Saturday, April 10, 2010

Refugees in Australia: Labor falls into the trap of playing the fear game with the Coalition.

The Age reports "ALL asylum seekers arriving from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan will go into limbo for three to six months under a dramatic toughening of Australia's border protection policies aimed at curbing the boats.

Sri Lankans will not be processed for at least three months while Afghans will face a wait of at least six months, as the government flagged that people from these countries will face a much tougher battle for entry.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the shift coincided with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reviewing its guidelines.

But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott branded yesterday's move an ''election fix'' that would not stop the boats.

The policy reversal, which jettisons Labor's election pledge to process arrivals quickly, was announced yesterday by Senator Evans, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor."

Rudd et al have been moving toward a more hard line approach to 'boat people' as Abbott and his bandwagon ramped up the political invective on asylum seekers. In the absence of support for the Coalition's policy platform Abbott will take the Tampa option of cranking up the fear rhetoric; a confection of outrage towards, and threatened consequences for, desperate people who have made a dangerous voyage to escape persecution.

Human rights advocates will take action to test the legality of the Govt's posture. I suggest it contravenes the convention on refugees and other international instruments designed to protect human rights. It probably also contravenes Australian law, which protects individuals from government action taken on the grounds of ethnicity, nationality, religion etc.

I recently parted company with the ALP. This action confirms my decision in spades. We are again witnessing political leaders lose their moral compass over asylum seeking.

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