JOHN MENADUE. Getting behind the lies, fake news and spin on refugees and asylum seekers. (Michael West’s blog 13.2.2019)

It is remarkable that mainstream media, without exception, continues to ignore the facts on asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat and air. Michael West has written on the subject today in his blog.  See Michael’s article reprinted below.

Err … anyone noticed asylum seekers pouring into Australia in record numbers by air?

John Menadue cuts through the hysterical fear campaign surrounding “boat arrivals” with a few sober facts about other “arrivals”, demonstrating that refugees are simply being used for political expedience.

OUR DISCUSSION on asylum seekers is ill-informed. It’s a disgrace. Our politicians and our media have failed us. This was made obvious to me last Sunday on Insiders.  Do Christopher Pyne and Phillip Coorey think we are fools? They were both pushing the cruel partisan Coalition line on refugees and boats. Both see refugees not as people but as political opportunities to be exploited.

With boat arrivals stopped, people smugglers have turned to the air to bring asylum seekers to Australia in record numbers. Peter Dutton and the media have turned a blind eye to this breakdown in our border protection.

The Insiders “debate” was all about the politics and the politics of fear. We were incessantly warned that boat arrivals would start again if we did anything serious to support the 1,000 wounded souls that we have abandoned in Manus and Nauru. It is dishonest nonsense and propaganda to assert that the Australian Navy in cooperation with Indonesia cannot stop boat arrivals.

But as Abul Rizvi has pointed out in his article  ‘The best of 2018:  Duttton sets new asylum seeker application record‘ that whilst boat arrivals of asylum seekers has stopped, asylum seekers are coming to Australia in record numbers by air.

In 2017/2018, 27,931 asylum seekers came by air and claimed protection visas. That compares with 18,365 asylum seekers who came by boat in 2012/2013 at the peak of the inflow in the Gillard/Rudd years.

“27,931 asylum seekers came by air in 2017-18 compared to

18,365 in 2012-13, the peak of the inflow in the Gillard/Rudd years”


Table 1 Protection Visa Applications

As the government’s own data shows, non-boat arrivals have risen from 3,988 in 2007-08 to 27,931 in 2017-18. Yet the media and politicians show disinterest in an honest and informed debate about protecting our borders. Peter Dutton is not held accountable for his failure to protect our borders. Instead of telling us the facts on asylum seekers coming to Australia in record numbers by air, our mainstream media including the ABC allows Dutton to continue uncontested his appalling politicisation of the issue.

If only the media would look to Table 1 in Abul Rizvi’s article, they might allow themselves to be better informed. Table 1 came from the government’s own Home Affairs Website – Onshore Humanitarian Program.

Public life is more than just playing politics.  Facts are important.


John Laurence Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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4 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. Getting behind the lies, fake news and spin on refugees and asylum seekers. (Michael West’s blog 13.2.2019)

  1. Tony Calladine says:

    I do not think that anyone in Australia is anti providing a safe haven for asylum seekers.
    That is unless we consider the homeless and ask them what their view is regarding the Governments and activists focus on supporting to the nth dregree those people attempting to enter Australia, illegally or uncoventionally.
    The argument is before we exercise global compassion for 1,000 people we should work on providing medical assistance for Australias homeless rather than adding to homlessness.

    “International studies show more than 8 out of 10 people (85%) experiencing homelessness reported having a chronic health condition. The latest estimates reveal more than 116,000 people were experiencing homelessness in Australia on Census night, representing 50 homeless persons for every 10,000 people.”

    People experiencing homelessness have a significantly higher risk of death. “Unintentional injuries are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, among homeless people. Injuries are often the result of falls or being struck by a motor vehicle. Deaths due to an unintentional overdose of drugs or alcohol, or both, are also common.
    Other medical issues directly related at the homeless are Musculoskeletal disorders and chronic pain; Hunger and nutrition; Skin & foot problems; Infectious diseases; Dental problems; Mental health issues. ”

    2049.0 – Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness
    LATEST ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/03/2018

    Emma Woodley Canadian Observatory on Homelessness York University

  2. tasi timor says:

    Despite their past collective incompetence on this issue, I still find it difficult to believe that none of our intelligence gathering and assessment services have explained to Morrison that the Christmas Island detention centre is itself a pull factor, and that reopening it sends all the wrong signals to smugglers and their clients. This pull factor has indeed endangered lives in the past. If Morrison was truly committed to preventing fatalities at sea he would not reopen Christmas Island.

    Once more I invite readers to recall that during the earlier period of arrivals by sea from Indonesia which peaked under the Howard years, boats departed from Surabaya, Bali, Lombok, Makassar and East Nusa Tenggara for Ashmore. These routes were safer than those between Java and Christmas Island and there were no sinkings. The Govt refuses to acknowledge that the subsequent period of departures shifted from the safe routes to Ashmore, to unsafe Java-Christmas Island due in large part to State direction – Jakarta preferred it. To acknowledge this the Govt would have to acknowledge that the smugglers are not and have never been independent actors, just proxies on the larger chessboard of the bilateral relationship.

    Sadly we still haven’t learned that bipartisanship is essential on this issue. Politicising our two broad sets of competing social values for a temporary domestic advantage leaves Jakarta the only winner. They can kick back, eat popcorn and enjoy the spectacle as both sides here once again rely on their goodwill and co-operation to protect us from our existential fear of threats to our north.

    When their historical rivalries periodically threaten to break out of political containment I like to remind my E.Timorese friends of the hope implicit in Daniel Moynihan’s famous statement –

    ‘The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.’

    It applies to us too.

  3. Jill Dumsday says:

    Can someone explain why it is that the government turns a blind eye to air arrivals?
    Do air arrivals all have passports and documentation that boat arrivals do not have?
    Why have both major parties agreed so far to keep quiet about air arrivals? Would it not benefit Labor to let this particular cat out of the bag? More please!

    • Rais says:

      Air arrivals do, of course, all have passports and visas. If they are seeking to stay on they just overstay their visas and apply as refugees. Most of these are eventually found to be not genuine but Dutton’s departmental wheels grind very slowly and in the meantime the applicants can stay on and work.

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