Asylum Seekers; Political Pawns Once Again.

Once again, we witness the plight of asylum seekers immediately being latched upon by the Liberal party as an opportunity to score some political points.

The truth, they say, is the first casualty of war, and I think the same can be said when it comes to asylum seekers seeking respite in Australia.

From various sources, here is what we know so far.

News.com.au reports that more than 30 asylum-seekers are being treated for serious injuries in Australian hospitals after their boat exploded off the northwest coast.

Three people were killed and dozens were injured, including three Australian Defence Force personnel, when the asylum-seekers’ boat exploded as it was being escorted to the Christmas Island detention centre yesterday morning.

The cause of the blast remains unclear.

Emergency flights took 31 of the worst hurt to the remote Truscott air base – a landing strip roughly halfway between Broome and Darwin – for treatment.

From there, eight people with the most severe injuries were taken to Darwin hospital for emergency treatment. One was taken to Broome for emergency surgery. The other 22 were taken to Perth for treatment for burns and other injuries.

The worst of the injured suffered severe burns similar to those sustained in the first Bali bombing, a Darwin doctor has been reported as saying.

Investigations are under way into the “manner and cause” of yesterday’s explosion. Headed by Assistant Commissioner Mark McAdie from the Northern Territory’s regional crime service, the task force could lay charges if it finds the explosion or fire was deliberate.

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett said yesterday that the explosion was caused by petrol, driving speculation that it was an act of sabotage.

“What I think is clear is, the refugees spread petrol on their boat, the vessel they were on,” Mr Barnett said.

Mr Barnett said the information had been relayed from the Northern Command (NORCOM), which included naval and other Defence Force personnel.

How can Mr Barnett make such a categorical claim that it was sabotage when the cause of the explosion is still unclear?? Is it appropriate for politicians to be commenting and drawing their own ill-founded conclusions in relation to this humanitarian issue when so much remains unclear?

Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the cause would not be confirmed for some time and there should be no speculation.

“Politicians shouldn’t be making claims about the things they don’t know. I think it would be wise if everyone stopped pretending they knew,” he said on ABC radio this morning.

Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said it the blast might have been caused deliberately. “Of course it’s possible. It’s either an accident or it was deliberate. Everybody can see that. The real question is to determine which was the actual situation,” he said on Sky TV this morning.

Senator Evans said all would be processed as normal on Christmas Island once they had been treated and had recovered from their injuries.

The confusion that surrounded the children overboard controversy during the 2001 election was clearly on the minds of Defence and government officials, who yesterday were reluctant to release information that had not been confirmed.

“I’m not prepared to speculate on the cause of the explosion,” head of Border Protection Command Rear Admiral Allan du Toit said in Canberra more than six hours after the blast.
The vessel, believed to have originated in Indonesia, was intercepted on Wednesday afternoon two nautical miles off Ashmore Reef.

The boat was the sixth to arrive this year and its passengers are among 455 suspected asylum-seekers since September.

The Opposition said the Government’s immigration policies had caused a hike in arrivals. Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull said this in turn was putting more lives at risk, as more people resorted to dangerous journeys to get to Australia.

“The more boats that come, the more accidents that will arise, the more lives that will be put at risk,” he said on ABC radio.

Mr Turnbull disagreed with the Government’s claim that asylum-seekers often have no knowledge of a countries’ immigration policies, saying people-smuggling is an “evil business”.

“Our laws, depending on how strictly they are enforced.. .offer greater or lesser incentive for people smuggling to go on,” he said.

This morning on Channel Seven’s Sunrise Show, Joe Hockey put the blame fair and square in the hands of the Federal Labor Party for “relaxing” the previous Governments stricter border patrol policies and initiatives.

While few people would argue that people smuggling is an abhorrent business, it is presumptuous for the Liberal party to presume that these asylum seekers are part of a people smuggling exercise and for Joe Hockey to immediately seize upon this development as a political football.

As Chris Evans says, it is inappropriate for politicians to be commenting on this matter until investigations have been completed.

Let’s not forget that these people may well be fleeing hardship and persecution and Australia has international obligations, not to mention moral and ethical obligations to treat these people with compassion.

UPDATE:

Oh dear, it looks the the rabid Liberals have worked themselves into a frenzy over this:

This from The Australian:Within minutes of news of yesterday’s tragic explosion aboard an alleged people-smuggling vessel off Ashmore Reef, Opposition immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone began the recriminations, squarely placing the blame for the deaths on Labor.

“You can’t slash funds, you can’t take your eye off the ball, you can’t announce a softer policy and then expect people not to lose their lives through people-smuggling,” she told Sky News. “Which, of course, is all about cash, nothing to do with getting an individual, a young person, a family safely to Australia.”

Dr Stone’s strongly worded attack drew a sharp rebuke from the Government and caused her leader, Malcolm Turnbull, to tone down the Opposition rhetoric by insisting that the Opposition did not want to make political points over the tragedy.

I think it’s too late Malcolm, your Ministers have already blabbered all over the media “incandescent with rage!”

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101 Responses

  1. Just to add a little, from the Oz at: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25345061-5013871,00.html

    “There is no report to indicate anything untoward because clearly if there was we would have removed it,” Admiral du Toit said.

