Locked up with all of my people… A closer look at the #Greens’ #asylumseeker policies

Regardless of the side of the political spectrum, politics has become about appealing to the unexamined prejudices of the voters.  This is as true for the ‘Boat people should be shot’ crowd as it is for the ‘No boat person would ever make a fraudulent asylum claim crowd’.

Why is the debate so poor?  In this post, I said it was because the megaphones in the debate aren’t interested in actually debating anything.  You either agree completely, or you’re somehow intellectually/morally suspect.  That both sides of the debate demonise the public servant policy makers (i.e. the people with the most amount of information and have the most amount of time to research options) says something really telling about the discourse.

More worrying, from my perspective, is the way that the Greens have been able to brush off any scrutiny of their policies.  Glib one-liners from various media commentators shields them from scrutiny.  ‘Offshore processing is so they don’t die in our ocean but die in Southeast Asia.  LOL.  Here’s a picture of a cat.’

In the previous post, I noted that many people write off the problem completely.  ‘It’s a wicked problem and there are no solutions.  We know that because John Howard didn’t succeed and we’ve never tried the ALP’s approach.  Induction proves that if the former government didn’t succeed, no future government will.’

I didn’t note the other end of the same spectrum: the people who deny that there’s a problem at all.  So there’s an incentive for people to undertake a dangerous sea voyage.  According to the #auspol Lotus Eaters, this is perfectly fine and not a problem at all.  Why, just last year Europe had many more people risking their lives.  By applying the law of ‘If there’s a bigger problem somewhere else, there’s no problem here’, Australia doesn’t have a problem at all.

I’ve often complained that the Greens don’t really have policies, they sort of have vague position statements.  They got a lot better since the last election, but they’re still kind of garbage.  In theory, they’re supposed to be on their website here.

It’s a bit of a hunt, but under ‘Care for People’ (seriously? Whatever) we find ‘Immigration and Refugees‘.

The Australian Greens want:

  1. the elimination of the policies of mandatory detention, and other forms of harsh, punitive or discriminatory treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
  2. asylum seekers who arrive without a valid visa to have their claims for asylum assessed while living in the community.

The Australian Greens will:

17.        abolish mandatory and indefinite detention of asylum seekers.

24.        house asylum seekers who arrive without a valid visa in publicly owned and managed open reception centres, where entry and exit to these centres are unrestricted except where prohibited for medical or security reasons specified in clause 28.

26.         grant asylum seekers an asylum application visa (AAV) and assist without delay their move into the community provided medical and security checks are satisfied or after 14 days has passed, whichever occurs first.

28.         deny an AAV if security checks demonstrate the person poses a serious criminal threat to the Australian community or if the person has not remained housed in the reception centre while the medical and security checks were completed.

31.         ensure that, if refugee status is refused and the person cannot be repatriated, the AAV will remain in force until he or she can be repatriated.

So they are going to ‘house’ asylum seekers in a centre until they’re given a visa?  And they don’t remain housed in the reception centre until they’re granted a visa, they will have their movement restricted?  Oh, so you mean you want mandatory detention?  But, wait.  Didn’t the Greens say that they didn’t want mandatory detention?  Oh, they mean they want mandatory detention but they don’t want to call it mandatory detention and they want it to look a bit more hip.

So if an asylum seeker comes to Australia and thinks that their case for refugee status isn’t certain, there is literally nothing stopping them from disappearing into the community.  And people with shady backgrounds (like the ones picked up by ASIO)?  And how would the Greens system deal with alleged people smugglers joining the asylum seeker processing processes?

What the Greens save in ‘harsh’ detention centres, they lose in these ‘urban houses’ (cough, detention centres, cough) and tracking down those who flee having their protection claims assessed.

All the while creating a reason for stateless people and the thousands of displaced people in Southeast Asia to move towards Australia.  All the while creating a reason to pay people smugglers.

How is this the humane approach again?  How is this more humane than supporting the UNHCR supported regional processing model?

Author: Mark Fletcher

Mark Fletcher is a Canberra-based PhD student, writer, and policy wonk who writes about law, conservatism, atheism, and popular culture. Read his blog at OnlyTheSangfroid. He tweets at @ClothedVillainy

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