Mike Steketee writes in The Australian about the compromises that were made for the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees during the Vietnam war. For Australia to return to these much more reasonable policies, Australia must look for regional cooperation on the issue. He quotes CPD founder and former Department of Immigration head John Menadue:
“It would be harder in Malaysia, where the UNHCR total was 95,300, most of them refugees, but where we still could make a dent, particularly if countries such as the US and Canada joined in.
It would require a greater sharing of the financial burden. That could take the form of more aid for asylum-seekers in host countries in areas such as education and housing, as well as persuading those countries to give them more rights and greater security — another way of reducing the pressure on them to move on by any means available. Australia has made a start in these areas, including by increasing its intake from Indonesia to 500 in 2010-11 and discussions on closer co-operation.
But in the words of former Immigration Department head John Menadue, we are seen as fair-weather friends — quick to ask for help when we have a boatpeople problem but slow to give it.
Bowen calls the Malaysia agreement part of a regional solution, since it involves taking 4000 more refugees from the UNHCR list. But it offends the principle of true regional co-operation by sending back to Malaysia 800 asylum-seekers who arrive on our shores and are our responsibility.”
You can find the original article from The Australian here
A New Approach comprehensively critiques Australia’s refugee and asylum policies and finds they are inhumane, ineffective and expensive.
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