SORT THE SHEEP FROM THE GOATS
IF you’d thought that so much of this talk about desperate asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus is just cover for a racket, you’d be right, at least for some of them. This week it transpired that 71 of the boat people on Nauru have refused an offer of resettlement in the United States.
These are people who have been found to be refugees with a “wellfounded fear of persecution” in their homeland, and they’ve been on Nauru for five years already. Yet they’ve knocked back America. If Nauru is the hellhole of rampant, suicide-inducing mental illness, that the refugee activists claim, why would 71 boat people refuse to go to the “land of the free”?
Here are refugees who supposedly can’t go back home. They’ve been stuck on this supposed prison island for five years (although I’ve been there, and I dispute it’s anything like how it gets described in the media here), yet they say no to the US? For people who are allegedly desperate, they’re incredibly picky about which safe, new, first world country they’ll accept. There are millions of people languishing in refugee camps, particularly vulnerable women and children, who would grab the chance of a life in America — but not these 71.
Apparently, these refugees knocked back the United States when they heard they would have to work and would not receive welfare. They’re not even economic migrants; they’re welfare migrants, forum shopping for best taxpayerfunded lifestyle. And this is precisely why the Morrison Government needs to be very careful about giving in to the bleeding-heart lobby and bringing all the boat people with children to Australia. Once they’re here, refugee activists and their lawyers will make it impossible for them to go back to Nauru. Sort out medical issues, of course; allow it to be a back-door entry ruse, no way!
To date, 46 babies have been born in Nauru and what you don’t want is the unintended consequence of children being used as an immigration bargaining chip, or loaded on to leaky boats in the first place.
This week we had another glimpse into how courts and tribunals are being manipulated to get around our immigration rules, but it wasn’t for people who’d risked their lives to come to Australia in leaky boats.
Instead, it was confirmed that more than 200 Commonwealth Games athletes and officials (mostly from African countries) have applied for asylum in Australia. Their country thought highly enough of them to send them abroad as sports ambassadors, but now they’re saying that they can’t go back because of fear of persecution. And as usual, our system is accommodating them.
After their initial applications were refused, 184 of them are appealing the decision and — like the boat people on Nauru and Manus — they’re largely being sustained by you, the taxpayer. So far $300,000 has been spent on legal aid and $1.3 million keeping them in detention or supporting them in the community. And there’ll be millions more spent, before these cases are dealt with.
Our system is absurdly generous. Yes, we are a decent country where people are given a fair go. But when boat people in Australia’s care knock back America because they can’t go on welfare and Commonwealth Games athletes milk the system to stay in Australia, we are being taken for a ride.
At least Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton and AttorneyGeneral Christian Porter have now commissioned ex-High Court judge Ian Callinan to review the administrative appeals system to stop it from being gamed.
The basic problem, though, is that all of our systems are set up to give the bad guy the benefit of the doubt. No one wants Australia to stop being Australian, and to lose that easygoing generosity of spirit and welcome for people who come here to have a go and join the team. But we really must get better at sorting out the sheep from the goats. And it shouldn’t take small armies of taxpayer-funded lawyers to do it.
Right now, our court system has immigration appeals listed right out until 2021. It’s not good that people won’t have their cases heard for three years; but it’s even worse that immigration applicants don’t mind, because they’re looked after by the taxpayer in the meantime, and have opportunities to get married, have children and otherwise make it harder and harder for them to be sent back.
If it’s time to clear the offshore processing centres, it’s also time to change the definition of who can claim asylum and who is a refugee. At the very least, if you’ve come here under false pretences, or if you’ve skipped through several countries before landing in Australia, you’re not an asylum seeker and you can’t be a refugee and should be sent straight back home. It is fair enough to want to live here, who wouldn’t? But apply like thousands of other people do and come through the front door. PETA CREDLIN IS A SUNDAY HERALD SUN COLUMNIST
Protesters at a Melbourne rally for Nauru refugees.