Turnbull completes Turnbott transition with boats

Was there ever a centrist and reasoned Malcolm Turnbull? From The Australian:

Malcolm Turnbull has categorically ruled out bringing the asylum-seekers detained on Manus Island to Australia, warning against becoming “misty-eyed” about the plight of more than 900 asylum-seekers and refugees in limbo on the island.

Although his Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has chosen his words carefully – indicating some refugees may be allowed to come to Australia on a non-permanent basis – the Prime Minister today declared “none of the detainees there will come to Australia”.

“We are seeking to ensure that the people detained at Manus can either settle in PNG as they have the opportunity to do, or in third countries, but they will not come to Australia. I want to be very, very clear about that,” Mr Turnbull said in Hobart..

“There will be no transfer of those individuals to Australia because to do that would send a signal to the people smugglers to get back into business, and that is utterly unacceptable.”

I have no real issue with letting the boats come. If folks are persecuted and enterprising enough to make their way across thousands of miles of hostile land and sea then they sound like an asset to me. Besides, it’s a lot more constructive and equitable than letting corrupt Chinese through the front to launder money in the property market.

But I’m not the issue here, Malcolm Turnbull is, and while this move might endear him to the battlers, it is unlikely to help him with the chardonnay classes that love him so very much.

It’s a dangerous move to my mind, further undermining what Australians used to admire about Turnbull as he completes his transition into Tony Turnbott.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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  1. Why is it that a boats people issue always seems to come up when there is an election.
    I don’t believe any of what Turnboat is doing will work against him. If anything everything he has said about the issue will raise his re-election prospects. No matter that shorten has proposed good tax reform and environmental proposals. No matter that shorten forced the “turn back” policy to be adopted by labor this one issue will be enough to get the libs over the line to win the election. Turnboat is saying and doing all the right things on this issue and his approach will resonate sufficiently that i expect following polls to reverse the coalitions dropping poll results.
    The next event that will help improve the libs chances of winning govt will be that we will see more hysterical rantings by hanson young on tv on this topic. Its like every time she is on tv wailing about this one issue the libs popularity goes up.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      Yes… If there are two ‘red hot’ buttons out in the mullet regions it would be “My property value might fall” and “Stop the boats”. The LNP are pushing hard on both of these I notice of late. Weirdly nearly everything they say is lies, but that doesn’t seems to matter that much.

      What is even more odd is there is likely a relationship between ‘letting the boats come’ and ‘keeping my property values high’, but that gets lost in the beer googles at the weekend BBQ chatter.

      Strange days indeed.

      • “What is even more odd is there is likely a relationship between ‘letting the boats come’ and ‘keeping my property values high’, but that gets lost in the beer googles at the weekend BBQ chatter.”

        Highly doubt there is a positive correlation… Boat people are not going to be the ones who could afford our property prices… If they could afford our property prices, they wouldn’t be coming by boat. They would come by plane, via a sham 457 visa.

      • darklydrawlMEMBER

        Bingo Kevin. You are spot on. That is the whole bit I don’t get about this ‘boat people’ fracas. Way more folks enter the country via Kingsford Smith or Tulla and only the most desperate types come via people smugglers and a leaky boat. Seems we are happy to ignore the wealthy ones and treat the poor and desperate like slime in tropical prison camps. I can tell you no-one started out in one of those boats with ‘terrorist’ intentions towards Australia, but a few of them will sure leave with them. We are shitting in our own nest – again.

      • “Seems we are happy to ignore the wealthy ones and treat the poor and desperate like slime in tropical prison camps. ”

        Seems like bashing the poor is the national psyche these days. Bash unemployed as dole bludgers, the homeless as druggies, and minimum wage workers as leeches for daring to ask for penalty rates…

        Also remember, where the refugees are settled, it drops their precious property price un that area.

    • “I don’t believe any of what Turnboat is doing will work against him.”

      He’s managed to screw up everything he’s tried since becoming leader – I don’t have much faith this will be any different. And Dutton is clearly the biggest dud of them all so Turnbull can’t rely on his support.

  2. Getting a bit sick of the “corrupt Chinese” meme – it really blatantly racist. We don’t say corrupt British, American or Canadian.

    People seem to be forgetting that the Chinese wealthy middle class now outranks the US by 5 to 1, while there are more millionaries and billionaires – and 90% of them have made their money entirely legitimately.

    No one suggests for a second that there are not some corrupt officials amongst them, as there are organised crime and money laundering from anywhere else. But to just label Chinese investors as corrupt is nothing less than outright racism.

    The real corruption is actually here, in Australia, amongst our own institutions.

    Its just cheap, boorish and beyond all question – racist – its just not required.


    • Aussie1929MEMBER

      It’s not racist. Racism is subjective and emotional. This is objective. Racism is murder and opression of someone that is a different race and believes in a different religion.

      any more anyone calling people names will get deletion – spambot

      • Oh, I get it now, as long as I don’t murder and oppress someone that is a different race and believes in a different religion, it’s perfectly fine… It’s not racism. If I got to my workplace and scream blonds are dumb it’s perfectly alright?

