The El Dorado of welfare

When the Soviet regime allowed some of its Jewish citizens to join close relatives in Israel, 85% of those allowed to leave were (according to Israel’s Prime Minister in the early 1980s) deflected to the El Dorado of the USA (and to less-attractive nations such as Australia). This is the power of economic opportunity.

In recent decades, beardless Middle Eastern men and niqab-free women paid large sums of money to ‘snake-heads’ to deliver them to the (no reciprocity of payment required) welfare regime of the El Dorado of Australia.

The extent of support for welfare (and attempts to widen its scope in Australia) is most impressive. While ‘other people’s money’ is a natural drawcard, what motivates those who recommend (even demand) widening and deepening welfare eligibility for others? Paying students to study maths at school is the latest thought-bubble of a poobah in education policy.

And, until recently, there was a strident demand from a sector of the community that Australia should take in more economic migrants claiming asylum – without regard to the UN Convention defining a refugee. Is it not curious that their wish to offer charity is circumscribed by the availability of taxpayer money?

A concealed form of welfare takes the form of tax subsidies to the well-off. The most interesting one is described as ‘wealth creation’ by Conservative politicians. The most flagrant form is through ‘negative gearing’ of investments in property. Costs – actual or staged – are deductible against income from any source; a most generous unintended gift by other taxpayers, who have to make up the deficit in government revenue, and who are unable to reduce their tax burden honestly.

Interestingly, an article by Jessica Irvine in the Sydney Morning Herald of 9 Feb. 2018, about a report by the Grattan Institute on Australia’s compulsory contribution by workers, suggests increasing rent assistance to vulnerable retirees.

What was the objective in establishing the ‘superannuation guarantee charge’? Was it not intended to progressively replace the age pension, which is now popularly regarded as a right, and which is a very heavy budgetary burden?

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Integrating ethno-cultural diversity

One can wear one’s culture loosely, like an overcoat resting on one’s shoulders, or wear it tightly, like a belted and hooded ankle-length raincoat. The latter may, to a substantial degree, be akin to a woman who prefers to be clad, in a Western nation, in a burqa in public. The latter, however, implies personal and physical separation, and a preferred isolation.

It can be argued that, in a free country, members should be free to dress as they wish, and possess the right not to be an integral component of the many, or to co-operate or congregate with those not like them. That is, such members would have the right only to co-exist (but not integrate) with those not like them.

How would such people then view the nation of which they are part? That it is quite acceptable to enjoy the identity and security provided by a sovereign nation-state without relating in a socially meaningful manner with ‘others’ in the nation?

Credibly, the foundation tribes from Britain formed themselves into the Australian people. There are no visible tribal clothing styles reflecting their origins. The huge post-war influx of Europeans then integrated themselves easily into the Australian ethos. More recently, the virulence of the White Australia policy having abated, coloured immigrants too are integrating successfully; with welfare sustaining most of those economic migrants claiming to be refugees. The latter represent the first category of entrants who are not economically viable.

More recently, we have been asked to modify our legal system to include sharia law, the first time the nation has been asked to adapt to the immigrant (rather than the reverse). We are also asked to accept that any cultural practice associated with Islam is sacrosanct. However, since suburban Australia is not exposed to hot desert sands, presumably we will not be seeing too many ‘walking tents’ on our streets.

Those immigrant tribes who seek to transpose all their traditional practices, some of which are not intrinsically tied to their religion, into their chosen nation, might simply want what the host-nation offers, but wish to retain their traditional practices unaltered. However, by the third generation, when grandpa’s edicts have been eroded by education, socialisation, and habituation, clothing styles and behaviour which separate our youth from one another can be expected to be forgotten.

Advanced immigrant-receiving nations realise that ethno-cultural diversity needs, in the interests of national identity and stability, to become progressively integrated (but not assimilated) into a coherent people.

