An Australian Refugee Solution?
Posted on 2014/4/1
The Refugee Crisis continues in Australia. People are still trying to escape despotic governments and civil wars to make their way to a country where they believe they may be able to forge a better life.
The Abbott Government has put paid to that by either towing Refugee boats back to Indonesia or sticking the passengers in Concentration Camps.
Mark my words. One day, Abbott and his enablers will be brought to justice. We are breaching the UN Conventions to which we are signatories.
That said, I may have a solution. It’s a little bit outside of the box – but certainly not something that hasn’t been done before.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. It has a major capitalist service economy characterised by low taxation and free trade, and the currency, Hong Kong dollar, is the eighth most traded currency in the world. Hong Kong has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and the longest life expectancy of any region in the world in 2012. Compare this to China.
The Northern Region of Australia is considerably under-developed. It’s difficult to get people / families to move there thanks to the weather (it’s hot!) and regular cyclones. It’s also missing much of the public infrastructure we see in the South. There’s no real Universities and few specialist Hospitals. Its also very expensive to live in the North, not just due to rent and groceries but also the power needed to run air-conditioning.
So why don’t we create a Special Economic Zone in the North where taxes are much lower and benefits are higher?
Anyone who chooses to move there gets the benefit of higher wages and lower taxes. The burgeoning population would mean more infrastructure being built including schools and hospitals.
And here comes the brain-fart….
We accept all Refugees. All of them. But they must reside in the SEZ for a minimum of two years and be employed for at least 18 months. There will be plenty of jobs. From Labourers to Doctors, from Kitchen-hands to Lawyers. The Zone would be considered separately from Australia-proper. That means labor laws would be different. Including award rates and the like. The borders would be policed. It would be treated, in effect, as another Country, yet on the Mainland where it’s easier to have major interconnecting roads, rail and utilities.
If a Refugee fulfils the requirements (including being fluent in Spoken & Written English), they will be eligible to move from the SEZ into Australia. My guess is that not all of them will move. The benefits of being in the Zone are very attractive.
There’s loads of arguments against this system. I’ve not considered all of them. Perhaps one of the biggest is around Aboriginal Land Rights. Finding a contiguous region up North big enough to house SEZ will be tough. But it’s not impossible.
Big ideas are needed to solve the Refugee “Problem”. This is a suggestion that not only allows us to accept hundreds of thousands of Refugees and give them opportunity, it also means we can develop an empty region of Australia and still benefit from tax and royalties.
Tell me your thoughts.