Saturday, July 12, 2014

Rita Panahi on the Tamils

The Australian Navy has intercepted boats of Tamils intending to claim asylum in Australia. It has caused more debate in Australia about whether those on the boats should be returned or allowed to claim asylum.

Rita Panahi has written a column in the Herald Sun arguing that they should not be accepted. These are her reasons:
  • those on board were said to have sailed for Australia from India; a country where they are not under threat
  • One must ask the question why a Tamil would sail more than 5000km to Australia when they can travel 30km to Tamil Nadu in India?
  • the one person who was assessed as possibly having a case for asylum, asked to be sent back when told he would be processed offshore (i.e. he'd rather return than be resettled somewhere other than Australia)
These are all good points. I have pointed out before that Tamils are in the lucky situation of having an ancestral homeland in India (Tamil Nadu) very close to Sri Lanka that has a developing economy. A genuine refugee could very easily resettle there, unless, that is, they decide to go country shopping and move to Australia for economic purposes.

Tamil Nadu (in red) 30km from Sri Lanka
It is highly likely that the Tamils are economic migrants rather than genuine refugees.

I'd like to repeat here my own proposal for reforming the refugee system. The wealthier countries (including Asian and Middle-Eastern nations) should pay into a central fund that would distribute money to those nations resettling refugees. However, a person found to be refugee would be resettled in whatever country was deemed to be closest in culture and living standard to the one that was being fled.

That would give no incentive for people to abuse the system; it would provide for those in genuine need; it would give a financial boost to those nations bearing most of the burden of resettling refugees; and it would allow for an assimilation of new arrivals without forcing a radical change to the demographics of the host nation.


  1. Could you perhaps provide a rundown of the refugee issue? I'll be honest, as an American, it doesn't make much sense to me.

    1. Australia doesn't have a land border with another country like the US does. So if economic migrants want to migrate here illegally they usually fly to Indonesia and then pay a smuggler to put them on a rickety boat and land them on one of the Australian islands to the north of our country. We get people from as far away as the Middle-East taking this option.

      Once they land our court system usually lets them stay, which then encourages an ever larger number of boats.

      Our Liberal Party (akin to your Republicans) is generally in favour of securing the borders (but having mass legal immigration). And so when in government their aim is to stop the boats from reaching that part of Australia where our court system comes into play. There have been agreements with other countries in the region to take those on the boats (e.g. Papua New Guinea) - given the economic migrants aren't looking to stay in these countries, it's usually quite effective in discouraging the boats.

      The left is big on supporting the arrival of the boats, so it's a strong point of contention within politics here. Most Australians, however, support securing the borders; furthermore, the boat system leads to cases of boats sinking and people drowning, so it's not easy for the left to claim the moral high ground on this issue.

    2. Wow, I had no idea that was such an institutionalized system. We get people from Cuba like that sometimes, but it's not a large percentage of illegal immigrants taking that route. It sounds similar to how people come up through Mexico (ie, paying a smuggler to bring them in), but at least we don't have the issue of our Left pretending they're refugees.

      I will say, I spent some time in the interior of Australia a few years back, and the people there struck me as blunt-spoken on the topic of foreigners/race. I'd had the impression Aussies were more hostile to the idea of mass immigration. Is this policy something that's forced on the rest of the country by the liberal coastal areas?

    3. at least we don't have the issue of our Left pretending they're refugees.

      Oh yes we do. Right now the Catholic Church, among others, is going "waah waah waah the poor widdle children crossing the border are refugees, we must help them."

    4. Is this policy something that's forced on the rest of the country by the liberal coastal areas?

      It was something forced on the country by the elites in general. Public opinion was usually against it by a margin of about 70:30, but there were no institutions to provide political opposition, so the elites did it easily in the end.

  2. I like the idea Mark. Good luck with getting M.E countries to contribute though.

    1. Thanks. Yes, you're probably right about the M.E. countries.