Blog Archives

Immigration Mathematics

Mathematics || Spoken Word by Hollie McNish

A poem about immigration, based on a guy I used to have to listen to when I worked in a clothes shop. The poem owes a lot to a book by economist Philippe Legrain called Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them:…. It’s a good book, I wish we had it on the school curriculum.

Lessons Overboard by Imogen Bailey

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Refugee Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child have all been created to protect the rights and freedoms of every single human being equally.

Imogen appearing on SBS’s Go Back To Where You Came From

This discussion acknowledges that there a broad range of issues within our community that cannot be compromised or ignored.  However the rights of asylum seekers and refugees cannot be held in competition with these other important issues.  As Australians we have an obligation to participate and influence the decisions of our leaders, but perhaps more importantly we have an even higher obligation as human beings to one another.

To take the first class of Lessons Overboard head over to the online classroom at


The Truth on #AsylumSeeker Numbers!

TT and ACA, Anything for Ratings – Asylum Seekers.

It had been a good start to the year for Channels Seven and Nines flag-ship current affairs programs Today Tonight and A Current Affair, but as viewers changed the networks pulled out the big guns.

Today Tonight Seven tell us is “Australia’s number one current affair program” and it seems they will do anything to protect that myth. They’d started the year well with consistent top ten appearances in the weekly ratings but by the time October had come around it had been months since they’d made the list. Of course it comes as no surprise that they took their tried and true hack journalism route to ratings glory. “Dole Bludgers” can be an easy target although in these troubled economic times that might mean too many viewers are, well, on the dole. “Muslim Extremists” are another classic target for TT and ACA but with the Arab spring being given favourable publicity around the world it was best avoided for now. Say hello to the political football any grubby journalist can make a pay cheque from, Asylum Seekers.

Kylie Gillies should be ashamed of herself!

So it came as no surprise that on October 10th after months of struggling to climb the ratings top ten, Kylie Gillies opened up the week with this:-

Kylie Gillies: First tonight our investigation into how the Government is putting out the welcome mat for refugees. We’ve gone inside the so called ‘refugee resort’ where there’s no wire fencing, there’s no bars, and the inmates live in four star luxury…

Two weeks later ABC’s Media Watch would prove that virtually everything in the report was false, fabricated or used to mislead viewers.

Not to be outdone two weeks later Tracy Grimshaw fronted Nines ACA with “Asylum Seeker Heaven –  Taxpayers footed a bill of nearly $800 million for detention centres last financial year, so A Current Affair investigated just why the system is costing us so much. In the process we discovered not only huge medical and security costs, but also luxuries like plasma TVs and internet cafes.”

More half truths and innuendo dressed up as journalism was trotted out pitching ill informed local residents against asylum seekers and using the created outrage to package together a nice report for a ratings win. Good news stories can sell but not on a nightly basis and when advertisers want ratings TT and ACA are all too willing to climb to the bottom of the barrel, fabricate a story and peddle fear to make a dollar.

Just switch them off!

It worked, TTs ratings for the Monday were the best they’d had for quite a while and the damage they had done to the community, the asylum seekers and the political debate would be lost in the joy of keeping their advertisers happy. One participant of the TT story who had been duped by the reporter went from outrage at asylum seekers to concern for them when told the real facts. The reality with any controversial debate is that the community is best served by the facts and not filled with fear by journalists and producers trying to make a buck out of the misery of others.

For too long ACA and TT have gotten away with being called “current affairs programs”, they are not! They are just the same as the sly and unethical journalists who brought the Murdoch empire to its knees in the UK. They will stop at nothing, obey no standard and break every rule in their attempt for ratings and the dollar grab. Such was the outrage in the UK over the behaviour of News of the World that it was forced to shut its door. The British public are better for it and their democracy better served by the closing of unethical hackers at News. The time has come for the same to happen to TT and ACA. And that starts with you!

Both will do whatever it takes to "pump up" their ratings

The only way ACA and TT stay alive is by you watching. Even if you are doing so to see what hate they are peddling today you are helping their cause, lining their pockets and increasing the fear. Vote with your remote, when ACA and TT time comes around in your house change the channel. And in doing so be part of changing the tone of the debate that needs facts and responsible journalism to inform a solution that benefits us all.

If Monday nights 4 Corners on the ABC shocked you at the treatment of Asylum Seekers then not only should you write to your local MP, call the Immigration Minister and get involved in the debate. You should switch off ACA and TT and ensure that lies and fear are not the ratings winners of Australian democracy.

Advance Australia Fair – It’s all in Verse 2

On Friday night  Australian’s were unwinding from the week that was, settling into the AFL & NRL finals, catching a game from the Rugby World Cup, enjoying a concert, a meal with the family or a night out with friends. Some were still working as the weekend drew near, Hospitals never stop, trains keep on running and night shifts about to start. In Canberra they were working too, the Minister for Immigration and his Department used the night to release their controversial changes to the Migration Act.