Integration is a like a mixed salad, a gestalt, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It is also comparable to the components of a rich palatable soup, giving texture and flavour to the soup, with each component making a sufficient contribution but without losing itself. Assimilation, however, is like a blended soup where all the ingredients are totally absorbed into the final product. I doubt if any immigrant-seeking nation seeks this outcome as current policy.

In time, assimilation may be the eventual outcome where there has been no input of new tribes. In the modern world, however, with so much migration, especially through asylum-seeking pressures, or because of a political integration of nations, a country composed of unintegrated tribes would not be a cohesive nation.

Most importantly, equal opportunity, if already available (as in Australia), may not be as accessible to marginal tribal communities were their members to be unwilling to modify those aspects of their inherited traditions and behaviours which are not in tune with the social mores and conventions of the host people.

Cultural adaptation would enable speedier integration, either through accessing available equal opportunities or by demonstrating the willingness of the immigrant community to share their lives more fully with others already in the nation.

All believers share the one and only Creator God of the Cosmos. Why not share the nation-state to which one belongs by choice?

 

Back-door entry to Australia

One cannot obviously be a puritan in the administration of humanitarian entry (HE) policy. … …  .  This is also where back door entry policy, the admission of asylum seekers, also comes in.

Equipped with a passport from one’s country of nationality, a return airline ticket, enough money to cover the nominated period of the visit, a visa and other documentation identifying one as a businessman, visitor, student, etc., one can, after arrival, convert to asylum seeker.  The applicant cannot be thrown out as an over-stayer while awaiting a decision.  Then the repeated access to appeal courts, presumably at taxpayer expense, an access not so readily available to, or affordable by, an ordinary Australian citizen!

But, who feeds, accommodates, and pays the medical bills for these asylum seekers while they await this back door entry?  A Singhalese person claiming a fear of persecution in Singhalese Sri Lanka, or a Malaysian Chinese making a similar claim about Chinese-dominated Malaysia, indicate the waste of investigatory resources arising from such asylum claims, and the opportunism of applicants and their very vocal supporters.

The public has little to no information about what happens to those legal arrivals, the ones who arrive by air with an appropriate entry document.  These represent the greater part of these asylum seekers.  Reportedly, most of these applicants are allowed to remain.  On what basis?  Surely all those accepted could not have produced evidence of persecution or discrimination.  Were they also assessed as capable of earning a living in Australia?  Are the rejects only those who have failed security checks?  Who provides the necessary information?  The authorities from whom the applicant claims to be fleeing?  Since there seems to be no shortage of local supporters for these applicants, is this form of entry a variation of family reunion?

  On the other hand, we are flooded with information about unlawful boat arrivals.  Their very vocal Anglo-Australian supporters present them as a form of sacred cow.  For instance, we are not allowed to describe them as illegal arrivals!  Australia is not to be allowed to reject any, in spite of a seemingly unlimited right of access to appeal courts at taxpayer expense.  No reject can be sent home.  Indeed, there was that incredible claim that there should be a separate entry category for rejected asylum seekers!

Asylum seekers should also not be kept in detention where they are provided with full board, education, health and welfare services, we are told.  But we are not told who will house, feed, and medicate them were they to be free to roam all over the country while they await a decision.  Will their supporters accept that responsibility?  Or, is the poor taxpayer expected to provide accommodation in the community (in spite of the thousands of Australian homeless people needing a warm bed), with cash support from Centrelink (the welfare agency) and medical services through Medicare?  Officialdom is apparently already required to provide public housing to those accepted as refugees.  Welfare benefits and Medicare automatically flow from acceptance.  Presumably, family reunion is then available.  Who wouldn’t want to be an asylum seeker!

The Anglo-Australian supporters of the boat arrivals claim that all asylum seekers are genuine refugees (how would they know that?) and that they have all suffered trauma and torture (anyone with any evidence?).  They seek speedy decisions in spite of the reality that almost all arrivals have torn up their identity papers and other documentation which got them to Indonesia.  What does that behaviour suggest?  That there is an intent not to be honest?  Why?  Could some of them be al-Queda or Taliban, or are members of drug or other criminal cartels?  How are our authorities to know?  We are told that detention has caused mental health problems;  but, were those with such problems sent by their families?

