Abbott needs to turn back on dangerous asylum seeker policy
Monday, 09 July 2012
Revelations over the weekend that the Leader of the Opposition failed to raise the Coalition's 'turn backs' policy in a face-to-face meeting with the Indonesian President are embarrassing and highlight the flaws in Coalition asylum seeker policy.
Tony Abbott is happy to have Australian navy personnel do the 'dangerous' heavy lifting on turn backs, but he doesn't even have the courage to raise his policy directly with the Indonesian President.
Mr Abbott has more questions to answer on his fraught turn backs policy.
What will happen to asylum seeker boats that don't originate from Indonesia?
Would Mr Abbott turn back boats to Sri Lanka knowing that they will never make the return voyage?
Would Mr Abbott turn these same boats back to Indonesia?
If Mr Abbott is looking to create some form of exemption of boats depending on what country they come from, won't that encourage people to make even more dangerous journeys from countries that are further away than Indonesia?
How are turn backs to Indonesia or elsewhere consistent with the Coalition's 2010 election commitment that boat turn backs 'require a commitment from the return country not to return persons seeking asylum to the place from which they claim to be fleeing persecution'*?
The turn backs policy is dangerous and unworkable. Tony Abbott continues to shamelessly spruik a policy the experts say is a dud, that the Navy says risk lives, that the UN's refugee chief believes breaches the Refugee Convention, and which the Indonesians have clearly and repeatedly said they won't agree to.
Last month we saw an impassioned plea from Joe Hockey that he would never agree to minors being sent overseas unsupervised, but he was a minister in a government that did just that. If his current position is to be taken seriously, he must demand that Tony Abbott drop his turn back the boats policy.
The Coalition's policy of turn backs to Indonesia underlines Tony Abbott's and Joe Hockey's hypocrisy on asylum seekers - on the one hand they oppose asylum seekers being transferred safely to a country like Malaysia where we have protections in place, and on the other hand they support asylum seeker boats with young children being turned back to Indonesia, also a non-signatory country, where they have no such agreements in place.
Mr Abbott needs to drop the policy that he admits puts Australian personnel in harm's way and work with the expert panel, the Government and the Parliament to come up with a genuine solution that will stop people making these dangerous journeys to Australia.
See: Restoring Sovereignty and Control To Our Borders Policy Directions Statement (283KB PDF file)
1. TURN BACK BOATS...In particular, these requirements require a commitment from the return country not to return persons seeking asylum to the place from which they claim to be fleeing persecution...(page 5)
Last update: Monday, 09 July 2012 at 12:32 AEST