Solving Boat People In January 2013: The Ellis Modest Proposal

I drove south through millions of hectares of green, lush, well-watered pastoral fruitfulness thinking wow, this is the answer; here, between Goulburn and Wagga and Albury, ten thousand Hazara small farmers could rent land here and work it growing things, and all will be well. The government could spend four hundred million on the land, and they’d get that money back. Problem solved.

And it’s not that hard, really. I should submit to the government my thesis, my modest proposal, that it’s not, it’s really not that hard.

All you do is this:

(1) Take one hundred and twenty thousand fewer Japanese waiters next year.

(2) Take instead of them all the refugees now in Malaysia and Indonesia who want to come here, thus abolishing the queue. And therefore queue jumpers. And the boats they come on. And the danger our navy gets in stopping them.

(3) Admit the delayed Japanese waiters in, oh, October, 2013, instead of January, 2013.

(4) Put all the initial one hundred and twenty thousand refugees on Temporary Protection Visas for a year, suss them out, and after that either send them home or let them in. And

(5) Take twenty-five thousand refugees each year hereafter. If the numbers grow too big in ten years’ time do the same thing: delay the Japanese waiters for a further nine months. They’ll still want to come.

This would not only abolish the queue, which would mean there would be, hereafter, no, repeat no, ‘queue jumpers’; and abolish the ‘people smugglers’ business model’ and send these dreadful people broke.

It would save, in the next four years, twelve hundred lives. It would end the shame and risk of prosecution for piracy of our naval personnel; and the risk of a mutiny at sea. It would save perhaps two hundred million a year in ‘detention facilities’, the American goons who run them, and the millions in compensation we occasionally pay to the relatives of innocents we kill or drive to suicide there; three hundred million a year we could put into disaster relief or old age care.

It would, yes, put up the migrant intake by ten thousand a year, making it one hundred and ninety thousand rather than one hundred and eighty thousand. But it would give us hundreds of thousands of good people willing to work in menial jobs with family values like we used to have in the 1950s, five or six more really good test cricketers, a prospering hard-working, law-abiding minority, a revivication of at least some country towns, and a more prosperous economy, like one we got when the Germans and Ukrainians came to work on the Snowy River and the Italians swarmed into Melbourne and Adelaide and the Greeks and Vietnamese and Chinese and South Americans into Sydney. It would jump-start the building industry. It would put money in our pockets again; and theirs.

The best part about it is we take in no more migrants in 2013 than we planned to. It is three hundred million in profit and ‘a beautiful set of numbers.’ We can close down either Villawood or Baxter and retrieve our good name among the civilised nations. We were looking pretty much like racist nongs back there for a while. No room indeed.

Please consider.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Great idea in theory Bob but those 120,000 would multiply 100 fold in no time. I don’t think that mate of yours Bob Carr would call that population sustainability

    • No, they would multiply fourfold in one generation, making them 460,000 by 2040 and threefold again making them 1,380,000 by 2070.

      ‘A hundredfold’ would take three hundred years.

      Don’t tell big lies.

    • Bob Carr thinks we are full in Australia and, in an honest moment, he would probably say that we should accept nobody at all. If he bends to allow for some refugees he woud still argue that the total should stay the same.

      It is the same disconnect the Greens have. They, too, want less people but hunger for refugees.

      • Bob Carr is wrong. Bob Katter’s electorate has more green fertile parts to it than the United Kingdom. There are seventy million people in the United Kingdom. Discuss.

        Drive from Sydney to Adelaide sometime, and think about it.

        • Yes, tear up the sugar cane and leave it to the Cubans or whoever. Katter will go along for sure. Whats a little rain forest with monsoon rains t stand i the eay of thousands of coolies? Oh, you mesnt the desert part of his electorate. Hughendon, Cloncurry etc?

          • I don’t want seventy million more people in Kennedy, but it could hold one million more without much difficulty. Ask Bob Katter. Another million could go in Tony Crook’s electorate which is as big as Scandinavia.

            You think those two million too many do you?


            • Palm Beach and the peninsular could easily embrace a million more: and, they would have access to employment, also. Solutions can be closer to hand than North Queensland, Bob.

  2. Baring a nuclear holocaust in the northern hemisphere I don’t think we are that attractive outside the cities especially in the outback and far north regions. There has been varying success in the regional areas such as the Sudanese in Victoria but the numbers the erudite Bob Ellis is promoting is fanciful to the extreme. The multiple effect would get out of hand if you let the world think the door was wide open. Hayden’s prophecy will become a reality soon enough with the immigration of skilled workers anyway as we are to cheap and shortsighted to train our own. You will remember that he said we will become the white trash of Asia

  3. The problem is, as with so many things, the decline of the workers movement. I used to work in a big factory whose workforce included some nice (literal) fascists, one of whom put it to me that it was the Asian middle classes who wanted to migrate to Australia, they screwed up their own countries but saw Australia as a “safe haven”. The working class could be left behind in the mess the middle classes had made. In an unguarded moment I mused “we could make it less safe” meaning come the revolution type thing but my fascist friend laughed and laughed and I realised I had been caught. “Your words not mine, remember” he said.

    But he was not 100% wrong, was he. Remember the Chinese uprising and how the students got all the sympathy. They wanted more free market capitalism. Bob Hawke let a whole bunch of students who had nothing to do with the uprising stay in Australia on the stenghth of it. Meanwhile thousands of Shanghai factory workers were rioting and setting fire to things and turning over trains and the rest of it. They were shot in large numbers. If any of them made it to Australia it will have been despite the best efforts of our government.

    Now so far as I am concerned the rioting Shanghai workers are welcome in this country with their families every single one of them and we should weep with pride to have them here. But of course the are exactly the people that everyone with a voice in the debate agrees should be kept out.

    There is your problem, the absence of an internationalist working-class voice from the discussion. In Fraser’s day there was a such a voice, even if muted and divided, and I think it was one of the things which helped him in his boat-people policy.

  4. The northern peninsula sounds good Kendal. Some overdue light rail system would make it a very good option. I am sure
    Bob wouldn’t mind. He wouldn’t be a NIMBY unlike the constituents of Kennedy would you

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