MEDIA RELEASE: WHAT’S RIGHT FOR REFUGEES? : ROBERT MANNE GETS IT WRONG ON OFF-SHORE PROCESSING
“Robert Manne’s argument that the only alternative is off-shore
processing in Nauru is simply wrong. Any policy that starts with the
idea of stopping the boats can only lead to a conclusion that is
morally and politically flawed.
“Robert Manne’s arguments are of a piece with those of Gillard and
Abbott which both violate the rights of asylum seekers and foster
anti-refugee sentiments in Australian society,” said Ian Rintoul from
the Refugee Action Coalition.
“Firstly, it is mistaken to think that you can ultimately uphold the
rights of refugees by systematically undermining them by sending
asylum seekers to Malaysia or Nauru.
“Secondly, for people to be processed in Nauru, they have to get on a
boat and try to get to Australia. That much was obvious under Howard’s
Pacific Solution. Manne himself is less than honest with the figures.
The UNHCR estimates around during the years of the Pacific Solution,
around 1600 asylum seekers tried to get to Australia but were diverted
to Nauru plus another unknown number on boats that were turned around
or towed back.
“There has always been a humanitarian policy option, but neither
Gillard nor Abbott is interested in that. They are too concerned with
domestic politicking at refugees’ expense.
“A number of refugee advocate groups, including the Refugee Action
Coalition and Labor for Refugees have advocated an obvious alternative
solution; to process asylum seekers in Indonesia and guarantee
re-settlement of refugees from Indonesia. If this happened far fewer
people would need to get on a boat.
“If people-smuggling was decriminalized, boats could be prepared in
the open. They could be equipped with life-jackets. They could inform
the authorities when they were ready to sail, so they could be tracked
or even escorted.
“Chris Bowen says he wants to raise the humanitarian intake to 20,000
a year. So he should, without conditions. This number would easily
accommodate all the Indonesian UNHCR mandated refugees and all those
who have registered with UNHCR
“Kevin Rudd had the opportunity to introduce a humanitarian policy in
2007 but opted to keep Howard’s policies mandatory detention and
off-shore processing in place. Now, Chris Bowen is begging Tony Abbott
to join an unholy alliance to push asylum seekers to third countries.
“There are policies that will both save lives and uphold the rights of
asylum seekers. But our politicians are too busy thinking about saving
their own political skins. That is a seriously morally falwed
endeavour and Robert Manne shouldn’t be helping them.”
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713