    That is the boat was thoroughly inspected on Wednesday and this would include removal of all hazardous materials.

  2. Faux Brunette Kevin Andrews is also joining the throng of Liberal party politicians who are blaming Labor for the incident:

    Mr Andrews, referring to Labor’s decision to dismantle the so-called Pacific Solution of offshore processing centres, said:

    “The people-smugglers got a clear message to resume their lucrative operations.

    “The tragic events this week are an indirect result of the Government’s flawed policy.”

    A “clear message?” Really….??

  3. Nice to see some common sense perspective from the Greens. The balanced “wait and see” approach serves to highlight how rabid the Liberals are in seizing upon the issue and trying to milk it for as much political mileage as possible without realising that it only serves to illustrate how much pent up hatred they have frothing around inside themselves…

    Bob Brown, said the Opposition had shown poor judgment by attacking the Government without full knowledge of the circumstances.

    “I think that the Opposition has been very remiss in its rush and very injudicious … in its rush to judgment on this issue,” Senator Brown said.

    “I think the Opposition are showing a great deal of poor political and humanitarian judgment in some of the statements they have made today.”

    Insisting that the accident be framed as a humanitarian disaster, Senator Brown said the facts would emerge in due course.

  4. Perhaps we should go back to the good old days of locking women and children up indefinitely in desert concentration camps. That should act as a deterant to who? To refugees or to people smugglers?

    The people smugglers receive their $s up front and do not much care where the people end up.

  5. And from that link, the guy who ISN’T playing politics

    Mr Turnbull moved to distance himself from Dr Stone’s remarks, saying now was not the time to be playing politics. However, he did say the Government’s changes had telegraphed to the region the message that Australia was once more a soft target.

  6. Firstly, what a horrible disaster. Leaving aside for now what caused the explosion, the Libs are absolutely entitled to be critical of the Government for this. For years the ALP and their supporters traded on the inherent “nastiness” and “racism” of the Coalition Government. For years, the Coalition stated that one of the consequences of their border protection policy was that less lives were lost. This is statistically true, although whether it’s a consequence is hard to determine. The ALP Government relaxed the border protection laws and now more asylum seekers are arriving by boat and lives are being lost as a consequence of that means of transport. Now whether that’s a consequence of Government policy or not is debateable, and the Coalition are entitled to that debate. It started before the lives were lost, and the loss of those lives makes the debate more relevant, not less.

    As Alexander Downer said, Government is more than just about platitudes and spin. Policies and legislation have consequences. Sometimes difficult decisions have to be made. Sometimes seemingly popular decisions have horrible consequences. That’s Government, get used to it.

    The thing with the “children overboard” affair was that, although the kids were apparently never tossed overboard as the initial reports said, the boat was sabotaged. The difference is negligible, yet the Coalition got slaughtered over that. Rudd and the ALP painted a very nice picture of themselves prior to getting elected. Now they have to deal with the scrutiny. I have no sympathy for them.

  7. “How can Mr Barnett make such a categorical claim that it was sabotage when the cause of the explosion is still unclear??”

    Stay tuned…………………next week Barnett will reveal all he knows about the loss of HMAS Sydney in 1941.

    What an idiot !

    The more probable cause of any explosion is a build up of petrol fumes in the bilge area of the boat. Just add one spark/cigarette being lit and booooooooom.

    That’s why I prefer diesel engines on boats.

  8. And from Turnbull who isn’t playing politics..from the Oz link:

    “There is no doubt the impression has been created that we are more accommodating or taking a less hard line towards people-smuggling than we had in the past,” Mr Turnbull said.

  9. James..re less lives lost. This is difficult to ascertain isn’t it. It would be impossible to estimate how many people have died in Iraq and Afghanistan because they were ‘deterred’ from coming to Australia.

  10. Absolutely Walrus. As per the link to the Oz, the SIEV was cleared of all dangerous materials on Wednesday.

    And yet I think..if these people did decide to blow themselves up, how desperate were they? How dreadful must have been their circumstances to make them take this step.

  11. James:

    “Now whether that’s a consequence of Government policy or not is debateable, and the Coalition are entitled to that debate”

    I agree that they are entitled to start the debate, however they have prematurely laid the blame fair and square at the foot of the Labor Govt. That’s not a debate or dialogue, it’s an illfounded accusation.

    “The thing with the “children overboard” affair was that, although the kids were apparently never tossed overboard as the initial reports said, the boat was sabotaged. The difference is negligible”

    Negligible? I don’t think so. Howard and Reith misled the public over the children overboard affair as it suited their political agenda. When the truth emerged that there was no evidence that children had been thrown overboard, Howard maintained in interviews that they had, despite knowing that they hadn’t.

    I think the Prime Minister knowingly lying to the Australian people over something so serious in the lead up to an election is hardly “negligible”.

  12. James of North Melbourne

    The difference is negligible, yet the Coalition got slaughtered over that.

    Your kidding aren’t you James, negligible???

    And, the libs won an election from that, hardly crucifixion.

  13. Joe Hockey:

    “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.”

    (ok, so he hasn’t said it yet, but it’s only a matter of time)…

  14. Reb, sink the boat vs throw the kids over, either way, the kids end up in the water. The difference is negligible. As to Howard “knowingly lying” at best, it was found that his office MIGHT have known about it on the eve of the election.

