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Queue jumpers given all clear

The decision by an unelected group of High Court judges to reject the hapless Gillard Government’s policy to limit illegal entry to Australia probably accords with the law but is a disgrace. These so-called asylum seekers are economic migrants who choose Australia rather than neighboring countries to reside in for economic reasons. They queue jump over those seeking legal resettlement, burn our buildings, abuse the overly benign Australian legal system and generally do not present themselves as attractive resettler options. The moral blackmail has worn thin.

Australia should abandon UN agreements – the Refugee Convention – compelling it to consider accepting those migrant applicants it wishes to reject. Australians via their elected representatives should determine who become eligible for Australian citizenship. This is not a UN issue and should not be a concern of High Court judges either.

Those lawyers representing the so-called asylum seekers seemed in a triumphalist mood last night. They have delivered a disservice to all Australians and sent out a signal that will encourage more illegal entry.

Update: Ken Parish at Troppo sets out some of the legal issues. Prime Minister Gillard expresses her anger with the decision and points out it’s dangerous implications.

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19 comments to Queue jumpers given all clear

  • I’m surprised at how you both criticised the judges as unelected, and note that their judgement ‘probably accords with the law’.

    The law is created by our elected representatives. The law can be changed, but it has to get past the will of the Parliament, not just the Government of the day.

    That’s parliamentary democracy for you. How else would you have it?

  • wjr

    Are all asylum seekers economic migrants? Do they all burn our buildings? and abuse our overly benign legal system? Possibly some of them are refugees from countries which have been torn apart by Western intervention, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Do they not deserve at least to have their case heard?

    As for unelected high court judges, would you really prefer to have elected judges? This happens in some states of the USA, with terrible results. Judges are beholden to those who supported them financially or otherwise. We have grown used to the shabby spectacle of politicians being in the pockets of special interests. Does anyone really want the same with judges?

  • hc

    Bill, if they are desperate for resettlement to escape persecution why travel to Australia? Why not in surrounding countries?

    No I am not in favor of elected judges but think that who becomes an Australian citizen should be determined by elected politicians. Not by unelected judges.

    Asylum seekers burnt down a building in Darwin the day the High Court decision was announced. Its been a recurring event. Again, are these the sorts of citizens we want. Their behavior is an abuse of the Australian legal system which generously supports their appeals.

    Do those who apply for the refugee and humanitarian program entry have no rights? The queue jumpers displace such people since the total intake is capped.

  • Ros

    An alarming aspect of this alarming growth in irregular chain migration to Australia is the growth in unaccompanied minors. Europe too is experiencing an increase in the numbers of unaccompanied minors in their irregular migration mix but unlike us they seem able to talk about it without calling any who mention it as an irregular migration tool a racist. Where are these children’s parents? Are they as in Europe usually accompanied by other relatives of facilitators?

    An IOM report I read on irregular chain migration made the point that it is a practice in which there are many actors who are interacting with the people smugglers because they have positive views of them. That includes the family members already established in the new country, who presumably are a very important source of funds, and unfortunately some of the refugee advocates. The most alarming point they made is that once established it is almost impossible to stop. Well done Rudd and Gillard and co.

    What exactly is the agenda of participants such as Sarah. She comes across as a tough informed ruthless politician, intelligent despite the irritating use of repetitive abusive rhetoric about her enemies and her main argument form being emotional. It is not possible she does not understand that we are faced with a rapidly growing chain migration which does supplant the poor and unconnected in the world of refugees. My conclusion is that Sarah along with many of the clamouring human rights industry have completely transmorphed into global residents while the bulk of us are still parochial Australian citizens. They would put opening the room full of unknown children in the locked room in the burning house ahead of the room with our children in it, and don’t get why we don’t agree with them.

  • Alan

    Who becomes an Australian citizen is determined by laws made by the parliament. All the court did was an exercise in statutory construction. This case does not even mention citizenship which is a separate matter from residency.

