Posts Tagged ‘seeker’

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.


I’d be happy to tell you why I choose to visit the detention centre in Broadmeadows.

I began visiting after hearing Julian Burnside QC speaking of the atrocious and sub-sub-standard conditions within the offshore centres. I simply couldn’t believe the media were not reporting on it! After all, we hear of every Kardashian update, or The Block eviction, why do we not hear about our own government’s treatment of these people in need?

We asked Mr. Burnside afterward if there was anything we could do, as only a few members of the public, with no means to change laws or make any noticeable difference. He replied simply “Yes, visit them, let them know they are not in it alone and that people in Australia care for their wellbeing and futures”.

We arranged to visit in the following weeks, and since then, I have always done my best to leave my everyday baggage outside, listen to their troubles, help them when I can and always offer them a hug.

So in answer to the original question, I visit the people at Broadmeadows because they have become my friends, and a part of my family. I have since taken my mother to visit them, and now she is always asking how they are, as they ask about her. She cares for them as she would care for her own children, even knitting them winter clothing. They all ask “How is mum?”.

The Negatively assessed Tamil guys at Broadmeadows, as well as all other people I have met there, are some of the nicest, most sincere, caring and kind-hearted people I have ever met. This country would benefit from their compassion, humour and many talents, if only they would stop hearing the word “Illegal” and actually spent the time to meet with the real people in these situations.

These innocent people have been detained for six years without charge, without sentencing, and with no end in sight. ASIO have vowed to keep them detained until circumstances change. They will not disclose their reasons for incarcerating these people, making it virtually impossible for them to defend themselves in a court of law. In another cruel twist, the asylum seekers cannot return home, as they have been granted Refugee status here in Australia. They are permitted to stay, but only as prisoners in the care of Immigration, never being charged with any crime.

For the past 10 months, I have been visiting an Immigration Detention Centre in Melbourne. In this time, I have meet some of the most amazing, strong, determined and brave people I think that I will ever meet. For many, their incarceration has been over 6 years. They have not been charged with any crime or offence, nor have they been told why they are being held.

Essentially, they are being held indefinitely, with no end in sight. The only reasons given is, that ASIO has determined them to be ‘undesirable’. No further explanation has been given, and therefore no chance for the detainees to defend any accusations made against them.

Imagine for a moment that you and your family were faced with potential harm, murder, rape, beatings, incarceration or persecution for your beliefs, your values or simply due to the colour of your skin, all at the hands of your government. Obviously you would want to flee before you are discovered, to avoid these terrible things happening to you and your loved ones.

Searching the area, you realise that surrounding countries have extradition deals with your country, meaning that if you sought shelter there, you risk being sent back immediately to receive your fate.

Your options limited, you now seek a country that is a signatory to the UN Convention for Refugees (1951), meaning that they must accept you, process you in a timely manner, and assist with your settlement (and NOT send you back to the horrors that you have fled from).

Australia in your sights, you take a harrowing journey on a leaky boat, with no one on the boat able to swim, all fearful for their lives, but knowing that even this fate is a better choice than the horrors you are fleeing from.

Upon arrival, you are snatched up, whisked away, perhaps separated from your spouse, children or friends. Interrogated, and given a number (replacing your name) you are sent to a camp on a remote island. You are unsure if your family are arriving there also, or if they are sent elsewhere. Scared and alone, you discover that some people have been there in the camp for 18 months, 2 years, 3 years… Surely they are isolated incidents?

Eventually you are reunited with your family. Huddled together, you find that you now need to clamber for food, water, showers, toilets, sanitary products, soap, and even clothing. This is still better than where you have fled from, albeit rather inhumane.

Eventually one of your loved ones falls ill. Now you can experience the terror of being ignored when pleading with your captors for medical assistance. Doctors are only available 1-2 days a week, and the nearest hospital is partly burned down and riddled with Asbestos. For extreme cases, there are rumours that they can fly the sick person to the mainland, but they remain under guard and handcuffed like a criminal. Once well, they are returned to the camp. Sanitary conditions are below most standards of the developed world, with no water for toilets, 2 minute showers to conserve what water is available, and general filth coating every wall that you have seen.

As the months pass by, and slowly turn into years, you realise that this is your life. This is all you have now. It is still a better option than the terrors you have left behind, but every day has you question if it all might have been easier if you had stayed and faced the government, possibly being executed or forced to watch on as your daughters, wife and mother are raped before you are killed.

If faced with these circumstances, what would you do? Of course, I will assume that you would at least expect better treatment in the camp, or perhaps you would demand to be released, as you are seeking asylum? Now imagine that the government holds you in the camp indefinitely, without charge, without reason, and without communication. Essentially locking you up for the remainder of your life, simply for wanting to pursue the basic human right to feel safe and not fear being murdered or raped. I will assume you would be rather upset, angry, saddened, angry and most likely anxious and depressed.

THIS is happening in Australia right now. Today. In 2015.
THIS is an embarrassment to this once great country of ours.
Are we not better than this? Surely this is not how we want to be remembered in the history books?

6 Hours for 6 Years #6yearstoolong

6 Hours for 6 Years

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.


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.