There is another moral problem.  How could anyone risk the life of a child or one’s womenfolk on one of the asylum seeker boats?  Is it then the case that the journey is not as dangerous as it is said to be?  In a comparable past experience, were the Vietnamese boat people arriving in Thailand and Malaysia as exposed to the sea and piracy as was claimed by their vocal supporters?  How believable is an economic migrant seeking entry by the back door?

 

(The above is an extract from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society,’ published in 2012. Since then, much has changed. Initially, a more open door to illegal entry led to a large number of arrivals. With a change of government, Australia’s borders became more tightly protected against arrivals by sea. What of legal arrivals claiming asylum?

There are claimants yet to be assessed, reportedly living in Australia. Then, there are those placed overseas. It is indeed a somewhat murky situation. I am not aware of supporters of asylum seekers willing to take them into their homes, finding jobs, and generally looking after them; except to assist them with their applications and review appeals; and to make loud public protests.

The taxpayer cost of supporting accepted asylum seekers seems high. 91% unemployment after 5 years is a very heavy load for those who cannot minimise their tax burden.

Back-door entry obviously needs to be denied; or the nation loses control of its borders. An integrated populace needs to decide who joins them.

    

 

 

Side door entry to Australia (Part 2)

The Labor Party then sought white left-wing  HEs (humanitarian entrants).  So I was informed.  We found them in post-Allende Chile.  However, there soon developed a flood of applicants from all of Central and South America.  Then the Vaticanites enabled East Timorese to receive HE admission, even when they were living in Portugal, their country of nationality!  Our senior bureaucrats and Ministers can indeed be very flexible in their decision making.

All of a sudden, Poles living within Poland could qualify as HEs!  How influential was the Polish Pope?  Then, for a while, ‘White Russians’ came from China as HEsThese had fled the arrival of communism in Russia 60 years before.  An all-white colleague of mine used to claim proudly that he was Chinese; he was born in China of White Russian parents.

There were also Jewish Russians who had been permitted by the Soviet Government to join close family in Israel but who, on arrival in Vienna, sought El Dorado in Western nations.  The Prime Minister of Israel in the 1980s was not happy at having up to 85% of potential citizens deflected elsewhere, mainly by professional recruiters from the USA.

Then, contrary to policy, presumably through Ministerial discretion, a number of Jewish Russian women married to non-Jewish men were permitted entry to Australia.  They had left Israel because they did not like their experiences as second-class citizens of Israel.  There are two other classes below them, as confirmed to me by my good Jewish Australian friend who had spent some time in Israel.  (My friend is not ‘self-hating,’ is knowledgeable, and observes the Jewish traditions.).  One of these Jewish Russian women subsequently worked for me in the Department of Immigration;  she was a worthy immigrant, who also told me a great deal about Israel.

When a global HE policy replaced the Middle Eastern HE policy, the first batch approved overseas were not Baha’is, as expected, but Afghan carpet merchants from Pakistan.  Some of Australia’s visa-issuing embassy staff were very flexible.  At that time, the Baha’i were the only people known to be persecuted in the Middle East.  A little later, we accepted a number of Bahai’is.  As with other HEs, they were placed in a migrant hostel in a city in which resided members of the same community. These had agreed to assist the initial settlement of the new arrivals.  A kind hostel manager had arranged for a local imam to greet the arrivals.  The next day he rang me to ask what he was to do with the halal meat.  This was the measure of the care we gave all new arrivals.

Some Ministerial approvals were also so flexible, that I was threatened by an ethnic Australian sponsor of his relatives overseas when I pointed out that I did not have the authority to approve entry outside policy.  The sponsor himself had benefited from an earlier flexible Ministerial approval.  Eminence in one’s profession can engender uncivil conduct!

