A little bloke called Mohammed broke my heart. He’s 14 and his face is lit up by huge white teeth and an unfailing impish grin. It was his grin that struck me and it’s that smiling, welcoming face that’s dead-set haunting me right now.

Michael Smith and his new Somalian mates

Looking at photos I took of him and other kids when I was in his camp in Ethiopia, it is shocking to know that he’s still there - alone, in a desert tent city of about 200,000 people.

He’s got no mum or dad. One of the UN agencies is his nominal guardian. Where he lives, near the border with Somalia, the UN people arrive at nine or so in the morning and they take off to get back inside their fortified camps at three in the afternoon. There are no police. There’s no government in the camp.

Jihadis roam around in the area near the camp – I saw enough expended AK47 cartridges to get a sense of the dangers there. And the little bloke has to fend for himself once the half dozen or so UN types leave. It doesn’t take too much imagination to picture what he endures in a lawless tent city with no electricity, no lights, no services and no one who loves him.

He’s got no footy, let alone a park to kick it in. He looked on enviously at another little bloke who was wheeling around a jam tin lid on a nail at the end of a stick. The only other thing I can remember that even looked like a toy was half a TV aerial a young bloke was using as a play machine gun.

I walked for a couple of hours with a 24 year old Somali mum and her four remaining children. She’d lost a little one on the way. She and the little kids had been hoofing it for five days. She told me her husband decided to take a second wife and turf her and the kids to the outhouse, where she was vulnerable to attacks, particularly on her “honour”. She decided she’d be better off in the refugee camp at Dolo. It is a shit-hole beyond my facility with words to describe, so God knows what hell she had left behind in the war in Somalia.

When that young mum was finally shown to her new home, a canvas tent on a lunar, rock-strewn desert floor, she looked like Paris Hilton being handed the keys to her mum’s Manhattan penthouse. These huge tears rolled down her cheeks and she gave off a sense of embarrassment, relief, joy and child-like excitement.

I wouldn’t have lasted the afternoon inside. Huge willy-willys of dust swirled around endlessly. It was about 45 degrees in the shade, no clouds, and no trees. The nearest water was about one kilometre away and anything she was to use at “home” had to be carted back there on foot.

I asked one of the UN blokes how the locals contend with the sharp, flinty rocks on the ground in their tents. They’re the sorts of rocks that cave men turned into knives, with sharp edges that cut your boots. The UN bloke said they go through dozens of sets of tyres each year for their 4-wheel drives because of them.

So how do you reckon a 24 year old mum and her kids are helped to make the floor of their home a bit less lumpy and serrated? She was given a hammer. Fair dinkum. Get to work on the floor please, kids, there are lots of rocks to smash up before you can lie down.

So perhaps you might forgive me for getting a bit cranky on Christmas Island, when two Iranian blokes in the detention centre fronted the camera crew and me. They were pretty fit looking. The gym there is very well equipped and Serco, the mob that runs the joint for Julia, employs a very good personal trainer that these blokes go to every day. That’s when they’re not on Facebook. Or at art class. Or reading one of the dozens of posters entitled “Ways you can complain about your treatment.”

These blokes saw our camera and came over to make sure that Australia heard their story. They wanted to bitch about the choice of food. Chicken and beef. Apparently their culinary sensitivities weren’t sufficiently excited by the fare we fly in to remote Christmas Island. The locals are a bit more used to it; they know the place is miles from anywhere and everything costs heaps.

I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was the memory of the kids in the shit-hole camps, or the mum and her four kids with the tent on Mars. Maybe it was the night I spent squished between Imogen Bailey and Peter Reith on an Indonesian fishing boat from Java (one of them snores). But I have to admit to harbouring feelings of narkiness about the former Iranian soldiers who were detained at Christmas Island for a period of time that displeased them.

They just seemed a bit ungrateful, particularly when one of them explained that his detention related to the charges he and his mate were facing as a result of the riots on the Island.