      • Just like Turnbull’s “common sense” on NG on 7:30 report the other day?

        Australia needs less common sense, and more logical thinking!

      • Just like Turnbull’s “common sense” on NG on 7:30 Report the other day?

        Australia needs less common sense and more logical thinking!

    • What do you call the money that has arrived in Australia that has circumvented the remittance limit Laws of China? Honest?
      How about the Legitimate Money that has arrived and has flouted Australia residential property buying Laws?
      And yes. As for any Australian aiding and abetting onshore law breaking, they are corrupt Australians.

      • I would simply call if their private money and they can do as they wish. As we know, most Chinese scored big with their real estate lottery, exactly the same as Aussies. If they want to move the money to another country it’s well within reason. You can’t just say because Chinese government banned something, it’s corrupt to try to circumvent it. Do you call Chinese who circumvent the great fire wall of china corrupt Chinese? What would you say if New Zealand banned all residents from moving their money overseas? Any New Zealanders that break that law are corrupt New Zealanders?

        Secondly, what’s with the expectation of Chinese should follow laws that are not enforced? Aussies don’t follow any laws that are not enforced either. If you believe otherwise, I guess we don’t need a banking RC after all.

        So in conclusion, it is pure racism to try to blame Chinese for your own failings and corruption.

      • Good one Kev. All the money flowing from China is hot money escaping a potentially repressive regime. I mean, if China truly has the rule of law why the need to park it in an offshore safe haven??

      • “You can’t just say because Chinese government banned something, it’s corrupt to try to circumvent it.”

        Really? Is it not? Replace “Chinese” with “USA” or “Australia” – still make sense? No? Funny that.

        Anyone moving money out of China illegally is a criminal. Not that I am a personal fan of the CCP, but seriously, they are a trading partner of ours and we should not act as a safe haven for smuggled hot money. This isn’t a human rights issue. This is rich people smuggling cash against the laws of their own country.

      • @matt

        Right… So anyone circumventing the great firewall of china is a criminal and should be thrown in jail too yes?

        You seem to support oppressive regimes if their laws just so happens to convenience you.

        Again I ask the same question, how would you feel if your government takes away your liberty to move your honest hard earned money to another country?

  3. GunnamattaMEMBER

    Besides it’s a lot more constructive and equitable than letting corrupt Chinese through the front to launder money in the property market

    Well said. Taking refugees will mean taking people who wll be far more committed to making their new homeland work than those who have got here through the proceeds of corruption, and rely on the stream continuing or upon them never being fingered.

    • Yes!

      However I would argue there are not nearly as much corrupt Chinese as you think… how many people do you think is even in a position to take advantage of corruption? Most Chinese money are people who won big through their own property bubble, and lax lending standard… Just like your typical Aussie.

      • Bulldust Kev. Bulldust. Why are the chinese moving all their money here?? They don’t want to lose it when the anti corruption crackdown comes.

      • 1. We try to entice them with our double digit p.a. Growth forecasts.
        2. Many have their kids here who got their tertiary education and jobs here.
        3. Better environment, makes the perfect place for retirement.
        4. When a corrupt government wants to take a person’s money, you automatically assume it’s the person is corrupt and not the government?

      • GunnamattaMEMBER

        Nothing personal Kevin, but I know plenty about corruption – not in China maybe, but plenty about corruption…..

        A few years ago myself and a couple of lawyers sat down and wrote out a guide for the managers (from top to bottom) of a major global firm going into Russia – where I know an awful lot about the corruption.

        That company flew us to Europe to chat at one of their beanfests with their global managers and while there we discovered that they had a load of Chinese there – who all eagerly read what we had written and came back to us to say we had written about pretty much the same circumstances as happen in China.

        I remain in contact with many of these – plus with investment banks through Hong kong – and I am continually told that China is profoundly corrupt. Indeed I have recently had it suggested to me that the vast majority of Chinese businesses would be paying off someone (same as they do in Russia) that every level of permission gathering, all levels of regulatory process and and every contract is highly likely to have a little built in corruption, back hander, payment to look the other way – from the risk management people in banks, to the customs and tax officials, to the procurement of any organisation where the procuring isnt closely followed.

        Nothing personal – I dont know China particularly well. But I know people who do (very well) and they message is always the same – China is corrupt from top to bottom, and any business endeavour in China needs to be a little bit corrupt just to survive (the same as in Russia)…..

        ……and all that of course is before we get to how people move hundreds of thousands (if not millions – to buy property in Sydney/Melbourne) out of a nation which has a limit on capital exodus.

        If I was to regulate the capital flows into Australia I would be telling every last person bringing money in that they could provide a certificate from the taxation officials of the nation where the money originates to state that it isnt the benefit of corruption.

        Feel free to have a read of a rant I posted in comments here not long ago…..(just below)

        I know it isnt China alone, but most of the money flowing into Australia right now is from China…..and that money plays a significant part in pricing our own working class out of an affordable house

      • @Gunnamatta
        No doubt that is a very accurate description of corruption in china. However the number of average Joes currently playing the overseas real estate game fare outweigh the number of people who could even remotely be in a position to take advantage of corruption.