For a short period only, the Tamils of Sri Lanka had entry as HEs;  not surprisingly, the majority approved seemed to be disproportionately Christian.  Yet, this was a generous entry policy, as even migrant entry from the Indian sub-continent had been constrained for years by positioning a strong arm against the entry door.  This was achieved by limiting the Australian immigration staff over there.  Two of those who had worked in this region subsequently worked in my team, one after the other.  They were not posted overseas after unwisely protesting to the head of the department about this discriminatory practice.

Eventually, I was directed, but at my initiative, to close down the White Russian and East Timorese policies;  they were not needed.  The other ethno-specific regional HE policies were far too sensitive politically;  our global HE policy did not obviously pay adequate respect to the tribo-cultural sensitivities of the communities affected.

There had to have been great flexibility in approvals at certain overseas posts.  Why?  Because, surprisingly, many HEs, especially the Poles, subsequently returned home to obtain jobs in keeping with their qualifications (such jobs not readily available in Australia).  Vietnamese HEs who had allegedly fled the takeover by the communists went back to Vietnam as Australians to conduct businesses.  So much for their earlier ‘genuine’ fear of persecution or discrimination!

 

(The above is an extract from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society.’

Only careful selection of applicants for migrant entry to Australia, by Australian officials assessing their potential for integrating into the nation, can ensure subsequent inter-community cohesion. Acceptance of Australian institutions and social mores and values, and an ability to learn English, were essential pre-requisites. Applicants were also discouraged from introducing their tribal prejudices into Australia. Side-door entry was not as stringent.)

      

 

Protecting national borders and ethos

Modern Australia was founded by immigrants, and developed by immigrants.  Under the sway of capitalism – that the economy must grow for ever – governments tend to favour a rising rate of immigration.  This policy is the preferred substitute for a long-term development plan, or even a population policy.  Awaiting for God’s Will may explain this approach.

However, refugees and asylum seekers either cannot afford to wait, or chose not to wait, for God’s Will.  Of course, there are genuine refugees and ‘wannabe’ refugees.  The majority of the latter are most likely to be economic migrants who, in all probability, would not pass our normal selection process. – which has worked well.

Today, asylum seeking is probably the biggest entry racket, aided by some Aussies who seem to believe that the Australian taxpayer is required to benefit every claimant for refugee status.  This is in contrast to tradition where the migrant is expected to benefit Australia.  Even border control now awaits God’s Will, since neither side of politics has any policy worthy of note.  In the meantime, what are the issues involved?

To begin with, national borders remain relevant, notwithstanding that national sovereignty has been substantially fractured by the role of the UN, its conventions, and coalitions of saviours (whether or not operating with UN approval) engaged in the War on Terror.

Migrant entry, normally through some form of screening, is intended to benefit the receiving nation.  The post-second world war policy of seeking immigrants commenced with entrants from Britain.  It was extended sequentially to Europe, the Levant, East Asia, then other Asia, and finally became truly global.  Australia’s immigration program is now somewhat substantial.  This sequence of geographical sources reflected the gradation of acceptance from white skin colour to all other colours, and thereby to all cultures, as enabled gradually  by a growing public tolerance.

Family reunion, introduced only a few decades ago when sought by settlers from the Mediterranean, was intended to keep the sponsoring immigrant happy.  Because of continental Europe’s rapid economic development, few family members in the Mediterranean region could be persuaded by family in Australia to use the new program.  Instead, the early beneficiaries were the British;  later the East Asians.  Even if entry is restricted to nuclear family members, there may be little increase in the productive capacity of the nation.  All immigration has cost-offsets;  family reunion can represent a substantial cost.

Refugee entry is also selectiveAs with immigrants, refugees had to be seen to be able to fit into the national ethos.  For instance, rural people were not wanted.  Both categories represent front door entry.

The initial post-war batch of refugees (these were, in the main, real refugees) were Europeans displaced by the war.  I studied and, later, worked with some.  The first girl to befriend me in Australia had come out of a Nazi concentration camp.  A year later, I went out for a while with a lass who had a number etched on her arm, and got to know her family.  A country which had decided to collect immigrants had to take some of the displaced persons.  Australia did very well by taking its share.