I haven’t seen the show so I don’t know how it has been edited. I hope they concentrate on the people and conditions in the camps in Africa. Don’t get sucked in to the drama about the six Aussies who went along, and who could come home.

Go Back to Where You Came From will open your eyes to how bloody lucky you are to live in Australia, and it might prompt you into thinking how important it is to keep it that way. I feel a tremendous obligation to do more to help other people who aren’t as lucky as me. And it’s private. It doesn’t include haranguing the government to “do more” to assuage my conscience. It’s up to me and my family what we do.

I don’t want to see taxes or debt raised in Australia because of a Twitter campaign. If you feel that strongly about it then get cracking on raiding your bank account, or get mobile and go and help out. I didn’t see a single good intention or Tweet on the menu in Mogadishu.

Former radio host Michael Smith was one of six participants to take part in the SBS documentary series Go Back to Where You Came From, airing Tuesday 28, Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 August 2012 at 8.30pm on SBS ONE.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST

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    • Little Joe says:

      06:41am | 27/08/12

      Dear Michael,

      Only the ignorant would not have known the reality of the situation described in your story. Worthless politicians, parasitic lawyers and an ubiquitous media regurgitating their ignorance for the shallow price of media advertising.

    • nihonin says:

      06:55am | 27/08/12

      All you members of Latte Refugee Advocacy Groups, these people in the camps of Somalia and surrounding areas are the ‘real’ refugees.

    • iansand says:

      07:27am | 27/08/12

      How do you know the stories of the refugees who do reach Australia?

    • nihonin says:

      07:57am | 27/08/12

      How do you, iansand, or do you just go with “I’m a refugee as I just paid $10,000 - $25,000 for a boat to Australia.

    • Max Power says:

      08:16am | 27/08/12

      IanSand: We don’t and never will, because they evade the authorities and correct process whilst they have identification and other documents.
      The fist time we see these “Refugees” is after they have hopped on a boat, after they have ditched their passports, id’s etc and after they call us seeking rescue. Only then to do we get to hear their “story” which is all it is and we have no choice but to take their story on face value, as the convention hamstrings us.
      I don’t care what their story is, if they go through the trouble of circumventing the process at every opportunity, deliberately ditch all documents which prove who they are, then they are bullshit artists, who should be returned to sender, so genuine refugess in camps can be resettled.

    • Polly says:

      08:31am | 27/08/12

      Exactly! It’s the ‘real’ refugees who should be given a helping hand. The boat people who discard their ID and who have the money to pay people smugglers are economic “refugees”. Their lives are not in danger, just their standard of living. Is it fair that they receive priority over those waiting legitimately in camps?

    • Borderer says:

      09:25am | 27/08/12

      I would say that the young lad in the story is about $10,000 poorer than the bloke on the boat for one, more than likely hungrier and in more peril. To preference boat arrivals is to let the devil take the hind most.

    • Babylon says:

      03:33pm | 27/08/12

      here here nihonin

      .... As opposed to someone thats paid between $11,500 to $20,000 to criminal syndicates to be smuggled into Australia with a story.

      We need to use the $1.1 Billion we spend on these people to help the african youth here in Australia that are falling foul of the laws of Australia.

    • Babylon says:

      03:38pm | 27/08/12

      Asylum Seekers or Economic Migrants?

      From the Guardian Newspaper:

      “The huge fees (from People Smuggler Syndicates) mean that most would-be emigrants are rich by Afghan standards, many having done well in post-Taliban Afghanistan. “I have people from all corners of Afghanistan, but most of them come from Kabul because they are rich,” said the Jalalabad-based smuggler.

      For a passage to Australia, another popular destination, the smuggler offered an all-expenses-included trip for $11,500. Like others in his trade he recommended Australia, promising it was a soft touch on granting asylum.”

    • d says:

      07:31am | 27/08/12

      Did you ever give money to help the starving kids in africa?

      If you answered yes then these kids bleong to you.

