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Aug 15, 2012

ASLYUM SEEKERS: Has anybody read the Greens’ proposal and the recommendations of the UNHCR? They are almost identical. 

PROBLEM: Why do people board boats? In desperation because of the lengthy waiting periods (sometimes years) for assessment. If people knew they would be assessed within a few weeks or months, do you really believe they’d still risk their lives on expensive ocean going sieves?

SOLUTION: Instead of pouring BILLIONS into expensive concentration camps and the maintenance of the infrastructure and their inmates, Australia could pour mere MILLIONS into increasing staffing levels in the UNHCR to dramatically decrease waiting time for refugee assessment and resettlement. Increasing the number of points of access for refugee registration in our region, in concert with our Asian neighbours, would also help defuse the problem.

 
Then we should double our intake of refugees (funnily enough, they don’t ALL want to come to Australia); de-link the intake of asylum seekers to the immigration intake (as does the rest of the world: asylum seekers are seeking protection from necessity; immigrants seek access to other countries from choice – economical, personal, better prospects, better life, etc. the two are totally separate from each other) so ‘legitimate’ immigrants are not disadvantaged, and the problem is well on the way to being solved – AT FAR LESS COST!

 
Incidentally, according to the world charter on refugees, there is no such thing as an ‘illegal asylum seeker’, and refusal to protect and assimilate refugees is against international law. If Australia continues to fudge the facts and avoid their responsibilities in this area, they should resign from the UNHCR and make it quite clear refugees are not acceptable and will be imprisoned if they insist on coming here. Because that’s the truth of the matter; that’s what we do. Being deprived of your liberty for years on end in a concentration camp, euphemistically called a ‘detention centre’ is no walk in the park! Now, if the boats continue to arrive, those people will be left in the camps for ‘years’ as a deterrent to others. Wow! Is that unconditional love for our human bretheren, or what? And instead of facilitating reunion with family members, we’ll also be ‘tightening up’ on (disallowing?) this practice as a further disincentive!

 
Personally, if I were on a boat I’d rather be blown out of the water than face years of imprisonment in concentration camps where self harm, suicide, and severe mental health problems are the prospects I faced. Maybe that would be a more ‘humane’ solution; I bet there would be no more boats aiming for Australian shores after the first one was blown up! We could always justify it as being attacked by potential terrorists and therefore well within the bounds of international law! (Forgive my sarcasm; I’m inclined to resort to it when I’m very angry, and inhumanity in any form is like a red rag to a bull to me. I don’t REALLY believe all our leaders are undercover fascists. Some of them are even trying to do the right thing.)
 

So there we go Australia, a humane, sensible and totally workable solution to help our disenfranchised brothers and sisters, as recommended by the UNHCR, the Greens - and all ‘humane’ humans, or the White Australia policy unveiled and practised without pretence! It’s our choice. And maybe a little empathy would go a long way towards helping us, as a nation, make that choice: i.e. how would you like yourself and your family to be received on foreign shores if we were fleeing the same horrors the current influx of asylum seekers face in their homelands? It’s not beyond the realms of possibility. What goes around comes around, eventually.
 

Unfortunately all this is moot right now; we’ve already elected to employ the ‘deterrence at all costs’ method. But here’s the really tragic thing; the more humane, the ‘right’ way of on-shore assessment, recommended by the UNHCR, that the Government wished to implement couldn’t get through the Parliament because of the Opposition. Now Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is using the Government’s compromise as a weapon against them. ‘First she says one thing, then she says something else’, and ‘flip-flop’ were phrases he used in a statement to the media. Like Barack Obame in the US; the Right Wing is doing all it can to block genuine innovative change for the public good. And our Prime Minister, like Barack Obama, could well lose the next election because the the 'Right Wingers' are so good at ‘spin’, and the general puhlic is so gullible, maybe because the general level of education appears to be pretty abysmal in both countries because 'Right Wingers' believe in educating the ‘elite’ at the expense of everybody else, because they believe in a ‘ruling class’.

 

A wise man once said there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Evolved human beings understand, and science ratifies, that we are all one; everything in the Universe is connected to everything else, and like ripples in a pond, a small action in one place can have massive repercussions globally. Wouldn’t it be great if we could start a ripple of love and compassion for our entire species, instead of fear and distrust?

