Iain Hall's SANDPIT

Home » Australian Politics » Jeremy Sear: “The bar has been lowered. A long way.”

Jeremy Sear: “The bar has been lowered. A long way.”

There are times when I feel that our learned friend really deserves our pity, especially when he puts an argument as poorly as he does in today’s piece at Pure Play school.Of course it is an article of faith for Greens that every person who gets on a boat in Indonesia has to be a “genuine” refugee. Sear  takes this as his mantra in the piece he offers on this occasion.

A repulsive slur

September 14, 2011 – 5:04 pm, by Jeremy Sear

Today’s effort in the Herald Sun by the Southbank Jester isn’t funny. It’s not even vaguely amusing. It is repulsive:

ONLY now are we finally meant to care that Labor’s slack border policies have killed more than 400 boat people.

Yes, it’s Andrew Bolt playing politics with the deaths of asylum seekers on boats.

But hang on a minute, in the Bolt piece that Sear is attacking, it is the current minister Chris Bowen who is cited as the source of the figure of 4% of those who set out not making it, so is our learned friend going to claim , GASP! That the minister is likewise playing “politics with the deaths of asylum seekers on boats. ?

Pretending that his preferred option – that they stay in camps with no protections and no hope waiting for a “place” that will come at the end of a lifetime if they’re lucky – is somehow more “humane” than treating them humanely, in accordance with our obligations to refugees under the convention, when they get here.

The column in question does not even mention the straw-man scenario that our learned friend invents here and  I think that Sear is missing a most important point and that  it is that by the time any of the would be migrants get to Indonesia they are not actaully in camps at all, nor are they under any imminent threat of persecution, they are for all intents and purposes in a place of safety.

As I’ve written elsewhere:

If there’s one thing more absurd than the prospect of a government losing an election because it’s not nasty enough to refugees (and, let’s give Labor its dues here, it is trying really hard to be), it’s the hideous gall of the people who pretend that they only want us to damn the refugees in order to “save” them.

We only want to drag them back out to sea on leaky boats because we care!

We only want to deport them to countries with limited legal protections because we want to keep them safe!

We only want to imprison them indefinitely without charge because we care for their wellbeing!

It’s a crock. And you can tell it’s a crock because the laws they call for don’t mention refugees’ safety at all. Their advocates use refugees’ safety as a rhetorical crutch in debates, but when it comes to the crunch, for what are the diabolical “people smugglers” prosecuted?

What I would like our learned friend to answer is just where would he draw the line for all of those mendicants who wish to come to this country? Just how open does he really want our borders to be?

Why does he think that our responsibility to these would be immigrants should begin at any time before they enter our jurisdiction?

Why do refugees die on boats? Is it because there’s no way of travelling here safely? Because boats are inherently so dangerous anyone setting out on one is essentially committing suicide?

Or is it because we have a system where we punish “people smugglers” harshly and take their boats, and thereby encourage them to cut corners and not give a damn about safety on their vessels? Because the crime we punish – and ridiculously harshly, when the offenders caught are poor fishermen just trying to feed their families – is not “conduct endangering life” or anything relating to putting refugees’ lives at risk: it is “people smuggling”. The “people smuggler” who puts refugees on a safe, properly-maintained boat at much greater expense, will be punished the same as the “people smuggler” who shoves them on a plank of wood with a motor.

Yes you are reading it right , our learned friend wants to let the crews of these boats to be able to keep their vessels  after they have been caught !!! Talk about providing incentives for further crime! What’s next for our learned friend? Is he going to suggest that we get Qantas to run a twice weekly charter service to pick up asylum seekers next? The boats are confiscated  then burnt because they are generally unseaworthy and a quarantine risk to this country .

So isn’t the paranoia about “people smugglers” – championed by the Liberals and Labor and polemicists like Bolt – the real cause of the deaths? The fact that we give “people smugglers” no incentive to look after their customers’ lives?

So according to Sear we have to now provide incentives to enhance the humanity of people smugglers in foreign countries instad of making it as hard as possible for them to operate.

Funnily enough, Bolt is not calling for us to start distinguishing between “people smugglers” who put lives at risk and those who don’t – and the only conclusion I can reach is that the reason is that, at the core, his objection to “people smugglers” is not putting refugees’ lives at risk – it’s bringing them here at all. If they brought them here entirely safely, with no deaths, he’d still object.

