Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Tasmanian Solution

We've heard about the Pacific Solution. How about the Tasmanian Solution?

Julian Burnside  AO QC writes with a great blend of common sense and clarity.

But I still reckon he's been reading this blog. Remember this post?

The only real difference in his solution is that he confines it to Tasmania. And that's the only bit I'd disagree with. Why not specify other regional localities?

An extract -

The "rural idea" would see all asylum seekers released into the community on interim visas subject to a few main conditions: they are entitled to work, they are entitled to Centrelink and Medicare benefits; they must stay in touch with the immigration department by regular reporting to a Centrelink office and, until their refugee status is decided, they must live in a specified rural area.
There are about 96,000 unfilled jobs in country Australia, but even if every asylum seeker stayed on full Centrelink benefits, it would cost about $500m a year. And all of that money would be spent in rural towns, on accommodation, food and clothing. And it represents a saving of about $3.5bn a year on what the present system costs.
These savings could be applied to national infrastructure projects, including public housing projects for homeless Australians. All of this would represent a significant boost to the economies of country towns, and a boost to the construction industry.

It should be given a chance to work - a trial.

We won't see that from the current government of course. Refugees are political collateral and have been since 2001, as far as they're concerned.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Same Same

These two news stories are noteworthy when put together.

The first (from the UK’s Telegraph), reports on commentary from the US (predominantly the US Right) accusing Obama of “weakness” in the face of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The second (from the BBC) reports a spate of bombings which has killed 5000 in Iraq so far this year.

It seems that any action, short of military invasion, and the habitual use of firepower is defined by the Republican rump as “weakness”.

If avoiding military intervention is defined as “weakness”, it might be worth considering the results of “strength” as applied to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Where is Iraq now?

Is it the bastion of democracy, the haven of peace that was held out by the supporters of Operation Iraqi Freedom?

Well, no.

Iraqis are killing each other at a rate unparalleled since the height of the insurrection that followed the Coalition of the Willing’s attempt to rescue them from tyranny. Sounds a bit like Syria, doesn’t it?

Perhaps that 2003 intervention was well-intentioned, but we remember the cliché about the path to hell being paved with good intentions, and hell is what has been delivered by that same intervention.

And then there’s the small matter of over 4000 US casualties, and thousands more maimed and traumatised for life, and over 100000 dead Iraqis.

So in the parallel universe occupied by the US Right, testosterone and posturing trump caution and diplomacy. But then, the Yanks rarely learn anything from history (Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan).

I believe this mindset is called “American exceptionalism”.

Exceptional stupidity is a more accurate description.

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...