Dispatches From the Moderate Left

Monday, April 17, 2006

I Take it Back...

Well, I might have overestimated the government on its refugee policies. Last time I posted, I was somewhat hopeful that there would be no substantive change in refugee policy due to Indonesian pressure over the West Papuan asylum seekers but it seems that hope was misplaced. In an apparently drastic over-reaction, the whole of mainland Australia is now excised from our migration zone and all refugees will be moved to off-shore "processing facilities". Even if they are found to be genuine refugees we still won't accept them until the government has tried to resettle them somewhere else. I'm not sure that the way these changes have been explained is the way they will operate in practice (where else would we try to place genine cases? How long will we look for? What sort of scrutiny will there be of offshore facilities?), but this seems like a wholesale abandonment of any genuine commitment to accepting real refugees who arrive by boat from West Papua or anywhere else and I now regret the glimmer of hope I felt when the 42 West Papuans were granted asylum.

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