    Tom, there isn’t one serious commentator who puts that election result down to the children overboard affair, and regardless, the kids were going to wind up in the water whether it be thrown over or as a result of the boat being deliberately sunk.

  15. BBC:

    Still, government officials have conceded in private that the end of the Pacific Solution, which was brought in after the Tampa affair in the run-up to the 2001 election, is being used as a marketing tool by Indonesian people-smugglers.

    No wonder the Australian government is so keen for Indonesia to push through new laws enabling the criminal prosecution of people smugglers. Jakarta has signalled its willingness to do so, but the legislation has yet to be enacted.

  16. Min,

    I have a bridge I would like to sell you……..

  17. ffs Tony, this gut is using bolt as evidence

    ROFL

  18. Interesting SkyNews Poll..should Australia’s border protection be strengthened? 84% of people on this poll say Yes, it should be strengthened.

    Well, a good way might be to double the p’poor wages of service personnel. And maybe have a Navy base in Western Australia..just for starters.

  19. “The difference is negligible. As to Howard “knowingly lying” at best, it was found that his office MIGHT have known about it on the eve of the election.”

    James,

    The head of defence at the time categorically said that “there was NO EVIDENCE” to suggest that children had been thrown overboard.

    Reith and Howard made the entire thing up themselves..

    Negligible my butt..

  20. Sparta re

    Min,

    I have a bridge I would like to sell you……..

    Son is a 7 year man, 2 tours of The Gulf 2 tours of East Timor. Currently on the patrol boats.

    You see Sparta, I am a Military Mom.

  21. ABC ‘AM’ 17 April:

    MALCOLM TURNBULL: Tony, we have been saying for some time, expressing our concern at the rising level of unauthorised boat arrivals which have followed the abolition of the temporary protections visa.

    TONY EASTLEY: Of course, but there is a difference between that and saying the Government has caused the dangerous situation on yesterday’s boat, isn’t it?

    MALCOLM TURNBULL: Tony, nobody is saying that the Government caused the explosion on the boat and you are being completely disingenuous, if I may say so, in suggesting that Sharman Stone said that.

    You know, as well as I do, that inevitably there will be accidents and incidents which put lives at risk when you have got people crossing vast expanses of ocean in little boats and the more boats that come, the more accidents that will arise, the more lives that will be put at risk.

    So we all have a vested interest in discouraging people smuggling. The fact is that the Government which said that Australia’s laws which had been designed to discourage people smuggling, in fact had no effect on it. That is what they said.

    They changed those laws and then people smuggling went up.

    TONY EASTLEY: Alright …

  22. Reb, they didn’t make it up and that you well know. And you also well know that when I use the adjective negligible, I am referring to the difference between what was reported happened, the kids being thrown overboard, and what actually happened, the boat being sabotaged so it would sink. Either way, the kids wind up swimming.

  23. James,

    I disagree. It is not neglible.

    No one is arguing that kids were in the water.

    The issue is that Peter Reith and John Howard claimed that the kids were thrown into the water by their parents (or others) on the boat thereby demonising those people.

    Howard and Reith milked it for everything it was worth claiming “what kind of people would throw their own kids in the water” and “we don’t want people like that coming to Australia.”

    The Head of Defence said there was no evidence to suggest that the kids had been thrown in the water as Reith and Howard had claimed.

    Even after Howard and Reith had been informed that there was no evidence, they both continued with the story that kids had been thrown in the water – knowing that it was not true.
    If you think this sort of conduct is acceptable then fine, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    But knowingly lying and deceiving the Australian public for political gain – particularly on the eve of an election – is despicable in my view.

  24. Some of you here will never get it…Asylum seeking is a business. It is heavily dependent on the good natured and helplessly naive. There are plenty of countries in which these people could lodge such claims if it was really an act of desperation yet some hold up in hotels waiting for the right political tide to wash up in Australia. There are endless examples to highlight the now popular tactic of country shopping……

    http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/423466/118508

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article391144.ece

  25. Legion,

    I wonder who will pay for this care…..Any models out there that look at the complexities in blah, blah blah…LOL…..

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25346304-601,00.html

  26. Can I add a little for Reb and James. The people were ordered into the water as per normal evacuation procedures, hence the reason that in the pic re Children Overboard why most were wearing life vests.

  27. I thought the AUD$2.5 billion plonked into the Indonesian Government’s bank account was going to buy co-operation and halt this nasty trade. That’s what some here were saying a few weeks ago. How are the boats sneaking through if we’ve got the Indonesians on side?

  28. Reb, what’s worse? 1. Throwing your kids overboard or 2. Sabotaging the boat causing it to sink, with the result being that the kids are swimming? You, like so many, completely avoid the point that the boat HAD been sabotaged. The end result is the same.

    Min, the photos were from another incident entirely.

  29. James can you point me to the info you have on the deliberate sinking of the boat? Wiki (I know not necessarily gospel but usually reasonably reliable) tells me it was most likely strain of towing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_overboard_affair.

    As for the current events, I’m unsurprised but disappointed in the opposition for taking the stance they’ve taken. Does anyone know what happens to the owners/operators of these boats once our navy intercepts them? Do they just get to go home and get drum up another boatload of people so desperate they have no other option?

