Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thailand interested in unloading its refugees onto Australia too

They'd be mad not to. The mad one is Gillard

THAILAND has expressed interest in striking a similar asylum-seeker deal with Australia to the one proposed by the Gillard government with Malaysia.

The development came as Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said a boatload of 32 asylum-seekers intercepted off Western Australia would be sent to a third country, even though the deal with Malaysia has yet to be finalised. Australia is in talks to swap 800 asylum-seekers for 4,000 genuine refugees currently living in Malaysia.

Australia has been seeking a regional solution to the issue of asylum-seekers, and has also approached Papua New Guinea about reopening its Manus Island detention centre.

Last night Thailand's foreign minister Kasit Piromya said Thailand would be interested in considering a swap arrangement similar to that Australia had reached with Malaysia. “I think the agreement between Australia and Malaysia on this particular model based on, I think, five to one ratio is something that the rest of us will be interested to look at,” Mr Kasit said after bilateral talks with Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd in Bangkok.

He said many countries had been looking for a way to deal with an influx of asylum-seekers. “I think the Australian-Malaysian likely agreement would provide some sort of certainty and also a model for others to study,” he said. “I think the whole issue could be discussed further by all the other countries involved.”

Many of the refugees Australia is set to take from Malaysia are from Burma, and travelled to Malaysia via Thailand.

Mr Rudd said he and Mr Kasit discussed the broader issue of asylum-seekers. “So what we discussed in particular was the ongoing support which our friends in Thailand need to sustain something in the order of 110,000 people spread across nine camps,” Mr Rudd said.

The asylum-seekers intercepted off Western Australia on Friday night are the first to arrive since Labor's announcement of its agreement with Malaysia. Believed to be from Afghanistan and Pakistan, they will be taken to Christmas Island for identity checks.

However Mr Bowen said they would then be taken to a third country, although he would not say what country that was. “It's well known we've been in discussions with Papua New Guinea. It's well known we are in discussions across the region,” he said. “We have an agreement to enter into a bilateral arrangement with Malaysia. “I am not going to flag which country these people will be sent to, but they will be held at Christmas Island, pending removal to a third country.”

Mr Bowen added: “My message to people smugglers and to asylum-seekers is very clear. “We will not be accepting and processing people for asylum claims who arrive in Australia by boat.”

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the arrival showed people-smugglers had not been put off by Labor spin on a people-swap deal with Malaysia.

Mr Bowen could not say where the group would be sent because the government had no deal with Malaysia, PNG, East Timor or anywhere else, Mr Morrison said. “Having realised that by announcing their panicked deal before it was agreed and operational they had issued an invitation to people smugglers, Minister Bowen is now trying to shut the gate once, in this case, the boats have bolted.”

Mr Bowen had not confirmed if Malaysia had been specified as a place asylum-seekers could be transferred to under Australian law, Mr Morrison said. “Unlike on Nauru or Manus Island, Australia will have no role in looking after the welfare of those potentially transferred to Malaysia under their five-for-one people-swap deal.


Expensive "Asylum-seekers

"The flood of asylum-seekers will generate a $1 billion-plus bonanza for the controversial foreign conglomerate that runs Australia's detention centres. Serco originally signed a five-year contract worth $370 million to run the facilities, including the Maribyrnong Detention Centre, until mid-2014. But immigration industry experts said this figure was now likely to burst through the billion-dollar barrier.

Figures obtained from government tender records show the total size of Serco's contracts in relation to asylum-seekers was quietly doubled in November to more than $756 million.

Of this, $712 million is allocated to run the centres through to mid-2014, including the notorious Villawood Centre in Sydney which was almost burnt to the ground last month by rioting asylum-seekers. A further $44.5 million was set aside for "residential housing and transport" for detainees.

But immigration industry sources are saying the latest contract amount for Serco is already six months out of date, and it stands to make hundreds of millions more from the taxpayers with continued boat arrivals.

One source said the asylum-seeker boom since November had already added up to $200 million to the total value of Serco's detention contracts. That would value them at up to $950 million as of this month.

Industry experts said Serco's bonanza was set to easily crack the $1 billion barrier if the Government's new "Malaysia Solution" does not work and refugee boats keep coming.

An Immigration Department spokesman refused to speculate on the Serco bonanza. A Serco spokeswoman said these were "questions for the Government".

In the two years since Serco took over the detention centres contract, there has been a blowout in both the number of refugees and detention facilities. In mid-2009, there were less than 1000 detainees in seven centres. But the latest figures show there are now 6700 detainees in 24 facilities across the country, all run by Serco.


Baby died of whooping cough after being sent home from hospital with "a cold"

A BABY who died of whooping cough was sent home from hospital after his parents were told the five-week-old just had a cold. Two days later, Kailis Smith stopped breathing in his cot and had to be resuscitated twice on his way back to hospital.

"The doctor said he just had a common cold and he'll get over it and sent us home, but he got worse and worse and we knew something was really wrong on the Thursday night," mother Roslynd Smith said. "On Friday morning he stopped breathing."

The baby, who was just one week shy of having his first whooping cough vaccination, was put onto life support on March 31 and then transferred from Tweed Hospital Emergency Department to Brisbane's Mater Hospital, where he lost his fight on April 22, Good Friday. He was just nine weeks old.

Jay and Roslynd Smith and two-year-old Shayda are devastated to lose the little boy who brought so much joy. "I always hoped and prayed for a little boy and to have him and have him ripped away from us is just terrible," Mrs Smith said.

The Tweed Heads family are firm believers in immunisation and urge all parents to vaccinate their children. "We are all vaccinated, so he must have picked it up from someone," Jay Smith, 33, said.

The Tweed Valley and nearby Byron Bay have a high number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

"Anyone who saw a baby with whooping cough would change their mind," Mr Smith said. "It's a horrible, horrible disease and people just don't realise. "And it's not just whooping cough coming back. TB and measles are coming back with a vengeance."

Kailis Smith is the seventh baby to die of whooping cough in the past two years.


Australian study shows that the success of a child is linked to father's education

No surprise to anyone who follows genetics research. It's all IQ and IQ is genetically transmitted. Government "support" will do little.

A Smith Family study has linked a father's education level to the professional success of his children. The report - titled Unequal Opportunities: Life Chances for Children in the Lucky Country - compares the lives and backgrounds of 13,000 university graduates aged 30 to 45.

It found those who had a university educated father were more likely to hold a degree themselves, have a professional job and earn around $300 more a week than those without an academic dad.

Among those people whose fathers did not go on to higher education, only 30 per cent had achieved a degree, compared to 65 per cent for those whose fathers did get a degree.

"If you think about a parent who had a limited education their understanding of career paths available to their kid would be much more limited," the charity's Wendy Field said. "For families on income support the difference is really, really stark.

"For kids it can mean that they make choices in their life that really protect their families from any additional financial stress and it can also mean that they just don't have access to a whole lot of opportunities."

The Smith Family says the report is disheartening and shows Australia has a way to go before its lucky status can be justified.

In 2008, after the Bradley Review into higher education, the Government adopted a target of increasing the number of university students from poor families to 20 per cent. The latest report shows that the current level is hovering around 15 per cent.

Last week Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced new funding measures to help achieve the 20 per cent goal. Low income families will receive an extra $10,000 a year to encourage their teenage children to stay at school or in training.

Ms Field says it is a welcome first step. "It'll be interesting to see how that translates into take-ups," she said. "And it'll also be interesting to see what supports are available to help those kids to stay at university, because it's so much more difficult for kids whose parents are not in a position to support them financially."


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