Indonesia bullies and Australia genuflects

New MH2

D uring the 1960s and 1970s Aussies developed a rite of passage. It was a sort of walk-about, a Pied Piper compulsion to explore the world. The curious were beckoned to new horizons beyond the isolated realm of the antipodes that still suffered the stigma of exclusion from the cultures—the affectation of European superiority.

Aussie pilgrims trekking the northern hemisphere soon learned that the word “Australia” invoked admiration and respect in general. “Very brave, very good soldiers,” was the usual epithet respectfully fielded by those nations we went to visit, to observe and to further understand our heritage and that of others.

Travelling Australians were welcomed and respected by the people of other nations. They liked out friendliness, our laid-back attitude, our sense of fun and most of all, our matter of fact straightforwardness.

However, toadyism from our succession of spineless politicians soon destroyed Australia’s international reputation and taught the lesser nations that all they had to do to get their way was yell and scream. We apologise for everything, we write a few cheques, promise more and accept a steady course of abuse into the bargain.

Indonesia has not forgotten Australia’s successful military action in East Timor and many Australians have not forgotten the murdering of five Aussie journalists by Indonesian soldiers and the denials and cover-ups by both governments, disgusting as it was. Australia’s lack of support for its own sent the signal that we were weak.

Handle-with-careIndonesia has treated Australia with contempt ever since. And Australia responds by truckling.

And, the latest “let’s rub Australia’s nose in the mud” is the illegal boat people standoff. The Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, the one with the smarmy grin, and the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto—the senior official responsible for top-level coordination are humiliating Australia to suit their own political images for the upcoming elections.

It is common knowledge that Indonesian politics and the authoritative arms are rife with corruption. Indonesia does not want boat people returned because they have spent their money with Indonesian smugglers and various officials that milked the lot.

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison says there was no standoff. Of course there was. Indonesia began accepting “turn-backs” but switched when Fairfax announced Australia was spying them. Even though the whistle blower Snowden’s claims have not been tested. Nevertheless, it was a good excuse for Fairfax to smear the Abbott government and for Indonesia to weasel out of a diplomatic agreement.

To whoop up public hatred toward Australia, good little servants of the regime like Hikmahanto Juwana at the University of Indonesia (UI) said Australia’s decision to end the standoff was a welcome one. “It is very positive for Indonesia. It shows that our stern stance worked and that Indonesia will not bow to Australia’s policy as such,” he said. He was quick to inform that Indonesia was not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, whereas Australia was. Anything to support his narrow argument has currency.

Not added to Indonesia’s hypocritical mix are other matters that most Australians have not forgotten. Conveniently forgotten is the Australian people digging deep into their pockets to help victims of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that left about 100,000 Indonesians dead in the Aceh province alone.

Then Prime Minister John Howard said to President Yudhoyono. “We see Indonesia’s need, we respond to that need, but we respond in a way that respects the sovereignty of Indonesia,” he said handing over $1 billion that was in addition to established aid making the total $1.8 billion.

President Yudhoyono was overwhelmed by Australia’s generosity. “(He said) he would never forget it,” Mr Howard said. Australia donated more than the 50 plus donor countries. This is now forgotten.

Perhaps not known, rather than forgotten, is Indonesia’s ability to find money, lots of it, for its military build up. From Germany our “northern mates” recently bought 104 leopard 2 tanks and 50 armoured personnel carriers. Also, part of their $15 billion upgrade is the purchase of 16 more Russian Sukhoi fighter jets, 17 patrol vessels, three light frigates and more tanks and missiles. Also, the upgrading of their squadron of F-16s will be in the billions.

So, Australia’s generosity of several Hercules transporters, patrol boats and $650 million annually in aid wins us the diplomatic finger—the bird! And still we waffle about our valuable neighbours to the north.
That Indonesia claims its people are angry at Australia for returning boat people to the shores whence they embarked and lived while waiting, I doubt. As I also doubt their concern about spying. They have much more to worry about, like surviving.

The Asian psyche does not accept weakness and Indonesian leaders have for a long time taken Australia’s caring attitude as a weakness unworthy of respect. Perhaps the revoking of aid would get their attention as would spending our tourist dollars elsewhere. Maybe we can’t demand respect but we can display national pride—that would be a start!