Attempting to bring non citizens into this country is actaully a crime, and it is entirely reasonable for any citizen to object to the breaking of our laws, yes even Andrew  Bolt. I would have thought that an officer of the court would appreciate that, well maybe not Jeremy Sear.

Which makes hiding under the shield of feigned concern for the refugees’ lives both disingenuous and dishonest

Of course there is absolutely no reason to believe that there is anything other than veracity in Bolt’s concern  and sadness about the loss of life that is inherrent in the people smuggling trade so clearly with out substantive evidence all that Sear is doing here is casting slurs himself.

Let’s be clear here – the refugees’ lives are not safe in any of the locations from which they’re getting on boats. There’s a reason they will pay everything they own to get out of there. There’s a reason they will put their lives at risk to escape. That reason? Because their lives in the places from which they’re fleeing are even worse.

Gee Indonesia won’t be happy that our learned friend thinks that its not safe anywhere within its borders! What he is forgetting is that the so called “asylum seekers’ are nearly  all setting sail, not from their countries of origin, but from the second, third or even forth country that they have transited through, none of which are particularly unsafe those countries may not be that wonderful but they are far from being terribly life threatening either.

You’ll note that the Liberals and their cheerleaders have recently discovered that conditions for refugees in Malaysia are pretty terrible. And yet – their preferred option is for them to stay there. They object to us sending them back, because it hurts Labor – but their entire preferred option is for them to give up on trying to get out of there. They want far more than 800 refugees to end up in Malaysia – they want everyone who’s left Malaysia to stay there. They want the boats “stopped”.

So how is their feigned concern for refugees’ lives anything more than the most shameless, most repulsive lie?

The real question is how come our learned friend can’t appreciate that one can be concerned about the lives lost at sea and want the humanitarian part of our immigration program to be the individuals that we choose rather than those that can pay the people smugglers? Maybe he is just projecting because he himself has trouble chewing gum walking at the same time. 😉

Well, the most repulsive lie apart from accusing their opponents, the people who actually are committed to treating refugees humanely, of being responsible for their deaths. Like this despicable line from Bolt about Bob Brown, the one party leader committed to fulfilling our obligations to asylum seekers:

Don’t bother Brown with the dead. He has his fine feelings to polish, and the votes of the irresponsible to harvest.

Well, it’s better than polishing what Bolt’s polishing in this hateful rant.

Ah here we are we got there in the end, this is the nub of our learned friend’s rant. Sear is upset because Andrew Bolt has the temerity to criticise Bob Brown, to point out that it is the Greens desire for an  “open door” policy is the prerequisite for all of those deaths at sea and that it is the sanctimonious left who are blind to the unforeseen consequences of the policies that they espouse. Its not Bolt who is guilty  of a hateful rant its our learned friend who regularly serves us hateful rants about Andrew Bolt, Sear constantly suggests dark motives for every thing that Bolt argues without the tiniest scrap of evidence beyond his own  dark prejudices and incredulous envy that Bolt is more popular successful  and influential  than he is.

That such a rhetorical atrocity – where caring for refugees is damned as killing them, and contemptuously declaring they should stay in a country you agree is dangerous and mistreats them is ludicrously portrayed as “saving their lives” – could be seriously published in a mainstream tabloid in 2011, is profoundly disturbing.

What is really profoundly disturbing is that he still does not get that if someone can spend considerable periods of time safely living in  places like Malaysia (which is not that nice by our standards) then trying to get on a boat to this country ceases to be fleeing to safety and becomes an attempt to get a migration outcome.

The bar has been lowered. A long way.

Yes he is right, it has, but not when it comes to the asylum seeker debate.

It has obviously been lowered in another more parochial  practice  of the law.

Cheers Comrades


Our learned friend has the solution to the whole problem:

Now am I the only one that thinks it is only those irrevocably infected with far left thinking would believe that the only viable  response to those who break the law is to make the crime that they commit no longer a crime!!!! Gee by using that same logic and a  simple process we could save a motza on law enforcement and the courts. Just one downside for our learned friend though, he would be out of a job….


  1. Leon Bertrand says:

    There are many in the left who think that conservatives really don’t mind at all if asylum seekers drown by sea, that its only an argument they are using for convenience.