        The scary thing is not the corrupt Chinese since they tend to buy 2mil+ mansions anyway. It is the number of average boomers, many of them have a few properties they bought for a few hundred thousand Yuan, which are now worth $5mil yuan at least. They have no problem disposing a property and buy here, and the money is completely legitimate.

        The legal money alone will flood the world, and much bigger problem than corrupt money.

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      ‘Nothing the God of Business Visas wouldn’t let me into heaven for…..’ -: Why we should take bribery and corruption in other parts of the world seriously and be alert to its beneficiaries coming here

      Corruption and us

      Australian’s generally don’t ‘get’ corruption. They don’t think it affects them all that much, and they generally do think that if it results in the bringing in of ‘wealth’ to Australia from offshore, then the individuals bringing it in may be distasteful, but there is some sort of upside to the extra money. The sweeping under the carpet of corruption claims involving activities by Australian companies in 2014-2015, and the long term ‘look the other way’ stand adopted by regulatory authorities about incoming flows into real estate perfectly encapsulate that uninformed view. Sadly that isn’t where corruption ends, and when it comes to addressing corruption – both by Australians offshore, and where the proceeds of offshore corruption come here – it is high time that Australia’s approach was tightened.

      When it comes to bribery and corruption for much of the world it is often not small cheese; it is a major culture shaping phenomena pervading transactions at almost every level. In this case what happened with the RBA a decade ago, or what has transpired at Leighton a zillion miles away, may seem minor – and we can be sure that whoever was involved would certainly like everyone to think that way. Similarly there will be plenty of organisations keen to see the upside in foreign nationals bringing ‘wealth’ into Australia to buy real estate, school places and qualifications, and a range of lifestyle assets without asking questions about how that ‘wealth’ has actually been earned – and, again, those with the cash to spend like questions not being asked. But in many parts of the world it is the fountain of wealth of the elite, and the RBA and Leighton have been party to that, the same as Real estate agents and financial advisors and banks are party to that when they help foreign nationals bring ‘wealth’ into the country.

      Indeed once you see it in operation in other parts of the world it can have an impact on how you see the elites in the developed world, and their wealth acquisition processes – when all is said and done the corruption you can see there is just a more overt form of rentseeking which seems to be what Australian is devolving back to. The elites in the corrupt parts of the world aren’t stupid, they know that the only thing keeping them the elite is access to the exercise of power, particularly violent power, whether state sanctioned or not, and that sometimes the access to that power can shift suddenly and violently. Logically enough, they prepare for that possibility and look for safe havens and exit strategies for that moment when their access to whatever power and corruption ends – cue North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

      Australia, with a migration program now skewed towards rewarding those with access to significant funds to bring to Australia (often far more significant in those other nations than in Australia) is effectively often importing the beneficiaries of bribery and corruption in other parts of the world – sometimes the directly involved, but far more often the friends, the family and connections of those directly involved, who can often claim they don’t know about the source of the funding which makes their access possible, but who will universally shy away from questions about it. That’s because in many parts of the world you don’t ask questions like that, because everybody in that part of the world knows, and it is a stain which seeps into societal consciousness: so much nicer to be somewhere cleaner and safer, where nobody even thinks about such things. The beneficiaries of bribery and corruption elsewhere in the world, along with migrants representing a far better ethos and commitment, sit alongside us in traffic, dine in our restaurants, slip their children into our schools, and bid at our auctions, in the hope and expectation that once ensconced nobody will ever ask about how the funds were achieved. More pertinently, once in Australia, or anywhere in the western world, it is all too often the case that the fountain of wealth in some other corrupt homeland continues to call the shots, continues to fund individuals, and continues to corruptly extract wealth from one nation to use elsewhere, and over time it shapes behaviours and expectations in the elsewhere too. Once unaccounted for wealth becomes a significant spender here, it shapes behaviours and expectations here.

      The RBA, Securency, Note Printing Australia, Leighton – us maybe corrupt offshore

      The RBA Securency, Note Printing Australia issue which ASIC sought to distance itself from happened a decade or more ago, would probably never have led to a major criminal punishment (given the feebleness of the then applicable Australian anti-corruption laws, and the illuminating reticence of any Australian authorities to appear proactive in looking at the issue – which we can be sure will be noted elsewhere in the world) and was probably never a major outlay when seen from Sydney, Canberra or Melbourne (although it would have been for recipients in Nepal, Malaysia, etc).

      But if we are to accept the basic contention of the 4 Corners report about 18 months ago we need to accept that someone in the RBA or connected with the RBA had established a network of agents in a number of nations around the world, with a view to promoting a product they wished to commercialise. Someone somewhere will have an understanding of the genesis of that network, and it is more than likely there will be file records indicating when disbursements to that network commenced, as well as who authorised them and on what basis, and, more importantly, the culture in which a decision was made to disburse funds.