As for the importance of trade with Indonesia the facts from DFAT (using the latest data from the ABS, the IMF and various international sources) are well worth noting and remembering.

Indonesia’s principal export destinations: 2012.
1 Japan 15.9%
2 China 11.4%
3 Singapore 9.0%
10 Australia 2.6%

Indonesia’s principal import sources: 2012.
1 China 15.3%
2 Singapore 13.6%
3 Japan 11.9%
8 Australia 2.8%
Compiled by the Trade Advocacy and Statistics Section, DFAT. 

Illegal Immigrant update

Of the 20,201 illegal immigrants
who have rocked up by boat this year, only 370 have come since PM Abbott and
his Gov’t have been sworn in (Sept 18 2013).

Illegal immigrants chart Nov 4
Labor on the other hand allowed
50,716 (pre-dominantly Muslim) illegals into our country.

That’s 50,716 places taken away
from genuine
because Labor outsourced our refugee program to criminals.

Meanwhile, an estimated 500,000
Syrian Christians have fled Syria
, as they could no longer face the
excruciating day-to-day risks of life as a religious minority. Had Labor not
screwed things up, Australia might have been in a better position to take more
than 500
Syrian refugees


Follow Andy on Twitter


Incitement to hatred from a madman

"Poverty forced them seek a better life." They paid smugglers $80,000.


According to Centrelink Child Care Estimator, that family would be entitled about $4,680 per month. That does not include rent assistance and too many other benefits to research and list here.

You, the taxpayer foots the bill for economic refugees and the SBS who presented this beat-up. GC.

Last week a boat carrying economic refugees flipped just 50 metres off an Indonesian beach after setting off for Australia. 

Read more about this story: [Source] Andrew Bolt blog

Rudd’s PNG refugee deal facing collapse


Bryson Farnsworth, Brisbane

On Monday came the tragic news that another refugee boat had capsized about 200 km from Christmas Island drowning at least five although 106 survived due to the prompt action of Australian authorities.

The grim irony is that this latest disaster came on the last day of a conference in Indonesia on regional refugee policy attended by Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, and Immigration Minister, Tony Bourke. The Indonesian media was full of their message that refugees trying to reach Australia would only end up in Papua-New Guinea yet, demonstrably, this message was – and is – having no perceptible impact.

Bourke, who has previously said he has “intelligence” (apparently no irony intended) that the allegedly tough hard-line policy would see the boats stop, grudgingly admitted, “In the past few days, some of the smuggling operations have tried to put together a bit of a surge.”

The ABC reported that Bourke now “concedes that Australia’s PNG deal will not stop people getting on boats.”

Rudd’s PNG deal is unravelling in front of his eyes.

A few days ago, PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, said that there was no agreement with Australia to resettle genuine asylum seekers after processing on Manus Island and that many of these would end up in Australia.

This prompted a panic phone call from Rudd to O’Neill and the desperate assertion by Rudd that all was just fine and dandy and that the policy was set in concrete.

However, O’Neill has not withdrawn his statement that PNG would work with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to engage with other countries willing to take part in resettling refugees. He added, “That includes Australia…”

O’Neill said that he believed that Australia had a refugee quota of about 20,000 and, “Under that process, they will get some …”

O’Neill is under increasing domestic political pressure over the deal with Rudd. The Opposition there has relaunched his legal challenge to have it declared unconstitutional and public anger is mounting. In any case, the deal has a life span of only one year which takes it safely past the September 7 election.

Meanwhile, an Australian High Court challenge on behalf of an Iranian asylum seeker has been launched with barrister Mark Robinson SC saying his removal to Manus Island was invalid.

Robinson laid out the basis for the challenge saying that the Immigration Minister had failed to take into account several factors when approving the deal.

“The Minister expressly said that he is not going to take into account issues relating to the domestic law of PNG or the international obligations of PNG. Now these are plainly relevant, and it is incredible that he can make a lawful decision without regard to those factors,” Robinson said.

Attorney-General Dreyfus has said the government believes the deal is perfectly OK and will be defended. Then again, his predecessor as AG, asserted that the “Malaysian solution” was simply wonderful until the High Court threw it out.

Australia’s peak legal body, the Law Council of Australia – a non-partisan body which weighs carefully in the balance any statement it makes – is very critical of the PNG deal.