      It is good to say poor kids let them come here and we will look after them but how much can the country support? obviously there own countries cannot support them

    • thatmosis says:

      07:50am | 27/08/12

      I for one wont be watching this as its old news regurgitated once again. This has been going on for years and to tell the truth I don’t care. Sounds cruel and inhuman, maybe, but why are we always suppose to fix the ills of the world just because some country or another is ruled by Government more interested in wealth for themselves and killing of the opposition that actually governing for the people.
        If people want to give money then great let them do it but just think, is that money all going to the place intended or is it as usually happens going to line the pockets of firstly the organisers and then the corrupt officials of the country that it is sent.
        Now I’m not against charity but only when I can see the results, like Guide Dogs for the Blind or the Salvation Army which because of the Governments inaction in helping our own homeless and hungry, fill the widening gap. Lets look to our own people first before we go and get all misty eyed over anyone from other countries, after all charity begins at home and this is my home.

    • James1 says:

      03:37pm | 27/08/12

      So, you care about (Australian) blind people not walking into walls, but you don’t care about the stories coming out of places like Somalia?

      Yes, that is cruel and inhuman.  Why not care about both?  What relevance does an accident of birth hold to whether or not you care about suffering?  Isn’t all human suffering equal?  I find this a difficult attitude to understand.

    • As you were says:

      06:03pm | 27/08/12

      James1, it is easier to understand within the context of racism.

    • spanky says:

      08:06am | 27/08/12

      She told me her husband decided to take a second wife and turf her and the kids to the outhouse,  Are these the sort of people with theses values we need in Australia, lets face it they live in a different way to us. Sure lets provide aid and comfort but for Christs sake don’t bring them here .  24 and four children she will marry again and have another 5 I,m sure we all want that here.  If they stop breeding maybe their lot would not be as bad.

    • Polly says:

      08:49am | 27/08/12

      The mother rarely has a choice in these 3rd world countries. Did the mother even want so many children only to be discarded by her husband?
      The mother may marry again but does she want to, or is she so desperate, she will take on anyone who will provide for her existing children?  In a refugee camp, I doubt it.

    • ByStealth says:

      01:16pm | 27/08/12

      I’m guessing the reason she had 5 children in the first place was because of the high likelihood of their deaths running the gauntlet of a childhood in SubSaharan Africa. The story itself even mentions that she ‘lost one on the way’ to the camp. Think of the sort of mental balance you’d have to maintain to deal with the concept that one or more of your kids might not make it through the week.

      After a generation in safe Australia, I think the ‘breeding’ will settle down into something more in line with your tastes spanky, so don’t worry so much.

    • spanky says:

      01:40pm | 27/08/12

      Well I suppose its a good way to ensure your survival by having a heap of kids after all they are expendable so if a couple drop off on the way no drama just have more.  I can see you would have no drama resorting to this mental balance by your comments. And the breeding habits in Australia is not the issued it is the habits in the desert from where they come.

    • Emily says:

      03:49pm | 27/08/12

      Ah yes Spanky, because I’m sure she has just wonderful access to contraception, the money to buy it and the knowledge to use it. Just like she had the power to say no to her husband every time he wanted to have his way with her. I mean it’s not like he threw her out of her home and into a place where she was likely to be raped, so there’s also no chance he wouldn’t have raped or beaten her himself if she refused him! Plus having kids in a place like that must be a breeze, no chance of dying during childbirth with all that fantastic gynecological care - why wouldn’t you want to pop out a dozen kids? Sounds like the perfect choice for a woman there to me!

      Sarcasm off now, your ignorance makes my head hurt.

