Tag Archives: policy

Is it safe in Australia’s offshore detention centres?

27 Apr

Today, the ABC will air a program (on 4 Corners) looking at the Manus Island riots which tragically claimed the life of a young asylum seeker, Reza Berati.

Following Reza’s death, people took to the streets in cities and towns around Australia to protest the Government’s treatment of asylum seekers, but especially to express concern about the terrible offshore processing policy.

In my view, this protest, unlike any other, marked a shift in public opinion on the issue of how to handle asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Reza’s death, while tragic, was also the death we needed to have. It helped to convince a group of people who were previously on the fence that we need to question whether we really are comfortable with this policy. Some of those people will ultimately decide they’re not. It didn’t convert any existing protesters, but it did create a new group of opponents.

The ABC interviewed Immigration Minister Scott Morrison for the 4 Corners program and the news this morning included a story about how he had changed his language. They said that previously he had given a guarantee that asylum seekers in offshore processing centres would be safe if they didn’t get involved in violent riots. Now, he was no longer giving that guarantee, but rather stating that that safety was only an ‘aspiration’.

I think the story is a little unfair on Scott Morrison. Far be it from me to defend this government, but let’s be practical for a second… Continue reading

Information flows

22 Sep


The newly elected Australian Government have come under fire recently about their decision not to release information about new boat arrivals. From what I can tell, they plan to stop the publication of regular data about the numbers, nationalities and family breakdowns of the boats that arrive.

The newly ousted former government (now opposition), the media, and many commentators and advocates are up in arms about it.

I’m not.

Before you get upset at me, don’t worry, I’m not a fan of any of the new governments asylum seeker policies. They’re a tragedy!! But the decision not to publish this info doesn’t have me all that concerned…. And here’s why…

Continue reading

The RRA… Good samaritan or eye for an eye?

21 Jul

kevin_rudd_400_aap_black_18uhoao-18uhoatThe last few days of the media in Australia have been dominated by a discussion of the shifting politics between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and opposition leader Tony Abbott. With Rudd’s announcement of a signed Refugee Resettlement Agreement (RRA) with the PNG Government, the talk of the town was that he had now done everything there was to do before an election except announce a date. The polls saw him gain a healthy bump and, as a result, the pressure started mounting on Tony Abbott (and his staff) to explain how they had managed to lose an election-winning lead in the space of just two weeks.

In amongst all that, some people have been analysing the details of this RRA (at least, analysing the details that have been made public) and asking some questions. Many would agree (myself included) that this was as much a political solution as a policy one – Rudd needed to change the Labor party’s fortunes on the issue – and it seems to have worked. But what does it all really mean.

I’ve already posted on what I think of the RRA, but I wanted to share a further thought after a friend of mine asked me whether the deal wasn’t a little bit like the story of the good samaritan… Continue reading

Is there a queue?

15 Jul

seminar on QueueAre boat people queue jumpers? Most people have never really stopped to ask themselves the question. We just assume they are. After all, we know that there are lots of people in the world who sit in refugee camps for decades, even generations. Why are the ones who can afford to get on a board more deserving of a new life in our country than the wholes who can’t?

As with most aspects of the issue of asylum seekers, the truth is not so simple. And, of course, the more complex an issue is, the harder it is to sell to the voters and the more quickly the public stop listening… Continue reading

Passport to freedom?

14 Jul

People smugglers are bastards. Excuse the french but they are. Sure, some of their workers (at the lower end of the operation) might be well-intentioned, but the people who orchstrate the movement of people around the globe, charging tens of thousands of dollars (which their clients usually don’t have) are sick, twisted opportunists with no morals.

passportI’m probably not sounding much like most of the left-leaning, liberal Australian community right now. Most people are quick to blame the government and want to believe that the people smugglers are the saviours, lifting vulnerable people out of situations of despair.

But the reality is, people smugglers are usually involved in all sorts of criminal activities. They have networks of criminal operations which usually involve a range of industries – from drug trafficking to the black market for weapons and, of course, people. Most of them have diversified their business from the more traditional forms of people smuggling (in the sex industry) to include asylum seekers… Continue reading

Public Service professionalism and personal integrity

15 Jun

professionalism charity financeI did a talk recently (which you can watch here) and, at the end, answered a few questions from the audience.  One of the questioners asked whether, given the challenging environment I was in as an Immigration Officer, I was ever tempted to subvert the system, break the rules and do things in a way that I thought would be better than the way they were already being done.

My answer was basically no. But I did go on to explain, and I thought it might be helpful to share that answer in a bit more detail here… Continue reading

Asylum seeker ‘enhanced screenings’ dangerous: former official

10 Jun

Here’s the full text of an article by Hayden Cooper from the ABC – including some quotes by me:

A former Immigration Department official has condemned Australia’s process of so-called “enhanced screening” of asylum seekers as dangerous and says the department felt pressured by the Prime Minister’s office.

Under enhanced screening, asylum seekers can be rejected based on their answers in an initial interview soon after arriving in Australia.

The method has been used to send more than 1,200 asylum seekers straight home, just days after they arrive on boats.

All were Sri Lankans, and the Australian Tamil Congress says some have ended up in prison once they are returned home.

Former Immigration Department official Greg Lake has told the ABC’s 7.30 program he fears legitimate refugees have been rejected.

Mr Lake was the operations manager at the Nauru detention centre earlier this year, and he also held management positions at the Christmas Island and Scherger detention centres, before quitting in April… Continue reading


Asylum Seeker policy on the run

10 Jun

Here’s a video of a talk I did recently about some of my experiences working for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. The sound quality is a bit bad (as is the light), but if you’ve got 25mins or so, you might enjoy it…


Breaking the people smuggler’s business model…

14 May

Breaking the people smuggler’s business model…

Check out this article about whether or not it is even possible for the Australian Government to break the business model of the people smugglers who prey on vulnerable asylum seekers, offering a better life in Australia.


Manus island a plague on both our houses

16 Apr

Manus island a plague on both our houses

So, the Department of Immigration (in Australia) have given a Parliamentary inquiry a submission that says that the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre is in a bad way. In the submission, they argue that the conditions at the temporary centre mean that a permanent site needs to be found as soon as possible. Without better facilities and conditions, there are serious risks to public health and safety.

Of course, the Australian Government, who fund and run the centre (under the ‘leadership’ of an effectively silent PNG official) aren’t the only ones who should be held accountable. PNG are just as much to blame – after all, it is their internal politics and system that have prevented the permanent site anyway. Sure, the federal level government can’t force the Manus Provincial government to do anything, but if those sorts of risks existed, the centre shouldn’t have been opening in the first place.


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