Houston panel succeeds in defusing politicisation but most critics still trapped in irrelevant or narrow paradigms

Asylum and refugee policy remains primarily a strategic issue with domestic ramifications, not the opposite. Despite the Houston panel clinically removing most of the party-political controversy out of public debate, much subsequent discussion ignores the geo-political realities actually applying and is instead still bogged down in false assumptions, single-issue perspectives and mis-aimed (local only) compassion. Any debate on this issue needs to start from Australia's geo-political situation, not ignore or downplay it by dwelling on only domestic policy aspects.


Letter to The Age (Melbourne)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012
(published Wednesday, 15 August 2012)

Asylum remains a strategic, not domestic, policy issue.

The prime strategic and humanitarian purpose of the Refugee Convention is to encourage neighbouring countries to a conflict to solve it, so refugees are not created in the first place or so they can return home directly, swiftly and safely. 

But most countries now refuse to  meet their strategic, legal and humanitarian responsibilities. Only one out of 35 countries between here and Greece is a genuine Convention signatory.

Little or nothing is done to resolve conflicts, nor the consequent misery and danger suffered by the bulk of the refugees thereby marooned by them.

Globalisation and modern transport further encourages and complicates such strategic and moral bludging.

Neighbouring states to a conflict can simply export the most troublesome or exploitable refugees extra-regionally to countries of mass immigration that are Convention signatories.

Virtually all our neighbours regard refugees as Australia’s problem alone, and exploit us accordingly. 

Any discussion of neighbouring countries needs to start with asking how they justify their perpetual buck-passing to Australia.

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