PRESS RELEASE: IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION: 25/09/2011
ANNOUNCEMENT ON ASYLUM SEEKER ARRANGEMENTS
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL AUSTRALIAN NEGOTIATOR FOR MIGRATION
I'm pleased to announce that I have developed a solution to the asylum seeker challenge facing the Commonwealth of Australia: The Government of the Pacific Kingdom of Kamaria has agreed to receive as many asylum seekers* as Australia can send them, to cover all costs involved and to indemnify Australia with respect to all obligations under international law. The agreement is to persist in perpetuity. I shall be visiting Kamaria on Tuesday, 27 September 2011, to sign the agreement as Australia's special ambassador plenipotentiary for migration matters. The agreement will take immediate effect upon signing.
(* Clarification: This should not be understood to mean Australians seeking asylum.)
This marks a new phase in Australia's relations with Kamaria and both governments have expressed the hope that this generous act by Kamaria will lead to a permanent supersedence of the occasional hostilities which have characterised past dealings between the nations. The -
What's your objection? "Kamaria's a fictional place" ? ... Okay, it is... Alright, smart-alec; there's no agreement either. Obviously.
However, I offer the following apologia: The foregoing non-solution is no less effective than any policy pursued to date by the current government of Australia. In fact, it's superior to the East Timor non-solution, the Papua-New Guinea non-solution and the Malaysia non-solution in that the announcement above won't offend the government of any real nation through being presumptive upon their sovereignty. So there.
Why do I list Malaysia among the sites of non-solutions? It's nothing to do with the most obvious flaws, such as the limited number involved or the spanner put in the works by the High Court. The text of the Malaysia Agreement is recommended reading for the purposes of this post. It's quite brief and clear as inter-governmental agreements go. If you can't be bothered, you can take my word for the following: The essence of the agreement is that the Malaysian government has agreed to receive 800 asylum seekers over four years from Australia in return for sending four thousand to Australia from their ample reservoir. Here's the catch which I've spotted and which Julia and Co. haven't: Once. The Malaysians have agreed to receive them once. Not twice, thrice, fource, fivece or any other 'ce. Just lonely little once. I don't mean that the agreement is a one-off limited to 800. That could be supplemented by further agreements to take more. I mean that each person transferred to Malaysia is being offered certain protections, by Malaysia, once. Malaysia agrees to not coercively deport them to a place where they will be in danger and to consult Australia about the disposition of any person subject to the agreement who becomes intolerable to Malaysia for reasons such as security threat or criminality. What is missing from the agreement is a permit to Australia to treat them as repatriatable deportees with respect to Malaysia.
This isn't a peripheral quibble. The 4000 coming Australia's way are not remotely likely to attempt to abscond to Malaysia. They can be assumed to want to be transferred. By Julia's own definition, the 800 going the other way are being used for aversion therapy. They are being sent where they don't want to go. This is meant to deter others from following in their wake to Christmas Island. Malaysia doesn't want them to go to Malaysia either. They are only taking them in order to rid themselves of the 4000. It is a major omission in logic to not consider what the Forbidden 800 will do in Malaysia. It is highly probable that they won't abandon their desire to travel to Australia and, although Malaysia may have agreed to not deport them, they haven't agreed to detain them against their will either. It should be a lot cheaper to arrange a voyage to Australia from Malaysia, via Indonesia, than to travel from Arabia, Central Asia or even Sri Lanka. As they will be legally residing in Malaysia they will be able to openly transact business, such as receiving funds by wire from associates in Australia or elsewhere. If permitted to work they will have another way of funding the journey.
If they succeed in scraping together the money and return to Australian waters, they will probably be identifiable by fingerprints or some other means as members of the transferred group. Then the Australian government will say: "You are part of the Forbidden 800! Back to Malaysia you go!" The wheels will fall off this idea when the Malaysian government interjects, "Oh, if they don't wish to accept the hospitality of the Malaysian people, we can't force it upon them. That would be an abuse of their human rights." The Australian stipulation, "You agreed to take them" will, naturally, provoke the response, "We agreed and we did take them. We didn't agree to imprison them. In fact you insisted that we should treat them leniently. We'll be reasonable. We'll take back any of them that wish to return." Ha, ha, ha.
I was very impressed by a letter to The Australian in which the author recounted being told by a Malaysian businessman, "I love to do business with Australians!" When asked why, he explained, "Because they are so gullible."