Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Immigration under Ruddock

I don't like the way detention centres were run under the previous government, and Phil Ruddock must carry a large part of the responsibility for that. They kept people imprisoned, including children, on the grounds that they had not yet shown that they were genuine refugees. A friend of mine spent more time in a detention centre than he would have in jail had he been found guilty of murder. Eventually his status as a refugee was recognized, and he was released into the community. His is not an isolated story.

However this has to be acknowledged:

Ruddock’s place in Australian political history will record that immigration grew every year after 1996, rising from 67,100 in 1997 to more than 142,000 in 2006. The fair-minded will call that a genuinely compassionate outcome.

From here.


Ian said...

Agree entirely, but the former is rather more serious in my eyes. But we do need to recall there was good as well as bad, even if the bad was, to my mind, exceptionally so: and sadly, to me, that will colour my view of those years.

Michael Kellahan said...

mussolini did wonders with those trains too...

Gordon Cheng said...

I was fully expecting a comment about the efficiency of concentration camps!

Mark Stephens said...

Hi Gordon,

Although I am not skilled in these matters, the problem with Albrechtsen's analysis is that the immigration program and the 'asylum seeker' program are different concepts. To be an asylum seeker is to be a very different thing from your standard immigrant. Indeed, Howard's policy on immigration was deliberately slanted towards skilled migration. This is good for the economy, but hardly evidence for a compassionate stance towards asylum seekers. Albrechtsen's logic (that the numbers demonstrate an increased heart for the asylum seeker), doesn't stack up.

Pete said...

But the numbers do stack up.

Ruddock increased significantly Australia's humanitarian intake from places like Africa.

How was he able to do this? The Australian public trusted the government to not just let anyone in.

Mark Stephens said...

Hi Pete,

Thanks for your contribution. That stat you cite would be an important consideration. I was only responding to the central statistic cited in Gordon's quote - namely the overall immigration intake. A rise in overall immigration does not necessarily connote a rise in compassion, because skilled migration can be pursued for all sorts of reasons, only some of them compassionate. But I am unlearned in immigration policy, and it would be good to hear from Christians who have worked in the area to obtain their far smarter perspective.

The Pook said...

I agree with Gordon and Mark's comments wholeheartedly. That so many Conservative-voting Christians could blindly follow the former Government's line on this astounds and saddens me.

To be fair to the Liberal Party, there were those within their ranks who also were appalled at the detention centres and so-called Pacific Solution. Bruce Baird and his moderate faction for example. Most Liberals who went on fact finding tours to these places came back implacably opposed to Ruddock's policy. But they were the minority.

BTW Mark Stephens, are you the same Mark Stephens who borrowed the book called The Book on the Bookshelf from me in about 2001?

- Greg M. (aka The Pook)

Peter Kirsop said...

why is it compassionate to let more people come here? why is immigration a good thing?

The Pook said...

"why is it compassionate to let more people come here? why is immigration a good thing?"

These are two separate questions. Gordon's heading is perhaps unintentionally misleading, since the post is really about putting asylum seekers in detention centres, which is not immigration. It is only called "Immigration under Ruddock" because Ruddock was the Immigration minister, and his portfolio also extended to dealing with refugees and asylum seekers.

1. It's not compassionate in itself to let more people come here. That could mean many things - let more tourists in, let more skilled workers in, let more unskilled workers in, let guest workers in from pacific nations, let more refugees and asylum seekers in, etc. It could even mean let more illegal immigrants in! You have to specify what people you are talking about, under what conditions.

It is obviously compassionate to let more refugees in. It is not necessarily more compassionate to let more migrants, short term workers or tourists in, though it may be in some cases where it helps a developing country, and it may or may not make good sense in other ways, depending on Australia's current needs.

2. Immigration is overall a good thing because it boosts the economy and creates jobs, contrary to popular right wing mythology. Immigration was the only thing that kept Sydney's building trade afloat for about twenty years, for example. Immigrants eat, build and rent housing, buy furniture and household items, invest money in businesses, develop new ideas and markets, invent things, provide labour and employment, etc etc.

Many of our greatest entrepreneurs, sports champions, politicians and other public figures, artists, actors, scientists, doctors, musicians, et al, have been first or second generation migrants. Not to mention some excellent pastors, evangelists and theologians I know.

In fact without the bipartisan support for migration that has existed for the past half century, this blog might not even exist, right Gordon? Where would we be without the Aussie Chengs?!

Gordon Cheng said...

I notice that the argument of the article from which the quote is taken notes that the immigration Ruddock allowed included a significant increase in the number of refugees Australia accepted:

Under Ruddock, more than 80 per cent of Afghans and Iraqis were granted protection visas at the primary decision-making stage and the local Islamic community is more than 40 per cent higher than it was in 1996. Under Ruddock, Australia had one of the largest per capita refugee and humanitarian resettlement programs in the world. More compassionate outcomes accepted and supported by the community because they knew that Australia, not people smugglers, determined them.

If this is true, then the immigration increase is not just about Australia having taken in more rich people and skilled individuals, but also about taking in more people who needed asylum. So there is, I think, a good argument for immigration under Ruddock resulting in a compassionate outcome.

the pook, my grandparents on my father's side were born in Australia, as was he. So the Cheng family (or my bit of it) is fourth generation Australian, pre-dating the White Australia Policy.

Belinda said...

What’s more disturbing is the total avoidance of the available research on crime rates & group IQ averages in the immigration debate. IQ has implications in terms of education, health & even crime outcomes:

“The same pattern is found worldwide. Interpol Yearbooks show the rate of violent crime (murder, rape, and serious assault) is three times lower in East Asian and Pacific Rim countries than in African and Caribbean countries. Whites in European countries are intermediate. The 1996 Interpol violent crime rates were: East Asian countries, 35 per 100,000 people; European countries, 42; and African and Caribbean countries, 149. ”