Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Do you believe in magic?

At the end of March, my daughter had a 5th Birthday party. It is a milestone birthday in so many ways. As she is very interested in magic I found a magician who came and entertained Aurora and a group of her friends. This year she handled all the invites and it was the first time that she lots of playmates from her kinder. The topic of magic comes up all the time and I love hearing the way her lively imagination concocts theories about everything! Though she has a good lashing of healthy skepticism, seen here as she contemplates the magician's hat!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Our offshore processing nightmare....

The Christmas Island Detention centre - due to be opened mid 2007. Another out of sight - out of mind stroke of genius by the Liberal Government.

The 82 Sri Lankan asylum seekers (see earlier post) are now to be removed from Christmas Island to Nauru. They have not had any access to legal support or advice. The process of identifying and sorting out their claims will take a much longer period on Nauru. People have been left on Nauru for up to 5 years before their claims have then been recognised. Kevin Andrews, our Immigration Minister, has stated that even if they are assessed as bona fide refugees they will be sent to any other country except Australia.

The history of recent events points out that the majority of asylum seekers who have been placed in these offshore centres have been judged legitimate and have ended up in Australia or New Zealand. Our government takes the view that if we processed these applications humanely and in decent time, it would encourage and reward the people smugglers who manage to bring these desperate people all the way to our shores. And that the people who make it here by such means are queue jumpers, illegal etc etc. I doubt that one of these government boffins has attempted for one minute to put themselves in the shoes of these so called "illegals". They seem to forget that we are not such a desirable or easy to get to target for people who are fleeing. We are a long way away and are surrounded by sea. It seems to me that the process of criminalizing people who have already often suffered is an arse about way of dealing with people in dire need.

Offshore processing began with the Tampa , which conveniently dovetailed into Howard's strategy of creating an atmosphere of fear ("the illegals probably harbour terrorists among them") during an election(2004) campaign. And this year is an election year in Oz!

Just adding that as worrying as the conditions on Christmas Island are, the Asylum Seekers are desperate to stay there and not be shipped to Nauru.

Image below by an asylum seeker at Nauru.

Ali Raza at the fence 2005 Nauru detention Centre - Artist Syed M Ali

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cockroach post

Well, to be precise, a Madagascan Hissing Cockroach, which just happened to remind me of our Prime Minister.
We may be confronting problems on the scale of global warming (which, incidentally, has already hit Melbourne if the increase in the cockroach population is any guage), the horror of the continuing debacle of Iraq, Afgahnistan's plight and many issues close to home , like the lack of good Aged Care services but all our PM can do is hiss at the ascendant Opposition with all sorts of dirty smear tactics and generally avoid any policy development or discussion thereof. I am so sick to death with politics at the moment and the current game playing seems mildly insane and very inane!

Another event to raise my ire has been the predictable weasly responses of this government to the Sri Lanka refugees who managed to get close to our shores in a leaky vessel. Initially the intercepting Navy were trying to shoo them away but when it was obvious they were sinking, they took the 83 Tamil refugees and two Indonesian crew to Christmas Island (where our Government is spending millions to build an off shore asylum processing complex (far away from pesky lawyers that talk about Human Rights etc). But this was also too close as the refugees had been in international waters so we don't want to deal with them so what do we do - we ask the Indonesians to take them because they haven't signed the UN charter on refugees and have much less ability and infrastructure to deal with them. As there has been an outcry from the good public that Jakarta would just send them back to Sri Lanka we are now looking at putting them on Nauru (which has been used to dump our unwanted before and has led to huge delays in the processing of asylum claims.

If I hear one more Minister banging on about the fact that "We will choose who comes here." I will - What can you do, besides write, protest and pull my hair out!!