Their president, Michael Colbran QC, said there were “a number of issues of concern stemming from the lack of clarity about the details of the system of processing claims in PNG and its conformity to Australia’s obligations under the applicable UN Convention.”

Mr Colbran said in its 2011 decision relating to the failed “Malaysian solution”, the Hiogh Court had said “an arrangement that doesn’t legally guarantee rights such as the right to work and education breached Australia’s obligation under the UN Convention and that it was not within the Minister’s power to transfer asylum seekers to Malaysia under the relevant Migration Act provision at that time.”

He added, “These rights do not currently appear to be guaranteed by the PNG agreement … and “… a real question remains regarding Australia’s obligation under the Refugee Convention …”

Colbran cited the recent report of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees which is monitoring Manus Island and which, he said, “highlighted shortcomings in the applicable legal framework” and that, “The Law Council is concerned that the PNG system may lack sufficient safeguards to ensure procedural fairness and access to justice.”

The UNHCR has been even more forthright. Its Regional Representative, Richard Towle, has said that Australia “could ultimately find itself obliged to accept refugees who had been initially settled in PNG under the deal.”

Towle believes that the PNG deal “could breach international law and (Australia’s) human rights obligations” and that the “deal could be tantamount to Australia deflecting its responsibilities under the Refugee Convention.”

While Rudd has refused to reintroduce the successful Howard Government strategy of turning back the boats when possible because it is supposed to be all just too much trouble, consider this statement from retired Vice Admiral Chris Ritchie, Chief of the Navy from 2002 to 2005.

While acknowledging that this policy was “hazardous and risky”, Ritchie added, “But nevertheless it’s a legitimate Navy operation. It’s something that navies have done over centuries. And, in that sense, if the government gives it a direction to do it, the Navy people will do it and they’ll do it well.”

We can only wonder why Rudd and his Ministers don’t, or can’t, trust the Navy to do the job it has done so well in the past.

Hidden agenda—or policy of evil?

New MH2

From Shakespeare’s Julius Cesar are these words by Mark Antony:

The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones…
Amen to that.

In the political sense, The evil that men do lives after them, equates to Kevin Rudd’s unprincipled foray upon our neighbours to the north, Manus Island, and Nauru the world’s smallest Republic. Ironically, Nauru is an island made of solid bird shit.

Only weeks ago the return of Rudd as PM forced him to face the fact that his dismantling of the Howard Pacific Solution to appease the Greens and other socialist idealists had become a disaster.

If Rudd was following the Julia Gillard compilation of asylum seeker policy drawn up during her days as shadow immigration minister, the goal is achieved as more than 50,000 have “rocked up” to our table of plenty since Labor came to power in 2007.

Image9However, Labor seems bereft of a single, original idea and so it remains with mass unauthorised arrivals seeking access to what is widely known in the smuggling trade as Australia’s invitation to a cornucopia of luxurious living forever, free.

To view the long-term results of illegal immigration Australia need only look to Europe, the UK in particular. It was the UK Labour Party that made political capital using lower, socio- economic immigrants intended specifically to alter the demographic and cultural pattern of Britain.

They buggered England for a purpose they kept secret, and their dishonourable template is doing likewise here in Australia.

The average Australian battler goes to bed each night believing the nation’s welfare is safe in the hands of our leaders. We need to believe our elected representatives will act in the country’s best interests and do what is right for their fellow Australians. We can’t allow ourselves to think they might cause great harm—all faith would be lost. But that has now happened.

Why is it after six years in power that Rudd now scrambles to address the border fiasco? The influx of more than 50,000 people is proof that the situation was allowed to fester. But was it the course of a well-scripted agenda? I believe it is!

Under the British Freedom of Information Act, a secret Labour immigration agenda hatched more than a decade ago was uncovered and it mirrors the Australian Labor Party’s policy on immigration and border control. In 13 years they flooded the UK with 3.2 million foreigners. That policy appears to have been lifted by Ms Gillard.

Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett, disclosed a document drawn up by a British Cabinet Office think-tank and a Home Office research unit. It stated unequivocally that Labour’s migration policy over a decade had been aimed at “social objectives” rather than economic ones and intended specifically to alter the demographic and cultural pattern of Britain.