    • bananabender56 says:

      08:25am | 27/08/12

      I lived in Africa and saw why the kids went 1km to get fresh water. A good meaning NGO decided that it would be nice to have fresh water in the middle of the local village - great idea as long as you also build a sewerage system in the middle of the village. Before long, the locals were dropping like flies because the bore was contaminated with sewerage. Thats why you walk 1km for fresh water

    • chuck says:

      08:50am | 27/08/12

      Michael so you response is to pour money into these places or open up our doors? I’m sure you must assuage the guilt you must feel for someone else’s problems like unsustainable populations. People like yourself with all the good intentions in the world are a problem as you don’t appear to reconcile the issue as it is with the future! I made the mistake of donating a goat . All it did was increase the human population and decrease the goat population by 1 and like thatmosis/bananbender I now look after those in OZ with any spare cash that I have.

    • Anna C says:

      09:02am | 27/08/12

      What this article shows us is that we need to get our global population problem under control.  The West should stop providing aid to these Third World countries unless they agree to use contraception.  Otherwise our efforts are futile.

    • ByStealth says:

      01:24pm | 27/08/12

      Makes sense to me.

      Provide a safer healthier environment where less kids die before majority and reduce the birth rate at the same time. If you don’t do both you get overpopulation. Less population means less contestation for limited resources and less wars. Less wars means more stable environments for economic development and a brighter future.

    • Kate says:

      03:57pm | 27/08/12

      Many of these women have no access to basic medical care, let alone contraception. It’s not as easy as saying they should use birth control, when they can’t access it, afford it, or even know how to use it.  Finding food, shelter and clean water is probably higher on their priority list.

      I’m glad the people in charge of these decisions are not as ignorant as you two. These are NOT black and white issues and cannot be solved with simplistic solutions like these.

      You really think cutting off aid and killing millions is the way to solve the worlds problems? Then you be the one to pull the trigger. It’s easy to stand back and dictate solutions when you don’t have to be responsible for the outcomes.

    • Rose says:

      09:12am | 27/08/12

      Refugees are refugees, regardless of how much money they can round up to get away from their country of origin. One of my friends came by boat from Iran. prior to leaving they sold every single thing the owned to pay the people smugglers, they arrived in Australia with virtually nothing and have since built a great life here. They worked two jobs, studied an have finally bought a house. When they left detention after 3 years they were given 2 weeks accommodation after which they were on their own. The stories they tell of their life in Iran are quite chilling, so much so that for a long time they were unable to tell them.
      Having a few dollars is not protection from persecution, and I guarantee every one of you, in the same position, would do exactly the same thing as the asylum seekers, if you say you wouldn’t you are either a liar or a fool.

    • DocBud says:

      11:42am | 27/08/12

      Do you support the notion then, Rose, that those with money should be able to buy advantages and privileges over those without? Do you think it is fine that those at the very bottom should have to sit and wait in refugee camps to be processed until all those who can buy a bypass of the system have been dealt with?

    • Hartz says:

      12:31pm | 27/08/12

      Of course I would do the same, and I certainly don’t blame people for having a go but if you want a fair system you can not let those with money buy their way here over those who can not afford to. Would you say that their hardship is better or worse than those people living in the camps? How would you measure that? I can’t so I would go back to the system that sorts them out in accordance with their stated priorities, Do not allow people with money displace those with no chance at all…

    • CD says:

      05:16pm | 27/08/12

      +1 DocBud and Hartz

      You happen to know someone Rose so your thinking is coloured.  I think you should feel ashamed that you don’t have enough heart to consider those too poor to pay smugglers are copping a raw deal being left behind by govts while 400 extra places are being accommodated for people like your friends just because they decide a leaky boat serves their purpose.

      Why aren’t you coming out in defence of those so much worse off?

    • Rose says:

      06:59pm | 27/08/12

      The only reason I’m not coming out in defence of those in the camps is that they are not the ones under attack in this piece, those who come by boat are. I also find it absurd that you seem to believe having empathy for one lot of people means I can’t have empathy for another. You do also realize that if the people who come by bat didn’t make it then they would be in the camps and then it would be them that you would have sympathy for. I just don’t believe that if people are able to scrape together a fare that they are more or less deserving than others.
      The only real solution would be for the nations of the world to come together in order to work together to a) assist countries of origin to settle their differences and overcome their challenges (famine, poverty etc), b) provide channels for people that are efficient and fair in order for people to access processing of refugee statuses quickly, c) co-ordinate to have re-settlement plans so that regardless which country refugees arrive at they will be resettled where there is capacity for them. Problem is that that is pie in the sky stuff, no nation is going to have the good sense to look past their immediate self interest to find a long term solution, on that while more difficult in the short term will be better for everyone long term.