  30. James..sorry not so, son is a 7 year man RAN.

  31. What’s worse?

    3. The Government deliberately lying and deceiving the public for political gain with “facts” that they already knew to be false.

  32. Nvm, found the senate report, nothing about towing, bad wiki.

  33. What makes me sick is that all areas of the media deem that it is a hangable offence to let asylum seekers come to our shore, and all questions are framed around that premise. We, the former coalition of the willing find it quite easy to invade countries, displace people, make their lives unbearable and then expect no fallout. We have a moral obligation to accept those we have helped displace. The other thing the media forget is that if we used the Howard approach (and their current postion when their ancestore were coming to this country, they wouldn’t be here reporting on these things. Wake up you galoots.

  34. Bloody hell, Deb, I just spent the last half hour digging out the report.

    http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/maritime_incident_ctte/report/index.htm

    Reb, if you can find anywhere in the report that Howard knew the full details prior to the election, please point out where. The failure was that there was a failure to correct the record once it was known to be false. That failure lay with a number of people, probably Peter Reith, certainly not John Howard.

    Min, if those photos WERE of the incident, then this whole nation owes John Howard and the rest a massive apology. They were not photos of the “children overboard” affair, but of an earlier incident. That was kind of the point.

  35. James..you of course are right. The pics of people in the water were of an earlier incident. Hence the reason why the Howard government’s insistence re ‘children overboard’ is all the worse. Not only did the Howard government misrepresent the facts but they used photographs that did not relate to the incident.

  36. A timely reminder of the Pattern of Conduct of illegal arrivals at the time of the SIEV X incident (from Appendix 1 of the Government Members Report).

    1.1 Twelve Suspected Illegal Entry Vessels (SIEVs) were intercepted by the RAN under the auspices of Operation Relex.[1521] SIEV 1 arrived on 7 September 2001 and the last illegal entry vessel, SIEV 12, arrived on 16 December 2001.

    1.2 SIEVs 5, 7, 11 and 12 were escorted back to Indonesia. SIEVs 4, 6 and 10 sank at some point during the interception or tow-back process. Their passengers were rescued, with the loss of two lives on SIEV 10, and transported in the first instance to Christmas Island.

    1.3 Evidence to the Committee demonstrated a clear pattern of objectionable behaviour practised by those abroad the Suspected Illegal Entry Vessels. This conduct was calculated to achieve their objective of reaching Australian territory and also exert ‘moral blackmail’[1522] upon the defence force personnel attempting to thwart this objective.

    1.4 This pattern of behaviour included acts and threats of self-harm and aggression, including threats to children, sabotage of vessels and of equipment, jumping overboard and the attempted creation of safety of life at sea situations.

    If the current incident does turn out to be self-sabotage (and of course, nobody knows for sure, yet) then the pattern of conduct looks to have taken up right where it left off.

  37. “Reb, if you can find anywhere in the report that Howard knew the full details prior to the election, please point out where”

    James, this is the essence of the matter.

    Howard maintained that the kids had been thrown in the water.

    Show me the evidence on what he based this “fact”

    A picture of kids in the water does not equal kids were “thrown” in the water…

    The fact is Howard and Reith fabricated the entire idea that the kids were thrown in the water, based on no evidence (which is why there isn’t any) and then continued with the myth after they were told it was totally false.

    I’m getting tired of trying to explain this. I need a lie down.

  38. Min, they were supplied the photographs. If there is a case against the former government, it’s in their failure to correct the record. And it’s not quite as simple as a deliberate misrepresentation as so many like to conclude. Read the report. Or at least read Tony’s post above.

  39. Sorry James, thanks for trying though!

  40. Reb, they did not fabricate it. Read this.

    http://www.aph.gov.au/SENATE/committee/maritime_incident_ctte/report/c03.htm

    They passed on what they were told. As I have said, if there is a criticism of them, it is in their failure to correct the record on the eve of the election. And that does not apply to John Howard who didn’t know that the report was false.

  41. “John Howard who didn’t know that the report was false.”

    Yeah, the old plausible deniability “I didn’t know cause no one told me” excuse…

    Howard must go downin history as one of the most ill-informed prime ministers this country has ever seen.

    A failure to correct their version of the facts after they new it to be false is what? An oversight..?

  42. Ok..let’s do it. Anyone care to provide a photo of children in the water? This is aside from the female sailor (oft used photo). This pic was taken after ordering all hands over the side as per regular evacuation procedures.

    The Navy tried to correct the record because some politicans went overboard.

  43. Well it certainly isn’t a “fabrication” which is the falsehood that you continue to perpetuate. And here’s the thing, Reb. Not 15 mins ago you stated as “fact” that Reith and Howard had “fabricated” the whole thing. You said that they had “made it up”. You know this to be false, yet you still say it. Not only that, but you do it whilst accusing Howard and Reith of dishonesty. Can you not see the irony? And the facts of what happened show that what Howard and Reith perpetuated in their ignorance was a whole lot closer to the truth than what you just posted about their “dishonesty” just 15 minutes ago.

  44. James,

    There was no evidence that children had been thrown in the water.

    The story was fabricated. Howard and Reith continued to tell the media – after they had been told that their version of events was wrong – because it suited their political agenda.