The ones I met were middle-class, educated, skilled.  For a few years, in the 1960s, my wife and I entertained one of these, an elderly man.  He had, he said, 2 doctorates, but worked as a clerk in my agency.  I believe that he too was Jewish.  My Holocaust-survivor friends and I never discussed their experiences;  I felt very sorry for them.  My life under the Japanese could not have compared with their plight.  Yet, there was one exception.  In 1948, a Polish ex-serviceman and I talked deep into the night on a few occasions about his experiences as a resistance fighter.  I saw some of the false documents he had used.  Later, I also got to meet a few Czech and Hungarian refugees who had fled the Soviet invasion of their countries in 1956 and 1968 respectively.

(Comment: My work with the then Department of Immigration & Ethnic Affairs for nearly a decade was on all aspects of migrant integration. But I had considerable personal contact with refugees and immigrants before that. We foreigners were attracted to one another. The Europeans had respect for Asian cultures, and were colour-blind (including the women).

Careful selection by officials ensured that all entrants were interested in, and capable of, successful settlement. The record shows the success of this policy; the second generation had     reportedly done better in life than the offspring of the host people. I could believe that.

What I refer to as side door and back door entry policy subsequently changed that.)      

 

First impressions of Black Australia (1)

“I can claim to know only one Aboriginal person. Indeed, I have met very few Aboriginal people over half a century in Australia. How am I to meet them? Our paths are so far apart. When a meeting does take place, there might be little of that communication that one might expect from people sharing the same stage. Are they keeping themselves apart, because they have been rejected by white society?

The first Aborigine I sighted was inebriated. I saw him hit on the head (yes, the head), and chucked (yes, chucked) into a paddy wagon. This was in Melbourne more than fifty years ago. In Brisbane and Perth in the following years, I saw Aborigines being harassed by the police. Since I was with an inter-varsity hockey team in Brisbane, I should have been safe. Yet, one night, walking back to the campus alone, I was scrutinised by the police in a way which I found uncomfortable.

Regrettably, in the early 1990s, I saw young Aborigines, well dressed and behaving themselves, and in the company of young whites, being harassed by the police. In the late 1990s, I was followed by a motorcycle cop, on an Easter Sunday, for many kilometres before being stopped. I fear that he had assumed that a brown fellow driving an old car sedately had to be a ‘coastal blackfellow’, with all the implications of that for the latter.

In a small seaside town north of Perth, nearly fifty years ago, I was in the company of a dark Indian, with the even features found in South India, and a pinkish Eurasian. The latter claimed proudly that he had a Malay grandmother, although this was not discernible. We had got off a small boat and, at the bar of the nearest pub, were asked if we were Aborigines. Surprised (how on earth could we be, given our appearance?), we said no — and were permitted to drink on the premises. The barmaid explained that Aborigines were not allowed to be served. Further up the West Australian coast, adjacent to the cattle country, we saw Aborigines, dressed as stockmen, walking in the distance.  There seemed to be none in town. The exception was a street walker that night.

A few years later, a tall Chinese Malaysian, an even-featured Sri Lankan, a tall Indian Malaysian and I (with Sri Lankan Tamil ancestors) happened to find ourselves in a bar in a country town. Our car had broken down, and we were lost. A group of men at the far end of the bar showed a great deal of interest in us. Then the largest fellow in the group came up to us and said something strange, and in a gruff voice: “Where are you boys from?” Seeing that this was none of his business, and taking a punt, I responded with “What’s it to you, mate?” in what my Aussie friends describe as a British accent.

He stared at me, then relaxed. Sticking out a bloody great big paw, he introduced himself by first name. We got on well. I realised later that we had been in ‘boong’ (blackfellow) country, and that the big lad must have been the local sergeant of police. He must have assumed that we were a band of ‘citified’ (ie. sophisticated), possibly uppity, indigenes. In recent years, I have come across a number of Aborigines who clearly have some Chinese or Indian ancestry. Yet, once accepted by the big lad and his mates, my friends and I were OK. We all chatted together for a while, and obtained directions to our intended destination. That is what I, and other Asians I have known, like about the ordinary Aussie.”

