Coalition Asylum Policy: I’ll See Your Malaysian Solution and Raise You Denying Refugee Claims

Policies on people coming to live in Australia, whether in desperate circumstances or as migrants hoping to make the most of opportunities that Australia has to offer continue to veer toward the insane and abhorrent, even appealing to the xenophobic in some cases. Under the Prime Ministership of Julia Gillard the ALP veered even to the right of the Liberal Party on asylum seeker policy, thankfully failing in getting through the so-called ‘Malaysian Solution’ because of two disparate political parties, the Greens and the Liberal/National Party Coalition.

In roughly the same period of time, we have also been reminded that the Coalition would also like to see asylum seeker boats turned around if safe to do so, slammed by many.

But today we have had the Liberal Party remind us again that temporary protection visa’s, TPV’s for short would be reinstated under a future Coalition Government.

The granting of TPV’s was used as part of the Howard Government ‘Pacific Solution’ which saw boat arrivals dramatically reduced in the early 2000’s until the government lost power in 2007.

The announcement went even further too with a new policy announcement by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his Shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Today it was announced at the press conference held by the two representatives of the Coalition that asylum seekers arriving without identity papers or a passport should not be given refugee status in Australia. The exact wording being that there would be a “strong presumption” that people arriving in Australia without any form of identification would not be given refugee status.

The stance on TPV’s and on the denial of refugee status to people arriving without documentation is problematic.

Visas granting temporary protection assume that in the event a conflict ends within a nation where a refugee has come to Australia from that they will no longer face persecution in that country and in many cases this is just not the reality, persecution of particular ethnic groups can still continue even when broader tensions have ceased.

Of course though, people who wish to return to their country of origin, if they feel it safe to do so, should be able to make that journey home of their own volition.

There too are problems  with denying refugee status to asylum seekers that arrive in our waters without papers which will make them more easily identifiable to Australian authorities assessing their claims.

The first is that in many cases their papers are confiscated by the very people who are plying this horrific trade in human misery, the people smugglers themselves.

Second, where will these asylum seekers be sent when there claims are denied by the government because of having no papers? They cannot be refouled simply because they didn’t have papers, they would need to be sent to another country where they would be free from persecution at least until the veracity of their claims was able to be properly assessed even if made much harder by the lack of documentation.

Put simply, this policy takes the Malaysian asylum seeker deal and says, “Hah I have a stronger hand. So much stronger that it will make yours look like child’s play”.

Very few people deny that the trade of people smugglers needs to be broken, it sure does. But this is simply not the way to do it, using people in this situation as a political football. Both the asylum seeker deal with Malaysia and this increasingly strengthened Coalition policy are und0ubtedly deterrents, but they are the wrong kind of deterrent that could see people needing protection denied that.

What is needed is global action as well as a regi0nal solution where the processing of refugee claims in countries of origin are sped up through concerted global action involving all nations and the agencies charged with assessing refugee claims.

More countries in our region too need to urgently sign and ratify the Refugee Convention so that asylum seeker numbers can be shared around the region more while we still do our fair share.

Indeed an Australian solution is also needed where we increase the numbers we take directly from conflict hot spots and from camps in our region before people get on incredibly shoddy vessels putting themselves at risk of perishing at sea.

It’s a tricky situation but the one-upmanship has to stop and solutions which help vulnerable people and convince them against making expensive and unsafe boat journeys simply have to trump policies which above anything punish these people and put them in further danger.

About aussiepollies

I am a 27 year old with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Ethics and Human Rights/Political Studies and a Minor in Society and Change from QUT. I love observing politics, particularly at the federal level here in Australia but do not cease my political observations there. From time-to-time you may find that I blog about sport and perhaps even other things that interest me. For enquiries/insights from me, email me at tbridgey@gmail.com

Posted on June 9, 2012, in Federal Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Damn! There’s a joker in my hand and it’s Captain Emad, or is that : Captin? E mad!

  2. Why is it that we punish asylum seekers for the crimes of people smugglers?

    Well written. My post http://theblogicalvoice.com/2012/06/11/500-days-of-bad-refugee-debate/ addresses many of the same issues.

    I am not sure what we, as voters, can do when both political parties are trying to reject refugees at all costs. Let’s not forget that under international law a person can very legally seek asylum in our country WITHOUT proper documentation…

    • I am just so sick of the rhetoric on it. It is at the most poisonous level I have ever seen, mind you I’m only 27 so it could have been worse. But I doubt it because it wasn’t really an issue until mandatory detention in 1992 and has been embraced by both sides, the ALP going much further than you would have ever expected and then now the Libs playing an awful attempted wedge the other day.
      Hard to see what we can do under the voting system but we need to expect better.

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