Friends, as all of you are being aware, the Turnbull LNP government proposed bill about lifetime visa ban for asylum-seekers is before the Senate [ #1, #2 ]. The Senate is required to decide that bill on the 22 November 2016. Several critics of this bill have pointed out as "a cruelty beyond measure" to the asylum-seekers. Also expert analysts from academic circle, the said amendment will be in violation of international laws [#3].
The proposed lifetime visa ban may be illegal, unjust and cruel. The sad truth, however, is that the LNP government know exactly what they are doing. This is a calculated move by the LNP. They know that the illegality, or non-conformity with international human rights laws, cannot be challenged easily. The government also know that the cruelty and unjust measures on those asylum-seekers will have no serious resistance from the major opposition parties. Sure, there are fair few groups of refugee supporters, who the government considered as the outsiders of no consequences, who will not be able to mount a proper challenge to the government's position.
This lifetime visa ban, no doubt, has been designed to strengthen government position to keep the regimes of indefinite offshore detention. Apart from that calculated cruelty, there hasn't been any other meaningful purpose to be found, including the stated objective of deterring human smugglers. To note is, ever since the Rudd/Gillard government had signed secret bilateral boat turnback agreement with Indonesia in 2013 [#4], Australia had largely been protected from the large-scale unauthorized boat arrivals. Therefore, the proposed amendment does not contribute anything towards Australia's national security.
Refugee Detention Policy and Business Interests
As of 13-Nov-2016, Turnbull government has announced refugee swap/resettlement deal with the United States [#5]. Details of refugee deal with US is still sketchy, and the government said it won't be "rushed" for any tangible outcomes. Tentatively, the detention centers at Nauru and Manus Islands are set to close in 2019 [#6]. Clearly, Turnbull government is setting the tone to keep offshore detention centers over the term of its administration, with the lifetime visa ban is to be used as the legislative cover.
Of course, the primary purpose for current offshore detention in 2013 has been to utilize as a short-term circuit breaker [#7]. The detention arrangement was a subject of annual review and that the "refugees never setting foot" wasn't a policy but the political rhetoric re-interpreted by the media. However, after the LNP election win in August 2013, the Australian Infrastructure Corporation, known as Transfield Services Ltd/Broadspectrum [#8], had come into refugee policy scene. That business group is politically well connected and influential on both sides of politics [#9]. The DIBP has contracted out the offshore refugee detention business to Transfield/Broadspectrum, which worth $1.2 billion par annum.
After the election in 2013, the political atmosphere in Australia was one in which no-one, especially the Labour Opposition, dare questioning about the border security and refugee detentions. Tony Abbott's government was having no check-and-balance in handing out the refugee detention contracts. Most importantly, no political intervention has taken place when LNP had put out a fraudulent policy of "Cambodian Resettlement Deals". This is the indicator of LNP Government "constructing a failure" to solve offshore detention problem, which directly benefited the refugee detention industry. Recently, Auditor General has found various irregularities in DIBP contracting out to these business groups [ #10, #11]. The existence of political corruption at the high levels of Commonwealth Government, therefore, is not a far-fetched assumption.
As for the Turnbull Government's flimsy refugee swap deal with US, given all external indicators, I'm doubtful that it may only be used for another cover-up in prolonging offshore detention. Fearing the Australian Government may be signaling with 13-Nov-2016 announcement to the LNP's right-wing corporate supporters about its offshore detention policy, in order to shore-up the weak leadership of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The value of international solidarity
With the unpredictable Senate of 45th Parliament, there seems to be enormous odds and obstacles ahead of us in ending the offshore detentions. At the worst case scenario, the colorful Senate might have even letting pass the bill. We, together with our international friends, therefore, must stand up in solidarity with the detainee in offshore detention centers. At the end of the day, when all else has failed, it is the solidarity that permeate through all the barriers. It is the international solidarity that shines through the worst corners of prison cells in Burma during her darkest years.
My friend, you, being a member of this FB community, do have the capacity to shine your solidarity for the detainees in Manus Island and Nauru. I implore you to share this note and ask your friends or co-organizations residing in UK, US, Germany, Japan or any other international settings for that matter, to send an unambiguous message to Turnbull government that he/she stands in solidarity with the detainees of Manus Island and Nauru. Should the Australian government impose lifetime visa ban on these detainees, he/she in solidarity will voluntarily avail himself/herself of such visa ban. Australia will no longer be his/her choice of destination for travel, and ask the government to immediately withdraw the bill for lifetime visa ban.
Attached with this message is the contact details of Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Prime Minister and Hon. Stephen Ciobo MP, the Minister for Tourism.
U Ne Oo, Sydney, Australia.
Copy Left Notice: Permission is hereby granted for anyone to redistribute, translate or re-use in whole or part contents of this report; encourage any organization or individual to readopt and replicate this action with or without making reference to this author.
[#9] ABC Four Corners, Interview with Managing Director, Transield Holdings (Transcript). "...in our particular case, we would make the donation to the major political parties, whether it be the Liberal Party or the Labor Party. And we'd often do that equally to both sides." http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2016/05/23/4465448.htm
Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Canberra ACT 2600
Telephone: (+612) 6277 7700
Fax: (+612) 6273 4100
Email => https://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm
Hon. Stephen Ciobo MP
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Canberra ACT 2600
Ph: (+612) 6277 7420
Email => http://www.stevenciobo.com/contact/