Maybe it wasn’t a cynical move, simply an act of a Department and Minister under pressure and burning the mid night oil to have it ready for the weekend press and the monday morning sell. But most, rightly in my view, saw it as a cynical attempt to slip it in under the radar. It’s no secret that the Government, despite being stopped by the High Court, are desperate to restart their “Malaysian Solution”. So while the amendments make no mention of Malaysia, they would allow the Minister to pick and choose the offshore processing destination of his choice. One of the more disturbing aspects of the amendments is that which would allow the Minister alone to choose a country for offshore processing even if that Nation’s domestic and International law protections for Asylum Seekers are zero.

Minister Bowen must be taught the Anthem's 2nd Verse!

So what does all this have to do with our National anthem, Advance Australia Fair? We all grew up singing it at school, we listen to it belted out at sporting events and we expect new citizens to know the words. But most of us have rarely heard the second verse and clearly the current crop of Australian politicians aren’t aware of the lyrics. “Toil” makes a return, while “Girt” doesn’t get another crack but the end of the verse solves once and for all the true National position on Asylum Seekers.

“For those who’ve come across the seas. We’ve boundless plains to share”

That’s right, the Australian national anthem singles out in particular those who come across the sea that we here in Oz have a huge country to share with them. It doesn’t say you have to come by plane (because you don’t) and it makes clear it is us, not Malaysia, Nauru or PNG that will be sharing our land.  And if somehow predicting the current debate the next two lines give us the guidance for this struggle.

“With courage let us all combine. To Advance Australia Fair.”

Yes indeed, with courage let us one and all unite, new Australian’s and old, so that we can share a future that is better than our past, together! Perhaps those of us advocating for onshore processing have been doing it all wrong. First we pointed to Australian law and appealed to the “fair go” attitude. Then we reminded our Government that if they wished to ignore or change our laws there was still International law that they couldn’t circumvent. When that failed a brilliant group of lawyers took the case to the highest court in the land and won! Again it appears even the High Court cannot persuade this Government or those in opposition that offshore processing is wrong.

But the answer was there all along, it was in one of the first things they taught us at school. So important it was deemed that we had to stand in sun, wind, rain and snow to belt it out or fear the wrath of the principal’s scorn. So we must stand tall once more, sing it like we care and make the new Immigration policy, Advance Australia Fair!

ALP MPs must cross the floor on Asylum Seekers!

Walk the Walk if you want to Talk the Talk.

A politician’s job can be a complex thing, who really wants to speak out of both sides of your mouth to keep your job? But what really counts is the way they vote on the Parliament floor.

The Asylum Seeker debate is still going strong in Australia. It is an issue we’ve grappled with as a nation since white man arrived. But it is relatively easy to argue that 200 years on our politician’s are handling the matter more disgracefully than at any other time in our history. At times in the past public opinion was in favour of harsh treatment of those seeking asylum on our shores. Public opinion also once supported the fact that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had WMD’s, something that even Dick Cheney admits was wrong. But for what it’s worth public opinion does support the onshore processing of asylum seekers, 53%. But then you have the other swaying factors to process onshore, legal, economic, humane, health and just the down right decency of doing the right thing.

Crossing the floor means cutting the fence!

For the ALP this is a tricky issue only because they made it that way. Under John Howard the ALP took damage at the polls for supporting onshore processing, the Tampa and children overboard had major impacts on their electoral success or lack thereof. So it seems strange that a party who took a massive hit on an issue would turn around and jump to the other side of the fence to be hit again. Either they believe it will give them electoral success (it wont) or they believe they are doing this in the National interest (it isn’t). On the first issue polls quite clearly show this is a Government in trouble and the “Malaysian Solution” is on the nose. In terms of a National interest how is something that costs more, is illegal under International law and Australian law (hello High Court), costs a fortune and is downright inhumane considered the best thing to do?

It isn’t and they know it, so the Labor left faction has been rolled out to show us the party still has a heart. Doug Cameron has  taken to the airwaves and caucus to appeal for onshore processing, Steve Georganas has hosted Welcome2Australia at Parliament House and others have reminded us that “we have to remember these are human beings”. We have to remember? Us? No,we know perfectly well who they are and we also know why you were elected. Not on a platform of offshore processing and a plan that makes the brutal Pacific Solution and TPV’s look down right pleasant.