      Leighton (which changed its name to CIMIC in 2015) is somewhat different in that it was the Australian listed subsidiary of Hochtief, which has extensive operations across Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the middle east. Hochtief and Leighton build very large infrastructure things – stadiums, stations, airports, terminals, bridges and the like. The only buyers for these are ultimately governments, and drawing a line between what is corrupt and what isn’t in the selling of infrastructure, services or equipment to governments anywhere– from defence equipment to the Saudi’s, to utilities in Africa, through to IT services to the Australian government – can raise a disturbing number of questions, which governments and beneficiaries of corruption tend to be united in preferring were not asked publically. Large infrastructure builders everywhere often have a whiff of the corrupt practice about them.

      If an RBA subsidiary was found to have indulged in something which was corrupt practice (anywhere in the world) then under the US legislation it could face sanction against any operations it had in the US or any of its people going there. In the context of the RBA trying to commercialise that technology that alone could be an issue, but if the RBA had its links cut with the Fed or ECB or BoE then the implications multiply. On top of that you could also wonder if that was a factor in the price at which one of the subsidiaries was palmed off two years ago – one would assume there was a prior claims provision in that contract. Sure, we can be certain that it would never get that far – Australia is one of the developed worlds ‘in’ crowd, and there is a case for saying that if mistakes were made then the organisations involved have learned from them. But at the same time every time we don’t look and don’t verify and don’t establish the probity of an issue which has a claim made against it (let alone establishing probity for risk management, managerial discipline, corporate or administrative accountability purposes, which would all have their own emphases on identifying and verifying actions and behaviours) then we establish a plausible raison’d’etre for behaviours which we know to be corrupt, and which reward corruption in those parts of the world where it is an overt and everyday experience; encouraging that corruption to come to us, and at the same time agreeing to the visitation of the corruption on other peoples – both of which have their own unintended consequences.

      If we tend to view activities ‘in light of the domiciles the alleged activities are said to have occurred.’ then what we are effectively doing is saying that it is OK to be corrupt there (wherever there may be) and nothing should happen from that here. That approach actually hinders the fight against corruption in those nations. For a long time major international companies argued basically this line about their activities in Russia and Central Asia, inter alia, and what was found, and what triggered a significant change of heart about the subject in the US was that organisations would effectively play jurisdiction chasey (set up subsidiaries to take part in dubious practices in jurisdictions where it either wasn’t a crime or wasn’t policed), and that often the direct beneficiaries of the corruption would establish operations within ostensibly clean jurisdictions which acted as a form of protection for ultimately corrupt practices when governments affected by corruption tried to actually do something about it (just google up any number of Russians in the UK or US, and why the Russians would like to lay their hands on them, the same would apply for virtually every country east of the EU).

      Often the corrupt people have ‘companies’ in the clean jurisdictions which then get them business visas, migration visas and the like – and which then turn the fight against corruption into diplomatic bargaining, with the US and UK having a legendary track record in billionaire ‘asylum seekers’ their legal systems prevent facing Russian law for jurisdictional/diplomatic reasons when their own law enforcement officials know the individuals stink. I have had it put to me that Australia, which historically had a good track record of dealing with the matter (politely turning the dubiously wealthy away – and I personally have taken issues to immigration and consular officials and suggested that if an individual was given any form of visa I would go public with information I had available about individuals) is increasingly seen as a softish touch, with business visas and real estate purchases now seen as easily doable regardless of the provenance of any funds involved.

      You won’t get an argument from me that it is a big part of what appears to be business in many parts of the world. But if it is Australians or Australian companies are going to be taking part in activities in these parts of the world then they should have to account for their activities and they should be pinged and do time and pay if they are found to…..

      – have done something knowingly corrupt, or
      – even not made an attempt to establish that what they were doing was genuinely not corrupt.

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      How few Australian companies actually go offshore to participate

      The other thing to note here is that because so few Australian companies engage with the rest of the world, in the rest of the world, there isn’t a widespread awareness of both the complexity of corruption and how to handle it in Australia. Australian companies tend not to do things anywhere else – sure they might sell things to the rest of the world, but rarely do they build, develop, or sell things in other countries – sure we sell commodities to anywhere, but handling of that largely ends at the dock in Australia (if we leave out the Singapore tax avoiding Marketing activities – although note the sales process is the one which has tripped the RBA and the Wheat Board some years ago – but you don’t see Australian corporates developing their own infrastructure and distribution chains in many other locations. One of the things you notice with big global players, which do build, develop, and sell things in other countries, is just how alert they are to issues of corruption and bribery. There are boards of directors, compliance groups and networks, training for lower level managers (particularly those involved in purchasing and land development) so they know the range of forms of corruption, corporate guidelines so the people affected even recognise it, for it generally isn’t obvious: here the line of ‘it happens elsewhere so we ignore it’ prevails, so nobody ever asks about it, nobody ever thinks about it, and everybody assumes it happens somewhere else, and that in turn makes it a fertile world for corrupt practices to evolve in.

      Corruption and Bribery 101

      For the uninformed, when operating in these places almost nobody in their wildest dreams would come up to you and say ‘I want you to pay me a bribe’ – that isn’t how it works. Corruption and bribery is well enough hidden (and only idiots assume that the people holding out for a payoff are idiots), while at the same time perfectly clearly understood by those taking part in it.