    Not only is this assumption false, it also conveniently allows leftists to not have to address the issue that their policies cause deaths.

    Jeremy’s claim that strong border protection policies are to blame for the deaths is laughable. There were no drownings that I am aware of when Howard’s Pacific Solution was in place. Rather, there was an effective policy in place that resulted in an orderely migration regime, gave a fair go to those waiting in refugee camps and saved lives.

    If you really care for asylum seekers, you encourage them to apply through the proper procedures wherever possible, and don’t encourage them to risk their lives at sea.

  2. Ray Dixon says:

    Leon, the only reason that the so-called Pacific Solution “stopped the boats” was because asylum seelers did not want to end up in that hell hole of Nauru for years & years, as they did. If Nauru is now to be brought up to scratch and used as an effective processing centre (instead of as a jail or concentration camp like it was), then how would that “stop the boats”? This constant carping by Abbott and you lot that Gillard should “pick up the phone to the Nauru PM” is merely political rubbish. Face facts: Nauru is a tiny and very poor nation of less than 10,000 people and of course they would say “yes” to accepting our refugees. They’d even take murderers & terrorists if there were money in it. Nauru is not the answer, not unless it has a lot of money spent on it and even then, as I said before, how would that “stop the boats”?

  3. Iain Hall says:

    it works on the principle of general deterrence and the more effectively it deters the fewer people that it will have to, accommodate, how many people were still on Nauru at the end of 2007? What was two failed claimants who did not want to go home? You have to stop thinking about the Numbers that we now have to deal with thanks to Kevie and Julia and look to the point of time in the future when fewer will chance their arm or the boats because they know that they won’t be accepted and end up here any time soon , then you may be able to go back to the arguments that were being made in early 2008 that detention facilities are an expensive waste of money because they have no one in them.

  4. Leon Bertrand says:

    Nauru was not a “hell hole”. The asylum seekers were looked after and their basic needs met. Of course it was not a pleasure to stay there but that’s why it worked.

    If necessary the Migration Act should be amended so that the Pacific Solution can be reintroduced. It is a proven solution after-all.

  5. Ray Dixon says:

    Leon & Iain, you cannot claim, on the one hand, that Nauru provides adequate facilities for refugees and then, on the other hand, that reinstating it will deter more boat arrivals. It’s either a deterrance (ie. a very unattractive place to end up) or it’s not. And now, given the High Court decision, Nauru would clearly have to be improved to standards that are far above & beyond what they were during the Howard years … at great expense. And if they are then the deterrance factor will be eliminated and the boats will simply keep coming. This crap about just reinstate the ‘Pacific solution’ is a nonsense and is no solution whatsoever.

  6. Iain Hall says:


    the facilities on Nauru are adequate, detainees will have better housing than they would have only dreamt about in their homeland, more than adequate nutrition and healthcare,
    Like wise they will have greater freedom within the Island than they could expect in Australia. So that is the pluses, But the location in the north pacific means that they are a very long way from Australia, their desired destination which is the deterrence factor here. So it is indeed both possible and likely that Nauru can have both an “attractive” living situation but be still unattractive as a destination.

  7. Sax says:

    You guys are forgetting the reason for the existence of Nauru in the first place.
    It was to try and curtail the throng of boats, by letting the people smugglers, as well as their prospective clientele know, that they were not going to be allowed to land on Aussie shores. At least, not until their legitimacy was challenged and perhaps confirmed ? In that, there can be no doubt, that the policy has worked ?

    If these people are as desperate as they portray, then a bloody tent under a palm tree would be heaven, compared to what they supposedly have just escaped ? What do they want ? A room at the Sydney Hilton, with free passes to the strip ?

    The detractors of this policy really need a reality check.

  8. Ray Dixon says:

    Wrong, Iain (& Sax). The deterrant under Howard was not just the location of Nauru it was also the facilities, the treatment and the length of detention (3 – 4 years approx). But if Nauru is to be used again it will have to meet new standards and be a genuine processing centre, not a detention centre/jail/concentration camp as it was under Howard. You might think it was adequate back then but it won’t be accepted this time around if it doesn’t measure up. Asylum seekers would not be put off from making the trip by boat if they know they will be intercepted, moved to Nauru, treated correctly and processed expeditiously. There’s no deterrant factor in that. That being the case, why spend so much on that solution? It’s bound to me more costly. Might as well process them onshore – saves the legal cases too.

