Asylum seeker led recovery for Alice: businessman’s proposal

Give half a billion dollars to Alice Springs instead of a billion to Nauru.

That’s the way to fix Australia’s dilemma about offshore processing, according to ex FICA CEO and local businessman Paul Lelliott (pictured).
He asked MHR Warren Snowdon to take the idea “as far as you can.
“I also have the support of Adam Giles. Both he and Warren are friends of mine. I would like to think they will work together on this.”
Mr Lelliott says: “There is considerable humanitarian merit in putting forward the case for onshore processing of refugees.
“There is also a significant economic benefit to our region if that processing was to take place in Alice Springs. Forget about pouring money into Malaysia, Christmas Island and Nauru.
“We need the funding and the resultant increase in labor to rebuild this town. We can create our own economic stimulus.”
Mr Lelliott says Alice Springs has an indigenous population of some 5,000 people, 35% of whom are under the age of 20.
“A great amount of energy and humanitarian expertise is focused in assisting the disadvantaged from this group and indeed all of  the Alice Springs underprivileged to ensure that they fulfill their potential in life.
“A senior public servant has stated that these  groups are serviced by more than 90 government funded agencies and departments employing 1500 staff.
“I would suspect that we are top heavy in the administration and delivery of the programs we roll out.
“ We are well positioned to take on more social responsibility given the existing infrastructure,” says Mr Lelliott.
“By and large we are an extremely tolerant community. We strive for inclusive outcomes and we are multicultural in our thinking.
“During my term as CEO of FICA and in my day to day business dealings I have been impressed  with the enormous goodwill in our town in spite of the social issues we face.
“Allowing onshore processing to take place here should be supported by the Federal Government and it offers a solution that the opposition should go along with.
“Let’s take the initiative and show the world how it should be done.”

UPDATE Feb 16:

Immigration Minister  Chris Bowen and NT Deputy Chief Minister, Delia Lawrie, today announced a new migration program for the Darwin region to help employers fill skills and labour shortages associated with major projects.

The Regional Migration Agreement (RMA) for the Top End of the Northern Territory is “designed to help regions hire overseas workers where there is a genuine need to do so,” Mr Bowen and Ms Lawrie say.

“Darwin is set to experience huge growth, with demand for workers expected to outstrip local and national supply.

“The NT Government is focused on seeing Territorians benefit from major projects such as Ichthys.”

Other regional areas “will be eligible for RMAs in the coming months”.

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14 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Unsustainable Australia
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Australia does not have an endless supply of land and housing. Do not overlook, Oz has 100,000 plus homeless people. Oz has the working homeless now due to massive immigration numbers already imposed on Oz. Also on top of Oz having rubbish the size of Queensland that Oz cannot bury, Oz cannot help everyone. Our hospitals are in crisis – no more room left in them. Putting people in broom closets and cupboards. Look at the congestion on the roads. Plus Oz is selling a lot of the land to overseas investors. Wake up!

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  2. Domenico Pecorari
    Posted February 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Now, Jan, I have re-read Paul’s article, and nowhere do I find ANY details regarding the form of accommodation proposed, apart from references to “onshore processing of refugees” as opposed to offshore processing in Malaysia, Christmas Island and Nauru. The release of refugees holding bridging visas into the community was first raised by Hal Duell, with whom I agreed, in writing, stating also that I did not accept any form of processing involving detention centres. As I said before, I believe there are lots of details to work through and I’d still want to see some analysis work before any decisions are made. As for your assertion that I’ve labelled this town’s conservatives as “white racists”, I challenge you to find any such references in my writings. It did, however, remind me of that saying: “If the hat fits …”

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  3. Janet Brown
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Dom, detention centre was your take. And your words. No-one else used that title. You should have read Paul’s article. It is about providing accommodation. A very well overdue housing increase for Alice that will benefit us all. You seem intent on labeling the conservatives in town as white racist. None of the people I know are like that. We are conservative and we are in business, and yes, we have a desire to grow our businesses and with business prospering so does our town and the rewards of that flow to the general population. We are not greedy either. Our wealth ensures a wealthy town by [fostering] new businesses and opportunities. In all Dom we all benefit. Even you.