The agenda also showed that Labour had orchestrated a deliberate open-door policy on immigration to boost multi-culturalism. It also noted that because of this policy, migrants and their descendants were inclined to vote Labour, some surveys found up to 80% would vote for labour.

The British government betrayed their voters by breaking the first rule of democracy: the electorate was never told it was voting for that radical agenda just as Australians will never be told why the unauthorised arrivals were ignored for so long.

How peculiar that Bob Carr recently said, “People are coming here, not now as a result of persecution, but because they’re economic refugees who have paid money to people smugglers.” Of course the do-gooders and hankie-wringers cried foul in their usual tradition of ignoring future social ramifications.

It seems that Carr was, or is not privy to his party’s plan for eternal employment. “There’ve been some boats where 100% of them have been people who are fleeing countries where they’re the majority ethnic and religious group, and their motivations is altogether economic,” Carr blurted in early June.

Several TV clips of late have featured boat people praising the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government, “they are good for us and we will vote for them,” is their practised mantra. But Labor’s clone of the UK agenda takes time to reach full advantage—four years in fact.

Contrary to popular lore, immigrants can’t vote immediately, it’s a four-year process to become eligible. The ALP’s early wave from 2008 will now vote; I can’t find numbers on how many but, for the 2016 elections a large percentage of the present 50,000 will be close to voting rights.

The evil in this trick is the number of family reunion members who will also be voters. Nobody seems to know what those multipliers might be. Once this is known, the numbers will be sufficient to change the outcome in many electorates across Australia. And, in a few years, will probably have numbers to seize a majority of Labor seats across the country for a bigger slice of the welfare pie, not to mention religious dominance.

Do you think the ALP thought this through using the same logic as their other failed policies?

And, what mess awaits the strugglers in Nauru and Manus when hope turns to despair? Who will give a stuff?

Rudd’s opportunism is …the evil that men do…

Toby’s Sunday Light


Toby’s Sunday Light is not so light today.

Having babysat UK’s little Prince George and taught him rudimentary oz-speak like “G’day sport”, “a schooner of Tooheys Old thanks Mate” and “stuff the tax office” Toby returned home via Italy where he was struck with déjà vu.

Toby reports:

The little Italian island of Lampedusa is 11 square miles. Its population is about 4,500 – usually.

Until the “refugees” arrive. 50,000 in one year – 2011.

And what they do in Lampedusa is a vision of what is going to happen, happening, in Europe, England, Ireland… and here in Australia.


image is not genuine

Enza Ferreri, writing in a blog, “The Gates of Vienna”, states, “There were many times when the number of newcomers was higher than that of the locals. On those occasions, when natives were outnumbered, there were tales of local women having to be accompanied everywhere to protect them from immigrants’ unwanted attention, sacked shops, apartment doors forced open, people returning home to find Tunisians sitting at the dining table eating and, after the intruders’ departure, some householders even discovering faeces inside saucepans.”

The harbours are blocked with “refugee” boats so that local fishermen often find themselves deprived of access to their livelihood. The reception centre was burned to the ground by a mob of disgruntled illegals – now that rings a bell – and residents keep their children indoors and barricade themselves in their houses during the night.

If it sounds familiar it could be because Oriana Fallaci’s described similar horrific spectacles in “The Rage and the Pride” her book written after 9/11. She described the public squares in Florence having become “refugee”camps reeking of urine and faeces. Or reminiscent of the disgusting messes that “refugees” made in London.

The Pope went to Lampedusa recently and mourned the “globalisation of indifference” to the plight of Third World migrants, describing the island as “the frontier of the desperate.”

It’s the frontier of the desperate, all right, but the desperate ones are the Italians, not these “refugees” who are happy to get on the Government teat and general benefits.

And there is “indifference”, too right, there is. The Holy Father was right there, but it is indifference to the position of the ordinary citizens, and to their betrayal, here, by Rudd, Gillard, and their toadies in Fairfax and the ABC

True, some of the people arriving in any country are “refugees” in the sense that they are persecuted Christians – Christians who are murdered daily in places like Egypt and Pakistan and the Sudan – but the swollen tide of newcomers are increasingly simply “welfare” refugees. To be fair, many are looking for employment and work, though you would have to doubt their chances without knowledge of English.

