Posted by: jkirkby8712 | October 16, 2011

Thursday, 13th October 2011 – offshore processing defeated

Well after yesterday’s euphoria by the Government following a successful carbon tax vote, it was the opposite story today.  Overnight, the West Australian Nationals MP Tony Crook confirmed he would not vote for proposed laws to resurrect the Government’s so-called ‘Malaysian Solution’. The bill, which was designed to secure the future of offshore processing, was due to come before the House of Representatives this morning but was doomed to fail without Mr Crook’s support. As a consequence, Julia Gillard did not submit the Bill for a vote because she knew she did not have the numbers to succeed.

This morning Mr Crook said that although the Malaysia swap deal could dissuade asylum seekers from setting sail for Australia, he had concerns about the way prospective refugees, particularly unaccompanied children, might be treated there.  And he said he would instead support Opposition amendments that would allow offshore processing in countries that have signed United Nations refugee conventions – like Nauru.  “The United Nations factor was a strong one for me,” Mr Crook told reporters at Parliament House. “We’re talking about a serious humanitarian issue here and clearly the Opposition, in government, had a strong position on asylum seekers and on boat people smuggling.”  But he was critical of both the Opposition and the Government for failing to come to a common position on offshore processing.   So as the Opposition would say, twice in a week, Labor has caved in to the political demands of the Greens – the carbon tax that the Greens want to increase, and onshore processing. Hence the query in some circles as to who the real ‘prime minister’ was!!??  The Liberals were proposing an amendment that off shore processing should be done in countries which have signed the refugee convention.  Apparently, prior to last year’s election, this was in fact Julia Gillard’s position. The Prime Minister said that processing would not take place in countries that had  not signed the refugee convention.  However on this occasion she was not prepared to accept the Opposition’s amendment, and has now ended up with no solution. Ironically, even if the Bill had been passed in the Lower House, that result would have  been largely symbolic, as it would have been defeated in the Senate because of the Green’s opposition to it. The defeat in the House meant that the Gillard Government was the first to lose a vote on a Bill in the Lower House in more than 80 years!

Well actually, after emergency cabinet meetings later this afternoon,  the Government announced at long last that it will begin processing asylum seekers who arrive by boat on Australian soil. Something I believe should have been happening in the first place. But it has only come about that way,  because the Government was backed into a corner and could not get the support in Parliament it needed to amend the Migration Act. Incredibly, and disappointing to see,  despite the encouraging steps announced, the Prime Minister still insists that her party remains committed to the Malaysian solution when it’s been shown to be sorely lacking in human rights and legally suspect.

 At the work front, things continue to slowly wind down as my week and time here gradually moves towards an end, but the evening meeting schedule continues as per normal  –  Radio station General Members meeting!  Began with a bit of a hiccup  –  the community hall that we use for such meetings, well the person responsible for opening up the place forgot about us, and had gone away somewhere!!! This was also supposed to be a community consultation meeting this month –  sadly no-one outside of the station membership came this month, but in other respects, it was a good thing, as it saved us from the embarrassment of visitors joining us outside a locked door!! After some gnashing of teeth and instant decision making, the obvious choice was to adjourn to the crowded conditions of the station’s meeting room!!  Which room has not been so crowded for some time, with members seated or standing out in the passageway and straining to hear what was being sent. Apart from another meeting with various people offering opinions and comments on sundry matters – many of those opinions all being expressed at the same time, as our President seemed to lose control of a friendly but over enthusiastic bunch of contributing members –  we had ‘young’ Christine trying to ensure that she had up to date photographs for the studio noticeboard, in preparation for the station’s Open Day coming up on the 23rd October. That collection of photos, included the following sample, which I decided was ‘not’ going to representative of my programs [though I’m sure it will appear elsewhere on that occasion!].





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