Tampa refugees also rise

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A few years ago I sponsored a bunch of Afghani kids on a soccer playing tour of Queensland and NSW. It was a privilege to meet some of the kids.  I expected to find kids who’d grown up in a peasant culture, who would not be particularly interested in education.  One tends to think of ‘humanitarian’ migrants like that.  Not the greatest value economically, but we’re happy to do what we can. I guess those people who let my father into the country thought the same thing.  But he turned out OK.

Anyway, it was obvious from talking with the kids how wrong my ideas were. These kids wanted to be doctors, architects, engineers.  And they desperately wanted to educate themselves.  And now as Crikey! reports, some of the kids from the Tampa have been doing just that. In New Zealand that is, where some of them were allowed to land. The kid pictured – Abbas Nazari – is a mean speller, coming third in NZ’s national spelling bee.

Congratulations Abbas.

And I’m really sorry about the way we treated you – I still don’t know what got into us.

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Ken Parish
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Ken Parish(@ken-parish)
13 years ago

Actually I’m pretty sure you’ll find that the rest of the Tampa asylum seekers (those not accepted by NZ) were eventually almost all found to be refugees under the Australian/UN-administered assessment process on Nauru. My memory is that the Howard government eventually granted them visas very quietly and let them into the country because no other country would accept them (they not unreasonably regarded them as Australia’s responsibility). Thus another Abbas from the Tampa might in fact one day become an Australian doctor.

Speaking of NZ, the whole asylum seeker situation is in many ways the reverse of a favourite joke Kiwis tell about Australia – that the Kiwis who emigrate to Australia raise the IQs of both countries (they may be the stupidest Kiwis but they’re smarter than most Australians). The situation with asylum seekers from Afghanistan and other such countries is more or less the opposite. They’re the best and brightest from their own country, so their departure certainly causes a brain drain from their country of origin, and they equally certainly enhance Australia’s intellectual stocks. And that actually does raise real questions about the best solution to the asylum seeker issue. Maybe in many if not most cases it’s better if asylum seekers are given temporary protection in a country adjacent to their own, so that when things improve they can be repatriated and help rebuild their homeland*. It’s a somewhat counter-intuitive aspect of the standard left-liberal reaction that Rudd/Howard were just heartless bastards. They probably were/are, but the results of their arsehole policies might paradoxically have been better for the third world (if not for individual asylum seekers who for perfectly understandable reasons much preferred to move to Australia) than would have been the case if they’d listened to the refugee lobby and simply adopted an open door policy.

*Incidentally, this isn’t an original idea. It has been suggested inter alia by Canadian legal academic James Hathaway, who is arguably the world’s leading expert on refugee law.

swio
swio
13 years ago

Yes, but that’s countered by the fact that the third world country gets an expat community in a first world country who can then act as conduits for trade, knowledge and business links back to the original third world country. For example there are alot of people in the Vietnamese community in Australia who retain close links to the home country and still speak the language. They are ideally placed to open up trade links between Australia and Vietnam and are busy doing so with enormous benefits to local communities in Vietnam in terms of wealth generated through trade and knowledge transfer. It must be remembered that third world countries that are at the point of having refugees are usually very isolated from the rest of the world with little in the way of the human infrastructure needed to operate in the global economy.

I also think the third world country is not losing nearly as much as you might think. The refugees are often genuinely fleeing for their lives. So if they stay they would be dead which is of no benefit to anyone. Even when that is not the case the best they can usually hope for is a life of poverty with no real chance of getting education and making a difference in their home country. They are the best and brightest but being the best brightest rural farmer in an isolated village does not help very many people. Better if they go to a first world country and get a full high quality education. Even if only a small percentage of those that leave bring back benefits of that to the home country that is still, overall, than if no-one left.

conrad
conrad
13 years ago

swio,

I think it depends a lot on the country you are talking about. I can’t possibly see how losing all your medically trained people is good for your country (true in many parts of Africa — there are a few good papers on this).

melaleuca
13 years ago

I’m with swio. Another point is that immigrants send sorely needed capital back to their countries of origin. This money can directly raise the living standard of extended families, fund education of children and the establishment of businesses. I think Vietnam- which I first visited in the late 1980s- would have experienced much worse poverty and possibly widespread malnutrition and starvation in the 1970s and 1980’s if it wasn’t for expats sending money back to their relatives.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

?

