Why doesn’t the Gillard Labor government swallow its pride and simply accept the Coalition’s latest compromise proposal on asylum seeker policy? (which is to enact legislation allowing asylum seekers to be sent for processing to any country that is a signatory to the Refugee Convention).
Leaving aside the self-evident hypocrisy of the Coalition’s claim to be horrified by the very idea of sending them back to Malaysia because it isn’t a signatory to the Convention while simultaneously espousing a policy of towing their boats back to Indonesia which also isn’t a signatory, this new Abbott/Morrison proposal actually makes sense.
The Gillard government should grit its teeth and re-open a processing centre on Nauru, but also open negotiations for a similar deal with Papua New Guinea as soon as it has something vaguely resembling a stable (if inevitably corrupt) government in the wake of the current general election.
That message could be reinforced by making it clear that jumping on a boat and ending up in PNG or Nauru will confer no priority whatsoever over those waiting patiently in Indonesia or Malaysia.
At the same time it could embrace part of the Greens’ position and increase Australia’s annual refugee and humanitarian migrant intake from 13,500 to 20,000 and focus it entirely on refugees in our immediate region. That would provide a realistic hope for asylum seekers still in Indonesia or Malaysia that their best bet is to stay there and apply for an Australian humanitarian visa instead of signing up with the people smugglers.
That message could be reinforced by making it clear that jumping on a boat and ending up in PNG or Nauru will confer no priority whatsoever over those waiting patiently in Indonesia or Malaysia. They can pay $10K to people smugglers, get processed and wait in a camp in Nauru or PNG (if they survive the boat trip), or safeguard their own lives and save their money by waiting. Surely that would smash the people smuggglers’ business model?