    Sure, we can argue about their motivation, you may say that Howard wasn’t informed, or failed to correct his story after he was told.

    I think we’ve pretty much run this to its conclusion..

    You’ll maintain that Howard was blithely ignorant and/or not informed.

    I’ll maintain that he was deliberately perpretrating a lie that was concocted without any evidence at all to support as it supported his agenda at the time..

    Anyway, nuff said…I think.

  45. Bloody James, Typical lawyer talk. 😉

    Howard was busted on this no matter how its dressed up. Labor failed to make it stick in the way they wanted. Howard played dumb (an easy exercise) and gave him the benefit of doubt for people to bypass that he may have been involved.
    Navy personel claimed Howard was told directly that child claims were false, but that bit was forgotten and also forget that he was in charge of the ship that was there.

    Min your right that boats have to be evacuated before they sink as often even a life vest wont keep you afloat if your next to a sinking boat/ship.
    Better to pluck people off the surface then from below it.

  46. Aqua..you have made my day (and probably my weekend).

    So many people pursed lips pretend to know all about it. But one has to be an Aqua or a RAN to know the practicalities of the situation.

  47. Min you only stated what has to happen on a doomed vessel. If you stay on board you go down with the ship/boat even if your a good swimmer.
    If its an open boat it safe, like a life boat or dingy just hang on to the bastard till a nice man in latex comes to the rescue.

  48. Aqua..the vessel was deemed seaworthy on Wednesday and all hazardous materials were removed.

  49. Oh “a nice man in latex comes to the rescue…”

    Sadly, theres’ never one around when you need one…

  50. From Tony’s link I note that the sabotage was of the steering system, not actually sinking the boat. Also, the bilge pumps failed to work, but I see no evidence sabotage of the pumps.

    So James, is the difference still negligible?

  51. Also, interesting post on Crikey which I haven’t had time to digest.

    Asylum seekers, the facts in figures

  52. Bilge pumps often fail as they are not use often and get clogged up or seals fail and air is sucked instead of water i see this so often. i would think of no repairs/maintenance before sabotage on that ground, there are much more easy ways to sink a boat or do more damage.

  53. Aqua. It does indeed seem a strange situation if one wants to believe the Libs.

    That refugees came half way around the world just to set fire to their ship.

    I don’t know..maybe they were desperate and thought that if they burnt down the boat that they would be taken to the mainland. But didn’t they know that things had changed and that they didn’t need to go to such extreme measures.

  54. Actually the senate report is a bit more definite about mechanical sabotage (http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/Committee/maritime_incident_ctte/report/c03.htm) 3.24 onwards. I don’t know much about boats but i reckon damaging the starter motor would make it hard to start the engine.

    Found the report quite interesting actually, would hope to see something similar come from this current incident. Its interesting to note in Chapter 11, they’ve drawn a conclusion that the Pacific Solution appeared to have reduced the number of people smugglers but there was also a line about the situation easing in Afghanistan. I know the libs have decided the recent (slight) increases in people again is all because of the current Govt relaxed policy but perhaps the fact that the situation in Afghanistan is getting out of hand again may be contributing?

  55. if they think the government is soft and they want onto the navy boat all they have to do is jump overboard. don’t have to touch the boat, so maybe they arnt studying Australian politics and keeping up to date like everyone thinks and was just going to happen no matter what the policy of the current government was. a crippled boat is only in danger in rough seas when you cant steer.
    the boat was old and wasn’t fitted with gold chandeliers or a grand stairwell.

  56. Exactly deb, which brings us back to this absurd comment

    The thing with the “children overboard” affair was that, although the kids were apparently never tossed overboard as the initial reports said, the boat was sabotaged. The difference is negligible

    and I love the ‘the initial reports’ bit

    forgot to mention ‘where all immediately following reports were conveniently ignored.’

    lol

  57. And so what does an AAP news release prove? The other items via this site includes: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has criticised President Barack Obama for supporting abortion rights.

    Credibility is zilch.

  58. Min, are you saying that AAP is putting out lies???

    I find it incredible that you believe there is a media conspiracy to print untruths and using that to support your denial…don’t give me shit about credibility.

  59. I reckon AAP must be making this one up:

    Commonwealth Bank of Australia Ltd chief executive Ralph Norris will take a 10 per cent cut to his base salary of $3.12 million from July 1, the bank says.

    😉

  60. With apologies..on another thread. Have you thought about alpacas? They do well in drought conditions. When we were at Billinudgel a flock increased from 4 pairs to a squilion plus they are also excellent guard-sheep.

  61. “Credibility is zilch.”
    Here’s a story with NO credibility.

    Woman attacked by a kangaroo? Lies!

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,25347270-2702,00.htm

    AAP never tell the truth about kangaroos. They are in the pocket of the gun and pet food lobbies.

    They can never be trusted.

  62. Skippy Kills People?

    Say it can’t be so…

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO……!!!!!!

  63. If one goes back to some of the myths and legends of the First Australians, one finds that Skippy would not only kill people, Skippy would hunt them down and eat them as Skippy’s preferred diet. One suspects that those kinds of Skippies met with their fates some way back, the suggested solution to marauding packs of carnivorous Skippies being to ring them with fire and thence eat them in turn.