    • fml says:

      09:22am | 27/08/12


      The above comments is why we do not take refugees from africa, the african ‘excuse’ is used to stop taking in refugees from the middle east, once that stops the african’s are sub human, uncultured and do not have the same values as us comments come out, oh and don’t forget the african youth crime.

      It isn’t for the type of people you should be fighting for, it is the stereotype that they are different to us, because until then it really won’t matter where the refugees come from, they will not be welcome.

      Once the refugees stop, they will move onto the immigrants, once they stop they will attack the immigrants already here. It will never stop, people need a scapegoat, as Goering said.

      “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.
      That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked,
      and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the
      country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

      Works the same everywhere, this is article is just another attempt in the progression of becoming an insular Australia.

    • marley says:

      10:43am | 27/08/12

      @fml - but we do take refugees from Africa.  We’ve been doing it for years.  And before that, from Indochina.  And from Afghanistan and Bhutan and Burma.  And by and large, no one has a real issue with that.  That’s progress away from, not towards, an insular Australia.  Very few people these days would really want to go back to White Australia, after all.

      The issue with boat arrivals for most of us is not about racism or their being “different” but about a perception of unfairness.

    • fml says:

      11:40am | 27/08/12


      I do understand people think it is unfair, but I am also seeing if we do stop the “unfair” process people will just begin complaining about the african refugees in the same way they are complaining about the middle eastern ones. I have seen no evidence other than “I would prefer african refugees to the boat people” and even that is backed up with claims of “their different”, their culture doesn’t fit with ours, they bring disease and they proliferate crime. It is exactly the same thing they say about bout people with middle easterners replaced with africans.

      I still think this article is a rouse to stop middle eastern refugees, then eventually stop african refugees.

      I do not understand, when people come here as long as they live by the law they can live any damn way they want. If they do not mind africans coming here why all the claims that they are different to us, which were the majority of the initial posts?

    • marley says:

      12:31pm | 27/08/12

      @fml - there are certainly people who fit into your description.  I am not going to argue that one at all.  But there are a lot of other people who have issues with the boat movement but not with the offshore program and would be quite happy to see it continue or even expand a bit.  And of course there are a lot of people who don’t have issues with either.  I don’t really believe that the majority would pursue the line you’re suggesting.

      And I don’t think the article is a ruse of any kind.  The author is simply observing that people living in the camps have it tougher than people who get to Australian detention centers, and aren’t half as demanding.  He could have been describing Afghans in Pakistan as easily as Somalis in Africa.

    • M says:

      01:45pm | 27/08/12

      FML, the problem with your line of reasoning is you assume that
      A) They are civil minded, law abiding people and
      B) That they don’t activly resent and detest the culture of their host nation.

      Until you face those two facts you will be forever blind.

    • fml says:

      03:57pm | 27/08/12


      1) If they break the law they go to jail.
      2) Show me one person who doesn’t detest an aspect of their country

      Blind, yep blinded by freedom. Once they are accepted into the country they are equal to you and me. If they break the law they go to jail like everyone else. Until then they are free do live as they damn well please, if they want to wear leggings while hanging upside and smoking a cigar indoors while watching big brother then let them! If they want to sit outside and yell obscenities at cars! let them curse!

      I will tell you what, the probability of them breaking the law is a reason not to let them into the country, but only if that probability is based on the individuals past actions, not because they are of a particular religion.

      You really need to prove to me with statistical evidence that the majority of muslims do not integrate, break the law and have a distaste for our society. Until then you are entitled to your opinion and i am entitled to call you what ever i so desire.

