New Legislation Undermines Global Asylum Seeker System
17 August 2012 at 3:21 pm
The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has criticised the Federal Government’s legislation on asylum seekers, saying the changes to the Migration Act will have limited impact in deterring those seeking protection in Australia.
Chief Executive of RCOA, Paul Power said that the new legislation passed by the Government undermines the international system of asylum and would set back efforts to build better regional systems of refugee protection.
“It’s in Australia’s national interest to encourage its neighbours in Asia to take the protection needs of refugees seriously. Instead, we are creating a situation in which constructive regional cooperation on refugee protection issues is less likely to occur,” Power said.
“Australia should be exercising leadership in promoting better standards of protection for refugees. Unfortunately, our leadership this week has been of the most negative kind.”
Power said RCOA was also disappointed that the Senate did not support amendments by The Greens to introduce a regular system of Parliamentary scrutiny of the new arrangements.
“If the Government is confident it is implementing the right policy, it’s difficult to understand why it would be opposed having these new arrangements scrutinised by the Parliament,” he said.
“We realise that this legislation was developed in response to concerns about loss of life at sea but the Australian Parliament has taken the wrong approach.
“The Prime Minister has raised questions about the cost of additional refugee places but cost did not seem to be a factor at all in establishing offshore processing in Nauru and PNG.
“Our concern is that an all-too-familiar double standard may be applied – that positive measures are dismissed as unaffordable while there is no limit to the funds available for deterrence and detention.”
The amended Migration Act was pushed through both houses of Parliament this week allowing asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat to be processed offshore at Manus island and Nauru.