More Murdoch Murder of the Facts

Post written by Susan Connelly
7 September, 2015

An article entitled “Nation pulls weight on refugees” by Stefanie Balogh appeared in “The Australian” on August 8, 2015.

Its title, its selective use of figures, and its claim of Australian generosity in comparison to other nations in its treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, made it a misrepresentation of a Report which had been made by the Refugee Council of Australia.

To challenge this twisting of the Report, the CEO of the Refugee Council, Paul Power, wrote to the Letters Editor of The Australian. Here is his letter:

“Dear Editor,

It’s disappointing that The Australian misrepresents the Refugee Council of Australia’s analysis of global refugee statistics. Few people outside of Australia would accept the assertion that our nation’s response to refugees was the most generous per capita in 2014 (The Australian 8 August, 2015).

To compare Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program, we need to look at both components of the program – the issuing of permanent protection visas to refugees recognised through the asylum process and the resettlement of refugees from other countries.

In the 2014 calendar year, UNHCR statistics show that Australia recognised 2,780 refugees through its asylum process and resettled 11,570 refugees from other countries, assisting 14,350 refugees in all.

Around the world, 3,262,960 people were recognised as refugees through asylum processes and 105,197 were resettled, a total of 3,368,157.

By this measure, Australia assisted 0.43% of the refugees recognised or resettled in 2014. It was ranked 22nd overall, 28th per capita and 46th relative to total GDP.

Lebanon’s recognition of 364,129 refugees was 120 times greater on a per capita basis than Australia’s total response.

Of the countries which typically grant permanent residency to recognised and resettled refugees, Sweden’s per capita response was 5.8 times greater than Australia’s, with 32,347 refugees recognised and 1,971 resettled.

No amount of selective use of statistics will hide the fact that the Australian Government cut its refugee program by one third in 2013 while the world’s displacement crisis was growing to its highest level in 70 years.

                                                                              Paul Power 
Chief Executive Officer
 Refugee Council of Australia”

Three days later, on August 11,  the following version of his letter appeared in The Australian, so heavily edited that the points are lost.

“UNHCR statistics show that in 2014, Australia recognised 2780 refugees through its asylum process and resettled 11,570 refugees from other countries, assisting 14,350 in all.

Around the world, 3,262,960 people were recognised as refugees through asylum processes and 105,197 were resettled, a total of 3,368,157.

By this measure, Australia assisted 0.43 per cent of the refugees recognised or resettled in 2014. It was ranked 22nd overall, 28th per capita and 46th relative to total GDP.

The government cut its refugee program by one third in 2013 while the world’s displacement crisis was growing to its highest level in 70 years.

                                                                                   Paul Power, CEO, Refugee Council of Australia, Surry Hills, NSW”

 The twisting of the Council’s Report by the Balogh article resembles the emasculation of Mr Power’s letter by The Australian’s Letters Editor.

Is the Murdoch Press frightened of facts?  If so, why?  If not, why this misrepresentation?

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