    • CD says:

      05:29pm | 27/08/12

      Generalization much?
      what comments above are you on about?  I must be blind.
      How about putting up links that show how many people hate having African refugees? Some people do just like some people in some cultures hate Australians.
      If they commit a crime they go to jail?  Not always.  In fact culture is often used for lighter sentences. In NSW Greg Smith AG wants culture taken into account to allow them easier bail. Australians cannot use being a yobbo as excuse though.
      Doesn’t sound to me like Australians are any different than anyone else when it comes to playing the race card.  Good and bad in all.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      10:09am | 27/08/12

      The funny thing is Somalians are Muslim, not Australia’s favourite people. Just because they are from a UN camp still doesn’t change their way of thinking.

      Hopefully with the increase in refugee spots that the Government is going to impose we will see more help for the people in camps. In regards to the kid with no mum or dad I wonder whats going to happen to him? If you bring him into Australia where does he go? Maybe Australia should look at letting Australians adopt parent-less refugees as a way of getting them out of a lifetime in a camp with no future.

      Ill be watching the show just to see Reith, he’s a fool and should be good to watch him squirm.


      “oh and don’t forget the african youth crime. “

      Sort of goes to what I said above, bringing in broken families is the right thing to do, but sometimes you have some teething problems - Viets now the Sudanese.

      In 20 or so years it should work itself out.

    • M says:

      10:22am | 27/08/12

      She’ll be right mate.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      10:48am | 27/08/12

      Its worked since 1901 M, can’t see why that attitude won’t work in the future.

    • M says:

      11:03am | 27/08/12

      Yes, instead of sorting out the issue now give it two decades to fester.

      Sound policy that is.

    • fml says:

      11:35am | 27/08/12


      It’s because the current crop are different, they will never change. What exactly that assertion is based on, i do not know.

    • M says:

      03:24pm | 27/08/12

      The last lot didn’t adhere to a socio/economic/political system that sought to dominate the world.

      What could possibly go wrong with this bunch?

    • Babylon says:

      03:56pm | 27/08/12

      “In 20 or so years it should work itself out.”

      You are advocating 20 years of a 20 percent increase in violent robberies.

      I wonder if it were you that was violently robbed or someone you loved, whether it would be just ‘teething problems’?

      You cannot just throw people in without a plan. Just to make you feel righteous from your sofa.

      The “here’s your social housing, here’s Centrelink, here’s the school, here’s the hospital see ya”  approach is not working clearly.

      You cannot ignore it as ‘teething problems’. What if it gets worse?

      You’ve given the African no more thought than you do now, what you ate from breakfast this morning. 

      And this is why it will be an escalating problem in Australian society.

      Why do I get the impression that even though we’re talking african refugees, it’s still really all about the white Australian?

    • Hard Truth says:

      04:44pm | 27/08/12

      @Babylon - “Why do I get the impression that even though we’re talking african refugees, it’s still really all about the white Australian?”

      Because you’re a racist and you see all things through racial bias. Just because you hate white people doesn’t mean you’re not racist..

    • colin says:

      10:17am | 27/08/12

      So their plight excuses Somalian pirates their heinous actions, does it?

    • Scotchfinger says:

      10:38am | 27/08/12

      ‘Pirate’ is such an emotive word, colin. Can’t you think of them as ‘Businessmen on Boats’? After all, they are people too, with wives to feed on and children to eat.

    • fml says:

      10:59am | 27/08/12

      At least those pirates have started their own small business. they should get tax benefits from the government for being entrepreneurial.

    • Fiddler says:

      12:16pm | 27/08/12

      I’m sure they’ll be out of business soon because of the carbon tax

    • Alex says:

      12:18pm | 27/08/12

      In some parts of Somalia the pirates are the only groups providing employment and local security against fanatical religious militias.
      The fact is that Africa is a very, very complicated place and just trying to piant people as ‘villian’ or ‘good guy’ does nothing to bring us closer to a solution of how to move africa forward.