And as far as the Italians are concerned, these refugees are from Tunisia and Morocco and Libya. They are Muslim and they are being persecuted in a Muslim country? Lampedusans don’t laugh at a sick joke.

So the problem is complicated by the fact that any boat may contain genuine refugees fleeing in fear of their lives.

And who is the man to attack this problem at home?


Rudd is the problem.

Labor’s Refugee update

The interception of the latest boat carrying 67 passengers means that over 50,000 people have now arrived illegally by boat since Mr Rudd dismantled our border protection policies.

This milestone is a terrible indictment of Kevin Rudd’s failed policy.

It has cost over 1,000 lives.

50,032 people on 798 boats have arrived since Mr Rudd changed John Howard’s policies that stopped the boats.

Over 1,900 people have now arrived since Mr Rudd launched his so called ‘PNG solution’. 

It has also resulted in over $11 billion in Budget blowouts – money that should have been spent on hospitals, schools and roads.

It has damaged Australia’s international reputation and weakened our borders.

The Coalition has a clear, consistent plan to stop the boats. 

Mr Rudd is just all talk and has neither the will nor the competence to secure our borders.

The Coalition has a detailed plan for stronger borders which will:

  • Re-establish rigorous and expanded offshore processing for illegal arrivals;
  • Give orders to the Navy and Customs Service to turn back boats where safe to do so;
  • Re-introduce Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) for asylum seekers found to be genuine refugees, and return them home when it is safe;
  • Deny those asylum seekers – who deliberately discard identification documentation – the benefit of the doubt when determining their refugee status;
  • Work with our neighbours to stop people smugglers and deter their customers from coming into the region; and
  • Guarantee places for offshore humanitarian visa applicants by denying permanent visas to illegal boat arrivals.

If elected, the Coalition will also initiate Operation Sovereign Borders, to be led by a senior military commander. Read more here

At this election there is a choice: between the Coalition’s proven plan that will stop the boats, or a continuation of Labor’s record of failure and misery.


Scott Morrison 

Shadow Minister for Immigration & Citizenship

They will come—long before it’s built!

New MH2

In his “wild erratic fancy” (Banjo) to stage a coup against the Coalition and steal policy, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has simply missed the boat with his PNG “instant cure” to the asylum seeker onslaught. Laughter from smugglers could be heard in distant East Timor—time to make hay, they think, with tens of thousands eager to sail!

Despite Kev’s groundless blather about “smashing the smugglers’ model”, boat arrivals have actually increased. A trivial matter no doubt in the great leader’s grand plan. However, one can only imagine Kev’s tantrums behind closed doors, or does he simply discount it as the failure of others?

Since the anointed one’s recent ascendancy to the throne, and at time of writing, 17 boats transporting some additional 1400 souls have become willing dependents on the vexed Aussie taxpayer. As I have written on prior occasions, people smugglers are several steps ahead of anyone of consequence in the Labor Party.

Poor-kevRudd’s sudden move on the boat people problem, the very fiasco caused by him five years before, is a carbon copy of John Howard’s tactical blow against One Nation of swipe-your-opponent’s-policies. It was effective then. and would work now except for the one great flaw — Rudd can’t implement policies — even rudimentary ones like pink batts.

Solving a problem, especially expensive ones like unauthorised arrivals by boat, and its associated costs demands common sense rather than the elevated thinking of Rudd and Gillard. Recall the failed High Court bid to defend the Malaysian asylum seeker swap deal? The small army of government silks and useless underlings were defeated by an unheralded, Melbourne solicitor with smarts.

According to the UNHCR there are 42.5 million displaced persons worldwide, near double Australia’s entire population. We can’t save the world but we are playing our part in accepting our quota. Were they not a rampant financial liability, and if they showed a willingness to assimilate rather than dominate we could take more of them and be pleased about it. But that’s a matter for another day.

The political flavour-of-the-month is turning the boats back. Something Mr Rudd promised to do during his Kevin07 run for PM. As I have also written previously, turning boats around will be hard. Smugglers now have a handbook detailing the rules of play. Rule one: “There are two types of assistance at sea. Escort, or rescue!”

If we think as a smuggler would; being towed back to Indonesia is bad for business—very bad. The average overloaded boat of late has box-office value of at least $500,000. Smugglers have got to think of a way around this – not hard when comparing a people smuggler with Rudd.