 

 

 


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Posted: Aug 15, 2012 4:05pm
Sep 12, 2011

What's it all about, Alfie?

Good question, and one that is pondered over by just about everyone on the planet at one time or another!

The most frequently asked question within this context, especially when disaster strikes, seems to be ‘Why’?  Why him? Why her? Why me? Why now? What have I/he/she/it done to deserve this? It’s not fair! And if this is a precursor to looking for someone to blame (especially God), then it becomes a very vexed question indeed, one without satisfactory answers, and one which leads to wounds that cannot heal and a festering anger which consumes, and eventually destroys.

Perhaps the way to end that self-defeating, self-destructive never ending cycle of trying to find answers to the unanswerable is to take ‘God’ and ‘blame’ out of the picture, and look at what science, and particularly Quantum Physics, has discovered - that everything in the Universe is energy - and that energy is the lowest common denominator of every atom, molecule, sub-atomic particle etc., in existence. Energy is the first and most basic building block of the Universe, and it comes in two forms, positive and negative, and most importantly, like attracts like.

You see, life just ‘is’. It’s not out to get us; there is no white-bearded deity out there playing chess with the human race, no ‘fates’ written in concrete. There is only life, which happens to us all in a very democratic way, doing no favours, imposing no paybacks for past misdeeds, handing out no gold stars to the best performers or dire punishments to those who fall by the wayside. The only difference between how life appears to ‘treat’ us, fairly or otherwise, is our reaction to it. That is the only control we have, choice as to how to react.

Once we get our heads around this, regardless of our religious, agnostic, atheistic or other affiliations, the one thing we can see we all have in common is the free will to decide whether we will now align our reactions to ‘go with the flow’ of the positive energy stream, or the negative, and perpetuate that positivity or negativity.

Because of science, this philosophy, or way of thinking, or whatever you like to call it, has evolved far beyond the traditional teachings of many of the world’s religions. All religions give us a list of rules and conditions under which we may or may not achieve a spot in Paradise. Follow the rules, silence your conscience - you don’t need it if you follow us - and you’re okay! Christianity teaches us that God created man with ‘free will’, but if you don’t use that free will in a ‘good’ way, you will suffer the tortures of hell for eternity. Some free will! Cults do the same thing. 

These ideologies do one thing very well, they encourage the herd mentality. They even talk about the ‘Shepherd and his sheep’! They totally absolve us of the responsibility of thinking for ourselves, and questioning things that do not sit right with our own conscience. Perhaps all ideologies would be further evolved if they had encouraged healthy debate and questioning from their inception, instead of promoting the idea of infallibility and ‘we’re the only true faith’. It’s that kind of thinking that has littered the pages of history with the unspeakable horrors of war and crimes against humanity, and is still doing so.

Somewhere along the line unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness seem to have got lost in the catechisms of do’s and don’ts. We seem to expect a great deal less of our ‘gods’ than we do of ourselves. Can you imagine the uproar if a parent abandoned a toddler because it was taking too long to learn to walk? Can you imagine, as a parent, never forgiving a child its transgressions but torturing it and throwing it into an active volcano as punishment? Yet that is the level of our expectations of ‘God.’

So, regardless of your spiritual beliefs, rest assured in the knowledge that LIFE JUST IS, and it’s your reaction to it that makes the difference; a positive one or a negative one. That is the only ‘choice’ we have.

Once you can accept this indisputable fact, then it only makes sense to choose to make the best of it and move on. In choosing acceptance, looking for the gift in every situation (and there is one, even in the worst of them), recognising that you are not alone - you are surrounded by other ‘space travellers’ with as little control over life as you have, who are coping with similar setbacks, disasters, losses, illness and disease, death and mayhem, and are asking the same question, ‘Why?’, then you can accept that there’s nothing and no-one to blame, and you can move on without carrying the debilitating and pointless burden of anger with you. You can exert your only control, choice as to where to go from here. Learn from the experience and make it a better, stronger you, or allow it to cripple it you and stunt any further growth. 

Our emotions not only directly influence the quality of our lives in the here and now, but they also ripple out into the Universe and influence the creative process itself. That’s a pretty awesome responsibility. But again, there’s no ‘right and wrong’, there is only experience, and every experience weaves another coloured thread, another variation of pattern into the tapestry of creation.

