Say welcome to refugees and asylum seekers

ImageIt is now a month since Kevin Rudd announced the “Papua New Guinea solution” – Labor’s response to the Coalition’s “Stop the Boats” policy. This policy and subsequent announcements have all involved palming off Australia’s refugee responsibilities onto our Pacific neighbours with promises of millions of dollars of aid money.

Since then both Labor and the Coalition have added Nauru to the equation. When refugee advocate Julian Burnside visited Townsville in June he had just returned from Nauru. He described a country less than half the area of Magnetic Island with a population of 9378. At that time there were several hundred asylum seekers housed there and already problems were starting to surface. Several weeks ago the detention centre was burnt down.

Last week Kevin Rudd announced that up to 3000 asylum seekers will be sent to Nauru and that people found to be genuine refugees will be settled there. Nauru is the world’s smallest republic with unemployment running at 90% and GDP per capita of less than $2500 and under this policy Nauru would face a 20-30% increase in population.

Julian Burnside proposed a more humane and much simpler solution – working with countries in our region to bring asylum seekers to Australia in an orderly fashion. Once here they could he housed in regional areas while their claims are being heard. They would not be housed in detention centres and there would be the added advantage of boosting regional economies.

Could this work? It has much more chance of working than current policies.

There are around 7000 asylum seekers living in Indonesia. Australia could co-operate with the Indonesian Government in settling these people and in return the Indonesian Government would be expected to curtail the activities of people smugglers.

We have evidence to show that compassionate responses do work.  When Australia was faced with large numbers of Indo-Chinese refugees seeking to come to Australia by boat in the 1970s, we responded in a compassionate way and settled more than 25000 a year for a number of years with little hysteria and great ongoing benefits to our community.

 

Advertisements

About peterhanley1

Peter Hanley has lived in North Queensland for more than 30 years. His interests include human rights, social justice, sustainability and community development. True North explores issues in these areas.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s