      There are 3 basic types of bribery/corruption one is likely to find in the Middle East, Russian speaking world, Central Asia (I don’t know much about how it plays out in China/Asia/India/Latin America but have been very well informed that it is broadly similar almost everywhere).

      The tip – common or garden variety corruption (even if it doesn’t seem that way)

      Low level gratuities/presents/tips is the first – just the basic slip someone 10 or 20 whatevers (dollars, roubles, euros) for doing something, almost always small fry. What you find is that in many places the payment is virtually second nature for almost everyone, usually reinforced by rigid procedures, laws, and rules ( which are often there as a means of preventing corruption), and getting around them, where invariably the first level recipients are lowly paid (although these will often – think low level customs and migration control types in particular, almost any type of low level bureaucrat, police, medical/hospital types – slip some up their reporting trees) and where the managements of those systems, recognising that their punters are lowly paid, tend to encourage/look the other way at the practice for employee retention/performance purposes. Indeed it would be true to say that whole systems evolve to provide opportunities for low level people to get tips, which makes the payment of them feel essentially like a service charge (in circumstances where many organisations don’t officially have them).

      A good example of this is the electricity which went off in my apartment in this world some years ago. I called the local council types (who manage the power there) and sometime later some people turned up to take a look. One of them identifies the issue – wire A needs to be connected to point B. A swarthy descendant of Ghengis Khan explained to me as he was filling in the form, that he would report the fault, but that for a small fee his boys would sort the issue then and there. Five minutes and 500 rubles later we were swapping kangaroo and shark stories with lights on. I would have certainly paid more because I wasn’t a local, but I would have certainly paid far more again if I hadn’t spoken the lingo well enough to let them know I knew the game, or had they thought they may put one over me (there is an American businessman somewhere who paid a 1000 USD on the spot fine to Russian police somewhere for going out of his hotel without his passport a couple of years ago – I know one of his underlings to whom he confessed to having made the payment – that sort of thing encourages an attitude of ‘They are English speaking, they are rich, if it comes off we get a good payoff, so let’s try something, and if there is any hassle we blame language difficulties later on’).

      I asked him what would happen if I hadn’t paid and he told me that he would have filled in the form and submitted it to the depot office. At some point later the office would have called me to organise a time to come and fix things – if they hadn’t been able to get hold of me, I would go to the bottom of the pile, or if the caller had been freaked out by me being a foreigner (it happens) or if we couldn’t sort a time, and so on. Then I knew that if I did this whatever team which came out would discover some other issue, which could easily mean my original issue couldn’t be sorted (unless I paid them of course) and so on. Far simpler and easier to just shell out and get the result then and there – and that is what most people do. It is this type of payment that most people visiting this world experience, which conveys a sense that corruption could be part of being there. But it is usually fairly harmless (although it can be a right pain). What it does often do is establish a precedent, a first step on the road to something more substantial.

      The official clearance

      A far bigger form of corruption, type 2, which anyone attempting to ‘do’ anything experiences, is the encouragement of facilitation payments when seeking permissions/certificates/approvals/licences or interaction with regulatory bodies (tax for starters). Think anyone looking for a health or engineering certificate for a building, customs clearance, have their books audited for tax or labour purposes etc. What often happens here is a company fills in the forms, puts in its application and then hears nothing, or it may get the forms back while being told they are incorrectly filled, or may be asked for more information (which may or may not have been asked for initially), and this can happen more than once, sometimes over a timeframe far far longer than anything anyone would think remotely normal. For example when a company looking to build a plant wonders why a planning approval (or a shop being fitted out cleared for OHS purposes) they had figured might take 2 weeks hasn’t happened after 3 months they may have someone suggest, when they ask why things are taking so long, that someone could expedite the process ‘for a payment’ (or even small gift – I recall one office awaiting an HSE clearance in Almaty sorted its problems when the secretary of the person issuing the approval received flowers, after being tipped off to the possibility by the office alongside).

      Sometimes the company seeking approval may find that, after being told everything would be OK, right at the last or most inopportune moment they find they don’t have what they need (cue recollection of an IKEA mega complex opening, in Russia, being deferred indefinitely, because car parking wasn’t appropriate, then later the lighting wasn’t certified, and then sanitation certification (which had been given) had expired and had to be done all over again, or, my favourite, millions of dollars worth of exotic fish, intended for an aquarium the developer thought had ‘high level approval’, expiring in 35 degree heat on a runway when the local customs suddenly declared their paperwork wasn’t appropriate and weren’t aware of any high level approval) .

      A significant ‘cut’ may also be a factor in importing things (customs in some central Asian nations love their cut of everything coming over the border – shippers move whatever they like, customs gets 5-10-15% or whatever) or exporting things (shipping things – particularly rail and truck – can involve expecting to have large volumes go missing). For a project manager or engineer trying to complete something on time sometimes there is a lot of temptation to try and expedite things rather than explain to head office what the issue is. What also creates confusion is the large number of circumstances where a company proposes going to a location, building something, and ostensibly has the support of the local administration, usually at a high level, and assumes that because of this all procedural issues will be either expedited or waived altogether, when this is rarely the case. Where any project is being supported by an administration the nature of that support should be spelled out in a contract wherever possible. The best bet is to wait it out, make sure you have good in country legal advice, and get official verification of all regulatory timeframes and processes, but you would be amazed how many projects don’t actually do this.