These thoughts were triggered by the experience of the death of loved ones by some friends of mine. As I watched them struggle with the ubiquitous ‘why’, my heart ached because I understood the futility of the question. If these thoughts and ideas can bring them the same comfort they have brought me through my struggles with life through the passage of time, I will be comforted also.

I have never been content to accept ideas that do not ‘gel’ with me. Ever since childhood, I have been a questioner, sometimes to my detriment! Those questions led me from Christianity and Catholicism to utter rebellion and atheism. 

But that didn’t sit well with me either. The prospect of the beautiful, intricate, miraculous and infinitely diverse patterns of life, death and creation within the Universe happening by accident was just inconceivable. As improbable as the prospect of a monkey tapping out the complete works of Shakespeare if he sat in front of a typewriter long enough! Electron microscopes, science and technology are constantly revealing and making sense of the marvellous patterns in what was once considered chaos - a theory I have never subscribed to. There has got to be a creative intelligence behind it all. The conclusions I’ve reached after all my questioning and research are as follows: 

As every cell in our bodies contains the DNA of the complete person, so too, every soul contains the DNA of all creation, which is the ‘Creator’. We are one with all else; not separate in any way. But the proposition that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ makes perfect sense in this context, and solves for me the dichotomy present in the ‘Him and us’ idea presented by formal religions.

But perhaps ‘conclusions’ is the wrong word. How can one impose ‘conclusions’ on a never ending story; an ongoing experience or experiment; the eternal quest to create something more achingly beautiful, more fascinating, more magical than anything that has gone before?  If I, a mere mortal, contain that unquenchable thirst to know, do, create, experience more and ever more, how much more would that apply to the ultimate ‘Creator’?  As a child, I used to feel so sorry for God. I told my grandmother once, much to her chagrin, that it must be so boring to be God, because he knew all about everything and therefore could never experience the joy of discovery! 

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings - hmmmm?!!!

SHIRLEY ROBINSON MARSH

 

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Posted: Sep 12, 2011 1:48am
Sep 7, 2011

Following is an extract from the UNHCR paper on asylum seekers in relation to Australia. Asylum seekers were processed on shore until Paul Keating introduced mandatory detention during his time as Prime Minister of Australia. The Howard government took this policy one step further with the 'Pacific Solution'. It would appear that in doing so, Australia is failing to fully comply with its legal obligations under the treaty. 

What happened to turn a nation with a compassionate, generous attitude towards the plight of refugees, to an attitude that borders on xenophobia? Was Paul Keating reacting to the wishes of the nation, or did the nation merely accept his views on how this situation should be handled, exacerbated by the Howard government's Pacific Solution and media hype that the country was about to be overrun by its Asian neighbours? 

There is much talk about 'legal' and 'illegal' immigrants in the asylum seeker debate which totally disregards the fact that asylum seekers/refugees are not included in immigration numbers, i.e. people who apply to migrate to Australia for any number of reasons other than loss of life, liberty or torture; that is a totally separate issue. Not all asylum seekers have access to 'legal' means of applying for entry to our country. What are they supposed to do when life and limb is at stake? 

Why is it not possible for asylum seekers to apply for temporary visas at our embassies (we have one in Indonesia - the main jumping off point for boat people), enter the country by legal means, and be processed on shore while living and working in the community? Would this not be a more humane, practical solution that would also save this country millions of dollars every year, not to mention stopping the people smuggling trade dead in its tracks, something both sides of the political spectrum insist is their main reason for mandatory off shore detention? 

This is a complex issue that is creating concern world wide, but surely at the core of the debate should be the protection and humane treatment of people who have already experienced the worst we humans have to offer? Are 'concentration camps' really the answer? Is there really 'no room at the Inn?'

What are the Commission's views about the refugee assessment process?
Asylum seekers who arrive on the mainland

Asylum seekers who arrive on the Australian mainland (or in any non-excised part of Australia) and apply for protection are assessed through the refugee status determination system that applies under the Migration Act.

