Rudd’s continuing hard line on asylum seekers - ALA

24th Jul 2013

Harsh and unjust asylum seeker policy, which is continuing under the new Rudd Government leadership, puts asylum seekers at risk of further trauma and, as a consequence, Australian taxpayers under increasing financial burden to compensate for the afflictions that such policies create, The Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.

Speaking of the Rudd Government’s new ‘Papua New Guinea Solution’ Australian Lawyers Alliance National President, Geraldine Collins, said politicians on both sides of politics continued to feed xenophobic fears within the community as a means of winning elections, not because it was the right thing to do.

“The politicisation of asylum seekers is bad for everyone. It is bad for traumatised asylum seekers who, having faced physical and psychological atrocities, are now being further dehumanised by such policies. It is bad for Australia’s reputation internationally and it may have consequences for the Australian taxpayer who is already facing a compensation bill of more than $25 million for further trauma meted out as a result of such policies”, ALA’s National President Geraldine Collins said today.

"There is only one reason why those vying for power in this country adopt such policies and it is because politically it wins votes on the back of people’s inherent primordial fears of the unknown.

“Instead of breaking down such fears and allowing journalists access to asylum seekers being held in detention, the government creates its own news and spin, selectively choosing messages and images of asylum seekers, gathered by its own marketing department, to vet what Australians see and hear about those reaching our shores in search of refuge,” Ms Collins said.

“Australians need to stand up and say enough. This new ‘solution’ is in breach of all international conventions. It basically rips up Australia’s Migration Act which is underpinned by the Refugee Convention,” she said.

“We can’t do as Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, suggests, and continue moving the goal posts on the definition of refugee under international law and we can’t continue to flout our obligations under international law, both for human rights reasons and to ensure Australians’ rights are not eroded as a result when caught up in trouble under other countries’ laws.

"The only real solution is onshore processing, community engagement and community sponsorship to break down the barriers of ignorance about who asylum seekers are.

"Most of these people have unique knowledge, understanding, cultures and a resilience that can contribute positively to the growth of this country just as those traumatised by war did after World War II.

"It’s time to put a human face back on our approach to those seeking refuge. (Any bad eggs will soon be identified by their behaviour just as any person who commits a crime is identified and dealt with under the law),” Ms Collins said.

Tags: Compensation Migration law Asylum seekers and refugees