This is an extract from my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity.’  The probably self-selected spokesmen for newly-arrived Asian immigrants who complain about ‘racial’ discrimination today could have no idea about the level of overt discrimination faced by Australia’s Aborigines, or those Asian student arrivals in the 1950s and 1960s.

Overt discrimination, which may exist even today, is hurtful. Prejudice, manifest in a displayed attitude, or spoken words, should not hurt, humiliate, or whatever, were the target to have self-confidence. Of course, there will always be someone who whinges about imagined hurt. These may be compared with those asylum seekers claiming to have been (according to their supporters in Australia) subject to trauma and torture back home (without producing any evidence).

Who decides on who can enter Australia?

After the invasion and occupation of terra australis (not nullius), and the indigenes had been driven out, shot or poisoned, an attempt was made to create a white enclave in the Pacific in which no white man would disdain any kind of work. But the squattocracy (which a clever writer described as behaving “as if they had begotten themselves”) sought coolies from China and Japan.

It took the ruling class some time to realise that the stress of coping with a difficult land and climate could be alleviated by utilising the cheap labour under their societal feet.

Finding themselves on a good wicket, Australia’s rulers closed the door on all coloured entrants. By the end of the 20th century, the entry door having been widened progressively, the door was fully open. Yet, sensibly, immigration officials permitted entry only after a face-to-face assessment of applicants for immigrant and refugee entry as to their ability to settle successfully (ie. integrate) into Australian society. No ‘ghettos’ were formed. Any attempt to introduce the ethno-religio-political problems of countries of origin were squashed.

The 2002 Census data showed, however, that most of the Asians in Australia were East Asians, the majority of whom had declared themselves to be Christians. Yet, I read in a recently published book that the highest-income Asian communities came from the Indian sub-continent, with the lowest from East Asia!

Soon, Australia’s immigrants ranged from the post-1948 Europeans, to post-1960s Levantines, then to Asians of all colours, to humanitarian entrants (HE) from East Asia, to immigrants and selected refugees from all over the globe. We were truly cosmopolitan.

Then came the sharia seekers, asking Australia to change its institutions to suit them. Their predecessors in Australia’s brief history included the Roman Catholics who had to have a separate education system – a right now available to any ethno-religious community. Division did commence early. It was sustained in the 1970s and 1980s by 2 faulty policies – multiculturalism policy, which involved the government telling us how to relate to one another (beware Big Brother!); and permitting, at a very high cost, a dual migrant settlement service managed according to ethnicity!

However, thanks to Australia’s equal opportunity processes (the old ‘fair-go’ ethos), and to our teachers, the Aussie children of immigrants demonstrated the cohesive pull of an open society. As my grandchildren, with their admixture of Anglo-Celt, German, Italian and Asian genes, have demonstrated, Australia is well on the way to joining the Family of Man. (Refer my books ‘The Karma of Culture’ and ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’

Then the asylum-seeking ‘boat people’ demanded unlawful ‘back door’ entry to the country (our non-reciprocal and open-ended welfare system is known to be a great attraction). Opportunistic politicians, strategic lawyers, and well-meaning people with no understanding of the politico-economic issues, and the predictable ‘rent-a-crowd’ activists, now bang their respective drums with great vigour.

I haven’t read of anyone of these people offering accommodation, sustenance, and help with finding jobs to the asylum seekers. They expect ‘other peoples’ money to be spent by the government.

Welfare is not a ‘magic pudding.’ Surely personal charity has to be demonstrated by those claiming to be caring. We are now well on the way from ‘my entitlement,’ to ‘their entitlements,’ to ‘your responsibility! What about joining the real world, Guys! Put your hands into your own pockets; and open your doors!!