  64. Tom, I’ve picked the Kangaroos to beat Essendon.

  65. Never, never, never, never never eat a kangaroo unless it is killed by an Aborigine.

    Here’s why.

    Many kangaroos have worms, and if they do, there will always be one at a certain spot in their tail. When an Aborigine kills the roo, he will make a small cut into the tail to see if there is a worm. If there is, the roo is discarded.

    Roos killed for commercial food may be riddled with worms. While you won’t eat any of the worms, who wants to eat a roo that was worm invested?

    Puke.

  66. scaper

    Just caught the end of something on the news tonight where they mentioned that many of those found in Indonesia actually left Afghanastan while Howard was still pm, with the intention then of making it to Australia.

  67. Tom R,

    You almost get the impression they were waiting (in desperation of course) for a political climate that might be more favorable to them…….Yes, real desperation indeed……

  68. Sparta of Phoenix, AZ USA, on April 18th, 2009 at 2:33 am Said

    Hmm, and the whole world slowed down the rate of boat people at the same time us our ‘Pacific Solution’. Quite a remarkable achievement.

    But amid claims that the latest boat arrivals were encouraged by the Rudd Government’s changed policy, a leader of the group says many began their attempted journey from Afghanistan to Australia while John Howard was still in power.

    Lateline

    It certainly appears that there is another ‘Mr. X’ taking up residence in canberra, and he is spreading rapidly throughout the community (actually, I think a large portion of our population is xenophobic already, without it being stirred up by the usual suspects)

  69. An excellent editorial piece via The Age: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/editorial/trickle-of-asylum-seekers-stirs-old-flood-fears-20090417-aa6s.html

    In responding to a global challenge, Australia must avoid a return to the dark days of hysteria.

  70. (actually, I think a large portion of our population is xenophobic already, without it being stirred up by the usual suspects)

    Yes, a bit of manufactured hysteria and fear and loathing for ‘those who are not invited here’ couldn’t go astray at a time of the coalition being a useless rabble.

  71. SkyNews has jumped onto this one, link via: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25350299-5000540,00.html

    It is now emerging that the Rudd Government had been warned its softer border protection laws would encourage new waves of people smuggling.

  72. Intersting from your link Min that the opposition did not try and block this (this was obviously before they realized they were the opposition and were supposed to oppose)

    If they did not block it, they should not have a problem with it.

    Unless they were raising this now for purely base political points? Nah.

    It must be remebered ‘WE WILL DECIDE WHO COMES HERE!” is actually all about looking after them (sarcasm)

  73. And another good piece from surprisingly the SMH. http://www.smh.com.au/national/trauma-by-the-boatload-20090417-aa7c.html By David Marr.

    Howard counterattacked. “A desperate slur,” he cried. “A desperate slur.” After expressing heartfelt sympathy for those who died and lost family in the wreck, Howard raged against Beazley. “It was a desperately despicable thing for the leader of the opposition to try and score a political point against me in relation to the sinking of a vessel.”

    And..

    As if galvanised out of a coma, old warriors of the Howard years are banging on once more about border protection. Blogs have gone wild. The nastier tabloid columnists are braying that no one died under Howard but Rudd has blood on his hands.

  74. And again from the SMH addressing the oft’ repeated accusation re ‘the queue’.

    Why don’t Afghans fly to Australia? They can’t: they can’t get valid documents or pay the huge sums it costs to be smuggled by air. Most fleeing Afghanistan and Pakistan head for Europe overland. Only a few turn south to Indonesia where a queue of sorts starts. The UNHCR in Indonesia has 600 active cases on its books. Last year it managed to persuade other countries to accept 82 refugees for resettlement..

  75. Here’s a link somne might get a giggle out-of. I know I did.

    Its the Possum’s take on the wingnut hysteria about the upsurge in refugee numbers.

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2009/04/17/why-andrew-bolt-should-be-sodomised-with-a-calculator-%e2%80%93-part-142/#more-4475

  76. Evan

    I feel sick as a dog (man flu – much more serious than any other type), but that column has cheered me up no end.

    One one commentor said: mathematicians 1, columists 0.

  77. Just a couple of snippets via the Courier Mail..

    Re…the patients have burns to more than 60 per cent of their body. Three of the six are on life support and in an induced coma.

    Royal Darwin Hospital general manager Dr Len Notaras said the hospital can only effectively treat burn casualties with up to 40 per cent burn coverage.

    Some of the replies include:

    Send them back our Hospital are full and many TAXPAYERS are still waiting would the same treatmnet happen for us in there country or are we asking there government for medical payment they might have private medical cover or travel insurance??????f

    Posted by: Zak of Brisbane 3:37pm today
    Comment 11 of 11

    I’ve paid tax for over 40 years, and have been on the waiting list at the hospital now for over 2 years. These criminals who break all the rules and then chuck a huge tanty jump the cue, and we foot the bill for the rescue, treatment, etc. NOT FAIR! SEND THEM HOME!!!

