Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

PNG gives middle finger to selfish Australian overlords … and good on them

In Australia, we thought we had found a “solution” to asylum seekers with our own tropical concentration camp on Manus. Not so, says that country’s Supreme Court. Freelance journalist John Martinkus reports.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is looking like a man holding a bowl of steaming excrement he is trying to pass off as Weet-Bix and warm milk.

The decision by Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court to rule that Australia’s detention centre on Manus Island is illegal has left him with the toxic legacy of a failed and inhumane policy of offshore detention put in place by his predecessors.

Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and even Kevin Rudd before that all thought the out-of-sight-out-of-mind solution of that small island at the north of our former colony of PNG might work as “the solution” to our refugee “problem”. However, it now turns out the people of PNG don’t want this problem dumped on them. Fair enough. No matter how much money we have thrown at them, the Supreme Court of PNG — which we, as a colonial power, established in line with our own system — has turned around and ruled the detention centre on Manus Island illegal and inhumane.

There is a heavy irony here. Manus has been used as a dumping ground for inconvenient human beings by the Australian government since the 1960s, when it detained two West Papuan leaders there as they tried, vainly, to get to New York to protest against the UN-approved takeover of their country by Indonesia.

Manus was and is still used as a place of exile by successive Australian governments for inconvenient individuals.

With this latest ruling by PNG’s Supreme Court, Australia’s own tropical gulag has been given notice. The 850 people (mostly men) who are still detained there want to come to Australia. They don’t want to live in PNG, nor do they want to live in Cambodia.

Successive Australian governments have tried all they could through the hired mercenaries they pay to induce the asylum seekers to go somewhere else, anywhere but Australia. People have died, through self-harm and from the brutality of guards and locals.

It is a place that has long been associated with violence and hopelessness, disease and distress, depression and despair on behalf of those incarcerated by our own government, in our name, with our money, apparently for our own well-being.

Now, to their credit the people of Papua New Guinea have said enough.

No longer do they feel they need, or want, to continue carrying this human burden, this relic of colonialism. They no longer want their country used as a dumping ground for those unwanted beings washed up on the shore of their wealthy and selfish former colonial overlords to the south.

As Europe struggles to deal with the largest mass movement of refugees since World War II, from the wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia (all conflicts Australia has participated in at the behest of our US and British allies), we in Australia thought we had found a “solution” with our own tropical concentration camp on Manus.

Our former prime minister Tony Abbott even went and lectured the Europeans on our way of doing things; by comparison, our problem was minuscule. The numbers of dislocated asylum seekers from wars we supported and fought in that managed to reach our shores paled in comparison with the tide of humanity that continues to seek refuge in Europe.

By and large, the countries of Europe have accepted and dealt with the flow of refugees in a humane and decent way — notably Germany, a country torn apart in the aftermath of WWII, which has been most generous in accepting and resettling those displaced. Why is that? Maybe, deep down, they remember what it is like to be bombed, homeless and hungry — or at least their parents do.

In Australia, though, we send them to camps, in places like Manus and Nauru, so inhospitable and punitive they literally start killing themselves. With a kind of heartlessness that would be funny if it were not so tragic, we revile and demonise them.

Both sides of politics in Australia are guilty of this.

Now, the people of PNG do not want the human detritus of our white wealthy guilt dumped on their country anymore.

No matter how much aid money we send them, they have made a decision. It is time for Australia to start standing up to it’s responsibilities as an international citizen. For a country settled by immigrants (who displaced the original inhabitants) we have been shamefully cruel to those who have recently tried to come here and now the people of Papua New Guinea, who we used to rule, have said, basically, get stuffed. Good on them. We deserve it.

First published, Crikey HERE

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Robert LePage

    April 30, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Much as some Australians hate the idea we are going to have to get used to the idea that refugees have a right to come here. After all it was our invasion and killing that drove them to leave their own countries.
    How would we feel if a foreign power was daily sending aircraft over and bombing our families? How would we feel if foreign troops were occupying out country, killing our relations?
    I imagine that some of us would perhaps think that carrying out attacks on our conquerors would be the only way to react.

