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The Case for Off-Shore Processing

December 5, 2011

Chris Bowen speaks to the 46th ALP National Conference (Picture: Dean Lewins, AAP)

The case for effective, humane border policy was put by Chris Bowen, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Justice. They made the best presentation of the argument I’ve heard. They spoke of “irregular maritime arrivals” which is what the refugee boats phenomenon is. But both branded it as a species of “trans-national crime”, which is the only way of looking at people-smuggling. O’Connor said these are not latter-day Oskar Schindlers, and he is right. As a result, Australia must have “effective border arrangements”. And he is right here as well. To grant permanent residence to everyone brought here by a people-smuggler is to invite the Australian people to fling you from office.

The Australian people are right to expect the Government to deliver what O’Connor called “effective border arrangements”.

Bowen is right to stress the necessity of off-shore processing to smash the “business model” of the people-smugglers.

There should be no apologies necessary for responding in this way.

  1. December 5, 2011 12:05 pm

    I’m curious as to whether there’s a transcript of Bowen’s speech available? I’m fully of the opinion that offshore processing is a sign of the boganisation of Australian politics and kow-towing by the political parties to the shock jocks and the supposed “current affairs” programmes shown on commercial television.

    That being said if someone such as yourself believes there’s been a convincing argument put forward, I’d like to read it.

  2. Sam permalink
    December 5, 2011 12:39 pm

    I saw the link to this via Twitter and came here looking to see “The case for off shore processing”.

    I must be missing something – 4 paragraphs, of which 3 are single sentences? This is the case for treating asylum seekers arriving by plane one way, and those arriving by boat in a completely different fashion?

    I’m sorry but the silly season must indeed be here if anybody feels that this is a case for anything at all!

  3. Ford Prefect permalink
    December 5, 2011 12:49 pm

    Spot on Bob, can’t agree more. Far too many have perished at sea on vessels of questionable seaworthyness already. Processing on shore is to encourage arrivals to undertake hazardous journeys by boat.They’ll keep coming, taking risks and dying at sea – men, women, children all together. Govt would be seen to (and actually) be irresponsible if they did not implement an alternate policy to onshore processing in my book.

  4. December 5, 2011 3:50 pm

    Sorry Bob, I can see absolutely no justification for treating boat arrivals and air arrivals differently. There should be no distinction for the purpose of processing, and certainly there is no justification for the mandatory detention of those who arrive by boat.

  5. Luke permalink
    December 6, 2011 3:10 pm

    I think it’s also important to distinguish that the Coalition policy which does not challenege the business model of the smugglers and there is still incentive for refugees to flee their point of origin in an irregular pattern in a dangerous way.

    Creating an off shore centre closer to the point of origin for refugees makes much more sense.

    I would like to see this explained properly in the public conversation because it seems people unfamiliar with the argument think there is very little difference in policies when in reality they are a world apart.

  6. December 6, 2011 4:25 pm

    And to finish your blog entry by stating
    “There should be no apologies necessary for responding in this way.” smacks of contempt for your audience and makes you sound arrogant. This is not a policy decision that will survive the next 5 years.

    Mark my words Bob, the Party is wrong on this policy and you risk being tarred with the same Howard / neo-Liberal brush if you maintain this position. There is generational shift underpinning the public mood, and therefore, the opportunity to differentiate and attract new support. You will win more votes and more support by adopting an in-shore processing policy position.

    Gillard needs to do something courageous before the next election that defines her legacy and secures her second term. The establishment of on-shore processing could be it…

  7. December 14, 2011 1:06 am

    We should have joint Australian/Indonesian refuge point of contact centres set up in Indonesia to UNHCR standards to circumvent the people smugglers and hence the drownings at sea. A plane trip over to Australia for the rest of the processing should be done here.

    Such a policy would be humane, the right wing hysteria that occurs when a boat arrives would be ameliorated, because the boats simply wouldn’t make the journey as Indonesia is the point of exit for such journeys. In effect The Australian Government would be providing the service of that the people smugglers had done in the past. There would be a slight increase in refugees however this could be offset by an ever so slight reduction in our immigration quota.

    This is similar to Malcolm Fraser’s policy in the early eighties and ironically to The Greens current policy of today.

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