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Asylum Review – A Politically Minded Compromise

August 13, 2012

August 13, 2012, Michelle Grattan, ‘Experts float a blueprint for asylum compromise’, The Age – concise and insightful commentary from Grattan, along with the full policy detail as described by SMH (which is well worth reading) – while the Coalition notionally got a boost from the asylum seeker review, as it green-lighted Nauru and Manus Island, in reality it was likely designed as some form of a compromise, to push any reform through at all, given the absolutely toxic level of debate that has plagued this country for over ten years now concerning this issue. It must be noted that Malaysia was not necessarily ruled out, but the review did call for greater human rights protection for those people who were ‘swapped’. The review also called for increased humanitarian intake, from 13,750 people to 20,000. Understandably, the Greens were vindicated by the latter two items in the review, but on the whole were dissatisfied with the recommendations, as they have long had opposition to off-shore processing, which this review sanctions. While it (thankfully) rejects the notion of turning boats back, on a legal basis if nothing else, it does remove reunion concessions and the ability to sponsor family members under the Special Humanitarian Program – essentially those who are sent via boat and make it to Australia are on their own.

It does appear that while the Greens will be intransigent on off-shore processing as always, this is politically passable – Julia Gillard is amending Labor’s migration bill for tomorrow’s session of parliament, Rob Oakeshott has tweeted (the cornerstone of modern democracy, a politician’s tweet) in favour of the bill, and while Scott Morrison delivers his usual dishonest appeal to bipartisanship – ‘Mr Morrison offered bipartisan support and any necessary assistance in reopening both processing centres, but made it plain the Coalition viewed the report as a ”greenlight for Nauru and Manus Island and a red light for Malaysia”.’ – it is likely that Tony Abbott will not want to cop the fallout of being the one person in the way of finally getting this issue off the table. While off-shore processing has not proven itself to work in any respect, as forcing refugees to die in their own country is no better than the tragic accidents which we have been witness to at sea. Politicians argue while people die, same old, same old.

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