      In some of these places tax officials have a fearsome reputation also (quite deservedly – I once asked an attractive young woman at a party what she did for a large company [Australian connected it so happens] involved in outdoor advertising, and she replied straight out ‘I organise payments to the tax bureaucrats’ and when I asked if that meant she was a taxation accountant she disabused my quaint notion by adding ‘No my boss is, he tells me how much to give and I write their names and put the money in envelopes and give it to them.’) meaning that should they take their time examining the books there can be an urge to pay them to go away – they know this and may well be awaiting it. Customs inspectors, any form of corporate watchdog (anti-monopoly types), local government inspectors can all be in the same league. On top of that there is often also a general confusion about the law – meaning that all of these can conceivably be in a position to make it up as they go.

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      The kickback

      The third type of corruption is the kickback. Invariably a risk with any type of government or para government or regional government or official organisation procurement process, it can also occur with large companies – particularly if they are in some way state controlled or controlled by an oligarch of some sort – and it can take all sorts of amazing forms, can be monumentally pernicious and is the form which leads to the most spectacular benefits (for corrupt individuals) and costs for the publics in these nations.

      It may be a simple ‘You sell widgets worth $100 to our public organisation/department/branch at a cost of $130 and the end user will buy them from this company’ or sometimes (particularly in the context of many large projects involving a range of parties and sub contractors) ‘Your company commits to using XYZ service provider, or sub contractor, [and the extra cost of this contractor will be built into the final cost of the product your provide – but there is strangely no ‘price competition at that level so the extra price doesn’t really matter]’ where the middle organisation, or service provider organisation is privately owned by brother, father, girlfriend, best mate, associate, whatever, of the public official making decisions about who ‘wins’ the tender.

      It may be a more complex ‘joint venture’ proposal to link up with some organisation in a third market in exchange for the right to sell products to the public, or it may be that the public will only buy through a certain company, but they want a particular product, so why don’t the maker and the buyer create a ‘joint venture’. More than a few companies find themselves in joint ventures with local outfits – to whom they invariably leave the handling of local bureaucrats – without doing the due diligence they should, or even asking what it is the other side of the JV actually does. I sat down with an accountant out from London to look at the books of a JV on behalf of an English parent company one day who had inadvertently been given the wrong spreadsheet to peruse and had realised the JV was being used to facilitate a major transfer pricing scheme for a Russian JV parent company, while ostensibly providing management and administrative consultancy services for the joint venture (day to day running of which was largely left to the Brits after they provided the funds to pay off administrative officials, and had employed the connected who wanted to be employed in the JV).

      On top of that I know of more than a few international companies paying sons daughters significant others of procurement officials education costs in expensive internationally renowned schools, the same as I know a few companies organising kin of such public officials work and migration visas to ‘western’ nations in exchange for making sales. Elsewhere it may be apartments in Florida or Spain or Cyprus – Facilitation payments may take many forms. For large scale engineering projects (football stadiums, airports, major roads, bridges hydroelectric facilities) it may be a prime contract in exchange for oversight (and the right choices) of sub-contractors. I have seen TV channels pay ludicrously for satellite access on the basis of contracts through third parties, which, of course, are connected managements of the TV station.

      A factor with kickbacks for large global companies is that they often don’t seem to affect anyone (particularly within the company trying to make a sale) – when all is said and done they are public officials stealing from the public in those nations, with foreign services/product suppliers just being a conduit, so therefore these in the past have taken the view of ‘that is just doing business here’ and played along. And usually there are some wonderful banquets provided, you will get an interesting trip staying in nice hotels and the nicest looking assistants to help you get around (and in more than a few cases outright procurement and prostitution).

      Other factors in the corruption mix – straight out criminality, unclear administrative regimes, dubious courts

      Against the backdrop of these three basic categories into which you could put corruption or bribery there are a range of other factors at play – starting with just outright theft and criminality without even dressing it up as corruption. That comes with invariably shaky administrative processes, dubious laws and legal enforcement processes (including many areas/subjects where there are no laws or no enforcement) against a backdrop (which we should remember) of virtually every nation in this world having had a major regime/approach/economic policy change within the last generation. Property rights are very tenuous, are backed first and foremost by application of power (often potentially violent, and invariably intimidatory). More pertinently you should remember that anyone coming in from outside to do business in this world is coming in to do business with those who have been ‘victors’ in societal change. The simple presence of international companies in this world doing business provides legitimacy, and in this regard it detracts from any view of others in society for whom the existing regime may lack legitimacy – the asset acquisition process of many people with considerable assets in this part of the world may lack legitimacy in the eyes of others in this world. That in the first instance should not be the concern of any business, but that doesn’t mean it cannot cause issues.

