for a cut foot. This developed into septicaemia, causing an agonising death. To even get septicaemia, the conditions need to be rather poor (septic, like a septic tank, folks!). As a government-run facility (by third parties, employed under contract of the Department of Immigration), this is disgusting and reprehensible.

There are prisoners locked up for actual crimes (Murder, Rape, Molestation etc) who get medical treatment, university degrees (Julian Knight), Foxtel, and not to mention psychiatric assistance where required.

Some people are saying that because ‘where they came from’ was 3rd world and war-torn, that they do not deserve the bare minimum afforded to our most disgusting prisoners, found guilty of actual crimes?

I have met some of these Detainees, many/all have already received Refugee status, but because of government red-tape, they are kept in detention. Some have been detained for over 5 years, with no end in sight.
All of this, because they have sought refuge from war, torture and persecution?
So before you have the thought of “Why should they complain about the meagre offerings we are giving them?”, know this.
Australia is a signatory to the UN convention of Refugees. This COMMITS Australia to assist ANY person seeking Refuge, to process their claim in a TIMELY manner, and to not discriminate based on their mode of arrival. It could be plane (most recently there were some AIDS Convention speakers, and previously some Commonwealth Games Athletes etc) Boats (Almost everyone in detention centres) Parachute, Tunnel systems under the oceans, shot from a cannon from North Korea… We are BOUND to accepting them, processing them in a TIMELY manner, and assisting them in any way possible.
Turning boats around, transferring people to ‘rescue boats’ and towing them back, or even handing them to foreign navy vessels in INTERNATIONAL waters is no better (and no different) to Piracy.

Australia SHOULD be better than that.

Tim Watts MP is my local Federal Minister, here in Williamstown VIC, Australia.
I wanted to publicly post this letter which I have just sent through to him, and will also post any replies I receive on the matter.
I would also encourage anyone who has an interest in Human Rights and the Welfare of people in need to write to your local member of Parliament, voice your concern with the way that Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott have been treating these Human Beings; allowing people to essentially get away with murder; launching no investigation to the recent riots and death in custody of a Refugee, desperate to seek asylum in a country where he is not at risk of being shot, blown up or simply killed for his beliefs or his job.

Hello Tim
My name is Patrick, and I am a resident of Williamstown. My family has lived here since 1854, so I guess you could class me as a local now. (I also just won your photographic competition with my guess of the Timeball Tower!)

Last night, I attended a lecture being given by Colleen Hartland MP, with guest speaker Julian Burnside AO QC.
Julian was speaking on the plight of Asylum Seekers, and how our government (I am deliberately using a lowercase ‘G’ as I do not respect them or their views) are treating these innocent human beings.
He spoke of the fact that no laws are broken when they arrive, as it is a human right to seek asylum in times of desperation. Also mentioned was the disgusting laws that state that if they are unprocessed and have no visa, then they are to be locked up until either a refugee status is given, or they are deported.

Mr Watts, Julian Burnside speaks for many, many people in Australia on these disgusting and immoral acts brought forward and amplified by Scott Morrison and the Abbott government.

Another thing that Mr Burnside spoke about, and one which I wanted to raise to your attention, in the hopes that this could be raised somehow in Parliament, is his rational, effective CHEAPER method of treating these Human Beings, that will actually save the government $750,000,000.00 per year on average (and we all know how much Hockey likes to cut spending!)

I have linked to this information below, as well as pasted in the text behind the link for you.

Mr Watts, things need to change. These people are struggling to survive in a hell on earth. Offshore means they receive no visitors, no contact with the outside world, and no hope.

When Guantanamo Bay was operating, their lawyers were allowed to visit the inmates there, yet we heard last night that Julian Burnside himself has been blocked in the past by the President of Nauru from entering the country, even after receiving a visa from the government of the day. Legal representation is occasionally blocked, the UN have been blocked, religious groups have been blocked, Salvation Army have been blocked. What is Scott Morrison hiding?

Mr Watts, I did not intend to write such a long letter. My intention was to direct you to Julian Burnside’s idea, in the hopes that it could be implemented in some form. This idea solves many problems; from Immigration Detention costs, rural employment (See how it is working in Shepparton, Castlemaine and other regional hubs), and most importantly of all, Human decency.