I think I must be tired, I can’t work out what Nick’s last comment means!!

I agree with SWIO as well. Ultimately, even if the donor countries are worse off, Conrad’s argument implies an extreme preference for group welfare ahead of individual welfare (even excluding welfare attaching to liberty) such as is only justified in cases of immediate acute danger.

In an area such as this where there is no certainty as to the balance of costs and benefits, that kind of extreme preference seems clearly unjustifiable.

Yobbo
Yobbo
13 years ago

People who want to migrate here legally are often the best and brightest too.

People tend to forget about them.

conrad
conrad
13 years ago

Patrick,

I’m not saying we should stop people migrating at all, especially as refugees (even economic ones, which I don’t really see as being very different to normals ones in many circumstances). I’m just saying that some countries lose lots of their smartest people, and sometimes that is negative, and that we shouldn’t deny that. The obvious example at the moment is Iraq. I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to leave (I of course don’t know what it’s really like), and under a loose definition of being a refugee (I’m leaving because its dangerous and likely to become moreso, even if the government/particular groups are not after me specifically), I’m sure almost everyone qualifies. However, if it loses all its scientific and medically trained people, its extremely hard to see it prospering for a long time, even without war. Of course there examples of essentially destitute countries prospering quite quickly (e.g., Korea), but I just don’t think that the loss of certain groups of people helps.

FDB
FDB
13 years ago

“People who want to migrate here legally are often the best and brightest too.
People tend to forget about them.”

And the award for relevance goes to…

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

All that is fine, and I suspect we all broadly agree on all that. My point was that whilst it is fine, in practical terms it is of little relevance since the information available does not, and probably never will, support any action based on those principles.

~ ~ ~

I’ve rested somewhat and now I can work out NG’s last comment. I don’t quite know at whom or what it is aimed, though.

~ ~ ~

Fine point, Yobbo, but the real issue is not the relative merits of ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ immigrants but about who to include in the former category.

I am aware that at least some immigrants are astonishingly unscrupulous and others are petty crooks, whilst yet others are serious criminals. But weeding those out is, again, a separate question to defining classes of legal immigrant.

Yobbo
Yobbo
13 years ago

Fine point, Yobbo, but the real issue is not the relative merits of legal and illegal immigrants but about who to include in the former category.

I don’t see how its so hard.

Filled out a form and flew here on a plane? Legal.

Rocked up in a leaky boat and tried to sneak onto the island undetected? Illegal.

I know plenty of very nice people who have been denied a visa to enter Australia. None of them tried to circumvent the government’s decision by sneaking in anyway. Remind me again why we should have sympathy for those who think the rules don’t apply to them?

Yobbo
Yobbo
13 years ago

FDB: If you can’t see how my original comment was relevant to this post then you need reading comprehension lessons.

Shorter Nick Gruen: We should let all refugees in because they are good spellers and soccer players and stuff, and some of them might one day get a job.

Gummo Trotsky
13 years ago

I know plenty of very nice people who have been denied a visa to enter Australia.

Such an injustice when you consider how many nasty people we allow to be born and grow up in this country every year. Oh, the double standards!

melaleuca
13 years ago

I’d prefer to put up the “house full” sign because I enjoy the wide open spaces. Australia is almost the only country left where you can enjoy nature and solitude less than three hours drive from the heart of suburbia. I’m not prepared to give that up for a few GDP points.

Yobbo
Yobbo
13 years ago

Id prefer to put up the house full sign because I enjoy the wide open spaces. Australia is almost the only country left where you can enjoy nature and solitude less than three hours drive from the heart of suburbia.

That’s totally untrue. Even in some of the most overdeveloped places in the world, like Hong Kong or Tokyo, you can do this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adirondack_Park is 3 hours from Manhattan.