      Beyond all that property rights which may not operate the same way as elsewhere or have an unduly rigid or unreliable registration system (in some places you can own land but not the buildings on it, or the people selling it may not own it, or may not be able to sell it with the purpose you have in mind, or maybe there are claims against the site from some time past), and countless countries have corrupt legal systems or officials (it has been known for gunmen to simply walk into a building and say ‘this is ours now’ and boot whoever thought they were managing/owning out). Corporate seals and laws can sometimes be changed and are.

      Corruption and them (coming here)

      Some years ago I was advising a businessman who was planning to IPO his company (about which there had been significant probity claims in the English language media). I explained that when dealing with English media he would invariably face questions about these claims. In the course of giving him practice on how to deal with these I asked him ‘Mr XXX what do you say to claims that your company has been involved in corruption both here and in Europe? He replied (and he had a good sense of humour, good English, and we shared an interest in the film ‘Bladerunner’) in a Roy Batty style voice, ‘Nothing the God of Business Visas wouldn’t let me into heaven for…..’ We had a good laugh at the time but his point was well made, and has provided much of the backdrop for almost every discussion with wealthy individuals about migrating to the US, EU, Britain or even Australia ever since – because I have tended to the view – not always, but certainly more often than not – that the point he was making was implicitly recognised by all of them

      My personal view is that I would rather take the sons and daughters of the mug punting tradesmen, impoverished hack workers, and downmarket shopkeepers, than anyone who has put together the millions to get a business investment visa to Australia, or even someone who has a connection in a local government, a ministry, a state owned enterprise, or a large business paying off someone in the political administrative world in some other nation to facilitate their wealth. I would much rather take skills as the basis for migration, than any capital, because when all is said and done, all capital is tainted, but the capital in the parts of the world most desperate to get it to Australia is probably more tainted. And I don’t think people should be bringing significant funds into Australia, or applying for migration to Australia on the basis of their wealth, without that wealth being questioned, and without the onus being on the individuals in question to establish its bona fides, rather than Australia to establish that there is something dubious about it.

      The basic take away is that determining corruption and its beneficiaries is never ever simple and that anybody involved in any form of corrupt practice knows that complexity becomes obscurity, obscurity becomes plausible deniability, plausible deniability becomes legal argument, and the legal argument can provide legitimacy. Not asking questions in a regulatory/administrative sense – Australia’s baseline position in dealing with capital inflows making real estate purchases (in particular) – is the least resistance option for anyone with the benefits of corruption to manage (why not take a punt on sending it to Australia if you think Australian authorities won’t ask more often than they will? Or if they will ask less questions than other jurisdictions? Or if diplomatic issues will mean that people wanting to ask questions in one jurisdiction will not ask regulatory authorities in another jurisdiction about what they know?). It encourages the deployment of the proceeds of corruption in Australia.

      • great stuff Gunnamatta.

        these posts deserve to be put into a user guide.

        from a systems level perspective, corruption does erode human value.

        It’s really one of the key nodes of system breakdown.

        More for me to think about one thinks. Yet agree with your general thesis that if one is to take a stand – safety, and then corruption would be a good place to turnaround the waste of today’s system.


      • Very informative.

        However, there is still the problem of a even bigger flood of legal money from the Chinese real estate bubble flowing to the world.

  4. Commonwealth of Dominica will take the lot for $100 million. Two years there, Citizenship and visa free travel to the UK and EU.
    Much cheaper than Cambodia and a lot nicer.

  5. On the one hand Malcolm and Tony happily let 1.2 million, 457 visa workers slip into the country without a word, many of which likely won’t end up going home, yet show such distain for the 800 on Manus.

  6. Terror Australis

    These people are potential assets in plenty other ways. In a global effort to combat extremist Islamic terrorism, persecuted refugees from the middle east should be our obvious counter-intelligence allies.

    They a) understand the language and customs and b) hate their former oppressors with a vengeance. Plenty of potential recruits for ASIO and our security forces. For some reason though, we think its smarter to lock them up and let them rot.

    btw i realize not all refugees are from islamic countries.

    • ” Plenty of potential recruits for ASIO and our security forces”

      Correct. We need Farsi speakers.

      My foreign policy ideology aside (we should be turning the USA down on Mid East meddling where possible, to avoid becoming a terror target) this step , absent a break from our mostly servile policies is a good one.

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Haven’t you been reading the papers ? There’s no refugees arriving by boat – they’re all economic migrants or terrorist sleeper cells. Because on a dodgy fishing boat is the quickest and easiest way to get into the country, dontchaknow ?

  7. @Philly Slim

    Also remember, we have our politicians, real estate agents, banks and developers over there, giving them a wink and a nod, begging they to buy properties.

    We try to entice them with our double digit p.a. Growth forecasts and promise of visas. Then the population act all outraged when the Chinese take the bait hook line and sinker.

    If the population truely cared, they would have voted Greens. Rather than venting racist frustration and avoiding to confront the failings of the whole country’s population.

