Former Western Australia Corruption Commissioner - Terry O'Connor QC - Gillard could have been charged
Keeping the bureaucrats on side

Foreign Aid - a cold, heartless, gutless decision

Illegal boat people already take limited humanitarian visas that might otherwise go to refugees in camps.  Now illegal boat people will be paid for with money meant to ease the suffering of those poor souls who can't afford to pay crooks.

Money meant for the world's poorest people won't get to them.  It will be spent to create an obscenely expensive Western lifestyle handed free of charge to illegal boat people.

It turns my stomach.

Here's the report from yesterday's press about the Gillard Government's pea and thimble trick, trying to convince you that paying for someone's Australian lifestyle, with a house full of furniture and electrical goods, somehow qualifies as foreign aid.

THE federal government plans to divert about $400 million of foreign aid money to pay for food and housing for asylum seekers in Australia.

Network Ten has cited a Treasury source saying Labor intends to bury the announcement - which has already attracted a fierce backlash from charities - over the Christmas break.

But confronted with the leak, Foreign Minister Bob Carr confirmed plans to divert $375 million from the aid program to pay for the upkeep of asylum seekers being processed in Australia.

"Money spent on refugees within a country is legitimate aid," he told Ten from Sri Lanka.

But Ten cited the Treasury source as saying the figure will actually be more than half a billion dollars.   

 Read more here and here


Our welfare system encourages people from poor countries to try to get here by boat.  It's unimaginably generous by the standards of undeveloped countries.   And it's monstrously expensive, budget-destroying expensive - if it was allowed to continue to grow it would send us broke.  There are 45 million refugees on the move in the world today and about 12 million taxpayers in Australia - and that doesn't count the billions of people who live on less than $2USD per day.

I am one of the few privileged Westerners to have seen the inner workings of genuine refugee camps in Africa.   Why should an illegal, self-selected person who can afford to pay for an illegal people smuggler take money directly from the mouths of little babies in the camps - to pay for their new Western Plasma, iPhone and free money lifestyle?

It is impossible to convey the misery and hopelessness of the camps.   As you fly in to Dolo, the small town near the border of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, the scale of the tent cities starts to take shape.   There are camps everywhere in the desert, many with hundreds of thousands of people.   All living in tents.   This video from the plane shows one camp of tents - there are dozens like it, with no plans to move people on, no plans to replace canvas with buildings and no amenitities like parks or schools for the children.

There are no police, no council, no roads, no sanitation.  Often there's no water.   There was one small clinic in the camp I spent a day at, with a small medical staff simply overwhelmed.   Australia didn't cause the fighting there in Africa, but if we have some money earmarked to help out, it'd be a lot better spent there than at Harvey Norman Villawood.

I spent a day walking with Bernie (phonetically spelt), a 24 year old mother of 5.   She'd walked for several days to get to the camp, burying one of her sons on the journey.  

This little angel, one of Bernie's children, had never been on any form of motorised transport before she was given a lift on this "shuttle bus" within the camp.   Like all kids, she was dead to the world within moments.


When Bernie's children arrived at the camp they were given a bag of rice to eat.  It was like their first trip to Maccas.  


And when Bernie and the children were finally shown to their new tent, it must have seemed like a Manhattan penthouse to them.  Bernie's embarrassed joy said all that needed to be said.


We have a limited foreign aid budget.   Our government is borrowing money just to pay our own day to day bills.   There is a case to cut back on some of our wasteful spending offshore.

But please, Mr Carr and Ms Gillard, spare us the smarmy duplicity.   It is not foreign aid when you pay for an Australian lifestyle for an illegal centrelink seeker who self-selected, who jumped the "allocation", who paid a criminal syndicate and who won't work.

Foreign aid should be just that, targetted, tightly controlled spending to help to ease the suffering of the world's most needy people.