    • fml says:

      12:47pm | 27/08/12


      Not true, Pastafarianism explains this thoroughly,

      global warming is due to less number of pirates, if there were more pirates there would be less global warming hence no carbon tax. I have provided a graph.


    • Fiddler says:

      01:00pm | 27/08/12

      @Alex, that is correct, so letting them immigrate here maybe isn’t such a flash idea hey…

    • colin says:

      11:01am | 27/08/12

      Scotchfinger 10:38am | 27/08/12

      “...Can’t you think of them as ‘Businessmen on Boats’?...”

      LOL grin

      Sure, they are people too and - yes - they have wives and children to feed. But I also have known many of the disenfranchised, endemically-poor in many countries over my lifetime, and none of them took to the high seas to kill, rape, and pillage…

    • Sancho says:

      12:08pm | 27/08/12


      What a pack of cynical hypocrites, pretending that you’d all welcome refugees if only they were black and not brown.

    • Hartz says:

      12:25pm | 27/08/12

      Australian’s do welcome genuine refugees… Australians have an issue with country shoppers who pass through safe countries, dump their ID and deliberately deceive and lie in order to claim the best deal they can get. Some of these people are definitely genuine refugees but there are some who are definitely not.. and there lies the problem..!!!

    • Willie says:

      12:27pm | 27/08/12

      If you think about it the African kid is more an economic refugee than the Iranian. The Iranian was probably pretty well of at home but lived under a totalitarian regime. The African kid isn’t being persecuted by anyone he is just dirt poor. Not saying one deserves a visa more than the other.

    • Aussie Wazza says:

      12:50pm | 27/08/12

      So the argument goes on. From bleeding heart that weep when they see grass being cut to Extreemist racists that would have all foreigners shot.

      Each and everyone with the ‘right’ answer.

      Australia is a democracy currently inhabited by people from across the world who came for a variety of reasons.

      Most of these have contributed to making Australia how it is. Some since forever, some through generations, some only recent arrivals

      Most imports have still got ties to their old country, be it parents of distant family.

      Australia belongs to us.

      As a democracy surely it is up to the citizens to decide in which way we want the country to move?

      Put the immigration (by whatever name) situation to the vote; let the people decide.

    • George says:

      04:03pm | 27/08/12

      They won’t do that because it will be for damned sure a massive reduction in immigration that will be voted for, and big business and the real estate mafia won’t like that.

      I thought Michael would be the typical lefty moron. But as he says, it is massively important to not let our country turn to shit via overpopulation.

      These people clearly have a mindset problem. Having 4 kids when you’re dirt poor is beyond retarded.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      01:16pm | 27/08/12

      @Michael - The 24 year old Somalian mother, as sad as her situation is, is not being persecuted by her government. She is an opportunist who is using the camps for the safety and protection of her children, at the expense of other, more worthy people. She is not a refugee. Or are you going to advocate for the Lost Boys of Utah and Canada, and the women reassigned to new husbands or expelled in fundamentalist Mormon communities throughout the US, who experience very similar occurences to be considered “refugees” by our government? And the likelihood is that she is directly killing other people’s children by stealing their food, if she is strong enough. Or smothering them in the night. Such crimes are rife in these camps.

      The young boy is likely a former child soldier, who when the lights go out and the white people return home, turns into a vicious killer and rapist. Emmanuel Jal discusses in his book, “Warchild” the realities of life in these African refugee camps. The fact that the people in them have NO documentation, NO identification, and NO proof that they are the persecuted rather than the persecutors. In fact, often, the people in the camps have lied, and are militia or soldiers who are hunting the very groups the camps are set up to protect. The UN has no way of telling the people apart. They simply give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

      The other thing most people don’t understand is that it is only the people with money and connections who get on the right lists to get out. The poor people still languish in these camps, with no hope of escape. No different to the boat people really.