Government MPs and Senators don’t get to tell us about humanity, International law and what is in the National interest unless they do the one thing they were sent to Canberra to do. Vote! If they honestly believe in International law, fair and just treatment of Asylum Seekers and actually welcoming people to Australia then they will cross the floor and vote against any and all offshore processing legislation. The very poorly named “Malaysian Solution” is no solution at all. Tony Abbott’s Lib/Nat coalition doesn’t have an acceptable policy either so any gloating on his behalf is for political chest beating only. But the ALP is the Government of the day and the responsibility rests with those ALP members who do believe what the majority of Australian’s believe and voted for them to deliver.

The only thing that counts is their vote on the floor of the parliament. If they want to talk the human rights talk, they have to walk the political walk. And cross the floor!


8 September 2011 
The Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Andrew Metcalfe, must 
respond immediately to media reports that he has linked asylum seeker boat arrivals with 
future social unrest in private discussions with the Federal Opposition. 
If the media reports are accurate, the claims which Mr Metcalfe made are inflammatory 
and unjustifiable. If the media reports are wrong, Mr Metcalfe must explain what he did 
and did not say. A failure to correct or retract the statements will do even more damage 
to the cause of people seeking Australia's protection from persecution. 

We utterly reject any suggestion that Australia faces the prospect of riots or unrest similar 
to that seen in parts of Europe as a result of asylum seekers entering Australia. Our 
nation has been receiving asylum seekers and refugees for decades - more than 
770,000 since Federation. There is no evidence to link refugees received by Australia 
with social unrest. As Mr Metcalfe well knows from the work conducted by his own 
Department, Australia has one of the most successful approaches to the settlement of 
refugees and migrants in the world. With continued government and community 
commitment to settlement support for new arrivals, this will remain the case for many 
decades to come. 

If the media reports remain uncorrected, many people will assume that Mr Metcalfe 
intended to make those remarks and stands by them. The impact of this for asylum 
seekers and refugees will be devastating, given Mr Metcalfe's critical role in Australian 
immigration policy. It will also further undermine Australia's commitment to maintaining 
access to asylum, as well as raise further questions about the nation's commitment to its 
obligations under the Refugee Convention. 

While last week's High Court ruling has frustrated the plans Mr Metcalfe and his 
Department had to deport asylum seekers to Malaysia, it would be unacceptable for a 
senior public service official to attempt to raise false fears to advance a policy goal.  If Mr 
Metcalfe's position has been misrepresented by the media, he must say so - loudly and 

This statement has been endorsed by:   
Refugee Council of Australia 
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre 
Australian Council for International Development
Coalition for Asylum Seekers Refugees and Detainees
Edmund Rice Centre 
Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia 
International Detention Coalition 
Refugee Advice and Casework Service (Australia) 
UnitingJustice Australia 
Media inquiries: Andrew Williams 0488 035 535

1DN’s Hero and Villain of the Week – 02/09/2011

Hero – David Manne, Executive Director of the Refugee & Immigration Legal Centre .

Hero - David Manne

David Manne and his team at the RILC brought the action in the High Court against the Government’s “Malaysian solution” that was this week found to be unlawful. The ruling by the court was historic, in that in provides a major hurdle for this and any future Government to attempt to process Asylum Seekers offshore. But history is not forged by those who sit by why injustice takes place and High Courts do not rule against a Government unless a group of people do Hero like work to ensure that justice is done. In a time when politics has become particularly dirty, tea party like rallies in Canberra, politician’s caught up in serious legal issues and a parliament ground to a halt by mud-slinging the good news is that not all leaders are politicians and most politicians are NOT leaders. So our hero of the week for leadership, commitment and an amazing achievement for Human rights is David Manne and the team at RILC.

Villain  – News Limited “columnist” Andrew Bolt

In a week where his News Ltd stable mate, Glenn Milne, could have beaten him to the prize. Bolt proves there is nothing like a hissy fit to get your name in the papers and be this weeks Villain. The Australian newspaper kicked off the week by publishing an article by Milne about PM Gillard that was short on facts and high on Chardonnay fumes. The false and defamatory article was pulled by News Ltd and an apology put in its place. To Bolt this was the equivalent to appeasing the Nazi party and he would take his flaming sword of freedom to the airwaves.  “What are you so afraid of? What else would you stoop to in order to cling to power? I was considering resigning as a News Limited columnist,” Bolt screeched. “I thought this company that I love, that I have long admired for its defence of free speech, had caved in to pressure from a Prime Minister to close down reporting of a matter of public interest.”

A blogger can strike? Hippy!

So Bolt took his bat and ball and went home. But like most cry babies and bullies it only lasted for a day and with his sword still out of its sheath went on the rampage about Democracy, Freedom, Socialism, Lenin and why he just had to hold strong for the good of the nation. Sorry Andrew, but your pen pal Milne got it wrong, suck it up and get on with writing about why Carbon Dioxide is actually a beautiful rainbow creating lolly drop from God. But you are this weeks Villain!

*credit to for Bolt image.

%d bloggers like this: