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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Asylum seeker panel decides

Michael L'Estrange, Angus Houston and Paris Aristotle

Julia Gillard knew all along that the best solution to break the cycle of boat arrivals to Australia was to adopt John Howard's border policy and deport asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus islands for processing, but she refused to admit he was right.  So she engaged an "independent" panel that took six weeks to come to the same conclusion.

John Howard set up detention centres on both islands, Manus closed in 2004 and Kevin Rudd shut down Nauru soon after he won power in 2007.  Labor has also decided to adopt another of John Howard's deterrent initiatives of not allowing family reunions.   Family reunion is no longer permitted for successful asylum seekers who arrive by boat, they would only be able to seek family reunion via the standard family migration program which would increase by 4,000 a year.

Angus Houston's panel recommended that the government should apply the principle of "no advantage" to ensure that no benefit would be gained by "circumventing regular migration arrangements."  In other words, you won't get a better deal if you get on a boat.

Refugees would remain offshore until their claims were finalized and the UNHCR would assist in finding re-settlement in other countries, but it may not necessarily be in Australia.

The PM said Army personnel will be sent to Nauru and Manus Islands as soon as possible and refugees will be housed in tents until suitable accommodation is built.

Now we wait and see if it's enough.