  • hc

    Residency seems to almost guarantee citizenship which is why it is sought. Once so called asylum seekers get to Australia they go to the top of the queue in terms of having their refugee status determined – ahead of those patiently seeking resettlement – and most stay.

  • HC said:

    Australia should abandon UN agreements –the Refugee Convention –compelling it to consider accepting those migrant applicants it wishes to reject. Australians via their elected representatives should determine who become eligible for Australian citizenship. This is not a UN issue and should not be a concern of High Court judges either.

    Hear, Hear!

    One quibble, the asylum-seekers should be called “quota jumpers” rather than “queue jumpers”. There is no queue implying a settled order or priority for assessing applications. There is however a quota, which is fixed by by regulation. Every asylum-seeker automatically gets their application for refugee status pushed forward ahead of other aspirants to the quota.

    Otherwise the substance of your post is spot on. Asylum-seekers are typically unauthorised, undocumented and in transit from secondary destinations. This puts the onus of proof for their alleged persecution on them. But how many can actually show that they have been oppressed for their beliefs or identities.

    The Refugee Convention was largely established to take in victims of Nazi and Communist totalitarian persecution fleeing Europe after WWII, so called Displaced Persons. It was not drawn up to sort out all the ethnic feuds that were simmering in the Third World, which have now been given an airing since the end of the Cold War.

    More generally, the prerogatives of federal parliament are being usurped by un-elected clique of lawyers and international bureaucrats and activists. Its way past time that the citizens took back their national government from these busy-bodies.

  • John Brookes

    Hmmm. Lawyers make money from asylum seekers. So lawyers don’t want to stop asylum seekers arriving. Judges used to be lawyers, so they appreciate where the lawyers are coming from.

    Still, it is an incredibly difficult problem. We take a number of refugees each year, and on top of that some boat people. If you have to choose between waiting for 10 years in a refugee camp and take your chances over which country takes you – or paying someone to get to the head of the queue in Australia.

    I’ve got no idea how to fix this.

  • via collins

    “These so-called asylum seekers are economic migrants who choose Australia rather than neighboring countries to reside in for economic reasons.”

    Harry, sweeping comments such as this without a skerrick of evidence to support them to do a disservice in my opinion. There is no-one who can claim to know the circumstances that motivate the tiny trickle of asylum seekers who reach our shores. Tiny, by comparison with the volumes that cross borders internationally.

    The entire history of the human race has featured ebbs and flows of populations the whole world over, the minginess of post-Marshall plan administrators won’t do thing one to change a story that’s been going as long as humans could walk.

  • Robert Wiblin

    The courts exist to interpret law which they have done. If elected reps want to change the law they can do that. Do you think courts should have no role in administrative law? If this outcome doesn’t reflect the will of Parliament surely the fault is their in writing bad legislation.

    Have boat people been accepted in Indonesia or elsewhere as refugees already? If not how can they stop moving trying to be permitted to reside somewhere legally?

    Why do you think it is desirable for existing Australians to be able to determine who comes onto this island through Parliament without any restrictions? At a first cut borders look like a standard anti-competitive ploy by natives that reduces aggregate welfare. Of course there are other considerations but asserting that this is desirable merely begs the question.

  • hc

    Don’t agree Robert on last point. Nation states are real and not distortions that limit free trade. In addition I don’t want an eastern seaboard with the population density of China or Bangladesh.

  • Robert Wiblin

    Nation states are real AND distortions that limit free trade.

    I agree I would not like such a populated Eastern Seaboard. But like Paul Romer I also don’t want to see people condemned to live in dysfunctional countries that oppress them and force them into grinding poverty when they could cross a border and access good institutions and prosperity. Whether the benefit to Australians from a strong ability to control our borders is greater than the loss to foreigners who would experience drastic improvements in their standard of living here seems an open question.

    It would mainly hinge on whether we could maintain our strong institutions and high productivity with more porous borders.

  • Chris Lloyd

    I think you are harsh on the judges Harry. The fact is that the migration act does probably make the arrangement illegal. The migration act has been written to be consistent with the conventions. The ONLY solution to this nonsensical saga is to withdraw from the convention. The migration act could then be changed accordingly.

