By Georgina Pickers

International Relations and Peace Adviser

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Not since the end of WW2 has the World seen such an enormous displacement of people.

Numerous conflicts, economic instabilities, lack of governance, law and order, ethnic and religious conflicts, some engineered by governments and religious factions, resulting in an upsurge in refugee and asylum seekers.

Coupled with global financial insecurities, complex geo-political trade agreements, financial mismanagement or corruption is causing poor economic outlooks. It is therefore not surprising that an increasing number of illegal migrants flee by any means available, to any western country perceived to be wealthy, stable and accommodating. In doing so many demand asylum claiming human rights. While that may be the case in many instances, it would appear that until the World economic outlook improves ‘economic’ refugees will increase to levels not seen since post 1945. A profitable as well as exploitive ‘people smuggling’ industry has grown enormously.

While Australia must play its part in the sympathetic treatment and reception of such claimants the country must balance the capacity to efficiently and cost effectively integrate those arrivals into our society. Given the strains on our social welfare system is there an unlimited capacity to do so?

This year marks the 800 year anniversary of the Signing of the Magna Carta (Great charter for the Liberties). Regarded as a foundation of democracy, the adoption of its fundamental intent resulted in foundation of laws, constitutions and governance principles throughout the World.

UNESCO recently down-graded its status of the Great Barrier Reef from the “Danger List” much to the relief of Queensland’s tourism operators. The reef’s World heritage listed status was capitalized on by international environmental organisations to enlist supporters and money.

The Federal and Queensland governments have released the 89 page Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan for comment.   Climate change is regarded as the biggest long term threat, while coastal development, dredging increases (especially for inshore reefs) shipping movements, poaching and overfishing will also impact on its present and future health.

An Australian Sports Diplomacy Strategy 2015-18 between the Australian Government and sporting organisations has been announced by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Part of the funding will provide $250,000 to Netball Australia to allow Samoa, Sri Lanka, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia to participate in the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August. The government strategy aims to generate economic, diplomatic, tourism and community benefits. The recent success of Queensland’s Firebirds in the 2015 Championships has heightened interest in this widely played global women’s sport.

Last Month I attended the UNAA’s UN Peacekeepers memorial service in Brisbane. It was a colourful, well attended commemoration for some 3,500 peacekeepers who have perished on peace keeping service. It prompted me to write to the Australian War memorial asking if Australian peace keepers were listed on a Roll of Honour. Their reply indicated that provision was being made for that to be so.

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