  2. Alison Bleaney

    April 29, 2016 at 4:53 am

    And then there’s this ..heartwarming for a moment.
    Well done all of them…
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-29/young-australian-filmmaker-presents-at-united-nations-forum/7372176

  3. Simon Warriner

    April 28, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Not often given to referencing Greg Barnes but he was on the money this am when he pointed out on ABC, to Leon Crompton, that our treatment of our Pacific neighbours would come back to bite us on the behind, as it made it ever easier for competing powers to win the allegiance away from us.

    The clueless nature of party political government really is becoming a liability. That’s what happens when ideologues with not a clue about conflicted interest get to steer the ship of state. Don the lifejackets folks, there are rock all around.

  4. Hans Willink - Senate candidate - the Science Part

    April 28, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    As it is often the case during election campaigning, it is easy to “miss the boat” on the issue of the day. Such was the case when the Science Party put out a press release yesterday supporting the re-opening of the Pontville Detention Centre, a release that was not published by the mainstream media, presumably because Senator Singh had already expressed similar views. Good on you, Lisa!

    The Science Party release included ….

    Science Party Call to re-open Tasmanian Detention Centre

    Leader of the Science Party, Dr James Jansson, today called for the return of detainees from Manus Island to Pontville, Tasmania.

    The Federal Government is currently selling The Pontville Detention Centre, which has been vacant since September 2013 after its last intake of asylum seekers, 400 Afghan, Sri Lankan and Iraqi men, were moved on.

    “Perhaps the sale can be stopped and the centre rapidly refurbished to accomodate the detainees, about to be evicted from Manus Island after a PNG Spreme Court decision determined the centre there to be illegal”

    “the Science Party, is commited to increased immigration, including humanitarian intake and is opposed to detention centres. That said, where detention centres do exist, the Science Party position is to make them as humane as possible and connected to a community that wants them there”

    “There are several good reasons in favour of a Tasmanian detention centre at Ponville. Firstly the detention centre creates employment in a area that traditionally suffers from high unemployment. Scarce funds support a range of local businesses and the detainees benefit from interaction with the community, including local sporting teams and training service providers.”

    Tasmanian Science Party Senate candidate, Hans Willink believes that “detainees are not criminals and historically, many will eventually be confirmed to be refugees”

    “Unlike elsewhere on the mainland, operation of Tasmanian detention centres, including one at Brighton during the 1999 Kosovo crisis, have been an outstanding success”

    “From the Mayor of Brighton Council down, local inhabitants have welcomed the employment opportunities provided”

    “The cost of maintaining a detention centre in Tasmania, close to supporting infrastructure, would be a fraction of that spent in maintaining the billion dollar “Pacific Island Solution”.

    “We do not accept the Federal Government argument that a return of detainees to Australia may precipitate a new wave of boat people. Tasmania is still “off shore processing” to the Australian mainland, just a cheaper and more humane form of it.”

    end of press release

    Just a couple of numbers to add context to the argument. In todays Australian p 11, it was revealed that each of the Manus Island detainees costs the Australian government $400,000 per year. So for 905 detainees that would be $362 million. Imagine how that could be spent in Tasmania? A Royal Hobart Hospital upgrade ever year, two thousand new teachers or indeed several Gonskis!

  5. john hayward

    April 28, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    It is worth reflecting that the PNG govt is shutting down Manus because it brought the country into disrepute.

    No such problem for the owner of the moral cesspit -Oz. Dutton doesn’t appear to recognise the concept of disrepute.

    John Hayward

  6. Chris

    April 28, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    OT or ?
    Last year it was a raw onion now we have Turd Bull eating a Tasmanian (naturalised of course) oyster.

    Great speech at the memorial service but forgot to mention the pain of the refugees in two concentration camps there for ever as far as he and the potato are concerned.

    The self proclaimed King Edward said in his maiden speech how he felt about refugees “The fight for a better place in which to live is today made even more difficult for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that the boisterous minority and the politically correct seem to have a disproportionate say in public debate today. The silent majority, the forgotten people-or the aspirational voter of our generation, as some like to term them-are fed up with bodies like the Civil Liberties Council and the Refugee Action Collective, … Australians are fed up with the Civil Liberties Council-……That is not to say that right of speech should not be observed at every turn quite the opposite”

    This man? was appointed as carer for refugees with a mindset that hated them or disliked anyone but a right wing liberal, who made him a minister, was it Abbott and confirmed by MT.

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