Under this system, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) makes a primary assessment as to whether an applicant meets the criteria for refugee status and whether they should be granted a protection visa. If an asylum seeker is refused a protection visa by DIAC, they have access to independent merits review by the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT), or in some circumstances the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). In limited circumstances, they can seek judicial review by the Federal Magistrates Court or the Federal Court of decisions made by the RRT or the AAT.

The Commission raised concerns about Australia’s refugee status determination system, as it applies to child asylum seekers, in the report of its national inquiry into children in immigration detention, A last resort? 

The Commission has also made a number of submissions about Bills relating to various stages of the refugee status determination process, arguing that the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees should be protected throughout the process:

Asylum seekers who arrive in excised offshore places

Asylum seekers who arrive in excised offshore places such as Christmas Island are barred from the refugee status determination system that applies under the Migration Act.

These asylum seekers are not able to submit a valid visa application unless the Minister for Immigration exercises his or her personal discretion to allow them to submit an application. They have no access to the Refugee Review Tribunal. Instead, their refugee claims are assessed through a ‘non-statutory’ process.

In the Commission’s view, this two-tiered system for determining whether an asylum seeker is a refugee undermines Australia’s international human rights obligations and obligations under the Refugee Convention.

The Commission has recommended that the Australian Government should repeal the provisions of the Migration Act relating to excised offshore places and abandon the policy of processing some asylum claims through a separate ‘non-statutory’ process. All unauthorised arrivals who make claims for asylum in Australia should have those claims assessed through the refugee status determination system that applies under the Migration Act.

For further information see:


What happens to people who are not determined to be refugees but still need protection?

In some cases, a person may not meet the Refugee Convention definition of a refugee, but may nevertheless face significant human rights abuses such as torture if returned to their country of origin.

Currently, the only avenue of protection for such people is to apply to the Minister for Immigration to request that the Minister exercise his or her personal discretion to issue a visa under section 417 of the Migration Act.

The Commission has raised concerns that the section 417 Ministerial discretion is not an adequate mechanism to protect people from refoulement. In particular, the Minister’s discretionary power is non-compellable and the Minister’s decisions are not reviewable. The Minister is also not obliged to give reasons for his or her decisions.

The Commission has recommended that the Australian Government adopt a legislated system of complementary protection to implement Australia’s non-refoulement obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In September 2009 the Australian Government introduced the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009 (Cth) into Parliament. While the Commission welcomed the Bill, it expressed some concerns about the scope of protection proposed by the Bill and recommended a number of amendments.

The Commission welcomed the introduction into Parliament of an amended version of the Bill, the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2011 (Cth), in February 2011. While the Commission still has some concerns about the scope of protection proposed, the adoption of the Bill would be a positive first step in establishing a legislated complementary protection regime. The Commission hopes to see the Bill passed.

For further information see:

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Posted: Sep 7, 2011 9:04am
Sep 1, 2011
I recommend the following article to everyone interested in the future of renewable energy technology and how it is being utilised around the world. It exposes completely the myths being perpetuated by the Opposition and the 19th century fossil fuel moguls that without them, the country would go to rack and ruin. 
These massive corporations have a vested interest in treating us like mushrooms; kept in the dark and fed bulls--t! It's about time our governments crawled out from under their proverbial thumbs and worked for the national interest instead of their corporate interests.
Many of the technologies have been initiated in Australia by our brilliant Australian minds. As usual, they have received no support from our governments, and other countries who have embraced these ideas are now benefitting from our science and innovation. In the meantime, our innovators are folding from lack of support. 
Whatever happened to the 'clever' country? 
Please read, and then pressure our government to act in the nation's interest rather than the interests of the fossil fuel giants.
http://www.smh.com.au/business/handicapped-by-19thcentury-technology-20100202-nb3t.html
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Posted: Sep 1, 2011 7:40pm
Jun 28, 2011

Have you seen John Fox's documentary on 'fracking' - accessing coal seam gas by fracturing the surrounding rock?  It's called 'Gasland' and the message it sends out is truly terrifying.  If you place a value on the ecology, the land, the environment, the wilderness and, last but certainly not least, pure water, this is an absolute must.  It's a form of insanity on a scale previously unprecedented.  And we ignore its implications to the detriment of humanity world wide, because coal seam gas is everywhere, and the giant resource companies are seeking to capture it everywhere around the world.  The possible extinction of life on this planet as a result is not a far-fetched nightmare. 