  9. Iain Hall says:

    Ray the only reason that any claimants spent long periods of time in detention was that after exhausting all of the avenues for appeal against an unfavourable assessment they refused to leave and unless they were willing to go voluntarily the government would not force them onto a plane. Thus it became a game of bluff with the claimants s hoping that the government would relent and let them stay.
    Further if they are allowed to make endless appeals all the way up to the high court what makes you think that processing is going to be at all expeditious? Or fro that matter inexpensive?

  10. Ray Dixon says:

    That’s untrue, Iain. Nearly all asylum seekers sent to Nauru were accepted (eventually). It wasn’t because of appeal after appeal being made. It was because they weren’t granted expedient assessment. The average stay was about 3 years.

  11. GD says:

    And as a result, they stopped coming by boat. Perhaps that’s because they were more like the first pic in this article than the second. The term is economic refugees.


  12. Sax says:

    Spot on GD.
    The reason for the slow down ?
    1. No guarantee of even touching Aus soil, let alone settle ?
    2. Second rate facilities, for probably years, until status ascertained ?
    3. Maybe life not so bad here after all ?
    4. Get another rellie in from somewhere else in the world, that can get us in from there under family reuniification ?
    5. Practise of ‘losing’ papers, to show desperation working against them, as their legit status takes an eternity to ascertain with “no papers” ?
    etc et al ?

  13. GD says:

    and then there’s this bloke in detention in WA. He’s been emailing complaints about the Serco officers to the Immigration Department. His so-called concern about ‘alleged assaults’ sounds more like a threat.


  14. Sax says:

    You guys are forgetting the reason as to why Nauru (as well as other off shore facilities), were/are being set up in the first place.

    The whole idea, is to by pass the bleeding hearts sympathies, and deal with these illegal immigrants (which for the most part is exactly what they are), by the law, and without emotive interferences OFF AUSTRALIAN SOIL. They cannot be dealt with, initially, on shore in Australia. If that were to happen, a whole ream of laws come into play, that further complicate the whole process. Some say that is exactly what should happen, but do we want another Vietnam situation of the seventies ? We can all see what a wonderful step forward that move has been. Been to Richmond or Cabramatta lately ?

    Ray ?
    If they are/were legitimate refugees, then I agree with you. But are they ?
    These people come from a wartorn middle east, and as such, take advantage of that, by loss of important documentation. That is why the process has slowed to a crawl. As the situation has settled somewhat, in their homelands, documentation checks have recommenced. For the legitimate refugee, that is no problem, for the economic migrant, trying to hide in the throng, they must be feaful of being found out. My whole criticism of the situation, is that, I repeat, if the situation is that bad over there, why the hell, are they risking all, by a boat trip to Australia ? Why not a country in the Med ffs ? Cos they wouldn’t get in, that’s why !
    Again, very few women and children, just young single men ? Hmm ?

    Finally, if they were legitimate, and fearful of their lives, as they are supposed to be, then three years would be a walk in the park. Regardless of the living conditions at Nauru, (or anywhere else for that matter). They are being fed, clothed and housed, whilst their status is ascertained. My alarm bells are ringing with so many points here. But just two, reiterated before retiring.
    * Why only single young men ?
    * Why the panic at the length of stay ? If they are legit, surely they wouldn’t care ?

  15. Angel says:

    I have witnessed 2 bus loads of illegals arrive at Pontville (Hobart) this week. This was kept out of the Hobart newspaper. Why would the government, and the Mercury newspaper, do this on the sly? They were all single males, which confirms what Sax states above. They arrived in a blacked out window bus with toilet aboard. Why the secrecy?

    Tony Foster, the mayor of Brighton, (without public consultation) arranged for 400 single males to be accommodated in his locality, at an expense of 15 million. The benefit to the local community is nil, with outsourcing by Serco to the mainland. The irony is that as well as paying through our taxes & having no benefit to the Brighton township, the mayor placed his own house on the market and is unable to now sell it. Who would want to buy into the area now. He has personally bitten himself on the backside.

    Nauru makes a lot of sense.

Comments are closed.

Welcome to the Sandpit

I love a good argument so please leave a comment

Please support the Sandpit

Please support the Sandpit

Do you feel lucky?

Do you feel lucky?

%d bloggers like this: