MEDIA RELEASE: Refugee posturing by politicians morally misguided

Aid to live safely and sustainably far more effective: Sustainable Australia

Sustainable Australia rejects the moral posturing and political one-upmanship surrounding the current Syrian refugee crisis, and calls for sustainable global solutions to the human tragedy of forced migration.

In an ABC Radio interview today, World Vision CEO Reverend Tim Costello says “the [refugee] intake is the pimple on the hippopotamus” and “not really the main game.”[1]

Reverend Costello added “It's actually giving people hope in the camps that they're secure, they're going to be fed, that they don't need to flee - and above all... go back home. That's what they want to do. They just want to go back home, not come here, not go to Europe.”


William Bourke, President of Sustainable Australia agrees, saying “Whilst an increased intake should be considered, the current game of moral one-upmanship by politicians is unhelpful and regrettable. The government’s plans to increase the intake by 12,000 will cost a conservative $500 million, or around $40,000 per refugee.[2]

[26/01/16 Edit: Figure later confirmed to be $700 million, or around $60,000 per person.]

This is now “How many people would $40,000 per year help to live safely in UN camps? According to the UNHCR, a donation of $300 per annum ‘can buy an Emergency Assistance Package to give a family the essentials for survival and shelter’.[3] If we conservatively assume a family is four people, that’s $75 per person. For every one person Australia resettles, we therefore forego the opportunity to help over 500 people in what World Vision’s Tim Costello calls ‘the main game’. Given the scale of the Syrian crisis, $500 million would be better spent helping over 6 million people than 12,000.

”Rather than simplistic moral posturing over increased permanent resettlement numbers, we align with Reverend Costello’s overriding aim to help people live safely now, and ultimately sustainably in their homeland. To achieve this ultimate goal, we also need to address underlying drivers of resource scarcity and conflict in Syria, including rapid population growth.

“Syria’s population has exploded from 3.5 million in 1950 to 23 million today. This growth dilutes natural resources like food and water, and ties into “economic problems, education costs and living costs."[4] At the current extreme growth rate, Syria will reach around 35 million by 2050. This increasing resource scarcity fuels growing conflict between militias and religious groups.

“To help address the global population crisis, Australia should also increase its total family planning and reproductive health services foreign aid from $50 million to at least $500 million immediately and to at least $1 billion by 2020, Mr Bourke added. | ENDS

Showing 7 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Rigby Taylor
    commented 2015-09-11 21:04:47 +1000
    Excellent ideas. As well as family planning, we could cease our part in creating refugees, by no longer blindly assisting the USA to destroy countries that posed no threat to us until we started bombing them.
  • Heather McIntosh
    commented 2015-09-11 12:36:03 +1000
    I agree
  • Veronica Brook
    commented 2015-09-11 11:57:21 +1000
    Totally agree with your media release. ESPECIALLY the bit about family planning.
    To put it crudely politicians are having a pissing competition!
    Pity we can’t stipulate where our hard working taxes go.
  • Peter Cook
    commented 2015-09-10 18:26:19 +1000
    Thank heavens for one voice of sanity in this SAP media release. The gushing efforts of many (including most of the media) to prove how compassionate they are – with absolutely no attention to understanding the root causes of what is happening — is hard to take.
  • Greg Graham
    commented 2015-09-10 09:56:36 +1000
    Refreshingly thoughtful and sensible solutions on an issue that the Coalition, Labor, The Greens and almost every pundit out there is offering nothing but muddle-headed nonsense.
  • Mark O'Connor
    commented 2015-09-09 23:54:10 +1000
    This media release is so far ahead of most of what one reads/sees in the media or hears from most politicians.
  • Martin Tye
    commented 2015-09-09 17:36:20 +1000
    Once again the SAP keeps its head while all about them are losing theirs…
    A rational, carefully considered and logical response aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for the maximum number of people. Unencumbered by the temptation to play politics & pander to opinion polls, William Bourke & the SAP have put forward the only carefully considered & well thought out response I have read since the Syrian refugee issue exploded onto our TV screens.
    Well done SAP, lets just hope your progressive ideas translate into electoral success.