Watch the doco, see the results in the USA, multiply those results erupting over every coal seam site in the world, with the resultant pollution of planetary aquifers, and see if this nightmare could not become a reality in the not too distant future.  

Without water we cannot sustain life.  This technology threatens the pure, underground water of every site it visits, including the network of rivers, lakes and streams fed by our aquifers. 
 
We need to stand together and say NO to this insanity!  We have alternative energy resources already available that are being virtually ignored in favour of the frantic search to continue our dependency on fossil fuels.  Denmark is a shining light in this scenario; it already gets 30% of its energy from renewables, and plans to be independent of fossil fuels by 2050!  And, far from being economically disadvantaged by this course of action, as people and corporations with vested interests would have you believe, their economy is improving dramatically just as the rest of the EU is either flatlining or going down!
Be informed, and make informed decisions about your life and the lives of your descendants!  Make your voices heard - please!

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Posted: Jun 28, 2011 6:32pm
Jun 21, 2011

I've been reading, watching, researching and generally immersing myself in world affairs for some time, but recent revelations on the manipulation and corruption of world events by the power brokers of the West has confirmed my worst suspicions and left me breathless.

Since the explosion of Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame onto the world stage of political transparency, these revelations have been coming fast and furiously; Britain's BBC, Australia's ABC and SBS, and the American networks have all been airing documentaries on the truth behind the political rhetoric designed to mislead and justify our less than noble reasons for interfering in the affairs of other countries, particularly in the Middle East.  No doubt the same has been happening in Europe and elsewhere.
In a nutshell, the West has been complicit in: 
  • the unlawful invasion of Iraq, unlawful because they knew full well there were no 'weapons of mass destruction', they had all been destroyed and their infrastructures dismantled years before;
  •  the sanctions against that country that literally withheld the means to sustain life for the entire population, resulting in the deaths of a million or more innocent men, women and children;
  • decrying the atrocities of the Pol Pot' regime during the genocide of Cambodian people, and at the same time supplying the regime with weapons (a very lucrative business);
  • supporting governments and dictatorships whose policies benefitted the West, regardless of the human suffering they created within those societies;
  • then shouting 'terrorists' and 'fundamentalists' and 'fanatics' and so on when these people finally retaliated against the West;
  • using 9/11 to officially cast aside the Geneva Conventions (they had been ignored time and again when they presented an inconvenient obstacle to Western aspirations) in order to 'fight terrorism';
  • the obliteration of an entire population in Laos by the US during the Vietnam war.  Their bombers were not allowed to land with unused bombs on board, so they dropped them on Laos!
  • Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is reminiscent of the treatment meted out to the Jews throughout history. Their fight for survival against all odds has been magnificent; however they appear to have since tipped the scales in favour of the very same treatment they fought against so valiantly, and this has gradually eroded the respect and support of the rest of the world.
The list goes on and on.  Thank heaven for Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame and his fight for transparency; he appears to have unplugged the hole in the dam and let loose a flood of extremely unpalatable truths. It's hard to swallow the fact that in many cases past and present, we have been the 'bad guys'.  The few thousand killed in the 9/11 horror pale into insignificance when we look at the millions of lives we have been responsible for, all in the name of money, power and energy. Both sides are responsible for some terrible actions. There are no winners in war, but there are always millions of innocent casualties.
If we are to keep our governments honest, and stop them perpetrating these atrocities under the guise of 'humane' and 'democratic' interventions for the world good, we have to support those who would bring us the truth, and demand transparency from our leaders.  To do anything less is to be complicit by default.
  
Democracy is supposedly 'government by the people for the people'. Really?  Do the peoples of the world really support unjust wars, genocide, torture, and the elimination of millions of children as mere 'collateral' damage in a 'worthy cause'?  If not, act.  Sign petitions; write letters; demand a 'free press' worthy of the name.  It's our world, let's take responsibility for what has happened in the past because of our apathy and complacency, and let vigilance and total awareness guide our future actions.  Let's learn the lessons of history and move on, not just continue repeating our mistakes ad infinitum.  The human race must evolve, or self-destruct.

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Posted: Jun 21, 2011 9:15am

 

 
 
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