  8. Ronin8317MEMBER

    The number of boats with asylum seekers coming to Australia have pretty much stopped since 2014. It would be a disaster to start it up again,

    Narrative matters in asylum seeker policy. Fraser opened his arm to Vietnamese refugees since they’re fleeing communism. Bob Hawke allowed Chinese students to stay in Australia after Tiananment Square, and hardly no one batted an eyelid. The current batch of asylum seekers stuck in Manus Island unfortunately doesn’t have a similar story to tell. Tony Abbott have managed to poison the debate by labelling them as ‘economic refugees’ and ‘illegal immigrants’, that perception will be hard to change.

    I have no idea how MT is going to accomplish not bringing them to Australia : he can close up the center and dump them there, thus condemning the asylum seekers to a fate worse than death.

    • Syria is the biggest human displacement in at least half a century. They are fleeing a regime much more bloodthirsty than any communist regime. And you say they don’t have a story to tell? Their story is arguably worse!

      But that’s besides the point. You are say we should only accept refugees when the number of persecuted rises above a certain threshold, and their story makes the nightly news, and only if the tragedy tugs our heart strings, and also it must not drag out for too long because we may lose our interest in our 24 hour news cycle.

      • Ronin8317MEMBER

        I’m saying that it’ll take a more compelling narrative before the population will accept refugees coming from boats. South Vietnamese was US/Australia’s ally/puppet regime in the Vietnam war. The Chinese students are already in Australia, and we are not going to send them back to be crushed by tanks. In contrast, Syria has very little to do with Australia. Most Australian can not locate it on a map, they just knows that the ISIS is inspiring terrorist attacks. Assad is fighting AGAINST the ISIS, and the enemy of my enemy is…?
        Robert Fisk’s article this week makes an important point. 500 refugees drown this week trying to reach Greece. Kabul suffer the worse bombing for a decade. And Prince (the artist formerly know as) died. Guess the story we see in the news everywhere?

      • @Kevin “Syria is the biggest human displacement in at least half a century. They are fleeing a regime much more bloodthirsty than any communist regime”

        Surely you are talking about the bloodthirsty USA Criminal Invaders/Destroyers? If not -Why Not?

      • That they surely do. It’s a country stuffed with nasty greedy lazy self entitled aspirationals. If the LNP pump the boat issue and win (which is likely), perhaps more people here will join me in active enjoyment of Australians’ self imposed misfortune.

        The country deserves (and will soon get) another great depression.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      Shorten should kick them out of the ALP. Doing this when you’re about to win is just stupid beyond believe.

      • adelaide_economistMEMBER

        Yep – unbelievably dumb move. I assume they are reacting more to their electorates because politics is for pragmatism.

        Again, if people really are concerned about the treatment of the asylum seekers, what is the best outcome in reality. An ALP (or majority ALP) government or the Coalition? It seems like a very Greens style ‘cut your nose off to spite your face’ approach.

  9. my mum and her family are refugees who came to australia after waiting many years

    they are dead against people coming in via the back door…..they need to wait like all the others

    if we put up the welcome light, people will flood in, just like in europe atm

    is it tough…yes….but it is a deterrent to others coming this way…and i am all for it as the child of a refugee who waited patiently

    MB has become very left wing over the last few years…keep some perspective fellas that we don’t all agree with your left wing view of letting everyone into australia meme

    • my mum and her family are refugees who came to australia after waiting many years

      Like they do now on Manus and other places, you mean ?

      You do understand that we don’t just let everyone that walks off a boat straight out into the community, right ? Nor that anyone has ever suggested we do ? I ask because the political right and most of the media have expended a great deal of effort over the last 10-15 years to get those ideas into people’s heads, so it’s a common misconception.

      they are dead against people coming in via the back door…..they need to wait like all the others

      There is no back door. When and where you get in is decided by how much help you need, not how long you’ve been waiting.

      is it tough…yes….but it is a deterrent to others coming this way…and i am all for it as the child of a refugee who waited patiently

      Yeah. “Deterring” people otherwise facing death is really effective. I mean, they have so much to lose.

      MB has become very left wing over the last few years…keep some perspective fellas that we don’t all agree with your left wing view of letting everyone into australia meme

      I haven’t seen anyone here arguing in favour of “letting everyone into Australia”.

      • Half of Australia sees this issue as a false dichotomy between an immigration free for all (which you basically have now with 457s, but don’t mention that or you’re racialist) and concentration camps.

        Then again, half of Australians also voted for an LNP led by Tony Abbott, so we know we’re dealing with pure wilful ignorance and a massive sense of self entitlement.

  10. “–my mum and her family are refugees who came to australia after waiting many years — ”

    Well Dan -weren’t they ‘lucky’ to be somewhere where they could get a permit. The poor bastards coming by boat just happen to be the bravest – No Hope of getting permission -just a dogged determination to get here. They would be an invaluable asset to Australia. All assets sold to make the trip.
    I agree with H & H who said :
    ” If folks are persecuted and enterprising enough to make their way across thousands of miles of hostile land and sea then they sound like an asset to me”

  11. Out of interest, would those supporting the “asylum seekers” open door also support immediate deportation following a criminal conviction?

    • Deportation to where? If they’re accepted as asylum seekers, they can’t be sent back.

      Plus, the numbers of them are TINY. Why not apply the same standard to all immigrants? Why not apply it to dual nationals?