“Labor for Refugees has today expressed its disgust with the way the Government has failed to step up and deal with the asylum seeker boat issue in open, fair and honest manner. The coalition is no better.” said NSW Labor for Refugees co-convenor Mr. Prince today.
Mr Robin Rothfield, Secretary of Labor for Refugees Victoria added: “Both major parties in Parliament are blinded by their obsession with outdoing each other in punishing the very people they cry for. These poor people will be punished if they are forcibly sent to either Malaysia or Nauru.”
Mr Prince said: “Labor for Refugees is embarrassed to say that only the Green’s solution identifies a decent and realistic way of stopping the boats. It is the same solution Malcolm Fraser successfully employed to stop the boats to Australia from Vietnam. Refugees should be brought to Australia in an orderly way – where our Government takes responsibility for bringing them here.”
Mr Prince went on to say: “Successive governments, including Labor Governments, have created this problem by only allowing an average of 56 refugees a year over 10 years to come to Australia from Indonesia – out of a total of 13,500 available places. They then blame the victims for trying to reach freedom.
In fact from the beginning of this year until 31 May – only 24 refugees were resettled from Indonesia to Australia – that’s from a pool of 5,732 places available for asylum seekers and refugees. The Government is just not trying to find a solution which does not include punishment.”
“It is the Government which is being intransigent and purist about not creating an orderly queue for refugees in Indonesia. “, Mr Prince said.
“This is not an insurmountable problem. There are only 4,239 asylum seekers in all of Indonesia. An orderly queue could easily be formed if there was the courage in Government to do so. People would then no longer take desperate measures – at the moment they have no choice because of the Government’s policies.” said Mr. Prince.
Mr Robin Rothfield, said: “Deterrence just does not work. The Howard Government got lucky because when those policies came into force, refugee numbers across the world fell by more than half. The politicians are kidding themselves by thinking their policies stopped people from seeking freedom.”
Labor for Refugees called on the leadership of the Party to step up, put forward a positive proposal and stop trying to act tough. Mr. Prince said: “Our members in the Labor Party share the community frustration with the failure of the politicians in dealing with these problems in a fair dinkum way.”
Labor for Refugees NSW and Victoria represent many hundreds of active rank and file members of the ALP who are committed to fair and decent treatment of asylum seekers and compliance with the Refugee Convention.
Shane Prince, Co-Convenor Labor for Refugees NSW
Robin Rothfield, Secretary Labor for Refugees VIC