On February 15, the US government agreed to offer asylum to 7000 Iraqi refugees who had left their homeland and had been waiting in third countries such as Jordan and Syria. A US team is scheduled to go to Amman, Jordan, on February 26 to begin processing them.
Meanwhile, 260 Iraqi refugees have been waiting for more than five years in Indonesia for resettlement. These people were on boats en route to Australia when the Navy forced them back by firing over their bows, boarding the boats and sailing them back into Indonesian waters. Some boats were disabled by the Navy before the Australians disembarked leaving the boats floundering in shallow water.
If the US can take 7000 Iraqi refugees from the Middle East, surely Australia can take the 260 refugees who were on their way to Australia and who are now in limbo?
As of June 2005, the Australian government paid $19.5 million to the International Organisation for Migration to feed and house Iraqi and Afghani refugees in Indonesia. The Iraqi refugees were moved to Jakarta in June 2006, and are still waiting for a country to settle in.
The refugees have no money, no documents, no right to work or study, and no way to go back home, or anywhere else. They are the victims of political indecision. It is time for Australia to give these people a chance. We went to war in their country; we are part of the problem. It is time for us to offer a solution.
John Howard I
If Australians are proud of punching beyond their weight they can be less proud of PM John Howard's light-weight venture into an overseas heavy-weight ring when he made comments on US politics. An incredible mistake.
I have this marvellous tummy warming feeling that he has "lost it". When I saw him on TV recently wearing a particularly unnerved and bewildered expression — when I saw him protesting about the Labor Party — not the patrician, condescending, holier than thou expression that he is so good at but rather an imploring whinge.
Also his confident line that his ("The Howard") government is responsible for our recent economic success when it is simply a resources boom — the federal government share of which is being flung about for political purposes instead of being carefully allocated.
I am aware that it is politically incorrect to become personal in letters such as this — but I am enjoying his denouement and I hope that this letter will
contribute a small nail to his political coffin.
John Howard II
John Howard, always George Bush's little helper, has criticised Democrat Barrack Obama's opposing policy of rapid US troop disengagement from Iraq. Just as 5 years ago he refused to demand David Hicks' return from Bush's unfair military commissions in line with Britain for their nationals, his grovelling subservience to Bush is a national embarrassment. Particularly now, that after 5 years of torture and solitary confinement of this wretched man, he is pushing for his sham trial on trumped up charges. It is time for a climate change of moral outrage to cleanse us of this most un-Australian of Australian prime ministers, posing on the world stage and swearing blind allegiance to the distorted values of a simpleton US president.
Lane Cove, NSW
Recently Kevin Rudd was criticised by the federal government for expressing an interest in developing an industry policy. Yet now the Coalition says it is committed to keeping employment high in the coal industry.
Governments should only care about how many people, in total, have a job, and the quality of those jobs — not how many are employed in any particular sector. If the number of coal workers drops, but they are replaced by new solar, geothermal and wind energy workers, there isn't a problem.
The government's role is to act when it can improve upon the efficiency and/or equity of private markets. This means levying a carbon tax to correct for market under-pricing of pollution, and then helping anybody who loses their job via substantial welfare payments and retraining schemes.
Leaving aside terrifying matters for the moment such as the nuclear industry leads to nuclear bombs, contamination and potential global destruction, dirty bombs, terrorist targets etc, nuclear power is far from being an alternative to traditional fuels. Fossil fuels are needed to dig up the uranium ore, transport it by road, rail, ship, around the world to be processed. Then the nuclear fuel rods must be transported.
Nuclear reactors, while being built require electricity generated often by fossil fuels being burnt.
Finally, something must be done with the nuclear waste. Fossil fuels again must be used to transport it back to Australia for disposal — possibly to central Australia for the locals to play their footy in. Once there, fossil fuels will be needed to dig a deep hole to bury the waste.
Alternatively, we could send the stuff to be used as landfill at the back of Kirribilli House. I wonder if the current tenants there would mind?
Use solar, wind, hydro, kinetic or alcohol — but never nuclear. Through better technology and city planning find more efficient and cleaner ways to use fossil fuels — but never let us be fooled by the false saviour of nuclear energy.