A link to Mr Burnside’s “Rural Plan” is below for you to read and hopefully raise in parliament as a viable option to the current situation.
http://www.julianburnside.com.au/rural2.htm

AN ALTERNATIVE TO INDEFINITE DETENTION OF REFUGEES

During the 2013 election campaign, both major parties engaged in a competition to outdo each other in their promises to mistreat boat people. The theory was that this would deter others from seeking protection here.

As it happens, the boats kept coming, even during the monsoon season in late 2013 and early 2014.

Promising to treat innocent people badly is not usually a vote-winner. In most cases it would be seen as a mark of depravity.

But in any event, the argument starts at the wrong place. It starts with the Coalition’s oft-repeated statement that boat people are “illegals”. It starts from the language of “border protection” and “queue-jumping”: language calculated to make the public think boat people are undesirables, people to be feared, people we need to be protected from.

The fact is that boat people do not break any law by coming here the way they do. Over the past 15 years, more than 90% of them have ultimately been assessed as refugees entitled to our protection. Their arrival rate in the 12 months to 30 June 2013 was much higher than the historic average, but even so it represented only four weeks’ ordinary population growth. While 25,000 boat people arrived in Australia in those 12 months, we received 200,000 new permanent migrants and 4 million visitors during the same time. Boat people do not present a demographic problem for Australia.

Spooked by tabloid scare-mongering, both major parties chose deterrent policies: treat them harshly; push them off to small, impoverished Pacific neighbours. The low point of this was the Coalition bringing in the military to deal with the “emergency”. This, and the language of “war”, was calculated to make the public at large feel that Australia is under attack, which is so ludicrous as to be an insult.

The spectacular cost of these measures passes without complaint because it is seen as a kind of protection. While it is difficult to separate out the various components of the cost, on current estimates, we are spending about $4 billion each year trying to evade our responsibilities under the Refugees Convention.

So, how better to deal with boat people?

First, it is essential for a political leader to show some actual leadership by explaining the facts: boat people are not “illegals”; they are practically certain to be refugees; we deliberately, consciously mistreat them for political purposes; it costs us a fortune to treat them this way.

I do not advocate an open borders policy. Initial detention for people who arrive without papers is reasonable. But it should be limited to one month, for preliminary health and security checks. After that, release them on interim visas with the following conditions:

they must stay in contact with the Department until their refugee status has been decided;
they are allowed to work or study;
they have access to Centrelink and Medicare benefits;
until their refugee status is determined, they must live in specified rural or regional towns. There are plenty of country towns which are slowly shrinking as people leave. The National Farmers Federation estimates that there are 96,000 unfilled jobs in country areas, the likelihood is that many asylum seekers would get jobs.
If this approach were adopted, and if every asylum seeker remained on benefits, it would cost about $30,000 per person per year, making a generous allowance for administrative overheads. Even assuming a continued arrival rate matching 2012-2013, the total cost would be about $750,000,000 per year. That is to be compared with the current cost of about $4,000,000,000 per year. More importantly, all that money would be spent in the local economy of country towns: on accommodation, food and clothing. there are plenty of country towns in Australia which would be enthusiastic to receive that sort of economic stimulus.

This new approach would save us more than three billion dollars a year. It would also avoid all the massive psychiatric harm which is caused by locking up innocent people indefinitely.

If an Australian government could be persuaded to adopt an approach like this, I would urge it to use part of the money saved to create benefits within the community. A billion dollars a year could be turned to creating more public housing for homeless Australians; another billion dollars a year could be applied to building schools or hospitals or other infrastructure projects, or used to reduce the deficit or reverse tertiary education funding cuts.

We would still save at least a billion dollars a year. That is one thousand million dollars: quite a lot considering how much hand-wringing went into the decision not to give SPC Ardmona $25 million to help it restructure.

There are many ways these ideas could be implemented. A few billion dollars a year can be used to damage asylum seekers profoundly, or it can be used for the benefit of the community in which asylum seekers live pending refugee status determination. But it won’t happen until someone shows enough leadership that we are behaving badly because we have been misled about the character of the people who wash up on our shores.