Last month I was sorry to report that a retirement village in my suburb of Melbourne (Eltham) had been bought by a Catholic agency and was going to used to house refugees alongside the elderly residents. It's a similar pattern to what is happening in places like Sweden and Germany.
There are some important updates to this story. I had a conversation with a councillor who told me that the refugees will not be just from Syria but from a range of places. There is a council election happening right now and unfortunately the choice seems to be between left-leaning candidates who want a Middle-Eastern refugee intake and right-leaning candidates who want to build units for Chinese investors. If I learn of any independent candidates I'll publicise this in a further post.
There is some resistance to the plans. A petition is up at Change.org which I'd encourage Victorian readers to sign (see here). There will also be a demonstration outside the local MP's office (Jenny Macklin) from 10.00am to 11.00am on Saturday 1st October (149 Burgundy St Heidelberg).
I'll repeat again the obvious. The current refugee system is irrational. The sensible option is to offer to resettle asylum seekers in countries which are the most similar in living standards and culture to those they are leaving. This would give no incentive to those who are economic migrants and it would be the least disruptive in terms of culture and identity to the host nation. The scheme could be funded from a pool paid into by the wealthier nations.
Hopefully the resistance in Eltham will grow over coming weeks.