Labor and Coalition unite to destroy refugee rights

September 16, 2011
Photo: Alex Bainbridge

Now that the Labor government has almost entirely reneged on its 2007 election promise to end Australia’s sickening abuse of refugees, the two big parties are united on an issue they have so vehemently pretended to disagree.

Unhappy with the High Court’s interpretation of the law — that Australia must uphold fundamental human rights when making policies on refugees, and that deporting them to a country that does not have such rights violates the law — the Labor government is cajoling the opposition to agree to water down Australia’s refugee protections.

The proposed changes would make expelling refugees to other countries, opening offshore detention camps and turning boats around lawful under Australian law.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard “challenged” the Coalition to “act in Australia’s national security interests” and support the changes.

Liberal opposition leader Tony Abbott and opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison had to talk themselves in circles to “disagree”, but used the media focus to talk up their own similar anti-refugee policies.

The two big parties’ refugee policies are almost identical. But the grounds on which they declare the wrongs of the other’s policy remain starkly dishonest and false.

Both parties remain totally silent on the true cost to the people that suffer under the weight of their crusade against refugees

We must reject the idea that the priority is to stop the “people smugglers” or “the boats”. The so-called people smugglers don’t “smuggle” anyone. They bring desperate people here — people who have fled war, rape, torture or imprisonment and need our protection.

To truly help end the dangers refugees face, the Australian government has to acknowledge and address the real reasons boatloads of refugees seek asylum in Australia.

Australia must stop taking part in occupations of other countries, killing people and destroying infrastructure. It should stop supporting the US’s murderous foreign policy and put more pressure on governments that persecute their own people, such as Sri Lanka and Burma.

The Australian government should not be permitted to reject people forced to flee for their safety. And it should end the cruel policy of mandatory detention, which punishes brave and resourceful people who deserve to be welcomed.

Humanitarian intake is at an all-time low in Australia. Yet if Australia provided the funding and resources to assess, accept and transport many more refugees here on offshore visas, far fewer would be forced onto unsafe boats to get here.


Let 'em all in.....boat people, over-stayers, stow-aways, queue jumpers, terrorists, the poor, the rich, the well, the sick, the safe, the dangerous....yeah....give them all unfettered access. Don't even bother with processing - free them all....Wadda we wan'? FREEDOM....When da we wannit? NOW !!

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