    Posted by: James of Brisbane 3:29pm today
    Comment 10 of 11

    “Victims of this tragedy” – self inflicted tragedy if you ask me. They should not be trying to get into Australia illegally! Now they are costing the long suffering taxpayers of this country a fortune in medical bills. This would be OK if there were not many Australians who are unable to afford medical procedures and who have been denied treatment in making way for these people. The Labor Government is at fault for effectively giving the green light to people smugglers. The hypocrisy of the PM on this issue knows no bounds.

    Posted by: Kevin of New Farm 3:25pm today
    Comment 9 of 11

  78. Very poor form by Turnbull in my opinion, the PM”s emotive outburst concerning the smugglers wasn’t much chop either.

    It is a tad naive, like if all the drug dealers were locked up the drug problem would be solved.

    If any side of the sandpit are serious about tackling this issue they have to look at the need for this activity, accepting that they will come and work through a process that would deny the “vile smugglers” a market.

    I put up the link to see if anyone tweaked but no takers.

    There are 68 people that have most probably been locked up now in an Indonesian institution that were bound for this country.

    I believe this is through pressure from the Australian government.

    I wonder what conditions they and their children are suffering?

    Things like health, food and other basics in Indonesia.

    How will their future be determined and when?

    Oh well, they are not our problem…RIGHT???

    I feel bad enough reading the crazy stuff out there and the pressure exerted by the government ain’t helping!

  79. Yes, Min, some people just ooze the milk of human kindness from their very pores.

    As for Zak, James and Kevin of Birzzie, we share the same genome, but evidently little else.

    I hope that when their chips are down, some bigoted bastard with the same concern for the welfare of others they so amply demonstrate kicks them in the nuts.

  80. Agree scaper..likewise was not impressed by the PM’s over the top response.

    And especially appreciated from yourself:

    If any side of the sandpit are serious about tackling this issue they have to look at the need for this activity, accepting that they will come and work through a process that would deny the “vile smugglers” a market.

    Probably my last chance to have a say, but a person very close to my heart who was on the previous patrol boat said that they are very nice people. And he is a semi-right-winger. And this compares with the smugglers, not nice…so he said.

    Maybe I’m off target but prior to the last election there was much said about Queue jumpers. And so is this a possibility? Setting up a queue in conjunction with the Indonesian authorities (this should make them sit up and take notice) and so process refugees via Indonesia. Seems to be a logical thing to do as after all they, the refugees (Afghan and Iraqis et al) are already in Indonesia and this would save people taking to the high seas in leaky boats. Just a thought…

    This would also cut the worst of the smugglers off from the most $’s earning section of the market.

  81. I was thinking along those lines myself, Min.

    A shame our leaders are too busy posturing like rubber roosters instead at looking for a humane solution.

  82. I am honestly not sure where to go with this. We have responsibility re Iraq and Afghanistan and the Tamils who are our latest refugees to arrive via boat.

    We don’t want them having to take to the high seas in leaky boats..and so what is the solution?

    Anyway..with apologies much choof due to dinner duties. It’s chicken, bacon, mushrooms in a thyme, white wine cream sauce for din-dins tonights.

  83. I am with you on this Min, I don’t know where to go with this, but I also need to ask, why do we always turn this back on Indonesia? I mean, it appears to me the question of which come first, the chicken or the egg. As with all social problems, it is the source, not the avenue, that needs to be adressesed.
    And in the case of Afghan refugees, it sickens me that we were so prepared to go bomb the crap out of their country, and then turn so paranoid when they want to get the f#### out of there.

  84. No Min. Australia has no responsibility of forever assisting the US in futile wars, nor should Aus be responsible for accepting people escaping those areas of conflict being Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Iraq is the sole responsibility of the US and the UN who allowed that conflict to begin on nothing more than false evidence of WMDs; evidence put forward by the most cowardly and dishonest US administration in history. The US is responsible for all Iraqi refugees, and inmates at Guantanamo. The US must live with the consequences of their actions.
    Afghanistan is more of an occupation than a war. Bout time the US sent its regular frontline troops to kill the entire Taliban brigade if they are at all serious. Ironically, OBL is still at large, if alive.
    Furthermore, seems the poppy crop in Afghanistan is flourishing, better than ever. The ABC reported addiction to heroin and cocaine in Kabul is at an all time high.
    Somehow, as previously, the US and CIA do not seem to be overly concerned with that fact. One wonders ‘why not’.
    Who exactly is profiting from the harvesting of that crop?
    .

  85. Oh dear, it looks the the rabid AFP worked themselves into a frenzy before this:

    http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,25348874-5001021,00.html

  86. Oftenbark, I disagree and agree. To me it’s too late to say we should never have gone to Iraq in the first place..because we did. And having made this huge error I believe that we have a responsibility to help clean up the mess.

    Interesting you mention about opium and Afghanistan. I am certain that I read somewhere that the Taliban being Muslim fundamentalists had tried to wipe out the practice. However the popular press has a tendency to put it the other way around, that the Taliban = opium.

    And I’ve found a link… http://www.opioids.com/afghanistan/index.html

    U.N. drug control officers said the Taliban religious militia has nearly wiped out opium production in Afghanistan — once the world’s largest producer — since banning poppy cultivation last summer.

    Referring to above, my belief is that this a drugs war with some countries US and Europe trying to defeat the Taliban not for noble reasons such as women being educated but because of the $$$$s involved in the opium trade.