      So let’s get over this assumption that the poor little Africans are somehow more legitimate than the doctors, lawyers, engineers and trained professionals who pay money to get on a boat. The fact is that they are MORE likely to be vicious rapists and murderers, who have taken “someone else’s place”, and murdered, raped and thieved their way to resettlement.

    • Cynic says:

      01:35pm | 27/08/12

      wow - someone more cynical than me…. I like it..!!

    • marley says:

      02:11pm | 27/08/12

      @Jade (the other one) -The only problem with your assessment is that the camps are not for resettlement.  The UNHCR runs them to provide shelter for people dispossessed in one way or another, be it by civil war or persecution or famine or drought.  The intent of these camps is first and foremost to help people until they can go home, or secondly, to enable them to resettle locally.  That some people, a very few, might have the good fortune to be resettled is incidental to the main purpose of the camp.

      And the camps are open to anyone, not just to those who’ve been assessed as refugees.  So no one is taking anyone’s place or killing to get into them.

      As for who gets out, the UNHCR decides who it thinks would be most suitable for third country resettlement, and presents its lists.  It is not going to present the names of illiterate goat herders from the back of beyond; it’s going to present names of people with some education and skills.  That’s how people get on those famous lists.

    • Babylon says:

      04:03pm | 27/08/12


      But the UNHCR will not run Gillards Malaysian concentration Camps.

      “the UNHCR’s regional representative Rick Towle today said the organisation would play an arms-length monitoring role in relation to the facilities under the refugee convention, but would not play any part in their management.”

      Looks like Gillard’s solution number 4 for illegals by boat is heading for disaster as well.

    • CD says:

      05:40pm | 27/08/12

      Wow JOO got anymore assumptions you’d like to make with no facts to hand to prove your accusations are correct about people Michael Smith met in a camp?

      No wait I’ve got it. They were all setting him up right?  No opinion on the Iranian pair I see.

      Cynic…she has nothing on you mate.

    • Errol says:

      07:11pm | 27/08/12

      If you start feeding wild animals, they will keep returning for food soon there will be more to feed and they will keep coming, more and more looking for an easy feed.  This is how I see the UN camps, now I don’t know much about Africa, I do believe Zimbabwe used to be the food bowl of Africa prior to them running the white farmers out.  Problem is if we bring them here there will always be a majority who follow the same principle and enjoy the free feed that our public housing and welfare provides. Its unfortunate but thats why I don’t believe we should try and fix other continents problems, by all means if you want to, do it, do it with your money and your time but that should be your own choice.

    • Kate says:

      04:12pm | 27/08/12

      Jade, what would you do if it were you in that camp? If the only way to feed your children was to steal from someone else?

      It’s easy to sit up on your high horse when you know where your next meal is coming from and there is a roof over your head.

    • QE12 says:

      04:43pm | 27/08/12

      I’m sick and tired of other people’s wars and young, fit men whose first obligation should be helping to stabilise their countries, yet they destination choose, by-passing several cultural and religiously compatible countries intent on forcing their way into Australia. I’m compassion-fatigued and I just want Australia’s borders to be closed to those who are abusing our taxpayers and our laws which are broken before they even call up our water taxi.  We’ve spent billions on this racket.

      Mr Smith, I also want Gillard to answer what might be a trivial question for her, but given the rest of us, we Queen Juliar’s subjects, are required to meet all specified requirements if we want to set up an association, she should not excuse herself again as young and naive.  “Why did you, Miss Gillard, as a practising lawyer involved with a union official, sign off on an application for association which clearly did not meet the 5-member rules, i.e.only two members (one of whom was your boyfriend)?”

      There’s too much stench around this and let it be known hereafter as GillardGate.  Unions, unions, unions more trouble and corruption than you can poke a stick at.

    • iseymour says:

      06:55pm | 27/08/12

      All those who come on boats should be sent to Mogadishu and exchanged for the same number of refugees. Solve the problem.


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