Rudd revisits 19th century German penal colonialism

In the 19th century, Imperial Germany investigated the viability of establishing penal colonies in Pacific (as well as elsewhere), following the examples of the British in Australia and the French in New Caledonia. As my colleague Matthew Fitzpatrick has written in a new article on the subject ( version here), the ‘Pacific Solution’ for Germany in the late 1800s and early 1900s was scuppered for several reasons, including the massive costs and the inhumanity of sending prisoners to these ill-equipped islands. Reinhardt Heindl in 1912 wrote that, based on the British and French experiences, the policy of sending ‘undesirable’ people to far away islands was characterised by ‘poor planning, draconian punishments, near starvation, and prohibitive costs’.

It is interesting to note that the same criticisms are being made about Kevin Rudd’s new ‘PNG Solution’. Maybe Rudd could learn something from these debates over penal colonialism from over 100 years ago…

The ALP's inspiration for modern order control policy
Joachim von Pfiel – The ALP’s inspiration for modern border control policy

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