  87. Min,

    On the subject of the opium trade, I found this article interesting…..

    http://www.slate.com/id/2201622/

  88. Sparta from your link. And thank you for sending this along.

    The best way to deprive the Taliban of drug profits? The United States should buy Afghanistan’s poppy crop instead of trying to eradicate it.

    Just me, but I think that there would be better ways to go about it. For example from my link $1,100 for an opium crop but only $300 for onions and cattle feed.

    Surely it could include..provide mega assistance for Afghani farmers to grow food rather than growing opium.

  89. Just passing through to lift my comment, rejig it and post it at Jack’s.

    On the opium issue…this annual requires a high alkaline/acidic soil to produce the raw product.

    Suitability to cultivate food crops in these soil conditions to achieve an optimum yield is limited but can be achieved by applications of lime/gypsum to lower the PH to a level where there is an acceptable nutrient transfer.

  90. So Scaper, Monsanto to the rescue. GM opium?

  91. Min . . . and I completely comprehend your compassionate angle on the refugee situation. However, actions do carry responsibilities and consequences.
    The criminal administration of Bush/Cheney, with their little hanger on brigade of sycophant crims, namely, Perle, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz et al, failed to establish an exit strategy from both Iraq and Afghanistan, yet courted the entire western world to join them (US) in their folly.
    The US loves to refer to Iraq and Afghanistan as war zones. Occupation forces would be more apt.
    My question is simply: When do these occupations end, thereby relieving all involved of the inescapable consequences.
    Footnote: The Roman Empire lasted well over 300 years. US troops still occupy German soil. Korea is not exactly done with, yet. Just saying.

  92. Oftenbark. I think that we are agreeing with each other.

    And especially your comment

    My question is simply: When do these occupations end, thereby relieving all involved of the inescapable consequences.

    Once having b**gered things up, do we have a responsibility to help clean up the mess? My opinion is that we do.

    A good question especially re Afghanistan is what is the resolve re fixing up the mess especially given the mega $$s being syphoned out of the country via the opium trade.

    Eons ago a teacher of mine suggested that all wars were based greed..greed for land, greed for resources.

  93. And so scaper..it seems that the locals have a choice. Either grow opium poppies or grow onions.

  94. Oftenbark, on April 18th, 2009 at 8:04 pm Said:

    “No Min. Australia has no responsibility of forever assisting the US in futile wars, nor should Aus be responsible for accepting people escaping those areas of conflict being Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Iraq is the sole responsibility of the US and the UN who allowed that conflict to begin on nothing more than false evidence of WMDs; evidence put forward by the most cowardly and dishonest US administration in history.”

    I can’t agree with you at all Oftenbark. For starters, the UN did not sanction the invasion of Iraq.

    Remember the Coalition of the Wiling? The US and their two fawning lapdogs the UK and Australia, also under governments which made dishonesty their default position, jackbooted their way into Iraq without UN approval, changing excuses every time they were caught in yet another lie.

    They vilified the UN at every turn until things got too hot for them.

    So Australia DOES have a responsibility to refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan; we were marching in lockstep with Bush and Blair.

    “The criminal administration of Bush/Cheney, with their little hanger on brigade of sycophant crims, namely, Perle, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz et al, failed to establish an exit strategy from both Iraq and Afghanistan, yet courted the entire western world to join them (US) in their folly.”

    Don’t forget the Rodent and his sycophants, so far up Dubya’s backside all you could see was the soles of their feet and their dog whistling of desperate victims first of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime and then victims of the war the COW imposed on them.

  95. Er… Coalition of the Willing.

  96. I say just forfeit your sovereignty officially there Australia….Build the bridge already…..You need a few billion, no problem…Just say goodbye to all the splendors that once made your continent unique…Yes, it will take a few generations but hell, it will be your grand kids problems so who cares, right?

    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25363555-421,00.html

  97. jane, on April 21st, 2009 at 1:10 am Said:
    Oftenbark, on April 18th, 2009 at 8:04 pm Said:

    “No Min. Australia has no responsibility of forever assisting the US in futile wars…

    Jane, my opinion is that an Australian government having previously made the decision go on Boy’s Own Adventure courtesy of George Bush jr is that we have a responsibility help clean up the mess!!!

    By cleaning up the mess, I meant restoring basic services such as water and electricity and helping Iraq to become an independent nation free from international interference.

    The Poms got it right..they immediately went to the heads of villages..got in the engineers to restore services.

  98. Min, I was responding to Oftenbark’s crit of your comment. I agree with you.

    I was taken aback that Oftenbark thought the UN had approved the invasion of Iraq, when it was a huge bone of contention when the Coalition of the Dills was chest thumping before the invasion.

    What really gets up my nose is the number of Huggers who insist it was to bring democracy to the Iraqis, when that was the final excuse they scraped the bottom of the barrel to find.

    We should be helping to restore their shattered infrastructure and we should also be shouldering our share of the refugee problem we’ve helped to create, just so those three idiots could big-note themselves!!

  99. Can I suggest, Jane, that the delivery of democracy was a whole lot closer to the reason for the invasion than just three chaps big noting themselves?

    Can I also ask where in history is the precedent for this exit strategy that all of the armchair experts have decided is is a precondition to conflict? I’ve never heard of one before.

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