Australia Gets a ‘Fail’ on Refugees
10 October 2013 at 3:00 pm
Australia has received an ‘F’ in a UN report card over the country’s treatment of refugees.
The report launched by the United Nations Association of Australia says Australia has performed well on some issues, but failed by international standards on others.
The Report Card evaluates the Australian Government’s performance against international laws and norms embedded within the UN system, focusing on the performance of the Labor Government between 2007 – 2013.
Australia’s performance on aid and development, disarmament and non- proliferation, human rights and gender equality were all given a ‘B’ – an improvement since the 2007 Report Card.
However Australia’s performance is not entirely without blemish, with Australia being awarded an ‘F’ on the topic of refugees and asylum seekers.
Julian Burnside AO QC authored this chapter of the Report Card and argues that “both major political parties pursued electoral success by promising increasingly harsh measures directed at deterring asylum seekers from coming to Australia by boat.”
“Australia also has great strides to make in the area of climate change, with its performance being awarded a ‘D+’,” according to Professor Robyn Eckersley who authored the chapter and noted that Australia’s mitigation targets were very low compared with other developed countries, while our reliance on fossil fuels continued to grow.
Australia was awarded a ‘C+’ for its performance in relation to Indigenous people, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda arguing that a referendum to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution is “an opportunity to redefine our national identity based on recognition, respect and inclusion.”
The Report Card overall paints a positive picture of the Government’s performance, with Australia’s resounding election to the UN Security Council, stewardship of the Arms Trade Treaty and increased funding to UN agencies. Australia was awarded an ‘A’ for its commitment to the UN General Assembly and Security Council.