The abuse of humanitarian entry

When the taxpaying community becomes tired of subsidising some of the rorts of humanitarian entry, the true spirit of adventure and self-reliance that were the hallmarks of migration will return. So say most of the old migrants and the old Aussie, but not the professional ethnic or his welfare cohorts. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime (or two) should be the basis of policy, instead of encouraging him to sit around waiting for a handout of a sardine pickle.

… … Humanitarian policy is often misrepresented. My first experience of such misrepresentation was when the then Minister announced a one-off amnesty for people illegally in Australia. After a very clear exposition by the Minister, at which I was present, one of the ethnic representatives, who spoke excellent English, went back and wrote a biased and error-filled report in his ethnic language newspaper. An unexpected and genuine gesture was misrepresented.

“They gave the naked man a shirt and he said it was too thick,” as the Russians say. What did the newsman gain from such a misrepresentation? Did he see his role as attacking the government at every opportunity (while seeking privileges)? Attack, whinge, attack – is the tactical ploy of some professional ethnics.

When I was transferred to the position of head of the humanitarian entry policy of Immigration, I found that a new policy had just been approved but not implemented. In addition to refugee entry based on the formal definition relating to a well-founded fear of persecution, there would be humanitarian entry based on a well-founded fear of discrimination. The policy as drafted seemed to be an impossible one to administer. …

… … I rewrote the policy, the Minister approved it, and it was implemented. A survey of the programme after six months showed not one Baha’i, the only people who, according to Amnesty International and other reports, were clearly in need of succour through that policy. … … I finalised the support mechanisms with the leaders of the Baha’i faith to provide settlement assistance to those approved for humanitarian entry into Australia.

… … With time, more and more people were approved under the humanitarian policy, always on a case-by-case basis. There had to be an apparent prima facie basis for acceptance. And all manner of people from a range of countries were coming in. To my knowledge, that programme was successful, although there were many instances of abuse. Those who knew how to squawk the loudest were the most successful of the dubious cases. Some of the sponsors were not averse to personally abusing officials – I can vouch for that.

… … When the refugee programme (which had resulted in a huge intake of Vietnamese, mainly of ethnic-Chinese ancestry, and with a substantial proportion of Catholics) was expanded to cover East Europeans, I understood from my political contacts that their party wanted some white refugees for a change. When the programme was subsequently expanded to cover Latin Americans, it was rumoured that the then Minister wanted some left-wing refugees, also for a change. Was it significant that the people in the geographical areas covered were predominantly of the same Church?

The bureaucrats too made their contribution to changes of policy. Their motives were mixed – to grease the squeaky wheel (for genuine humanitarian concerns or to ease the pressure on the Minister); to big-note themselves (with an eye to promotion into the international agencies); or to do favours (with a possible career upgrade if politicians so decided). I do not believe that cost to the taxpayer, coherence in policy, or the consequential shifts in ethnic community balance or relations or tensions, were given adequate consideration. That would also require a certain intellectual competence and I saw little evidence of that in my day.

(The above extracts from my book ‘Destiny Will Out’ should indicate that humanitarian entry policy was essentially a political ploy. Flexibility, not corruption or lax administration, was the name of the game, although a few inexperienced senior bureaucrats were then unavoidable.

Today, asylum-seeking economic immigrants arriving by boat (without documentation) or by air (with entry visas) have thrown politicians into confusion. Approvals of boat people reportedly exceed 90 %. How could that be?

Their supporters are either irresponsible in terms of the cost to honest taxpayers, or to the inherent policy issues. These include inter-community cohesion in Australia, and the family responsibilities of the men who place their women and children on unsafe boats, surely knowing that processing of their claims will take place overseas. Whinge, attack, whinge remains the weapon of choice of asylum-seeker glee-clubs.)