TimT
13 years ago

Remind me again why we should have sympathy for those who think the rules dont apply to them?

Maybe, for one, because the people responsible for implementing these rules and deciding on the future of potential refugees were politicians and bureaucrats? The cases of mismanagement and incompetence on the part of the Howard Government and the Department of Immigration helped decide for me that if the choice was between immigration being controlled by bureaucrats, and immigration being almost completely free and unregulated, I would opt for the latter.

Yobbo
Yobbo
13 years ago

That makes no sense at all Tim. Assuming Australia intends to keep a set number of immigrants coming in each year, then there are clearly identified winners and losers here.

Option 1: Australia accepts more refugees

Winners: Refugees
Losers: Regular Migrants

Option 2: Australia rejects refugees

Losers: Refugees
Winners: Regular Migrants

There’s no option where politicans lose.

melaleuca
13 years ago

You must be hitting the plonk real hard this weekend Yobs. Your own link says:

“Seasonal residents number about 200,000, while an estimated 7-10 million tourists visit the park annually.”

Wilderness my arse.

Kal
Kal
11 years ago

I am one of the Tampa refugees, currently living in NZ. I consider myself a proud Kiwi. Lots of people consider refugees as burdens in their host countries. They are perceived as incapable. As a refugee I personally have experienced significant trauma and discrimination at my country of origin and of course that may have affected my physical and mantle development. However as a young man I am now a qualified Public Health practitioner and currently studying Podiatric medicine. I am so greatfull to NZ people and government who gave me the chance to get to here. Thanks God I did not go to Australia otherwise I would still be considered second class. Love you NZ, my beloved country.

Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
11 years ago

Yobbo,

Refugees are separate to Immigration.

more Refugees by boat means less by other means. Immigration numbers are unaffected

I am with Gerard Henderson on those who come by boat

Tel
Tel
11 years ago

… more Refugees by boat means less by other means.

Presuming that “by other means” includes more law-abiding activity, then you have just made Yobbo’s point for him.

The point that keeps being ignored is this: being nice to boat people does not translate to being nice to refugees. Being nice to boat people is merely a way of selecting your refugee intake such that pushy people come before polite people.

Thanks God I did not go to Australia otherwise I would still be considered second class.

I’m happy to see you have finally found someone to look down upon.

Did you every consider Japan as a candidate destination?

Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
11 years ago

err No Tel,

you get to Asutralia by usually paying a bribe to an official in Pakistan which may or may not get you ahead in the ‘queue’ or you pay someone for a boat to get here.
They do keep their word.

law abiding activity is not what most people would call it.

it helps to talk to any refugee actually

Tel
Tel
11 years ago

If I had to endure pats on the head from you lot, or the rudeness of people speaking fair dinkum… I’d take the rudeness every time. Kal of course is welcome to his own preferences.

BBB, I’m not up on the details of the Pakistani underworld, nor the extent to which honour may exist amongst thieves, but the fact remains that both Australia and New Zealand operate by a yearly quota system. For what it’s worth, on a per-capita basis Australia takes more than double the number of refugees that New Zealand takes, every year. Neither of our major parties is willing to change the quota system — not even the value of the quota itself.

If you want to be a refugee advocate then argue for a bigger quota (and out of consistency, put pressure on NZ to match ours) or propose workable suggestions on how to improve the process. Otherwise you are merely advocating unfair selectivity based on the shallow criteria of media visibility.

If you are suggesting that because corruption exists in the Middle East, we should give up any attempt of operating an orderly process then I find that unacceptable.

For what it’s worth, some of my family were indeed refugees and they had UN paperwork inviting them to Australia, as well as the pseudo-passports issues to people who had lost their country of origin. Maybe you consider this out of date (it was two generations ago) but elements of this paperwork still exists. They went through whatever was regarded at the time as an “official” UN applications process. That does not in any way make me feel superior to people who came as non-refugee migrants, or even people without any paperwork, I’m merely pointing out that the concept of a workable and orderly process is not a complete furphy.