Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why do we lock up asylum seekers?

There are two answers to this question, and neither of them are nice.

1. We lock them up in mandatory detention as a deterrent to others.

2. For political reasons.

Why should we NOT lock them up?

It is a breach of human rights.
They have done nothing wrong.
Prolonged incarceration causes psychological damage
It is inhumane.
It is very expensive.
It portrays a very negative view of Australia.

In Australia, there is bipartisan support for mandatory detention between the Labor party and the Liberal/National coalition.  But they spend a lot of time scoring "political points" off each other on issues like how many boats are coming and how tough their respective policies are.

This is immoral and wrong.  It just should not be happending in a society that calls itself civilised.

Australia has had waves of immigration, both "legal" and refugees, including Greeks, Turks, Hong Kong Chinese, Italians, Vietnamese (many in boats) to name a few.

Claims that asylum seekers are a "border security issues" and are "terrorists" have emanated from some Australian politicians.  This polarises public opinion and slanders hapless asylum seekers, who of course have no right of reply from behind the razor wire.

We should simply allow asylum seekers to live within our society, assess their claims, and send the cheats home.  It is time our politicians stopped grandstanding and breaching human rights and international conventions.  

We need leadership on this issue, not gutter sniping and political trench warfare.


Grant said...

Afternoon Peter
Firstly are they asylum seekers?
My view is that somebody who leaves a safe haven (ie. Indonesia or Malaysia) and has the cash to pay thousands to a people smuggler has a lot of evidence they need to provide to show they were at risk in the temporary country / haven they left via boat to come to Australia.

Secondly, accepting these people without question enables them to queue jump the thousands patiently waiting in UN sponsored refugee camps located in many countries. Many of the waiting people need to wait years (extended by unknown time) due to our quota being partially met by the queue jumpers.

Thirdly, where do you place these people if you just release them into the community. There is insufficient public housing to meet the requirements for those on the waiting lists now, so all the Gov can do is some cases, is to take over motel complexes (as per the big motel in Nth Brisbane), and off load the people there. If the Gov can find housing for the refugees, in most cases it is either into a central city high rise slum (Flemington, Collingwood etc), or dumped into an outlying suburb where there is minimal public transport or support.

My view is that, if the Gov needs to let the queue jumpers in, then they need to reopen immigration camps such as Bonegilla or similar in remote areas of the country, and place these people into the camps until they are able to support themselves (employable skills and English language). Then release them into the community

My wife came to Australia as a refugee in the late 60's, and had to wait for 2 years in a rat infested UN camp until her family could be sponsored by an Australian Charity willing to cover all the families living expenses (health costs, rent daily living expenses ie. food etc). Her family, and other refugee families from that time, they keep in touch with, are extremely negative about letting queue jumpers in as they know what others are going through waiting for entry within our quota.

The Gov needed to get its act together with the whole problem of refugees, like the European countries (UK, Germany and France have teams at the border to return queue jumpers back to the countries they came from where possible, else provide no support if the people are not located in Gov camps, the Italian Navy, and Spanish Authorities, until recently were turning boats around and pointing them back to Nth Africa.

No, sorry Peter, the Australian Electorate has been patient, and is now telling the Gov, if they want to remain in power, they had better stop the flow, else combined with other issues (eg. Carbon Tax), they will be dead meat at the next election.

Peter Campbell said...

Grant, the vast majority of people assessed are asylum seekers from countries where they have been persecuted. Indonesia of Malaysia is not a safe haven if you are not a citizen - far from it.

Just because some have money doesn't mean they are not bona fide refugees.

I can understand why people don't want to spend years waiting in refugee camps.

The housing issue for them - and other low income people for that matter - can and should be solved.

Reopening Bonegilla could be a good option. I don't think the Australian people are telling the government to "get tough on asylum seekers".

We are far too "tough" already.