Since 2013 Labor and the Liberal Party have spent nearly $14 billion on offshore processing, mandatory detention and other border policies. Seeking asylum is 100% legal, regardless of the mode of arrival, yet Labor and the Liberals have subjected thousands of desperate people, fleeing war and persecution, to unspeakable cruelty and torture, often using people seeking asylum as scapegoats for a broken economic and political system.
12 people have died since 2014. There are still over 100 children in detention. Some have attempted suicide. If we want Labor and the Liberals to change we need to stop voting for them and show we won’t stand for their inhumane policies of offshore processing and mandatory detention. There are still 1534 people on Manus and Nauru in indefinite detention and living in abhorrent conditions, despite committing no crime.
10 Key Facts about Australia’s Immigration Detention Regime
- Seeking asylum is 100% legal, regardless of the mode of arrival. This is under the UN Refugee Convention, which Australia has signed.
- 3,127 people have been sent to Nauru or PNG as part of offshore processing arrangements. An estimated 1,534 people are still on Nauru or PNG (Manus) as of 29 July 2018, and as of 30 June 2018 219 are still in Nauru Regional Processing Centre
- About 90% of asylum seekers who come by boat are found to be refugees – even with Australia’s extremely strict processes
- Since 2013, the Australian government has spent at least $14 billion on offshore processing, mandatory detention and other border protection policies. (ABC News, 13 Sep 2016; The Guardian, 5 Jan 2018)
- The Labor Party under Paul Keating introduced indefinite mandatory detention in 1994.
- Liberals established boat turnbacks and operation sovereign borders - Labor supports boat turnbacks
- Labor re-opened Manus and Nauru in 2012, banned refugees who arrived by boat from claiming asylum in Australia, and banned refugees who arrived by boat from reuniting with their family members.
- 12 asylum seekers have died on Manus and Nauru since 2014, many from suicide. (The Guardian, 20 June 2018)
- 119 children are in detention on Nauru. 30 children are suffering from traumatic withdrawal syndrome - also known as resignation syndrome. It's a rare psychiatric condition where sufferers, as a response to severe trauma, effectively withdraw from life. The condition can be life-threatening as victims become unable to eat and drink. Several children have attempted suicide. (BBC 2018)
- There are at least 100 children who have been born to people subject to offshore processing, as of 23 October 2017.
The Greens solution:
- Increase our humanitarian intake to 50,000 people per year.
- End mandatory detention and offshore detention, close Manus and Nauru and bring everyone here to safety and freedom. This also saves $2.9 billion over four years.
- Provide $500 million to organisations like UNHCR and partner countries so they can assess people’s claims for asylum quickly in Indonesia and Malaysia. This will allow people to seek asylum without having to risk a dangerous boat journey.
- Process all people seeking asylum and refugees in the community and provide fair support. This would include income support, housing, access to Medicare, trauma and torture counselling, English language courses, working rights and employment assistance.
- Abolish temporary protection visas and reintroduce permanent protection for applicants so people can rebuild their lives in Australia and feel like full members of society.
What about deaths at sea?
Labor and the Liberals don’t care about deaths at sea. Firstly, 12 people have already died in detention while many are suicidal. The current regime doesn’t exist to save lives - its explicit aim is ‘deterrence’ - but we know people don’t just decide to flee their country of origin on a whim. They are driven by fear of death, war or persecution.
The way to stop deaths at sea is through a humane regional solution that includes the policies articulated above. At the moment, there are only a couple of UNHCR offices in Asia where people can apply for protection, including one in New Delhi and one in Indonesia.
People are not allowed to put in applications for protection in Australian embassies, for example, which funnels more and more people into (poor) countries that already host many refugees and cannot provide for them. In Indonesia, there are about 14,000 people who are 'of interest' to the UNHCR, but fewer than 1,000 get a permanent solution each year.
One of the most effective ways for our country to respond to this regional issue would be to ensure we are prioritising family reunions for relatives of people living in Australia, and also to make it easier and quicker for people to apply for protection.