No captain smuggler will risk a tow cable being taken on board, or “escorted” anywhere lest they be tricked and towed into the arms of the Indonesian Navy where the consequences are too evil to document. Perhaps worse would be his passengers with their non-refundable tickets. If the Indonesians didn’t spill the skipper’s brains on his deck the passengers would. More incentive to outthink Rudd – and plenty of opportunity.

Rudd will ignore talk of irksome matters, like sinking and drowning at sea without trace or rescue. Neither will there be words cross his lips about detention centres wallowing in effluent, or being sucked dry by malarial mosquitoes with the attendant fever—no sir—not conducive to the popular lure of a lifetime of idleness on the house. Our house!

Rudd and Abbott have changed their minds about who will end up in Australia and who stands no chance. Like schoolboys chasing each other around the playground bickering over where married ones will go, and where single men under 25 will be put, and the children…and the pregnant ones, and what about the seriously handicapped, where do they go? Will they be lifelong Centrelink favourites?

Meanwhile, opposition in PNG mounts by the day as traditional landowners begin to understand the upheaval that awaits them. School classrooms must be moved for a service road. One group say they will cut the water supply. Another threatens to charge a toll to cross their land.

Mr Rudd has shown many times how he deals with obstacles—he attacks the problem with the national chequebook. Kevin believes money talks. The trouble is; it is our money and the only thing our money is going to say in PNG is, “goodbye suckers!”

Not at all to Rudd’s liking


Indonesia indicates co-operation with a future Abbott Government on illegal boat arrivals

Susanto Rachman in Jakarta

Two senior Indonesian Ministers have publicly indicated that their government would be prepared to discuss with Tony Abbott the Opposition’s policy of turning back boats carrying asylum seekers and, not surprisingly, Rudd and his Ministers have been flatfooted about this development. There has even been a fumbling attempt to try and assert that the Indonesian Ministers have not indicated any such thing,

Speaking in Perth where he met with Australia’s Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, Indonesia’s Defence Minister, Dr  Purnomo Yusgiantoro, said his government would certainly discuss the proposal with a coalition government.

Earlier, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Marty Natalegawa, had agreed with the idea of inter-government talks on the issue.

Dr Natalegawa said, “We are not ecstatic about it, for sure, but in terms of – in the spirit of wanting to hear the various policy options that countries are proposing, parties are proposing, it’s good to have this dialogue.” 

Understandably, the Indonesian Government which has tens of thousands of refugees already and more arriving daily, could hardly be “ecstatic” about the prospect of accepting back refugees that had already tried to get to Australia but agreeing to talks with a future coalition government is the first important step. 

They could have just flatly refused to even discuss the matter – but they didn’t.

Yet our Foreign Minister Bob Carr claimed after the Indonesian Minister’s latest comments that “Dr Natalegwa has made it very, very clear the Indonesian position is unchanged; they won’t accept the pointing of boats back towards Indonesian waters.”

Demonstrably, Carr is clinging on to this misrepresentation to try and discredit the Opposition policy. Rather more sensibly, Rudd and other Ministers have stayed quiet on this issue perhaps in the desperate hope that Carr’s comments – while wildly wrong – will be swallowed by the voters. 

The Opposition has been careful to keep the Indonesian Government informed of its policy – Deputy Leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Julie Bishop advised Indonesia ahead of the release of  the latest policy proposal to co-ordinate all relevant Australian agencies into a single focussed command to address the problem and there is no doubt that the Indonesian Government is appreciative – their realistic acceptance of the need for future discussions with an Abbott government is the clear proof.

Abbott himself has said the Opposition policy on this matter insofar as the Indonesians are concerned is one of a “no surprises, no excuses approach”.

Near 1,400 asylum refugees in 17 boats have arrived since PM Rudd announced this Papua New Guinea deal on July 19 – and more are reportedly on the way.

What has emerged from our government is bleating about how the awful people smugglers are lying to their potential customers about our alleged hard-line approach. Gee whizz – who would have thought that people smugglers would tell fibs to try and get more customers!

As our budgetary position sinks even deeper into the red, it has been estimated by the government itself that the necessary expansion of the Manus Island detention centre will cost at least $500 million to deal with up to 3,000 arrivals and could reach more than $1 billion in construction costs and just as much in operating costs over four years. 

