Thoroughly disgusted by Kevin Rudd’s policy to unilaterally send to Papua New Guinea any successful asylum-seeker who comes by boat, and believing that the main reason both major parties are so terrible at making policy in this area is because they are both immersed in the same discourse, with the same constraints, I have attempted to cobble together my own, alternative policy for Australia’s intervention in the global refugee crisis.
I recommend this idea to anyone who is also offended, worried, concerned, grieving, angry, furious, righteously apoplectic, guilty, pessimistic and morally challenged about this new (and all previous) ALP policies.
Let us have a plethora of policies. Let us, every one of us, have a policy. And let it be known.
So that all the pollies, and all the pollsters, will see that policy development can be a matter of captainship of the largest kind of ship of the line, rather than a small barge in a dirty, narrow canal.
I propose the tag #mypolicy, but do whatever you want. Just shout about it.
Budget: given that the Government has a costed existed policy of $200K – $400K per person, per annum for placing asylum-seekers in detention, and given that these costs will rise (?) when the new PNG policy comes into force, we have a lot of money to play with, people. But bear in mind there is a moral dimension to not spending more money than we have to.
The Big Idea.
A. Have a HECs-styled bond system for settlement.
The bond pays for a combination of
- training relevant to the person’s original occupation and/or skills that are needed here
- mentoring and training for the establishment of a small business
- first two years’ basic income support for their family,
- a welcome package of basics eg K-Mart style pots and pans box, clothes, bedding, table and chairs. Army surplus etc. See what they’ve been doing in Finland for new mothers since the 1930’s. We could do something similar for asylum-seekers
- train tickets, library cards, phone cards
B. Leverage experienced, skilled baby boomers
Increase employment of older, experienced trainers in the TAFE system, and train them to be able to mentor people from CALD backgrounds. Give this qualification as much status as the Cert IV in TAE. Make sure there is incentive for Vocational education employers to create plenty of part-time roles.
This part is important as it benefits the section of the community that is most frightened of asylum-seekers and their impact. It gives them the opportunity to step up and lead where they feel they are being forced to follow.
C. Change the tax system for small investors
Unproductive residential property investments support unsustainably high rents. The reason they persist is the losses can be written off. Instead allow micro-investment in small business to be written off – obviously, in controlled circumstances, with ceilings and floors (pardon the property pun). The US has for some time been trying to implement their JOBS Act – we could do it faster and better. Put Paul Keating or someone like that in charge of this program.
Here are some other principles:
1. Given that the current policy does not allow asylum-seekers to work or in other ways support the growth and development of the Australian GDP, this is clearly a waste of time and human resources.
Allow asylum-seekers to work or to train.
2. Given that current two policy ideas are both in contravention of various international conventions Australia is signatory to, we are not in a long-term sustainable position as we are effectively in breach of our legal obligations.
Have a policy that is within our legal obligations.
Obviously, this has been written on the fly. But given that it’s had more thought than any of the other policy ideas, let’s go with it. I’m not even going to touch on the moral and spiritual aspects of this policy area. It’s almost as if it hurts too much. So that will be the subject of another post.
What’s your idea?