    One obstacle is that there is no apparently legal way to withdraw from a convention apart from just announce it. It would be interesting to see if the High Court would recognise this. If they did not, then we would really have a constitutional crisis where conventions signed by government effectively become permanent and irrevocable amendments to our constitution.

  • Chris Lloyd

    Via says: “There is no-one who can claim to know the circumstances that motivate the tiny trickle of asylum seekers who reach our shores.” Yes, you can Via. When Sri-Lankans sail for Australia rather than cross the 36km gap to Tamil Naidu they are making an economic decision.

  • via collins

    Chris, you might even say they were making a lifestyle decision. Bad them for wanting a life with quality that we all take for granted.

    But what percentage of asylum seekers are Sri Lankan? I’d have thought not a whole lot.

  • hc

    No-one blames people for wanting a better life Via but there were 15.4 million people claiming refugee status in 2010 . How many should Australia take?

    Should those who push in go to the head of the queue and have their cases dealt with first?

    See http://www.unhcr.org/4dfa11499.html

    Chris’ point is right. Many of the so-called asylum seekers are taking long voyages when there are much more immediate possible destinations if they were seeking refuge from persecution.

    Why Australia? Well yes it has a great economy and is an open democratic society. But then they are economic migrants not refugees.

  • Rob

    “Many of the so-called asylum seekers are taking long voyages when there are much more immediate possible destinations if they were seeking refuge from persecution.”

    Places that would accept them and give them the right to reside and work in peace with normal legal protections?

    “But then they are economic migrants not refugees.”

    And we are are economic protectionists also in denying their freedom of movement (onto a willing host on private property potentially). As far as I can tell the reason you prefer Australia’s economic claims to theirs is that you personally benefit.

    In any case why should the freedom to escape persecution always take priority to the freedom to escape poverty or an absence of legal rights (say for Burmese residing in Thailand or Malaysia).

    “How many should Australia take?”

    If we were not so self interested, it would be a lot more than 13,000. If I as an individual stand by and watch you starve or die without assisting you, it’s fine. If I do it as a country by denying you the freedom to land on Australia then it’s just fine apparently.

    “Should those who push in go to the head of the queue and have their cases dealt with first?”

    There is no queue in the sense that those who wait the longest get in first. We take the ones that we want. As far as I can tell that isn’t more *fair* than people coming here if they can get on a boat to come. But it might be more efficient insofar as it means we are willing to take a larger number or they suffer less in coming here. So given the constraint of public opinion and Australian control of its borders, the Malaysia solution might not have been so bad an nth best solution. But I wish we were less selfish than we are.

  • via collins

    Pretty well said Rob.

    HC kicks off with the old multi-million figure, the reality is that a tiny, really small percentage of those people would be

    a) able to reach Australia
    b) be interested in coming to Australia

    Sure, great country. But so is every other great country on earth, and the tyranny of distance will ensure that Australia always gets a small amount of asylum seekers. Agree Rob, a country of this size and this quality can easily afford two, three, four times the numbers of refugees, and those people will, largely, make a good fist of it and improve our country. That’s what happened over the history of humankind, but at present, a large amount of people have become fixated on this nasty insular selfishness that is surely not good for a country as fine as this one.

    It’s been going on for frackin’ years, and it’s just pathetic.

  • Rob

    “If I as an individual stand by and watch you starve or die without assisting you, it’s fine. If I do it as a country by denying you the freedom to land on Australia then it’s just fine apparently.”

    Obviously “it’s fine” in the first sentence should be “it reflects terribly on me”. “starve or die” is also a poor choice of words – substitute “face persecution or poverty”.

    I think it’s clear that humans like to delegating issues like this to a collective decision making process for which they cannot meaningfully morally be held accountable. Then they can muddy their failure to assist others in great need with appeals to other issues like “national sovereignty”, “democracy/will of the people”, “fairness/queue jumping”, “we can’t take everyone so we can’t take you” and so on. Now they don’t need to feel guilty about their actions!

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