Presumably, the budget update that the Rudd government is preparing will – if it is honest – reveal this. Already there has been an additional $3.2 billion cost blow-out from the original budget estimates. The May budget assumed that about 250 would arrive each week this financial year but this figure was woefully, even spectacularly, wrong.

The Indonesian Government will host a meeting in Jakarta on August 20 to discuss the asylum seeker issue from a regional perspective and Australia, New Zealand, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand have been invited. It remains to be seen if Australia will attend, or only attend in some sort of observer role, if the election campaign has officially begun.

When the election has been called, the Australian Government goes into caretaker mode and cannot make any binding or definite decisions.

Yet we can undoubtedly rely on Rudd and his Ministers to keep up the talk about a regional solution even if Rudd himself forfeits the ability to make any meaningful input to this gathering because he has called the election.

When “adequate” is inadequate

Felicity Throsby, in Canberra

Before any inspection, meeting or field-visit, a politician must work out what he or she will say, especially concerning critical events. 

Pre-determined words must stress several key imperatives – that it demonstrates a proactive “hands-on”, “rolling-up-the-sleeves” approach and, if any unfortunate issues become apparent publicly before the event, those words should expresses resolve, determination and commitment to improve the situation and – above all – they must appeal to the greatest number of voters while alienating the smallest number, if at all. 

If you are a Government Minister the underlying message is that basically everything is just fine and dandy, the policy is sound, the fundamentals are solid but that more can and will be done urgently. If the politician is from the Opposition, then the message expresses shock and outrage at an utterly deplorable situation and that it confirms the very worst fears that the current Minister/Government is hopeless and we will do much better.

The announcement by Immigration Minister Tony Bourke after his visit that detention facilities at Manus Island are “more than adequate” certainly ticks all the boxes. And to stress this reassurance, Bourke went further saying conditions there were “infinitely better” than he had expected to find and, indeed, the Manus Island centre “compared well”  with other (unnamed) centres elsewhere.

There was also the mandatory positive undertaking that “changes will be made to minimise the risk of asylum seekers being abused.” That is the essential “get out of jail free” card because if nothing, or too little, is done the Minister can deflect blame – naturally in sorrow more than anger – to hapless public servants, contractors and anybody else handy. 

The media were banned from accompanying the Minister on his Manus Island fact-finding mission because they could well have proven to be difficult.

I’m sure that Manus Island “compared well” to and was even “infinitely better” than, for example, Auschwitz. 

The scales must have fallen from the Minister’s eyes following his inspection because only a few days previously he told the ABC that the facilities there were “inadequate for families” and that he could not say when families would be sent. Obviously there is nothing like a personal inspection – and, of course, a proper PR briefing.

The use of the term “more than adequate” in Minister Bourke’s post-visit statement is clever – it seeks to assure assorted lefties and bleeding hearts that the place is of a reasonably high standard while it simultaneously tips the wink to those demanding a more robust policy that the place is no Sheraton.

It even has the wonderful benefit of appearing to fulfil our international obligations. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services…”.

The Australian Human Rights Commission in a wide-ranging report last year on existing detention facilities then concluded that current clinical spaces at three major centres in Australia appeared to be “entirely inadequate.” We can only wonder, because Minister Bourke hasn’t exactly told us, how health – including mental health -facilities have already been provided already at Manus Island to lift it to its “more than adequate” status.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in a sharply critical and comprehensive statement said the Rudd Government could well have broken international law with its PNG deal adding, “… UNHCR is troubled by the current absence of adequate protection standards and safeguards for asylum seekers and refugees in Papua New Guinea…”  There’s that “adequate” word again.

Australia’s peak legal body, the Law Council of Australia, agreed saying the Malaysian deal – which was dismissed by the High Court – did not legally guarantee refugee rights and it appeared the PNG deal didn’t either. The Human Rights Commissioner Gilliam Triggs said the government needed to explain how this deal addressed our obligations under international human rights law.

Happily, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has cheerily reassured us that everything is perfectly legal although we have to just take his word for that. There is no independent legal advice it seems.

The clear implication of Minister Bourke’s comments is that it stands to reason (for reasonable people only, of course,) that if the Manus Island facility is “more than adequate” that we are doing more than enough. 

Adequacy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.