This submission to the expert panel on asylum and refugees was received from the office of the former Liberal Prime Minister, following our publication of the submission by CPD Fellows John Menadue and Arja Keski-Nummi.
The submission points out that recent debates on asylum and refugee policy have, “revolved around two approaches that are not going to work”: Offshore processing in Nauru and Malaysia.
Protecting asylum seekers seems to have been lost from the current debate and it’s time to restore this protection as integral to our approach to asylum seekers.
Submission to the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers
The Terms of Reference of this Committee heavily emphasise the need to save lives, how to stop people drowning at sea.
In addition, against the barbarity that occurs in a number of countries from which refugees flee, the policy will be no deterrent at all (the recent Taliban).
Then Malaysia was pushing boats out to sea. Many were river boats that could not survive at sea, especially the long journey through Indonesia and Archipelago to Australia.
I have had many Vietnamese tell me that they were overwhelmed by the generosity of their acceptance in Australia. Some have said that in the houses to which they were allocated there had been toys or clothes waiting for their children. I know of one family where they had discussed how to repay Australia and as the young boy grew old enough, the family decided that he should join the air force as part re-payment for Australia’s generosity. The Catholic Church has ordained the first Vietnamese Bishop, Lieutenant Governor of
South Australia was on the first boat that arrived in Darwin Harbour. There are many stories. There is much evidence that Australia has benefited greatly from the migration of those times.
The short and long term measures outlined above will save money, do not require legislative changes and will save lives at sea. Protecting asylum seekers seems to have been lost from the current debate and it’s time to restore this protection as integral to our approach to asylum seekers.
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