November 22, 2012
Deterrence with respect to asylum seekers is not working. The numbers keep increasing--about 7600 people have arrived since August 13. The Gillard government needed to deal with the fact that its offshore processing centres would soon be full. So Labor toughens up the deterrence to send a message of dissuasion--that it was not worth getting on a boat.
The government will release into the community thousands of arrivals who will be stripped of the right to work and other privileges afforded to previous asylum seekers. They will be left for up to five years with limited bridging visas which forbid work and family reunions, and offered limited rental assistance and welfare payments of $438.40 a fortnight. It is increasingly adopting cruelty as a deterrent.
The ALP is tying itself in knots as it slowly crawls its way back to embracing more of the Coalition policy of the Howard era (offshore processing and mandatory detention are now Labor policy) under its ''no advantage'' test. The Coalition continues to call the asylum seekers illegals and to use the “opening of the floodgates" (the swamped meme) rhetoric. Now it will stir the resentment about the illegals living off welfare being paid for by the struggling hard working Aussie battlers by playing the politics of demonising refugees.
2013 is an election year and so the high-octane polarized political debate over a complex issue will continue with its appeal to the Anglo-Australian marginal electorates in western Sydney. The realities of region give way to the local demands of the political parties and a core problem – namely, what to do with the increasing numbers of transit migrants coming to Indonesia for whom fast resettlement is unavailable – remains unsolved.
What has happened to the idea that substantial refugee processing facilities to be set up in Indonesia to help speed up 'legal' resettlement through our recently expanded humanitarian resettlement program – up from 13,000 a year to 20,000? What has happened to the the 'Malaysia solution', with its e 'swapping' 800 sea-borne refugees, for 4000 processed refugees from Malaysia and plans for basic health and education for refugees flown to Malaysia?
Refugee status is going to be deferred four or five years in implementation of the “no advantage” test. If you are a fair dinkum refugee you will stay here but be forbidden to work, not able to get a protection visa, and therefore not able to get family reunion.
Won't moving asylum seekers out of detention and into the community without adequate access to rights and entitlements foster destitution? Won't it create a supply of labour and expose asylum seekers to exploitation and harm in workplaces? What does living in the community mean? Does it mean that asylum seekers are clustered in remote areas far from amenities and services?