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  4. Domenico Pecorari
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    If we are talking about integrated community-based accommodation of asylum seekers, as opposed to a detention centre, then I am all for it. As you say yourself, Hal, there’s “lots of details to work through”. I just want to see some analysis before we proclaim “Yes, let’s do it!”.

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  5. Hal Duell
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Domenico,
    There are a few recent pointers in both the national and the local debate that indicate this proposal is possible.
    On the national level:
    The Federal Government has recently said that they hope to issue up to 1/3 of the ‘boat people’ with bridging visas and to release them into the community.
    At other times it has been suggested that any refugees released into the larger community might have travel restrictions imposed as a condition of that release.
    The holders of bridging visas will be asked to support themselves, after an initial period of settling in.
    No one is expecting them to buy their own home, at least not at first.
    On the local level:
    At least one of the housing developments south of the Gap (Kilgariff ) is in hand. This is no longer just a possibility. We are spreading south of the Gap.
    Alice Springs needs every injection of capital it can attract, and I suggest putting up our hand to house some of those being granted bridging visas, especially as they might come with temporary travel restrictions and so will have to stay here for a while, and this might garner us some new funding.
    Migrants have a long history of creating work and growth both here and elsewhere in the world where they are allowed to mix with the host population.
    Some might even like us enough to stay.
    If, as suggested, this development will soon be made possible for willing communities in Australia, and not just the major urban centres of Sydney, Melbourne etc., I suggest we would be lazy and remiss not to at least try to attract some of this new growth to Alice.
    I say it’s possible.
    Get Warren on board and it might even be probable.

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  6. Domenico Pecorari
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Oh, Janet. Life must be so simple when you are guided by nothing more than chasing buckets of money with which to solve all our problems … but you and others like you, all looking for silver bullet solutions, need to consider the consequences of your ideas. Have you, for example, given any thought to, or quantified, the pros and cons of having an onshore refugee processing centre, both in the short and longer term? If you have, then by all means let us in on the data that underpins your idea.
    When you are able to give more than unsubstantiated opinions, your ideas may be more worthy of consideration.

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  7. Janet Brown
    Posted February 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Next Dominic you’ll be advocating that we set up our town as a child free zone. And not allow anyone else in. When we have kids our town increases in population that means we need more land for housing. More business for job opportunities. That means bigger working capital that does mean. Buckets more money. So tell us Dominic. Why are you so scared of growth and prosperity. And why do you want to fight at every level. Opportunity for migration. Opportunities for our kids and those who. Want to make Alice home. Why do you want to slam the door on those who are looking for an open door to participate in the health wealth of our territory

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  8. Domenico Pecorari
    Posted February 13, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Judging from the poorly thought out support shown for this half baked idea, it must be time we officially changed our town’s name to Alice $PRING$: always chasing that bucket of money, at all costs.

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  9. Coincidence
    Posted February 11, 2012 at 7:25 am

    A S stands for Alice Springs and A S stands for Asylum Seekers.

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  10. Tony Sanderson
    Posted February 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    This idea has merit but the big mistake is trying to involve Warren Snowdon. Unless you live in Darwin or a Top End community he has no idea the rest of the Territory exists.

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  11. Amma Bigg
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    So many of us have been reflecting privately for years about this concept. Good on you Paul for bringing this timely conversation into the public forum for discussion.

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  12. Hal Duell
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 7:25 am

    This idea has been kicking around for a year or two, and its time may have come.
    Lots of details to work through, but, Yes! let’s do it!

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  13. Janet Brown
    Posted February 5, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    This idea was talked about prior to Christmas. Some guy looking at how we get our town going forward shared the idea about November over the radio. More and more people pushing this idea we might actually achieve something beneficial for Alice.

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  14. Janet Brown
    Posted February 5, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    This is a fantastic idea. Boost our housing market. With many more new houses. And units. And life looks even better.

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